Vacation? What Vacation?

5:15 PM -- It’s a tradition around here that we mostly close between Christmas and New Year's Day. There’s hardly anyone working that time of year, and the phone doesn’t ring much. So a big part of this tradition is rebuilding the network, and this year is no exception. The major planned projects include bringing up two new servers, converting the wired network (yes, we have some wire) to GigE, new cable modem, new storage backup system, updating software on essentially all of our production PCs (10 at last count), and a little tinkering with the experimental computers and wireless networks (eight of the former and four of the latter).

And among those projects are two that I think will interest you. The first involves converting all of the obsolete notebooks around here to wireless VNC clients. If you’ve not seen VNC, have a look at http://www.realvnc.com/. In a nutshell, it’s a way to view the desktops of a wide variety of OSes on otherwise incompatible hardware, such as running a Mac over a network on a PC, or Windows XP on a machine that can barely run DOS. There’s even a version for the Nokia 770. This should be fun.

The second is an upgrade to the Farpoint Group Wireless Media Facility, which is a media room where all content must be delivered wirelessly. I’m using a number of MIMO routers here, and I’m also upgrading to the new Slingbox Pro, which promises HDTV. We’ll see if the proprietary cable required ever arrives. I’m planning to run some benchmarks relating to media quality and I’ll report on the results here.

Finally, on a totally unrelated (to anything) matter, I was in England recently, and spent a short time at Heathrow watching the text crawl along the bottom of the BBC screen on the telly. I learned that “The first new type of potato is to be introduced to the U.K. for 400 years.” I thus learned that 400-year planning cycles, while impossible in wireless, are indeed being implemented in the world of potatoes, and that the English language is in much more trouble than I thought.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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