Friday, September 24, 2010

The Impossible Project

The Impossible Project is a group of people dedicated to creating a new instant analog film product designed to be used in Polaroid cameras.  The first type of film they created is a black & white/sepia tone film called Silver Shade.  Just recently they've launched the first new color film for Polaroid cameras called Color Shade.

When I found out that The Impossible Project finally had film available for purchase I quickly placed an order.  At the time the only Polaroid camera I had was the 600 model, so I began an eBay quest to find cameras to fit the film I'd bought.

So, now with a few more cameras in my arsenal, I could pick & choose which one I was going to take to Tech Field Day.  I opted for the Spectra (on the right) because it is the widest film format Polaroid made, it is auto focus (sonar!), has a flash and is compact for traveling.

During the three days I was in San Jose for Tech Field Day, I was excited to be able to introduce The Impossible Project film for Polaroid cameras to a large group of people.  I imagined that a lot of people weren't aware you could buy film for Polaroids anymore - and I was right.

 Tech Field Day gave me an opportunity to gain access to cutting-edge data centers and networking hardware.  I thought it was wonderfully fitting to contrast the high tech with the analogue lo-tech Polaroid camera.  I brought along some deadstock Polaroid film, and a pack of the PZ 600 Silver Shade film by TIP.

The first cutting-edge gear/analogue picture was of the new HP A12500 Data Center switch.  This bad boy is nicknamed "The Widowmaker" cause it took 6 men to lift it into the data center rack.  This bad boy can have up to 512 10G ports or 864Gt ports - moving 6.6 Terabytes of data PER SECOND.

I took a Polaroid of it & tweeted it before it was done developing.  Sure enough, someone thought it was an old picture!

The visit to the Juniper data center was equally exiting - the room was filled with the din of cooling fans. There's just something about a room crammed to the rafters with white noise and blinking machinery. A certain je ne se quoi if you will.

The second picture I took was of the Juniper T1600.  It supports 160 10G ports, 16 40G ports or 8 100G ports. Capable of moving 1.6 Terabytes per second..

Now granted, the picture on the left doesn't match up with the switch in the rack, but they're both T1600s.

The real photographic joy of Tech Field Day was the trip to the Computer History Museum.  How cool is it to take Polaroids of the first mouse, the Cray-1, the Babbage Difference Engine and the first hard drive?!
I was giddy I tell you. 

The full set of museum Polaroids is on my page.
The main link to my page is

At the final Tech Field Day dinner I cracked open the PZ 600 Silver Shade film.  I hadn't used any of the Silver Shade film by The Impossible Project yet, but I'd read that the film exposure was temperature sensitive.  The sweet spot for proper exposure is around 72° F and I figured that most of San Jose inside and out is about that temperature in mid-September.

All of the dinner pictures turned out great, especially considering that I was using a flash indoors.  I covered one shot with my hands while it was developing to test the warm temperature overexposures I'd read about - it's true.  The warmer the picture when it is developing the more overexposed it will turn out.

I am very pleased with the quality of the Silver Shade film by The Impossible Project - I've already lined up my next film purchase.  I hope I was able to spark the curiosity of a few people to try film from The Impossible Project.  I think what they're doing is pretty amazing.  They bought the last Polaroid factory in the Netherlands, and they've had to reverse engineer Polaroid film and use less chemicals and materials in the process.

Before you even ask - no, I'm not a paid sponsor or anything like that.  I like taking pictures, and I'm glad that I'm still able to get film for my Polaroid cameras.  There's nothing quite like a Polaroid.

Polaroids make people smile.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Would you be interested in a Wireless Tech Field Day?

The question has been asked: Is there enough demand to support a Wireless Tech Field Day?

I know I can count at least 15 ~ 19 wireless people on Twitter that might like to participate as  delegates, and at least 27 or so companies that could participate as event sponsors..

So, I'm throwing this survey out there to find out what companies you'd be interested in meeting with and to see how many interested parties actually fill out the survey!  Once we can identify the demand, it may make it easier to find event sponsors.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Cisco 1040 Access Point

Today I viewed a pre-recorded webinar put together by Fred Niehaus (TME Cisco Wireless Business Unit) regarding the new Cisco 1040 Access Point.  The link is to the 'MyCiscoCommunity' page which you may or may not have access to, so I'll summarize the best bits of the webinar.

The 1040 is a stripped down low cost offering from Cisco - designed for customers that don't require advanced features like ClientLink, Bandselect and Videostream.  The 1040 is a 2x2 with 2 spatial streams, and its TCP performance is 20-25% lower than the 1140 AP.  It is supported in controller code 7.0.98 and above.  It uses the same mounting hardware as the 1140, 1260, and 3500 series APs.  It cannot be upgraded to an 1140, the differences between the two are in the hardware.

The 1040 has its own VCI string - Cisco AP c1040 for DHCP Option 43 entries.

It was mentioned that the AP should not be opened as there is a conductive RF gasket installed at the factory with a specific torque.

Visually the difference between the 1040, 1140 and 3500 are - the 1040 has a dimpled radome, the 1140 has a silk screened Cisco logo, and the 3500 has an embossed Cisco logo.

New part numbers:
AIR-PWR-B= - Energy Star rated power supply (identical to AIR-PWR-A)
AIR=PWRINJ4 - New power injector for 1040 AP, only draws 12.95 Watts, but is capable of providing higher power to the 1250 AP. Compatible with 1140, 1040, 3500 and 1250 APs
 AIR-PWR-SPLY1 - Power Supply for the AP-1250
114XFLSHMNT= -  Mounting kit to install AP inside the ceiling tile
114XFLSHMNT110= - 10 Pack of Flush Mount Kits
AIR-AP-T-RAIL-F - Ceiling Grid Clip - Flush
AIR-AP-T-RAIL-R - Ceiling Grid Clip - Recessed
AIR-CHNL-ADAPTER - Accessory clip for channel and beam rails
AIR-AP-BRACKET-1 - AP Bracket - Low Profile
AIR-AP-BRACKET-2 - AP Bracket - Universal

A new disclaimer about vertical AP mounts has been added in the Quick Start Guide - The access point's integrated antennas perform best when the access point is mounted on horizontal surfaces such as a table top or ceiling.  For advanced features such as voice, location and rogue access point detection, ceiling mounting is strongly recommended.  However, for smaller areas such as conference rooms, kiosks, transportation environments, or hot-spot usage where data coverage is the primary concern, the unit may be wall mounted.

The different types of ceiling tile structures have been addressed through  a variety of ceiling clips that are available.  Recessed ceiling tiles have a special clip AIR-AP-T-RAIL-R.  Flush ceiling tiles have a different clip AIR-AP-T-RAIL-F.  By default, the 1040 will ship with a low profile bracket AIR-AP-BRACKET-1 unless a different bracket is specified when ordering.  For wall mount, power box and other hard ceiling installations - there is a new bracket with more mounting holes AIR-AP-BRACKET-2.

Sometimes ceiling tile supports are not flat pieces of metal.  There are mounting solutions for channel rails and beam rails.  AIR-CHNL-ADAPTER comes in a quantity of 2 - enough to mount a single access point, and can be attached to the channel rail or beam rail before using the AIR-AP-T-RAIL-R or the AIR-AP-T-RAIL-F clip to mount the AIR-AP-BRACKET-1 or AIR-AP-BRACKET-2

Monday, September 20, 2010

Tech Field Day - wrap up

Last week I took part in a unique meeting of the minds - now I freely admit that I didn't get everything that was discussed, but neither did @plankers.  He was (and is) The Lone Sysadmin, and I was the only wireless person in attendance.  I did learn a lot, and took a lot of notes.  It seems to me that large companies have a hard time dialing back the sales pitch, or the back story of how they came to be.  I think they just can't help it - I think this gets written into their source code once they've been assimilated into the corporation.

The event was called Tech Field Day, organized by Gestalt IT (Stephen Foskett & Claire Chaplais).  This was the first networking focused Tech Field Day, and the list of vendors that presented to our group was: HP, SolarWinds, Cradlepoint, Force10 - for the second day: Juniper, Arista Networks, Xsigo.

HP delved into the future of network virtualization with Jay Mellman Sr. Director WW Marketing, then had  Les Stuart talk about the HP Intelligent Management Center, but I'll just provide a link to Jeremy Gaddis' blog post which covers the event in much greater detail.  The recurring theme of the switching vendors was that nobody had a supported switch emulator for testing proof of concepts for change management needs - HP currently does not have a solution to enable the Network Admin to prove to the rest of enterprise that a planned configuration change would not take out the network..

SolarWinds crew was pleased to hear that they were free to dive into the nuts and bolts since we were all fully aware of the basics of how their software worked.  I was not aware that SolarWinds can monitor/manage multiple vendors' wireless devices out of the box.

Cradlepoint's offering of 3G and 4G wireless hotspot devices was very interesting.  Their new pre-paid 4G wireless device called the Rover, and was shaped like the thing you're handed when you have to wait for a table at Macaroni Grill.

I can see the beauty of the pre-paid feature, but man are these things gonna cause problems if they become prolific.  I say cause problems, because just imagine a dozen people firing up their Rover to surf the net at the same time. Each one may have its own 4G uplink, but the local hostpot is still 802.11B/G, and there are still only three channels that are non-overlapping.  I looked through the Rover FAQ, but didn't see anything indicating you can change the 802.11 operating channel, or how you'd even know there was interference.  There are strong business drivers for this type of localized wi-fi hotspot capability since not everywhere has free wifi (yet).  I can see this type of networking device with cellular backhaul, local 802.11 wireless connectivity being used at events like Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza or other outdoor events with sales tents where hard wiring the tents isn't feasible.  Their product comparison sheet shows which devices have ethernet ports, and which ones support 802.11n.  Now WPA2 with a random string of 63 characters for the PSK doesn't meet PCI compliance unless you throw a firewall in there, but that probably wouldn't stop a small independent merchant from using something like this at a mobile event.

Force10 - Company started in 1999 to build around emerging standard of 10 gig ethernet.  In 2002, they first shipped a 1/2 rack with 28 10GB (line rate fully non blocking) ports.  Today they ship 1/2 rack systems with 140 10GB LR ports.  Their technology is used by the majority of the large portals based in Silicon Valley.  Also of note, Force10 is powers 2 of the 10 fastest systems in the world.

Juniper - The general overview of how Juniper started was useful to me, since I only know about their switching products from the Juniper as a Second Language online course that I've never gotten around to studying.  We got into the real meat and potatoes of Juniper when Dan Backman sat down with us for the Round Table discussion.  Dan is ridiculously smart, and has been hip-deep in Juniper for many, many years.  Until the video of the roundtable is up, I found a 2006 Interop podcast where you can see what I mean..  I'm looking forward to learning Juniper once I've passed the CCIE wireless.  Make a note to yourself to tune back in once all the Tech Field Day videos are up on Vimeo - the Juniper Round Table should not be missed.  The unsupported Juniper emulatorOlive  is JUNOS software running on an PC rather than a Juniper router.  They would not say if they were working on a supported switch emulator, and deferred the conversation to be discussed at a later date.  There are a million online how-to guides for installing Olive/JUNOS, hopefully Juniper got the message from us that a supported implementation is greatly desirable.

Arista Networks - I had not put two and two together to associate @dgourlay with the Packet Pushers Runt Podcast Arista Networks and Data Centre Switching.  I wish I'd listened to the podcast before this preso. In any case, my takeaway from Arista is that their gear is installed in places where you absolutely cannot lose a packet, or accept a delayed packet.  Think high-frequency trading, biomedical research, cloud networking. From what I understood, their OS is basically a linux kernel, with a few modifications to offset the different traffic flows from the main switching functions - and basically anything you'd do with bash/perl/python is possible at the CLI of an Arista switch.  Now, I'm no coder, and I'm sure that when Jeremy G. or Ivan P. writes up a synopsis of Arista it'll be a comprehensive overview.  I did get that "If you can code it, it can happen" is a very powerful statement to make to people with a deep understanding of Unix/Linux/BSD etc..  Arista commented that if you wanted to run their code on any pc/laptop etc to test configuration designs or proof of concepts you can, with the vEOS download.

Xsigo - This is the preso where @plankers got excited, because Xsigo was speaking his language.  Bob was able to explain a few things from the server side perspective when questions came up from the networking side of the table.  The jist of Xsigo is they provide a virtual I/O that connects to servers via standard Ethernet server ports -- no add-on cards needed.  I thought of their solution as a patch bay of sorts between the server front end and the backend hardware.  The configuration was all done through a java based web interface, and it was pretty simple to set up.  We spent about 10 minutes setting up a couple of servers to a cloud in their lab/classroom.  Things have changed a lot since I was unboxing HP fans to build DL380s in 2004.

All in all, the Tech Field Day was a unique opportunity to visit so many organizations in person - and have in depth technical conversations about their products (once you beat the marketing out of them).  My next goal is to reach out to the contacts I have at wireless vendors to see if we can't set up a wireless-specific Tech Field Day sometime soon. Are you listening vendors? We want to ask you tough questions, and talk with the people that have the direct answers.

Naturally, I took a lot of pictures - not nearly as many as Stephen, but nothing beats the Polaroid I took of him.  period.

My Tech Field Day Picasa Slideshow:

Full disclosure - the Tech Field Day event was made possible by contributions from the sponsors, and I did not incur any travel or lodging costs.  The schwag I went home with was a t-shirt from Solarwinds, a 4gb usb key from Juniper and HP and a Cradlepoint MBR900 except I forgot the MBR900 at Juniper - so Abner is shipping it to me :)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Photos from Tech Field Day

I've uploaded photos of this weeks' events to Picasa.  I'll scan in the Polaroids in all their glory at a later date.  The Polaroids will be uploaded to  I've also uploaded the lot to Flickr so they can be part of the Tech Field Day Flickr pool.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

CradlePoint 3G/4G product offerings

CradlePoint has teamed with Clearwire to develop the rover 4G prepaid hotspot device (puck shaped) to work over Clearwire's 4G WiMAX network.  CradlePoint devices have the ability to do a firmware upgrade to take advantage of the 4G network speeds.

Their CBA 750 (cellular bridging adapter) has 2.4ghz built in N radio along side the 2.5ghz WiMAX radio - it is a plug and play device that can provide a failover option for small businesses with unreliable DSL or Cable internet connections. The RF in the CradlePoint devices are typically 30 dBm 'quieter' than FCC rules require.

WiPipe -> built on a NetBSD product platform, with support for 150+ modems & cellular networks.  There may be future plans to build a function to allow the cellular network connection allow you an OOB connection to the networking devices' console port.

HP working with Shell to sense the Earth's vital signs

Links to HP's wireless offerings
HP Wireless Offerings
HP Standalone Access Points
HP Coordinated Access Points (controller based)
HP Wireless Controllers

Not sure how I missed this news article about HP working with Shell to develop a million node wireless network to scan the earth to ensure that Shell's oil drilling is more successful. There is another article describing the Cense project (Central Nervous System for the Earth).  The future of tracking devices that can also operate as sensors (light/movement/pressure/temperature) that are also the size of a shirt pin is pretty amazing.  To think of all of the ways that tiny devices like these will be able to collect information, and possibly communicate information back into the equipment they're attached to will be pretty cool.  A

HP has partnered with AeroScout, AirTight and ekahau to provide location tracking and wireless security - may be carrying these products on their price list in future.  The goal is to provide solutions instead of just hardware.

-----------------other notes from today's session------------------------

Speaker - Jay Mellman Sr. Director WW Marketing

HP Networking future

The goal is to wire once, virtualize the connectivity & put management in place to mimic normal connectivity "feel" to server/network support.
.."Networking is a critical pillar to make a converged infrastructure combining storage, servers, power & cooling as well as management software."

Due to LAN challenges, date center changes, IT requirements and security issues - converged networks allow the ability to identify and diagnose issues that affect any aspect of the infrastructure.  Application layer vulnerabilities (ex. PDF security issues) lead into the need for converged networking in order to see into all levels of the network.

The history of networking started with simply connect devices, then the direction moved to consolidate single nodes and extend resources to end users.  The future will demand service delivery.  HP is leading a standards-based open approach to service delivery.

Simpler and Secure Infrastructure
Sys Admins
was physical build out of server hardware/loading OS
now creating a server is right click, clone..

Net Admin
is/was manual record keeping of IP addresses/vlans/passwords

Agile Service Delivery
HP's goal is to decrease the time to service for network adds/changes.
Proven Business value
Customers benefit when they have more choices.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Gestalt IT's Net Field Day - 4 days & counting

So the trip to SJC for the Gestalt IT's Net Field Day is really happening next week.  I've read through the final list of companies that will be presenting - and I can tell by the list that I'll be learning a lot.  I haven't been surrounded by data center/route/switch/security people since I worked at UO.  That was a long time ago..  Working at CTI doesn't really count since I didn't have the time to learn much from my other super-smart co-workers.  I spent all my time learning from and working with the great mobility practice people.

I'll be taking lots of notes on everything and posting them right here.

I'm bringing the flip, my Polaroid Spectra, and a lot of film. I'm pretty confident there hasn't been an analogue element to any of the prior #TechFieldDay events, and I'm happy to put an old twist on new events.