May 31, 2016

Techno Bits vol. 72: Be The Back Beat

Good morning from Rhode Island Avenue, Northeast, in Washington DC. It's perfect outside right now after the remnants of Bonnie passed through Sunday and Monday, and the cold brew at Zeke's tastes fines after a weekend spent not leaving the house. We were on a mission to potty train Charlie. Whee.

One thing I did before jumping into that particular abyss, though, was publish the Mac Admin Library, a listing of books and other useful learning tools that can help expand your knowledge. There's a lot of good stuff in there, and the list is only growing, thanks to the additions of others. If you've got something you want to see up there, let me know and I'll get it added!

As we march through to summer, we're almost halfway through 2016. What have you learned this year? What have you added to your repertoire to make you better at what you do? What lets you do more than you've ever done before? Summer's a great time to add a skill. Level up!

The Intertubes

One of the things I've spent learning about this year has been the underlying internet structures, and this week's Ars Technica feature on How The Internet Works is absolutely worth your time. So, for that matter, is the book that came out a few years back called Tubes by Andrew Blum that covers a lot of the history of submarine cable, of data centers and everything that goes along with them. Of course, there's also Neal Stephenson's treatise Mother Earth, Mother Board back when Wired Magazine was the bible by which this young geek saw the world. It's the good parts of Neal explaining a new concept for you, without some of the weirdness that comes with his writing.

These networks are absolutely bananas in terms of complexity, but they're fascinating in spite of, or even perhaps because of, that complexity. We're working with the Inter County ICBN with one of our clients, and it's awesome to get a look at their whole map of the local side of their internet. They're working to add DWDM to their list of tricks as their network gets larger and more complicated.

People who understand the physiognomy and anatomy of the Internet are becoming more and more important, because they're the ones who will see the patterns evolving in network structures. The more you know about the infrastructure underlying the tech we use, the less dispensable you become. You become the back beat in the music. You're there to make the whole thing work. Be the back beat.

This week, Adrian Granados released version 4.0 of his can't-live-without-it WiFi Signal app for the Mac. This version has a whole passel of new features, and is absolutely worth the entry fee of $0.99. If you're already a buyer, this upgrade is free. It's like the AirPort menu item, on steroids, with a whole lot of smarts built in. You get a customizable signal meter, and the ability to customize what the actual menu item shows you. I've set mine to show me Channel, MCS and Max Speed, and then I've also set it to show me when I roam between APs with pop-up notifications (also new), which will be super helpful for survey work. 

Listening To: