Suppose I have a picture that I have been given. This picture is not something that the owner wants shown to the world so they have given me a list of people that can see it. When someone wants to see it I ask them who they are and if their name is on the list I show it to them. However, this plan is not working out that well so the owner decides to add some requirements. Now when someone wants to see the picture they have to show ID. Still people are getting around that with fake IDs, so now the owner gives out a special code word that is unique to each person while still maintaining the requirement for ID. To make things even more secure I have a picture of each person and a copy of their ID. What I have described here is a very simple explanation of the way that some of the different levels of encryption work; from the very basic to much more complex routines. In this article we will be talking about encryption as it relates to wireless access points and we can tell you up front you will be surprised at how insecure some of them are.
When it comes to technology there are things that we as consumers just expect to work. We do not have the time, or even the inclination, to worry about the details on these items, we just want to plug them in and go. One of these is our networking products, and in particular wireless networking. We see a device with the letter “n” on it and we automatically assume it is going to give us 300Mbps (Megabits Per Second). The problem with this approach is that wireless technology is as varied as versions of Windows 7 (another item we lump into one group… but that is another article) and cannot all be lumped into one category because of a specification number or letter on the box. With this in mind we are going to talk about some of the major points of wireless networking and how to spot the pretenders from products with real performance.
This contest is now closed and we have our winner please check out our facebook page for more information.
Decryptedtech is having a new contest. It is a pretty simple one and involves a scavenger hunt of the site to find clues. In one of the articles we have posted in the last 14-days (starting from 7-24-2012) we have dropped a clue in the form of a mathematical problem. Solving this will get you to your next step where you must again find the clue and solve its meaning. In all cases typing the solution into the search bar will get you further along on your search. We will highlight the final location with instructions on what to do with the answer.
DecryptedTech is now moving into Enterprise class testing. To accomplish this we have built a small Enterprise class network in our lab complete with two iSCSI SANs , TWO NAS Devices, multiple Gigabit Switches, and two ESX Hosts with Multiple VMs to keep things interesting. We will begin testing Enterprise class hardware and Software. We will be looking at these products with an eye on how the technology differs from the average consumer class products as well as how this technology will benefit the consumer as it trickles down to their market space. We do have our first product in the lab right now, but before we kick that off let’s talk about the new DecryptedTech Enterprise class Lab in detail.
The Switches -
The backbone of our lab consists of five Gigabit Switches. Two of these are from TRENDNet TEG-160WS and the TEG-240WS. Both of these are Web Smart Managed switches and have 2GB trunks setup between the two for faster switching between them. Next we have a TRENDNet TPE-80WS POE (Power over Ethernet) 8 Port Gigabit switch which offers quite a bit more controls than the TEG line and is our master switch for the RSTP (Rapid Spanning Tree Protocol ) topology ion place. Our second vendor in the lab is NETGEAR, they have provided us with their ProSafe GS110TP POE 10 port Gigabit Switch (two of these ports are fiber uplink) and a GS108T 8 Port Gigabit Switch. As we mentioned the switches are part of an RSTP topology and each one has different components attached to ensure that the loads is distributed across the network backbone.
The Storage -
Our Lab has three NAS devices one of which is fully iSCSI capable (and works with VMWare) the two non-iSCSI NAS devices are the Seagate Black Armour 440 and a Thecus 5200 Pro. The Thecus 5200 Pro has 3TB of space and serves as an indirect file server while the BA-440 has 4TB and acts as a media storage server and backup target. The last NAS on the list is a Synology DS 201, this has a full 1TB of space and holds image files used for deployment of VMs and the installation of software into the virtual environment.
The last storage box we are rather proud to have. It is a custom built NAS/SAN with an AMD Phenom II x4 910e 4GB of memory on the Minix 890GX MiniITX motherboard and a 250GB OS Drive. For the OS we dropped in Windows 2008 R2 Storage Server. Of course that is not the thing that we are most proud of. For the actual storage we went with 4 Seagate 2TB Constellation ES Nearline SAS 2.0 drives (ST32000444SS) running in RAID 5 on an LSI MegaRAID SAS 8708EM2 SAS 6GB/s PCIe controller. It is this device with its two teamed NICs that provides the central iSCSI based storage for our VMWare cluster.
The VMWare Cluster -
To make sure that we covered all of our bases we built two VMware ESX Hosts for a single cluster; one of them with Intel Xeons and the other featuring AMD Magny Cours CPUs. Both of these systems have Kingston Server Premier Memory installed (128GB between the two systems). The motherboards in each are from Asus and represent the mid-range of their server line up.
The Intel System specs are as follows;
2x Intel Xeon L5530 2.4GHz CPUs
48GB of Kingston Server Premier RAM (6 x8GB)
2x Kingston SSD Now 128GB drives in RAID 1 (for the ESX Host Software)
Asus Z8NA-D6 motherboard
Cooler Master UCP 1100 Power Supply
The AMD half of the Cluster looks like this
2x AMD Opteron 6176 SE CPUs (12 Cores each for 24 physical cores)
92GB of memory (80GB Kingston Server Premier 10 x 8GB and 12GB Kingston Value Select Server memory 6 x 2GB)
2 x Seagate 500 GB Savio II SAS 2.0 Drives in RAID 1
Asus KGPE-D16 Motherboard
Cooler Master UCP 1100 Power Supply
The cluster is running VMMware ESX 4.1 (moving to 5.0 soon) and currently hosts 30 Virtual Machines all stored on our Custom Built NAS/SAN. Not all of these systems are powered on 24/7 (my power bill would be outrageous) but they are all on and operational when we have hardware in the lab that needs testing. Under normal conditions about 7 servers are live. These include an exchange cluster (Database Availability Group), a SQL server and a virtualized domain controller. Some of the other servers that run when under testing conditions are, two additional SQL servers (SharePoint and CRM) a two node SharePoint farm, a Xen Desktop test setup with three desktops, a webserver with a full copy of DecryptedTech on it) and virtualized Windows 2008 R2 domain controller. We feel this should be able to simulate the load of a fairly average business network.
In addition to the virtual systems there is a standalone Domain Controller (Windows 2008 R2) and a complete Microsoft Forefront Treat Management Gateway to control external access to the test environment.
In all the testing lab has taken a giant leap forward and we hope to be able to bring you some in-depth reviews of hardware and software that while outside the average consumer range will give you a glimpse of what will be coming down the road for the consumer market in the not so distant future.
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In an odd turn of events Netflix, one of the largest internet streaming media companies, appears to have locked out the Windows 7 Media Center Plug-in. The issue began on June 29th in the early evening when reports of this issue popped up from different users around the net. We checked into the problem and found that while the rest of the service appeared to work flawlessly, you still could not view any movies. The error? Our apologies – we could not authenticate this request.
At CES this year I had the chance to take a look at some of Asus’ new products that were going to be launched soon. These were mostly P67 based motherboards (although there was the EEE Slate that I am currently working on), but there was one that really caught my eye. This was the Rampage III Black Edition. The RIIIBE might seem like an improvement on the RIII Extreme, but that would be quite an understatement. We will be taking a long hard look at this product in the next few days but wanted to give you a quick preview here to whet your appetite.
As progress continues to move forward we find ourselves being impacted by technology more and more. Even in our daily activities we are seeing a great incorporation of technology. Sometimes this is a good thing, sometimes it is not. Recently I was able to work with a company that is incorporating technology into their customer experience. The company in question is N3L Optics. N3L Optics sells eyewear primarily for sports but can also fit you for just about any activity. They have a very different view on the customer and how to interact with them and also to give them the best possible service. To do this N3L has brought in three key pieces of technology to guide the customer experience through act of finding and purchasing the right eyewear.
Once more the UPS truck hits my driveway and brings some new toys to the lab. This time the parts are for reorganization. As the lab is right now I use multiple vendors for the parts used. I try to have two of each to keep things even but I am still working with having to keep up with multiple companies and that can be a pain. To help fix some of this Cameron at Tweak Town worked with Corsair to source much of the hardware we use for the test benches. We were able to get quite a bit to maintain two full test benches. Here is what has arrived so far.
The UPS truck stopped by today and brought with it some very nice toys. The first box was from Cooler Master and contained a Choiix Cruiser mouse, all decked out in red. This mouse is part of CM’s more college oriented line of peripherals, and has a decent look to it. We will have to see about how well it performs.
As another product comes down off of the bench we get to crack open new one. This time we break open the Asus Rampage III Gene. This Micro ATX motherboard is the baby brother to the Rampage III Extreme and has some of the same core features, just in a smaller package. The smaller size makes it perfect for installation into portable LAN party cases. With a retail price of about $230 (about $150 less than the Rampage III Extreme) it could be an amazing deal if the features and performance are even close to its big brother. Let’s tear open the box shall we?
Wow! Another product gets stripped from the safety of its box and shoved into one of my test benches. This one is a GPU destined for BSN, but will probably end up getting some commentary here as well. It is the Asus EAH5870 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Call of Pripyat Edition. We got this back in that big delivery the on the 9th and have just freed up the GPU testing station for its arrival. So let’s take a quick look at the box, the goodies and the card itself.
We have another unboxing to tell you about. This one is in the networking arena. As you saw in our recent deliveries article we now have an Asus RT-N16 wireless router. We have played with a few routers from Asus before and while they were not the fastest out there, they had some excellent features. With that in mind let’s take a look at what we find inside the box and get a good look at the RT-N16 from Asus.
Here we have our first official unboxing. This is one of those things that can have a dual purpose. On the one hand they let everyone know what we have, and what is going on our test bench in short order. These also allow us to take the time to talk in depth about the bundle, packaging, and features of the products we get in the lab. Our first official unboxing comes in the form of the GIGABYTE H55H-USB3.
Ah it is always nice when the FedEX, UPS or DHL truck stops in front of the house. They bring the gear that keeps me busy in one of the best jobs for a geek. Today’s Delivery listing will also include the toys that were dropped off yesterday by another FedEx truck and a UPS truck in the afternoon. So let’s kick it off with the first delivery.