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Extreme Home Network Makeover – Part 2 – Core Devices

April 3rd, 2018 No comments

So in part 1 we talked about the devices I have purchased, now let’s dive-in and talk more about the implementation.

So I need the network to cover two and a half floors (roof is a half floor because it has two rooms). Each floor has around ten Ethernet wall plug and two/three access points. There’s also few cameras around the house, nine on the ground floor and four for the other floors.

To have a good network and wireless speed I have to pay careful attention to the backbone implementation of the network. So while I’m upgrading my home network infrastructure I’ve decided to also upgrade my current in-wall cables from Cat 6 to Cat 6A for future proofing. I have plans for purchasing a server and a separate SAN in the near future to expand and upgrade my home lab and media servers.

So next how many core switches do I need? With the number of required ports and because of having small size in-wall cable pipes, I have settled with two 24 ports switches (US-24-250W) for each floor except the roof. I would’ve preferred the US-48-500W with 10 gaigabit SPF+ ports for a backbone network switches but those 48 ports are more than twice what can be fitted through the cable pipes.

All cable pipes end up on the stairwell and they’re distributed in a such a way that each floor pipes ends up on the stairwell of the floor above. So ground floor cable pipes end up on the first floor stairwell. Therefore, core-switches are placed on the stairwell for each floor.

I couldn’t replace all Cat 6 cables because cable pipes are too small so for some points we couldn’t fit in another Cat 6A cables. Also I’ve decided to connect two cables between each core switches and home lab for Link Aggregation and faster speed.

A month later I’ve decided to add UPS to my home switches and gateway which in turn provides power to all my PoE devices (small Unifi switches, AP, and cameras). Should provide at least 40mins of backup power with my latest test. I bought also another bigger UPS for my NVR/Media server to keep everything running and recording when there’s a power outage. I’m planning to increase the UPS run-time in the future when I can budget for it.

First floor core switch

Ground floor core-switch

UPS for first floor core-switch

As you can see on the pictures above I’m using patch panel for two reasons; to keep the cables tidy and minimize touching any core cables to increase longevity. Maybe it’s an overkill for a home network but at least it feels more professional and I’m proud of it.

Extreme Home Network Makeover – Part 1 – Why & What?

March 25th, 2018 No comments

So I decided to upgrade my home network for several reasons:

  • Dodgy Wi-Fi connection
  • Wi-Fi dead spots around the house
  • Monitoring network activity and who’s using downloading a lot and impacting other’s experience

So after exploring and searching I’ve settled with the Ubiquiti Unifi ecosystem. I’ve been following the company for many years now and I’ve been a very fond of it for long time now, and the family are complaining about the dodgy Wi-Fi connection gave me a good excuse to upgrade my network infrastructure. And by choosing Unifi I get the added benefits of

  • PoE built into the switches rather than relying on PoE injector for each camera around the house
  • PoE end-point switches and AP so less cluttering and centralizing power feed for the home network so I can add a UPS in the future for powering my network and cameras in the event of power outage
  • Unify experience across devices with a single dash board

But that doesn’t mean that there’s no cons on changing my network infrastructure. In fact, because I’m using pfsense, I’m going to lose some flexibility when moving to a fully Ubiquiti Unifi solution like load balancing dual-WAN that Unifi for some reason doesn’t seem to be able to provide a workable solution for that.

So I bite the bullet and went ahead and ordered the following devices:

  • Unifi AC-Pro UAP-AC-Pro x3
  • Unifi AC Lite UAP-AC-Lite x3
  • Unifi Switch 24 Port US-24-250W x2
  • Unifi Cloud Key UC-CK
  • Unifi Mesh UAP-AC-M-US
  • Unifi Switch 8 Port US-8 x3
  • Unifi Security Gateway USG

But unfortunately we didn’t have a dealer for Ubiquiti here in Kuwait so I had to purchase those devices online.

Some might be wondering why a lot of devices. The reason is that I need to cover 2 floors and a half (the gym room), and the garden. So ground floor will get two Wi-Fi AP and the first floor will get three Wi-Fi AP because one half of the floor has many walls that one AP will not be enough to cover that half.

And because I’m upgrading the network I decided to also upgrade the network cables around the house to Cat6A for extra reliability and future compatibility for 10G speed. I bought a 100 meters roll (300 FT) and at the end only 70% of house cables were upgraded to Cat6A because 100 meters wasn’t enough. That’s an additional $300 for the cable and $500 for the handyman.

Most of my purchase came from Amazon and bhphotovideo.com. I couldn’t find everything on Amazon (out of stock) so I got USG, UAP-AC-Lite, and UAP-AC-M-US from BHPhotoVideo. All shipped to New York Shop&Ship office then forwarded to Kuwait. That’s around $700 just shipping the item from NY to Kuwait. If you’re wondering, there’s no Ubiquiti dealer/shop in Kuwait.

Note: This project was completed back in January 2018.

to be continued on Part 2

BarCamp Kuwait 2010

October 5th, 2010 No comments

The first ever BarCamp in Kuwait.

BarCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and learn in an open environment. It is an intense event with discussions, demos, and interaction from attendees, usually centered around design & technology topics.

For registration and more information check out the official BarCamp Kuwait 2010 website.

Mifi 2352 for Zain – Kuwait

June 4th, 2010 1 comment

The following settings are needed to use the Mifi 2352 (unlocked) for your Zain 3.5G data plan:

APN: hspps
Username: hspps
Password: hspps
Authentication Type: PAP

That’s for the Zain mobile carrier of Kuwait.

Categories: Technology Tags: , , , , ,

Novatel Mifi 2352 with Viva

April 3rd, 2010 18 comments

Purchasing the Novatel Mifi 2352 is a procurement that I’m never going to regret. Not only I can access the Internet with my phone through a wifi router that can fit in my pocket, but I can also use my PDA and Zune HD to access the web at the same connection (subscription) while on-the-go. Sharing my connection with my Internet-savvy friends is also a big plus. In this post I’m not writing a review about the device but a quick test. Why should I write another review when there are a lot of reviews online?

 

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The following test is based on my connection which is an HSDPA connection from Viva Telecom in Kuwait. According to the carrier, my subscription speed can reach up to 7.2 Mbps. I bought the device from Cameo store which is located in Hawalli, Kuwait, for 72KD. And it comes with various wiring options and a small how-to-get-started print.

 

Speed Test

Here comes the speed testing in Salwa area, but keep in mind that lots of variables can game here. I just want to give you a sense on what this device is capable of. I’m not doing a scientific or geekish connection test, I’m just doing the regular method of quick speed testing for a regular web citizen to understand.

 

Capture4

 

I’m going to do the speed testing with both the Mifi 2352 and my old USB dongle Huawei E180 for comparison. I’ll use the same sim card on both connections. Note that both devices supports up to HSPA speed, that’s up to 7.2 Mbps for both devices and it’s stated on the datasheets of both devices.

 

Capture2 The image above represent the status of the connection on the Mifi 2352 device. As you can see, it is connected by HSPA technology (HSDPA & HSUPA). I did the test to a server located in Washington DC by Speakeasy. The first test of the Mifi 2352 resulted about 1.74Mbps download and 0.27Mbps upload. I switched back to the Huawei USB dongle and the tested result was 2.19 Mbps for download and 0.24Mbps for upload.

 

I did both tests again and the result was:

  • Novatel Mifi 2352: Download 1.09Mbps – Upload 0.28Mbps
  • Huawei E180: Download 2.92Mbps – Upload 0.21 Mbps

Definitely there are differences in the performance of both devices. It seem that the USB dongle is faster on downloading. Again, this is a quick-test to have a sense of what to expect from the Mifi 2352. It’s not a scientific test and it is not reliable testing method and I’m doing this in uncontrollable testing environment.

 

I’ll do more testing later and then I’ll report back.

Categories: Computer and IT Tags: , , , , , ,

Building a Gaming Rig – Kuwait – December 2009 (Part 1)

December 26th, 2009 No comments

(I’m sorry I won’t be able to continue with the next post)

I’ve decided to buy a high performance PC for gaming and heavy tasking that would last as long as possible and could play the latest games with the highest graphic settings. And since I’m from Kuwait I have limited choices as the online markets are off-limit because of the customs here and the extremely slow mailing system. After purchasing all parts and finish building  the PC all by myself, I’ve decided to share my experience for whoever is looking to buy a new gaming PC in Kuwait.

Since I went to college my need for better and faster PC grows at a greater pace. For the second year of college (2005) I bought my second laptop which is Fujitsu Siemens M4348G for the pure purpose of gaming. It was a big mistake because it was heavy and bulky and it is pain to carry even for short distances venturing within the college walls. And the 17 inch laptop looks stupid on me since I’m a short guy.

The year after that (2006), I’ve learned from my mistake and bought an Asus A8js which was the best laptop performance and graphic wise within the 14 inch range and it weights around 5.5 pound which is considered great for travelling or, in my case, the need for the laptop almost all the time in college. I was able to stick with this great laptop for 2 years which is the average age of laptops nowadays.

By 2008 I’ve decided to buy the Vaio Z laptop which is according to my research, it is the best suitable laptop for me! Great specification for such a small laptop (13.3 inch). Decent graphic card, 6 hours of battery life, very lightweight, core 2 duo and 2 GB of RAM… what more could I ask for? Luckily I was in Toronto, Canada, that time and they do sell new Vaio PCs early at a good price compare to Kuwait’s prices. I grabbed a laptop from the store few days before it was displayed in the store… and I lived happily ever after!

By December of 2009 I was about to explode of anger due to performance problem I’m facing playing new games and with my regular usage of a computer. I’ve decided to get a new PC and my aim was to use it for the following:
 

  1. Gaming, thus I need a better graphic card.  The Geforce 9300 GS for my Vaio Z laptop wasn’t able to play even some of the old games with decent graphic settings which really suck. I’m a heavy gamer and I love games and my laptop isn’t nearly enough to satisfy my appetite for new games. After playing Dragon Age: Origins for awhile tweaking settings and all it wasn’t a pleasant experience. The bad frame rate even with the lowest settings and it still go for 10 FPS or less. I had to go for a new PC with better graphic card, I don’t want to play the upcoming games like Supreme Commander 2, Command and Conquer 4 and Final Fantasy XIV with low frame rate.
     
  2.  Browse smoothly! Nowadays websites are more complicated and requires more resources than old days with all the Flash, Javascript and rendering duty it perform. Google Reader is a performance hug when there is hundreds of articles awaiting in the stack. Working with multiple browsers is required for an I.T. professional.
     
  3. Multimedia. I can’t complain about Vaio Z when it comes to play HD content even in stamina mode. I’m an HD freak and I watch every show and movie in HD and Sony geniously created this laptop to fit a heavy multimedia user. Amazing HD playback capabilities, built-in Toslink/Optical audio output, decent speakers and full HD HDMI output port.  The only drawback is that I only have 240GB of HD space which get filled with the basic applications and music files that I install as soon as I format my machine. So, with the new PC I need to go up one more level of home entertainment with enough amount of disk space.
     
  4. Virtualization… RAM killer! Virtual machine eats a lot of memory and when you’re only with 3GB of memory, you won’t have enough memory left to work within the main OS smoothly. Windows 7 comes with a new feature called Windows XP Mode which allows you to run Windows XP on top of Windows 7, it could be helpful when you are running applications that are compatible with Windows XP only but you’ll need a chip-level virtualization which is supported in the Vaio Z.
     
  5. I’m a programmer. Programmers and web developers generally do not need cutting edge CPU and high amount of RAM except in some situations, however, a smooth working environment for a programmer is certainly a big plus. It is not like I’m developing a game or something big but it feel more comfortable to work when you run your website on a GlassFish or MAMP local server and it executes fast enough to do a fast testing and get done with your work quickly. Some big IDEs like Netbeans and Visual Studio 2010 requires more resources when you start developing a mid-sized applications because of all the background processes happening during the development period. I know some programmers still uses Pentium 3, but I’m not really patience when my fingers start writing codes.
     
  6. Designing. I use Adobe Flash, Flex, Photoshop and Swift 3D. Photoshop is pain in the ass when I start creating posters and flyers. It starts getting slow when I go to large designs and as deep as 300 DPI and beyond. Certainly a memory of 3GB is not enough with all other applications working on the background. Also rendering is freaking slow on my Vaio Z which is another drawback.

 

To be continued…