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The virtual shed

By h2owe2 ·
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There are two kinds of people in this world

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<h2>Take 2</h2>
<p>I started my first blog entry a few days  ago. I wrote some brilliant topical prose concerning IT, networking and the meaning of life. I checked for typos and content and then, in a feat of absolute stupidity, promptly arrowed IE back a screen and lost the lot. Well it probably wasn't all that wonderful after all as I can't remember a single word.</p>
<p>This leads me to one of my favourite maxims of IT ...</p>
<p>'There are two kinds of people in this world </p>
<p>.....  <strong>Those who have lost data,    and those who are going to'</strong>.     </p>
<p><em>(must remember to save work this time) </em></p>
<p><em>(Phew,  that's better)</em></p>
<p>Well that's it. I've said it,  and also I can conform that I am definitely in the first camp.</p>
<p>Speaking of kinds of people in the world, here are a couple more definitions.</p>
<ul>
<li>There are only 10 kinds of people in the world . . . . . . . . . . . . . those who understand binary and those who don't.
<li>There are only three kinds on people in the world . . . . . . . . . . . those who can count and those who can't.
<li>There are only two kinds of people in the world . . . . . . . . . . . . . Those who divide the world into two kinds of people, and those who don't</li></ul>

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Google earth is cool

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<p>This week I discovered Google Earth.</p>
<p>Wow!   What a revelation!</p>
<p>More than ten years ago this sort of imaging resource could only be had for a couple of million in super computer hardware, years of programmer time and who knows what investment in data. More than twenty years ago this experience was limited to employees of a major intelligence agency of only one superpower. Now I can go and see any place in the world from the comfort of my study (remember to save data) {NB see previous blog post}  for the investment of a thousand dollar PC and an ADSL link (application and data are free).  If you haven't tried it then visit <a href="http://earth.google.com/">http://earth.google.com/</a>, download the client and get globe trotting!</p>
<p>I can't wait to see what IT will bring in the next 10 years.</p>
<p>All my workmates (mainly engineers, middle managers and IT analysts & support staff) also enthused by this wonderful app.</p>
<p>My three teenage kids couldn't care less, they'd prefer the created universes of Command & Conquer, Halo and similar games. What is the world coming too?</p>
<p>My current favourite places include Mt Kilimanjaro (2 deg 35' 65" S - 37 deg 23' 45" E), some fascinating glaciers and valleys in southern Alaska (around 61 deg N - 141 deg W) and of course the Pilbara region in my home state (20 deg S - 122 deg east)</p>
<p><img alt="Pilbara region, west australia from 302km" src="file:///c:/data/howard/google%20earth%20places/pilbara1.jpg" /></p>

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Musings from the infirmary

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<p>I'm a bit crook today - (Aussie-speak for "I am unwell") - and am penning this diatribe from the home office.</p>
<p>Once upon a time a day off meant recuperation without any concern for the cares of work. Today I lasted until 1:07 before I succumbed to checking my work e.mail, dispatching some overdue e.correspondence, tendered apologies for missed work appointments and assuaging my guilty conscience for not being at the office. </p>
<p>In fact I can do about 50% of my work without travelling more than 10 paces from my bed. Is this where my profession and our society is headed?  A bedroom-led economic boom! If so, early retirement and it's associated leisure may not turn out as expecteded. I can visualise a much older me with walking frame and hearing aids sitting in a dressing gown at my home office computer transacting a 4 or 5 hour work day and managing some far distant IT resources. There certainly will be no shortage of work. Imagine all those other old codgers forgetting their e.mail account passwords 3 times a day.</p>
<p> </p>

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Musings from the infirmary

by DC Guy In reply to Musings from the infirmar ...

<p>Much of what you predict is in line with what the futurists are saying.</p>
<p>The boundary between work and personal life is blurring and will eventually disappear. That's not so remarkable, considering that for most of human history there was no such boundary. It's a manifestation of the Industrial Era, this leaving "home" and going off to "work." Hunter-gatherers, their farmer descendants, and hundreds of generations of artisans, craftsmen, and tradesmen wouldn't even understand the concept. Even shopkeepers tended to live on site. Civil service, starting with the pyramids and aqueducts, ushered in the concept of commuting.</p>
<p>Now we live at the dawn of the Post-Industrial Era. More entrepreneurship, virtual workplaces, business spanning multiple time zones. "Going to work" will soon not have a physical vector for most workers. As you say, just walking into the next room--or perhaps strolling through your garden with your dog while talking on a cell phone.</p>
<p>On the balance this will be a good thing for most workers. I don't believe that having two almost completely distinct lives fits the temperament of most human beings, no matter how good we are at adapting to it and making the most of it. When you factor in commuting, which has become a nightmare at least in the USA, people end up actually spending more waking hours at their workplace than with their families, and that just ain't healthy.</p>
<p>The explosion of real estate and rental prices for the sardine-can housing in urban areas and the need for at least one car per person with a fill-up every few days requires the support of every able-bodied adult in the family holding at least one full-time job. This inexorably results in a steady diet of convenience food, lack of time for exercise, dysfunctional absentee marriages, and children raised by nannies and TV--all regarded as omens of the demise of civilization.</p>
<p>Working at home isn't such a bad thing. You have to make some adjustments, but after all they do call this a Paradigm Shift. Yes you still need a baby sitter but not for as many hours. No you can't let your family interrupt you at will but yes they have to understand that the pets are welcome in your office. Yes you may have to work at odd hours but most of us are already doing that anyway. Yes videoconferencing technology has to mature and yes you'll need three monitors, one as a workstation, one for video, and one to be the conference chalkboard. Yes you'll have to adjust to more verbal communication and less body language. At least you personally don't live in a culture where physical proximity and touching are important to communication, have pity on those folks.</p>
<p>How silly of us to ever believe that early retirement and longer life expectancies could occur on the same planet! Very few people honestly enjoy "retirement." Most of us would like to keep working a bit, becoming the "elders" of our community.</p>

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Building the virtual shed - part 1 - the early days

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<p><strong>What is a virtual shed</strong></p>
<p>Understanding of what is a virtual shed is only reached via a more general discussion on sheds</p>
<p>In past generations, the suburban husband's only castle and domain was his shed (at least this has been the case in Australia). The shed may have been cupboard or small office in an apartment, a garden or tool shed (if the home was larger) or may have been large and sprawling on a farm or at a holiday house. My father's shed on the farm was larger than the house.</p>
<p>In the shed, a man was king. It was as tidy or messy as he decreed. it usually contained half-completed projects, specialised (usually broken) tools and containers of stuff that were too valuable to throw out - like half tins of paint, bits for bicycles, assorted nails, nuts and bolts. A wife or partner was not welcome in the shed and any children were only tolerated as long as they kept their hands to themselves or were prepared to help out with a project (when older). The well appointed shed would be powered (wired up by one or one's mate without recourse to electricity authority rules, regs or inspection) and may even boast a kind of kitchen (beer fridge, electric kettle, toaster and barbeque). Superior sheds may even be plumbed (tap and/or toilet) and wired for sound (an old radiogram - circa 1962 or stereo  - early 70's with only one speaker working).</p>
<p>The defining points of the shed were :-</p>
<ul>
<li>a shed is a male domain
<li>everything in the shed is useful - nothing is wilfully thrown away
<li>the owner of the shed values it's contents far greater than would anyone else
<li>some of the stuff in the shed got there buy doubtful means (like the power and water services)
<li>the shed is not attractive or well maintained
<li>a shed reflects it's occupant's character
<li>there is never enough room in the shed</li></ul>
<p><strong>The evolution of sheds in the 21st century - the virtual shed</strong></p>
<p>The coming of the information age has resulted in an ever increasing number of adult males employed in white collar professions. Many 2nd generation information workers possess few manual skills and even fewer opportunities to practice them. Mechanical auto repairs are now the domain of the expert, few if any savings can made by making things yourself versus buying them and tightened regulations mean that 'iffy' constructions and projects are at risk of detection and prosecution.  The rise in popularity of DIY and home make-over TV programs have resulted on a huge increase in the number of females swarming through hardware stores, recycling centres and decorating shops. Every one of these women knows what she wants, where to find the tools and materials and now has the skills to complete the job better than most men. </p>
<p>So what is the modern 'information' man to do to regain his space?</p>
<p>The answer of course is <strong>'the home network'</strong> or as I prefer to term it <strong>'the <em>virtual</em> shed'!</strong></p>
<p>A virtual shed has the following properties :-</p>
<ul>
<li>a <em>virtual</em> shed is a male domain
<li>everything in the <em>virtual</em> shed is useful - nothing is wilfully thrown away
<li>the owner of the <em>virtual</em> shed values it's contents far greater than would anyone else
<li>some of the stuff in the <em>virtual</em> shed got there buy doubtful means (like the certain tools and applications)
<li>the <em>virtual</em> shed is not attractive or well maintained
<li>a <em>virtual</em> shed reflects it's occupant's character
<li>there is never enough room in the <em>virtual</em> shed</li></ul>
<p><em>Virtual</em> sheds have spontaneously popped up throughout global suburbia in the last 15 years. They are as varied as their backyard counterparts and they are defining today's masculinity.  (now there's a thought ....  A <em>virtual</em> shed in a shed!)</p>
<p>In part II I will explore the construction of <em>virtual</em> sheds</p>
<p> </p>

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Building the virtual shed - part 1 - the early days

by M_a_r_k In reply to Building the virtual shed ...

hey howe2howe ~ Did I leave out a howe or 2 in there? I don't have the mental capacity to understand your theory on sheds so I read your very first blog post instead.  Regarding writing messages to these blogs, I've been having issues with either my own carelessness or with TR's crappy-*** blog user interface cuz I've lost one blog post and screwed up at least one other comment that I left on another person's blog.  And since I can only use one hand to type with for now, that increased my aggravation several-fold.  OK, back to trying to figure out the theory of shedding....

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Building the virtual shed - part 2 - laying the shed foundations

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<p><strong>How to construct a <em>virtual </em>shed - planning and building</strong></p>
<p>Constructing a <em>virtual</em> shed is the same as any other architectural structure. You need a plan, a place to put it, materials, tools, labour, services and a good deal of beer.</p>
<p>Most <em>virtual</em> shed architects don't have much choice over the location for their <em>virtual</em> shed. If you are already building a new house (like me) then the plans for the <em>virtual</em> shed can be more sophisticated. If you already have a house or a renting then your choices of design are necessarily more limited. This however should not stop you going ahead with the planning stage as it can be a lot of fun, is a great conversation starter and sustainer amongst you and your mates, is quite cheap and it is invariably accompanied by a lot of beer drinking. </p>
<p>The <em>virtual</em> shed design phase will include such things as selecting and amassing the computer and network hardware (preferably in a large cardboard box in the garage), choosing suitable locations in your home for the <em>virtual</em> shed and planning the network topology. Other items to consider include provision of mains power and ISP connection points as well as sundry comfort items such as airconditioning and/or heating, telephone services, the distance to refrigerator and pantry and access to radio or television. It is best to locate the majority of your <em>virtual</em> shed in a room of it's own with a closing door in the interest of continued domestic harmony.</p>
<p>When I built my house I installed a 16 port patch panel in the storeroom off the kitchen and reticulated Cat5 UTP cable to all bedrooms (one point for each), family and games room (again one point for each) and two data points into my study. I had the telephone installer connect phone services to three of the unused patch panel ports so that telephone extensions could be patched into different rooms. The ADSL router/modem/hub was installed in the storeroom and so ISP connection can be reticulated to most rooms. It soon became evident that eight data points is nowhere near enough for a <em>virtual</em> shed. My recommendation is that you install 2 data points per room plus at least 3 to the study. In addition have the builder install some spare conduit in the walls - about every 2 or 3 meters of wall should be enough - so that installing extra connections is not too difficult. These should be positioned near mains power outlets to reduce the risk of trip hazards in future (see beer drinking). My mistake was that I had not planned for the future and did not think to include connections for a couple of extra 'phones and PCs. I should have also factored in connections for X-Box/Nintendo/PlayStation, media centre and home security products. </p>
<p>I know that the casual reader might scoff and loudly riposte "What about wireless networking?"</p>
<p>Well the answer is, I'm a cable sort of guy and don't trust connections and security that I can't see. It's kinda' comforting to be able to pull the plug out of a device when you don't want it communicating.</p>
<p>Did I mention beer drinking?  There should be a fair bit of beer drunk during this stage of construction although much of it will be consumed by the builder (who installed the extra conduit complete with draw wires) - half a carton, the telephone installer (who terminated the telephone/ADSL connection in parallel to three patch panel ports and also terminated the labelled data points throughout the rest of the house) - half a carton, and the supplier of the 2nd-hand patch panel and UTP cable - 2 bottles of wine.  Of course you can install most of these things yourself if you are handy but you will probably then miss out in sharing a carton of beer and 2 bottles of wine with the builder, telephone installer and 2nd-hand network bits supplier.</p>
<p>Once the Cat5 cabling has been installed then it is very important that essential services be maintained for the rest of the household. Partners and offspring tend to lose their sense of humour when telephone services are unexpectedly lost through some cabling misadventure. My policy to avoid this is to stack unused tupperware bowls, old cookbooks and leftover building materials on and around the pantry shelf that houses the patch panel and associated patch leads. This measure seems to have kept meddlesome hands at bay so far. It is crucial that the impression be given that this physical arrangement is 'the way it is supposed be'. A display of flashing LED indicators on the hub/switch/router/modem/power point looks very high tech and so is a desirable feature. Another sound practice is to connect spare patch leads to all unused patch ports. It looks more impressive and reduces the chance that removal of a single cable will break anything. Different coloured patch cables are a good idea - select port colours according to some obtuse classification of your own design such as colour of paintwork or height of ceiling of the room at the cable's destination, age or sex of that room's occupant or the order in which you picked up the patch leads up when first constructing the <em>virtual</em> shed.</p>
<p>Now that the network and comms aspects of the <em>virtual</em> shed have been completed then it is time for a bit more beer with your mates. This is when they will identify the materials and services you have just installed that could have been had for half the price if only you had asked them. They will also describe for you the wonderful design features that they have planned for their <em>virtual</em> sheds that you now wish that you had considered for your network.  This is called the 'technological cringe' and is a normal situation.</p>
<p>In future chapters of this series will look at the design and construction of your <em>virtual</em> shed's mission control - the home office or study.</p>

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Building the virtual shed - part 2 - laying the shed foundations

by infomous In reply to Building the virtual shed ...

<p>The involvement of family members in shed construction, relocation and repair is traditional.  My teenage nephews assisted with pulling a mass of cat 5 cable through electrical conduit outside my house during the early phases of shed construction.  Their father was amazed that I was able to get them to work together at all, enlightened self interest I explain, my virtual shed hosts LAN games almost every school holidays since those few hours of labour.  </p>
<p>infomous</p>

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Building the virtual shed - part 2 - laying the shed foundations

by h2owe2 In reply to Building the virtual shed ...

<p>Infomous,</p>
<p>Very true.</p>
<p>My family workforce engaged on this continuing <em>virtual</em> shed project include :-</p>
<ol>
<li>my brother (2nd hand parts, manual labour and critical appreciation of the design and progress so far (he has his own mainly-Apple MAC <em>virtual</em> shed and is very well informed for a non-IT person)
<li>my partner (a naturally tidy person and IT technology consumer who goads me to a) finish the task in hand - ie make it work- and b) clean up afterwards so the house remains habitable. Also the initiator of the twice-yearly IT-bits purge - see point 4 below) 
<li>my two teenaged sons and daughter (usually not a lot of help during construction though they are all avid users of the <em>virtual</em> shed. The youngest son spent some time in the roof cavity running UTP last Saturday so that the home entertainment unit could be augmented with network capabilities)
<li>My brother-in-law (a some-time electrician/IT specialist turned farmer who's actual shed is an excellent repository for IT bits that will never make it in my <em>virtual</em> shed - see point 2 above)
<li>My neighbour (not IT savvy but who has assisted me greatly by allowing a semi-permanent extension of my <em>virtual</em> shed into his home. This provides him, his son and assorted scaly mates occasional use of our ADSL link and also allows the frequently arranged neighbourhood LAN/X-Box/Playstation parties to extend over our 2 houses. Such LAN parties pemit up to 8 concurrent players while limiting the number of players per house to no more than 4. This is a blessing as :-</li></ol>
<p>          Noise generated at a LAN party =  60db + (5 x number attending the LAN party)</p>
<p>          eg       a 4 person LAN party generates 80db </p>
<p>          while an 8 person LAN party generates 100db</p>

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Building the virtual shed - part 3 - Staking one

by h2owe2 In reply to The virtual shed

<h4>The <em>virtual</em> shed - an anthropological viewpoint</h4>
<p>In an earlier rant I discussed the recent history of urban sheds in general and <em>virtual</em> sheds in particular. I will now explore the place of the <em>virtual</em> shed in the modern male psyche.</p>
<p>A shed is one physical manifestation of a male's desire to proclaim his individualism; to mark his boundaries and lay claim to a space all of his own. His tribal anscestors proclaimed and maintained sacred grounds for contemplation, worship, male companionship and rites of adulthood. Much ritual surrounded the use of these places and woebetide any male or female who transgressed. In more recent times these sacred places were established to meet more specialised puposes. For example, public male bonding places include the sports or fitness club, the pub or hotel front bar and social clubs. Observance of ritual continues in these latter-day sacred sites (think club membership, formal or specialised attire, special food and drink, rites of passage, formal and informal codes of practice and exclusivity). Private sacred places for males include the exercising and working outdoors, fishing, the den or home office, garage, workroom or garden shed.</p>
<p><em>(some days later)</em></p>
<p>I'm not sure where this blog is going so will leave off for now. Maybe I'll pick up the train of thought down the track sometime. Or maybe the <em>virtual</em> shed doesn't have a place in the male psyche. Or maybe the modern male's psyche is actually located somewhere in his <em>virtual</em> shed. I'll leave off before I suffocate in metaphysics.</p>
<p><em>(2 B contd)</em></p>

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