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Catalyst 1000 Switches – What they don’t tell you

Not too long ago, I saw this video by Network Chuck about Cisco Catalyst switches. About the coolest part of these switches is the ability to stack them, so you can manage them from a single IP address. This means you can configure things once like VLANs and other management functions in one place, and assign port configurations through the same interface to multiple switches.

I also saw this video by Lawrence Systems, which makes them sound not quite as nice, but still pretty good.

On the plus side, you get real Cisco switches. And, you don’t have ongoing license fees. They aren’t the cheapest, but they are pretty inexpensive, considering the company who made them, and run Classic IOS, something I’m familiar with from my former job.

So, I bought a C1000 switch, 8 port, PoE. I didn’t have much trouble getting the basic config on it. Pressing the button for the 3-4 seconds resulted in me getting to the WebGUI pretty quickly. So far, so good.

I had a bit of trouble getting the new code downloaded from Cisco’s site, but it didn’t delay me very long. I had a bit of trouble with updating with the WebGUI, but the “archive download-sw” command worked fine.

Ultimately, I got everything working fine with the first switch.

So, I picked up a 2nd switch. I also bought a pair of used Cisco SFP’s from eBay, since they would be required for the single IP management.

With the 2nd switch, I had lots of issues. The process to use the button to do easy setup did not seem to work. I don’t know how many times I tried, but I couldn’t get it to work.

So, Console cable, right? Well, neither of the models I bought came with one and I couldn’t locate one. (I have one on order)

So, I fired up wireshark. At some point, I had this hooked up to the rest of the network, and spotted that the switch had picked up an IP address via DHCP. Great, right? Put that in the browser, and it – well, I got prompted for credentials, but the default credentials don’t seem to work.

I believe while looking at the wireshark trace, I saw that it was attempting to download a config file. AHA!

I ended up downloading Transfer for my Mac, a nice looking TFTP server. Download it from their site and you get a free trial period, but after I was done with it, I ended up buying it. That way, if I need one in the future, I have it. Plus, I was thankful that I didn’t have to wait until my serial cable arrives in a couple of days.

Anyhow, I downloaded the config from my other switch, changed the IP address in the config, plus probably another minor change or two, and dropped it into the directory that Transfer uses, renaming it appropriately to one of the filenames it was trying to grab.

Bingo! After that loaded, I was able to login and updated the firmware to match the other switch, then went to bed.

I did have problems with it the next day, but after struggling with it a while, I was able to get into it. I saw it pull the file via TFTP again, after which it rebooted, so I renamed my config file so future attempts would fail. After that, I think all was good.

What I discovered that I don’t recall seeing anywhere, was related to management via a single switch IP. So, Lawrence System’s video mentioned you had to use SFP ports for this functionality. No problem. They are on eBay at reasonable prices (about $13 each). Unfortunately, once you change the port to a Stack port, it loses the ability to carry data traffic – It’s not seen as a switch port anymore.

Which means that if you have a single cable running between two areas where you want switches, and you want to use a single management IP, like I have, well… You can either run management across that link, or run data traffic across it. To do what I wanted, I would need two cables between the areas – one for management, and one for traffic.

I did try a workaround… I created a VLAN for”single IP management”… I plugged the Stack ports on each switch into an access port on this new VLAN, with the idea that it would trunk across the data connection that ran between the two switches… This didn’t seem to work, though. I didn’t play around with it very long, so perhaps this concept will work, but I was not successful.

At any rate, I’ve got a pair of Cisco switches now that I don’t expect to have trouble with for years. I can’t quite manage them as easily as I expected, but it is good enough for my use.

February 7, 2021 at 4:06 pm Leave a comment

My Tesla Ordering Experience

I’ve wanted a Tesla for years.  The Model S has been arguably the best looking EV since they started producing them.  I still can’t afford one, but I think I can afford a Model 3, now that the Standard Range ($35,000) version is finally out.

Since the Federal rebate on Telsa vehicles halved on Jan 1, and it is set to halve again soon, and they’ve recently released these new, lower cost versions, I realized that now may be about my best time to get one.  So, last Monday, I ordered a Standard range Model 3.  The expected delivery date was 6 – 8 weeks.

Since my order, I’ve learned that the SR and the SR Plus versions do not include floor mats.  Fortunately, they can be purchased on Tesla’s website for a bit over $100 after tax.  They also have a nice looking all weather frunk mat for about $70 before tax.

Another thing that did bother me about the interior of the SR was that it didn’t appear to include covers for the storage section (in front of the cup holders).  I looked for 3rd party products to fill that gap, but didn’t find any.  So, I looked on eBay, and found the center console section (perhaps taken from a wrecked Model 3?) for sale.  The entire section (including the armrest) was listed for a little under $1000 in at least one entry, and a separate listing for the front section was over $300.  If I were very handy (or maybe just more confident in my automotive abilities), that would have been a viable option.  Additionally, I like the look of the phone holder that doesn’t come with the SR.

The SR Plus also is a bit faster than the SR, though that doesn’t matter much to me.  The additional 20 miles of range is a bit more cushion for trips, which would be useful.

The power drivers seat on the SR Plus and the “vegan” leather seats would just be a bonus, as a manual cloth covered seat would have been fine as far as I’m concerned.

Ultimately, on the Friday after I ordered, I called and changed my order to a SR Plus.  I did make another change to my order, to drop the cost a bit, to make up for going to the SR Plus.

After the order was registered in their system, my estimated delivery was changed to 2 – 4 weeks.

Late on Friday evening, I took another look at my Model 3 page, and found that a VIN number had been assigned, as well as a delivery date…. Monday!

So, I ordered on a Monday, and after changing the order on a Friday, my car will be on Monday around noon.

March 23, 2019 at 10:47 am Leave a comment

Channels DVR

Many years ago, I used SageTV for my DVR.  After it was sold to Google, I tried MythTV with some success.  I’ve since used Plex briefly, and the HD Homerun DVR for several months.  Recently I tried SageTV again, the open source version.  It’s still very much like it was years ago, with the AndroidTV app working very well now.  Controlling the app with the ShieldTV remote could be better, though.  There’s also the lack of a IOS version, and I don’t think it plays well with other apps sharing HD Homerun tuners, though this may have been addressed.

Plex has a few issues.  No grid guide is a big one.  Another is you can’t watch a show while it’s recording.  Commercials are removed from recordings, not just marked.

While looking at a Plex forum, I read about Channels, an IOS app for watching TV with an HD Homerun tuner which has a DVR component.  I had seen this app before but didn’t try it due to the cost.  After reading more about the app, I found that it gets rids of all my complaints about Plex.  It also allows for remote connections, so you could even stream TV from it remotely, like Plex.

The cost is a bit steep, being $24.99 for the AppleTV app, another $14.99 for the iPhone/iPad app.  I think there are similar prices for AndroidTV, Amazon FireTV, and other versions.  The DVR feature is $8 per month after your first month…  So, it’s a bit expensive, but it’s very good (I think Android versions have various states of support for the DVR feature.).

Regardless of the price, I can say this is about the best DVR experience I’ve run across yet on AppleTV.  The user interface is very  intuitive.  It integrates well with the AppleTV, including support for adding shows to the top bar on the AppleTV home screen.

The DVR component runs on just about anything, even the ShieldTV.  It can use the hardware acceleration on the ShieldTV for transcoding, and if your processor supports Quick Sync, it is supported as well.

I’ve chosen to run mine under docker in UnRAID.  It works very well, even when transcoding.

It still early days of my trying it, but I’m pretty happy with it so far.

May 20, 2018 at 8:22 pm Leave a comment

Palo Alto PA-220

About a month ago, Palo Alto announced their new 8.0 firmware, along with some new hardware.  The most exciting new product to me, personally, is their new PA-220.

The PA-200 is a unit I have a lot of experience with.  It’s got 4 Gig ports for traffic, supports 100 Mbps of firewall throughput, dropping to 50 Mbps with Threat prevention enabled.  It’s a good unit for a small office.

The PA-220 is better, sporting 8 Gig ports for traffic, 500 Mbps of firewall throughput, dropping to 150 Mbps with Threat enabled.  It is without fans, and since it uses EMMC for storage (32 GB), there shouldn’t be any moving parts to break down.

Basically, it’s got more power than a PA-500, the same number of ports, and it’s in an even smaller package than the PA-200.

Best of all, it’s at a much better price point than the PA-200.

March 7, 2017 at 11:20 pm 1 comment

Sous Vide – Tuna

Tonight, I made dinner yet again.  This time, I only made one dish Sous Vide, Tuna following this recipe.  Differences this week:  I bought a Cambro 4.75 gallon container with a sliding lid to cook in and an Ikea pot organizer (which fits inside the Cambro, allowing me to keep the bags separated).

I’m not having much luck with proteins cooked Sous Vide.  Perhaps it was that the Tuna I cooked was a flash frozen Tuna from a local warehouse club.   It was Ahi Tuna, and the color didn’t look as red as I expected.  I think it was more of a brown, but perhaps that was from the freezing process?

I set my Anova to 115 degrees, as I wanted it to be a little firm, but not to the point that it’s dry.  I think my Tuna steaks were around 1 inch thick, giving me a cook time of 30-45 minutes.  I took the first piece out around the 45 minute mark and proceeded to sear it.  I probably took the last piece out between the 50 and 55 minute mark.

What I ended up with, though it was only cooked to 115 degrees, looked much closer in color to the 130 degree image from the Serious Eats article.

I thought that perhaps my issue was with the Anova itself.  Perhaps it was not accurately reading the temperature of the water, making it heat it up another 10-15 degrees above the expected temperature?  I tested that theory by firing up the Anova after dinner and placing a large mercury thermometer in the water bath.  It showed about 109, matching the Anova.  A few minutes later, when the Anova had reached 115, the mercury thermometer also showed about 115 degrees.

So, since the Anova is operating as expected, I can only conclude that I either overcooked the Tuna by going to 45-55 minutes and should have removed it at 30 minutes, or that it was a quality issue with my Tuna itself.  Another potential issue that I just thought of…  Perhaps my intake and outlets of the Anova are getting partially blocked, making the Anova overheat the water?

My choices of sides seemed to go well this evening, though they were not Sous Vide, so I am not going to go into them here, at this time.

Not sure what I’m going to make next Saturday.

September 24, 2016 at 10:24 pm Leave a comment

TDBank – The best daily-use credit card offer I’ve seen!

This is probably the best credit card offer I’ve seen for a daily use card.  This was another offer to me via mail, but they are offering a very similar offer to anyone (only $100 cash back instead of $200).

$200 Cash back after you spend $500 on the card in the first 3 months
5% cash back on purchases for restaurants, groceries, gas, cable, phone, and utility payments for 6 months
1% cash back everywhere elseNo annual fee

That’s quite an offer.  $500 in the first 3 months?  I’ll likely do that in the first 30 days.  Groceries and Gas alone should cover that.

But then there’s the 5% cash back.  Every month, I spend probably 100-150 eating out, more if the cafeteria at my job counts as a restaurant.  We spend about $300 on gas, and probably $400 at the grocery store (excluding CostCo food purchases).  Then there’s the cable bill, and the cell phone bill.

The electric company charges $4.95 to pay with a credit card, but with 5% cash back, I’ll make $15+ in cash back, so the extra fee is worth it.

A quick calculation shows that just on these 5% cash back categories, we should earn $65 back every month.  That’s almost $400 over the 6 months, plus the bonus $200.

This offer is public (except with $100 cash back instead of $200) at this link:

http://www.tdbank.com/personalcreditcard/cashrewardscard.html

October 11, 2014 at 12:33 pm Leave a comment

Chase Bank Checking Offer – $200

Recently, Chase Bank has been sending out offers to set up a checking account with them and earn $200.  You have to get it in the mail from them to qualify, but I got this offer at least twice now and decided that the chance of earning $200 was worth looking closer.

Lets get the “Catch” out of the way, right up front:

This is a checking account that has a $12 monthly service fee, unless one of the following is true:

You have at least a $500 direct deposit going into the account
You have a $1500 or more minimum daily balance
You have an average daily balance of $5000 or more in any combination of linked deposit/investment accounts
You’ve paid $25 or more in qualifying checking-related services or fees

To get the $200 bonus, you have to have a direct deposit made within 60 days from your paycheck, pension, or government benefits.  After that’s happened, they will deposit the $200 in your account within 10 business days.

The only other “Catch” is that you need to have the account open for 6 months.  If it is closed prior to that, they take the $200 back when you close the account.  I’ve already added a reminder to my calendar for next May, so that way I know when it’s safe to close the account if I decide to get rid of it.  In that case, I’ll change my direct deposit, wait for the first payday that they don’t deposit the money in the Chase account, then go close the account right after.

Anyhow, should you choose to take Chase’s $200, your #1 priority should be to set up a regular direct deposit for a minimum of $500 per month, unless you happen to have $1500 or more to leave sitting in the account all the time.

Depending on how long it takes your employer to make changes to the direct deposit, you may end up having to pay a $12 fee, but certainly most employers should have no trouble making that change within a couple of weeks or so.

Chase has pretty standard banking fees, they charge you for checks, etc.  They do have nice technology though.  You can do most everything you need to via their smartphone app, including making deposits.  They do have ATMs around my city, so I can get cash out if I need to without having to pay a third party for the use of their ATM.  They also offer real ATM cards, if you ask.  I did, because I don’t want a debit card, due to the fact that a thief could drain your account, and then it’s up to the bank to fix things.  Do note that if you take their ATM card instead of their debit card, you can’t use other network ATMs, according to what they told me, only Chase ATMs.

One thing I do like about the Chase account is that a single web login gets me access to my two Chase credit cards and my Chase checking account.  With my Discover checking account, there’s a different login for the checking than the credit card.

You may think that juggling various accounts is too much trouble just for a bonus here or there, but I’m using YNAB to manage my money.  With it, I am confident that I can keep track of everything, move money around to where it is needed, and get everything handled.  All of my accounts are managed through a single app, so everything about my daily finance is in one place.  If you haven’t heard of it, take a look:  youneedabudget.com

October 11, 2014 at 12:06 pm Leave a comment

Comcast, cramming charges

Today, I looked at my Comcast bill because it had recently gone up by around $5.

I found that I was suddenly being charged $3.95 for their service protection plan. This is the plan they try to scare you into taking, saying that if they dispatch a tech to your home to fix a service issue and the problem turns out to be your inside wiring or equipment, without this protection plan, you’d be charged a $30+ fee.  I did not ask for this plan, nor did I even know I had it.  As it turned out, I had it for a few months, but there was a -3.95 “Service Discount”, effectively making it free, but that disappeared with this month’s bill.

When asked about it, the Comcast billing representative said that it was a “promotion” they were running.

So, they add a feature to your account without your knowledge, giving it to you for free for a few months, then start charging you for it?  They call that a promotion?

The rest of the added charges were for $1.99, an additional outlet fee.  Checking my previous bills, I saw that the additional outlet charge started the previous month, but prior to that, it was listed as a 0.00 item.  I don’t have an additional outlet.  I own a HD Homerun box that take a cablecard.  According to this link, there is no charge for your first CableCard (at least, as of this date).  The Comcast rep tried to determine whether or not I had any other outlets, but when she couldn’t see any evidence of that, she agreed to remove the $1.99 charge for those two months.

Now get this…  Nearing the end of the call, she notifies me that I’ll be charged a $2.99 service change fee for getting these changes to my account.  Wait, what?  I call to get fees removed that I shouldn’t have been charged in the first place, and you’re going to charge me for the privilege?  When I posed the question that way, she quickly notified me that she would also give me a $2.99 credit to waive that fee.Cramming these extra fees on the cable bill is very low of Comcast.  Unfortunately, Comcast’s only local competition is Clear (wireless), and AT&T (U-Verse), and neither of them are really up to the challenge (Comcast is still the best price/performance).  So, I’ll be sticking with them a bit longer.  I just wish there was another, better, option out there.

September 22, 2014 at 5:58 pm 2 comments

Almond+ Wifi Router

I ordered the Almond+ router in March of 2013. About a month ago, it finally shipped.

Exterior

It’s a very nice looking box and is physically well designed.  It has a small touchscreen interface, perfect for getting basic settings on the router to get it up and running.

What?  A touch screen router?  Who needs this?

Yes, I can hear you thinking that.  Just a couple of weeks ago, my brother called to ask my advice about an issue his daughter had.  She just got cable Internet and picked up a wireless router.  Only, she doesn’t have anything to configure it with.  Her computer is a Macbook Air, which doesn’t have an Ethernet port.  Microsoft is promoting it’s new Surface tablets as replacements for laptops.  I can see a day coming where most people probably won’t have an Ethernet port on any machine they own.  For them, a touch screen router makes perfect sense.

Control Your Home

Home automation is one of the key features of the Almond+.  I don’t currently have any compatible hardware, so I can’t comment on how well this works yet.  From reading the forum, most people are having good luck with many products.  I expect that given a bit more time, this support will really mature.

Based on OpenWRT

To me, this is a major selling point.  Instead of trying to roll their own OS, they have chosen to use a great open-source platform, and just build their additions to it.  This made me very excited, thinking about all the expansion possibilities with the package system of OpenWRT.  However, the Almond hardware is based on a different processor and wireless chip than any other OpenWRT platform.  As such, you can’t just point to the OpenWRT REPOs and install new packages.  While the potential is there for this to really open up the possibilities for this little box, it’s currently held back because it’s not really supported yet.

As a Wifi Router…

This is where I have trouble.  Earlier versions of the firmware have had issues with some device types (like IOS devices) dropping off the network.  It’s too early to tell if the newly released R066 firmware fixes these issues completely, or not.

One feature that’s missing is supporting Enterprise Authentication of the Wifi network.  While I understand that business isn’t their target market, I run Enterprise Auth on my Wifi network at home.  Lots of other home Wifi hardware supports Enterprise Auth.

Another feature that seems to be missing is VLAN support.

Conclusion

At this time, I don’t recommend the Almond+ if you are an advanced user.  I expect that as it matures the wifi issues will be resolved, and especially related to OpenWRT, the feature set will broaden.

September 20, 2014 at 9:05 pm Leave a comment

Why I am moving to a Synology DS1512+

I’ve had a ReadyNAS NV+ and currently use a ReadyNAS Pro Pioneer.  The NV+ was a great NAS in its day.  The Pro still is a pretty great NAS.

Right after they came out, I bought a Drobo-FS for one reason.  The ability to mix and match commodity drives.  The big thing it had going for it was the fact that you didn’t need to have Enterprise (READ:EXPENSIVE) drives.  And, you could mix them, a big No-No in the RAID world.

Even my venerable ReadyNAS Pro needed all drives to be identical.  This made for very good performance, but made for costly upgrades.  In my case, I planned for upgrading…  I started with three 750 GB RE3 drives in my Pro, but soon needed more space.  I could have bought 3 more 750 GB space, adding about 2 TB to my array, giving me about 3.5 TB total RAID capacity.  The problem with this approach is when you are upgrading drives (the only way to upgrade once you have reached the maximum number of drives in the Pro), you have to upgrade ALL of the drives in the array.  Thinking ahead, I bought three 2 TB drives  (4 TB of RAID capacity).  The idea was that if I wanted more room, I could just add another drive.  But when that time came, I’m thinking about the same issues that I had when I went from 750 GB drives to 2 TB drives, wondering if I shouldn’t just buy 3 new 3 TB drives instead to preserve some upgrade room.

So, I didn’t keep the Drobo-FS for very long.  The performance was similar to my old NV+, but after using the Pro as my main NAS, waiting on the Drobo-FS seemed almost painful.

Anyhow, I have been mulling over a capacity upgrade for some time, when I recently read about the good performance numbers of the DS1512+.  Looking closer, I found that their SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) supports mixed drive types, just like the Drobo-FS, but the DS1512+ performance is even faster than the Pro.  I was intrigued.

After using the demo website, I found that the GUI interface is light years ahead of the Netgear product line.  The packages system is what I would have liked to see happened with Netgears “Add-ons”.   Netgear recently put out a press release touting their line of products for video surveillance.  I think they may have gotten the idea from Synology, as they have a very well developed package just for that.

I honestly think that Netgear bought Infrant while they were “on top”, and then Netgear played it safe with the ReadyNAS product, keeping things practically identical from the software perspective, while working on adding to the hardware line-up.  While their product line has expanded, the software has not changed very much, on the surface at least.  Since the ReadyNAS uses software RAID just like the Synology, I would think it should be capable of the same tricks.  Perhaps some future version will, if Netgear has deemed it a valuable feature and invested the time to develop the software to handle those situations.

The Synology supports Link Aggregation and AD integration, two features that weren’t on my Pro Pioneer, which was around 50% more expensive than this Synology.  I believe there is now a “hack” available that lets you enable Link Aggregation on the ReadyNAS.

The DS-1512+ has one great feature the ReadyNAS doesn’t – expansion units…  Plug a cable from a DS-1512+ into up to two of their expansion units and suddenly you could have a 15 drive array.    Not that I think I’ll ever need that level of expansion, but if I do, it’s there.

According to what I’ve read online, these are very solid units (in terms of recovery).  With the mixed media ability (even mix between 2.5 inch and 3.5 inch drives!), this Synology unit should take care of my data for the next 4-5 years with no problem…

October 17, 2012 at 7:21 pm Leave a comment

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