A Conversation About Open Source Hardware with a Sydney Electrician

A Conversation About Open Source Hardware with a Sydney Electrician

I’m a software guy. I think in terms of software, and I always have. When you come from a background where you’ve been developing with high-level languages, it can be a difficult process to wrap your mind around low-level languages like C, which are “closer to the machine” and more closely aligned with the hardware aspect of computing. I’m a big fan of the Unix philosophy and I evangelize for it and live it whenever possible. This year, I’m committed to learning more about the hardware side of things… Especially since I just had a power surge that destroyed a ton of my equipment, including the PSU on one of my servers.

So, it was eminently clear that I needed to get an electrical guy out to my place to take a look at why the power surges kept happening. Enter Dominic, an electrician Sydney based residents and businesses have called upon many times to solve their issues. A quick conversation with him revealed that he is not only an electrical specialist, but a FOSS supporter and home electronics enthusiast with a penchant for radio technology, “If you think about it, the issues affecting the free and open source movement also have an impact on Australia’s community of electricians.”

He’s right, too. Like I said before, I’ve never really focused on the hardware side of things, but he really knew his stuff, “Many of the technologies that we work with and repair are not, by any means, open source. In many cases, guides and schematics are gated behind the requirement that you have to be specifically certified as a specialist with that manufacturer, which makes our job a lot harder than it should be.” Dominic gave some great examples, such as the fact that certain brands of alarm systems, air conditioners, and central heating systems do not have easily available repair manuals.

GNU really should move beyond being almost exclusively oriented with software and into the domain of hardware. As Dominic so eloquently stated, the issue of proprietary technology also dramatically changes the way that electricians have to go about their job. While you can crack open hardware and take a peek at how it works on the inside, you risk running into issues if the manufacturer designed the device in a way that makes it purposely difficult to repair, “In many cases, the manufacturer would prefer the client to go directly to them in order to enlist the help of one of their certified technicians. This means higher prices for clients, so everyone in every industry should be highly concerned about the implications of this.”

This conversation really got the gears turning. Not only that, but Dominic managed to track down the source of the issue, which was a short in the wiring in my kitchen. Not only am I grateful for his help, but I’m also incredibly happy that we were able to have an intellectually stimulating conversation about how closed source affects an entirely different industry from my own. I’ll be keeping them on speed dial for any issues I run into in the future.

Keeping server rooms cool with roof ventilation


It’s no secret that I’m a Linux fanatic, and I have more enterprise-class servers than I can count. To tell you the truth, my office’s server room is so big that I’ve lost track of what is what. The one thing I do know however is that my servers pump out an incredible amount of heat. I investigated different methods of cooling them down, and installing air conditioning in my server room wasn’t keeping things at the optimal temperature. After doing my own research online, I discovered that this was likely a result of not having good ventilation.

I investigated my options and eventually turned up information about a local provider called Genesis Roofing. After reaching out to them on the phone, I spoke to Peter, “Installing good roof ventilation in combination with a dehumidifier will keep air circulating through your server room and will keep moisture out,” he helpfully explained, “Your servers will be more likely to overheat without air being circulated in and out of the room.” That isn’t good! It appears I need to look into installing better ventilation in my technology rooms. I hadn’t actually considered this before, and I consider myself a very thorough researcher. After all, when you install Gentoo and build your OS from the ground up, you become a very resourceful person.

I advise everyone working with enterprise-class technology to look into cooling options. Don’t think small! Start big! You don’t only need to worry about liquid cooling for your hardware, but you also need to worry about the environment of the room itself. A hot room can kill the most robust cooling system. Even if you have big, chunky fans cooling your servers down, if the room’s atmospheric temperature is too hot, you’re eventually going to run into a problem. Best case?  Your servers crash, leaving your clients and all of your websites offline. Worst case? You have to buy new servers. Get ventilation!

Find out tonnes more about servers and other software solutions.

What Chiropractors Have in Common With Free Software Supporters


As any of you who’ve been following this organisation’s site for the previous few years we’ve been online, you probably know that none of us are GNU fanatics. While Gentoo and Trisquel are my main distributions, this is more of an exercise in learning new skills than supporting free as in freedom software. Yesterday however, I did think of an interesting connection between the free software movement and alternative medicine. Hear me out on this one, because I know it’s a weird thought and it falls a little bit outside of what is normally covered on a Linux blog—well, not really. After all, anyone running Linux as their main operating system has at least a rough education in important geopolitical issues.

Chiropractic is a lot like Linux and the free software movement in general, if you think about it. They’ve both been castigated in the past for having unrealistically high-minded, idealistic goals and expectations of society as a whole, but both Linux and chiropractic medicine are widely-used and are both highly effective in solving a variety of different issues. More than 25% of the world’s servers are run on a Linux kernel distribution, and millions of people in Australia and in other countries across the world benefit from chiropractic style treatments.

While I was on this weird tangent, I decided to speak to some local chiropractic experts in Sydney, “I can see where you’re coming from, and I like the way you think,” one Chiropractor complimented, “And yes, there is a lot in common between the two. For example, the mainstream medical community once regarded chiropractic medicine as pseudoscience, but it has been shown in studies to be remarkably effective for spinal issues and issues with the joints and body in general.”

There’s a sort of ideological unity I feel with people who support ideas that weren’t initially popular in the mainstream. As someone who advocates for maximum freedom and scientific excellence—and also someone who suffers from postural problems and occupational hazards related to the joints, I can openly state that I’ve personally benefited from the help of skilled chiropractors. My neck pain and lower back pain has utterly disappeared thanks to the help of a chiropractic expert, and I couldn’t be more thankful that I found it when I did. I’d rather have my pain levels at a manageable level than have to seek out the help of a pain clinic and use narcotics.

Give this one a hard thought. Why should one form of medical practice automatically supersede another when both methodologies are both proven to be effective? Whether you’re a free software nut or a functional Linux user, you likely have some sort of joint pain from sitting at a computer for hours upon hours every day when you’re neck-deep your massive sysadmin task list. Going through life without pain is important, and chiropractic medicine has substantially changed my life and has given me food for thought!

My recent experience with a photo booth supplier in Sydney.


I was very impressed with my recent experience with this photo booth company. I wanted to make my son’s birthday extra special, so I decided to hire some entertainment. The photo booth companies I called, aside from this one, were all very overpriced. After calling around to a variety of companies in the area, I stumbled upon this one and I chose them after hearing how fair their rates were over the phone. They were several hundred dollars cheaper than the competition, so naturally, I went for them instead of going with another similar company in the area with higher prices.

I was also happy with how quickly they got everything set up, and how early they came out. Everything was effortless and smooth, and I didn’t have to stress about anything. They got the booth set up at the park where we were holding the party, and a technician even stayed nearby to make sure guests understood how to use the booth and fix any errors that came up. They told me that they replace the booth unit if it goes out in the middle of the party with another one, so that’s very reassuring. I felt comfortable every step of the way.

If you’re looking for a company that provides great service in the neighbourhood, this is the best photo booth company I’ve found. I would recommend them for a wide variety of different parties ranging from weddings to corporate events. No matter what kind of celebration you’re hosting, I bet adding a photo booth to your list of activities will make things even more memorable. This company made the whole experience great from start to finish, and I would use them again in a heartbeat if I had a birthday, wedding, or another event I needed inexpensive entertainment for.

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