Ubiquiti Networks 8-Port UniFi Switch

I received my new Ubiquiti Networks 8-Port UniFi Switch, Managed PoE+ Gigabit Switch with SFP, 150W (US-8-150W) today. I’m planning on setting up a pfSense router using an old PC over Christmas break and realized I needed another switch. Since I already have two Ubiquiti Networks Unifi 802.11ac Dual-Radio PRO Access Point (UAP-AC-PRO-US) I decided that having a Unifi switch, managed by the free Unifi controller software, made sense. The two SFP slots make it a 10-port switch, and it occurred to me that I could use my existing Cat5e runs to upstairs and den to power my APs (and not have them plugged into a second switch) and run what is certainly an excessively long Monoprice 40 meter 10Gb LC/LC multi mode patch cable to the switches. My upstairs TP-Link JetStream 16-Port Gigabit Ethernet L2 Managed Switch with 2-Combo SFP Slots (TL-SG3216) is all set but I’ll need either a new switch or a TP-Link Gigabit Ethernet Media Converter for the den. Courtesy of some surplus Cisco GLC-SX-MM SFP modules (~$6 each on eBay in quantity) and a short patch cable I was able to test all four modules successfully between the Ubiquity and TP-Link switch. Neat! My one concern is that this fanless Ubiquity switch runs a bit hot, 63C according to the Unifi console. It is a bit warm upstairs, but still. Anyhow, so far so good. There’s a very thorough review of this switch on Ars Technica: Ubiquiti’s 8-port POE switch is a solid complement for a home Unifi setup.

MacBook Pro HD cables keep going bad

I ran across my third MacBook Pro with a bad HD ribbon cable last week. There’s a thriving cottage industry selling replacement cables. The cable has multiple 90 degree bends that fail over time. The last MacBook needed cable model 821-1480-a. Make sure you get the right one for your Mac. iFixIt has excellent guides on replacing the cable. Their iFixIt Pro Tech Toolkit is a must-have for tearing apart Apple hardware and notebooks/tablets/phones/etc in general.

Zentyal

Zentyal was mentioned in the FreeNAS 10 Beta 2 announcement. It’s a Linux Active Directory and Exchange server appliance. Granted, if you’re going to use Exchange for email you should buy an Office 365 subscription and let Microsoft deal with hosting it but overall this is a very interesting project. I’m making note of it for personal reference more than anything.

BTW, if you need a NAS or SAN then you really ought to look at FreeNAS. I rolled my own at home and we bought a box from iX Systems (sponsor of the FreeNAS project) at work. The FreeNAS Mini is a nicer equivalent to what I built. The FreeNAS Mini XL is its big brother. Both are ideal for home and maybe small business users. Don’t bother with the read and write cache upgrade options, just get as much RAM as you can afford and consider the 10Gbps Ethernet upgrade.

The most cost-effective computer upgrade you can make

is usually to buy a SSD. I’m a big fan of Crucial MX300 275GB SSDs and their larger siblings. The 525GB model is a better deal. Price scales linearly from there. If you’re upgrading a desktop, these Icy Dock MB290SP-B 2.5 Inch SSD to 3.5 Inch brackets are excellent. If you have less than 8GB of RAM, going straight to 16GB DDR3 RAM for your notebook (pair of 8GB) or 16GB DDR3 RAM for your desktop (pair of 8GB) makes sense, if your computer supports it. Crucial has an adviser tool on their website that will tell you what to buy. Newer machines have switched over to DDR4, older machines (2nd gen Intel Core series and older) won’t take 8GB DIMMs so you’ll want an 8GB kit (pair of 4GB). For DDR2 and earlier you might as well look on eBay for used parts if you bother upgrading at all.

If you upgrade to a SSD you’ll have to either clone your old HD to the SSD or clean install the operating system. I use Clonezilla, which isn’t the most user friendly and tends not to work when migrating from larger to smaller drives. Macrium Reflect is supposed to be good. I haven’t used the Acronis True Image HD that comes free with Crucial SSDs. You can download the Windows 10 installer from Microsoft. For Macs, Time Machine does an amazing job of restoring systems. Use it. If you want to clean install your Mac it’s fairly easy to make your own bootable macOS 10.12 Sierra USB install drive. iFixIt has toolkits and instructions for tearing apart Apple products. Older MacBook Pros are well worth upgrading with SSDs and RAM. Newer ones aren’t upgradable.

Hello world!

I’m told that my Facebook scribblings deserve an upgrade. I’ll be posting short notes on interesting IT problems solved, toys acquired, and whatever else comes to mind.

My new favorite 4K monitor

I like tiny text. My monitor doubles as my HDTV. The LG 27UD68-P series is by far my favorite. The P-B version has a sturdier, more adjustable base than this -P model and the -W (white) model but they all have the same amazing panel and have standard VESA mounts for upgrading the stand. I bought a P-B for home and a -W model for work (irresistible sale). If you have a Mac with Thunderbolt 2 (mini-DP) ports you’ll need a 4K capable Mini-DP to DisplayPort cable as only DisplayPort and HDMI 2.0 cables are included. Macs look AMAZING and Windows 10 looks spiffy too. Linux HiDPI isn’t quite there yet, at least on Centos 7, so I dropped back to 1440p res on that. The speakers are decent and there’s a headphone jack. 4K YouTube videos, like the recent GoPro demos, really show this monitor off. I haven’t purchased any Ultra Blu-Ray movies yet.

To do 4K in HDMI you have to enable “HDMI ULTRA HD Deep Color”, which is turned off by default. See page 28 in the manual. My Xbox One S is able to display in 4K 8-bit color but not HDR on this monitor.