Snowpocalypse 2.0 (Winter Storm Pax) Descends Upon ATL, 90% Chance of Panic

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It’s Coming…

The Snowpocalypse (v.2.0) is upon us…or, in this case, what I’m going to go ahead and dub ICEPOCALYPSE.

Yes, the threat of Icepocalypse is very real. What’s the fuss? you might ask, after failing to notice a single snowflake, It’s only a little rain…

This is where you are dead wrong, friend.

All you need to do is step into a metro Atlanta Kroger and you will see pure chaos, the likes of which you’ve never seen. Milk shelves are empty. Chicken breasts? Gone. As for the bread shelves, paleo diets are out….carbs are way, way in. AND SOMEONE TOOK ALL THE KRISPY KREMES!

Okay, maybe we’re not getting the most snow/ice possible, but it’s enough for folks down here to react strongly enough to, so mind the panic. We hope that all those in our community will stay safe regardless, and we’re looking forward to seeing/hearing about more acts of do-goodery by our fellow ATL denizens.

Also, pre-packed, sodium-filled deli meats were apparently in high demand:

Winter Storm Brings Metro Atlanta to Its Knees

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Photo Courtesy of Snowed Out Atlanta

It’s been all over the news. On Tuesday afternoon, January 28th, 2014, snow began to fall in Atlanta. What started out as a light dusting continuously came down to quickly form 2 inches…and it stuck. Any snow that ever falls in Atlanta rarely sticks to the ground, as it stays generally pretty warm. However, weeks of below-freezing weather had primed our area for the best (worst?) conditions for the storm dubbed “Leon” to have its reign of terror. Roads began to slush up, and with temperatures rapidly reaching the 20s (and eventually the teens overnight), Atlanta became Rockefeller Center (but without all the cocoa and smiles). Seemingly everyone in the immediate universe left work at the same exact time at about 1pm that day, causing a massive gridlock worthy of Walking Dead proportions.

The chaotic scramble to get home turned into an 18-hour ordeal for some. Children were stuck in schools and, even worse, in buses that were in transit at the time of the gridlock. Little to no preparations were made by the city as far as treating the roads ahead of time (this writer didn’t see a single plow truck or vehicle salting the roads on his 2-hour drive home). As a result, folks abandoned their vehicles (mostly on I-285) and trekked through the snow to find shelter and food for the day. One of planIT HARDWARE’s very own employees, Doug Love, was a victim of this gridlock, and ended up taking part in the exodus (and occasional fun) that ensued. Before finding his own shelter in the form of a friend’s not-too-far house, Doug snapped a few pictures to post on Instagram, one of which became virally shared by publications like Business Insider and Buzzfeed in their coverage of the spectacle.

We’re very proud of Doug for not only surviving (good job, Doug) but also helping others out, having fun and becoming an unwitting Field Correspondent via his snapshot. The silver lining in all this is that this storm brought out the best in people in our community (like the folks who started the Snowed Out Atlanta page on Facebook, which led to hundreds of people connecting and helping one another amidst the crisis). There are many articles from various media outlets highlighting the do-goodery that ensued; I suggest you give it a Google.  

3 Simple Ways You Could Be Compromising Your Mobile Security

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In two years, internet traffic (IP traffic) from wireless devices will exceed traffic from wired devices. With greater percentages of total global web traffic originating from mobile devices (this includes both smartphones and tablets), it’s time bust out your inner Kevin McAllister and step up your defense game. Ever notice how there’s no McAfee or Symantec on the average person’s iPhone or Kindle Fire? That means it’s partly up to you to make use of best internet security practices when going mobile. Here are just a few tips:

Connecting Over Unsecure/Public Wi-Fi:

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photo credit: Don Clark

Right now, major mobile carriers have abolished the old unlimited data options and are charging plenty of money every month for very small caps of usage. 3 GB just doesn’t cut it anymore, what with all the streaming services that have become a normal part of everyday web use. So, now more than ever, everyone is more meticulous than ever about making sure they’re connected to every wireless network and hotspot possible. And if you can find one that doesn’t require a password, even better, right? Well, not quite. You never know who you’re sharing that network with and for what purpose they’re using it. Additionally, hijackers can gain access to your device via apps with certain security vulnerabilities. Bottom line: if you can get access to the password by walking up and asking the barista, do it; it’s better than taking a risk on that sketchy open network, ‘BOBS_DEN,’ that’s open nearby.

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Use That Passlock Feature:

I cannot stress this enough. It is a rather simple but effective way to ward off unnecessary hackings. For the slight nuisance of having to thumb-in four digits every time you pick up your phone (and this is even being relieved by new technologies such as the 5S’ finger scanner), you can soak in the dividends like peace of mind when your phone goes missing, knowing that no one can snoop through your contents and providing yourself with a nice buffer period to attempt to track the device down–or wipe it remotely.

 

Careful with That Bluetooth!:

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Bluetooth is a really great feature that allows you to invisibly (wirelessly, really, but it sounds much cooler this way) stream content to a number of powerful devices (first, home stereo systems; now, cars) from something as singular as your pocket-sized smartphone. Bluetooth is also annoyingly vulnerable. While I would never leave mine on (total battery hog on my already-weak-iPhone 4S), I know many people that do, either because they have headsets for work, driving, home stereo systems or any combination of peripheral devices that incorporate the technology. Leaving Bluetooth on could make your device discoverable to someone shady who is looking to hack unwitting users. The best practice here is to turn that Bluetooth off when you’re not directly using it. Period.

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The Power (Or Lack Thereof) of PoE

poe, power over ethernet, cisco poe, cisco, ac, green solutions, green it, energy efficiency, energy efficient, energy solutions, data center, internet traffic, 1993, 2011, data capacity, storage capacityEarlier in the year, we referenced New Order and looked at how “everything’s gone green.” Remember that? Wasn’t that fun? Managers of data centers are still constantly seeking out ways to increase their energy efficiency. Like the Holland Tunnel–or just about any major road in The Garden State (no, not that silly movie)–the internet has become an ever-congested, high-traffic route, The Information Superhighway, as it was once so endearingly called. In response to heightened demands, data storage capacity has increased exponentially and continues to (even as you read this–ever looked at GMail’s data capacity ticker?), but what’s equally as necessary is a continuance of energy solutions. Just as cars are becoming more fuel efficient, hybrid, electric, etc., network hardware is condensing its technology to save both physical space in the datacenter and to cut costs and usage on power. The last large innovation in this particular area of concern would had to’ve been the introduction of power-over-ethernet (PoE) technology.

Server equipment such as routers and switches require a lot of electricity and power to run, and there are more of them running concurrently than ever before. In 1993, global internet traffic totaled about a couple hundred terabytes (TB) per year. In 2011, almost two decades later, internet traffic reached at least this much data per *second*. The bulk of data centers’ operating expenses (more than 50%) is spent on cooling mechanisms–air conditioning and fan try operation–to keep these units from running hot. Inefficiency has plagued the data center manager for decades as internet traffic has continued to peak, and, with the ubiquity of web connectivity via mobile devices and public WiFi hotspots, it continues to climb ever higher. PoE allows for both a device’s data and power to course through the same Ethernet infrastructure, and in recent years it has begun to offer solutions to the energy conundrum.

PoE technology may not have been perfect when it first debuted, but, like most practical innovations, took a few years to really shine. Now, PoE is not simply a novelty or an alternative to traditional AC (alternating current) power. Since its introduction, it has allowed for versatile structuring and configuration within a data center. And since the power and data share an infrastructure, it has the potential to be a very efficient solution, with no separate installations or repairs for AC or cable. On top of this, PoE offers remote shut-off and power preservation technologies that simple AC power bricks cannot. When a server is running all night long, but no one is using it, PoE is able to idle or power down conditionally under unique circumstances. Perhaps the office’s IP phones should be off during the weekend or over a holiday break–well, PoE is versatile enough to where you can make that distinction from a central station. The best part of all of this is that PoE still has potential, a few plays left in its deck, and it will continue to show off its abilities in the years to come, as we save precious resources and precious, precious dollars.

Meet the Man Behind the Stache

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I’d like to introduce you to the man with all the big ideas around here. We fondly refer to him as Mr. Mustache, although his real name is Carl.

Carl “Mustache” Lundquist grew up in Bethesda, MD, with all the pomp, commerce and crab cakes the area had to offer. The son of a keyboard manufacturer, Carl often spent Saturdays deconstructing old Casios just to see how they worked. He soon began gutting out PCs and taking electronics (some not that old) off the streets of his affluent neighborhood on “large garbage” nights. Deconstructing was the easy part, but it was the rebuilding that Carl began to enjoy. He soon started custom-building PCs, optimizing their hard drives, processors, and RAM. He made a killing in high school not only by selling these units to the few kids of his district whose parents didn’t turn their nose up at the notion of buying refurbished, but also by repairing older units for the elderly around the block and the pawn shop guy off Old Georgetown Road.

In a few years’ time, he would be accepted into MIT, drop out after 3 semesters, work as the lead technician for a top IT hardware manufacturer and quit because of a disagreement about his grooming habits. After moving down South, he would come to work for planIT HARDWARE, where he was lovingly accepted for both his extraordinary expertise and facial hair.

It’s true, I mustache him a few questions, but I’ll shave them for later (har har har). “Please don’t ever say that again.”

Monsieur M. is an avid drinker of dark roast coffee, likes it with a splash of cream: “UPS Brown.”

He refuses to talk about the weather. “Hail no,” he says when asked if he checks it daily.

Lately, he’s been jarring his own peaches with some help from Owen. Peach season is ending here in the Peach State, and those Mason Jars are good for more than a quaint drinking glass. “I need a napkin whenever I have a drink of any sort…a mustache napkin, for wiping off after each sip. It’s a lot of work having this thing.”

He only dons the finest of threads. “I buy all my clothing from Brooks Brothers and Brooks Brothers only.”

Does he have any tattoos? “Just one. A little mustache the runs lengthwise on my pointer finger.”

Hipster girls love him. “They’re always busting out their mustache wallets or flasks that they got from Urban Outfitters. It’s flattering, I suppose…although I don’t understand the fascination.”

Who are his closest friends? “Rich Uncle Pennybags, you know, the Monopoly guy…he and I are pretty tight. Also, Tom Selleck. And Steve; oh, he’s just a fellow IT hardware broker with a killer ‘stache.”

Mr. Moustache is an excellent salesman, as well as an experienced IT technician. He used to work in the northeast, but quit after he was constrained by his employer to shave the ‘stache. “I moved to the south, where that sort of thing is more acceptable in the workplace. Asking me to shave is like asking me to cut my head off…and that’s just not gonna happen.”

He knows how to save money and is a guru in the virtues and benefits of buying refurbished. “In this new economic culture we’ve all been adapting to the last few years, beards have become more popular and fashionable once again—people don’t want to waste money or time on shaving anymore. ‘Stop shaving and start saving,’ is what I always say.”

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The Curious Case of Digital Hardware

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Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” – Søren Kierkegaard

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, originally a short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald, then a film by David Fincher, tells the story of a man who ages backwards. In the movie adaptation, the seemingly ageless (I mean, c’mon…really) Brad Pitt is the perfect lead as Benjamin Button, a child who is born a small old man, who grows into a middle aged man, and so on, progressively getting younger as time passes. With such a unique and logic-defying concept, we at planIT HARDWARE immediately were reminded of how digital technology and its hardware progresses in much the same way. The first computers took up entire rooms; the first cell phone was as big as its inventor’s head. Now, we have palm-sized devices that fit in our pockets and serve several functions all in one small, sleek unit. From boxy, slow and bulky to fast, compact and sleek: this is the progression of digital hardware, and it bears a striking resemblance to that of Fitzgerald’s character.

Whether it’s new and slim or older and bulkier, we’ve got whatever you need here at our IT hardware warehouse, all in tip-top shape.

With devices like the Apple “iWatch” in development, let’s just hope these technological advancements continue to focus on function and don’t devolve into mere childish gimmick.

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Northeast Blisters Amidst Heat Wave

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Photo Credit: Rod Anderson

The general northeast region of the US will be scorching, sizzling, steaming, sautéing, searing, etc., through the rest of the week here. This is the first major heat wave of the season for these states, and it appears it has its hot hooks in a swath that spans from Maine down to D.C. and out to Ohio. So, if you live in the aforementioned path of destruction and like your eggs over hard, go ahead and find your nearest sidewalk. As for us folk in Atlanta, we’re not sweatin’ it.

As a matter of fact, A-town has seen one of the rainiest years on record, with 72 days of rain so far. While no records have been broken just yet, the sheer accumulation from January to July is something that’s been seen only 17 times since 1879 (!).  Considering last July’s record high of 106 degrees Fahrenheit, this has been quite the tame spring/summer for this region. So while it rains here in “Hotlanta,” we’re thinking of you, Swarthmore, PA.

We’re making it rain with hot deals here at planIT HARDWARE. If you’re in need of refurbished, end-of-life, new-in-box or new-out-of-box IT hardware, we’ve got a huge flood of inventory from manufacturers like CISCO, Dell, HP and Brocade that won’t leave your budget bone-dry. Contact us now for a quote.

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