A Change of Direction

Ryan’s Tech Tidbits is having a direction change of sorts. Quite a lot has been happening since my last post. For the last 5 years I have been focusing on repairing Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8 computers. Prior to that, I worked and lived in the world of Linux, and loved it. Recently I got a new job at a web hosting firm on the east coast. They are great, and I’m glad to be back to doing Linux based work on a day to day basis.

Because of this, my focus has changed quite a bit! I’ve gone from helping people daily with Windows, to troubleshooting cPanel servers and WordPress installations. What a huge change in scope!

Does this mean that I’m no longer working on Windows computers? Not by a long shot. I still own my own computer repair business called Action Computer Service in the Longview, WA area here in the US.

Now, an update on previous posts regarding the Squid caching server setup and using a Linux box at home. Sorry to say, the Squid caching server didn’t work out very well. I thought it was just as fast as not having it, while others in my household disagreed and said it was slower. There was a placebo effect somewhere, and I’m frankly not sure where. One thing was for sure: it rarely made things faster than before. The only “aha!” moment came when my wife downloaded a PDF file and then came over to my computer and asked me to download it. I did, and it was darn near instant for me because it was cached on the server. We didn’t really have a good use for it after that, and it just sat. Then, my daughters old P4 computer (please hold your laughter!) suffered from a motherboard failure and so I replaced it with… the “server” box. It currently run Mint Linux very nicely (but not without a couple of bugs from Mint). She really needs a Windows box though, so we’ll see about getting her Windows 7 at some point.

Life in the boonies with 1.5mbps DSL for this family of 4 has been, well… interesting. I no longer answer phones all day from home (VOIP) and so that is a relief in several ways, but still… its slow. What has honestly helped a *lot* is our Asus RT-N16 router running Toastman’s build of TomatoUSB. Why that router and OS? Because it has QoS. I can rate limit each computer and monitor usage. When I’m working and somebody is doing a big download or other high bandwidth activity that is bringing things to a crawl for everyone else, I can spot it on a graph instantly and throttle their connection if I need to. In fact, we’ve come up with some settings that work very well in general. And that’s just the bandwidth limiting. The QoS setup itself is much more complicated and I haven’t set aside the time to learn about it. I have too many other irons in the fire.

TL:DR: Got a new job, the blog is going be more Linux and News, the squid server sucked, slow DSL sucks, QoS rocks.

Stay tuned!

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