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Oh how I love CISCO…


With the recent addtion of my FreeNAS box and my obsession with being able to listen to my music at work or anywhere for that matter, I decided to purchase a CSCO PIX 501 for my home network. The idea is that it would help dust off my IOS CLI skillz and allow me to VPN into my home network from anywere with an acceptable level of security. I got my PIX off eBay and decided to drop the bucks to get a 50 user license version. Compared to what these sold for new, they are a steal now! I quickly got the unit up and running and was able to establish VPN connectivity from work. Unfortunatley the iPhone IPSEC won't work with my PIX, stupid freaking Apple and CISCO must be in coherts to get everyone on the newest and best hardware...bummer.

Anyhow, as I write this post, I have FireClient up and am streaming music from my FreeNAS box at home! WOOT!


My FreeNAS Build (Part 2 of 3)

FreeNAS LogoOk, so I started sourcing the parts for my new build and realized I had a few more decisions to make before I pulled the trigger on this build.  I had already roughly calculated how much space I wanted/needed. I needed to decide on some of the more technical aspects of the build, like what type of boot drive/system was I going to use, how big should it be? Do I need a gigabit network adapter and if so what kind should I get, will it support jumbo frames and do I need to invest in a server class NIC for ultimate reliability? Luckily for me some of these decisions were made for me when I opted to buy the somewhat gutted Dell XPS 400 from my co-worker. It already came with a gigabit network card onboard, 1GB RAM and SATA ports. It also only had room for (4) internal hard-drives.

I decided I'd just hit up my favorite online retailer and see if I could source all the parts I needed new from them and get what I couldn't there, on eBay. Here's what I ended up with as the foundation of my FreeNAS build:

  1. Dell XPS 400 Tower with built-in Gigabit NIC, 1GB RAM, 3.2GHz P4 Processor. $50 US.
  2. Cheap-o PCI-X video card I had laying around (the mobo didn't support AGP). FREE
  3. Adaptec 2610SA SATA RAID card from eBay, I paid $41 US for it.
  4. Lexar 2GB 80X CF card from eBay, got this gem for $15 US.
  5. (4) Western Digital WD5000AAKS 500GB hard drives from (59.99/each) $223.96 US for all drives.
  6. SYBA SD-ADA40001 SATA II To Compact Flash Adapter from $15 US.

So my total for this build was a cool $344.96 US. Given the amount of space I'm getting and the quality of the hardware, I don't think I could have found anything prebuilt/off the shelf that would come close to this build. Not to mention the satisfaction of sourcing all the parts and building it myself.

In my next post, I'll go over the actual build and configuration of the FreeNAS software as well as my first impressions of the finalized solution.

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My FreeNAS Build (Part 1 of 3)

FreeNAS LogoI've decided it was time to get back to the roots of my geek and setup my own FreeNAS system for the house. I've been using Mozy at home and it backs up my primary PC just fine but it's seriously lacking in features that could make my life easier, not to mention it's $$ each month I could be saving! Some of the shortcommings of my current solution (Mozy) is it doesn't back up any of my laptops, it doesn't download torrents in the background and it doesn't sync my iTunes library. These and more features are built in with FreeNAS.

I picked up a nice XPS 400 case/MB/CPU/RAM from a co-worker and started the search for all the other goodies I would need to build my new NAS. After much reading, I decided I'd go the route of installing the FreeNAS software on a compact flash drive hooked up via SATA. It's super fast, more reliable than CD and seemed like one of the more common methods of installation.

As for the data storage, I opted for an Adaptec 2610SA SATA RAID Controller with (4) Western Digital 500GB SATA drives. I'll be running these in a RAID 5 configuration which should yield just over 1TB of disk space. 1TB of disk space should be plenty for my needs for the next few years, I would suggest you take a serious look at your data storage needs before building your own, plan for the future as upgrading is possible but why bother, plan ahead!

To date, I haven't gotten all the parts in yet, once I do I'll post my build with pictures of the build process for everyone.

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I “finally” joined the internet social “borg”.

FaceBook ImageYikes, I never thought I'd find a reason to create an account on Facebook but my co-workers finally harrased me enough and I gave in. I suppose it's not all bad, within 5 minutes of signing up I had found some childhood friends that I haven't seen or spoken to in forever. It was a nice 20 minutute detour down memory lane...I can't promise I'll ever be an "active" facebook user, but feel free to send me a friend request if you are so inclined, it's jay at jaycollett dot com.

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My New Job

New JobSo my new job is great! After a few busy weeks trying to figure out the lay of the land, I can say that I made the right choice to move. While I haven't had much time to write, I've been amazed at how much less stress I have now days. Sure, I miss the folks I worked with (well, some of them anyhow) but as for starting my family, I think I've found a nice new home. I've even had enough spare engergy after work now to start a few projects that have long been on the "to-do" list....


A change of scenery…

Fork in the roadIt's been some time since my last blog posting. It's been a crazy time lately in my personal and work life. After nearly 10 years working for the same company I put in my notice of resignation yesterday. I decided it was time to move out of corporate America and into a small private company. While no job is perfect I honestly feel this is a better fit for myself and my family. I'm excited about the new road ahead and can't wait to resharpen my technical skills full-time. While excited, I'm a bit be expected, I suppose.