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View Diary: Everyday Magic: How does my computer know where to find Daily Kos? (99 comments)

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  •  Requests go here! (19+ / 0-)

    Got a topic you'd like Everyday Magic to cover?  Ask for it here!

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Clarke's Third Law

    by The Technomancer on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 02:10:42 PM PST

    •  You don't really appreciate the water company (22+ / 0-)

      until you run your house off a well. That's when you learn that it's not actually done by magic!  :-)

      Well done, and thanks for this.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 03:00:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks - enjoy this kind of stuff (8+ / 0-)

      Request - I am flummoxed by networking - running a web business with a home office - and a family - I have about 18-20 devices all connected to a wireless hub, plus a few connected by ethernet - that connects to a router which does all the dns name server functions

      but how does the printer, the various computers, back up storage systems, printers, scanner, the wireless scale, the tivo, the various phones and ipads plus the apple base station etc. all communicate and keep track of each other - and more importantly - which things can slow things down, or help them go faster.

      whenever i set up one of these networks or change routers or base stations i am on the edge of my seat kind of using trial and error to see what works.  Anything you could do to clarify home networking would be appreciated.


      All radicals are optimists. If we did not believe things could get better, we would not try.

      by tsackton on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:15:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's definitely a topic deep enough... (8+ / 0-)

        ...for a diary of it's own.  I'll add it to the list and try to kick that out this weekend.

        In the meantime, here's a few quick answers and pointers that you can start with to do more research on, if you're so inclined.

        Nowadays, those devices all communicate with each other (the ones that show up automatically, anyways) using a protocol called Universal Plug and Play (uPNP, UPnP).  When you hook up a UPnP-compliant device to your network and it powers up and has network connectivity, a secondary service known as Simple Service Discovery Protocol broadcasts to the network that it's service (media player, printer, whatever) is available.  

        These devices, once they discover each other, can communicate with each other using standard protocols like HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP, same as websites use), application programming interfaces (APIs) like SOAP and REST, using standard markup languages or data formats like XML or JSON.

        As far as speed goes, most consumer-grade routers don't let you tweak your quality of service (QoS) settings to the extent needed to actually shape your traffic and give certain devices or data types (like your streaming video from Netflix) without installing custom firmware like DD-WRT or Tomato on them, but that's the setting group that controls which devices and data types get priority.

        Making things faster is nearly always going to require fiddling with your QoS settings unless you have an obviously chatty device that's clogging things up.  More often that not though, the bottleneck on a home internet connection is going to be the connection coming into the house -- consumer grade wireless routers will generally give you a theoretical max of 150-600Mbps, consumer grade wired routers are almost all 1Gbps, and unless you've got Google Fiber or a dedicated line straight of a service provider for business class service, you're likely not getting anything faster than 105mbps, with most people getting 20mbps or below if they have broadband.

        Hope that helps!

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Clarke's Third Law

        by The Technomancer on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 06:41:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  There's another black box op in play here (3+ / 0-)

          It sounds like tsackton is relying on another technology for his home office that, so far, has worked by default (i.e., magic) -- DHCP, or Dynamic Host Control Protocol. This is a method for assigning unique IP addresses to devices on a network. I believe it deserves a mention here.

          When a device (PC, network printer, smartphone, etc.) "wakes up" on a network, it can request and receive an IP address from a DHCP server -- that address is dynamically assigned. Alternatively, a device (if it has the option) can have its address assigned statically, or manually in the lingo of some devices, by the person setting it up on the network.

          Assuming that one generally relies on DHCP for assigning addresses, there is no guarantee that every conglomeration of various networked devices will result in a fully functional LAN (Local Area Network). Here's a couple of things that can cause problems: 1) having on the network more than one device that functions as a DHCP server, and 2) setting devices with static IP addresses that also reside in the pool of assignable addresses of an attached DHCP server. In the case of either 1 or 2, you could have devices that try to operate on the LAN using the same IP address, at which point you will have a failure to communicate.

          Anyway, there's another topic to cover in more detail.

          Great to see a fellow SFBay nerd getting his geek on here. Keep 'em coming.

          My δόγμα ate my Σ

          by jubal8 on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 12:33:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  I can help out with these if needed (3+ / 0-)

      I was fluent in CP/M by the time I was 7.

      Which camp are you in, upstart or systemd?

      Praxis: Bold as Love

      by VelvetElvis on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:30:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not particularly a fan of either... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Tonedevil, Oh Mary Oh, pvasileff

        ...but if I had to choose, upstart.

        Mainly, I dislike how both of them are trying to be the end-all-be-all of system management.  systemd's particularly bad about wanting to do everything for you, but upstart has all of that crap on it's project roadmap anyway.

        I like my computing to be modular for professional purposes.  I like each program to have a single purpose when possible.  It cuts down on feature creep and code bloat, and lets me maximize available resources for the application that's actually paying my salary.  You're front-loading the work to get it all set up since there's no nice bundles, but once it's configured, you can squeeze a lot more performance out of your CPU/compute cycles.

        For small scale or home computing, I won't waste the time.  But for web-scale applications and clusters, needing 3% fewer machines to do the same job is a massive cost savings.

        Init sucks, and it really needs to an update to do things async.  But at least it's not trying to be init, and cron, and syslogd, and see what I'm getting at.

        The help's welcome, by the way.  I'll be getting a group set up this weekend.  Would be nice if we could have a few of these a week from different members of the community!

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Clarke's Third Law

        by The Technomancer on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:42:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  also, email routing (3+ / 0-)

      If there's anything in the basic sysadmin tookit that drives me batty, it's configuring mail servers.  

      I gave up and started using google.  I use postfix for outgoing mail from the server but completely threw in the towel on POP and IMAP due to spam.

      I do sysadmin work for my own medium sized mental health support forum and a couple non-profits.

      Praxis: Bold as Love

      by VelvetElvis on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:40:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I use courier to handle IMAP. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        VelvetElvis, Tonedevil, Oh Mary Oh

        Postfix for SMTP.
        spamd/spamassassin and RBLs to handle spam.
        I pass authentication off to pam auth'ing against a MySQL database.

        But I definitely agree.  It's a pain in the ass.  Mail at work's outsourced to hosted Exchange at Rackspace.

        I just like to keep the skills up on my own kit, ya know?

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Clarke's Third Law

        by The Technomancer on Thu Feb 06, 2014 at 09:52:37 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Technonancer: Thanks very much for this effort! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KBS666, The Technomancer

      Your entries re: networking, however, have already ranged way beyond my tech knowledge, and, more to the point, interest in learning.  My eyes glaze over when tech talk goes beyond a certain, relatively primitive, level.  I've never had any kind of cell phone, or iPod or iPad, if that helps you understand my tech stance and knowledge.  I only want to be able to surf the net easily, efficiently and to the extent possible, without being burdened by constant software updates.  I normally use FireFox, sometimes Safari.

      My quick background: Altho I was an early Apple employee (No. 254), I am in no way a techie -- I was employed in operations (international distribution).  So I've been a computer user since 1979, but have not ever been interested in learning about why things happen when I click "Return"…

      Here's my system description:

      Imac 7,1 desktop
      Mac OS X version 10.6.8 (upgraded in 2009 from Leopard to Snow Leopard by previous owner, a network-oriented techie)
      Processor - 2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
      Memory - 1 GB 667 MHz DDR2 SDRAM

      I have a DSL which I ordered and had installed from/by ISP PacBell in 2004 or so (before they acquired AT&T and later changed their name to AT&T) when my home system was a desk top PC (IBM clone).  I got my first iMac in 2005; my current one was acquired in 2010.  The DSL line MAY have been updated to some extent by AT&T since then, but as far as I know it's basically a plain old DSL, and has none of the attributes (add-ons, upgrades, or whatever) that, for example, enable iPhones and iPads to download very large files much more quickly than I can… in my observation.  I don't use wifi really at all (as far as I know).  My email moves on iCloud, whatever that is.  The connection to my ISP account is by PPPoE, whatever that means.

      My question is: I understand that I can personally install by hand an additional gigabyte of RAM into my iMac, and I've seen photos of how to do it.  Would doing so significantly improve my download time?  Is this an appropriate question for this thread?

      I'm not  that interested in videos, etc.  I AM interested in improving my download and/or general internet operation speed if it could be done by the above RAM update, since I believe my computer's operation is generally quite a bit slower than the current norm…


      "There's always room for cello." Yo Yo Ma

      by ceebee7 on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 02:44:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probably not much (0+ / 0-)

        Your computer's memory would only be a bottleneck in downloading material if it was somehow filling up all of your RAM while trying to write to the hard disk while saving a file. I'd guess that the bottleneck is the DSL not the computer.

      •  RAM usually doesn't help. (0+ / 0-)

        Your best bet, for now, is to head over to and run a speed test on your line, and come let me know what speed shows up.

        It's very possible, given how long ago your DSL was installed, that you've got a 1.5mbit (or slower) connection, which isn't even really broadband nowadays.

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Clarke's Third Law

        by The Technomancer on Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 07:57:45 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

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