Introduction to HFC, DOCSIS 3.0 and 3.1

DOCSIS

This slideshow was presented on the 22nd of March 2016 to the Swinburne TCP/IP student group as a quick introduction to HFC, DOCSIS 3.0 and DOCSIS 3.1. Informal and purposed for education with two way conversation, this presentation does need a little knowledge of TCP/IP and RF concepts such as modulation schemes, FDM, TDMA etc…

Here is something to think about when reading the presentation. DOCSIS deployed in one HFC system is not equally comparable (in terms of capabilities) to another HFC system. You’ll still need to understand the HFC Plant, The RF Spectrum and the Deployed services/scenarios. This key ability for “tailoring” does provide for a multitude of service possibilities depending on needs and capacities.

Looking for more ?

Further detailed and relevant information on HFC and all the Data Over Cable Subscriber Interface Specifications are available from:

Surface Pro or still surfacing?

Microsoft have finally begun to understand that there is value in the integrated user environment, the hallowed “seamless experience”. Copy Apple and we all can now welcome the Surface, Surface Pro and a host of versions with a plethora of operating systems Windows 8.0, 8.1 and 10. Microsoft Hardware with Microsoft software – one vendor, one place to call.  However, no two surface/pro’s are alike and trying to find out what you have (apart from the receipt) is akin to educated guesswork.

Here is a brief visual guide to tell what version you may have:

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4 Front
Surface Pro 4 Front
Surface Pro 4 Rear
Surface Pro 4 Rear

Surface Pro 3

Surface Pro 3 Front
Surface Pro 3 Front
Surface Pro 3 Rear
Surface Pro 3 Rear

Surface Pro and Pro 2

Surface Pro / Pro 2 Front
Surface Pro / Pro2 Front
Surface Pro / Pro 2 rear
Surface Pro / Pro 2 rear
Surface RT Rear
Surface Pro Rear – Earlier Intel Versions such as Model 1514

Surface 3

Surface 3 Front
Surface 3 Front
Surface 3 Rear
Surface 3 Rear

Surface 2

Surface 2 Front
Surface 2 Front
Surface 2 Rear
Surface 2 Rear

Surface RT

Surface RT Front
Surface RT Front
Surface RT Rear
Surface RT Rear (some could be the Surface Pro Intel version!!)

 

 

 

 

 

So why this story?

Well, a good friend has moved to Surface Pro’s at their office and I kindly offered to help, wanting to understand the new Microsoft product. Task – Upgrade all units, unify logins and apps, get running on the business network – typical things you’d want to do. In one summary all I can say is the Surface experience is not consistent. The O/S between hardware models may be similar but hardware errors, update issues etc… vary between the models and there is no one path to success. It seems Microsoft will need to copy more from Apple to get this (very promising) product suitable of non IT persons.

So after some work across some models of surface; I made this post as a typical workflow to bring a worst case Surface Pro with Win 8.0 upto date with Win10. Without using typical enterprise ISO flashing ad focusing on the “upgrade path” typically done at home and in an SME. Hopefully this helps you, if you are not IT minded – you will get there with Surface eventually 🙂

Updating from Win 8.0 to Win 8.1

  • Ensure your current Win 8.0 is already fully updated (about 160 upgrades)
  • Go the the “Store”, select the 8.1 Free Upgrade (you need 4Gb free to install)
    • Don’t use the “Add features to Windows 8.x” as even though the machine know’s its own product key, this button asks for you to enter the product key again. You will get nowhere fast…. It is a programmed “Do While Loop”, while you are wasting your time it will keep asking you.
  • Wait half the day whilst 8.1 is downloaded and installed
  • Now update with another 155 odd patches, fixes etc…
  • Wait half the day
  • Congratulations! You have Win 8.1
  • There are now 13 “optional” updates still available – don’t do these to avoid potential Wi-Fi issues later on!!

Getting Wi-fi to run on Surface Pro with Win8.1

So you undertook the 13 optional updates? And now you have now found yourself without a working Wi-Fi (i.e windows seems to have lost the inbuilt hardware – apparently its no longer connected?), you will be hard pressed to follow the typical help suggestions in the Microsoft self help area of “update”  Why? – Perhaps without the Wi-Fi you can’t get on the internet, thats why! So with another PC at hand (or a Mac) download the Wi-Fi drivers to install manually for the Surface Pro (not 3 or 4). Download and Instructions here:

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=49038

If that doesn’t work, roll back the last 13 updates (the optional ones).

Whatever you do, don’t install third party software from a self help website!

I get the idea that even though wifi and bluetooth connectivity issues are well known, no one thought to update the software patches with the correct drivers at Microsoft – so this issue will simply rinse and repeat for many surface pro owners.I suppose Microsoft can’t 100% copy Apple and test before release, that would make the product predictable and usable by non-IT-embedded persons…..

From Win8.1 to Win 10 (not possible for the Surface RT!)

You may see in your updates a link to take on Win 10, most likely however, this won’t happen, especially on the older models. You can use the Microsoft tool:http://windows.microsoft.com/en-au/windows-10/help-upgrade-windows-10. Or, to elbow your way through and force the Win 10 update:

  • Make sure you are set for automatic updates in Windows Update.
  • Navigate to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and delete everything in it. This removes all prior downloaded updates, some could be stopping Windows 10 from downloading.
  • Press Win-R to bring up the Run box. In it, type cmd. A command prompt window will appear.
  • Type wuauclt.exe/updatenow and press Enter. Windows Update should now be downloading Win10.
  • Double check in Windows Update and you should see that it’s downloading Windows 10.

If upgrading to Win 10 again stops the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth from functioning maybe you had some third party VPN software? Try releasing the interface from the vpn software by following these KnowledgeBase instructions: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3084164

If however, that doesn’t solve the issue, welcome to calling for support. you have now spent nearly 20hrs monitoring updates and patching errors and you are not yet finished…. As a small business you may have just exceeded your cost base whereby buying new was actually cheaper….

One particularly stubborn Surface Pro (intel) machine needed a clean restore back to Win 8.0….. all required updates applied (not the optional ones) then subsequent upgrades to 8.1 then 10….

This product experience inconsistency is one of the very reasons enterprise build with SOE and flash ISO images of the operating systems. SME and Home user on the other hand will need to develop a keen sense of patience whilst enable their “Inner-IT”.

Overall?

Surface is a very good concept with the idea of touch screen, keyboard and pen, but importantly a complete O/S compared to say the iPad with its apps. So for the business with a Windows environment it may be very well suited as keyboards do tend to make word doc editing easier than screen touch…….  Sadly though, it is a product that lends itself to needing IT support, it is inconsistent in its update and software faults and is only workable if you are patient and willing to learn IT or have the budget to hire the support. It is not yet an integrated and seamless user experience. The future will see improvements but as of today I won’t be changing from my Macbook Air anytime soon.

To find out all about your model of Surface: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-au/support

User Guides for each model: https://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-au/support/userguides?category=user-guides

Phishing, Spear Phishing and just opening the wrong email…..

So many of us by now would have heard the sadly constant data breaches of companies large and small losing valuable private clients information – names, addresses, credit card details etc… Big companies, big security risks and big efforts to protect.

ATO Scam email sample
ATO Scam email sample

But what about at home? What about on your PC/Mac at work? Could you be unwittingly part of the problem? Allow me to elaborate before you become defensive!

In Internet Security (i.e protecting your valuable private data from theft) there is a concept shared with general security (i.e protecting your home contents from theft). For example, if you leave your wallet in the front window sill , you may attract the wrong persons and discover a broken window with an empty sill, similar to if you click too quick on emails, you may just’ve given away too much to the wrong persons – except you probability did not really notice it as much.

In the end, the higher the value of possessions the higher the security risk. What should you be more aware of ? Wallet in the window or Clicking every email you receive and just maybe losing your bank account pin numbers…?

NAB Scam email sample
NAB Scam email sample

A very common method (aka “attack vector” in industry speak) is to steal data from you, or for that matter install malware/viruses/bots etc… on your computer, by the simple method of sending an email to you. Yes, just an email with some cleaver wording, some interesting links or files and you are in the middle of an attackers’ social engineering experiment, the one called “How gullible are you?”.

I hear it already – You’re busy, there are so many emails, there are some awesome offers if you click here, this email has the best footy tips attached, came from a strange person, the grammar is a little wrong ….etc…etc… these are some typical traits of Phishing, the email trying to fish for your information. Different to spam (and sometimes the same) commonly these email illicit a response from you in order to gain some control of your computer. You see that dodgy email come in and without thinking you clicked the link – you are now the victim, sorry but its that quick.

There are some versions of this attack to consider (with industry speak – yes its own world to a degree):

  1. Phishing – generalised email to you , i.e uncle in nigeria has money etc.. blah blah and has rough grammar – your name is perhaps mis-spelt and wants you to send some money to unlock greater wealth!!!     PHISHING! delete and move on in life
  2. Spear-Phishing – A much better version, grammar is good, looks very legitimate (i.e from the ATO, Bank, Paypal etc…) as it has all their logos and is written very well. Except it asks you to enter a password, open link to update your details etc…. Very good chance this is a highly directed and well developed attack, in the end the attacker asks you something that no professional organisation would ever do on an email. In the legitimate world – the ATO send you a real letter, Banks send you a real letter – none ask for your PIN’s etc…. ever by email!. Be aware and don’t click or react, delete and again move on in life
  3. Whaling – Like spear phishing, but aimed at persons that have a higher value or wealth to the attacker. You are a CEO, you are the School Principle, You’re the Local Member of Parliament. You may need to show even more caution and discretion when opening your email – even if you have “Managed IT”.  Plenty of smart kids want to adjust their school reports! and it just maybe easier by tricking you to install some malware and inadvertantly giving some kids full login access to the reports server… (yes you just clicked a link, innocent as it seemed).

But what can you do? Allot of easy things really:

  • Use your discretion and assess your emails received before accepting their contents. If it sounds dodgy – well then it is, so delete it. No one will get upset if you deleted too many.
  • Keep all of your software up to date!!!
  • If you think your copy of XP is great so why change it…. you need to think again, with over 10 years of hacks and patches and no longer supported, XP is the proverbial practice ground of attackers. Update your software to one that is supported (windows 7 is for now, but Windows 10 will last you longer) If you have a Mac, the updates to new versions are generally free so be on at least El Capitan. (as at 2015)
  • Get Anti-virus
  • Use an Email provider that filters spam etc. gmail, outlook, office365 etc…..not impervious but a great deal of phishing will be removed before you see it.
  • Always think before you click, It is definitely a problem when email is asking you something very unusual – i.e “please update your details – from your Bank”.
  • Get Anti-Virus – maybe you didn’t hear me the first time
  • Keep your software up to date!!! – ditto
  • Some companies have a published fraud contact that you can forward the suspect email to to verify, use it or just call them up.

The Internet is fine if you are aware, you can quite safely shop, search , read, email, stream video’s etc…. Just be knowledgable and not gullible!

Various Australian government organisations also have great advice and tips for staying safe online:

For more in depth information:

And if you encounter cybercrime, you may report it on ACORN: www.acorn.gov.au

You can also find out more about cybercrime underlying legislation here: www.cdpp.gov.au/crimes-we-prosecute/cybercrime/

 

Vanmoof, it’s kind of …different

Pressed with a desire to move about Melbourne……Without traffic jams and train crowds…. A bike is the way to go. But what?

Good Morning Glenferrie
Good Morning Glenferrie Station, how I enjoy your queues!

The thing is – I just want to get around, not particularly break the land speed record when commuting through the city streets. I have a carbon machine for those runs down the coast, and its great at doing just that. But it is absolutely useless if you just want to shoot up to the pub on a Sunday afternoon, or head to work without needing man lycra…. Yes, that is a thing best left for the speed attempts and not the pub. And yes, design with form, function are all important.

So  with a little searching, found quite the different solution! A Vanmoof No.3 , M1 for the diehards. With some decent thought about the purpose of this machine, the creators made it do some pretty obvious stuff:

  • Chain guard, so you don’t get chain grease on you clothes
  • Mud guards, so you don’t look like you missed when at the WC
  • Tyres that can ride over broken glass! handy in Melbourne
  • Upright seated position, so riding is just relaxed and you have good view of any traffic.
  • Solar powered/charged front and rear lights – nothing too bright, but enough to let other road goers know you’re there.
  • Rear carrier to tie your gear on, accessory but its got the hook points for it.
  • A sturdy frame, aluminium helps it stay lighter at an average 13kg (okay not a carbon racer at < 6kg).
  • Hub gears – 3 speed Shimano Nexus, NO external derailleur! Why 3 speeds? Well -Do you really use all 21 speeds on a city bike…

Suffice to say, this M1 No3 that I found was second hand and after 4 years of prior ownership, had been given sparing attention to maintenance. It is really a bike to just use and not to constantly adjust. So a little tuneup and its right to go. How heavy was the maintenance work exactly? Pump tyre, adjust chain and grease it then a quick adjustment of the rear hub – done and right to go for another year.

Only extra that was added was an aluminium rear carrier. Just went to the people at Urban Bicycles in North Melbourne and they supplied and fitted so that I may carry my gear without backpacks – better for summer !

single_speed_vm3_m1_brooks

Maintenance tips if you have a Vanmoof M1:

  • The Nexus hub is explained in detail here: Sheldon Brown
  • How to adjust the hub is on a youtube is explained in detail here: Youtube to adjust But its not often needed and its a lot easier than a 21 speed.
  • Tyres are a 28″x1.75″ (47×622) Schwalbe, there are 26″ models as well. Pump up to about 60psi. Consider the reflective wall style if you need new ones…
  • Adjust the chain to have about 10-15mm play – CAUTION the hub sprocket is elliptical and the chain loosens and tightens depending on the hub position. Measure at the tightest point.
  • Chain lube from a bike shop.
  • Adjust the seat and the handle bar right – this thing will never be a racer so if your seat is higher than your handlebars – your just kidding yourself. Get help from a bike store to make this thing into a relaxing ride.

SAAS and letting go of owning software

Saasu Screenshot

So quite some time ago (5years+), I had the inclination and determination to start a business of my very own…. A path trodden by many, well worn with their experiences. One of the major issues that you will discover along the way is the quite essential and legally required administration of your business. Strange, you become so busy on the coal face that negating this little detail will drown you in paperwork and reporting errors that frankly could stop any good business in its tracks.

Ever felt you are making your business choices on the edge of your seat? Relying on a bank statement and how many calls you got today??? Napkin planning??? Then mopping up the succe…mess later?    I never wanted to do that.

So indeed, I needed a solution to get the administration under control and usable for making informed business choices. After all the real winner of a poor business choice is your bank with the extra interest you pay on wasted funds…. Yes I learnt that as well!

What ever system you bring into your business, be sure that it is scalable and one that can be extended as you grow.

Off I went and in the context of reporting requirements in Australia, where the business was based, I needed a solution to achieve the above and yet be practical to the business needs. Plenty of options abound, with most needing purchase and then subsequent update subscription contracts…. With the ownership model, not only would one have the pleasure of buying it but also buying hardware, operating system, backup etc…. Great if you have thereabouts 3-5k for a very basic small business system…. add a zero or three if you wanted a something of corporate grade.

So what are the goals:

  • On a tight budget.
  • Cash is better invested in the client.
  • Really did not want to be tied to a brand of hardware.
  • Did not have time to manage the software – updates/installs/backups….
  • Again, my time is better invested in the client.

That left really 2 options, Xero and SAASU. Out of the possible contenders including MYOB, QuickBooks, Reckon etc…. It was a fairly quick cull and the both winners that met my initial needs are systems based on Software As A Service (SAAS), the dropped options did not have anything near it at that stage.

The contenders were simply monthly subscriptions with no specific requirements other than a current internet browser. Reasonably priced, hardware agnostic, managed backup, secure service, managed updates and one important item – only your bookkeeping input needed, nothing else…

A real time saver just by only doing what you must do rather than all the BS around it. Building a business favours those with time…… management.

To save a long story I went with SAASU, why? It had payroll and inventory built in, everything was included and I could scale it up or down dependant on the need of the business. Whereas Zero had similar features, it just lost out as it needed third party modules for extra money to gain inventory management.

Just dropping the whole idea of needing to buy software is good. You always need to keep it up to date, you always need to have competitive systems. So why not just hire the service in? Why not just hire a service that suits your business need? You are not fixed to a hardware vendor, you do not need to be the IT manager as well as support/ sales/ store/ marketing manager/ janitor…..  you can just give that essential role to the  professionals and focus on the core business. Better still go further and palm off your email, and even desktop software…. Just look at Office365 and Google Apps for Business for some hints.

No more looking for that software key – stored safely in last years’ archives……… just to have the pleasure of spending even more time updating a release…….

Small business has now a very powerful toolset at hand. I have used, use, recommended and setup SAASU for mine and other businesses. No one has looked back since making the move…. except just to say – why didn’t we do this earlier!

The SAAS landscape is changing rapidly and vendors both young and old have cottoned on to the idea. See for yourself at the systems mentioned – changes are always happening and if you are in need of a solution, weigh it up and go for one that allows you to focus your efforts on your clients. Do it once, do it right 🙂

SAASU
Xero
MYOB
Reckon
Quick Books

Oh, and be sure your choice understands your regulatory environment. There is no use in having G.S.T on your invoices when your country calls it B.T.W…..

Hello World! A word press blog by Erik Vloothuis

Welcome to the blog of Erik Vloothuis,  this site is setup as writing ground of topics that I have an interest in. You will easily see that I enjoy technology and more so bridging technology to people – the essential user experience is enhanced not undermined by good tech.  As this blog moves along, there could be quite a few articles that may appear. Enjoy.