Apartment Area Networking

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Photo taken from my home (apartment) is the RJ-11 (phone) jack, wiring is for DSL. It’s a fixed apartment building, no false ceilings or wall jacks where my desk/computer is. Prefer being wired to wireless at home so ran the cable which Qwest* provided when they activated my DSL service. You can see the little white flat phone cable plug into the right-back of the DSL modem, shown below.

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Above photo is my Actiontec DSL modem. Four Ethernet (RJ-45) ports, one wireless antenna.

Download speed 7168 Kbps

Upload speed 896 Kbps

*Modem branding and firmware is Qwest, now CenturyLink. Only aDSL, copper, to building at the moment. According to 702 Communications they have fiber run to the building but I’m waiting for CenturyLink to run fiber optic cabling to the building in the next month.

This post is mainly technical in nature. Main goal is to document my home network setup specifications (specs), mainly the devices and operating systems (OS’s, plural) in case I ever blog, either here or elsewhere, about anything related to computers/software/internet/hardware/devices all rolling up under “technology”. By specifications I mean not only the items, mostly hardware, that I have but the way I use them in my home network. I want to have something to link back to. That’s the main purpose of this post really.

The following is a list of devices in my home that I consider to be “smart” devices.

Home devices

  • Actiontec aDSL modem/router from Qwest*
  • Dell Precision Workstation T7400
  • Maxtor OneTouch Backup external USB drive.
  • Dell Precision Workstation T7500
  • Surface Pro (tablet)
  • Windows Phone 8 (smartphone)
  • Lexmark X7350
  • LG 47” LED TV

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Dell Precision Workstation T7400

Primary home computer. Used mostly for personal (Email) but some business (web) and a little of both (video).

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  • Processor: Intel® Xeon® CPU X5450 @ 3.00GHz (2.99GHz)
  • Installed Memory (RAM): 8.00 GB (2x4GB) @ 667MHz FB-DIMM DDR-2 SDRAM (ECC)
  • Hard Drive: Samsung HD103UJ – 1.00 TB (SAS/PCI)
  • Display Adapter: NVIDIO Quadro FX 1700
  • Network Adapter (NIC): Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx Gigabit Controller
  • Operating System: Windows 8 Professional 64-bit

RAM allocation table in BIOS. I get there by powering off my T7400, waiting 10 seconds (cycle power), press the power button, then after about 5 seconds, as soon as I see the Dell screen flash for the first time press F2.

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System Properties

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Device Manager – View – Devices by Connection

From the keyboard, hold down the Start key, press X, release both Start and X at the same time, click Device Manager

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You can also move your mouse pointer to the far lower left of the screen, in desktop mode, then right-click, click Device Manager. On touch devices, press Start+Q, type Device Manager, click Settings, click on Device Manager.

For the internal* hard disk, expand Disk drives, select the hard disk, in this example an ATA SAMSUNG HD103UJ SCSI Disk Device, click View, click Devices by connection.

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*The Maxtor OneTouch USB Device is external backup drive.

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As you can see above, the drive is connected to a Dell SAS 6/iR Integrated Workstation controller, connected to an Intel® PCI Express Downstream port, to a PCI Express Upstream Port, attached to the Intel® 5400 Chipset PCI Express Port 9 – 4029, up to the PCI bus, seen below

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Rolling up to the HAL (hardware abstraction layer) of the operating system (Windows 8), a Microsoft ACPI-Compliant System, (seen below) on an ACPI x64-based PC. Nothing else above it except the root (machine name) in Device Manager.

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For the video card: Click View, click Devices by type

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…expand Display adapters, select the video card, in this case an NVIDIA Quadro FX 1700…click View, click Devices by connection

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Here you can see the monitor, a Dell ST2420L(Digital) monitor. It connects to the PCI (video) card on the back of the T7400 with a DVI cable (not SVGA cable/adapter), hence the word Digital in parenthesis. Not sure if an SVGA cable would invoke Analog to display.

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Devices by Connection comes in handy when trying to ‘trace’ where your hardware goes, on the software side, behind HAL. (software abstraction) The other nice thing is you can use this to update drivers by right-clicking on then device and choosing the Update Driver Software… command. But also for looking at the properties of each device and checking driver version, whether it’s WHQL (Windows® Hardware Quality Labs) certified, date installed, etc…

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Dell Precision Workstation T7500

Virtualization (Hyper-V) server for testing computing scenarios (education/development) using virtual machines. I’ve used VMWare before but more familiar with Hyper-V since it’s on the Microsoft stack.

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  • Processor: Intel® Xeon® CPU E5620 @ 2.40GHz (2.39 GHz)
  • Installed memory (RAM): 48.0 GB (3x16GB) DDR-3 @ 800GHz*
  • Hard drive: 1TB hard disk with hardware RAID 1 (mirroring) applied resulting in a 500GB disk recognized by Windows.
  • Operating System: Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise SP1

*Need to verify speed in BIOS but I believe it’s similar to my primary machine, SDRAM (ECC), just that the T7500 has a faster system bus.

Everything else is pretty much the same on this one. I need to get screenshots from the BIOS next time I power it down. At the moment I’m installing a Vista SP2 virtual machine and adding Office 2007 on it for testing legacy scenarios. Good way to learn without paying for a bunch of cheap computers that may die out and suck up way to much power for mass consumption (and distribution). Just pay $1,400 to $3,500 (guestimate) for one really powerful one and you can run anywhere from 8-45 virtual machines on my box, because of the 46GB of RAM. The RAM would probably raise your bottom line (operational costs) but you can add as you go and with the enterprise SKU (datacenter) you can hot-swap RAM, I believe all the way back to Server 2003 R2.

The most current Precision Workstation model from Dell is the T7600 which is what I would recommend for Windows 8, not the T7400 which was for Vista, the T7500 I believe was for Windows 7.

The Precision Workstation class from Dell has been pretty reliable. But it’s just a high power client (end-user) device, not a server (service host). Haven’t had a piece of hardware on it fail yet. I typically will only power it down when I’m going to be out of town (like once a month) or will be out for the night. But you can now put your computer to sleep or log off (which I recommend) in the evening or before you go out of something.

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