FRII Break Room

Informal tech chatter from the geeks of Northern Colorado’s largest commercially available data center

What is the Cloud?

What is “the cloud” Really?

Cloud

We have all seen the TV commercials boasting about the speed and reliability of the cloud, but what s it really? Essentially, the cloud is nothing more than an abstract idea for hosting files on the Internet. Put another way, it is the idea of accessing something on the Internet rather than a physical object. A good example of this is file sharing programs like Dropbox, Google Drive, or iCloud. Instead of physically moving files over like you would do with a flash drive you can have the same effect but over the Internet. Think of it as a digital locker where you can put your photos and emails and via them from any computer with an Internet connection.

Is it all just Marketing Hype?

Yes and no. We have been doing this process of eliminating physical hardware and replacing it with a web interface for many years now; only recently have marketing organizations began promoting this new buzzword. In the past, a very similar idea called cloud Computing was making the rounds. Eventually this term turned into “the Cloud.” As it stands now the term mostly just means that your computer comes with software that will let you store files on the Internet.

How Does it all Work?

It is a very simple idea — instead of storing data files and other information on your computer, you place it on a server located somewhere else in the world. Email is a more primitive example of this concept; you can check your email from any computer in the world without having to worry about if the emails are stored on your personal hard drive or not. This same concept can be applied to just about everything digital, from computer backups to movies and music. All this connectivity does come at a cost. Streaming videos and downloading files can slow your network down if you don’t have adequate bandwidth to transfer the files. Storage space on the cloud costs real money though.

Is it Worth it?

For most people, having a way to backup files and host things on the Internet is quite advantageous. The Cloud can be used to backup files or as a way to simply share them with friends and family. There are a lot of free cloud services out there that will offer you a few free gigabytes of storage that let you try before you buy a larger amount of storage. Students can also benefit a lot from this service; you can upload your papers and homework and then have access to them anywhere. This works as a great way to back your work up too.

With cloud computing only becoming more and more popular, we don’t expect this idea to go away any time soon. The Cloud is a powerful tool that lets you do a lot of things but only once we see past the marketing hype we can get a better understanding of the cloud’s strengths and weaknesses.

People still use dial-up?

close-up image of rotary phone

Although called dial-up, a dial up connection is actually calls out through your computer, not a rotary phone.

When FRII started in 1995, all of our customers were dial-up users. There was no broadband. And we still have many customers on dial-up [1].

Inspired by Verizon’s acquisition of AOL, CNET recently questioned why anyone would still be on dial-up. The answer isn’t that difficult.
So, why do people still use dial-up?

Mysterious email settings: IMAP and POP

A chalkboard is covered with advanced mathematical equations. A man stands facing it, back to us, scratching his head in confusion.

Setting up your e-mail shouldn’t be this hard.

Are you excited about the new laptop you bought? Playing with your new tablet? Well it’s all fun and games until someone gets POP-ed. That’s right: we’re going to talk about POP and IMAP.

Don’t be ashamed that you have no idea what that means; for most of my life I have closed my eyes and selected my email settings randomly and hoped for the best.

Read on. No advanced degree required.

Why is my Internet so slow?

highway sign for merging trafficBandwidth. The data world’s equivalent to Black Gold. With life migrating to the digital world more and more everyday, everyone is fighting to get their worth of this prized resource. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) promise faster and faster speeds to residential and business users and faster dedicated speeds to enterprise-class users. But are they actually providing these speeds or are they fudging the numbers to build a customer base?

Read on to find out.

The Internet, then and now

A screen shot of Primenet, an early Internet Service Provider, offers Gopher, Telnet, and WWW, along with e-mail, files, and Unix shells. Image shows user connected at 2400 boud.

ISPs often offered Gopher and Telnet, in addition to www, in the early days of the Internet.
(c) Tim Patterson, via flickr; CC BY-SA2.0

To me, in 1995 the Internet was not a thing; I had no idea it existed! I was 12 at the time and was more concerned with riding bikes and just being a kid. So when I was asked to write a blog on what the Internet looked like in 1995, I wasn’t sure I knew what to talk about. I did some research and I found that the Internet in 1995 was . . . how do I put this nicely? . . . for super nerds.
Continue reading

A Beginners Guide to Network Devices

Devices Everywhere

computers, smartphones, scanners, printers, servers, IP phone routers, and switches all connected to the Internet

With modern advancements in computing, consumers are demanding more and more data. We think its really interesting how these technologies work, which devices play an integral role in allowing other devices to communicate, and hope you do too! This article provides a simple overview of the types of devices that comprise a network and how they interact to transmit information from one place to another.

Let’s look at specifics