Things That Moved Me In 2018

Another year is coming to an end again so it’s time once more to have a look at which things have moved me this year and how technology has moved forward, or not.

5G – 5G – 5G

If you visit this site every now and then you have probably noticed that 2018 has been the year I spent a significant amount of time going through the 3GPP 5G New Radio and 5G Core Network specification and have written more articles about it then I could possibly link in this post. Despite the flood of claims of 5G firsts and pseudo 5G network launches, the technology is still in the making. But that’s to be expected as 3GPP only released a first and very patchy version at the end of 2017. The people in 3GPP have taken everything apart from the radio to the core network and put it together again in a new fashion for fast and better future wireless connectivity that will keep us busy for years to come to put into practice. So here’s a link that will lead to all of my articles with ‘5G’ in it, from 2018 and other years. If you are interested if I already wrote about a specific topic, use the search box on the left.

Congress and Spreading the Word about FOSS and Online Privacy

One thing that didn’t make it into the 2017 edition of this series was the Chaos Communication Congress I was part of again in the last week of December in 2017. I specifically didn’t say ‘attended’ or ‘visited’ because Congress is an opportunity to contribute rather than just consume. Last year, I spent quite a bit of time helping the press find their way through Congress and it was an interesting experience to get a glimpse of their world and how they see things. 2018 was also the year when I changed my approach to convincing others about Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and privacy. I have come to realize that a significant number of people I know do not seem to care about online privacy and security, it is simply beyond them, its not their domain. Telling them about open source software and why privacy and control of their own data is important usually meets the ‘I have nothing to hide’ argument. Others do have a certain amount of understanding and care to a certain extent, but are unwilling to spend the time and effort required to get some of their privacy back and just shrug it off. Convincing them has proven to be incredibly difficult to downright impossible. So while I don’t want to give up on them, I am also learning to limit my frustration about limited success.

Hosting My Services At Home

On the other end of the spectrum I have changed my server setup that I use to host my own services at home quite a bit in 2018. As the number of Raspberry Pis that ran my services at home kept growing and the support lifetime of the operating system versions I used at home were about to come to an end, I decided to upgrade hardware and software by changing to a single x86 based server and use it to run my services in virtual machines. An i3 based Intel NUC with 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB SSD that draws around 12 watts is enough to run my services easily with capacity to spare in all directions. The old NUC went to a fiber connected private location in another town and runs duplicate images of my most important virtual machines with data mirrored nightly. And boy was I glad I had this setup in place when a hardware failure took my services offline at the most inconvenient moment imaginable.

The VDSL line that connects my home to the Internet also got a significant update this year. When I first moved to Cologne in 2009, I signed up for a 25 Mbit/s downlink – 5 Mbit/s uplink VDSL line that I only upgraded in 2015 to 50 Mbit/s down and 10 Mbit/s up. This year saw another speed bump after my line got vectorized to 100 Mbit/s down and 40 Mbit/s up. I was particularly keen about increasing the speed of my uplink to 40 Mbit/s as I run a lot of services at home and some of them significantly benefit from a fast uplink. Unfortunately, the upgrade was a very bumpy affair as I had frequent line resyncs for weeks that made the connection almost unusable. Motivated service technicians I can’t thank enough eventually fixed the problem and since then I am very happy with the line.

I also moved to another hosting platform for this web site earlier in the year, away from a hosted platform to a virtual machine. Not that I was unhappy with the previous hosting service but since I moved the virtual machine I used for fallback connectivity from Amazon to Hetzner, a German cloud hoster and could run it 24/7 for 3 euros a month, I decided to dual-purpose the VM and also run my blog on it.

So much for today, to be continued in part 2 coming soon.