Speaking of switching

A few days ago, I got our long awaited new internet service from Greenlight Networks. This is fiber to the home, and I got the top tier, which advertises 1000Mbps down and 100Mbps up. I’m not getting quite that advertised speed, but what I am getting is pretty amazing.

This is on my very busy home network, no attempt to shut down anything using the net heavily to increase the speed. At other times I’ve seen downloads over 450Mbps and uploads closer to 80Mbps.

I worked hard to get this network in our neighborhood, talking it up to anybody I could (and emphasizing that “fast internet speeds will help your resale value” with people who don’t care about fast internet speeds for themselves) and distributing flyers. One day I put flyers on every since door on Windemere Road.

The connection so far seems a little “bursty” – sometimes it will take a few seconds to make a connection, but once it’s connected everything is fast as hell. I was a little disappointed that my favorite 4K YouTube video didn’t play without interruption until I installed a plugin to get more buffer before it started playing. I think that’s a symptom of the burstiness – the extra buffer gets me over the few seconds of slowness before the fast bit starts up again.

Also, because the upload speed is go good, I’m moving some of the web sites I was hosting for free off my colo box back to my home. At the time I made that decision, I thought “hey, I’m paying $80/month for that colo box, that will almost completely offset the cost of GreenLight right there”. But as I was moving stuff, I looked through my bill paying software and couldn’t find any record of my paying for the colo box since last November. And then I checked my email archive, and discovered that several months after the colo facility got bought by Earthlink IT (yeah, I was surprised that Earthlink still exists too) they cancelled the automatic Paypal payment, and when I emailed their support email address to find out why, they bounced my mail because my email address wasn’t in their ticketing system as a valid customer. I guess I was going to wait for them to start billing me, and they never did. So now I’m wondering how I can get that computer back from their colo facility, and if I’m going to be hit with a bill for a year of service if I do so. The thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve visited the facility to reboot my box when it’s frozen up at least once since the transition to Earthlink started, but I’m not sure if that was before or after they stopped billing me. The box probably has a resale value around half of what I owe them, but on the other hand, I did get the services they haven’t billed me for. Sigh. I should probably do the right thing and contact them to get my billing up to date and the account properly closed out. I anticipate massive headaches.


Currently, my daily desktop is a big Linux tower. It has two video cards (GT 430 and GT 620) driving three monitors, a 28″ 4K (Acer B286HK) and 2 21″ 1080p Dells. I also have a MacBook Pro (MBP) which is almost as powerful as the Linux tower (same i7 processor, same 16Gb of RAM, bigger SSD).

Some of the weirdness-es of Linux are driving me up the wall, and I’m thinking of switching to using the MBP as my daily machine. I’ve verified that the MBP will drive the 4K monitor through a mini-DisplayPort cable (which plugs into one of the Thunderbolt ports) while driving one of the 21″ Dells through HDMI. I could drop the Linux box down to one of the 21″ Dells (and maybe also a ViewSonic 21″ monitor which is just gathering dust in the corner) and still be able to use it.

There are only a couple of reasons I haven’t done it yet:

  1. I need another keyboard and mouse for the Linux box. I had a junk-box clearing out a year or two ago and I don’t have any spare keyboards or mice right now.
  2. I’d have to move a bunch of hardware around to make room for everything the way I want it, and if it doesn’t work out, I’d have to move it all back.
  3. Every time I needed to take my MBP on work trips, I’d have to disconnect a forest of cables (MiniDP, Ethernet, USB Hub, USB external drive[1], HDMI) and reconnect it all when I got home.
  4. Last time I tried hooking up the 4K to the MBP, every time the display went to sleep it regathered all the windows into the top left corner like it forgot the display was bigger than the built-in and moved them to where they would be on the built-in. I *think* I found a solution for that, but I don’t recall.

If this works out, I will be getting rid of the biggest annoyances of Linux (like the fact that Chrome will play videos on one screen but not on another, or that Youtube will support 4K display in the “default” Flash player but will only support 720p in HTML5) but on the other hand I’ll be losing the biggest advantages of Linux – like “focus follows mouse” (I’m not sure most people would consider it an advantage, but I love it). So I’m not sure if this is 100% going to make me happy, but it’s something I want to at least try.