Keeping it all straight

Posted on 1 Sep ’11 by Earl

I’ve worked in IT support and management a long time, and often its involved working remotely from home doing everything from user support, application installation/upgrades, programming and web design. Even recently, working part-time for a non-profit organization, it’s often from home I offer support or work on projects. In addition, my wife sometimes works from home as well.

I enjoy the experience of working from home and like having the capability of doing it as much as possible.

Earl Moore PhotographyWith this in mind our home network/computer environment has evolved into “a thing of some complexity.”

Yes, I’ve often thought of paring things down to single laptops but feel there would be too many compromises at this point in time — my profession and experience has ingrained in me redundancies and back-ups are good things.

I can’t automatically buy-in that simplicity is ‘always’ best by its very nature. But I do believe even the complex can provide a simple and reasonable experience if properly designed and managed. Simplicity for the sake of simplicity alone can seem a great luxury — until you suffer a critical failure. So it’s often a trade off.

I’ve also files and data accumulated over the years which I wouldn’t enjoy starting over on. In my case all backups and other critical functions are by design automated resulting in little daily operational overhead to the inherent complexity, and I never miss a back-up.

Speaking of complexity, many of today’s newer devices/appliances have wireless/wired network capabilities as well.

For efficiency, and to help my older memory, I’ve created and keep updated a home network diagram (seen above.) I use the drawing/diagram application OmniGraffle Pro from the Omni Group for this diagram. This diagram is nothing new — I posted about it in 2006.

The convenience of using a drawing program supporting layers, as OmniGraffle does, is the ability to use different overlaying layers to contain separate parts of the diagram or represent different types of information. Layers in OmniGraffle Pro work much like layers in Photoshop in you can individually display or hide them. In the case of this network diagram I’ve used layers to separated devices by location and to separate different types of information about the devices. For example, what you can’t see in this shared version is additional layers of information listing IP and MAC addresses, serial numbers and dates of service.

Simply deciding which layers to display quickly determines how simple or detailed of a diagram you have.

I found this diagram very handy when something unexpectedly stops working or when I’m planning a change/move of equipment.


What Others Are Saying

  1. Don 1 Sep ’11 at 10:41 am

    An interesting diagram and very worthwhile map of your system.

    • Earl 2 Sep ’11 at 6:41 am

      Don, it may mean nothing much to others but on occasion it’s “saved my bacon.” Thanks!

  2. Steve Skinner 1 Sep ’11 at 10:28 pm

    Being a visual learner, I especially appreciate the diagram of your system; in real life, I’m lost without a map.

    • Earl 2 Sep ’11 at 6:44 am

      Steve, I’m with you…visual learner…I can go almost anywhere if I have a map. Personal experience has taught me taking a little time up front to jot down some details saves me much more time later on.

  3. Ken Bello 1 Sep ’11 at 11:10 pm

    My map is all in my head. Now all I have to do is find my head. I like the diagram. It’s the sign of an orderly personality, and I mean that in a good way.

    • Earl 2 Sep ’11 at 6:51 am

      Ken, lol, my head has limited storage space so I’ve grown accustom to supplementing it with other storage means for many of the daily details that often come back to haunt me. I only can imagine how it must be to have a photographic memory, alas I’ll never know. I took it in a good way — thanks!

  4. Monte Stevens 2 Sep ’11 at 12:53 pm

    Makes my 13″ Macbook and two Western Digital drives look inadequate. That is impressive to have. There are small businesses who wish they had such a network going and someone who understood it. Of course you have a few items many of us would love to have.

    Now I’m really confused.

    • Earl 4 Sep ’11 at 8:50 am

      It looks more impressive on paper then it is, Monte. Most of the devices are getting some age on them and were either used or refurbished when I got them. Some I need to retire but haven’t yet.

  5. Mark 4 Sep ’11 at 8:01 am

    Quite impressive Earl. Seek help soon. ;-)

    • Earl 4 Sep ’11 at 8:53 am

      Mark, you know I went to see someone, seeking help about my problem. However, after explaining my situation all they wanted to talk about was if I could help them set up a network for their office. ;-)

  6. Anita Jesse 4 Sep ’11 at 3:15 pm

    The exchange between you and Mark is priceless. I will chuckle every time it crosses my mind. Besides the laughs, I remain impressed by the diagram and the mind that produced it, but don’t kid myself I could use it as a meaningful model. I wish someone would supply me with one. I might even be able to read it.

  7. Paul 5 Sep ’11 at 9:01 am

    Wow! That is impressive, Earl. Very well organized. I can certainly see how you need the map! You’ve got lots going on there. My ‘simple’ map would contain a laptop and a USB drive. LOL. Not much to map about. Also, like Anita, I had a good chuckle at the exchange between you and Mark! :)

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