Top 5 Reasons the Used Technology Industry is Evolving

car salesBuying used products often comes with a negative connotation.  For example, used car sales  are often seen as a ‘shady’ way of purchasing a reliable vehicle. Horror stories of rip-offs, unanswered calls and pressure cooker sales techniques are abound in the used product industry.

The public outlook on used products is currently in a state of flux though.  Buying used is fast becoming a valid alternative to expensive new purchases during these trim economic times.  Not only are used products a cost-saving alternative, they also are more reliable than ever as online resellers establish customer friendly reputations.  I’d like to take this opportunity to expound on the ‘Top 5’ changing reasons to utilize a used product reseller, specifically in the information technology sector.

1.  Cost

Companies across the board need to save every extra dime nowadays.  Many businesses are trimming their overhead by cutting jobs and concentrating on core  services.  Another way companies can drastically reduce their costs is by purchasing used network hardware for their IT infrastructure. Buying a used router, switch or server can often mean the difference in thousands of dollars.

2.  Rising Quality

The days of shady resellers are over.  Many current online technology resellers are gaining great reputations for good return policies, great customer service and incredible prices.   Resellers also have larger product inventories than ever before, matching many straight-from-the-source stores in both quantity and quality.

Resellers understand that there is a large existing consumer market that wants both affordability and quality.  This combo of traits used to be unheard of.  However, cutting edge processing techniques now allow resellers to provide top notch products at great prices.

3.  Eco-Friendly

Buying used saves our environment. The constant need to upgrade to the newest and best technology has been putting a strain on our environment as old equipment is constantly trashed.

The re-use of technology equipment prevents the unnecessary and costly disposal of used hardware, which often ends up in our country’s landfills.  The ‘green’ way of doing things involves recycling used hardware and re-using it in an efficient and responsible manner.

4.  Evolving Market

The advent of the internet has given the resale market the tools to collaborate, organize and become ‘official.’  Various collective organizations, such as Uneda, for the used network hardware industry, provide oversight, ensure the highest in product quality, and prevent instances of counterfeit and fraud.

These alliances create a safe and efficient environment for used hardware customers to make a purchase.  They are helping eradicate the dark days of resale, wrought with ‘used car salesman’ horror stories.

5.  Customer Service

Several years ago,  online stores in general were renowned for their horrible customer service, perhaps only overshadowed by the telecom companies.  The recent popularity and security imbued to online purchases have created a rising need for good customer service.

Many online technology resellers now provide top notch customer help: utilizing expert engineers and Q/A technicians to work out every customer’s needs.  Whether a customer wants to chat online, email or phone in, a new age of ‘getting it worked out’ is upon us.

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August 27, 2009 at 5:43 pm Leave a comment

The Word As We Knew It

darwin chatOver time, the definitions of words have evolved and adapted to their environments.  Much as Darwin’s theory of evolution postulates a survival of the fittest for species within a given environment, language also seems to have its own breed of natural selection.

Certain words and meanings become extinct- in modern day America the ‘rad’ and ‘righteous’ slang of the 1960s has all but died off. Other words evolve and continue to take on new meanings as they are placed under different societal pressures.  For example, the word ‘computer’ in the 17th century referred to a person who performs mathematical calculations.  Today, ‘computer’ has clearly evolved into a word with a completely different set of meanings and connotations.  Circuits, bits, robots, mechanics, PCs, networks and the internet are all associations that easily come to our minds, but would baffle any 17th century citizen.

The internet and its unique ability to rapidly share information across the planet has created a sort of ‘hot-bed’ for the evolution of language.  New phrases, words, acronyms and slangs have been given the ability to virally evolve and disseminate to new populations within a matter of days.  Definitions are born, morph, and die based on the evolving collective consciousness of humanity.

Take the slang word ‘Photoshopped.’  This word has evolved based on the popularity of the Adobe photo-editing application, Photoshop.  When it first emerged as a new word, it was simply taken to be the utilization of a specific software solution to modify or edit a photo.  It then evolved to encompass a new set of societal conditions.   Print magazine models were said to be ‘Photoshopped’ due to the high occurrence of airbrushing and re-touching work that went into their shots.   More recently, ‘Photoshopped’ can even refer to something non-digital that is unlikely to be true or may be an illusion.

Another word that has undertaken similar stages of mutation is ‘router.’  The original definition was a person who routed items from one location to another- a sort of latter-day postal service employee.  Technological innovation once again selected for the dominant meaning when Standford’s William Yeager designed the first router to distribute packets of information across a network of computers.   As consumer and enterprise networking-use exploded over the next 3 decades, the definition of the router once again evolved.

No longer is a router simply a piece of network hardware that routes packets of information from one location to another.  Today, a ‘router’ encompasses a slew of different pieces of network equipment, from VPNs and Firewalls to Blade Servers.  Solutions such as Cisco’s Integrated Service Router are melding multiple functions into all-in-one solutions in order to make networking more seamless.  We once used router to refer to a singular device, wheras we now may be referring to a number of devices daisy-chained together.

Technology’s impact on the evolution of language cannot be understated.   The internet is not only a pressure cooker for the new meanings of old words, but also a breeding ground for new sorts of language all together.  Although considered primarily the ammunition of text-messaging teenagers, abbreviations (lol, rotfl, wtf, brb, gtg, etc.) are becoming more than meets the eye.  ‘LOL’ possesses a completely different meaning than the words ‘Laugh out Loud’ written fully.   In fact, ‘Laugh out Loud’ written in full could either be interpreted as sarcasm or the product of an out-of-fashion text message.

This exponential burst in language evolution due to technological progress poses several interesting questions.  Will the internet’s ability to disperse and disseminate meaning eventually create more language sub-sets?  Will it work  as a sort of ‘meme drift’ that isolates specific groups to only communicate with one another?  Or will the internet’s access to information act as a ‘Rosetta Stone,’ and create a larger set of universal words that can be spoken across various cultures?

Citations:

Network World, ‘What is a Router?’:  http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/061709-what-is-a-router.html

Princenton Wordnet:   wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Wikipedia, ‘William Yeager’: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Yeager

June 17, 2009 at 10:46 pm 2 comments

What would you do with twenty (or 100) times the bandwidth?

future of ITThe annual Interop IT conference in Las Vegas kicked off last weekend, allowing IT companies and manufacturers to show us some glimpses into the future of Information Technology.   One of the most interesting conversations that was recently mentioned on the Inside Interop Blog posed the question:  what would you do with 20 times the bandwidth you currently have?  This may become a possibility very soon, so I thought it would be interesting to compile a list of future applications that could exist with a much bigger pipe (up to 100x what we have now).  I’d also like to open up the discussion to encompass increased speed on all different types of networks, whether it be connecting from your home office or via a mobile device.

1.  Cell Phone Video Conferencing…for real

Although this is a technology that is  possible with current 3G networks, it has not caught on yet with widespread use.  With the proper upstream and downstream speeds, a person will be able to effortlessly broadcast their visual persona while speaking.   This needs to be seamless in quality and transfer,  only dropping  out as much as a normal phone call would.   There also needs to be some advancement in the hardware available to facilitate looking at the screen while speaking (such as in a car).

2.  Super High Def  Live Video

Streaming video quality is currently still more limited than the latest display technology.  Whether it be a live video feed broadcast through a site like Qik.com or on-demand video from YouTube, all of this has the potential to be displayed in incredible high definition with the proper bandwidth.  You could watch your family across the country eat their thanksgiving dinner live, complete with high definition shots of mom’s homemade stuffing.

Two clubs, one in Rome and one in San Francisco, could ‘connect’ their dance floors by providing high definition live feeds to one another on massive screens.  This ‘portal’ could also allow visitors to talk with their international counterparts at specific designated video booths.  Sure, applications like this currently are possible, but who wants ’em when the quality is grainy.

3.  Multiple applications running simultaneously

Applications that are run from the cloud and accessed via our mobile devices will require an increasing amount of bandwidth. It is understated how important it is, especially for today’s mobile work warrior, to be able to run multiple applications at once.  As applications become more complex by mashing up several functions, it will be a necessity to have more bandwidth to run them.

4.   Games streamed straight to the device

Along the same lines as running more complex applications, games that require more processing but live almost completely in the cloud will require more bandwidth throughput.  MMORPGs will become more realistic and involve more in-game character interaction, which in turn will necessitate a very realistic (and speedy) data-return.

5.  Augmented Reality

Imagine looking through your cell phone camera lens and receiving real-time data about everything that you point it at.  You direct your camera at a painting and immediately get information about the artist, how much a replica would cost, and are provided the means to buy it on the spot.   Although this technology already exists to some extent, it needs more bandwidth to truly become useful.   The image processing needs to be in real-time and provide instant information to the end-user.

Applications such as these are guaranteed to be on their way as new 4G mobile networks like WiMax are rolled out, which provide far larger pipes for our data-transfer needs.  Companies like Clearwire and Cisco are helping pave the way with their technologies-  our network infrastructure already has used router and hardware infrastructure of theirs extensively.  As our thirst for higher definition, real time communication, and international connectivity increases, it is inevitable that the technology will meet the demand.

May 19, 2009 at 7:03 pm Leave a comment

Level Up Health Care with Network Technology

medical-techOne of President Obama’s major initiatives will be to bring the US health care system into the 21st century.    Our lagging health care infrastructure has lead to massive medical inefficiency, high premiums to the average citizen and an overall ‘leaky faucet’ effect that is contributing to the pool of problems our economy faces.  The Obama administration has proposed a five year, near $100 billion dollar, initiative to fix our health care system through innovative new technology that includes creating electronic versions of all health records.

Although creating electronic health records is a huge step in ‘leveling up’ our health care system to meet modern day information technology standards, there is also the less celebrity concept of implementing high-tech network technology towards health care.    It will be one thing for doctors and patients to have access to medical data, and another for them to communicate that data.

From the Cisco System’s blog:

“Web 2.0 technologies are beginning to change the practice of medicine,” says Lynne A. Dunbrack, program director for Health Industry Insights a market research and advisory firm in Framingham, MA. “We now have a significant number of doctors who grew up with the Internet, and they want to use online collaboration technology to keep up with the relentless demands for ever-greater speed and efficiency.”

Medical communication technology still needs to catch up to the rest of the Web 2.0 technology , whether it be the ability for patients to easily browse a number of potential doctors or primary care facilities, or the functionality to allow a doctor to instantly access and update a patient’s records via their iphone.  Although medical technology has advanced in leaps and bounds as far as its primary purpose- diagnosing and repairing patients, it still needs to embrace a new wave of communication and network technology.

This may be a difficult task.  One barrier to the health care stimulus’ task of digitzing records is simply doctors and medical specialists are used to the old way of doing things.  It can be extremely difficult to fully transition from the paper to digital world because it is a 180 degree change in the every-day routine and process of the work.  The same goes for embracing new health care networking and communication technologies.

However, the advantages to utilizing these new technologies will far outweigh the hurdles of changing old ways.  Cutting-edge video conferencing can allow multiple specialists to collaborate and diagnose on a level never before possible.      ‘Medical-networking’ platforms can allow for patients to easily communicate with their doctor’s and nurses on a personal level, but prevent over-inundation of the available medical resources.

The first step to leveling up our health care system is for the medical community to change their mindset, and realize that any significant change for the good requires crossing a number of hurdles.  The second step is rewiring and revamping the hardware and network infrastructure of medical facilities across the country.  The barrier to entry here is the enormous cost and risk for both public institutions and private practices to make the digital leap of faith.  There are ways to soften this blow as well.

Large network providers, like Cisco Systems and Juniper networks, can aid public medical institutions by providing the necessary network hardware infrastructure in bulk.   Private practices are scared of technological change because it seems like a risk (and investment) that could set them back some years, or worse, sink their business.    However, some of the costs that private medical institutions and practices will incur can be lowered by purchasing used network hardware and computer equipment, such as a used router or refurbished server.

Although costly, if US medical institutions change their mindset and network infrastructure, it will put us well on our way to 21st century health care.

April 16, 2009 at 10:03 pm 2 comments

The Router: A Toast to William Yeager

byeager2Many immediately think of Cisco Systems when they think of the inventor of the router.  The truth behind the story is a bit different though.  William ‘Bill’ Yeager, an American engineer born in San Francisco, created the first multiple-protocol router in 1981.  He was serving at Stanford’s Knowledge Systems laboratory at the time, and dubbed the first creation ‘Ships in the Night.’

Yeager describes his time at Stanford and the invention of the first multi-protocol router (from pbs.org)

“Before Sun was formed at Stanford University, efforts were already underway across campus in the medical school to develop the multiple protocol routers that Cisco Systems licensed in 1986 from the Stanford University Office of Technology Licensing. Around Christmas of 1979 Xerox gifted ethernet technology to Stanford, MIT and Carnegie Mellon University. Ethernet-based local area networks were immediately installed in the Stanford medical school, and the department of computer science. This led to the need for what became known as “router technology”. “

Yeager goes on to describe how they used router technology as a connection from the Standford Medical School to the Department of Computer Science.  He describes the order from his boss at Stanford that lead to the technology development: ” ‘You’re our networking guy. Go do something to connect the computer science department, medical center and department of electrical engineering.”   Soon enough, the code for this routing became the standard at Stanford.

This was just the beginning of the story for the router however.  Cisco Systems soon licensed Yeager’s routing technology from Stanford, and went on to successfully commercialize the multi-protocol router.   (Cisco, located in the Bay Area, originally was named after the nickname for the nearby city San Fran-‘cisco’. )  Although multi-protocol soon gave way to IP (Internet Protocol), it’s importance in the landscape of the router was forever etched.

Today, routers of various shapes, sizes, complexity and price shape the landscape that we know as the internet.    This networking equipment varies from small routers that you find in a home or small office, to extremely large routers, like the used Cisco CRS-1 or Juniper T1600,which provide the framework for ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

Routers are the highways that forward information from one location to another, from a PC to the world wide web to another PC on the other side of the world.  The invention has shaped the landscape of the internet, global economy, government defense arena, and human society.

Cheers to William Yeager.

March 25, 2009 at 5:10 pm 1 comment

Basics of the Router

I figure a good way to start off on this blog that deals primarily with used routers, is to provide a general lay of the land.  What exactly does a router do?  How does it fit into the suite of commercial and home networking equipment?  I found a great video below by ‘Techanvil‘ that can illustrate the basics better than I could say:

March 24, 2009 at 8:54 pm Leave a comment


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