Using an HP Z420 as a 20TB Plex Server

On a budget, I believe there is no better bang-for-buck Plex server than loading up an old HP Z-series workstation with a solid Xeon CPU and six internal hard drives.

My journey with Plex started on a humble iMac with an external USB 3.0 hard drive back around 2014 or so. That turned into a couple of large external drives that was really too much for the aging iMac to handle as we moved into a 4K library.

After I attempted to convert an old gaming PC into a 24/7 use and the hardware was just failing, I did a proper upgrade. I had previously set up an HP Z420 for a friend and decided to bite the bullet for myself as well.

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Guest Access: Using Microsoft Teams with People Outside of Your Company

In the new age of remote work by default, it’s amazing how much work can actually get done from home when work has to get done from home. With a laptop and an Internet connection, we’ve found a way to collaborate with our staff and connect with our communities. And, finally, I’ve seen staff using email reply-alls less to team communication (to be clear, it’s still there though) and a greater push to focused communication with Microsoft Teams.

It’s a platform that every Office 365 user has previously had the ability to use; however, so few have taken the time to get to know it and the collaboration power that it offers. There are shortcomings for sure but if you already pay for it, there’s so much value that it offers – particularly in today’s world of figuring out how to work from home.

One of the features we’ve had to explore and educate users on – is using Microsoft Teams with some people who are not part of our organization’s Active Directory and Office 365 user group. Fortunately, it’s a pretty simple process since Teams allows guest users as a built-in feature.

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CIPP/US Exam Strategy, Study Materials, Thoughts, and Tips

The IAPP’s Certified Information Privacy Professional is the current industry go-to for privacy practitioner certifications. There are several flavors based on jurisdictions – CIPP/E (for Europe), CIPP/US (for US), etc.

CIPP/US was the first certification that I obtained from the IAPP. The exam was harder than I thought it would be but I still managed to pass on the first attempt. Below are my thoughts and tips on studying for the exam and how to approach the exam.

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Following Uber/Postmates’ Failed Injunction Attempt in ‘Gig Worker’ Suit, New Class Action ‘Crossley v. California’ is Filed

After a judge rejected injunctive relief to Uber and Postmates in their challenge to AB5, the California gig worker law, a new round of plaintiffs have filed an exhaustive Constitutional challenge to the law in federal court.

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Manually Updating the Firmware on Dell R610

Recently, I purchased an auction lot of a dozen or so Dell PowerEdge R610 and R710 servers from an auction. Part of my initial evaluation of the servers was to update the firmware. I started with the R610 servers.

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Replacing the Noisy Fans Inside the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K

I’ve been running the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K for about 18 months now. It’s been a great unit; however, it has always been a little noisy. And lately, one (or maybe more) of the fans inside appears to have developed a failing bearing and the noise has been far too loud for any production environment.

There is so little info that I could find online about what’s under the hood of the Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Production Studio 4K. So, I had to pop it open to see what I was working with here. Since I was outside my warranty period, I wasn’t concerned with those consequences. If your fans fail within your warranty, feel free to go ahead and have Blackmagic to fix it.

Inside, there are three exhaust fans along the left side (one is already removed in the above image) and four fans atop heatsinks to cool internal components. The right side is open for the exhaust fans to pull the cool air from.

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Ubiquiti UNVR 4 Revealed as a 1U 4-Bay NVR in Product Photos

Remember the USP RPS that we saw in the new 6U rack last month? Well, it has hit the beta store and additional product photos shown with it reveal yet another new device likely surrounding the (still-being-revamped) Unifi Protect product line.

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Ubiquiti USP RPS and UNAS 4 Unveiled

In an Early Access product drop for the new Ubiquiti U-Rack-6U, which sold out quickly for Early Access members, we also got a sneak peek at the upcoming USP RPS and the UNAS 4 (in RU slots 01 and 02, respectively), two products we’ve been hoping to see for quite some time…

For clarification of what we’re looking at here, let’s list the products in the rack from top to bottom.

  • 06: UDM Pro
  • 05: 24-port patch panel
  • 04: USW-Pro-48
  • 03: 24-port patch panel
  • 02: UNAS 4
  • 01: USP RPS

Zooming in closely on the photo reveals the product names on the devices.

Since Ubiquiti has stopped updating UniFi Video, we’ve all been waiting for a bigger move on the UniFi Protect front so that is properly scalable (unlike the single-drive Cloud Key Gen2 Plus). The UNAS 4 is likely that solution in combination with the UDM Pro, which is currently in beta with the Early Access program.

Whether the UNAS 4 (and you know there is a UNAS 8 and maybe larger in the pipeline, if they’re making the effort to call it UNAS ‘4’) is a pure NAS device or whether it runs UniFi Protect is unknown at this point. All we have is the image of a 1U device with four 3.5″ drive bays and is in the range of 10-14″ deep by just spitballing the image.

We have virtually nothing to go on for the USP RPS other than the name, which I think could be a true regulated power supply (aka RPS) for converting AC to DC power that then feeds the new UniFi products with the ULS RPS inputs on the rear. Below is a close up of the USW-PRO-48-POE switch that has the ULS RPS power input.

How nice would it be to eliminate the AC plugs and power supplies for every unit in your rack and replace the rack-mounted PDU with a USP RPS that powers your entire rack? Additionally, you would be able to monitor and likely remotely power cycle every connected device from the UniFi SDN interface.

Stay tuned.

Fix for: pfSense Keeps Dropping WAN Intermittently / Random

I’ve had a persistent issue over the past month or so as my primary LAN connection kept dropping its Internet connectivity – seemingly at random and with no real trigger that I could identify. What was even more perplexing to me was that my VLAN 20, which is connected to my PIA VPN, maintained its connection for the 22 days since the last reboot of my pfSense box.

For reference, I’m currently running pfSense 2.4.4.

In my system logs under Status > System Logs > System > Gateways, I noticed a repeated DCHP error entry, “sendto error: 55” – the process and full error looks something like “dpinger WANGW x.x.x.x: sendto error: 55.”

Whenever the Internet connection would drop, I could reestablish connectivity by physically unplugging the LAN cable from the pfSense box and plugging it back in.

There are a number of things that can cause this error to occur. In my case, however, it was a pretty innocuous issue narrowed down to the Monitor IP in the Gateway settings page. Go to System > Routing > Gateways and click the edit icon for your WAN.

I simply changed the Monitor IP (it’s blank by default) to Google’s server at 8.8.8.8 and the network hasn’t dropped since. (It’s been several days now – from what was dropping every few random hours.)

I have gateway monitoring turned off for my VPN VLAN connection, which may be why this is only affecting my default LAN going out over my public WAN connection. I haven’t seen anyone with this exact set of circumstances but I wanted to pass along my solution in case anyone else is pulling their hair out over it.

How to Setup PIA VPN on a VLAN in pfSense 2.4.4

I set up a dedicated VPN VLAN on my home network this weekend with the latest version of pfSense (ver. 2.4.4 as of July 2019) for IoT and Firestick types of devices. I ran into some hiccups with older guides because a few of the settings and menu options have changed, so I’m putting together my notes here for my own reference and anyone else struggling with more recent pfSense releases and VPN/VLAN configuration.

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