My 1,000th TinkerTry IT @ home blog post

Posted by Paul Braren on Feb 28 2019 (updated on Mar 1 2019) in
  • Meta
  • Tesla
  • You can see them all at:

    Let me confess that articles like "TinkerTry's Fifth Birthday, June 1, 2016 - momentary pause for self-congratulatory backslapping and prognostication" tend to be my least popular of all. That's just as well, since my focus and my joy in writing stems from sharing technical tips based on first-hand experience, not retrospectives.

    All that said, it is still fun to briefly look back once in a long while, to realize how much has happened since I started TinkerTry back on June 1st of 2011. Oh what a struggle it was, but also the joy, after all, it's The Climb!

    So let's have a little stroll down memory lane.

    Home Automation becomes IoT

    Then (2011)
    My home had X10 automation to turn on front lights at sunset and off at midnight. It was successful about 95% of the time. Argh.

    Now (2019)
    My smart home has Insteon doing the light timers working quite reliably now, and my Z-Wave based Ring Alarm Home Security System and my Ring Video Doorbell Pro are watching over my things, when I'm not.

    Home Lab becomes real

    My lab consisted of a bunch of stuff in piles in various areas of my basement and on my family's ping pong table, as I assembled my vZilla build.

    I have finally created a workbench area/studio with enough space to run multiple projects concurrently and leave them there, along with a print shop and storage shelving. It's awesome, makes me smile every moment I get to spend there, and my family helped me with the light renovations to make it possible!

    WordPress gets dumped

    WordPress, with lots of Plugins to juggle, and ongoing struggles with cheap hosting with poor support for outages every few months, including during family vacations.

    Kirby, with lot of speed at very low hosting prices, along with advancements like HTTP/2 with ALPN. It's all detailed here. Also, uptime counted in years, now I can focus on my writing!

    Intel Core i7 becomes fully-supported-by-VMware Xeon D


    Intel Core i7 2600K 4 core in my vZilla build at around 200 watts for the system with lots of spinning drives.
    About the network? 1GbE Ethernet. 802.11n WiFi.


    Intel Xeon D-1567 12 core in the Bundle 1 at around 110 watts for the entire system with 8 drives. Most importantly, it's also a solution that anybody can buy, and it only exists because of readers like you voted. For that, and a zillion other reasons, I'm extremely grateful.
    About the network? 10GbE Ethernet! 802.11ac WiFi blanketing my home with seamless handoff using eero.

    vSphere Client becomes HTML5

    VMware vSphere Client for Windows (C#), and vSphere Web Client (Adobe Flash) for vSphere 4.1 Update 1.

    VMware vSphere Client (HTML5, multi-platform, and fast). Yes! I've been talking about this future since 2016, and with VMware vSphere 6.7 Update 1 running my entire Xeon D cluster, that future has arrived!

    Day Job

    Working at IBM in an XIV Storage post-sales Technical Advisor role. This was a great way to finally get to work at home and be with my family, at the cost of being on call 24x7.

    Working at VMware in a vSAN/HCI pre-sales Systems Engineer role. This website, and the many user group presentations, helped me get this job, and I'm super grateful for what that's done for me, and for my family.

    With my kids grown up now, moved out, and working full-time now in engineering roles, I have more flexibility to travel. I'm actually a guy who loves planes, trains, and automobiles! I'm currently having a great time talking about vSAN, tinkering with vSAN, and talking about vSAN-compatible-hardware with so many customers. They're spread all across New England and New York City, and I live right in the middle! Getting around quickly and efficiently has become a passion of mine too, leaving as much time for blogging as possible.

    Gas Station Avoidance



    Daily driver was my 5 year old 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, my personal statement that economy and safety mean far more to me and my family than acceleration. I really enjoyed that car, and enjoyed a very low cost of ownership driving it to 165,000 miles.

    Daily driver is now a 2018 Tesla Model 3 that as of today is available at a $35,000 price that is roughly the same as the average American car! This vehicle is already a top seller among regular gas cars in the US, and at this price, I'm very confident it will accelerate the move to EV (Electric Vehicles) industry-wide, and I say it's about time. It gets 116 MPGe rated EPA mileage, and I'm actually regularly exceeding that these first 4,000 miles these past 9 travel-heavy but fun work-weeks. Electricity in Connecticut comes from power generated from Natural Gas (49%) and Nuclear (30%). By carefully shopping for electric suppliers, it's about to cost my family less per kWh of electricity than we paid back in 2011. If hydro electric power makes its way to Southern New England, and that power for my vehicle will hopefully become a lot cleaner. My family is unlikely to be able to afford solar anytime soon, with our sons' college loans to pay off long before any such notions can even be entertained.


    FYI, Tesla owners get no referral benefits from those buying a Tesla. It just feels right to share my excitement, known-good accessories and charging stories, with much more to come in this category. Yes, I have a smile on my face each and every time I drive it, that's a joy I haven't experience with driving in years. It's also the safest car that NHTSA has ever tested, despite its somewhat compact size. The upcoming taller version, the Model Y,which will likely eclipse the Model 3, given the American's thirst for bigger vehicles. It's also pretty remarkable that February saw the arrival of thousands of Model 3s to Europe and China. What other American car has pulled that off?

    Running a web site

    Naive about how the web actually works, and authoring content for it.

    All sorts of lessons learned about SEO, page load speeds, caching, and CDNs. It's so much fun to not just learn how it all works, but to see it all in action! Then there's 4K video production, proper sound, and more. So many side benefits to growing my skillsets in various areas.


    Hundreds of readers per month. True for most of the first couple of years of very lean times of zero budget. Didn't have enough revenue to form ", LLC" until 2013.

    Over a million readers per month. Pinch me, I still can't believe it, I so appreciate that people actually read the stuff I write! I'm also honored to have a 1 hour and 18 minute video about installing vSphere that is very near to a million views, and it doesn't feature a single cute animal. I'm still blown away that this was possible, and I'd sure like to do it again someday!

    Looking ahead...

    Lastly, I like to keep it fun. I mean, this is my evening and weekend pastime, with thousands of hours invested in it. It's always much more fun writing about something I genuinely enjoyed discovering. My writing is a pause from the hands-on time, to share my latest technical discoveries that help others. That's the joy. It's pure, and it's a blast.

    So with that I leave you and February behind. Know that I have some home lab surprises in store that I can't wait to get going with sharing! But first, finishing tax return prep (oh joy, but thank goodness for the $7500 tax credit), some more family road trips using (free for now) Supercharging, and more adventures in my home lab...

    See also at TinkerTry