TinkerTry's Tenth Birthday is June 2 2021 - Paul's reflections on past, present, and future tech

Posted by Paul Braren on Jun 2 2021 (updated on Jun 3 2021) in
  • Efficiency
  • Meta
  • EVs
  • Today marks my 10th year anniversary since launching TinkerTry. Many good things in life and career came to me as a direct result of me sharing my experiences and thoughts with my readers, and I'm so glad to have this outlet for my excess energy. It's fair to say a lot has happened in my life and in the world in this decade. Today, I'm going to focus on the tech:

    TinkerTry Stats/Facts

    1. 1,103 articles in 3,653 days since the June 2nd of 2011 launch with this very first article.

    2. 616 YouTube videos.

    3. In May of 2016, TinkerTry had 10,000 YouTube Subscribers.
      Today, TinkerTry has 20,800 YouTube Subscribers.
    4. My most popular article has 2,687,532 views, peaking at 2,827 views on July 30 2015 alone. That is insane, and it's not about VMware. I suppose I'm grateful to Microsoft for making something that should be simple so complicated for so many years, but I'm glad for all of us that's it's become more intuitive to change network locations in Windows 10.

    5. My least popular article might be of high value to those who find it, but apparently only 69 humans ever read it. Can't win them all.

    6. I re-invest advertiser dollars into improving my visitors experience visiting TinkerTry, including paying to:
      1. avoid ad results in my integrated Google Programmable Search Engine.
      2. avoid ads in my Disqus comments.
      3. improve DNS lookup times and simpler domain portability using DNS Made Easy.
      4. improve image load times globally using KeyCDN.
      5. possibly the very first Cloudways hosting customer to implement OCSP Stapling.

    Tech Successes

    • SuperServer Bundles

      Well over a thousand happy SuperServer Bundle buyers are out there, with less than half a percent return rate. They've proven to be reliable for many years. Given the current global chip shortage, along with huge delays at Intel and AMD in offering powerful and efficient single socket CPUs, I'm grateful for that.

    • SuperServer Support
      Both TinkerTry and Wiredzone pitched in to see to it that Supermicro submitted their Xeon D-1500 mini towers to VMware for inclusion on the VMware Compatibility Guide, right through 2021's vSphere 7 Update 2. It's one of very few homelab-suited machines where you can actually contact VMware support and open a support ticket. This helps me sleep well at night.

    • Insteon Home Automation
      I have 15 Insteon devices in active, daily use.

      My Insteon home automation devices have all held up quite nicely since I started in 2008, and blogging about them in 2013 here. I'm grateful for that kind of longevity, as I don't really want to spend weekends fiddling with failed components. I have 15 devices I control by time of day or wireless keypads around my house, saving power while increasing convenience and safety.

    • Heat Pump Water Heater

      I've been pleasantly surprised by how popular this article has become, which gives me hope for a much more sustainable future. This migration to electricity instead of gas for heat-pump based whole-home heating is also very much a thing right now. My wife and I have 2 grown sons in their mid to late twenties, so we're now empty-nesters. We have some decisions to make about our 25 year old home, and our future together. Stay tuned!

    • Electric Vehicles

      Far and away the biggest improvement my wife and I have made to improving our safety while reducing our costs and our carbon footprint was dumping our failing 2005 and 2006 Honda Civics for Tesla Model 3s. With 46,000 miles of EV miles now behind us, we can safely say so far, these were the best purchase decisions we've ever made. See also a wide variety of articles and videos I've created about the EV ownership experience, and this just-published Tesla Police Vehicle Saves Westport Tens of Thousands of Dollars.

    • eero
      2015 eero replaced by Wi-Fi 6 capable eero 6 Pro in 2021. Very solid product, would recommend to anybody. Not perfect when used in bridged mode with wired backhaul for all access points, but close.
    • ecobee
      Solid product that I reviewed in 2015, made my house more comfortable. Remote sensors are crucial, especially when working from home with a door closed. Now I can get the temperature closer to what I want in the room(s) we occupy.

    Tech Challenges

    • ecobee
      One of my 2 original 2015 ecobee thermostats failed earlier this year, after a reliable 6 year run. It seems to read 86 degrees no matter what the room temperature is. Six years isn't bad, and at least ecobee actively supported and updated their product line. I don't regret skipping the pricey and stagnant Google Nest products.
    • 1U Supermicro SuperServers
      I'm just not a fan of loud fans, sorry. They all went back. I've been good with nearly 6 years of the mini-tower form-factor, with much quieter, larger fans.
    • VMware vSphere 7 Update 2
      This particular rollout has been a bit bumpier than usual, mostly for enterprises really. I continue to do all I can to help get home lab enthusiasts to VCSA 7.0 Update 2b and ESXi 7.0 Update 2a sooner than later, including politely nudging VMUG Advantage EVAL Experience too. They're doing their best, but there are some contractual limitations to how often they can update their code repository.
    • GPU Passthrough
      After over 5 years running my Windows 10 VM as my primary workstation under VMware vSphere, I finally had to throw in the towel earlier this year and give it up. The only GPU I could get to work was too slow to keep up with my fulltime work-from-home and 4K content creation. My VMware ESXi upgrades has become increasingly fraught with peril, threatening to take out both my vSphere and my primary workstation if increasingly "brittle" from GPU issues stung me yet again. So unfortunately, I'm now fulltime leaving both my Xeon D-1541 ESXi 7 SuperServer powered up, along with my Xeon D-1567 Windows 10 SuperServer.
    • Tesla Wall Connectors
      I've had some challenges with Tesla keeping charge rates cool and slow, with my early Wall Connector with 14-50 Plug and my early 3rd Gen Wall Connector both throttling charge rates within a few months. Not a big deal though, Tesla replaced them both under warranty, and both remained completely safe to use until they were swapped out. I also had the Mobile Connector the car came with to charge from our garage's other parking spot. I cannot overstate how convenient it is to charge at home, always ready for whatever the next day. Have a look at my simple garage setup and see for yourself.

    Tech Fails

    These products are stuck forever in my drafts folder, littered with hundreds of bad ideas, and a handful of bad products that I'll never get around to publishing anything about, many of which I was able to return. My focus remains on investing my time in writing mostly about known-good products that I've tested first-hand and purchased with my own dollars.

    You will see a lot of cross-over in these topics below, which I find interesting.

    Home Labs

    Stagnation, with single-socket AMD Ryzen still too power-hungry, and Intel single-socket SoC designs getting outsourced to TSMC for now, delaying launch even further.


    • Starlink is the story of this decade for sure, with much slower and pricier Viasat feeling rather threatened. So many folks now quite fond of working-from-home with no commute, so much so that many would rather quit than return, now comes the demand to be able to live and work from anywhere. On the bright side, less commuting means less carbon footprint, a good pandemic side-effect, accelerating our world's transition to an even more digital future.



    • AMD chips going into Tesla Model S and X EVs.
    • 7-Eleven installing 500 DC fast charging stations.
    • Sheetz and Target and Wawa already have Tesla Superchargers, and Electrify America for all other EVs has many Walmart locations.
    • Car dealerships behaving badly right here in CT, doing whatever they can to keep the sales of newcomers like Rivian, Lucid, and Tesla out of state. Similar stories in New York and even in Texas, where the huge new Tesla gigafactory is being completed this year to ramp up Model Y and Cybertruck production based on new 4680 cells and an innovative stamping process. It's like those die-cast toy cars of your youth, only scaled-up.



    • Pat Gelsinger's move from VMware back to Intel is a big deal. So are his bold claims about Intel's intentions to meet or beat Apple.

    Closing Thoughts

    This decade of my existence has had many highs and lows, which I'm well aware is probably true of pretty much every reader on the planet. Despite all that we've been through, I remain an optimist, especially when it comes to a more sustainable future. With solar and wind now cheaper than coal, I feel we've reached a tipping point, for the better. It's also encouraging to see the increasing mind share that EVs are finally gaining here in the US, particularly with the recent announcement of the Ford F-150 Lightning. Also great to see both the Cybertruck and Rivian R1T first-hand, and an honor to get to enjoy this long and fun thread about the electrification of pickup trucks with the Tech Breakfast crew, and so many others I know from the IT Profession too. TCO is a strong argument whether it's about computers, cars, or trucks.


    Taking years to start being quoted in other virtualization focused blogs was a big deal to me, and very much still is. I hope 2022 will rekindle that excitement, once better CPUs arrive and chip constraints are hopefully eased somewhat. Meanwhile, I'm still using my reliable 5 and 6 year old Xeon D systems on a daily basis, sticking with M.2 NVMe drives for those daily-driver workloads.

    Recently seeing my story told elsewhere about my EV experience was also a big deal to me personally, with a lot at stake for the state in which I live, Connecticut, where 38% of our carbon emissions are from the transportation sector. COVID-19 lockdown of early 2020 showed us what our air could look like.

    Most of all, I'm confident I'll still be an optimistic about all of our futures 10 years from now. See you in 2031, and hopefully many times before then!

    Dell - A Designer’s Vision for Sustainable Innovation

    See also at TinkerTry