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December 2014 update

Wed, 12/10/2014 - 11:02 -- andrew
Spelt Wheat Crop - 2013/14

2014 has been a busy year for Southweb.


After 10 months work we're now prototyping our AgSense Wireless telemetry solution that aims to bring the strength and flexibility of industrial process control to farmers at a fraction of the cost of existing players.

To acheive this we're using a combination of commodity hardware (XBee radios and Linux enabled Microprocessors) with Open Source software (Linux, QGIS).

Our solution aims to give farmers access to sensor data from say tanks, flow, moisture, electric fences etc. both locally and via the cloud, and to provide integration with farm automation - i.e. starting a pump when water levels drop in a tank.

If you are keen beta test our solution, or add functionality, please get in touch!

High Availability Hosting

On the web hosting front, we've been tasked by a client to create a High Availability server solution.  We did this using a combination of haprox, varnish, php alt. cache and replacing the disks with solid state IO.

The improvements have been nothing short of amazing.  Haproxy allowed us to monitor access logs and Ban IP addresses with Fail2Ban prior to them hitting Apache.  It also allowed us to queue and slow down requests that were obvious robot/hacks.

Varnish gave us the ability to have multiple RAM caches for their static content.

Drupal caching was enabled with JavaScript and CSS aggregation.

The PHP Alt Cache was given ample RAM.

And the Sold State IO gave the icing on the cake, bringing average seek times down to around ~1ms.

We are working with our upstream provide to replace the basic SSDs with IO Fusion drives giving significantly lower than 1ms performance times!

Checkout out for an example of accelerated performance, and if you are looking for a full service hosting partner that can deliver on performance get in touch!


Last week I managed to attend BitCoin South in Queenstown.  The conference had a real buzz to it with many inspirational speakers.   If I was skeptical before, I am no longer.  The emergence of Crypto Currencies is a significant event that will bring about major economic and political transformation.  It is akin to the development of the Gutenberg's Printing press - giving people the ability to exchange value independent of a third party.

Why is this so profound?  Because the current 3rd parties - i.e. banks and their political pawns - have a vested interest controlling these transactions.  If you take away that control, not only can billions of dollars be released to the real economy; but vested interests who would snoop and pilfer your hard earned dollars will be held at bay.

It is early days yet, but I strongly urge everyone to become familiar with Crypto and be ready for its transformational changes.

If you want to accept Bit Coins via your shopping carts or have a custom application in mind, we can help.

From the Farm

Life on the farm continues its hectic pace with two children to ready for school/kindy; chickens to feed; stock to move; and an ever growing list of repairs.

My garden project is coming together with a functioning worm farm but with the lack of sunshine, everything has struggled.  

Hope to blog more about this in the future. Meanwhile, our Spelt Wheat project seems to be a success and a 1 Ton + harvest seems assured. See image!


All the very best for Christmas and wishing you a peaceful and prosperous New Year.


Andrew McClure