An Ideal Appliance?
The ugly truth of the matter is that the AR Infotek Teak 3018 doesn't know very well what it's trying to be. The marketing literature makes it look like it's designed to compete with the sort of firewall/switch appliances that you get at your local computer shop, when in fact it's an OEM device that is incomplete without a lot of tinkering. Presumably, it was designed to sell in large quantities to OEMs and VARs who will then install the appropriate add-ons to make it sing right out of the retail packaging, but if this is the case, the folks over at AR Infotek need to do a lot more work on improving their documentation and organizing it in a way that's intelligible. It also could use some basic niceties like a packing list, a price guide, environmental specs and a readable block diagram.
On the other hand, it's a hardware platform that's well suited to hackers—particularly hackers willing to do their own legwork and not rely on their hardware vendor to tell them what it is they're actually buying. The possibility of teasing audio and video capture functionality out of a network appliance is interesting as well, raising the prospect of constructing low-end PVR for capturing content destined for one's iPod rather than one's TV. The careful selection of Linux-friendly hardware throughout and the inclusion of driver sources on the CD is another point in its favor for the hobbyist. We'd give it a B+ as an OEM product for network security, mostly for its inadequate documentation.
Dan Sawyer is the founder of ArtisticWhispers Productions (www.artisticwhispers.com), a small audio/video studio in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has been an enthusiastic advocate for free and open-source software since the late 1990s, when he founded the Blenderwars filmmaking community (www.blenderwars.com). He currently is the host of “The Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour”, a cultural commentary podcast, and “Sculpting God”, a science-fiction anthology podcast. Author contact information is available at www.jdsawyer.net.
D.N. Lynx Crowe has been writing software and designing computer hardware for more than 42 years, mostly in the area of hard real-time embedded systems. He is cofounder and CTO of Missing Lynx Systems, Inc., a technology solutions company specializing in business consulting, system and product evaluations, and bleeding-edge research and development. He currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area with two friends and six formerly feral cats.
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