3rd party or self-hosted? Part 2: Is self-hosting right for me?

In the last post, we saw the difference between using 3rd party services like GMail, Github and Slack to run services for our organisation and running the services on our own servers. We saw the advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Assuming that you are convinced about self-hosting, let’s see if it is worthwhile for you to pursue the quest.

To answer this question, let’s address what to consider by using the analogy of building your own library of books v/s being the member of a public library. Continue reading “3rd party or self-hosted? Part 2: Is self-hosting right for me?”

3rd party or self-hosted? Part 1: The basics

Let’s go swimming

You probably love swimming and would like to go for a swim everyday. To get into the daily habit of swimming, you enrol in the swimming club closest to your home. It has 4 clean pools, each with 7 swim lanes. A swimming club is super convenient. The club constructs the pools, maintains the cleanliness and ensures the safety standards. It may also provide other specialised services like a dedicated swimming coach. You don’t have to worry about the details. You just need to pay the monthly fees for your right to entry to the pool and then show up everyday.

But of late, you have been finding the club annoying and counter-productive to your habit. They have been continuously hiking the monthly fees and you feel the pinch. They have been constantly introducing new rules, such as maintaining seperate timings for males and females. Only one of the two genders is allowed at a time. They have been constantly playing with their opening and closing timings and also the timings at which different genders are allowed. You suddenly find that the swimming club’s timings and your work timings clash and that the swimming club is not open to your gender when you are free from work. Suddenly, they have declared a day off every Sunday since their staff wants it. You also hear some stories about spy cams placed in their dressing rooms and videos being uploaded, a clear security breach. The pools have been getting too crowded recently and there are people not following swim lanes. They swim across you and cut you off while you are in the middle of a lap. Continue reading “3rd party or self-hosted? Part 1: The basics”

Understanding MIME

How does your browser know that if you have clicked on a link with a PDF file, that an in-built PDF viewer should be opened? How is your email software able to show images embedded within an email? How is it able to show attachments seperately from the body of the email? The answer is due to a standard called MIME or Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions. Continue reading “Understanding MIME”

How chat applications work

Apart from browsing through websites and sending & receiving emails, what other activity do you most commonly do on the Internet? Most of you must have unanimously agreed upon instant messaging. The ability to have a text conversation with anyone across the globe, that to for free, is one of the best appeals of instant messaging or chatting. From being dinosaurs that could only speak standard English letters, chat applications have come a long way just like the rest of computing and Internet. Today, chat applications cover free voice calls, free video calls, emoticons, stickers and the ability to converse in text in any computer-supported written language in the world. In fact, chatting applications have evolved to such ubiquity that not just humans, even machines use chat to talk to each other. Continue reading “How chat applications work”

How a firewall burns down intruders

If you have a corporate network, you will often have heard your network administrators mentioning a dangerous sounding word called ‘firewall’. When you ask if a specific thing can be allowed, they say, “The firewall blocks it. We need to reconfigure it to allow.”

What exactly does this mystic sounding name represent? Why are network administators obsessed with it and how does it protect your company’s network? Read on to find out one of the most important building blocks of network security. Continue reading “How a firewall burns down intruders”