2009
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  User friendliness in the 21st century
Sat 25th April 2009   

One week ago, I got a power cut in my apartment. Nothing too bad, unfortunately it was the second time since the beginning of the year, and for one month or so I had a file server running. Obviously you don't really want the power to cut while somebody is updating your SVN repository.

The solution is simple, I just needed an UPS1.

After discussing with some tech-savvy acquaintances, I finally decided to buy an APC Back-UPS ES 700VA.
To be honest, considering the available choice in Norway, APC was more or less the only brand I was going to choose, so the only actual decision was the model itself. I choose that one for the following criteria:
  • Form factor (I like the power cord extension style)
  • Data connection (so the computer can be informed the power is going to stop soon and should shut down gracefully)
  • Autonomy and power (my current setup should work fine for at least 25 minutes before running out of juice)
The fact that both the UPS and the replacement batteries are reasonable priced does not hurt either :)

I received the package this morning - on the heavy side of things -, and installed it. Have to say it is really a no-brainer. The quick install document is a simple to read sheet available in 8 different languages, with big diagrams and easy to follow steps (open the back, plug the battery, close, connect cables, done).

I don't know how well it works, guess I will have to wait for my first power cut to judge that.

UPS correctly detected
UPS correctly detected
So, what about the title of this post, where's the link with "User friendliness" ?

Well, most of the time I get some new hardware or software, I expect to get some troubles. Missing cables, incompatible connectors, crashes when installing the software, missing drivers, missing manuals (or written in all languages excepts the ones I can actually understand), etc...

This time I've been surprised because everything was there, everything worked from the first time, and I did not even have to install any additional software because the Ubuntu 8.04 installed on my file server detected the UPS as soon as I plugged the data cable.

Not only that but it correctly detected the model, and the charge level of the battery. Sweet.

To that I can add that on the UPS was attached a printed sheet of paper with the list of all the tests passed on the device, signed by the person who made the tests. Oh, and there was a self-addressed and already paid envelope with registration papers in it, all in 8 languages... which I did not use because there is also an online registration system which lists exactly the same options as the papers.

Well done folks, so far I'm impressed.

If the hardware performs as well, my server is in good hands !


1. Uninterruptible Power Supply
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