The last time I wrote about Daniel Suarez’s book was nearly a decade ago (Influx), even though I revisit Daemon and Freedom TM every so often. I don’t consider myself a fan, but I do check on Daniel’s books periodically.

I guess I really missed Daniel’s writing, so it was time for a new book. I skipped over “Change Agent” and jumped to “Delta-V”; I guess I really wanted something “out of this world.” While half of the story is set on earth, the other half is set in space. I wish the author spent more story time in space, but missing all of the groundwork, struggles, training, and building relationships that got developed on earth is important to the rest of the story. Regardless, the space part came out a bit rushed and a bit superficial. While the story provides some thrilling and unexpected turns, those moments are slightly dull and short-lived.

Even though I have a couple of axes to grind, overall the story is good. I enjoyed it from the beginning to the end. I couldn’t let the book go; I just wanted to keep on going. One of the trademarks of Daniel’s SciFi is the proximity to not-so-far-away reality. Yes, it is still a plot of imagination and science fiction, but it is just close enough to contemporary technologies to give you the feel of near-future possibility, which, in turn, makes it feel more realistic. In addition, the author provides enough technical details to make technology feel real and not an abstract concept, such as “wormhole engines.” Reading the book makes me want to learn more about the science behind diving, planetary alignment, and space technologies, and in my book, the promotion of curiosity is a solid sign of the author’s good writing.

In a nutshell:
+: Pleasant read
+: Can’t put the book down
+: Feels realistic due to proximity to contemporary technology
+: Promotes curiosity towards described science and technology
-: Some thrilling parts are slightly dull and short-lived
=: Daniel keeps this traditional trademark of “near-future” SciFi with a good space story that is hard to put down.

Title: Delta-V
Author: Daniel Suarez

UniFi Dream Router

A couple of weeks ago, my router (MikroTik hAP ac3) decided to quit, and I ended up needing a replacement as soon as possible. The MikroTik was a nice router; I don’t blame it for its early demise (I have reason to believe I might have misconfigured it). However, I wasn’t going to buy another MikroTik – it is just slightly more of a headache than I would like.

My initial idea was to go back to TP-Link or Linksys but only with OpenWRT firmware. However, a buddy of mine suggested going with the UniFi Dream Router. He uses UniFi equipment in his office, and it has proven to be better and more stable than MikroTik. Now, $200 for a router is a bit much, but then again, it is not out of the ordinary – some “gaming” routers are priced even higher. So, I figured I’d give it a go.

Now, I have a particular need for my router – it must be stable. I have about 14-16 devices online on average; I work from home and run my personal small server, so a stable network and internet are a must. My limited previous experience showed that some “home” routers are not very stable – network slowdowns, Wi-Fi devices sometimes disconnect, and some routers seem to need a hard reboot once per week. In this regard, MikroTik proved to be very stable (with a tiny caveat with my iPhone), until it wasn’t.

At this point, my benchmark is MikroTik, and even though the UniFi Dream Router has been running for only 2 weeks, it seems to be very good. The Dream Router costs twice as much as the hAP ac3, but it’s definitely worth it (so far). UniFi is a lot easier to configure; it has a very nice and easy-to-use web UI, graphs, stats, logs, and an overall solid feel. I know stability is not something that can be measured in 2 weeks, so let’s wait and see.

Now, as much as I would love to praise and hop around with the Dream Router, I have a couple of complaints. First and most annoying to me is the initial setup – here, UniFi must do something. On the initial setup, the Dream Router MUST have an internet connection; otherwise, you can’t set it up! In my case, it is impossible without having a backup router. I have a PPPoE configuration with a username and password to connect to the internet. So out of the box, the Dream Router can’t be set up with PPPoE configuration because it needs to connect to the internet to set itself up first. No internet => no Dream Router => no router => no internet… This is a horrible situation for a home/small office setting. The next complaint is still about the initial setup, which requires a mobile device – my question is why? Why do you need a mobile device to set up a router? What if you don’t have one? Or you have one but can’t install the UniFi app on it? Again, the Dream Router becomes a Dream Brick. I think UniFi needs to address those concerns.

Just a little step back to MikroTik, it doesn’t need the internet for the initial setup; however, if you reset it (via the button), then you must have an Ethernet cable and Winbox. Not the best idea, but in comparison to the UniFi Dream Router, you can get MikroTik going without the internet. But both still require Ethernet in the above scenarios.

Back to the Dream Router – as much as it is a router, it is more than that. The Dream Router has an SD card slot, willing and ready to connect UniFi cameras and other UniFi devices. I think it is a nice product integration, something that might bring additional business and let users integrate into the UniFi ecosystem. I can’t help but wonder if a standalone, single-purpose router (with WiFi) would have been a better and cheaper solution. I suspect that idea might not be very appealing from a business perspective, but I can’t shake the feeling that the Dream Router is some kind of gateway into the UniFi ecosystem.

At this point, that’s all of my complaints. So far, the Dream Router has been performing very well, but again, it’s only been a couple of weeks, so let’s wait and see.

Misspent Youth

I picked up the book because it is a prequel to Peter Hamilton’s Commonwealth Saga, and I love those books. “Misspent Youth” is a short story that takes place before rejuvenation and memory crystals. The story is well-written and pleasant, but that’s about it.

While I love most of the work done by Peter Hamilton, there are books that I don’t enjoy as much as others, and “Fallen Dragon” springs to mind. Unfortunately, “Misspent Youth” is added to the list today. The story feels more like futuristic romantic drama rather than science fiction, but that’s not the main issue. The primary problem is the lack of twists and plots. It feels like the story just lacks the punch.

I’m not sure where the author was going with the book. It doesn’t add or remove any value from the rest of the Commonwealth Saga, perhaps just slightly disappointing if you have expectations. But overall, if you go in without expectations, then you will enjoy it.

In a nutshell:
+: Easy going
+: Short
+/-: No expectations, no disappointments
-: Lacks twists and plots
-: No punch to the story
=: Nice short story, but that’s it.

Title: Misspent Youth
Author: Peter Hamilton

MikroTik hAP ac3 – final words

I began using my MikroTik router three years ago, and yesterday, it started causing problems. The trouble initially emerged with the SMB protocol, as the router refused to route SMB traffic within the local network. After performing a hard reboot, SMB traffic started routing, but HTTP/HTTPS traffic through NAT to my server stopped routing. Another hard reboot resolved the HTTP traffic issue, but SMB and Remote Desktop traffic remained nonfunctional within the local network. However, after updating the software to version 6.49.10, the situation worsened. SMB and Remote Desktop traffic still couldn’t route, and on top of that, WinBox failed to connect to the router. Web and SSH access were unresponsive as well.

I’m not entirely sure about the root cause of these issues, but at least the internet connection is currently working. I must admit that I won’t be replacing my MikroTik router with another MikroTik device. The main reason is the learning curve and my familiarity with WinBox. Initially, I opted for MikroTik due to its affordability and reliability, both of which have served me well. The only drawback was that my iPhone occasionally experienced WiFi dropouts and took some time to reconnect. However, aside from that, all 14 devices constantly connected via WiFi worked smoothly. A lifespan of only three years is disappointing, but I assume the device might be defective or experiencing an issue that isn’t typical of MikroTik devices.

When I chose MikroTik, I had hoped to invest time in learning about networking and how to operate a MikroTik router. Unfortunately, I never found the time or interest to delve deeper into it. A friend helped with the initial router configuration, and I mostly left it as is, except for configuring some eye-catching traffic graphs. I still don’t have the time or motivation to learn more about it, given my other priorities. To be honest, I view the router as an appliance, and my next router will likely reflect that perspective.