The Name... "Different Zebras" comes from the phrases that "not everything is black & white" & "when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras." The joke being, reality states that constants can change and sometimes it's best to expect the unexpected; this is especially true of technology.

Different Zebras has lead to a simple philosophy: don't just claim to "think" different, be different, and try different things! There's already enough black & white to go around, so it's better to put some color into your work, your core values & your character; the world needs different people!

Different Zebras hopes to inspire a new, different type of thinking to better manage, maintain, expand & clean-up in our advanced, technical age of fast computers, useless gizmos and gadget-oriented folk.

The Website... is the web-end to an ever-changing lab environment, entirely self hosted & managed by its creator. The purpose of Different Zebras is to provide a landing page for easy access to the lab's resources, ideas and projects.

Additionally, Different Zebras also serves as a testament to what a "different" kind of individual can accomplish by themselves with just a vision and some time - if it only takes one to run the lab & the club, imagine what different people can create by working together!

The Lab... is a function of the author's career: to be in the technology biz means to always be atop & aware of the latest technology practices, thus the lab provides a "sandbox" where all different kinds of ideas can be explored.

The Lab is designed to be kind with our environment and has required a lot of custom builds to meet this demand; traditional systems are not so mindful with their power usage or futureproofing, these go to strain our environment before being replaced by bigger & faster strains!

Each Different Zebras system, service and guide is focused on power-efficiency, futureproofing, re-use and long-term support. Don't create trash, create something new!

The Lab hopes to be the home of great, new ideas that make people or our environment happy. This may mean hosting free-to-play timewasters on resource efficient systems or providing technical articles and guides for others to be aware of their usage or waste, so that maybe they could inspire to be a different kind of person.

The Club... is a collection of the lab's materials put to use in fun ways and made free to the public. Software, games, web services and more are available and integrated under the CDZ banner.

There is no membership, anyone can be a Different Zebra! Explore the CDZ Wiki for more details on events & services.

CDZ events and services may be available online or local to the Lab. Private events are hosted as a local, invite-only manner.

Services and related capacity are tied to the Lab's resources & development - all CDZ materials are served "as is" with no warranty or legal obligations on the Lab's behalf.

The Author... Professionally, Felix is an engineer with a passion for learning new things. Personally, he is a (shoddy) artist, a (crappy) performer, a (terrible) gardener, an (actually not that bad) handyman, but most importantly a (proud) eccentric husband & dog-father. With an engineer for a father, Felix had access to high-end (at the time!) workstations and equipment, thus his interest in computers & technology started early.

Felix built his first computer with help from his dad at the age of 10 using spare parts from "decommissioned" IBM systems. It started life with 1GB of storage (which became a problem trying to install Half-Life later on...), 128MB of memory and a 3dfx Voodoo video card. It ran Microsoft Windows 95 (later upgraded to 98 - big mistake) and was dubbed "Kilroy" in spray paint against its beige side panel.

Kilroy was a workhorse, fulfilling all the needs of a young man between '98 & '04 (a very long lifespan for computer from the 90's): homework completed with dad's copy of Office 95, school friends AIM'd with (over terrible CompuServe dial-up), managed many angstly little websites with GeoCities, developed many uncompleted games with various RPG & FPS makers, and wasted many hours with DOOM, StarCraft, Anarchy Online, etc, etc... 2004 marked the release of Half-Life 2 and the final departure of Kilroy, replaced for a system that could handle the fancy new "Source" engine.

Throughout Felix's education he networked with local companies and townsfolk, offering services such as computer builds, repair and basic networking, often working without pay and just for the experience & reputation alone. Each new job brought a new understanding, plenty of new tricks and helped develop working philosophies that are still developed upon today.

After graduating college in 2011 (which includes a stint in art school, heh), Felix met his wife and moved North to Vermont, where he continued to network and provide volunteer work as an on-call IT specialist to local, small businesses. His reputation finally paid off when he later secured a position with a government contractor as a desktop/server manager. The career jump was a huge experience boost, which granted him access to real data centers and introduced him to such concepts as ITIL & contracted support procedures, GFS/retention systems, remote sites, federated domains and site security.

As he developed with his career, Felix began to put together the first bits of the lab by virtualizing (via VirtualBox) a spare computer to act as an all-in-one firewall/media server/game system/HTPC. It had a ritualistic boot-order to function, but worked well once it got going. Over time, various other impromptu services & devices accumulated to work together. Eventually, a unified interface was needed to manage them all. A 24U music rack purchased to use as a server two-post and the differentzebras.net domain name was purchased.

In mid-2013, Felix used knowledge and skills gained to as a desktop/server manager to rejoin the private sector and begin his new career as an IT engineer and occasional instructor with a local MSP, an occupation which allowed him to travel all over the state supporting a diverse network of small and large businesses alike. Inspired by the businesses & non-profits he supported, the construction of the public-facing "Club Different Zebras" began shortly after.

Two years after the launch of differentzebras.net's public facing Club Different Zebras (AKA CDZ) to share services & play games with his friends, Felix jumped occupations again, changing focus from IT engineering to software architecture, development and support, with a heavy dose of database administration and release candidate software testing. Career-wise, this was a big a shift in a new direction and helped greatly in expanding and diversifying Felix's skillset.

With these new skills, Felix began updating the lab for efficiency, using Arduino, Raspberry Pi and other power-sipping platforms to keep lab consumption down; the end result eliminating 300 watts an hour with current total draw under 200 watts (300 if "Butter" is turned on). He continues to maintain and improve the services branded under the CDZ label (now with services open to the public) and continues to use the lab for new ideas. He may have even brought you here to hire Felix for a gig! If you've received an invitation password, you can access Felix's résumé & cover letter here.

Felix shares a home with his wife, pets & plants in beautiful Northern Vermont, New England. He enjoys (and sometimes performs) stand-up comedy, playing guitar, walks in the woods, the stereotypical sci-fi/video games/pizza/movies routine & spending time with friends. Other facts: he dislikes air travel, dislikes fast-food and is not a hugger (some folks gotta have a "personal bubble").

On that note, Felix's "developed philosophy" doesn't take to social media, and so neither does he. This personally maintained About page represents the extent of his "net presence." Kinda relieving, really! He takes his coffee black, wears hi-tops, favorite color is red, sometimes smokes a redwood pipe with dark tobacco like an old sailor (yet he's terrified of the deep sea), preferred past-time: garden birdwatching. Guilty pleasures: the smug satisfaction of cooking for friends, watching terrible movies & playing ARK.

Felix wishes you to think differently about the world we live in and how we go about living in it. He wishes you to consider the impact of even your smaller actions when indulging in the glamors of our age and asks you to think to the future use of such things, to ask: "is this just going to become trash? Is this just a flashier version of what I already have? Is the resource demand worth the use?" He wishes you to please visit Save The Elephants.

differentzebras.net, related hardware, provided content/services written and/or maintained by Felix Swétel
differentzebras.net/about | differentzebras.net/game | differentzebras.net/shc