OpenVPN IPV4 forward reminder

January 6th, 2012

This quick post is to remind me of the last step I need to do when setting up a new VPN:

echo 1 > /proc/sys/net/ipv4/ip_forward

Running that command as root enables forwarding of IPV4 packets. This will allow the VPN server to pass information back and forth between the VPN LAN segment, and your main network.  If that gets your VPN connection going, then you’ll need to make the change permanent.  To do that, edit this file:

vim /etc/sysctl.conf

Find the line that says “net.ipv4.ip_forward=1” and uncomment it (remove the #)

Origin makes Battlefield 3 a Piece of Turd!

December 16th, 2011

So I love Battlefield 3 but the Origin Online web interface is complete garbage.  It makes the game a pain, and I think that many people would consider waterboarding the person who conceived of it a worthwhile idea.  I don’t condone such violent, but let me give you a quick example of how bad it is.  I bought the Back to Karkand expansion pack and 1 hour later, I am still unable to play it.  I waited 30 minutes to get into a chat session with a support person and this is how it went:

Ruchin: Thanks for contacting EA Help! My name is Ruchin how may I help you?
you: I purchased Back to Karkand but did not get a code, and am unable to find a code in my account info or in my email
Ruchin: May I know where did you purchase your game from please?
you: I bought the game from the origin app and the map from the battlefield3 website when I logged in to play
Ruchin: May I have your e-mail id please.
you: The order # is XXXXXXXXX
you: my email address is: ilovespam@thisisntreal.com
Ruchin: Please give me some time to retrieve your account in our database.
you: ok thank you
Ruchin: No problem
Ruchin: I would advise you to wait for a little more while and then you will be able to play the dlc.
you: Ok, thank you
Ruchin: Thank you for contacting EA. Is there anything else I can help you with today?
you: No. Though I am curious, how long do you think I will need to wait?
you: It has been an hour, and I just tried to join a game now, and it still says I need to buy it.
you: However, my wall page announces that I have access to it
Ruchin: Being a gamer myself I understand your curiosity, but please just wait for a little more time and I assure you you will be able to play it real soon!
Ruchin: If you need help with anything else, please feel free to contact us anytime!
you: Ok thank you
you: have a great weekend.
That’s just awesomeness, isn’t it?

iOS 5. The best iOS yet

December 11th, 2011

Why is it the best iOS yet? Because I knew that I needed to get a new iOS device, and I could never talk myself into spending that kind of cash. Well, iOS 5 has done that for me. I used to be able to actually use my 4th Gen iPod touch (you know the latest and greatest). Then I decided I was finally going to be okay with wiping all of my data, all of my apps, all of my music, all of my everything, just to be graced with the latest iOS update. And then? Well… my iPod won’t work anymore. It wiped everything but absolutely refuses to update, even in DFU mode. Awesome. Thanks Apple!

iFixit – Great guides, poor community management

October 2nd, 2011

I just recently acquired a Mac Mini Mid 2011 model.  This model does not come with an optical drive, and has space and the correct hardware to add an additional hard drive.  iFixit sells a kit that contains everything you need to take your Mac Mini and add a second hard drive yourself.  The kit is so popular that I have been on the waiting list to buy one for almost two months now.  It’s a great kit, the instructions to disassemble and install the new hardware are very thorough.  I couldn’t be more pleased with iFixit’s offering.

Now this particular Mini is used to run all of my virtual machines and also used as a file server.  As such, I want the machine to have as much storage capacity as possible while providing snappy IO for my virtual machines.  In order to maximize storage, I do not want to use an SSD drive.  So, I wanted to use two 7200RPM drives with a large drive cache, and as much storage capacity as possible.  I popped over to NewEgg.com and searched for 7200  RPM drives in the 2.5″ form factor and found the Seagate Constellation at 1TB.  Perfect! Plenty of capacity and pretty high speed.  Well, after reading the product details, it turns out the drive is 15mm thick!  I didn’t think it would likely fit, but I thought I might as well ask on iFixIt and see if anyone had tried this.  So I went to the “Ask a Question” section of iFixit.  After reading the instructions, it said that only repair questions could be asked in that forum.  Well, I am not doing a repair, I am upgrading.  So I followed the instructions and asked in the “iFixit Meta” section instead.  The question was whether anyone knew if two 15mm drives would fit inside of the Mac Mini with the dual hard drive kit.  The question was deleted within 12 hours without any feedback from iFixIt.  They didn’t tell me it was in the wrong section, or anything.  It just up and vanished.  Two days later, I get an email from iFixIt indicating that two people had responded to my question and that they wanted me to select the answer that I felt best answered the question.  The responses are below:

As far as i know two drives 9.5 mm is your current option, and a “fast” 1TB drive in that size isn’t around yet as far as i know.

Western Digital makes a 1TB blue line that should work fine.

You would have to go a bit smaller 500-750GB WD’s black line for a proper fit and a higher performance drive, Black line also has advanced format models, 4k sectors, allowing for more useable space after formatting then a regular drive……..and a 5yr warranty……..Black line drives are quick …….some people have claimed to get a 12.5 to work with some “modification” however you risk damaging the computer.

Hatachi [sic] makes some nice drives too…….. i am most familiar with WD’s line as i have been using them for years.

hope this helps.

And then:

The answer is ”’no”’. Please see step 7 [guide|6131|here]. There is only 15mm of “extra space” underneath the factory original 9.5mm drive. Actually for a number of reasons should not attempt to put 1 in there with a standard 9.5mm drive. Read the reviews on the Seagate Constellation.2 ST91000640NS hard drive. It is a power hog the Mini’s power supply more than likely couldn’t power it up and if it did you would suffer other consequences in the USB realm and others. It runs very hot, not a good thing in the mini. If you got to have internal Terra [sic] drives go with the newer WD Scorpio Blue Or the Samsung for inside the Mini.

Personally with a Mini. I would go with a SSD for my operating system, virtual memory and programs.Then a larger slower hard drive for data. It is actually the hard drive that the virtual memory is placed on that makes the biggest difference in a computers performance. After that, it is the hard drive the operating system is on that determines how snappy a computer performs. Your data hard drive doesn’t need to be fast. It needs to be reliable.

I wish that I had the opportunity to thank them for their answers, but I was not given the chance.  It was helpful to learn that the mini only has room for 9.5mm drives.  This means even the original Western Digital Scorpio Blue won’t fit, since they it is 12.5mm.  In fact, only two 1TB drives will fit, as far as I can tell.  Those are the Samsung Spinpoint M8 and the newer Western Digital Scorpio Blue.

In fact, the first responder was much more helpful than the second, who seems to like to make things up.  For example, the Constellation maxes out at about 5.96W of power consumption.  It idles at under 3W.  This is not much different than a standard hard drive.  As you can see here, even SSDs can consume around 3W of power.  And then to suggest that the hard drive’s power consumption could cause problem for USB devices?  Perhaps if the hard drive put the power supply at 100% capacity.  But if Apple had put the Mac Mini at the limits of it’s power supply’s capacity, then the unit would run very hot and not be very energy efficient.  Typically you would never design a unit to run above 80% power consumption.  The Mac Mini idles at 10W and maxes at 85W (Apple).  I can’t find specs on the actual power supply but I would expect it to be at least 110W.  If it is 110W, then a maxed out Mini is only using 72% of the power supply’s capacity.  So therefore, the hard drive’s power draw should be insignificant.

I also have this box maxed out with RAM, so hopefully it is never using virtual memory, and his “put the virtual memory on the SSD” comment is a moot comment.  Regardless, I already stated that I wanted to maximize storage capacity + speed, and therefore his SSD comment is pointless in any regard.

As for his statement “Your data drive does not need to be fast…”, well I disagree with that, obviously.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t want to have fast data drives.  Let me tell you why.  First of all, I run many virtual machines and they will not all fit onto any economical SSD.  I want them to be as responsive as possible because they provide services such as: VPN, calDav, CardDav, email, and remote desktop service.  I run a Windows XP image that I can remote into from work, my phone, or my tablet.  This XP VM has to be fast to save time and battery on my mobile devices.  In addition to all of that, I stream media to and from the machine as my HTPC copies recorded shows to the Mini for processing.  So maybe he doesn’t need fast data, but other people do.  Otherwise, they wouldn’t make fast drives in that capacity. 😉

In any event, thank you to the first responder, who did provide me with valuable insight.  Also big thanks to iFixIt, for deleting my question without even telling me why! I am just thankful their system is so broken that it emailed me the responses to the deleted question anyway.

WZR-HP-G300NH2 NAT Loopback thru Buffalo Stock Professional Firmware

September 8th, 2011

So if you’re like me, and bought a WZR-HP-G300NH2 and was disappointed to find the lack of NAT loopback capabilities, your solution is below. Just go into the “Administration” menu and the “Commands” submenu. Save the text string below as a “Firewall command.” In other words, paste the command in, and then click the “Save Firewall” button. It will now apply itself after every reboot.  Be sure to paste it as a single line.

Be sure to change the network (“192.168.1.0”) to the appropriate address of your network.

iptables -t nat -I POSTROUTING -o br0 -s 192.168.1.0/24 -d 192.168.1.0/24 -j MASQUERADE

Why Does FedEx Have Such Terrible Service?

June 28th, 2011

So I bought something from Apple. It shipped last week from Shanghai, China. From there it went to Anchorage and then to Memphis, which is where their main hub is. It passed through Anchorage customs in an unprecedented 4 hours, and was immediately shipped off to Memphis. It made that entire journey in 24 hours. Memphis people loaded it up and ship it off within the hour. So far, so good. Amazing coverage by FedEx. It then arrived at the regional hub and sat. Then it sat some more. Then they finally loaded it up and sent it the 1.5 hours to my location.

Well, it arrived at the destination facility with plenty of time to spare to unload the truck and place the package for delivery. Does it go out? No. It sits AGAIN, a mere 20-30 minutes from the delivery location. As of 9am there is no indication from FedEx that they will attempt to deliver today. I will definitely comment on whether that happens (their tracking info never seems to be updated, the only tracking system that is worse is the USPS). My other Fed Ex delivery is marked as being on the truck, so its a crap shoot at this point.

Anyway, the irritating thing is that the package spent less than 48 hours in transit and more than 72 hours completely idle. I understand that they run their shipments on a regular schedule but I have had so many problems with FedEx holding on to packages at the final destination that I am fed up. If a package is early, they seem to, in my opinion, hold on to it until the scheduled delivery date. They are the only carrier I know that seems to do this. Why?? It makes their customer service look TERRIBLE. Especially when the customer can view the tracking data and see with their own eyes that this is exactly what Fed Ex is doing.

If Fed Ex holds on to this package one more day, I will be very tempted to tell Apple that I am going to reject the shipment because of Fed Ex’s terrible service. In fact, I wonder what would happen if I started telling vendors that I won’t accept Fed Ex? I suppose someone like Amazon wouldn’t care what my opinion was, but it’s worth a shot.

Initial Look at Call of Duty Black OPs Campaign mode

November 12th, 2010

So far I’m not too impressed with the campaign mode.  I’m not going to write a long post at the moment but I’ll update this later.  Things that drive me nuts so far (I’m only on the 2nd or 3rd mission):

  • Friendly AI that block you from cover (run up behind you and you can’t move)
  • Friendly AI that runs right past an enemy and doesn’t even shoot at him. Its like he can’t see the guy killing you.
  • The Harpooning the helicopter objective is just stupid.  Who the heck thought that up? There is no explanation on WHAT you’re supposed to do and the dialog from the AI makes you think there is some “right time” to launch the harpoon.  Playing on the hardest difficulty you have almost no time to actually perform this maneuver.

Someone told me they really thought the story in Black OPs was way better than Modern Warfare 2.  So far I am afraid I have to disagree.  I will say that I like multiplayer a bit better in some regards though I think it’s pretty silly that not only do you have to unlock weapons, but you actually have to buy them now too.  The only thing you’re saved from is having to try and unlock every single attachment.

Why Steampowered Drives Me Nuts!

October 30th, 2010

So I bought a new game tonight for $20.  It’s an RTS called Supreme Commander 2.  Never heard of it before but I decided I’d give it a try just for the heck of it.  I got home and found out that the game requires Steam to play it.  Of course, I had already opened the DVD up by then so I was past the point of no return.  I haven’t played a Steam game in forever.  So I couldn’t remember my password and I tried to do the “forgot your password” system.  Well they send you an email with a challenge response and also  your secret question.  So apparently I didn’t put the real answer to my secret question and I couldn’t figure out what I put.  I tried over and over again, each time getting one of those stupid emails with the EXACT same challenge response.  My inbox was literally full of them.  I emailed support asking them to reset my account and, since its a Saturday night, I didn’t hear back from them.  I didn’t figure I would.  So I sat down to watch some football when I realized what password I had probably used.  I go back to my computer and type it in and install the game.  I’m anxious to play and I go to hit the play button and….  Steam tells me I have a 40 minute wait while it downloads updates!!  It’s downloading at almost 2Mbit too.   What the hell kind of BS is this? You buy a game, take it home and you can’t even play it for over an hour because Steam forces to you download updates that I really don’t care about.  I would have been happy to just give the game a go in campaign mode and then update it later.  But, I’m not even given the choice!

So why I hate Steam:

  • I have to install their stupid software to play my games
  • They create a list of every single piece of software I have installed.  Can you say stalker?
  • Copy protection only hurts the innocent! If I had pirated the game I’d be playing it right now, not waiting on Steam!
  • Copy protection only hurts the innocent! If I had pirated the game I wouldn’t have spent an hour waiting to install it because I forgot my password.
  • Oh yeah and I couldn’t even install the damn game without a steam account!
  • They sent me about 15 copies of the exact same email. If you’re going to send me a stupid email every time I try to guess my password at least change the challenge / response every time!

How to Sync Multiple Exchange Accounts with Sense (HTC Evo, etc) For Free!

October 30th, 2010

So I was trying to figure this out last night and everyone online was indicating that the only way to do this under sense was to get Touchdown or RoadSync or something like that.  This just isn’t true.  The AOSP (Android Open Source Project) email client not only supports multiple exchange accounts, but it will automatically sync your contacts AND calendars, too.  So how do you get the AOSP mail client installed?  Well the good folks over at Cyanogenmod have a copy of it in their ROM.  Download the entire ROM and you can extract just the apk that we’re interested in and install it via root explorer, file manager, or something like that.   It’s in  the \system\app folder.  Once you’ve gotten it installed, just open up the email application (different than the sense Mail.apk) and get to work.  Create the new exchange account and tell it to sync calendars and contacts (if you want).  These accounts will even show in the Sync settings.

Please note that I verified this works with 2.2 Froyo version of the HTC Sense ROM for Evo.  If you have any difficulties, feel free to let me know.

HTC Evo VS iPhone 3G

June 10th, 2010

Okay I know you’re going to say that I am being unfair because I’m comparing the latest and greatest from HTC against an iPhone that is two years old.  That may be true, but I don’t have a 3GS or an iPhone 4 and the things that persuaded me to switch to an Android phone are likely to apply to the iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4.

First, let’s look at the things that the EVO (and Android) do right:

  • Contact birthdays go straight onto my calendar as an all day event! This doesn’t happen on the iPhone and it drove me absolutely nuts.   It’s a completely OBVIOUS no-brainer.  I wanted to write an app that would help fix this on the iPhone but the restricted API for the iPhone made this impossible without jailbreaking.  As such, this made me not want to develop for it at all.
  • Widgets! My next calendar event is right there on my home screen grouped with the local time and the local weather.  Those are based off GPS.  I can add widgets for photo albums, speed dial, clocks, hardware toggle switches (WiFi, bluetooth, etc), stock tickers, etc.  Any app can provide widget capabilities.
  • Full bluetooth functionality.  I can now transfer files to and from my phone.  I have heard the iPhone 4 follows the full bluetooth standard but I can’t be sure.  Finally I can sync my phone contacts with the caller ID on my in-dash GPS unit.
  • Micro SDHC card.  I really believe that Apple forces people to replace completely functional hardware by limiting storage options. Forced obsolescence is very counter to their ads of being the most “green” electronics manufacturer.
  • “Conversations” in the email client.  All messages can be grouped together by subject.  In fact, on the Android mail client you can sort your email just about any way you’d like it.
  • Facebook Integration.  I think Facebook is the devil and I joined it strictly to keep up with family.  All my sister-in-laws are on there posting the latest news with their family.  When I signed in it automatically imported calendar events from Facebook into my phone.  It even added contact numbers, profile photos and email addresses that I didn’t have in my address book.  I thought that was pretty slick.  Best of all, you can turn it off.
  • The battery app. Best utility app I have ever seen.  The OS actually keeps track of what software applications, hardware functionality, and OS functionality is draining your battery.  For instance, I found that on a single charge of the battery the display uses about 4% of my battery while idle cell tower communication used about 50%.
  • Speaking of batteries… you can replace your Evo battery any time you want! Batteries only have a limited useful life before their capacity diminishes.  I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve been flying all day and dying to listen to music on my iPhone only to think (no I have to save the battery so that I can contact my ride when I get to the airport).
  • The ability to send meeting requests
  • Text messages are automatically resent when they fail
  • Notification bar shows you not only what apps are running but when you have an email, text, or other (app) message to review.  Pulling the bar down shows all your notifications and allows you to clear them.

Things that the iPhone does better:

  • The App store for the iPhone has a much easier layout.  It’s a lot easier to navigate the droves of apps.
  • The ability to disable http requests from emails (though this also annoys me because if you turn it off, you can’t turn it on for a specific email).
  • Its easier to delete emails
  • There are a lot more high quality games for the iPhone (and I do not believe this is because the iPhone is better for games, it’s just more mature in this respect, and of course the app store is easier to use).

Things that drove me nuts about my iPhone:

  • Functionality is intentionally withheld from older models to encourage people to upgrade. Examples:
    • the iPhone 3G is perfectly capable of tethering but you had to get a 3GS to tether (not that AT&T would ever let you do that).
    • the iPhone 3G is perfectly capable of recording video but you have to jailbreak the phone to get such capabilities.  I’ve done it before and I thought the video looked quite good for a cell phone.
    • Multitasking (and iPhone OS 4.0) requires a 3GS or an iPhone 4.  Multitasking has been available since day one on jailbroken iPhone 2G’s (iPhone 1).  The phone is perfectly capable of this.
  • Apple’s arbitrary restrictions on what apps can be developed for the phone.  I wanted so badly to improve the functionality of the phone but every single innovative idea I came up with was shot down by Apple’s API or their policies about 3rd party apps.
  • If it’s not a game and Apple didn’t develop it, the application probably sucks! Most of the Apple apps were useful and decently polished but if they’re missing functionality you’re out of luck.  No one will be authorized to make an app that competes with theirs.
  • Text messaging! If a message fails it fails silently.  At first they didn’t even tell you until you opened the message thread. Now at least it says “failed to send” if you look in the texting app. Otherwise you have NO idea and it does not try to resend the message.
  • Vendor lock-in.  Apple is doing everything to lock you into the iPhone and to monetize it.  They collect money from app sales, all possible music sales, and now they’re even trying to become the de facto ad agency for the iPhone.  Once you buy an app or a song from Apple, they don’t want you to be able to use it anywhere else.  They don’t want their developers to be able to develop anywhere else and they use license restrictions and a proprietary development language to do so (Objective-C is owned by Apple and was relatively unheard of before the iPhone).

So far the only thing that drives me nuts on the Evo is the app store.  (Oh yeah, why can’t I sort my contacts by last name?)  The faster processor is a godsend.  Its amazing to open an app instantly, to have the keyboard be responsive when it’s looking in the dictionary, etc.  Obviously the Evo’s processor is about twice as fast as the 3G, so this isn’t a fair comparison.

Here are some long term issues I had with my iPhone as well. Obviously I haven’t had my EVO long enough for anything to crop up

  • Receiving text message alerts constantly without so much as an unread text (every 5 minutes for hours, sometimes).
  • Receiving text messages without so much as an alert. The screen never lit up, no chime, no buzzer, nothing.  I look at my phone hours later and see a ton of texts on the lock screen.
  • Having the iPod randomly fast forward music when I’m using my headphones.  This never happened when it was plugged in through the USB (and yes this is with the screen locked).  Nothing I tried fixed this, including restarting the phone.
  • Having my phone hang in various OS screens for the longest time (lockscreen not turning off/on, taking 2 or 3 minutes for it to finish the unlock after I swipe my finger, etc).

I’ve tried to be as unbiased as possible and provide the straight facts opinions as I see them.  I’ll probably add more as I think of things.  I’m definitely more of a power user so some of these iPhone complaints will not apply to everyone.