Had a lot of fun on the weekend. Dad had a hankering to watch internet TV and an old laptop lying around. So we set the old laptop up as an internet TV and media box. OpenElec makes this a very easy process.
Hardware wise we just used a standard laptop with VGA and audio out. 2 cables needed to connect them to the TV were the only extra hardware we needed. OpenElec gave us a 10 minute install followed by a simple configuration process to set up local storage (usb hard drives) and internet TV stations.
ABC, iView, Engadget, commercial stations… there is plenty of freely available high quality content there for the taking. Mum was happy to bring up her facebook photos and movies for big screen viewing.
We could (and may) get a dedicated remote, but to start we just installed the remote control app on our tablets.
All up it took less than an hour to go from downloading OpenElec to watching Dr Who on iView, and cost less than $20 in extra cables. So if you have a spare old computer lying around building an internet media centre is a quick and simple way to access internet content on your TV.
We’ve started a project with the Outback Communities Authority to develop a Digital Economy Strategy for outback South Australia. This is designed to flow into maximising the benefit we get from the NBN rollout and is an opportunity to deliver some really interesting and useful projects.
We’re currently seeking submissions from anyone who has an interest in broadband in the outback. Businesses, service providers (esp. health and education), home schooled kids, people with medical concerns. If you have ideas or projects that improved broadband could make a reality we really want to hear from you.
Visit www.outbackbroadband.org.au for a brief overview and to register your interest. More information will be published on the site as things progress.
I had the misfortune of having to play with old SCO tape backups, time consuming horrible things. A few notes will make it slightly more efficient next time…
/dev/rct0 Cartridge tape
/dev/rStp0 SCSI tape
tape reten (device) Retension the tape
tape rewind (device) Rewind the tape
tape erase (device) Erase the tape
tape status (device) Is there a tape in the drive ?
tape unload (device) Eject a tape
tape getblk (device) Reads and reports the block size of the tape
tape -a (new block size) setblk (device) Sets the block size
Determine tape format
dtype /dev/rct0 cpio, tar or 'compressed cpio'
cpio -itvcB /dev/rct0 list files
Sometimes the compressed cpio archives can’t be read.
dd if=/dev/rct0 | compress -d | cpio -itvcB
make sure you bring your favourite alertness inducing substance and light distraction device, plenty of time to kill waiting for tapes to spool.
I’ve been using a ‘cloud’ desktop for years now. All my normal office applications running on a vitrualised terminal server with a presentation layer over the top. Access it from anywhere on anything, great. But someone (usually me) is still looking after a windows machine running those applications in a desktop context. I have now hit a great point in the evolution towards a truly cloud desktop as I finally replaced office with a web browser.
Google Docs has been encroaching on MS Office for some time now. It takes a bit of a paradigm shift but once you master it the collaborative benefits easily outweigh the layout restrictions. The biggest hangups have not actually been standard office docs but Visio and MindManager. Visio produces diagrams for network maps and process flowcharting. MindManager gives me the Mind Maps that every strategy, plan and project bounces off. Export to project or to word or excel is a massive timesaver. Essential daily tools and big shoes to fill.
After much research and trial I have settled on Gliffy for diagramming and Mind Meister for my mindmaps. So now I can work entirely out of a browser and easily publish my work to extranets shared with clients. Beltana, Byron Bay or Broken Hill, we can work and share instantly. It’s pretty awesome and exciting.
So over the coming weeks I am going to step through each application in the suite, comparing it to the Office equivalent and giving a rundown on what you can expect and what to consider before migrating.
We run most of our business on the cloud, but i’ll admit I struggle to explain exactly why its so cool. Over the past few days i noticed something simple and natural that just highlighted the benefits of having a cloud environment.
We all know how important it is to keep an eye on the budget. We need to be able to quickly make important business decisions such as “can i upgrade my laptop now?” and “how long can we spend in the Barossa Valley?”. Often we need advice or input from a financial controller, an accountant or a business coach. Like now, when I am in Beltana, 6 hours north of Adelaide and even further from most of the people I’m working with.
We use and recommend Xero for our accounting. It does everything you need an accounting program to do. Online. Through a web browser. Nothing to back up, nothing to install. No matter what OS.
I ran a report and exported it straight into Google docs. I then shared that report with my
financial fascist trusted adviser (with his own business Google Apps account) and within minutes we were both looking at the same report, able to make changes and seeing it update in real time.
We both have VOIP so we were having a voice conversation at phone quality that cost nothing. Different states, collaborating on a document across states as if we were in the same room. Neither of us needing access to anything more complex that a terminal connected to the net with a web browser. Everything we did secure, backed up, and mobile.
How cool is that?!
I hate dual gateway setups that rely on static routing *at the PC* to function. They are an evil unmanageable curse and anyone who thinks it is acceptable needs to go back to school. So it was a great quest to eliminate one lurking in Tamworth earlier this week.
We’d arrived the previous night from Port Macquarie through that crazy storm that bought half a dozen trees down on the roads. Armed with a laptop and a large coffee I crept through the lair of this network beast, confronted as expected by a tangled cabinet that housed 2 business networks and the curse of being unable to impact the other business in any way shape or form.
First of course we studied and mapped the network. A small one, with a local internet connection and a separate VPN connection to HQ. PBX, printers, 4 PC’s, cisco SHDSL and netgear ADSL. All with static routing. No DHCP offering its guiding light. Manual hosts entries! EXTERMINATE!
The solution of course was trivial, to send everything to the cisco router as default gateway, add the ADSL modem on a bridge interface and let the router actually do it’s thing, i.e. *route packets*.
While deep in the bowels with only dregs of caffeine left to sustain me I then turned on DHCP and scored the bonus for enabling the wifi that had never been set up. Then tediously hunted down all static network configuration on the PC’s. By the time we tested all was operational once more I was running on instant and had to have an emergency battery drop for the labeling machine.
Job done, network map generated, it was off down the highway to Dubbo.
We all get frustrated at the lack of poor mobile coverage once we get away from the major centres – especially when we rely on it for our internet. Like anything relying on wireless signals, its all about signal strength – and the best way to increase signal strength is with a good quality antenna.
We recently did some testing with an 18 DBi mobile antenna mounted on the car, hooked into a little router to create a wireless hotspot (powered off the car charger). In Port Augusta, as expected, signal was great. All the way to Quorn we had constant strong signal – even through Pichi Richi – and internet was great (for everyone except the driver of course!) Between Quorn and Hawker there is normally a massive dead spot where you can’t even get an SMS through – we fluctuated a little but could always keep flicking through articles on the Register and get Facebook updates. Then came the real test – Parachilna. We dropped down as low as -100dBm, but could still get email through. Not far up the road we got in range of the Mount Scott tower that services Leigh Creek and could check the bank for fuel and food funds. It only got better from there into Leigh Creek.
So by simply adding an antenna and router for ~$800, we now have mobile internet all the way up the Flinders Ranges. Next test will be out to Marree – stay tuned!
We all love our shiny new smartphones / ipads and the convenience of working on the go with 3G connections. Many businesses are providing them to staff. However have you looked at the costs of excess data usage? The costs of overrunning your plan can be very significant, we’ve seen people stung with excess usage charges of over $1200 for a single month! And the person responsible wasn’t doing anything untoward, simply using pretty much everything at their disposal, including applying updates.
While the best solution is to pick the right plan, its not always possible to predict usage, and of course things change with new software and systems coming online.
So to ensure you do not get stung it is very important to set up your usage alerts so you will be informed when bandwidth usage reaches trigger points, allowing you to take steps early to avoid the punitive charges mobile operators love so much. Call your mobile provider for specific details on how to do this.
Its really annoying to have some stupid script kiddy fill your logs with failed ssh login attempts, and there is always a risk they eventually will get lucky.
I found this script in the forums some time ago and always use it to lock out bruteforcers. Its also a really good template for other dynamically created blacklists.
/ip firewall filter
add chain=input protocol=tcp dst-port=22 src-address-list=ssh_blacklist action=drop
comment=”drop ssh brute forcers” disabled=no
add chain=input protocol=tcp dst-port=22 connection-state=new
src-address-list=ssh_stage3 action=add-src-to-address-list address-list=ssh_blacklist
address-list-timeout=10d comment=”" disabled=no
add chain=input protocol=tcp dst-port=22 connection-state=new
src-address-list=ssh_stage2 action=add-src-to-address-list address-list=ssh_stage3
address-list-timeout=1m comment=”" disabled=no
add chain=input protocol=tcp dst-port=22 connection-state=new src-address-list=ssh_stage1
action=add-src-to-address-list address-list=ssh_stage2 address-list-timeout=1m comment=”" disabled=no
add chain=input protocol=tcp dst-port=22 connection-state=new action=add-src-to-address-list
address-list=ssh_stage1 address-list-timeout=1m comment=”" disabled=no
It’s always a journey, rebuilding your website. Analysing the purpose, regenerating content, integrating new applications and updating the design. It’s a big mission. But maybe it’s the kick in the pants I need to fire up the old blog again. Things are interesting enough right now to be worth noting.
First thing of interest is my shiny new website. Yay! It involves Joomla, WordPress, Kayako and WHMCS all tied together. And a fresh new look. And most importantly, it makes sense to the average person.
I think. I hpoe so. Let me know your thoughts, you early visitors.