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76  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: TrueCrypt Audit on: October 10, 2013, 12:31:10 PM
From the discussion of this that I've seen, there isn't really any reason to suspect that there's a problem. It's just that people want to *prove* that TC is secure, and hasn't been compromised.
77  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Rebuilding my home network on: October 09, 2013, 11:06:37 AM
When you say remote access, do you mean you can't get the Android client working from within your LAN or from outside your LAN?

I couldn't get it to work from outside. That's because I couldn't get my server to register itself with their system. The website that runs on my server asks for me to provide the credentials to access the myplex server, and apparently it tries to use that to get the myplex server to query back to my server. But without static IP from my DHCP, I wasn't able to set up the firewall settings for port forwarding, so my server never received the ping back from myplex.
78  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Rebuilding my home network on: October 07, 2013, 05:07:39 PM
It's been a few months since we had a serious discussion about home networking. I've just had to rebuild much of my network, and thought I'd share my experiences with current products and configurations.

I just moved to Texas, but a week before the move, a mega-thunderstorm burned out a bunch of my electronic equipment. On the trash heap following that:
  • Cable modem - owned by the cable company, so no loss to me
  • Router - these are cheap, but I lost the whole DHCP configuration, and getting all this stuff configured again will be a pain
  • 8-port gigabit switch - oddly, about half the ports still work, but I don't trust it anymore
  • DLink NAS
  • Desktop computer's NIC
  • One DirecTV PVR's NIC
  • PhonePower VoIP adapter - after the hit, it started to generate so much heat that its plastic case is warping
  • An HDMI switch connected to my TV, of all things

The NJ house I moved out of, I'd completely wired for ethernet before WiFi was a real option. The new house in TX doesn't have that, and TX houses don't have basements, making new wiring too much of a headache.

Getting myself back onto the net was the first task. I decided that in the long run it would be cheaper to buy my own cable modem (it'll pay for itself in 1.5 years, and with buried cables in my new town, there's minimal chance of its destruction). I went for the fastest I could find, a Motorola Surfboard, but really, any DOCSIS 3.0 would do. I had to let Time Warner Cable know the MAC address (their horrible customer service could fill another lengthy post). I subscribed to 50Mbps service (up from the 15Mbps maximum I could get in NJ), partly because the wife will be working from home, and will need plenty of bandwidth for that. I'm glad to report that the actual, measured bandwidth from TWC is slightly higher than that, even in prime time.

I also had a cheapo WiFi router in a box, which I'm currently limping along with until I can get better. That got me bootstrapped to where I could at least function.

The PhonePower VoIP adapter was easy. I called them, and had a new adapter in two days, minus $15 shipping. And it's pretty cool that I can just plug in here in TX, and still have the same phone number.

Since I don't have ethernet wiring, and don't want to be tied down to WiFi speeds, I needed a way to move the signal around. I'd previously used powerline adapters to good effect, and found that they've gotten faster in recent years. With three pairs of 500Mbps TP-Link Powerline Adapters, I can get the data into almost every room. I really like these things. They're super-easy to set up, and although they don't really provide the whole advertised 500Mbps, they're still a lot better than WiFi.

To get a wired connection to the damaged desktop, I needed to free a slot (the NIC had been on the motherboard). Who needs a phone modem these days? That card went in the garbage, with a spare gigabit NIC in its place.

The biggest challenge so far was the NAS. I had planned for the future by using RAID drives, but in fact both drives were intact; it was the NAS itself that was dead. And with no device to read the RAID array (and this being an older, discontinued model), I had no good way to get the data off the drives. Luckily I'd made a backup onto a portable drive just a week prior, in anticipation of my move, so data loss was trivial.

To replace the NAS Server, I got a Synology DS-212j. This is in the process of being discontinued (there's one lesson I didn't learn), so they're relatively cheap. I stuck the drives from the original NAS into this. I'm *very* impressed with this device. I don't know if there's anything special about the hardware, but they've obviously put a ton of effort into the software. Its configuration and management tools are just orders of magnitude nicer and easier to use than anything else I've ever seen. And the first thing I was able to do with it was plug that portable drive into its own USB jack, and copy off my backup (at this point I hadn't swapped out the desktop's NIC, and I really didn't want to push that much data through WiFi!)

One of the slick things about the Synology system is that it supports add-in applications (I know other vendors off this as well, but not with such an easy-to-use repository as Synology offers). And one thing I wanted to accomplish was to run a media server, to replace an old server that I'd decided not to bring to TX with me. Synology lets you install a Plex server with just a couple of clicks. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get the Plex server working for remote access from my Android.

I think the reason I can't get that remote access running is because of the network configuration in that crappy router I'm using. In particular, it doesn't give me sufficient control of DHCP to ensure that things live in the network where I want them to be. So I've got on order a new, better router, a NetGear WNDR3700 (another product near end of lifecycle, that you can get relatively cheap). It's supposed to have very good radios, to allow for access out in the backyard, or to support the wife's multifunction printer thingy in her office (which only offers WiFi connection, no wires allowed). I plan to install DD-WRT onto it (which I also had back on the old router in NJ), so I'll have pretty much complete control over the network.

I wasn't able to replace the DirecTV receiver - the technician wouldn't go up on the roof to install the dish, and couldn't guarantee that the signal strength would reach the box if he stuck the dish onto the side of the house. So now I've got a whole-house HD DVR system from TWC (again, with the nightmare customer service). Years ago, before HD, I had TiVos. Those were better than the DirecTV DVRs. And those DirecTV boxes were way better than the TWC boxes. They're awful! Clunky user interface, intentional crippling of features like 30-second skip, and again, their awful customer service, make me regret this part of my decisions.

The last bit is that pesky HDMI switch. The only reason I had it in the first place was because my old AV receiver doesn't support HDMI at all. Rather then spend a money for the particular weird setup I'd need for that, I tossed out the receiver and got a new one, a Pioneer VSX-822-K. So now I've got a complete, integrated switching system, making the wiring much, much, simpler.

In the past, I'd use a weird off-brand networked video box to get access to my music and video library. I thought I could use DLNA in the new AV receiver to get access to the library. But DLNA sucks. It doesn't need to, but I've yet to find any implementation of it that's anything close to usable with a large library. With hundreds of artists in my music collection, just paging through the list of artists is too painful. So while this *should* be a feature of the new system, in fact it's not usable at all. The old no-name video network box lives on.

If anyone's at all interested in this ramble, I'll report back when I've got the new router set up. And maybe I'll come up with another alternative rather than DLNA. I've been thinking about getting a Raspberry Pi to run either Plex or XBMC on.

(edit: I included a bunch of links to products in Amazon. These aren't affiliate links, I just wanted to give folks a way to look at specs.)
79  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Am I the only person that has a real big problem with software like this? on: October 04, 2013, 02:15:56 PM
I'm not a parent, but I have been a kid.

It seems to me that the development of any child travels through a world where different types of treatment are appropriate at different times. The youngest kids don't have the understanding of the things that populate the world, nor the thinking skills, to be able to make proper decisions on their own. As they age, they may know what's right, but not have developed the confidence to implement that knowledge. Later on, maybe we want to let them try their independence, but still be there as a safety net if things go wrong.

So I think that for small children blockers are appropriate, just as I keep my gun safe locked. It's too easy to do the wrong thing.

And toward the older end of the spectrum, perhaps we don't want to actively interfere with the child proving to himself that he can do the right things. But maybe it's still helpful to know what situations he's running into, in case there's a need to explain to him. Those animal snuff flicks, or something, certainly warrant a conversation with the kid, even when he has the normal reaction of revulsion.

Many kids have the wherewithal to ask their parents, or someone, about such experiences. Others don't. I'm reminded of a favorite song, "Silent Cries" by Fates Warning. The first two verses go like this:

Quote
Born to an air of apathy
Indifference shapes a fragile mind.
Questions formed at an early age
Beg answers unasked
Silent cries

Behind curious eyes resides
A child who cannot speak.
Silent cries

Years find a mind alone whose
Questions flow too deep for words.
Covered in a shroud of silence
Watching the world go by
Silent cries
80  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The issue of Ad-Blocking in our browsers. on: October 03, 2013, 04:13:35 PM
As others have said, it's the annoying ads that are the problem.

I run AdBlock Plus in my browsers. But I've disabled it for DC, and for some other sites. I don't object to ads as such, and indeed, when they're topical, they can even be useful.

But ads that interfere with my usage are the problem. Animated ads that demand your attention still are common. My wife uses Chinese pages all the time, and these frequently look like someone vomited on them; I've added dozens of custom rules to ABP for her.

At a minimum, if you don't allow the ads to detract from the experience of the web page you've worked so hard on, then I'm willing to go along with it. But when you let the ads try to invade my experience, then I don't want to allow that.
81  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Hating on new Google Maps on: September 30, 2013, 05:01:43 PM
Surely I'm not the only one that hates the new design of Google Maps. Let me count the ways that I hate it, and see if anybody's found good solutions to these problems with it:

  • Slow to load - it takes quite a while, even on a fast (e.g., 20Mbps) connection, to load up the page
  • Slow to interact - the page just doesn't feel snappy, at least in Firefox
  • No multi-stop direction - I can only find a way to get directions from point A to Point B; I can't see any way to go from A to B to C
  • Hideous links - to send a map takes a huge, opaque URL, but I can always use bit.ly or something to fix that
  • Did I mention that it seems really slow?

Any other problems Google should be addressing?
82  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: The fun of installing custom router firmware (tomato, dd-wrt) - an introduction on: August 08, 2013, 02:51:20 PM
the most useful setting in Tomato that I think every router firmware should have is the one that lets you set it to reboot itself in the middle of the night every day

I've been running DD-WRT for about a year, and I've had the router up for months at a time with no ill effect.

Does anybody out there have a pointer to a Tomato versus DD-WRT comparison, to help decide which I should use?
83  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: What is safer for data -- a hard disk or a blue ray disc? on: July 08, 2013, 01:37:52 PM
I've *read* lots of stuff about limited lifespans of DVD-R (and by extension, I guess) BD-R discs. But in practice, I occasionally read archives from 10 years ago without problems.

I prefer to do this via hard drive for really big amounts of data, because chopping up the archives, and figuring out what's on what disc, is a big pain. Actually, I just bought a cheap large drive for an additional backup of my photos and documents, when I move in a couple of months - I'm worried about what a hot moving truck will do to hard drives, so I'll carry this one with the real crucial stuff with me.

Continuing to argue with myself... setting aside the life of optical bits versus magnetic bits, there's also long-term questions of form factor. My bet is that you'll have a device that can read optical discs longer into the future than you'll have a device that accepts the kind of interface on your hard disk. I mean, CDs and DVDs have been around quite a long time, and readers are ubiquitous. But if you had your data on an IDE or (some kinds of) SCSI hard drive, and you'd have a much more difficult job trying to find a reader.

MWB1100 reference parchives (like PAR2) above, which is one way to add redundancy so that small failures are recoverable. Another approach, if you're using optical discs, is to use DVDisaster. This is essentially the same thing as PAR2, but it's hidden outside the file system for transparency, and operates against the entirety of the disc image.

84  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage. on: June 27, 2013, 01:31:10 PM
I'm ashamed to say that Menendez, the guy trying to blackmail Ecuador, is my ass of a senator.

For the American people, this is also adding insult to injury. This punishment doesn't only hit the Ecuadorian people, it also hits Americans. Not only are we being spied on, but in the government's fight for its authority to spy, it's also now forbidding Americans from purchasing products that they want (or forcing us to pay higher prices).

Menendez either (a) doesn't understand economics well enough to understand that in trade both sides profit; or (b) really does view this as a war of the US government against the American people. Personally, I think it's likely that both are true.

I'll be writing him another letter, this time saying not only that isn't PRISM and other domestic spying unacceptable, but that the necessary remedy is, at a minimum, the repeal of USA PATRIOT and of the AUMF.
85  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Blowback from Snowden's revelations... this isn't pretty... on: June 26, 2013, 01:08:21 PM
All the foregoing conversation about Pres. Obama's changing tune, and attributing that to (implicitly) hidden powers from the military-industrial complex doesn't explain *all* of the changes of tune. Sure, you can get mileage on the secrecy/warring/detention front, but what of the others.

We were promised an end to the federal govt's prosecution of marijuana growers, where allowed by state law. But in fact, Pres. Obama has stepped up enforcement operations.

We were promised better transparency. For example, all bills would be posted to the Internet for 72 hours before the Pres. would sign anything. That got thrown out on day #1, literally. For another example, the Obama administration has prosecuted more whistleblowers than *any* administration *ever* in history.

Lobbyists weren't going to have any place near the White House, yet the Obama administration contains more than we'd ever seen in the past.

These are not issues that powerful elites in the area of our defense and security apparatus should have more than a peripheral opinion about. I don't buy that the President's hand was forced in these cases (particularly the ones where the promises were broken *immediately*). Therefore, I can't buy your explanation for the cause of the changing tune.
86  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 26, 2013, 12:51:32 PM
^^^ Wraith's post above is one to put into your scrapbook.
87  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 26, 2013, 09:50:51 AM
Two mind-numbing articles by Paul Craig Roberts:

I'm afraid you're crossing the line into partisan politics.

I agree with the overall conclusion you're presenting here. But, bad as the situation that they describe is, these articles do contain untruths and exaggerations (I won't enumerate them, because I don't want to dig deeper into the political quagmire). Presenting things in this manner undermines the effort in the long run: it gives the bad guys the opportunity to rebut trivial details while ignoring the big picture, and it robs us of (some of) the moral high ground.
88  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Knight to queen's bishop 3 - Snowden charged with espionage. on: June 25, 2013, 11:33:55 AM
If Snowden is caught and brought to trial, here's what I think the next move ought to be:

Snowden should claim that everything he said previously was a lie. And there's no law against telling lies to our enemies, right?

To make its case, the government would need to prove that the stuff Snowden said really was true, thus forcing the government to admit, at the very least, the truth of Snowden's claims.
89  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 21, 2013, 08:17:36 PM
Or we could do what Aerosmith was/is still singing about....'Eat the rich'.

Lightweights. Do it the right way, with Motörhead:
<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwtaIT-HR1c" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rwtaIT-HR1c</a>
90  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 21, 2013, 08:50:56 AM
More worth reading:

http://antiprism.eu/
Quote
We are appalled to learn of the unprecedented surveillance of Internet users worldwide through PRISM and similar programmes. Blanket surveillance capabilities such as these, especially when implemented without citizens' scrutiny, seriously threaten the human rights to free speech and privacy and with them the foundations of our democracies.

...

Maybe Europe can help us out. If their business won't work with us because of objections to spying, maybe our business will put enough pressure on the government to dump the spying.
91  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 20, 2013, 06:42:14 PM
But here's the rub...when voting someone out...who steps in to fill the void?

That is the question, is it not?

I think a possible answer is: anybody else.

If we just keep throwing out any bum that won't follow the rules, I hope they'd learn that *we* are the masters, and get their acts together. After just a few cycles, things would get better.

I'm not sure that's true, but I think it's worth trying.
92  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 20, 2013, 01:55:45 PM
This isn't about party.  It's about the whole government.  And unless we can/are willing to throw them all away and start over

wraith, I don't know your party affiliation, and it's none of my business. But whatever it is (assuming you have one), are you willing to vote entirely against that party to ensure that the jerks who perpetrated these things are kicked out?

And will you be willing to vote in that other guy even if his platform is anti-[your favorite sacred cow]?

And will you be willing to do so one year, or even three years from now, when you've cooled down a little (and maybe even forgotten)?
93  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 20, 2013, 11:51:47 AM
I think it's reached the point where the only way to get the message across is to seriously consider impeachment proceedings and removal from office 

(trying to walk a thin line separating this from partisan politics...)

The only way that would work is if a really large portion of the electorate were willing to put their foot down and say "No. You've done something bad. You can't be in office anymore.".

But we've been through crises before. What always happens is that once they get into the voting booth, they actually decide that even though the guy from their party did a bad thing, they still must support him, because the alternative is to let the guy from the other party get into office. And there's no doubt that the other party is outright evil, and must not be allowed into office at all costs.

What's not actually admitted here is that this sort of logic in voting is giving your own party a license to just one unit of evil better than the other party.

If you're not willing to stand up for right versus wrong, then you are what's enabling the problem! Put partisanship behind you, and start voting for demonstrated ideals and against actually observed wrong-doing.
94  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 19, 2013, 01:26:38 PM
it's not a party thing.  Even if Romney had gotten elected, the same would be going on.

No doubt. I didn't mean to make it partisan, the GOP would no doubt have similar measures, although I think the way they'd try to frame the discussion would differ. But they'd sure as heck be doing it -- after all, it was GWB that got this round kicked off.

Like I said, this wasn't intended to be a GOP/DEM thing at all, but rather a "look how absurd the guy at the top is, trying to justify this nonsense with obvious double-talk". I would have said the same thing regardless of what party he came from.
95  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 19, 2013, 12:15:45 PM
Thought y'all might appreciate this.
[attach=#]
96  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 17, 2013, 01:16:26 PM
A good Q&A with Snowden

Quote
Edward Snowden Q and A: NSA whistleblower answers your questions

The whistleblower behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA history answered your questions about the NSA surveillance revelations

http://www.guardian.co.uk...n-nsa-files-whistleblower
97  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Ministry of Truth - Washington Post changes wording in its archive about PRISM on: June 17, 2013, 01:09:54 PM
Honestly, I'm not particularly concerned about this. I see post-hoc editing of news stories all the time, as the need for corrections comes to light. I'm a little put out that there's no notation on the page saying that a change occurred -- I see such notes frequently. But I don't get the idea that there's anything unusual going on due to what the article reveals.
98  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 15, 2013, 09:10:35 AM
Uncle Sam can't demand to know where you're spending your cash. And if he does you can always refuse to answer. But your credit card company and bank are very accommodating when Uncle comes calling and asking for information.

Not to disagree, but to show how this operates in the real world:

Quote
Nacchio alleged that the government stopped offering the company lucrative contracts after Qwest refused to cooperate with a National Security Agency surveillance program in February 2001.

That claim gains new relevance these days, amid leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden that allege widespread domestic surveillance by the NSA.

Back in 2006 Leslie Cauley of USA Today, citing multiple people with direct knowledge of the arrangement, reported that shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks America's three largest telecoms signed contracts to provide the NSA with detailed call records from hundreds of millions of people across the country.

Cauley noted that Qwest's refusal to participate "left the NSA with a hole in its database" since the company served local phone service to 14 million customers in 14 states.

From USA Today (emphasis ours):

Quote
The NSA, which needed Qwest's participation to completely cover the country, pushed back hard. ...

... the agency suggested that Qwest's foot-dragging might affect its ability to get future classified work with the government.

Nacchio's legal concerns about the NSA program at the time mirror those of civil liberty groups today.

http://www.businessinside...acchio-and-the-nsa-2013-6

My conclusion from this is that the government accomplishes this not only (or even primarily) through legislative means, but through financial coercion. Our government has grown so large that servicing it alone is major part of many industries. If you want to stay in business, you've got to go along with the government's wishes. And because this isn't a legislative problem, I don't see how legislation can be a cure for it. The only cure I can see is to neuter the beast: take away its strength. And the way to do that is to shrink it, so it's no longer the 800-lb gorilla that can push everyone around.
99  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 14, 2013, 08:41:55 PM
Does your definition of "private sector" also include those companies that are contracted by

No. The fact that they're acting as agents of the government makes them an extension of it. (Fake corporate shields shouldn't allow private companies to hide from view, nor should the government be allowed to hide that way either.)
100  Main Area and Open Discussion / Living Room / Re: Worth Reading: Trevor Pott's editorial on NSA PRISM and its real ramifications on: June 14, 2013, 07:52:12 PM
Data mining, for fun, surveillance, and profit...

Two crucial differences are that
  • in the private sector it's pretty much impossible to put together a database as comprehensive as what the government can gather by force
  • if you talk about the data collection of the private sector, you're not in immediate danger of becoming a non-person
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