Archive for Computers & WWW

Home VPN

I’ve written an article over on RouterTech about how to setup your own home VPN server. It’s something I’ve mentioned to a few people lately that I use so I figured it was time to share exactly how it’s done. Questions and comments are of course always welcome over on the RouterTech forums.

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Spam Insight

I read a brief but interesting article on the Akismet blog today offering an insight into the current state of web based spam.

While Akismet isn’t a blocking service I personally feel that the large IP ranges identified by the article as solely in use by spammers could do with being blocked.

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Comments on DRM

The original published date on this article, “The Day the Music Died“, is a little old but I think many of the points are still relevant to a lot of the online music services out there today. Certainly food for thought if you own an iPod or other similar device that allows you to pay for and download music that is restricted with DRM.

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WordPress Geek

I found this amusing list of things that might make you a WordPress geek. I found myself falling into a number of the categories listed so I think it’s a strong possibility that I am in fact a WordPress geek. How do you fare against this list?

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WordCamp

WordCamp UK is being held in Cardiff this year and on account of the fact I live relatively close by now and have always meant to go but never got around to, I’ve signed myself up. For those of you that don’t know, WordCamp is an informal gathering of bloggers and developers who use WordPress. There is an opportunity to attend talks, discuss projects and of course socialise with other technically minded individuals.

The scheduled talks look like they could prove very interesting and there is already a large group of people signed up, some of whom I have already exchanged words with over the internet on various occasions so it will be great to meet them in person. Matt Mullenweg is also attending and having the opportunity to thank him in person for creating WordPress will be really cool.

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Facebook Username

Last night facebook launched a username option which allows visitors to the site to go straight to a profile by putting the username in the URL. I of course made sure I snagged my username as soon as the system went live, so you can now access my facebook profile (if I have granted you access to it of course), on the following URL

www.facebook.com/kieranoshea

Sadly I wasn’t able to snag “kieran” for a username as it had already been taken – Kieran Cloonan I’m looking at you – grrr! I could have had “oshea” but having that as a username seemed to bring back distant memories of being called by my surname at school so I decided against it. The username “oshea” has in fact now been taken so Ben O’Shea, I wish you the best of luck with it.

All in all I think this is a good move by facebook. While some might criticise it and say it’s just another step towards becoming MySpace, I see it as more of a step towards the modern web. PHP files and arguments in the URL are so last century. Pretty permalinks and restful behaviour are what it is all about these days. While I can’t see facebook truly implementing a restful URL structure they have certainly made an important forward step with usernames.

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Problem with lftp solved

I thought I’d share this little solution with people as its been bugging me for ages. My command line ftp client of choice, lftp, recently started not connecting. I couldn’t find a suitable solution until I noticed that the AUTH command was being used when I normally don’t make use of that for ordinary ftp sessions.

I added the following line to my lftp.conf file:

set ftp:ssl-allow false

This fixed the issue of failing to connect and everything is now working as it should. Hope this helps someone who is in a similar fix.

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Google change favorites icon

Regular Google users will have noticed that the favorites icon has recently changed from Old Google Favorites Logo to New Google Favorites Logo. Given how infrequently images and layouts related to Google’s home page have changed over the years, does this small change mean fundamental changes might be in the air at Google?

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Webperf Issues

For the last few weeks or so, Webperf has been having back-end CGI issues. This has resulted in their usual colourful array of graphical statistics being missing in action. These are an invaluable resource for web hosts and similar to keep tabs on how they are doing compared to others in terms of their availability and bandwidth provisioning etc. Without it many people, myself included, have been getting frustrated.

If Webperf are not able to keep on top of the work required to run and maintain the site they should hand over to one of the many willing volunteers that have sprung up since the downtime. We need this site and this inaction is annoying and frustrating.

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New Router

Today I setup a new router in our house, the Netgear DG834G. After carefully ensuring all existing settings were mirrored on the new device it was just a question of unplugging the cables from the old router and plugging them into the new one, like for like. It worked straight away with no noticeable problems.

I’ve known for years that I really should have replaced my old Origo (more modern requirements were taking their toll on its memory and other capabilities) but today, when I got an extra 100 Kb/s download speed simply by changing my router, I wish I had done it sooner!

I did hit one snag though in that my ability to connect to remote VPN networks using PPTP suddenly stopped working. After a bit of experimentation I realised that for some reason having DMZ enabled to any IP caused authentication to fail. Disabling DMZ allowed the connections to happen flawlessly.

Having to implement this work around didn’t fuss me as I don’t actually use DMZ, in fact it was merely pointed at a non-existent IP on my subnet in order to shield unused ports. Turns out that the Netgear doesn’t need such a thing to ensure all risky ports but the ones forwarded are hidden. Times have changed since the Origo days but old habits die hard!

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