Categories: "Stuff" or "Amateur Radio" or "Amazon Kindle" or "Barnes & Noble Nook" or "Computer" or "Android" or "Chromebook" or "Hardware" or "Printers" or "Scanner" or "Storage" or "iPad Air 2" or "Networking" or "WiFi" or "Operating Systems" or "FreeBSD" or "Other Linux" or "Ubuntu" or "Windows" or "Software" or "b2evolution" or "BOINC" or "CFEngine" or "Quicken/TurboTax" or "Virtualization" or "VirtualBox" or "Digital Photography" or "Home" or "Appliances" or "Broadband" or "AT&T DSL" or "Cox HSI" or "RoadRunner" or "Furnishings" or "Healthcare" or "Outdoor" or "Safety & Security" or "Home Theatre" or "3DTV" or "AppleTV" or "Blu-Ray" or "Boxee" or "Cable HD DVR" or "DVDs / NetFlix" or "HD Movies" or "HDTV" or "Momitsu V880N" or "OTA HDTV" or "ReplayTV" or "Roku XDS" or "Samsung HLN4365W1" or "Samsung UN50ES6500F" or "Time Warner/Cox Cable" or "TiVo HD / Premiere / Elite" or "iPod" or "Nintendo 3DS" or "PDA" or "VoIP" or "Wireless/iPhone"

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  12:47:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1259 words  
Categories: Software, Networking, AT&T DSL, Broadband, CFEngine

Zoom ADSL X3 5760 & Cacti

It was a dark and stormy...late afternoon...yesterday, and....

I had started out almost 7 years ago with a Siemens 4100 DSL Modem, which worked the way I needed it to for my home network. And, wasn't sure how easy it would be to find another like it. I was running it in the cross between router and bridge that my router could maintain my dyndns info (though it wasn't too long after that I moved that to ddclient on box, which has been more reliable...but I was having ddclient scrape from the router, though the ddclient for the router on my Cox connection wasn't supported so that uses So, now both do.

Would probably be too much work to make ddclient go out on the right IP so that ip route will send it to the DSL router, so it can query the DSL modem for what the real external IP is. Though the new cbox/dbox setup would simplify things....but the migration has stalled as I've been working on getting cacti moved from box...and it hasn't been going well. Lots of old templates and such don't work on the new, so I've been reworking what I feel I can't live without....

That includes the graphs of my DSL modem stats....

Anyways....when the Siemens 4100 started dropping the connection a lot (around the 3 year mark) and changing the filter didn't help, I had heard that these things wear out... So, I tracked down a new Siemens 4100 on eBay...and switched to that....and that got things working again.... Then a couple years ago, things go bad consistently....though I could see from my cacti graphs that SNR drops in the evening. Though I wasn't able to get local service to restore/fix things. I tried the AT&T forum on, and they changed me to Interleaved, which helped....

But, I had started shopping around for a new DSL modem.... somewhere in my journey's I acquired a Zoom ADSL X3 5760 Modem. But, since things were working...I put it aside as my spare for when things stop. Seems I've had it so long that its no longer it July 9, 2012 according to

For a while now, it would drop the connection now and then during the week (between its weekly self-reboot) first I suspected the router, since its twin had gone away in much the same way several months earlier. Though the router do also have failsafe configured, so if it can't talk (ping) to box or the WAN reboots. Though at some point AT&T made their gateways unpingable. So, it was pinging google.

But, on April 6 it got really IRC connection was resetting practically constantly. Though since I had swapped the router before, and swapped it again. Though maybe now I wonder if its watchdog was too aggressive. Things were usable, but the line drops would be annoying. Also the IP staying the same through drops didn't make me question the DSL modem.

But, then on April 13, things start getting really bad....and I was getting 50+ messages a day from ddclient that my IP changed. It seemed to stablize a bit on Monday....though it was still dropping regular enough that I switched to using Cox for my IRC screen session. Was going to defer to the weekend to make the swap.

Well, yesterday the weather was bad...lots of lightning, rain....and I first display I looked at when I got home said "NO INTERNET". Though it was probably a temporary outage, because it did appear to eventually come back while I was working on unboxing my 'new' DSL modem. And, try to figure out how to set it up without the Windows wizard it provides or the lack of documentation with it...there was a small CD, which didn't really provide much depth....but I found what IP it would be and that it has web also has a telnet interface and an FTP interface. turned out to be pretty straight forward getting it working...the hard part was figuring out what the non-default options meant, and whether I would want them.... the main one I turned on was "fullcone NAT". And, I set my router in with a reserved IP and made it DMZ host, so I can keep all my forwards the Zoom is limited to 16, which isn't enough .... though this may change when I make use of its DMZ feature as well (doing reverse proxy on cbox/dbox to everywhere else on my home network...running firewall on these boxes already, to implement policy based routing.) And, enabling ICMP on the WAN interface (its also possible to enable http, ftp and telnet on the WAN interface as well.)

Getting it working in Cacti again, turned out to be much harder.

Full story »

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  07:59:00 am, by The Dreamer   , 523 words  
Categories: General, Home

Blast it, I missed a payment

I don't know if the stars were against me, the delays in timings at my bank or complacency in expecting everything to work, or something in particular about this time of year. Or, that I've been ignoring the nag screens up buy Quicken 2013...but, it has been general practice for me to only upgrade every 2-3 years, ever since I started with Microsoft Money 98.

The last version of Microsoft Money was "Plus" (AKA 2008), and its electronic capabilities would last at most 3 years, though it started ending sooner as banks stopped supporting it. Though oddly I have an account that only offers csv or ofc (the older Microsoft Money format) for downloads. The newer format OFX started appearing in 1999 with the rush towards Y2K, though the format was devised in 1997 (when I started with Microsoft Money 98) Microsoft, Quicken and Checkfree. Though Quicken uses a variant known as qfx.

But, a payment to a card was missed on Friday. >:-(

It had seemed lately that my bank was taking an extra day to update my balance to reflect the direct deposit of my pay, and occasionally the debits from their online bill payment service. Because I usually check all my accounts electronically first thing in my morning....Monday to Friday....(when I'm at home), and I will occasionally check once or twice on the weekend.... There was no activity reported on my account when I checked Friday morning (though there were errors in connecting the days before Friday... Just as two transactions that posted on Saturday to a credit card were missing from this mornings download, but included 4 transactions that posted on Sunday.)

Though it was my understanding the bill payment service pays the bill (a few days before the payment date, when they mail payments on my behalf. Or the day before when they pay my bill electronically. They also have the option to issue a check that drafts directly against my account, which they have done on occasion...such as when I use them to pay doctor bills.) and then debits my account first thing on the day that payment was to reach the biller.

April 12th was payday, and I had a number of bills that were to be paid that day. The total of bills that day, would amount to $17.35 more than my existing balance. But, it is also generally understood that my pay is also reflected first thing and before the debits of the day.

Though now that I think of it, I was told that this is how things were done at my bank in Ohio, and I just assumed that things worked that way now that I'm in Kansas.

Also in years past...with my previous bank account...there was a quirk in transaction downloads, which I presume was an artifact that the download has transactions time stamped in local time, but don't contain timezone information. Resulted in transactions appearing to occur early during standard time. Likely because the bank was headquartered in when Ohio is experiencing eastern daylight time, it is matched to Indiana's staying with central standard time all year. Though I guess moving to Kansas was what fixed that glitch....



  11:29:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 2462 words  
Categories: Hardware, Software, Computer, Networking, Operating Systems, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, CFEngine

The home servers migration got off to a rough start...

My 10.04LTS servers are nearing the end of the line, but the move to get them upgraded is starting to get close....

At first I was waiting for the 12.04.1LTS update to appear, so that I might try upgrading them to Precise. But, then it struck me that it struck me that it might be time to replace one of the servers with new hardware.

The boxes had been servers for many years now, but in 10.04 they dropped support for 32-bit hardware as servers....which means one of my servers, and the more important nearing EOL.

So, back in August....I came across a Shuttle XS36V open box on I ordered one, along with an 8GB SODIMM memory set (a pair of 4GB)....the computers support a maximum of 4GB, but in my mind I was thinking that if this worked, I might get another to make a pair.

But, then it sat around as I go on to other projects....I had figured on using one of the 120GB SSDs that I had acquired earlier....

Realized what was strange about these boxes was they had serial ports, so I started thinking about network serial and setting these boxes up headless. Since I had done a server at work for serial with FreeBSD, I got to thinking that I would do the same with this. Plus I was really finding to be much more predictable/stable than Ubuntu....something that's good in a server.

I started revising the plans as I went....ended up deciding that I would have one that is default cable and one that is default dsl, and running the usual would be master DNS, and the other one be the primary slave....just as one would be primary DHCP and the other secondary....both would do freeradius. Both would NTP servers. Both would do mail, though zen is my main mail system. They would have both apache and nginx on them...apache to run local web services....and nginx doing reverse proxy to the other web apps on my home network (kind of important since current cable router is a step back with it only supporting 16 port forwards....though I have a replacement that I'll get to setting up some day...)

Then while I was poking around on, spotted that there was another open box Shuttle now I had two boxes. I had picked up once Cyclades ACS1 earlier on ebay, so I got a second....a 'new' one for about the same price. Just needed to find time. Perhaps after FreeBSD 9.1 drops.

Well, it dropped....but I still wasn't I needed some SSD drives for the machines. So, I used the $30 in RewardZone for the new TV I had gotten in September, and picked up a pair for 128GB SanDisk Extremes. And, then I started setting up the ACS1s....hmmm, wonder if I have any serial cables. Okay, I'll buy some of those first.... I end up ordering from TigerDirect, as they have a better price on RJ45 to DB9 adapters....not that I need them for the actual ACS1 to Shuttle XS36v connection...that's just a 9F to 9F null modem cable.

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  09:02:00 am, by The Dreamer   , 507 words  
Categories: General, Quicken/TurboTax

State Tax Refund Received

I received my State Tax Refund...only 5 calendar days since my return was reported as accepted. TurboTax had said allow up to 21 days. There was a year where there was a budget crisis...though it doesn't seem to have ended yet....where they were threatening to not pay income tax refunds....or severely delay them.

Though it wasn't that huge of a delay by the time I filed.

Wonder when I'll get my Federal Tax Refund.... TurboTax said 9 out of 10 got refunds in under 21 days last year, though when I did my taxes last year, TurboTax said 7-14 days. Which was pretty much spot on....I got my Federal refund 7 days after I filed....the state refund came 5 days after filing.

So, if things Federal should appear on Monday.

Full story »


  03:10:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1773 words  
Categories: General, Computer, Home, Windows, FreeBSD, VirtualBox, Quicken/TurboTax

Did my taxes for 2012

Like I do every year, I bought TurboTax Premier Federal + E-File + State 2012 as a PC Download from back on Jan 18th, in part due to sale email from TurboTax. But, probably should've waited, because its cheaper now. Not sure why PC download is so similar in price to buying PC/Mac package. And, wasn't sure if I would still be on a PC.

In fact, I haven't had a physical Windows machine for almost 10 months now. Last year I did my taxes in a Windows XP VirtualBox VM on orac, since I had evolved to running Quicken in different XP VirtualBox VMs and using Dropbox to house my Quicken datafile. My first XP VM was on my laptop....and I spent part of Gallifrey One 2011 getting Quicken up and running in that VM and recovering my Quicken data. Where it seemed the best place to put the file was in my Dropbox. Have since adjusted things to make that work better to mostly cope with the locking issues between Quicken and Dropbox. I set up the one on orac which is where I did 'Windows' for about 9 months, and still use on occasion due to the lack of USB 2.0 support for VirtualBox on FreeBSD.

Though on zen, I have a Windows 7 VM (and still own another Windows 7 copy that I don't know where I'm going to put to use, just as I have a couple copies of XP still...been planning to put the 64-bit XP one into a VM on zen...but it hasn't happened yet.) Perhaps when I finally do get my Mac, I'll use some copies there.

Anyways...I would fire up TurboTax now and then, to see it get updates. Always thought it strange that after it said it was done that it would say that it was restarting TurboTax, but not. So, I never did more than see what updates it was getting.

But, I had intended to start my taxes last weekend...where DST began, though that turned out to be a bit of a weird weekend so I didn't get to it. I had actually intended the weekend before DST, but that also didn't pan out. But, seems tradition has been 2nd or 3rd weekend of March lately.... It is also for some reason the weekend that they always bring down HRIS for upgrades. As it happened this year, I did want to go on there and check something....

So, Friday night at 10pm I fired up TurboTax to see what updates, there were a lot. Been kind of unsettling lately...especially after the IRS Notice I got last year, which I dealt with using the services of Tax Resources...but it might have been a variation of a TurboTax bugs -- "Federal 2010: Customers with certain 1099-R retirement distribution codes" or "Federal 2010: Qualified Pension Conversion and Rollover" -- so I probably should've gotten TurboTax to take the heat for it.

Of course, TurboTax has had other issues in the past, and yet I stay with it year after year....

Full story »


  01:00:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 370 words  
Categories: Computer, BOINC, Ubuntu, FreeBSD, Virtualization, VirtualBox

VirtualBox VDI and 4K alignment

So, after my Windows 7 machine at work ate itself after a Windows Update. I decided to turn it into an Ubuntu 12.04 system.

But, so much for becoming Windows free. I was informed that I need a Windows machine to run vCenter on, because the shared Windows 2003 server that we had been using is going away.

So, I setup Windows 7 in VirtualBox...pretty simple. But, soon I was getting ext4 messages complaining about unaligned access for a certain inode. The VDI for the Windows 7 install.

I searched around on VDI and 4K alignment, and eventually found this:

HOWTO: Modify empty VDI for optimal alignment of Windows

Though reading further it seems to suggest that newer versions of VirtualBox get the alignment right for you....and 4.1.24 is much newer than 3.0.12 in the original post. (had opted for 4.1.24, since 4.2.6 is not recommended for BOINC Test4Theory....but 4.2.8 is out now, and it is it'll be time to go and update all my machines, I guess. The only systems with 4.2.6 were FreeBSD, because the 4.1.24 will cause the 9.1 kernel to panic on VM exit. though don't know if 4.1.24 was bad in ports or not, had been 4.1.22 before upgrading to 9.1 -- but had to recompile the kernel modules after the upgrade so had first tried 4.1.24....)

So, I went through the HOW-TO to create an new emtpy VDI...and found that it is already 4K aligned. So, why was the VDI created through the 'New Wizard' in VirtualBox Manager not?

Anyways...I then booted gparted and copied my partitions over to the new VDI....and then had to boot the Win7 installer to fix the startup to get it to boot, and no more complaining.


Guess I'll have to remember to create VDI before creating the new VM in the future? Wonder if there are issues in other disk image formats. Wonder if ZFS would complain that my VDI isn't aligned? Wonder how to check? Though the other formats I use are either VHD or VMDK. VHD because that's what Microsoft Windows Image Backup creates, and I'm using the last one of Zen to try to recover files from.... VMDK is after an import/export of a VM or for raw zvol accesses. So, guess those aren't areas of concern for me right now.


  04:42:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 307 words  
Categories: General, Healthcare

The result of my latest Eye Exam

So, since my Narcolepsy Diagnosis, I've been having vision problems...since September. I suspected that some of it was due to my medication, and I did find that I was right...but learned from Facebook before the NN Conference in October that what I was experiencing was more associated as a side effect of my stimulant than the other. I might be starting too strong with it in the morning.

Making a change on that front, brought about an almost immediate improvement....and while at the conference, I learned of another thing to adjust and that also made for a pretty quick improvement.

However, I still felt that my prescription had changed...but didn't feel like I could get an eye exam and new glasses done in time for LISA, so I put it off....except I guess I put it off too long...because I finally got the eye exam today....but, I'm off to Gallifrey One next week. Not enough time to get a new pair of glasses. Manhattan, KS needs an 1 hour place....though do they do computer progressives in an hour? No, I need my own time machine.

So, here's the updated progression...

2003: OD -5.00 -1.00 075 OS -8.00
2005: OD -4.25 -1.00 080 OS -7.00 -0.75 045
2006: OD -4.50 -1.00 055 OS -6.50 -1.00 035
2008: OD -5.25 -1.00 060 OS -7.25 -1.00 025
2009: OD -5.00 -0.50 050 OS -7.00 -1.25 030
2010: OD -5.50 -0.75 050 +1.25 OS -7.00 -1.00 040 +1.25
2011: OD -5.50 -0.75 050 +1.50 OS -7.00 -1.00 040 +1.50
2013: OD -4.50 -0.75 040 +1.50 OS -6.75 -0.75 010 +1.50

With the updated equipment at there...they could show me very quickly what my vision is like with old prescription and new prescription, and how things compare with and without the reading power.

The large improvement in my right eye, seems to have contributed to generally poor vision distance and computer.

How will I survive now through Gallifrey One ??? We shall see...perhaps :roll:

Wonder if this will be the year to finally get prescription sunglasses, hopefully I won't be buying 3 pairs of eyeglasses in one only have one good pair still. Though the big change also means I don't have any spares....


  10:09:00 am, by The Dreamer   , 1100 words  
Categories: Software, Computer, BOINC, Storage, FreeBSD, VirtualBox

I upgraded to Zen to FreeBSD 9.1

I have a number of FreeBSD projects at home on the go that I've been trying to find enough free time each weekend to tackle. Having a recent problem where my system will freeze/panic/reboot whenever I shutdown or saved a VM...I thought maybe upgrading to 9.1 would help. It didn't.

Anyways...I wondered how freebsd-update would proceed, given that checksums on everything had changed...because at one point during things I had rebuilt the world with optimized compile flags, though otherwise still running GENERIC and no other alterations, though later rebuilding kernels so uname would reflect p4 and p5....

But, from what it said it was going to do to get me upgraded, it seemed okay with everything. Though the merge was a bit strange....first time through it didn't present one of the merge conflicts for me to resolve (/etc/login.conf), so I said no when it asked if the file was ok before proceeding. That just stopped it instantly, had hoped that since it didn't ask how to resolve before that it would ask now. But, running the update did ask for that file this time (otherwise I was considering what would happen if I fixed it by hand during or later.... So, then it went and upgraded.

And, then that's where all the fun started. While rebuilding all my ports wasn't necessary. It was necessary to rebuild all the ports that create kernel nvidia, virtualbox, fuse, webcam....

Full story »


  08:10:00 am, by The Dreamer   , 428 words  
Categories: General, Networking

Pinterest supports Internet Censorship

It has been about 20 months since I took the EFF Tor Challenge:

Operate a Tor relay to help Tor users all over the world!

Activists worldwide use Tor to protect their anonymity online and to circumvent Internet censorship. But they all rely on a limited number of user-provided "relays" to protect themselves and communicate with others. Internet users worldwide need your help to make the Tor network stronger and faster, so take the Tor Challenge today!

From this I initially set up two Tor relays....initially one with a limited set of exits and one with no exits (middle relay). For more info see: What is a Tor relay?

But, FreeNode blocks exit relay IPs that could access any of their systems....that includes port 80/http. Instead they run a hidden service that would allow a Tor user to connect to IRC via Tor....and say:

We appreciate your accessing Freenode via the Tor hidden service. If you'd like to help us maintain quality access, please consider providing "middleman" bandwidth to the Tor network. Just set your host up as a Tor server and specify how much bandwidth you want to provide.

I did irssi connecting to the hidden service as an experiment....while waiting for the exit relay block to expire. I continued to run irssi this way for a while, until I got tired of doing so.

Since then, Tor wise, I'm playing around with running an anonymous bridge in AWS.....currently costing under $1 each month on the free tier...for bandwidth overages. I'm wondering what it'll be after my free-tier expires, and what would happen if I were to move to another region. Though I guess its deploy new in another region and remove old, since the images have updated a number of times since my initial deployment that there have already been occasions where my image has had trouble staying current.

And, then recently I got stopped from accessing Pinterest, with "the we've detected a bot!", "because Bots may be resource-intensive and slow down Pinterest for other users."

After some email exchanges, they responded that:

Pinterest blocked access because the IP address originating traffic hosts a public Tor node. If you are knowingly hosting a public Tor node, we cannot ensure continued access if traffic coming through your node is malicious.

But, since its a middle relay, the only traffic originating from my IP address to Pinterest is me. So, they're censoring anybody that supports Tor and its use "as a method for whistleblowers and human rights workers to communicate with journalists"....

Guess, they're a strong supporter of Internet Censorship!


  10:23:00 pm, by The Dreamer   , 1549 words  
Categories: Hardware, Computer, Storage, Ubuntu, FreeBSD

SSD Craziness

Over the last year, I started buying SSD drives. It used to be that they seemed pretty expensive, and of questionable performance and reliability. But, all things have improved over the years. And, when 120GB drives dropped under $1/GB (initially after rebates, later before rebate [if any]). I didn't have an immediate need for an SSD drive at the time, but I envisioned replacing the drive in my (u) laptop. And, perhaps my (w) laptop....beyond that I wasn't sure.

 3/05/12 - Patriot Pyro 120GB             - $159.99-$40 rebate = 119.99
 3/20/12 - OCZ Agility 3 120GB            - $139.99-$30 rebate = 109.99
 4/27/12 - Mushkin Enhanced Chronos 120GB - $ 99.99
 5/16/12 - OCZ Solid 3 60GB               - $ 74.99-$20 rebate =  54.99
 8/10/12 - Sandisk 128GB                  - $ 79.99
11/21/12 - Kingston HyperX 2K 240GB       - $149.99
 1/18/13 - Sandisk Extreme 120GB          - $ 89.99-$15 reward =  74.99
 1/18/13 - Sandisk Extreme 120GB          - $ 89.99-$15 reward =  74.99

But, during this time...I had the lhaven misstep Where I had picked up the 60GB drive for that, but ended up using the Mushkin 120GB drive instead. The OCZ Agility 3 120GB had gone in as OS drive for my Xen Cloud Experiment. And, stayed when I went on to making it FreeBSD. Cut up initially as 64k boot, 32GB swap, 16GB L2ARC for the mirrored 1.5TB drives to help with dedup...and the rest...63GB root zpool.

Somehow the Patriot got misplaced for a while, so it got overlooked during the chaos.

After a 'break'. I picked up the Sandisk 128GB drive. Thinking that it might be a better choice to use to finally replace the (u) laptop harddrive. Though I waited until after the NN conference in October to do it, but before I went to LISA in December. Though I didn't finally upgrade the the OS to 12.04 (from 10.04) until just last week. I had thought about doing a clean install to 64-bit....since there were some issues since I upgraded the memory to 8GB. But, changing the hibernate method seemed to have solved the decided to leave it 32-bit. Though my (w) laptop is 64-bit...though it only has 4GB. Not sure if I'll upgrade it to 8GB. Or when I'll upgrade its harddrive to SSD.

Things have been kind of tight since...on the 128GB Sandisk drive. partly because swap got a bit bigger...had suspected that 8GB swap was iffy for had bumped that up. Plus the original harddrive was 160GB. But, the lion share of space consumption is my Windows XP VM. But, it get's the job done.

Meanwhile...around this time I got the idea that instead of making the risky upgrade of my two Ubuntu servers from 10.04 to 12.04, that I would set up two new FreeBSD servers and migrate the essential services over before deciding the future of those systems. So, I acquired a pair of Shuttle XS36V's...4GB of memory for each...and then eventually the plan was to acquire a pair of SSDs for them. Which I finally did last week as a pair of SanDisk Extreme 120GB drives. (with the help of $30 from Best Buy Reward Zone....and this purchase should get me a $5 reward zone soon.) And, these will probably get installed as FreeBSD 9.1.

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Now instead of subjecting some poor random forum to a long rambling thought, I will try to consolidate those things into this blog where they can be more easily ignored profess to be collected thoughts from my mind.

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