Bored on a Saturday

It’s been a while since I posted, so I thought I would post something. I supposed I could create a bulleted list of the projects that I have been working on. That’d be cool, right?

  • VoIP – I’ve become a phone nerd. I have no less than 8 phones in my office at work at any given time. I’ve been using Avaya, Asterisk, and even Cisco UC learning all the ins and outs of VoIP. Did you know that there is standard Power over Ethernet (PoE) and not-standard PoE? Didn’t know that before a week ago. Now I do.
  • VPS-es – I now have 4 VPS accounts that I use for various things. I host a Teamspeak server, a bunch of websites and even a VPN endpoint. It’s an excellent way to learn how to do these things, completely and utterly hands on.
  • XMPP/Mail hosting – One of the VPSes is dedicated to mail and XMPP. I have my own system that I can use in the event that Google Talk goes down. But they’re going to shut off XMPP support soon. Bummer.

There, as promised, a bulleted list of stuff. Now, to look at new themes and other update-y type stuff on here.

My Switch to a VPS

About two months ago, I moved this site, along with a bunch of other sites I run over to a self-run VPS hosted by ChicagoVPS.net. For the past 4 years or so I had been with Dreamhost, after a very nice 2-year deal for $10.74. In the past couple of years I have had to renew for about $219/2yr to keep a couple of client’s sites running. Back in September, I  found lowendbox.com, a site that aggregates “Low End Box” VPS deals. I was able to snag one for about $60/year, with way more resources and flexibility than Dreamhost. The downside was that I bear the brunt of all server management. I need to worry about backups, DDoS, hacks, etc now. Luckily there is a very strong community of people doing just this.

Dreamhost as of late had gotten really slow. I primarily host WordPress sites, which are not very memory-friendly. They require a decent amount of CPU time as well. I started to notice that it would take around 15-20 seconds to load one of my sites, whereas other sites would load WAY faster (or even simple static pages). I decided to make the switch and try running WordPress on this VPS. WAY faster. I can also do SSL now and manage configurations for every piece of software.

Although the VPS’s are still shared, it is a way better amount of resources than sharing web space only. I would HIGHLY suggest checking out LEB, LET (LowEndTalk) and the wealth of knowledge there for hosting your own sites.

Of Yubikeys and Routers

So my last post I was starting back at work. Now I can safely say that I am back in the groove again. I’ve already had three travel occasions (two of which were impromptu) in the past 7 weeks, which is pretty aggressive. My sleep patterns are back to what they used to be. I no longer need a sleep aid to fall asleep, which is a big thing for me. Though I still am banned from napping…

A black yubikeyThis week I’ve gotten a couple new toys to further my computing knowledge. The first one, which I already have, is a Yubikey. These are little USB dongles (you may giggle at that word if you wish) that generate one time passwords, or OTPs. These OTPs can be used to authenticate with all sorts of services. If you’re interested (and I totally know you are), read up on Yubikeys here. I ended up getting two, one white and one black. They each have 2 identity slots, so I can mess around with long static passwords or different OATH-HOTP methods. Terribly nerdy.

 

The second item, which I’m eagerly waiting for from UPS, is a new router. I have long been an advocate of DD-WRT on WRT-54G’s or other compatible Linksys hardware. But now I’m going to consolidate an old Catalyst 2950 and an E2000 into a RouterBOARD product. The Catalyst is a power-hungry heat-generating beast that is starting to show its age, and the E2000 doesn’t have enough ports to do what I want. I also want to do some advanced networking, such as VPNs and multiple SSIDs, which DD-WRT can do, but not very cleanly. A lot of DD-WRT is hacked together (which I am not saying is a bad thing) and can take a lot of tinkering to get it to work. This RouterBOARD should do everything I want and more out of the box, with no special scripts or software.

I chose the RB2011UAS-2HnD-IN which is one of the top RB2011xxxx models available. It has 10 ports, built-in Wifi, and a L5 RouterOS license. Probably overkill for what I need, but it’s going to be a good learning tool for advanced networking. I’ve been given a very good primer on these RouterBOARD systems, and hopefully don’t run in to too many pitfalls. I’ll of course still have my E2000 to fall back on if everything royally breaks.

Well, this post will also serve as a test to see if Facebook posting is still working. I never did get it working 100%. Here goes nothing…(clicks post)

Games. Go.

I’ve launched a new site…which really just looks like this one only I’m regularly updating it. I’ve decided to start hosting a Minecraft server for a few of my friends. For now we just have some simple building and a whole bunch of TNT. See some of the screenshots and more info about the servers at the link below.

ARL Gaming Site

 

Flash Drive Benchmarks

So what do I do when I’m bored? I benchmark my flash drives. And then share the results with the world.

Here are the conditions of the test:

  • Computer is a custom-built Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 desktop, 4GB DDR2-1066 RAM, USB 2.0
  • OS is Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
  • Benchmark program is DiskMark
  • All drives were inserted into the same USB port, front panel on the desktop
  • All drives are 4GB in size

Results (read/write average in MB/s)

  1. Lexar Firefly – 21.22/6.34
  2. Sandisk Cruzer – 22.62/10.29
  3. Transcend – 20.57/11.86
  4. Verbatim – 13.75/4.76
  5. Ativa (Office Depot) – 17.18/5.39

 Result: It doesn’t have to be an expensive flash drive to be fast. The Transcend was the fastest, and probably the cheapest overall.

I went and got an iPad

Since I have been doing a lot of traveling, I have seen a lot of people that use iPads for watching movies or playing games or keeping generally occupied while in flight. I have enjoyed having an iPod touch for such trips, but it was time to make an upgrade.

I decided on a 32gb iPad 2 with wifi only. I toyed with idea of getting a 3G version for ultimate portability, but it started adding up. I have been typing out is post on on the soft keyboard and have only made a few mistakes. The key is to take things slow when typing and pay attention to little mistakes.

Now, I have to update the firmware to 5.0 to get the iCloud features.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Review – Wouxun KG-UV3D

P1020215.JPG This is a review of the newest radio in my collection, the Wouxun KG-UV3D. This radio is sold exclusively by Powerwerx in the US. I purchased this radio as both an Amateur HT and for business use.

Overall: At first glance, this handheld looks like any other dual-bander amateur HT. It has a two-line display for showing frequencies in the A and B banks. It has backlit keys, and a red “MENU” button in contrast to the black keypad. The top has two knobs, one as a rotary encoder dial for selection and one for volume/power. Pretty standard when compared to my Yaesu FT-60R.

Audio: Initial reports have been of good audio quality. The speaker is exceptionally loud. Not a bad thing for a handheld. I can have the volume near halfway and that is plenty loud for indoor use. I will be testing it with a clip mic and be using it in a loud environment later on.

Battery Life: Not sure yet. It is powered by a 1700 mAh Li-Ion battery. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I’m used to the NiMH and NiCd batteries found on my FT-60R and business-class Kenwood. The initial charge on the battery allowed for a cumulative 45 seconds on high power, which was nice. The rapid charger apparently filled the battery intelligently, as after 10 minutes in the charger it reports full. We’ll see how full “full” really is.

Programming: Just get the programming cable! The software is free from Wouxun/Powerwerx site. I tried doing some minor changes on the menu system, and it clearly was overly complicated. Everything I’ve read online said to just bite the bullet and get the cable and software. I’m glad I did! I was able to get the radio out, plug the cable in, and after some “unlocking” (which I’ll talk about below) it took the programming just fine. The software is a bit clunky, but it does work.

Band Coverage: This guy is best for transmitting, not necessarily for scanning. The scanner is slow, and the band coverage is really just VHF/UHF. There’s no 800 MHz listening, or in-between bands like with the FT-60R. As far as TX, you can obtain software to legally open this guy up to other bands, obviously if you are licensed to transmit in those bands/frequencies. I am covered under a license for a business band UHF frequency, and unlocked my radio to transmit on this frequency. So far it has had good signal and audio reports.

Now, the cons:

  • 128 Channels – kind of small compared to other HTs with 500 or 1000
  • Programming software, as I said, is clunky. Very clunky.
  • Don’t yet know how smart the charger is. Seems to check the battery level before charging.
  • No external DC jack – charger only

I will be adding on to this review as I own the radio. This is just a nice starting point.

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Android goodness

I finally made the investment and got an Android-powered smartphone.  It is the Samsung Intercept on Virgin Mobile. It works alright, though not flawlessly. I do think the price is right though.

I purchased a case and screen protector for it as well.  I plan to switch to this phone fully in December when my Alltel contract can be broken.

FloodCheck update

FloodCheck screenshotGreetings, all! I’ve decided to post my “FloodCheck” application up on Google Code. It provides a nice source repository for version control, as well as a wiki and other features for project development. My goal is to bring more features to the application for a new release before springtime flooding. I haven’t heard if we are going to have epic flooding in the F-M area again this year, but you never know.

Anyways, stay tuned to the Google Code page for more information!