Category Archives: Uncategorized

Protecting the Open Internet

Recently I was asked by my employer, Ensighten, to draft a blog post about net neutrality.  They were able to use the draft to guide their post on the issue.  With their permission, I’m posting the original here as well:

On July 14th Ensighten submitted a public comment on FCC Proceeding 14-28, “Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet” in favor of net neutrality. The FCC’s current proposal for net neutrality allows for the opening of “fast lanes”. Content providers would purchase priority access to the network and would be able to deliver content faster than other services that haven’t purchased priority access. In effect, all other bandwidth is in the “slow” lane. This approach raises questions about the enforcement of fast and slow lanes, and stifles innovation by allowing existing properties to buy their way into faster access.

In the FCC’s model, each home Internet service provider would have the option of providing fast-lane service, but in order to provide a consistent experience to all users, a content provider would need to pay a fee to each of these ISPs. In addition to the initial outlay, this adds ongoing overhead due to maintaining contracts with each provider for access. Some services may be able to subsist on the slower lanes, but even a second of extra load time can reduce customer conversions, meaning many businesses will be forced to purchase this priority service.

Under a true net neutrality model, all information would be treated equally on the wire. The ability to serve content wouldn’t be affected by others competing for the same users. In this model the Internet behaves more like a phone service, where calls aren’t prioritized, but rather handled as they come in. The ability to serve content is still limited to the speed of the service purchased, but cannot be delayed in-transit to the user.

For Ensighten, the net neutrality model allows us to deliver analytics tags to our customer’s pages quickly and consistently.  Knowing that our data can’t be slowed in transit allows us to state with confidence that we can provide the fastest Tag Delivery Network for our users.  In turn, our customers will benefit by knowing our tag delivery will always be as fast as possible, leading to consistent load times and page performance.

The other benefits of net neutrality apply equally to Ensighten, and our customers. Both will save money and manpower from creating agreements with any number of ISPs. Our customers and their end users will see consistent quality of access to the services they use.  Based on Ensighten’s comment and the comments of the million-plus businesses and users who rely on an open internet, we hope the FCC will see this issue the same way.

A real home network and server

Over the last few months I’ve been making steady improvements to the network and sever situation in the house I live in.  I have two roommates, so finding time to implement changes is sometimes a challenge.  They aren’t big fans of the internet going down while I upgrade things.  And when I set up a server I want to present it only after I have it running and know they can expect it to be reliable.

A few months ago I upgraded the existing network.  There were some specials on Newegg that allowed me to change up several components.  The Linksys router was switched to the Buffalo WZR-HP-G300NH.  I wanted something with the customization capabilities of DD-WRT, but a with little more memory and speed than the (still great) Netgear WNR2000.  Unfortunately, the WZR-HP-G300NH has some problems, namely the current official firmware – which is a DD-WRT build – has a wireless dropout issue.  While I linked to the DD-WRT site there, I don’t approve of the fixes on the Wiki.  Monitoring for a dropped ping and restarting the wireless interface is not a fix, it’s a hack in the derogatory sense.

I was seeing daily drops of the Wifi connection, and ultimately had to add in the old Linksys back as an AP.  I’m still using the Buffalo for wireless N, and my N devices are laptops and phones that don’t need constant connections.  Fortunately the router is rock-solid for wired connections, so with a Gigabit Switch that was also on sale I was set with enough connections and speed to set up something cool.

For the servers I had two machines:  A 2.26Ghz Pentium 4 1GB, and a Core 2 Duo 3.0Ghz  8GB server that I picked up very cheap from a friend of mine.  The Pentium 4 was already working as a media server – it couldn’t do any transcoding though, so it was actually behaving more like a glorified file server.  It also has 400GB of hard drive space, so eventually it will become a dedicated NAS.  To that end I installed a gigabit NIC in it for faster transfers.

The Core 2 Duo server is where things get fun.  It supports virtualization, so it is now a XenServer box with a few different VMs on it:

XenCenter showing off my virtual machines!

Here is the VM breakdown:

  • FreeNAS – A NAS test install before I move to the actual hardware
  • Ubuntu Server – SSH tunnel entry point, as well as webapp test server
  • Windows Server 2008 – To be used later for a domain building project
  • Xen-Media-PC – The new media server to replace the Pentium 4 box

The Ubuntu server and Media PC are the most noteworthy.  The Media PC VM will be taking media streaming responsibilities as well as acting as my CrashPlan backup point.  Originally I planned to have it act as an FTP server as well, but with the NAS in place I don’t see a real need to bring that functionality in.  And with the jump in power for the Media streaming software, things like real-time transcoding and subtitle overlays are now a possibility.  Which is doubly impressive to me considering this is a virtualized environment!

The Ubuntu server isn’t as immediately impressive (it doesn’t exactly “do” anything yet) but I’m very happy with it because I’ve finally learned how to set up OpenSSH with shared key authentication.  It’s something I’ve used at work (after it was set up) but I’ve never done it for my own purposes.  I was amazed at how easy it is to set up and how much you get with that setup.  I was expecting a console session and that’s it.  Instead I was able to begin using things like SSH tunneling, proxies, and SCP immediately!

The SSH tunneling was of particular interest to me, I use LogMeIn Hamachi to remote into my home machine nearly anywhere I go, but Hamachi has its limits.  It doesn’t run on everything, and offers nearly no ability to remote through phones.  SSH works nearly anywhere, I even got my phone working with remote access, and I expect my iPad and TouchPad to work with it too.  And to be frank about it, I found RDP through SSH to be snappier than through Hamachi. That surprised me, I believe Hamachi is a direct connection after it negotiates with the LogMeIn servers; I expected there to be no real difference in speed switching to SSH.  Now that I have it set up though, I can see why this is considered the standard for remote access.  It’s secure, it’s open, and it’s fast.

What all of this means is that I now have a fully configured media server than my roommates and I can access and push files to without worry, as it has the power to transcode on the fly.  And the ability to access it anywhere I can use SSH.  But more importantly I’m familiar with XenServer and OpenSSH now, which I wasn’t before.  It’s been exciting setting all of this up, and I can’t wait to get more uses out of this hardware!

Halo Stats for Touchpad!

This wouldn’t be hard to guess, but I did a quick re-write of Halo Stats for the HP TouchPad! Details available here:

Halo Stats for TouchPad – Official HP Page

Halo Stats 0.7.7 submitted to Palm.

The new version of Halo Stats has been submitted to Palm. It corrects an error with K/D ratios, and hopefully resolves and issue where the text box wouldn’t appear on WebOS 2.1.0 devices.

UPDATE: I made an error in submitting the program, for right now the update is only available to webOS 2.0+ devices. This is being corrected and the updated application should be available on 1.4.5+ devices soon.


This is one of those things you never think you’ll have to say, or write.  And I want to be respectful and say something, but it’s also very hard to type this.  But my Dad passed away on 2/28/11.

My Dad and I

My Dad and I, around March or April 2010

If you had the chance to meet him, you know he was a kind, respectful person.  And as his son, I couldn’t have asked for a better Father.  He will be missed.

I hope to be posting again soon.  I just wanted to say something about my Dad.

Macbook Air!

Since I could only get the Hackintosh on my Laptop half-working (and that’s after a fully failed attempt on the Desktop) I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the real deal:

Macbook Air

While this will be filling the role of my “netbook” from this point on, its real purpose is to help me become familiar with OSX.  I’ve been talking to a lot of friends for application recommendations, along with reading Lifehacker’s recommended apps.

Also, the reason for this purchase is because of some things that have happened to the Netbook, I’ll post more about that later though.  Until then!

QuakeCon and Upcoming Projects!

Just got back from QuakeCon a few days ago.  It was a great time!  I loved seeing everyone again, and I learned about a few new games while I was there.  I had the chance to play Brink, which is a re-working of Team Fortress.  It’s a neat game, but I’m not the right market.  I saw several people playing Minecraft there also.  That game really grabbed me, it’s a simple crafting / sandbox game, but it seems to have so much potential.

The plan was to go to the Id Software keynote speech, or at least the Rage demo; but volunteering at the tech desk kept me from doing so.  Hopefully next year I’ll be able to see the presentations, it’s one of the few events I can see first hand in the gaming world.

I’m working out which project I’ll post next on here.  I have a few queued up: Create a template for this website, working on another Palm Pre application (once I think of one) and posting things from my CCNA studying, to name a few.  I also have some windows server / domain work I’ll post once I start working on it.  That will probably be early next year.

One other thing, Google analytics was showing a spike of visitors to my page regarding Google Chart types.  Glad to see that it’s useful!

Submitted to Palm!

Well, it’s late so I’ll keep it short.  But Quick Subnets has been submitted to Palm!  I’ll let you know if it’s accepted into the catalog!