Saturday, 26 April 2008

I'm pulling my hair out (what I have left, anyhow) trying to find a good home/home office wireless router that includes all the features I need. Granted, I'm a bit of a power user, but I'm honestly a bit surprised I can't find what I want out there somewhere. You'd think someone would build it. My list of features and performance requirements includes:

  • Gigabit WAN and LAN ports - and needs to have four LAN ports
  • VPN capability that I can use cross-platform - an SSL VPN might be the best option, but whatever works well and lets me connect with Windows, Mac, etc. is what really matters to me
  • Working, reliable and effective QOS - routers I have used in the past have either been terrible or mediocre at properly shaping and allocating traffic for VoIP and other services
  • Reliable and full-featured administrative capabilities in firmware
  • Quiet, reliable hardware
  • IPv6 support
  • Wireless-N

Until recently, I have been using a D-Link DIR-625 router, which has been stable and reliable. But it's a 100-megabit device and the QOS is marginal for VoIP traffic in my experience. Plus the firmware has not been updated recently and there is no VPN capability. It's rock-solid at what it does, though. I've only had to reset it a couple times since I have had it.

I've looked at the D-Link DIR-655 router, which is their currently-touted gigabit version of the 625 model. It's still on my list possible solutions, but with no VPN it doesn't meet all my needs, and D-Link doesn't seem to have one that includes all the features.

Yesterday I picked up a VPN router with gigabit and QOS made by Linksys, the WRVS4400N. It's not cheap and honestly I'm not sure why I allowed myself to buy a Linksys product after all the headaches I have had with them before. The net result of the past 12 hours of use is that I'm going to return it today. Between the slow reboots required with every other change I make and the lack of capabilities in the software (and some stuff that just doesn't work), it's already frustrating me. D-Link has seriously spoiled me in the Admin interface/firmware capabilities department, even without releasing any updates. Add to that the high-pitched whine the Linksys router makes and the heat it generates when plugged in and there's just no way. The whine is pretty awful, and gives me a serious headache within minutes if I am near it. Back to the store it goes.

So, I am left without a solution that meets all my needs. I may just have to pick up the D-Link DIR-655 and live without VPN and then find a separate VPN solution, but I don't want to if I don't have to. Any ideas anyone? Is there an option out there that will meet my needs and expectations?

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IT Security | Tech
Saturday, 26 April 2008 13:36:17 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 24 April 2008
Last week I wrote about an issue in VMWare Fusion on my MacBook Air. Well, looks like VMWare has released an update in v1.1.2 with enhanced MacBook Air and Time Machine support.
VMware Fusion 1.1.2 addresses two MacBook Air-related problems. Previously, MacBook Air users would encounter a crash if a virtual CD/DVD drive was connected to the virtual machine but a CD/DVD drive was not connected to the MacBook Air. This update fixes this issue.  Also, this latest VMware Fusion update adds the ability to burn CD/DVDs with the MacBook Air’s USB Superdrive.
The new release also includes compatibility with Time Machine, Chinese localization, and a slew of other fixes for USB devices and other stuff. I have been using Fusion quite a bit lately to run multiple VMs on OS-X at the same time (namely a Linux custom machine and Windows Server 2003). The multiprocessor support is really nice and running Windows apps in Unity mode on the Mac desktop is still pretty amazing to me.

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Apple | Tech
Thursday, 24 April 2008 16:23:40 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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If you haven't seen the Tech-Recipies site yet, you should check it out. Nice compact, useful and interesting posts about how to do useful and cool things. I found it via my Twitter account feed. I'm finding lots of good stuff via Twitter these days.

I just finished reading a post at Tech-Recipies that describes how to use QuickTime Pro to remove the dead space often seen in videos that are letterboxed or have the side curtain bars (pillars). Essentially you use a simple image mask to define and remove the extra space, nice and simple.

Check out the tutorial at this link, or watch the hi-res screencast here.

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Thursday, 24 April 2008 10:41:07 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Friday, 18 April 2008
IPv6 has been around for something on the order of 15 years, yet it has yet to see widespread adoption. It was recently enabled on Internet core DNS infrastructure, and had been adopted in some network like those operated by certain mobile carriers. The current IP addressing and allocation scheme, dubbed IPv4, will eventually run out of IP addresses. There's been a sort of boy-called-wolf debate over whether we're really going to allocate the entire IPv4 address space anytime soon or not. But eventually we'll run out - some say in 2010.

Sean Siler, Program Manager responsible for IPv6, joined Richard Campbell and me for a RunAs Radio show. Sean really knows his stuff and did a terrific job of describing IPv6, comparing it to IPv4, and other useful information.

IPv6 enables a lot more than just additional addresses, though. Sean discusses what's the same, what's different and what's new (hint: IPSEC and multicasting everywhere). He also offers a great analogy to describe the enormous size of the IPv6 address space. It's mind-boggling, really.

If you don't understand or know much about IPv6, this interview is a great place to start learning, and you truly need to be doing so if you do network design or other work in your job. The change is significant, but not impossible - so go listen to the show and get learning!

Other resources:

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IT Security | RunAs Radio | Tech
Friday, 18 April 2008 10:06:20 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Thursday, 17 April 2008

One of the main reasons I decided I would buy the MacBook Air recently was that I knew I would be able to run Windows on it, either in a bootable install or in a virtual machine. In fact there is really one main app that I use all the time on Windows that I just can't get for the Mac, but that's a topic for another post. I'm quite happy with the Air - It's a great machine and  I have to admit that OS X has grown on me.

I bought a copy of VMWare Fusion after doing my required research. Compatibility with OSes and a variety of different features/capabilities put it at the top of my list for a virtualization host. I have a couple copies of Windows Server 2003 lying around here that I never broke the shrink wrap on, so I built a trimmed down virtual machine for use on the Mac.

In fact, I built three of them. But every time I installed a new VM and got it up and running, every time I restarted the machine VMWare would simply quit, die, crash - console and all. No running process and nothing on the screen.

Long story short, I searched and searched and searched and then went to the VMWare user forums, where I found a note about issues people have been having with Fusion and the MacBook Air when using the Air's external DVD drive. Apparently because I was unplugging the DVD drive and then restarting the machine without it attached, Fusion was somehow wigging out (my term) and closing unexpectedly.

After reconfiguring the VM in Fusion's control panel to no longer show the missing drive as "connected," the VM fires right up and works. Hopefully this is something VMWare will address in it's next Fusion update. It's tough keeping up with the nuances of new hardware, to be sure, so looking forward to a fix. In the meanwhile, manually removing the DVD drive in the VM's settings works like a charm.

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Blogging | Tech
Thursday, 17 April 2008 14:16:56 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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 Monday, 14 April 2008
I'm not a huge fan of using credit cards, but with that caveat I discovered something last night that I thought was a great idea and service offered by Capital One for their US-based customer's credit cards: Use your own images.

Under the program, every 30 days you can create a replacement card using your own pictures (provided your account qualifies and you have the rights to the images you use, of course). You go to the web site, provide some information, upload your picture (or choose from one in their library if you're dull and boring like that, heh), and submit your design. Once approved, they send you the card in the mail. Pretty simple and cool.

I decided to create my personal card from this image, which I took off my front porch a couple years ago one morning:

... and once I was done shifting the size and sliding the image around on the card for optimal fit, here is what I ended up with. It's almost like God created the view just to be put on a card (except of course that I'd bet God doesn't like credit cards one bit and the whole idea is just ridiculous):


If you're a Capital One credit card holder, you can check out and use the Image Card service at

Now I just have to wait 30 days to make another one, heh. I wonder if we can get the state DMV to let us do this with our license plates?

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Photography | Random Stuff
Monday, 14 April 2008 06:43:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
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