Saturday, December 29, 2007

Hamachi VPN

Hamachi allows me to see computers anywhere through a VPN tunnel - like my home computers from work through the firewall. I love it and it use almost daily.

I use a secure password generator to create the network password. email it to one of my public emails - then write down the non obvious network name and just for good measure copy it to a thumb drive in my keepass database.

I found this post about making it run as a service (on the home w2k3 server)

I found this post about how to get it running on a thumb drive.

More Internet Tweaks

I started online computing with my first Hayes Smartmodem 300 in 1981 - 300 baud! you could actually read the text as it showed up on your screen.

Anyhow - not long after I started a BBS with TBBS and was hooked for life. One thing learned the hard way was to stay anonymous online - it save the 3am
"your BBS is down" calls, or worse.

Nowadays there are lots of ways webmasters can find out who you are and it pays to make it as hard as possible for them to do that. A few of them are:

In a previous post I mentioned how to set up an encrypted temporary container that is rebuilt each time the system is re-booted Using TrueCrypt. Why not use it to squirrel away stuff from the browser. And all those installation files that clutter up your system. You history for you browser will never work again, but there is always Google to re-find something you saw last week.

Relocate the Firefox cache file into the encrypted temporary container maintained by TrueCrypt. Webshaker mentions a way - but I had to do it a little different in the current version of Firefox. After you enter about:config in the address bar - You have right click on the list of keys and select new, then enter browser.cache.disk.parent_directory into the dialog. Entering t:\firefox in the next dialog finishes up the tweak.

For Internet Explorer in the main menu select
Tools->Internet Options then in the Browsing History section of the page click on the Settings button. (almost there) Next, clicking on the Move folder button will pop up a folder dialog that will allow you to browse to the Temporary container and select it. The location will then say T:\Temporary Internet Files.

While at it - why not repoint the temporary files area that Windows uses to the same place. Right click on the My Computer icon select Properties -> advanced -> environrnment variables and look for the TEMP and TMP settings in the User Variables window - edit each one and point it to T:\temp or something. Windows will want you to reboot after this tweak so be prepared - save early and save often.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Surf the net - find things

HP Photosmart D7640 review *****

I stood in line at Staples for a couple of hours on black friday - one of my purchases was a portable Photo Printer, however when I opened it up a few days before christmas to set it up for all the photos we were going to take - I was extremely disappointed that it was a dye sub printer - I took it back to Staples and they were very nice about it, and went to look at all the photo printers they had - the portable cost 99$ with a 50$ rebate - I hadn't sent in the rebate yet - so I was off to find a printer that was about the same price.

I cornered a salesman and gave him two criteria - had to print 4x6 borderless, and must have separate ink tanks for each color. I was thinking Canon or Epson and was cringing mentally - since I had had poor experience in the past with those printer brands. We stopped in front of the HP D7640 - they had it on sale for 114$ - nice price - the logo on the front had wireless, and ethernet - and I was getting very interested - but still was thinking of the cartridge cost. when the salesman opened the front of the printer and I saw 5 separate color cartridges, and a larger black cartridge, I was sold.

Of course I asked how much the ink cost - he pointed out that the color cartridges cost 9 bucks each and the black a little more (15$?). In response to my query about the kind of carts that came with the printer - he said as I expected that they were sample cartridges and that I should buy a complete set of normal. I demurred and just picked up a 100 pack of their Staples brand "premium" photo paper and headed home.

When I looked at the cartridges as I was installing the printer they seemed to be little ink tanks only - and didn't have the little gold fingers that said print head. My mind instantly went to easy refilling - I plugged in the beast and stuck the SD card from the camera into the front of the printer, and used the built in touch screen to pick out a few pix and pritn them - Impressed right off on the ease of doing this, and the quality of the prints.

I stuck the cd in the drive, took all the defaults, it took quite a while and installed a LOT of software. I was expecting minimal stuff - but was greatly surprised when I opened that software for the first time - it was like a drummed down version of Picassa - it allowed you to tag photos and even put the pictures in reverse date order. HP is a class company and always seems to give you more than you need.

The printer even has a built in web page to get at the setups Bluetooth, 80211G wireless and the Ethernet.

I installed on the wife's Vista computer and went to bed - we started printing pictures on Christmas eve - and then most of the next day ( I do have about 3000 un-printed pictures). A hundred pack of paper later - I was impressed - the cartridges were all full except for a little down on the light pink cartridge.

Print time went from 10-15 seconds for pictures with little detail - up to about a minute for something with a lot of color and detail. The pictures printed on the Staples paper are just a tad tacky right away. The pictures printed on the HP paper are dry to the touch right after printing.

When you print on the HP paper - The print seem to be darker - but the color balance is much better. On the back of the paper is a little barcode - I wonder if the printer is seeing the paper type and changing its settings? I know that it complains about paper size when it gets to the HP paper in the stack. although you just click on ok and it gets all happy and still prints.

One of the cute things about the printer is the little 4x6 photo paper tray - it is separate from the 8x11 paper and you can watch it get sucked into the printer when you are using it.

The sample print on 8x11 paper takes no time at all - it is rated at 30 some prints a minute - with the color sample - it is done in just a few second - every thing impresses me about this printer. It is as fast as the HP laser jet 6 that I use for cheap black printing - and the prints looks a bit better to boot.

You really want to use the built in software to print bordless - I tried printing from windows and it didn't expand the picture to fill the 4x6 paper - but at least it still printed. I'll get the hang of that as I gain more experience with the printer I suppose.

Quick Prints - a few seconds for 8x11 simple prints - 10-60 seconds for bordless 4x6


  • Good cartridge life - 100 4x6 pictures and the ink meters said mostly full
  • Network printer - Don't have to leave a computer on to print
  • Good Software - easy to use - even the wife said it was easy.
  • Print From Memory card - the memory card even shows up on the network.
  • Touch Screen - no computer needed to print and gives better status messages when printing from a PC.


  • Nitpicky con - prints best on HP paper if a little dark.

So am I happy - Yes, it is exactly what I wanted and more that I expected. I give it a 5 out of 5.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Reinstalling the Internet Computer

My internet computer caught something, or the hardware glitched, it is an OLD machine in any case. I was left with a non functioning junque computer to use to browse the net. So i had to rebuild it one more time - so i though i would write it all down and tell you WHATIDIDWAS

My WinXP CD was bad - kept complaining about some or the other sys file that was missing. so I logged into NEWZBIN downloaded a WinXP ISO from using
NZB-O-MATIC PLUS. Not to worry i thought - i had a valid license and all the XP cd's are the same anyway, and i had the magic registration string on the back of the cd case. (more later...) used Nero to burn a CD, this was all done on a functioning computer of course.

Went to brew a programmer pot-o-coffee as windows did its install thing.

After XP got installed i had problems getting the network running - seems that there are 2 lan connections on my motherboard (A7N8X) - the Invidia one got zapped in a lightning strike a while back - and windows wanted to use that one for the connection - not good - so i re-installed the drivers for the 3comm chip on the motherboard and fiddled with the lan settings and finally had a connection to the net.

Note: The XP ISO i got was something that looked like Vista in a way, well at least as much as XP can - it evidently a skin that Microsoft developed for foreign versions. Problem was this one defaulted to Croatian. Fiddled with the language bar to get it to look mostly like English. I liked the shell so much i kept it, even though in a few programs that have translations it is real hard to figure out the menus. I like the date format the best 26.12.2007.

Now to deal with the license - used keyfinder to insert the proper key into windows, then was off to the Microsoft update site to install 89(!) security updates and such.

While it was busy getting and installing the updates i stuck the bare minimum of stuph on the machine to make it see the things on the net safely.

  • The company gives anyone that asks a Anti Virus CD so installed that. I guess its to help keeping people from getting virus at home and bringing it into work.
  • Installed CounterSPY , simply the best Anti-Spyware protection there is (and it is quite reasonable) - dug through some old Gmail to get the key and got it all happy and registered.
  • Installed TrueCrypt so i could talk to all my thumb drives.
  • Installed TCTEMP to protect the paging and temp files. configured the paging andd printer spool locations. Pays to make the TrueCrypt temp container VERY BIG.
  • Installed Mozilla Firefox and Thunderbird to cover the internet and email. Realized that all my blog links were gone - have to remember to back those up somehow. (NOTE to self - set up GMAIL IMAP to my email)
  • Installed Hamachi to let me get to the machine when i am away from home.

If there was only one thing about Thunderbird that I liked, and there is lots to like, it would be that i can have the many different emails in their own folder(s). I have two Gmail accounts WhatIDidWas and my personal one. plus the inevitable one at Comcast and some others depending on what website i am currently working on. That way i can tell who sent what where and try, futilely, to keep my internet stuph organized.

Brewed a new pot of coffee - Christmas had gotten me a stack of flavored coffees so it was walnut vanilla this time.

Back to the installation -
  • I have a fetish about all the stuff people put on my machine when i install something - got to keep that all clean so CCLEANER got installed.
  • To delete files i use Eraser - just because it is easier, two mouse clicks and the file is GONE! No need to clutter up the recycle bin. Eraser will keep the bin mucked out too, and from the context menu to boot. Easy huh?
  • To keep in touch with all my friends i installed Skype, Google Talk, AIM (which is in gmail now BTW), CamFrog, and last but not least MIRC. Got the drivers to my webcam installed.
  • Went to and installed the full suite of things - gives me a complete office installation for whenever that is needed. I know, i could have installed them as apps, but this way all i need do is copy the directory over to a new thumb drive for friends. I also picked up 7ZIP, KeePass and Notepad++.
As an experiment i Copied the PageDefrag into the Program Files and installed it. This keeps the paging file and the registry hives in check. You really,really, don't want you paging file to get fragged - but in this case it will get generated each time(?) because it is in the TrueCrypt Temp Container - but we will see. (Viola it worked - highly recommended.)

This is the bare minimum - I'll be busy getting all the development stuff installed but that is another post....

Friday, October 26, 2007

DIY NFS 0- zfs

I have this intense need to test the ZFS file system. It is the latest-n-greatest that has a lot of the things i want in a file syste. I really lilke the quote - it would take more energy to fully populate a ZFS file system that it would take to boil the oceans (parapharase). Sounds like it would do the trick for me.

My goal was to plug in a few usb and / or eSata drives and play with it.

I found that you could get a developer license CD sent to you so i signed up and recieved in on the mail last nigth. I have an old athalon box with 512k in it. Not looking for rocket science (or even speed) just something to play with in the home lab)

Stay tuned....

Sunday, August 12, 2007

download tools

AutoUnpack - a program that tests all the downloads with quickpar then unpacks them deleting the rar and par2 files.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

My secure thumbdrive

Thumb drives are getting bigger and cheaper - corporate laptops are restricted as to the software that you can have on them - so I thought why not create a little set of applications that run solely from the thumb drive. Of course I had to do it in a secure way - these things are getting so small it is just a matter of time until I lose one.

It was easier that I imagined - popped over to and downloaded their suite of apps. (very impressive)

Stopped by and downloaded

downloaded the
enigmail extension for Thunderbird Also picked up Gnu Privacy Guard

I first used Truecrypt to create a large encrypted file to contain all the software - I allocated 75% of a 1gig thumb - figuring on leaving enough room to use the unencrypted part for sneakerneting.

Just for giggles in addition to the normal strong password I created a key file on the root and named it secret key file - why not? this stuff is supposed to be fun.

Then I installed the portable apps into the encrypted partition

Added enigmail to thunbderbird (its a plug in)
and installed its necessary GnuPG to handle the encryption.

Friday, July 6, 2007


Have been playing around with UBUNTU and am totally surprised, they are getting close to making it usable by John and Suzy six pack, my alias for the people that want a computer to just work. Somebody that Microsoft has been targeting since the beginning of time.

Of course I have different needs, have a home server, play toy, and want to start doing local HTML and email. Coming from the Wintel world, its a huge paradigm shift, but i am getting there.

I installed the Ububtu Feisty Fawn server edition with LAMP on an old box, plugged it into the router and was (un)officially on the net from home. Now all I have to do is get the POSTFIX and all its friends to work closely together.

Went to Go Daddy and got the cheapest domain I could,$1.99). Then over to ZoneEdit and signed up for dns hosting (free) and pointed to to the IP that Comcast gave me.

Comcast manages to assign dynamic IP's with a long subscription period, at least 48 hours, and the ip is based on the networks cards address - so for all intents I have a static IP address. So there is no need to go to all the trouble to set up dynamin DNS scripts on Ubuntu. If it ever does change - its easy enough to change @ ZoneEdit.

I installed WAMP5 on the Windows development box to test scripts. I am not a fan of VI and decided to use what i know, for the time being.

Ubuntu server is quick and fast but I am not a fan of the command line. So I installed the Gnome desktop. Then I went to the System-> Administration-> Services and unchecked the box next to Graphic Login Manager. Now the system boots to the command line, I type in startx to get to the Gnome desktop should I need to, and logout from it to get back to the command line and much better performance.

I am going to (re)install Webmin so I can remotely manage the box easily. I just have to stay away from letting it install anything - apt-get is the only was that I can safely expect to get something uninstalled after I have managed to really frell up its configuration and restart with a clean slate.

Stay tuned - film at 11 (on YouTube :-)

What I did was - started

Well it's like this - I need a place to place notes to myself about things I did. Hence...

My goal for this blog is to remind myself about neat things I have found, tips & tricks, and little bitty code snippets.

If it helps others - all the better.

I have been doing electronic messaging since around 1981, first with a BBS and then in 1995 or so using TIN and the like on the internet.

I manage to pays (most) of the bills being a corporate developer - currently doing Documentum using Java. In the past it was VB, ASP, SQL and such - have been writing code on computers since around 1970, and PC's since 1979 or so (with 4k memory!!!)