Online, All the Time : Who needs GPRS when you got Noobs !

GPRSThanx to my sister in law who force fed me THIS little gift : A G3 GPRS card, enabling me to go online anywhere anytime. Now the GPRS I have enjoyed on my Palm Treo can be ported to any of my laptops with a PCMCIA slot. ( So that rules out my Macbook). There should be LInux drivers out there but i'm not really sure if i can even get the windows ones working. But that is not the main issue. In this day and age of 3g connections, broadband everywhere and what have you, telco's are still clinging to their wallets and squeezing out every dime out of the early adopters.  With G3 coverage only available in the major cities (Antwerp and Brussels). GPRS is the main means of data communication for the rest of the country. Now thats not that bad is it. I mean with my Treo I can check my Emails, Sync up to my Google Calendar and even open an SSH session to my linux server. But what happens if I decide to slide this baby into my laptop ? Accessing the internet, watching one youtube movie and getting the occasional funny-filled email would blow the cap of my dataplan in about one day. I do not understand why Telco's boast about massive speeds wireless GPRS and G3 access everywhere and dare to charge these ridiculous ludicrous data prices.  They give you a speed that is mostly fabulous, give you a dataplan that is something more suited for a third world country and give you a fine that make you pass out when you get the bill. And broadband internet is just the same.  Datacaps and insane prices make Belgium one of the countries with the best cable-infrastructure on the planet, yet the highest broadband rates in Europe. Its a big ripoff !

But i'll hold on tight to my little GPRS card when i need it for emergencies. Instead of fumbling with my Treo to get it setup as a wireless modem i'll just slip the sim in and be on my way. Just in case I run out of suckers like THIS ! 

The story of a wifi noob !

Now I opened up my wireless network neighbourhood yesterday just to have a look-see at the rich collection of Wifi routers that dot the urban area of my house. Since I live in the city the chance that I will EVER EVER loose my internet connection can only be at the  moment that the entire northern hemisphere has been hit by a massive EMP. The rise of wifi networks has only been equaled by the ignorance of the average user. Now take my next door neighbour. While most Wifi networks are protected by a WEP key this guy things that a threatening SSID might chase people away. It is written in Dutch so i'll translate. It literaly says : "Keep of my pipe goddammit" .. What is this ? The Wifi access point of John C Dvorak  ? Hey you kids, stay off my lawn ? You must be kidding right. If there where taunting words, these must be them. 

noob

 

Hilariously the Wifi network was unprotected. Clearly Mr Noob does not know squat about wep or wpa protection yet does know how to change his SSID 🙂 Doing an Ipconfig to look at the default gateway, I entered that address in my browser and there you go : Not only the network was unsecured, so was the routers login page.

noob

Time to have some fun 😉 I decided to tuck away my evil side (that wanted to put a wep key on the router and lock out the user with a password ) I changed the SSID to " I just hacked you again you N00b " 🙂 then rebooted the router.  Now when mister daft gets home he might just have a little surprise.. And I have been snickering about my childish act all day long.

noov

So who needs GPRS cards with idiots like these. Who is worried about data limits when we have pipe to steel ? If i where someone who did not know to secure my own wireless network I would sure as hell not name it like that :). Noobs 🙂 You should not abuse them. But every know and then .. Steel a chuckle 🙂

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Cult Quizz : Who are these people and who is missing !

Lets see how good you are my culty friends, This week I have a special quiz for you. Look at the picture below and tell me who these people are. And more importantly .. WHO is missing from this picture ?

 

???
 
The answer
 
Blake
Yep, The answer is indeed a very time-warped Blakes 7 gang. In the old picture you saw Villa, Callie, Gan, Jenna and Blake. The person missing in the old picture is of course AVON.
More information on the whole gang can be found in the extensive wikipedia article .

 

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32 ways to speed up you mac.

macSome nice tips and tricks on the net today on "how to tweak your OSX for speed". I mean Eye candy and all that jazz is pretty nice but let’s face it. After watching your Windows get sucked down into the dock 'Hoover style' the novelty factor tends to wear out just a little. It’s like watching the Paris Hilton Porn Video 18 times in a row and coming to the realisation she's not all that! Now with my Beryl-wobbly-windows on Ubuntu I must say I like the Eye candy. Because it’s not distracting you from what you are doing all that much. (And I have processor power to spare).

But as for my G3 Mac upstairs there is no such luxury. It’s an old G3 450 with 512 megs of ram and I’ll probably turn it into a Linux server once I've gotten my hands on a faster one but, until that day I’ll just have to make due with it, running OSX on a machine that is a tad too slow for comfort. Bless THIS article that gives me a greater insight into tweaking down your OSX for speed. I knew some of the hacks, but the whole TINKERTOOL is pretty new to me. Very interesting stuff, I must say. The one thing the article does not cover is how to DISABLE YOUR DASHBOARD. Somehow the way of the widget has gone past me and I cannot see any use into rendering your workspace completely useless in favour of looking at the weather widget and noticing that it’s pretty dry in Tanzania these days. I'll try out this little script on that old G3 back home and see if I can squish some extra productive processor cycles out of it.

Here are the links.
Removing Dashboard
http://www.macworld.com/weblogs/macosxhints/2005/08/disabledashboard/index.php
Speed up your mac
http://www.imafish.co.uk/articles/post/articles/130/52-ways-to-speed-up-os-x/

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"Moore" then meets the Eye.

With the whole Transformers movie coming out and everybody praising mr Michael Moore for his work as a director I thought it was time to kick the Tardis and go back in time. When I was a kid, I had the privilege of living next door to an American family with a kid who LOVED Transformers. Not only did his room look like it had just collided head on with Cybertron itself , he also had a great collection of Transformers comics that never ever made it to the European mainland. Some of these where just brilliant pocket-comics, other where regular on-the-shelf stuff ( awesome stuff too) The quality of the print and the paper was flimsy and sometimes you had to really make an effort to read the little print or scoop through the pictures to make out who was who. But all in all the stories where fabulous.

octane

But what I even liked more where the "charactar bio's" that were printed halfway through the comic. These gave you more insight into the Transformers that you owned.. Things probably dreamed up by some intern who would get a better salary working at Pizza Hut, they offered extra sparks to the fire of your imagination. And you can bet your Blaster on the fact that you would be giving that strange character twist to your favorite toy next time you played with it. Although it would feel very old having your little Ratchet toy tell all the other Autobots that he liked to party .. and where was the next party .. and how long before we party and stuff like that , you still did it .. Hey, It was in his BIO section so it HAD to be true, right ?

Diving into the big box of "stuff from the past" i came across this one. I popped it on the scanner to let you guys in on the great character that is "Octane". Not fitting the bill of transforming into a "weapon", ( Octane is a sluggish tanker or a flimsy jet.. and a rather gay looking robot with a hairdo that would put Prince to shame) he does "hold the juice" for his fellow Decepticons.  A visit to the shrink tells us that Octane LOVES to let his fellow "cons" beg for fuel before giving them any. Wow . Don't you just love a guy like that. A real scrooge when it comes to dealing out the drops. Werther or not he gets hit in the face when that fellow Decepticon has been refueled, is not mentioned in the article of course.

There is even more. His free time is filled with running cars of the highway and diverting planes. Now what kind of hobby is that ? Even the "cons" and me agreed on this that this was a rather stupid way to waste ones time. Me and Shockwave were hanging out at the bar one day when Octane came by. We remarked his weird hobby as a waste of time, and I even suggested collecting stamps when Mr Octane got all wound up and started threatening to let us run dry next time we needed fuel. When I mentioned I was a human an could go to Burger King any time I wanted.. He vowed to trample me instead.  " Then how about me kicking you in the belly next time you roll by as a truck huh ! " I replied chivalrously. ( Holding his bio in my hand and reading through the "weak-spot" section). That caused him to totally flip out . (he began yelling stuff about humans and death and goo and stuff).. He transformed into a plane and tried to make a gracious exit. Well .. tried to .. cause the Decepticon booze hole has standard doors and is by no means suitable for horizontal takeoff.  The result where a lot of angry Decepticons , a ton of broken glass and overturned tables. Not to mention a bar bill all the way up to Cybertron Before I went to bed that night I updated Octanes bio by adding the lines that he can be extremely clumsy when drunk ! There is truelly more to Octane then meets the eye.

 

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Ghosts of Christmass past.

my old schoolSometimes your past haunts you, sometimes people chase after it. Other times you just stumble over your long forgotten past. As I did yesterday. Walking through the park (yes ! I did manage to pry myself away from the screen just for a little while) I decided to make a little beeline and walk through some of the beautiful cycling tracks that run through the city. Nested away between the main causeways and the downtown streets they are like small streams of peace in a busy busy city. As I rounded another gracious turn in the path, it took me to me behind the yard of my old school. A school where I only went for a year, and a school that "schoolwise" could be seen as one of the poorest times of my life. I was about 16, 17 years old when I went here. Somebody in the family thought it would be a good idea to send this poor student (me) to a Hotelschool where he could learn a trait. Become skilled in the art of cooking. To make things more interesting we will snatch him away from all his friends, plunk him down on a far away school and oh yes, make it a boarding school as well. That way he gets to feel miserable for five days straight. Needless to say I hated it at that particular school. I knew nobody, was a year older then all of the kids in my class, knew no-one at the boarding school and was absolutely terrible at cooking. (I still am). 

Whenever I see those American TV shows depicting high school as a battle of the popular versus the none popular, I think back to this school. The picture you see is of a bench on the courtyard I used to hang out. It was located opposite of the entrance that my class had to use to enter and exit the building. I did not venture far from this particular bench cause the rest of the courtyard was alien territory to me. I was not one to easily socialize. I just hung around that bench. Listening to the conversations of my classmates but not really joining in. I was by far "popular" enough to interact with the higher echelons of teenagers. 

The inside of the school was even worse. Being a state school it lacked the funding (and the vigor) to maintain a colorful, fresh appearance. Everything was old, tired, warn down and brown. Most of the outside windows where cracked, resulting in a constant dampness between the layers of the double sided glass. So you could not even look outside. When the sun did manage to hit the classrooms we where instantly cooked cause some clever architect had faced the building south. warn down broken and bent blinds hung limply in odd angles, providing little shelter.

Whenever at night, I have bad dreams, most of them are located here. Taking me back to this annus horribilis, making me sit in math class all over again. Barely comprehending what was scribbled on the board. Panic stricken when I had to step up to the whiteboard and complete the equation that was all gibberish to me anyway.  

And then again. I stood there yesterday, on the other side of the fence. 15 some years later. And I see myself sitting there. I cannot help but smile at how things have changed. Imagining what it would have been like, meeting my future self of 33, who told me that things where going to turn out fine. I would have never believed much would come of me back then. A house in the city, a wonderful wife, a nice job and so forth. Sitting there as the social outcast, I would not have deemed it possible.

So you see how things change. And even if our past chases us at night, or we stumble over it during a stroll. Our past can never bind us down. For we are the ones that define our future. 

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Feisty for the Family PART TWO : Feisty filesharing for the faint hearted.

Part ONE of this manual on how to setup your server and Install webmin, can be found HERE.

Part THREE of this manual : Installing Torrentflux can be found HERE.

In part one of this manual I showed you how to install your Ubuntu server for the family, setup SSH to connect to it remotely and setup webmin. Well, its all nice and dandy to have a server running and all that jazz, but now its time to actually let it WORK for us. And aside from a good virusscanner and a geek-of-the-house, what does a family network need the most ? Right : Filesharing. A server that gives every user the option to store his or her files securely and have a place to swap files around. So time to set up your “Feisty Fileserver for the Family”.

sambaOnce again : When I wrote  this manual I had the average family geek in mind. So the methods and techniques I will use will probably differ from the “standard” approach and even get Die Hard Linux fans to foam at the mouth with anger and frustration. But all of this is done with a simple setup in mind. Making a simple fileserver for the family. In reach of simplicity I may have have given up a little “security” but its a home server we are talking about. A home server in a Home network of Home users and all that jazz. So chill out ! Its not like its gonna hook up 5000 users and have the entire Russian Hacking Federation after its pink little ars !  Sharing files with Samba has been something I have been trying to do for quite some times. But if you even mention the fact of filesharing to Linux guru’s they are all over you with their Samba Config Files which they INSIST that you learn by heart. If you want to share a single folder they force the whole philosophy and history of Linux filesharing down your throat. It seems like there is NO simple approach. You just HAVE to be able to recite the entire Samba config file backwards from memory.. before you can even start doing all this crap. I personally don’t believe in this method. Its too complicated to start out with and users just give up. So i’m gonna get you guyz GOING on the road of filesharing by making a simple file server. And if you like it and want to learn more you can do the whole config file editing thing until you are blue in the face. Untill then.. Lets get started.  (click on READ MORE to get the whole screeshot by screenshot manual).

 

 

Continue reading “Feisty for the Family PART TWO : Feisty filesharing for the faint hearted.”

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Results of the Poll ! (and a new poll)

A few days ago I posted a little article about what kind of content you guyz (and girls) liked best on the site. With over a hundred votes to nill you chose the "Technical How To's" as your 'most loved' item on Knightwise.com I want to thank you all for taking the time to take the poll, but just want to point out : This is not purely a tech blog. You are going to have to endure some artsi-fartsy exploits of my colorfull persona now and then. And even my rantings about what has been going down with the Knight once in a while.

 

vote

 

But in order to tailor the site to the visitors taste, please take your time to take the SECOND poll where you can tell me WHAT kind of tech content you want to hear more about. That way I can see what kind of tech articles and howto's i'm gonna write up over the next few weeks.

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Feisty for the Family PART ONE.

What is this article about.

If you where to sum up every article about the “ultimate” setup of a Linux server, one would be here for years to come. Lets face it : There is a ton of documentation out there about configuring and installing the perfect server so why in hells bells would I write my own. Well, for one : Because I can make heads or tales of most of them. Although they are all nicely copy-paste I seem to find unknown dummie-like mistakes that blow the minds of even the dumbest of people. So its time to turn the tables on technology and instead of us working for IT , we let technology work for US for a change. So I’m going to draw up a little multi-step how to in building your own Ubuntu Server . And no ISP like mega machine that is powerful (and complicated) enough to take over when Gmail goes down. No , Its gonna be a simple server for the family that will be able to preform the tasks that a small group of  of people need, PLUS giving you the tools to configure it simply and remotely.

What tools do we use and why
But before you think that its going to be one of these cut-and-paste command line manuals that seem to feel like a straitjacket, leaving you completely helpless when you fail. We are going to go for the somewhat more user friendly, graphical and practical approach. Mixing in some command line stuff, point and click stuff with webmin, and some more tinkering using simple programs like Filezilla.  If we need to we’ll even kick in the graphical user interface on our little server. If it serves us right ;). But mostly you’ll be operating and configuring your server from your own workstation or even across the net. But we’ll get to all of that later.

Choosing your hardware.

The hardware you choose for your family server could be any old clunker you have lying around. The amount of memory and the processor you need depends on the number of users and the things you want to do. So don’t go cheap and cough up a Pentium 1 pc, go for last years “hand me down pc” from your sister or something. You can put a big hard disk in it for using it as a file server. But don’t worry, you can also hook up an external USB drive for extra storage.  For this example i’m using a PIII 500 with 256 megabyte ram. (for about 5 users that will do) You can use a keyboard and a monitor if you want to work on the system localy but you don’t need to. Its gonna be a headless box stuck in the basement, hooked up to your network. You’ll be in control of the system from the cosy comforts of your own office and the family can reap the benefits of your work.

Installing your Feisty fawn server.

installingI’m going with a server install of the latest version of Ubuntu because it comes packed with a nice extra : Without the graphical GNOME interface of the default Ubuntu version its lighter and more suited for “server tasks” (Dont worry , if we need the GUI we’ll install it AND we’ll be able to switch in ON and OFF when we want to) Plus there is of course the fact that the Feisty server comes with APACHE ( a web server ) Mysql and PHP. Now it might not mean a lot to you right now but believe me, you will be happy to have those babies pre-packed when you need them.

The Basic install of Feisty Fawn is pretty simple.

Download the server version of Feisty here. http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download

Burn it to a cd and pop it into your server. In order to install it i’ve found a great how to in installing your server. Don’t freak out cause we are only going to need step one and two of “mr. perfects” ultimate install. So don’t worry. Take the first two steps of this PERFECT install but  when asked to configure the network choose MANUAL . Give your IP / Subnet and Default Gateway. Before its all done  be sure to select LAMP when the option presents itself.

Click here for “mr perfects” manual on installing your server. http://www.howtoforge.com/perfect_setup_ubuntu704

Installing SSH.

SSH is a secured connection between one computer and the other one. And with secure we mean no one can snoop into whats going back and forth. We’ll be using SSH to remotely administrate the server AND give you a secure and easy way get full access to the files on the server. So before we begin download FILEZILLA and PUTTY . Putty will give us remote shell access, Filezilla will be our “file explorer” over SSH. On your server, Login using the user name and password. Be sure the server is hooked up to your network (and of course the internet) and punch in the following line.

apt-get install ssh openssh-server

When this is done you can pack up your server and park it in the basement for all I care. Just be sure you have it hooked up to your network.Next : Feel the power of remote domination as you fire up putty on your local (windows) machine (Mac and Linux machines have SSH shells of there own) and connect to your server : ssh YOURUSERNAME@IPOFYOURSERVER you’ll be asked for your password and thats that .. you are now in full control of your system.In the next step we will tinker with the sources list of your Ubuntu server. This just means that it wont nag you for the cd anymore and open up access to some more software repositories. In order to do this type

Sudo nano /etc/apt/sources.list

Comment the line that mentions the CD as a source for software with a #  #deb cdrom:[Ubuntu-Server 7.04 _Feisty Fawn_ – Release i386 (20070415)]/ feis… and remove the # from the lines that refer to “universe” and “multiverse” repositories. Next add the following line : deb http://download.webmin.com/download/repository sarge contrib
Hit CTRL and X when you are done and save the file. Now just type sudo apt-get update and and
sudo apt-get upgrade This way all the software on your server is up to date.

A whiff of webmin.

webminTime to give some power to the browser. Sure Putty and the remote shell is a great way to interact with your server, but hey , you didn’t configure your wifi router over the command line now did you. So its time to install webmin . A web based configuration tool that will let you do your thing using your browser. First up open up your putty and connect to your server over SSH. Now I hear your fear my friends : “Oh my ! We are going to install webmin using the command line. All that Tar and Untarr stuff makes my skin crawl.” Dont worry buddies, its gonna be easy as pie.

Because we entered the webmin repository in our sources.list file you can just type sudo apt-get install webmin

With webmin installed lets bring the baby up to speed.Login to your Ubuntu server using your browser. https://IPOFYOURSERVER:10000 Enter your password and user name (the same one you use for the SSH connection).

 

login

 

 

After logging in you will get a nice overview of the “status” of your server. It shows you the drivespace that is available, the free memory and all that. Kind of a dashboard that lets you see how healthy your system is.

 

status

 

 

The first thing we do is make sure we UPDATE all of the webmin-components to their latest versions.

To do this click on WEBMIN / WEBMIN CONFIGURATION in the left column.Then click on the UPGRADE WEBMIN icon.
In the first tab click “UPGRADE WEBMIN” it will probably come back with the error that you already have the latest version, but still. Then in the Third tab select “update modules” Make sure only the checkbox with “install modules that are not currently installed” is checked and click ‘update modules‘.

 

update

 

Groundwork Completed. 

With that the groundwork of your little “server for the family” has been made. In the next chapter of this manual we are going to setup the server as a file and print server using SAMBA in order for you to use the Feisty Family server as a Feisty Family Fileserver.

See you in chapter 2 ! 

Jump to chapter 3 !

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Cast your vote !

 

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Take the Vote !
 
On your right you will find a new POLL on the Knightwise.com website. Being the content pushing pimp that is blogging like he has no social life / second life / real job / excistence in this temporal plain I would like to have your input on what kind of articles you like best. Not that I give a flying frack about what is popular or not, its just nice to know what you guyz like. So please take a moment, click the button and make Knightwise a happy Knightwise. 

 

 

 

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