Sunday, October 29, 2006

Is YouTube Starting To Die?

YouTube has become the de-facto video sharing service on the internet. Recently though, they received a letter from Comedy Central and were forced to remove clips from their service due to DMCA violations. I've already found some of my videos that are now dead links, and will start removing them.

My question to Comedy Central: Why? There were a ton of The Daily Show and Colbert Report clips there, and countless people have started to watch the show because of it. I don't know how many times on someone commented how they had never seen either of the shows and now watch. In fact, it was said that the Colbert Report was using a pretty nifty viral marketing strategy on YouTube - flood the service with your clips, and the people will watch the show.

There were other shows up there too, including but not limited to South Park and Comedy Central Presents. I understand that they would want full episodes taken down, but 0-5 minute clips? Those are free advertisement in the greatest sense. Comedy Central doesn't pay for someone to post them, doesn't pay for advertising, and doesn't pay for the bandwidth when they are viewed, and it only increases viewers.

One thing that people were worried about when Google purchased YouTube was it becoming like Google Video. And I think it is starting too.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Browsing Safely On The Road

I recently went on two trips, a wedding and then a business trip, and both involved getting internet access at the hotel. The hotel we stayed at at the wedding had free wireless internet, which was completely unencrypted and definately visable from the other hotels grouped around it. The second hotel had strictly wired internet which required me to sign up. Neither of them really gave me a huge amount of confidence in them keeping my information safe. What does one do? If you have broadband and a dynamic DNS account (I suggest, I've used them for years without a problem), you have some options!

Remote Desktop

This is the easiest thing to set up. All you need is a broadband connection back home, a router, and a spare computer. If you don't want to spring for an extra Windows license for the machine, you can install Ubuntu Linux and use FreeNX to run a fully encrypted session through your home's internet connection. I prefer this solution over regular Windows XP Remote Desktop because it is faster, and there is less chance someone will hack your Linux box as opposed to a Windows XP machine sitting on the internet.

Tunneling via VPN

There are a couple of ways that people can tunnel their internet connection. The one that will give you the most control is a VPN. Both times I used OpenVPN to connect back home, and I did all my browsing via a remote Linux box. The tunnel kept everything encrypted just like a corporate VPN, and since I did everything through a remote computer's browser, there was no chance of my passwords being sniffed across the network. VPNing also does not restrict you to what is on a single machine. If you use iTunes or SlimServer to stream music across your network at home, you can access them just like you could if you were at home.

You can also have OpenVPN force all your traffic through the secure VPN connection. This way you do not have to set up a remote computer to do your surfing (in a normal non-tunneled VPN, all of your internet requests go through the ISP you are connected to, in this case the hotel). This is fine as long as you don't do any large downloads as that will quickly kill your VPN's bandwidth.

To set this up, I recommend replacing your home router with an IPCop linux router and installing the Zerina OpenVPN plugin for it. This will set up a VPN server (and a much nicer router than what most $50-$100 routers are) in less than 30 minutes. For your clients, you can install the command-line OpenVPN client for Linux (Ubuntu/Debian users should be able to just do a 'sudo apt-get install openvpn' if you have the extra repos set up), and Windows users can use the OpenVPN GUI.

TOR + Privoxy

This is a good last-ditch effort if you don't have broadband at home or can't set up either of the above options. TOR (The Onion Router) is a software router that takes all of your traffic through other random TOR servers out on the net. What this does is find a single TOR server, sends the request to it, which finds another TOR server and sends the request through it, so on and so on until you reach your destination. Slow, yes, but it gets the job done.

Privoxy allows you to set up a SOCKS4/5 proxy to filter different programs through TOR. You can point your IM programs, browsers, or anything else that supports SOCKS proxies to your local Privoxy install, which then pushes it through TOR. Brilliant! This will not speed up a TOR connection at all, but it gives you a good measure of protection from packet sniffers.

Well, I hope that this helps those road warriors out there a bit. In this day and age, the tools to do identity theft are free and getting easier and easier to use. The above suggestions on keeping your information private should help keep you a bit safer when it comes to the internet.

Why Maintaining Code Sucks

At my job, one of the things that I have to do is some RPG (some 3, some ILE, some a mixture of both) since I actually know some RPG. The program that I'm working on right now was created back in 2002. Yes, they still coded in RPG in 2002. And in 2006. *sigh*.

Anyway, looking over this code reminds me why I hated RPG in school. RPG is already confusing in the first place with it's many restrictions as a fixed-field programming language (everything has a specific column it must appear in, and can only be X characters long depending on the column), but it gets worse when you start mixing syntax from one generation of RPG to another.

As an example, FOR Loops appear in two different styles:

Style 1
VARA ORNE 'OtherStuff'

Style 2
IF VARA <> 'Stuff'
or VARA <> 'OtherStuff'

Let's pick a standard and stick with it people! You're updating sections of code already, why not fix the FOR loops?

Variable Naming/Comments
The other thing that stinks about RPG is that your variable names can only be a certain length. Therefore you end up with very heavily abbreviated code names (and the dreaded 'A' as an counter variable). You are then forced to rely on comments. I love commented code, even if the code itself is nice and to the point with proper variable names. I hate when someone puts in comments, something gets updated, and the comments don't reflect the change. A confusing language's readability hinges on good commenting, and it really wastes time when the comments are wrong.

I also am programming currently in the Source Entry Utility on the iSeries. It's like being in DOS in respect to the screen resolution for the terminal. I have learned that there is an IDE that we can use, and I will be asking for it. I'm a modern programmer, give me at least Notepad. At least it supports more than 80x25 resolution.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


I just signed up for Vox. You can find me at I'm testing it out to see if I want to move the blog there instead of keep it at Blogger here, or I might just keep both open. We'll see. Let me know which you people like better.

Blog Updates

I've learned to stop playing with the template and am just using the newer version that I had. While I hate to give up the control that I had with the older one, I get some new features with the new template enginge that Blogger uses.

So. Sorry. And stuff.

Anyway, on to the blog updates:

I've added a few more links over on the right-hand side. Yay.

I can now label posts and sort them via categories so you people can find things easier. One of the new perks of the new template system.

Atom Feeds
Like an RSS feed but not. So this way you can visit my site without actually having too!

Thursday, October 19, 2006 - The Ultimate Truth

<Ich> I've discovered that people on IRC don't get offended or riled up by racism
<Ich> nor politically incorrect jokes
<Ich> nor feminism, nazism,
<Ich> nor goatse, or even tubgirl
<Ich> not even jokes about 9/11 get a rise out of anybody
<Ich> but as soon as I tell somebody that macs are better than PC's, things get ugly

Such is the way of the internet...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Embarq +1, Time Warner -1

We're moving soon, so I figured I'd call and get some prices on what I'm going to be charged for TV and internet. Right now I'm paying $100 for phone + DSL through Embarq and cable was part of our rent, but I'm going off of a baseline price of $37 dollars that I paid Adelphia before we moved and before Time Warner purchased them (which steadily rose from $30 when I moved out when getting married).

Time Warner
Our television lineup hasn't changed at all since Adelphia rolled out new channels with their digital cable a few years ago. It sucks compared to Comcast, and even compared to other Adelphia offerings within a 30 minute drive. I hate Adelphia as a company, but maybe since getting purchased things might have gotten better.

Not really. Cable channels 2-70 is now $47 a month, and 4mb/384k cable internet is $42, or I can bundle them for $90. So basic cable prices have gone up $10 since I had cable and nothing has been added. Thanks Defiance for signing a contract letting only one cable company in at a time! My 1.5meg DSL was only $30 (I say was, see below). To go up to Digital basic is only $68 a month ($58 + $10 for two boxes), so the debate will be on how much I want to pay for something that isn't that great. More than likely the $47.

Embarq (Formerly Sprint)
So my call to Embarq was merely to complain about being charged $100 for phone + caller ID + voicemail + 1.5meg DSL. The lady who answered agreed that I was being overcharged as they changed promotions only a few weeks after I signed up for that. I now pay $67 for phone + caller ID + voicemail + 3meg DSL. Sweeeeet.

How much am I out now?
Before: $100 + $0 = $100 + tax
Now: $67 + $47 = $114 + tax.

So basically for $14 more I get 3meg DSL when all is said and done. I am happy. For once Embarq has done something nice.

Friday, October 06, 2006

5th Generation iPods Kick Ass

Yesterday I thought it was time to put my old 4th generation 20gig iPod to rest, or more likely it thought it was time since it wouldn't turn on. I couldn't get my computer to recognize it even plugged in, so I considered it dead to me. It had some good times, but lately had started having problems syncing with iTunes and had developed an odd little clicking sound.

Thanks to the overtime from Linuxfest, I had a bit of extra cash to get a new one. For $250 at Wal-Mart (I didn't want to wait for it to be shipped) I picked up a new 5th gen black video iPod, and I can say, without a doubt, I am happy that I did.

I got the small 30gig model mainly because I didn't want to waste a ton of cash, and because I just recently filled up my 20gig. It was all shiny and perfect as I opened up the box. The only disappointment I've had with it is that it picks of fingerprints like CSI.

I put it through it's paces today with gtkPod, transferring what little music I had at work to it, and because it's video I scoured revision3 and for video podcasts to watch. I love the screen on this thing. One of the new enhancements was a better screen over the original 5th gen iPods, and the clarity is superb. I watched Broken, CTRL+ALT+Chicken, Martin Sargent's Web Drifter, and MacBreak with no problem at all (once I downloaded the smaller quicktime files).

One of the main reasons I wanted a video iPod was the ability to watch TV shows during my lunch break. I'm addicted to quite a few shows that I don't have enough time to watch, so I record them on the computer to watch at a later date. For example, Lost has taken up quite a few gigs of space on my harddrive until I get around to actually purchasing the DVDs (and no, just in case anyone is wondering, I don't have DVD rips. Just regular ol' All-In-Wonder recordings). Unfortunately I stopped watching half way through season 2, and really need to catch up.

I found a sweet little program called Videora iPod Converter and instructions here that takes video files and converts them to iPod format. I tried two shows - The Colbert Report and Venture Brothers. The former would not work at all, but the latter look stunning on the iPod. I'm currently converting an episode of Lost to see how well it works and what I need to tweak to get it to work perfectly with any show I want to watch during lunch.

I am loving my new iPod. Since my old one isn't completely dead yet, my wife agreed to give it a good home and some love until it really needs put out to pasture. I'll miss my old 20giger, but I look forward to the times I'm going to have with my new one.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

SuSE Linux Enterprise Desktop vs Ubuntu

One of the things that I picked up over the weekend at Linuxfest was a DVD version of SLED/SLES (the server version) 10. When I got home I threw it in under VMPlayer and installed it. It ran pretty well and I loved how clean and integrated everything looked, so I figured I would install it at work since it's a business, and SLED is geared toward businesses.

I downloaded all 5 CDs from Novell since I don't have a DVD drive at work. Burned them all and rebooted with the first disk in, eager to get going. Everything went smoothly, all be it a bit slower than the DVD since I was using 3 of the 5 discs that I burned. YaST takes a bit getting used to, and I initially set up my network wrong by not supplying enough info. If you're using DHCP you won't have a problem, but with static IPs everything is spread out across 3 pages between your IP, DNS, and gateway.

After that I had a fully functional desktop. Well, almost functional. I like to listen to 98.9 The Bear at work and was using Rhythmbox under Ubuntu. All I had under SLED was Helix. Helix doesn't like streaming audio, nor streaming ASX files for that matter. I got to install Rhythmbox.

The only thing I can install off the bat is what is on the CDs. No big deal, I'm sure that YaST will let you add additional places to download programs from. I find out that YaST is broken, and should be replaced by smart. I follow the directions here on setting up smart. (As a side note, all of this reminds me why I HATE Redhat now, even though that's what I grew up using in addition to Mandrake - RPM Hell, which is made worse by yum). smart works much better than Redhat's 'yum' program even though it does the exact same thing. 'smart install rhythmbox' downloads and installs Rhythmbox. Yay!

OK, not so Yay!. I can't play ASX files. No big deal. Wait, I can't play MP3s either! Or ogg, or flac. Crap. Google, can you help?

Me: "rhythmbox suse"
Google: "Here's some websites!"
Websites: "Screw Rhythmbox, SuSE doesn't need music!"

OK, not exactly like that, but I learned that gstreamer is crippled in SuSE for some reason (even though Helix is using it as a backend...hmmm). 'smart install gstreamer*'. It grabs a bunch of gstreamer packages. None of them help me. Let's just compile it then!

First compile throws a fit about a .so file missing. Try to install it via smart but it's already installed. 'locate '. 'locate command not found'. WHAT?! What distro doesn't have locate installed by default?. I decided to install it via the GUI for smart. I get an error as I'm installing only 'findutils-locate', and X decides to commit suicide. I don't mean that X crashed or hung and a reboot fixed it. X, and all the window managers with it, jumped over the side of a cliff just like a suicidal lemming in a faked Disney documentary. All because I tried to install locate.

I really, really should have stopped there, but I didn't. I decided to do an upgrade install to see if it would just fix whatever package decided to kill my system. I needed disc 4 now. OK, no big deal, though a bit odd. Wait another 20 minutes.....X now will not use my GDM screen, and will not display JPGs or PNGs as backgrounds. Reinstall time!

The complete reinstall needed 4 discs instead of the 3 I used the first time around. Ooookay. Waited....and now it's all back up! I do some more digging around, and I find a nifty article saying that the SuSE 9.3 RPMs will work with SuSE 10, and I install the first one for MP3s. I can listen to MP3s in Totem and Rhythmbox! Still no ASX files, but I'm closer.

It's late, I go home. Later that night (and just before this long rant of a post was written), I download all the rest of the RPMs via SSHing into the box, and start to install them with the 'rpm' command. The first one has unmet dependecies. smart doesn't have them. I search the internet and find an RPM. It has unmet dependencies. I search, and find another RPM. It won't install as a newer version is installed, but the newer version doesn't have the file I need. I go to another gstreamer RPM hoping that it will install. Same damn process!

The last thing I do is wget a copy of Ubuntu Edgy Eft. I've already formatted this machine once, and my home directory is backed up. I'll just back up my e-mail again, and try out beta software from a distro I trust.

Sorry Novell, I can't recommend to my sysadmin that we look at SLED as an alternative to Windows XP. Ubuntu doesn't give me any of the headaches that SLED has today, and it makes me love APT and the Debian package management system that much more.

I'm sorry Ubuntu, I hope you can forgive me for trying something different. I'm back, and that's what matters.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Ohio Linuxfest was great!

I spent the weekend in Columbus at the Ohio Linuxfest, and had a great time. The keynote ended up being by Chris DiBona since Jeff Waugh missed his connecting flight and did not make his presentation until after lunch. My schedule was as follows:

  • Google and Open Source (Chris DiBona)

  • The Integration Holy Grail (Jorge Castro)

  • 20 things you didn t know you could do with your Apache Web Server (Richard Bowen)

  • Flipping the switch to Freedom, Ubuntu and GNOME (Jeff Waugh)

  • Securing your Email (Stephen Swaney)

  • Open Source Zero Day Attack Protection (John Buswell)

  • Commercial Grade Security using iptables Firewalls (Doug Hass)

  • Life Nude Penguins

  • Free and Open Source: The Next Steps (Jon "maddog" Hall)

  • My favorites were with Chris DiBona, Jeff Waugh, Jorge Castro, Richard Bowen, and Jon "maddog" Hall, not necessarily in that order.

    I met a few great people, and hope to attend again next year.