Unbound…A Truer Word Has Never Described Software

Very occasionally a tool or software package stands-out to me on the pure virtue of being the right solution at the right time. If it happens to do exactly what you need RIGHT NOW, and other, perhaps more traditional, mature or well-known tools cannot, the best fit becomes clear. Unbound is exactly this kind of fit. Self-described as “a validating, recursive, and caching DNS resolver”, it’s utility boiled down to one particular line in the config (and the comments that describe it):

# Enable or disable whether the upstream queries use TCP only
# for transport. Default is no. Useful in tunneling scenarios.
tcp-upstream: yes

The reason why that particular ability…being able to force upstream DNS queries to go over TCP (instead of the default of going over UDP)…was important to me today is dumb, but the whole story is a useful example of network fun under the thumb of an ISP that can sometimes do really stoopid things, so I’ll go further and explain. Continue reading

Rockin’ Out Wirelessly with Bluetooth

A while back I did extensive research (even for me) on desktop speakers, and found amazing quality at a price that was still affordable in the Studiophile AV40 kit from M-Audio. Great for a multimedia production machine, or any other place where you need really good sound…if you can be tethered. So, worked great for a desktop, but as I began to want to use these awesome speakers with my laptop, I just found them annoying. Great sound…but unless I was willing to do something unseemly with wires across the room, there was no way to enjoy them with music from my laptop while lounging on the couch. A Bluetooth epiphany followed by several Google searches highlighted some interesting options…the first of which I’ve tried was the Rocketfish Bluetooth Music Receiver (RF-BTR212).
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Good Read: The Great Siege: Malta 1565

Traveling often provides you with opportunities to read, but rarely does it offer good guidance on what to read. A marvelous exception jumped out with my January trip to Malta. As the three of us on the trip stole a little time one afternoon to explore the sites and enjoy an exceptional meal, we each posted some pictures to our social network streams. Matt, the Solutions Architect on the trip, heard back from one of his friends within minutes of his post… Continue reading

Wittz End Radio Live(ish)

I made a vague reference to Icecast and Internet radio broadcasting in my last post. I’m mostly just playing around with one of my oldest, and favorite hobbies…you know, in all my spare time. As part of testing, I have dug-up my old “WET Pod Foo” podcasts from 2006 and am broadcasting them in a continuous loop now. There is only about 8.5 hours of pre-recorded content in these old podcasts, but it is better content (in my opinion) than the old test pattern loop we used at the college radio station in the early 90s during hours of non-operation.

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Linode On-Demand Server to Replace My Dedicated Hosted Server

As we finally got our web hosting clients migrated to using cloud services for communication (read: Google Apps) and more flexible publishing environments for web hosting (read: WordPress), I was left with a decent monthly expense for a Linux box that only served to scratch my itch for occasional tinkering. Even I can admit that this would have been a poor use of funds had I allowed it to go on for too long, so I backed-up the server, and closed a ServerBeach account that had been active since 2004.

Being responsible felt good, but I still had that nagging desire to play at the command-line on occasion…and a real need from time-to-time to do something I only know how to do with thinking with my Linux brain. Whatever would I do? In looking at my hosted options, I considered Amazon Web Services, Rackspace, and several others. At the end of the day, I settled on Linode, with offerings that were affordable, reliable, flexible, and very fast.

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Two-Factor Authentication: “What?” and “How?”

With all the press about the Heartbleed OpenSSL vulnerability in the news, you probably don’t need another recount of why this is a big deal. If you’ve been following closely, you’re probably a bit freaked-out, and at the very least, have checked with all your online account providers to verify they were not vulnerable, have already addressed the issue, or are actively working on it. You’ll want to follow their instructions, and change your passwords if they were vulnerable, are fully patched, and have changed out their certificates. If you haven’t yet caught-up on all this, I’ll wait…then I’ll brief you on the added layer of security, called Two-Factor Authentication, you can add to your Google, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter accounts to help insure that, even if your passwords are forcefully acquired by some d-bag baddie, your accounts remain safe.

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AX Season is Upon Us

For the uninitiated, AX is short-hand for autocross. “What is autocross?”, you may ask. Autocross is a timed motorsports competition in which drivers navigate one at a time through a course (usually) laid out with traffic cones in an open space, like a parking lot or an unused airport runway. As with other forms of racing, there are different competition classes defined based upon capabilities of the cars (read: modifications) and their drivers. Typically, events also include a “Fun” class for those coming out just to enjoy the experience. Autocross events are usually associated with car clubs, like the Sports Car Club of America (Solo®) or the Porsche Club of America (other manufacturer-specific clubs exist as well), and as Spring erupts, the AX season begins.

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