Illusory Follies Andrew Flanagan's Blog

3Dec/090

Google Public DNS

network wiringGoogle today announced that they're providing a high-performance public DNS server. This sounds like a great idea from a performance perspective ... I've not had too many complaints with my DNS servers provided by Comcast but I've definitely had some issues at my work with slow/non-responsive DNS servers.

However, I suppose this is just one more thing that can go wrong. Now there's one BIG target to attack and if someone happens to poison the cache, we're all in a world of hurt.

I do plan on updating my home router though to start using this. I'll post a follow-up with my review.

From: Official Google Blog: Introducing Google Public DNS.

Update: They're definitely taking security very seriously. Some more info can be found here that's quite helpful.

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8Jan/083

Wiring (update 2)

Bill had commented on an older post about wiring and had asked for an update. I had thought I had posted one but couldn't find any when I just looked.

So, basically, at this point, the following is complete:

  • TV is installed in the main room. Wires are cable tied to the cantilever arm and go through a nice-looking plastic grommet in the wall. My options were to buy grommets at Lowe's (surprisingly, they were like $6 each) or simply steal some from some of our furniture (the little holes designed to have wires go into for your computer stuff). I went with the stealing.
  • All speaker wiring is done. I have speakers installed everywhere except the sub-woofer (which I installed in the back center. At some point I want a sub-woofer but the high-cost and low utility (hey, the kids are napping whenever we watch anything!) has delayed my purchase.
  • All wiring for Phase 1 is complete. This is a nice, official way of saying that there will be a phase 2 and we're not there yet. However, for this first phase, we have all audio wiring (to 5.1 speakers) installed, two power outlets (4 plugs) are installed and the cable re-wired and split (in the wall). In addition, all wiring through the wall to the TV is complete. I may change what I have going through the wall to the TV at some later date, but for now, it's everything we need.
  • No more mess in the main room (just the TV on the wall, speakers on the wall, and two floor speakers). Now we have extra room and I'm considering getting a nice leather chair (in black) that matches our surprisingly well-constructed Ikea couch.

Here are the pictures:

New Shelves
New shelves in closet. The small top shelf is just for wiring and equipment. We'll likely use the lower shelf for the printers. There's another shelf below that's outside of the shot. Notice the nice blue paint. It's not fun painting in a closet -- no room.

Top Computer Shelf
Here's the rather cluttered high shelf. It's close to the door and has all the audio/video equipment as well as the phone and two computers. The upper computer is just there temporarily. (I'm not sure exactly what to do with it -- need a computer?). It does have some spare room on the shelf for remotes and DVDs and such.

Top Computer Shelf (no flash)
Here's a shot of the same thing without the flash. This is what it looks like when you open the door. I tied some tube lights into the power plugs on the back of the receiver so that if you're using it, there's a strip of light that goes around the edge of the door frame on the inside. I considered a brighter light, but you don't need to see much and anything too bright is annoying.

New outlets
Here's a cable-filled shot of the new power outlets, the cable outlet and above (a little hard to see) the 5.1 audio outlet 5 stereo and one mono plugs (for the sub-woofer).

img_6205.JPGSpeaker on the rear, left
Here are two shots of the surround speakers. I found the mounting shelves at Lowe's for a pretty good price Looks a lot nicer than having those horrible little plastic arms.

Front view of system
Here's a shot of the front. This shows the TV mounted on the cantilever arm, the center channel (mounted a bit high but tilted appropriately) and the right front speaker (just on the floor). All the equipment is in the closet directly behind the TV. I dislike how I couldn't mount the TV in the center (but the arm does swing over and it's very close). The mind is a funny thing -- voices (played on the center channel) do sound like they're coming directly from the TV even though though they're clearly not.

Binding Posts
Here's a shot of the binding post. Hey, it looks professional! It might look nice to use banana plugs instead of bare wire, but that's too fancy...

Sub-woofer binding post
Here's the unused sub-woofer binding post behind the couch. This is an RCA-type plug so it's a little easier to connect than the screw-on/banana plugs used for the stereo binding posts.

Behind the TV
Here's what behind the TV looks like. You can see the plastic grommet in the wall (which is very functional). The arm itself is attached very solidly to a stud and the cable ties may not be pretty but they're not normally visible, so it's no problem.

I'm considering as part of Phase 2, the following:

  • CAT5, DVI and USB runs throughout the house. Realistically, probably just to the office and the "kitchen office" nook.
  • An upgrade of our main room TV (the in-laws have a bigger one -- it's time to upgrade! hehe...) and moving the upstairs TV to my office (for use with the computer)
  • Dispose of an old inkjet printer, move the newer inkjet to the closet, and get a laser printer also for the closet.
  • I'm considering (just considering) replacing my Linux machine with a dedicated "always-on" 8-core Mac. The brand new Mac Pros are just so darn cool. I could realistically do a 3-drive, RAID 5, 1TB array with the Mac and still have room on the main drive for "non-critical" stuff. I have a 1.5TB array now on 4 drives but the extra 500MB is somewhat unnecessary for redundancy. Down the road, I could upgrade to a 2TB (3x1TB HDs) setup if I needed to expand. The new machines have max RAM capacity at 32GB -- that's simply amazing (and expensive).

Note to scoffers: This does NOT mean I would give up my Linux server -- I would simply virtualize it and run it in all the spare RAM I'd have.

But except for the printers I'm not really thinking this is going to happen anytime really soon. Maybe by the end of the year. Just maybe.

27Sep/073

OpenVPN

Well in my drug-induced down time I've been fiddling with my Gentoo server some more... I added Wake-on-Lan support to the kernel so that I can power the system up from upstairs or across the country. It's nice because I don't tend to leave it on all the time and even when I'm home, it's a pain to hit the power button since I keep the system squirreled away in a cabinet.

In addition however, I also added OpenVPN support to the server. I punched a hole in the firewall and set up Ethernet bridging in order to give me full access to the entire network when I'm away from home. It works amazingly well. It wasn't quick to set up but it was kind of fun. Basically you create an Ethernet bridge between a "real" network adapter and the virtual OpenVPN adapter and assign that bridge the IP address of the old "real" network adapter. I like.

10Aug/072

Storage

So... Back on march 30th I posted an entry on my storage solution. I had built a computer and had added a basic RAID configuration to it:

I finally got my RAID solution in place. I went cheap and got two 500GB hard drives ($145 each) and a HighPoint RocketRAID 1740 RAID 0/1/5 4 channel SATA 3.0 GBps card ($110).

So... With this configuration I get 500GB of storage (430GB or so after formatting). This was great for a while. However, recently I realized I needed more. All of my personal "stuff" that's somewhat irreplaceable doesn't take up much room. Add my ripped CDs in and you get about 100GB. I have another 25-50GB of random things (disk images for linux installs, video rips (which I haven't in the past kept for very long so I was okay with not backing them up)). So I wasn't exactly out of room but I was using a fair bit. However, I also wanted to snag a relation's (who will remain unnamed) music collection. It's 499GB. That's 272 days worth of music if played continuously. We follow a strict rule to ensure compliance with copyright law: we don't tell anyone.

Whoops.

Anyway -- I needed more storage so I picked up some hard drives from Fry's online (why is their online store called "Outpost"? It makes no sense). They were cheap! $89 per 500GB drive. They came with free shipping and I shipped them to Virginia when I was there on travel to save on state sales tax. When I got back, I copied my existing data to a 500GB external drive, added the new drives, prayed a quick prayer that my system wouldn't overheat and started it up. I reconfigured the RAID array from a 2 x 500GB RAID 1 array to a 4 X 500GB RAID 5 array. This gives me 1.5TB (1.4 TB or so formatted). It's nice. I've loaded everything on there and since I have so much extra breathing room I've immediately started piling on stuff that I previously had kept on local hard drives. Here's my usage currently:

space.JPG

It's nice to have some room...