What’s better than SSL everywhere?  Free SSL everywhere!  I first heard about the letsencrypt.org project at Defcon 23 in July (you can watch the same presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ya6t8nMclos).  The concept was great, and I agreed with many of the points that were made, although the difficulty of setting up TLS was quite overblown, it really isn’t that difficult.  I was interested in the concept, but at that time the project was not available for use, but now it is, and it’s fairly easy to use, though does have one minor drawback.

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In an attempt to fix some service issues that I had been experiencing with Comcast, I contacted them on the phone to swap out my cablemodem with a new DOCSIS v.3 model that I had picked up.  The rep on the phone insisted that I was paying too much, and proceeded to make changes to my account to fix how much I was paying.  Long story short, my cable bill shot up to over $300/month.  This fed me up enough to find a way to finally join a growing number of people and “cut the cord”.  My issue was that I wanted to find a way to cut the cord, without losing access to the content that my family enjoys.  This is where I turned my attention to the SlingTV.

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Hadn’t updated my blog back-end in a couple years, so decided to take a look at what was new with MovableType, my choice of back-end software for blogging needs.  Unfortunately, it seems that sometime last year sixapart decided to move away from even providing a single blogger account level license.  I’ve loved working with MT over the years, but that change is enough to make me jump ship, so I started looking for alternatives.  WordPress was an obvious choice.  The process I followed to convert my site content is as follows:

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I was in search of a low-cost VoIP provider to use as a home phone replacement, when I thought about Google Voice. The plus side of Google Voice being that all calls are free within the US, making for a fairly cost-effective phone service. The other factor that I needed to account for was that I needed a solution where 911 service functioned correctly. Google Voice alone will not terminate 911 service, so additional service was required.

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I had previously setup a few FreeBSD systems to act as PPTP servers for places that I had them acting as firewalls using mpd. However, I was constantly running into problems with “No buffer space available” and packets would drop, connections would be sluggish, etc.
I was just doing some system upgrades and decided to look at other options. I found a port called poptop “the pptp server for linux” in the ports distribution, and even a howto online detailing what my configs should look like. So I gave it a shot:

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Having just acquired some new hardware at work, I decided to do some tests to see how well this system would run. Here are the specs of the system running the benchmark:

  • Supermicro X7DA3+ MB w/Intel 5000X (GreenCreek) chipset
  • (2) Intel Xeon Quad-Core E5450 (3.00GHz/1333FSB/2x6MB) CPU
  • 3Ware Escalade 9650SE-16ML PCI-E 256MB w/16 PORTS + BBU
  • (8) Kingston 2GB PC2-5300 DDR2-667MHz FB ECC CL5 (16GB)
  • (12) Western Digital Raptor X WD1500AHFD 150GB 10000 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 1.5Gb/s Hard Drive (RAID 50 array)

To test it out I installed FreeBSD 7.0-RELEASE AMD64. Install completed flawlessly, so it was time to do some compiling.
A vanilla make buildworld: 48 minutes
Not bad.. but not amazing either. So I decided to do some threaded compiles to stress the system a little bit. Since it’s an 8 core system, I used the following:

time -h make -j8 buildworld

The resulting time of: 12m 33s was nothing short of impressive.
Following up with a:

time -h make -j8 buildkernel KERNCONF=GENERIC

Resulted in: 52s
Quite impressive.

Gentoo 2007.0 has been out for some time, but I just now got a chance to setup a few new Gentoo systems. Previously I’ve always installed via the 2006.1 installation media, either the LiveCD or LiveDVD, and used the GTK installer. While the 2006.1 GTK installer was certainly buggy, I was able to get a process worked out that allowed the system to be loaded fairly consistently each time. However, it was *much* more difficult with the 2007.0 LiveCD and DVD.
Here are some of the trials that I ended up going through..

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There has been much buzz recently about google buying Grand Central, which was started as a free service that helped people organize their phone numbers, route calls, record messages, set distinctive ring tones, and much more… for free. Upon hearing the news, I immediately signed up for an account and began to test things out…

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While looking for an easy way to keep my Slackware install up to date, I just ran across this article:
http://www.linux.com/article.pl?sid=06/10/12/1337224
Now that Slackware 11.0 is out, you may wonder what is the best way to update the distribution. Swaret is an open source project that aims to keep various versions of Slackware up-to-date. I use Swaret and some cron scripts to keep my servers current automatically.

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