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Buying a Cable Box Now Possible 
Sunday, January 5, 2014, 2:05 PM - Computing Technology, Hardware
Posted by Administrator
Samsung just started selling its Smart Media Player, a set top box (STB) that will accept a CableCard from the cable company for $150. Previously these have only been available for purchase for connections to computers, such as a HDHomeRun, not directly to TVs. Cable companies typically charge a small rental fee of $2-5 per month per CableCard. As you can see this can pay for itself in 1-2 years compared to a $10/month (or more) HD STB rental from the cable company. You won't get all the features of the cable box like the guide or on-demand but it functions like a normal TV, pick a channel, the video shows up on the TV. For an infrequently used TV set, this could save a bundle while still getting HD quality.

The Samsung GX-SM530CF Cable Box and Streaming Media Player is available on Amazon and at time of writing is $138.
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Firewall 1 - Chromecast 0 
Wednesday, August 14, 2013, 9:38 PM - Hardware, Software, Security
Posted by Administrator
I unboxed my new Chromecast device yesterday. Setup was fairly straightforward, I entered my Wifi information, only to continually get an error that it "could not connect to the internet." I thought I might have has a Wifi issue, not connecting for some reason, maybe out of range or a DHCP issue. I was finally able to track it down. It turns out that it didn't like my DNS firewall. On my network I have blocked use of all DNS servers besides mine to handle problems like DNS Changer. I saw this traffic:

19:19:10.284578 IP 10.0.3.247.59034 > google-public-dns-a.google.com.domain: 57629+ A? pool.ntp.org. (30)
19:19:10.300858 IP 10.0.3.247.55306 > google-public-dns-a.google.com.domain: 6977+ A? clients3.google.com. (37)
19:19:11.300764 IP 10.0.3.247.48751 > google-public-dns-b.google.com.domain: 6825+ A? clients3.google.com. (37)


Chromecast is hard coded to use Google's Public DNS service and does not use the DNS servers provided by DHCP. Problem solved, but I had to punch a hole in my firewall specifically for Google DNS which is a little annoying.

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Verizon's 180 
Wednesday, October 27, 2010, 9:00 PM - Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
I just ran across my notes from why I canceled my contract with Verizon in early 2007. I recently switched back, and it appears most of my gripes have been addressed. The list from 2007:

- Disabled Bluetooth features (namely file transfer and dial up profiles)
- Unable to install non-certified apps
- Contact backup program doesn't work
- No unlimited SMS plan
- Web costs a monthly fee AND minutes, no unlimited data plan available for phones
- Can't activate non-e911 compliant phone
- Weak coverage at work
- Voicemail does not count as IN network minutes

Since that time it appears that all but the last four issues have been addressed. I should note that my phone at the time was a Motorola v710 (a J2ME/BREW based phone, Verizon's first Bluetooth phone) and I now have a Motorola Droid X. It looks like Verizon STILL doesn't offer an unlimited web plan for "standard" phones, only smartphones. And as far as why calling a Verizon voicemail system, using the Verizon network, with a Verizon phone, still isn't considered "IN network," I have no idea.
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IPv6 Quirks 
Monday, December 7, 2009, 11:37 PM - Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
After playing with IPv6 extensively over the weekend, I discovered a number of oddities about the protocol.

First, autoconfiguration only works with /64 subnets. Anything more or less, even if the router advertises the prefix, clients will not add the prefix to its own interface. This seems like it can problematic as users cannot easily break down these prefixes into smaller subnets. This could be a key area for using DHCPv6 as a replacement.

Second, autoconfiguration will not work if the computer is configured as a router for IP forwarding. This means that additional work for defining routes needs to be done even if you only plan on using the default gateway on a network. This can either be in the form of static routes or a full blown routing protocol.

Third, 2002::/16 (IPv4 transition addresses) doesn't count as a real IPv6 address when source address selection occurs. Instead it is considered a separate scope, similar to an IPv4 address. This means when websites have both a 2001::/16 IPv6 address and a IPv4 address, the IPv4 address is used by default. If the website has a 2002::/16 IPv6 address and a IPv4 address the 2002::/16 IPv6 address is used to connect. This seems very odd and inconsistent and can lead to confusion.
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What Kind of Website Does $9.5 Million (USD) Get You? 
Monday, July 13, 2009, 10:49 PM - Public Policy, Computing Technology
Posted by Administrator
On July 9th, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board announced the task order awarded to redesign the Recovery.gov website, creating version 2.0. So what exactly will $9.5 Million (USD) get us?

According to the government's Statement of Objectives (SOO) for Recovery.gov, here is a brief breakdown.

Included:
- Hardware for Servers
- Software for Servers
- XML Proxy
- Continuity of Operations (COOP) Site (optional)
- Documentation
- Information Assurance Protections
- Section 508 Compliance
- 24x7 Operations and Maintenance
- Security Maintenance and Patching
- Web Interface and Design (HTML)
- VPN Between Sites
- IDS/Firewall
- Web Based Reports
- Web Content Management System

NOT Included (Government Provided):
- Database Services
- Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)
- Internet Access/Bandwidth
- Facilities
- Storage Area Network (SAN)
- Power/Cooling
- Data Collection

The initial launch is proposed for August 27, 2009. Does anyone else out there think they can possibly do this for any cheaper than $9.5 Million? Anyone?!
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