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Website Reboot

Hello there and welcome back. As you can see, it has been a very long time since I touched Look Another Blog. All the common factors applied as to why: lack of motivation, lack of content, life, death, etc. But, I’m back and planning to devote more time to the site so the web crawlers to ingest. Maybe a human will visit now and then.


This isn’t a spur of the moment idea either. In September 2019 I attended DerbyCon, an Information Security conference. One of the talks I sat through was by Jason Blanchard called “How to Give the Gift That Keeps on Giving – Your Knowledge”. Jason gave simple ideas on how to get your knowledge out there and I recommend anybody whose afraid to write blog posts or upload YouTube videos go watch the session at https://youtu.be/Xnf8y9u-wh4 (the audio is a messed up, but bear with it).


For the past 8 months I’ve slowly, very slowly, been working on ideas I could write up and share on Look Another Blog. I’ve got 20ish posts planned out with more to come. Some of the posts will be simple stuff like I’ve written about in the past, while others will be technical as they are things I’ve done in my professional life.


So, sit back, strap in, and let’s see where this ride takes us.


Have fun.
Tony

Running 40Gb QSFP+ on Dell’s S5048-ON Switches

Subtitle: Remember kids, read the documentation

Recently at work, we upgraded the top-of-rack switches in our datacenter from Dell S4810 to Dell S5048F-ON. The process was supposed to be simple. Both switches ran Dell Networking OS 9 (a rebrand of Force10), and we mirrored to port, port-channel, and VLAN configurations exactly.

Things went well for 2 hours of the process. All the 1/10Gb DACs and fiber transceivers moved to the S5048 switches and worked with no problem. The problem we ran into centered around the 40Gb transceivers. We used QSFP+ SR units from Dell and assumed they be plug and play in the S5048’s 100Gb QSFP28 ports. Surprise, they didn’t. Well, they did, but we had to make a config change. After an hour of troubleshooting, we discovered the command we needed, AND it was well documented. If only we had read the manual…

https://www.dell.com/support/manuals/us/en/04/networking-s5048f-on/s5048f-on-9.14.2.6-config-pub/splitting-100g-ports?guid=guid-60943ca1-cbf8-4958-aa54-4e8d00e331b2&lang=en-us

If you are going to use 40Gb QSFP transceivers or DACs on Dell’s S5048 switches be sure to run the following command

stack-unit <stack unit number> port <port number> portmode single speed 40g

Have fun.
-Tony

Adobe Inserting Ads in Android

Adobe appears to be taking a page from the Microsoft playbook. Recently I went open a photo on my Android phone and was prompted to choose a default app. In the list was an option I hadn’t seen before, “Photoshop Express (Install).” Where did this come from? It turns out the choice came from Adobe Acrobat Reader. I was using Acrobat Reader with PDFs from work. A recent update to the apps must have slid this “feature” onto the phone. Opening the Share menu from an image also showed “Adobe Scan (Install)”.

In 2019, if you remember, Microsoft did the very same thing sparking a lot of backlash. Let’s hope Adobe gets the message and removes this quickly.

I have Acrobat Reader version 20.3.0.12688 installed for reference.

Have fun.
-Tony

Test Post on Hawkhost

Hey look, Lookanotherblog is on new hosting. Can’t tell a difference? Exactly. Well, except for the shinny pad lock icon in your address bar. I decided it was time to finally jump ship from GoDaddy after 7 years. Everybody loves to hate on GoDaddy since it is one of the largest web hosting services on the Internet. There’s also arguments they are anti-competitive when trying to leave. I never had major issues with their services and getting my domain unlocked and moved over to Namecheap.com was painless.

For hosting I’m on HawkHost.com. There were two big draws to this fairly new hosting service. 1. Support for Let’s Encrypt. 2. Unlimited domains/databases/bandwidth for their basic shared hosting package. Now I can run the site under the root domain and my TT-RSS instance under its own subdomain.

That’s all there is for now.

Have fun

Super Simple Raspberry Pi Print Server

For a log time I’ve been network printing in my house to a small laser printer connected to my Linux Server.  This year I decided to move my server to the basement of the house, but didn’t want to relocate the printer from the office. The solution was to pickup a cheap Raspberry Pi 2 and set it up with the same settings as my primary server. Yes this is a waste of a perfectly functional Pi, but you have to make sacrifices sometime. Continue reading “Super Simple Raspberry Pi Print Server”

Website Updates

A new year, a new look. I’ve was running the same theme on this site for over 5 years and decided it was time for new paint. I know the default Twenty Sixteen theme from WordPress is nothing to look at, but it does feel modern compared to Fusion. I’ve also decided to switch the comment system over to Disqus. I see several large sites using it and I’ve enjoyed it as a end user.

Have fun.

Syncthing for Linux PPC

I spend way too much time trying to get software not officially support on PowerPC computers running. My latest project is Syncthing. Started in 2013 by Jakob Borg, Syncthing is promoted as an “opensource alternative to proprietary decentralized file sharing services” [1]. The biggest competitor is BitTorrent’s Sync application. The premise for both applications is the same. You pick a folder on your computer or mobile device you want to share to device or user. The application generates cryptographic identifiers that are shared and used for securing traffic. With BitTorrent Sync the identifiers are shared when you start the process of sharing a folder. For Syncthing they are shared when connecting devices together. In the end the result of secure end-to-end communication is accomplished by both applications, jus the roads are a little different.

I’ve been using BTSync for the past year as a way to keep a copy of a KeePass file synced between my computers and my Nexus 5. My KeePass file is something I don’t want to keep up on a service like Google Drive since the cloud is outside of my control. LastPass is a great service, but again, passwords are stored in the cloud and I like control.

The developers of Syncthing are doing a great job of updating the product and releasing versions for the major desktop platforms. Third-party developers have also stepped up and adapted Syncthing to run on Android and support for iOS looks to be on the roadmap [2]. One missing platform, however, is Linux on PPC. I know the market share of for PPC systems is microscopic even if you factor in IBM’s Power line of servers, some of Synology’s NAS products, and the Air Force’s PS3 cluster [3]. That is why I’m still surprised that BitTorrent released a Sync client for Linux PPC until April 2015 [4].

Enough back-story, here is how I got Syncthing running.
Continue reading “Syncthing for Linux PPC”

Modern Wireless for PowerPC Macs

Recently I took the opportunity to upgrade my home server from a heavily upgraded 2001 Quicksilver PowerMac G4 to a PowerMac G5. With that I took the opportunity to reinstall OS X 10.5 on the Quicksilver and turn it into web browsing station for when I’m in the basement working on projects. The main limitation I had with this was network connectivity. I could have run a network cable from the 1st floor office through the basement to the work area, like I did for the living room, but thought it was a little overkill. With the basement ceiling have interlocking tiles I also didn’t want to fight with them. The next logical conclusion was wireless, but that had its own challenges. The G4 PowerMacs never officially supported wireless above 802.11b.

Today 802.11b has two major disadvantages compared to every other wireless standard used: it is slow at only 11Mbps theoretical throughput and only the only encryption it supports is WEP. While 11Mbps of bandwidth is enough for simple surfing the WEP security is a big problem. The security protocol can be easily cracked using only a few MB of passively collected data and 5 seconds of compute time. Seriously: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wired_Equivalent_Privacy.

So using an original Apple Airport card was out of the question. I could have created a separate wireless network off my DD-WRT router that used WEP and isolated the traffic from the house, but I felt that was still too much of a security risk. Instead I started looking into PCI or USB wireless cards that still worked with PPC OS X. I was surprised to find that may be multiple products that worked. Turns out Realtek made drivers for many of the RTL81XX series wireless chips going back to OS X 10.4 PPC. So all I had to do was find a wireless adapter with one of those chipsets and I would be set. Searching Amazon.com turned up dozens of results and I chose to go with a Bolse BO-N1557 USB adapter. The unit was small, built on the RLT8192CU chipset, and supported 2.4GHz 802.11n and therefore WPA2 encryption.

$15 and 3 days later I received the adapter and got to installing it. Years ago I had purchased a USB 2.0 PCI card during the CompUSA closeout and was happy to see it was plug & play in the PowerMac. It only made since to plug the USB adapter into the USB card rather than the USB 1.1 ports. Installing the drivers was easy and straightforward with no major issues.

The only challenge with using Bolse card was the configuration. It looked like Apple never allowed third party manufacturers to tie into the wireless features of OS X. That meant the wireless card showed up as a wired network connection to OS X and the Realtek driver utility had to be used to configure connections to wireless networks. The process wasn’t as smooth or hassle free as the built in OS X process, but was doable.

So there you go, if you have an old PPC Mac and you want to add some modern wireless connectivity, check out the dozens of wireless adapters built on the Realtek RTL8192CU chipset.

Fun Fact: Internally the original Apple Airport cards were WaveLan Silver/Gold PC Cards only without the built-in antennas. In fact, you could take a WaveLan card, plug it into the Airport slot of a PowerMac or PowerBook and it would show up just like an original. You couldn’t close the case because the card stuck out too far, but you at least had wireless connectivity. The WaveLan cards were also used in the original Airport base stations before Apple swapped over to Airport cards.

Have fun.

Homemade NAS Box Redux

In 2012 I took my old PowerMac G4, slapped in a SATA card, some hard drives, and turned it into a server for storing media and computer backups. Then in 2013 I upgraded my MacBookPro to OS X 10.9 and lost the ability to do Time Machine backups to AFP shares from OS X 10.5. What to do, what to do? Solution: turn the PowerMac into a true server by running Linux. The results? Totally awesome.

Continue reading “Homemade NAS Box Redux”

Einstein Update

As an active Apple Newton user, I love it when fellow users continue finding ways to improve the platform. This week Matthias Melcher deserves a huge “Great Job” from everyone. Matthias is the current maintainer of Einstein, the Newton Message Pad emulator. This week he released an updated version of the Android version of the emulator that included many improvements that increased the speed considerably.

After using the new release on both my Galaxy Nexus and a Nexus 7 I have to agree with the claims. The emulator is feels like it is running at about 90% the speed of my Newton 2000u. the Screen reaction seems to be a little slower than the real thing but given time can only improve. I could see an Android tablet with Einstein replacing my beloved green machine one day.

There are still some things to fix in Einstein. Sound doesn’t work, there is no way to set data in or out, and the app menu needs to fix for 4.0+ devices. Regardless, I think we are closer to realizing Paul Guyot’s original idea for Einstein.

If you would like to run Einstein on your Android device, please check out My previous post here.

Einstien Update Announcement: [NTLK] New version of Einstein for Android
Einstein Project Page: http://code.google.com/p/einstein/

Written on Message Pad 2000u