January 2006

RADIUS servers for Linux and Windows

I can’t believe I didn’t realize this but there’s a free RADIUS server for Linux from FreeRadius. And Windows 2000 and Windows 2003 both contain a RADIUS server. So, if you’re already running one of these, why not switch over to WPA Enterprise? There’s gotta be a free one available for Windows XP, doesn’t there? I just don’t know of one at this time but I’ll keep looking. And if you know of one, please let me know.

BTW, I got some of this information from this article but I don’t agree with everything he says in it — I mean, I was taught was that real security is all about layering your security and, if you’re running a small network, why not include MAC address filtering and SSID masking?

Update: FreeRADIUS.net has a Win32 distribution of FreeRADIUS built from the original FreeRADIUS sources using Cygwin.

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T-Mobile MDA/SDA SmartPhone

This article from engadget says the SDA will be available 2/13/2006 for $299.99 and the MDA on 2/20/2006 for $399.99 (pictures of the two are available here). This review in CoolSmartPhone.com discusses the features, pros and cons of the MDA (which is a more traditional PDA-style phone as opposed to the SDA which is more of a phone-style phone). WiFi, Bluetooth, GPRS, GSM and EDGE-capable!

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Another HD/SD ATSC/QAM card: AirStar HD5000

I just discovered the BBTI AirStar HD5000 (for what it’s worth, the Technisat site looks like it just supports DVB so maybe the BBTI folks really did strike up a deal with them). It comes in both a PCI and a USB version although the USB looks like it’s just a PCI card in a USB-adapted box. From some searches I’ve done, it looks like it’s used mostly by Linux folk. There’s also a support forum for it. You can also get it at CyberStore.com.

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USB Servers, printer and otherwise

CompUSA has the D-Link DP-301U USB print server on sale for $29.99 after a total of $20 in mail-in rebates, and that’s a reasonable price. The problem is, it doesn’t support multi-function printers nor does it support most of the bi-directional information flow that most modern printers use to report ink status, paper jams and such. So, the question is, aside from price, why would you get one of them when you can get a print server that provides much more function? Something like the Keyspan 4-Port Print Server, the more versatile Keyspan USB Server which, besides printers, allows you to share scanners, cameras, USB storage devices and such, or any of the Silex SX1000U USB Print Server, the Silex SX-2000U2 High Speed USB Device Server that supports USB 2.0, or even the Silex SX-3700WB Wireless USB Device Server.

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How NOT to capture transport streams

I’ve been capturing transport streams from my Motorola DCT-6412 DVR with VideoLAN. Once captured, I’d use something like MPEG2Repair to fix up the stream and I’d see anywhere from about 10 to thousands of errors. Well, last week I began using CapDVHS to capture and my streams have been error-free ever since! CapDVHS doesn’t have any facility for viewing the stream while capturing whereas VLC does. Perhaps, in an attempt to keep the display properly synched VLC drops packets and maybe that accounts for the difference? I don’t know but things run much more smoothly now.

(Just a note on the link to CapDVHS. Here is the original site in Japanese and here it is in English courtesy of Excite.co.jp’s translator; the link I posted above is for a version whose font was changed to make the application more readable. And thanks to this posting in AVSForum for the link to the site.)

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A bunch of NAS

The other day, a friend of mine was asking about the Buffalo TeraStation 1.0 TB. Now, that’s not interesting in itself, because he’s had a SnapServer for years (I didn’t provide a link to his particular appliance because I don’t think they market it anymore). What’s interesting is that they’re becoming more common, even at $600, $700, $800, heck another friend of mine bought one a few months ago for $900. Not a bad price for 1TB of storage, but still a chunk of money to lay out.

That got me to thinking about a device another friend told me about a while back, the Linksys NSLU2 NAS adapter. It’s a standalone unit into which you plug USB disks. And the interesting thing about that is that it runs Linux … and there are firmwares available to turn it into an email server, an OpenVPN server, a print server, even a webcam server. Run on over to the NSLU2-Linux site, which is the source for all of this.

And, last but not least, it reminded me that the last firmware I’d downloaded for my own Tritton Technologies SimpleNAS ignored the seconds field of a file’s timestamp, making it pretty useless as a backup target for something like Microsoft’s SyncToy. So, I headed on over to Tritton’s downloads page and saw that they’ve released a new version (well, back in October). I intend to load that up as soon as I get done here and bring my own, simple little NAS back into service.

Update, 1/23/2006: I installed the updated firmware on my NAS. The update was a breeze and it even retained my previous settings, something that a lot of other pieces of hardware don’t or won’t do. Anyway, now I am happily syncing with accurate seconds and everything!

A bunch of NAS Read More »

Who sent that email?

Have you ever wanted to figure out where that funky piece of spam or other email originated? I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve explained it to a lot of people but I’ve never found a clear, annotated description of how to do it. Well, with a caveat, this page has a good introduction to how to trace it.

The caveat is this: it’s easy to put fake headers on the email — they will be propogated to the next mail server and carried throughout the sever chain. How is this done? By simply including them in the message! Why is this possible? Because Received headers are a part of the data stream passed from one mail server to the other. If someone is faking email, they can easily include fake Received headers.

Yes, Received headers can be fakes! But, and here’s the good part, once the message starts its journey, subsequent entries on the Received chain are legit.

So, how do you account for that? By tracing from the top of the email — start from your mail server (which you know you can trust). As you parse the header, determine for yourself if you can trust that machine’s information. If so, try the next one. If not, the last one you parsed is really the first machine in the chain.

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PS vs ES, DVDs: VOBs and IFOs

What’s the difference between PS and ES? Both are referenced in VideoLAN and the assumption is the reader knows what they are.

Well, here’s a simple description (since I’m just learning it myself): PS stands for Program Stream and contains both video and audio. ES is Elementary Stream wherein the video stream is separate from the audio stream. The video stream is normally an M2V or an MPV file and the audio is stored in MPA, M2A or AC3. Generally, neither PS nor ES files are readable by DVD players.

DVD players typically read VOBs which are very closely related to files in the PS format. The VIDEO_TS folder on a DVD will contain both VOBs and IFOs. No VOB can be larger than 1GB so the IFO tells the player how to combine the VOBs into the original program. If you want to join together all VOBs into a single file, you can somply concatenate them (Linux: cat *.VOB > one-big-vob.mpg, Windows: copy /b vob1.vob + vob2.vob + vob3.vob one-big-vob.mpg — thanks to Video Redo for a lot of this information, including the Windows copy command).

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