New Office and lots of networks upgrades.

Our new world wide headquarters (ROFL), are almost complete. Basically a 14×14 foot office with storage room that doubles as a network room. We have power, AC, network, internet, TV and work areas. Everything a small development company needs. We have programs in development and electronic projects on the boards. Hopefully we’ll be posting more projects soon, though we might start with a few project updates:

  • Our Outdoor Sensor Array, will be connected to our solar panels and updated to our new offices needs.
  • Lighting and sound systems.
  • Network improvements

Hope to be posting again soon.

Relocation – Almost complete

After 33 years working for the same company in MIami, my wife and I decided it was time for a change. Giving up the city life and moving full time to our vacation home in the hills of Tennessee.

Moving from a metro area where static ip numbers were easy and cheap to come by to an area where they are almost nonexistant. The ISP here has a odd configuration, making it difficult if not impossible to put a server online. For years I’ve used no-ip.org DSN to access remote cameras, odd thing was you couldn’t access them locally with using a totally different setup. It worked, but now that we are here full time, I am unwilling to jump through all the hoops. A solution must be found.

So far I can get all my network hardware, switches, RAIDS, servers, everything to work fine locally. But I need to find a way to access the network from the outside, using an ever changing IP number.

How do I set my domain/web site dns records? Tried using the domain name I use with no-ip, but GoDaddy requires a ip number.

The local isp will provide a ip number to business class customers for $99 a month. Supposedly with faster speeds!

Will continue to try new ideas, and keep the world informed of the results.


Well, it has been over two weeks. With almost nightly internet ‘outages’, where connection to internet is lost requiring a hard restart of the modem. Guess it could be modem, but still haven’t found a way to get servers on line. SO, as a last resort I’ve decided to get a Business line, same lame 6m down and 1m upload speed, but it comes with a static IP number and I can buy more in blocks of 5 at $20 a month. Not bad. HOWEVER.. After calling last night to confirm a morning visit between 9am and 12 noon. No one ever arrived. And at about 1pm, it start pouring. So, it is unlikely anyone will come to day to finish the upgrade to Business as scheduled. Perhaps tomorrow! – Modem died again last night.

Oh, and upgrading to Business Class is only $60 a month, not the $99 I originally reported. Lets see if it really works out to that amount when we receive the first/second bill..


Things are finally working as they should, but it wasn’t easy.

First the “normal” routers provided by my ISP did’t route network traffic correctly. All my computers could get to internet, but they couldn’t see my local web server, but people out of state COULD.

I attempted to setup a local DNS server, it didn’t help.  I toyed with local and wan IP numbers. This would REVERSE the issue, I could see the server, but people outside couldn’t.

Finally, I got a support guy that understood his job. He provided me with a  ‘non-standard’ modem. We were able to setup my account to log in and get correct settings, my 1 IP was really at least 3, each having its own purpose. I had to move my server to a computer with 2 nic ports, and assign one with an external and one with an internal IP.  I figured this would cause a LOOP since they both plugged into the router, it did not. However I did move the internal NIC port to my managed switch, and left the external port directly plugged into router.

I am not 100% sure of my total MONTHLY cost yet. But both my upload and download speeds are faster. The servers and network devices can all be managed as expected now, and the modem doesn’t require nightly reboots.  – Oh, this only took over 2 months!


After a few months with the new Business Class account we are happy with results overall. When we do have issues we call, we get service the next day. For almost two weeks we had daily slow downs to less than 2 mbs (ouch). We would contact support (though online chat) and get support on the spot. After two ‘calls’ we received a visit from a tech, who did something down the road that seemed to improve our service. No where near our ‘city speeds’ but good enough.

Now to enjoy country living!

IP Power 9258

Have a need, fill a need.

After losing contact with one of our remote servers, we decided we needed a way to do a hard reboot. We call it ‘cycle the power’. Turn the power off, wait 30 seconds and then power the unit back on. We have had great luck with servers running months even years without issue. Unless they are overloaded or overheated.

Checking eBay for over the counter power controllers, we found the IP Power 9258. Got our first one for less than $70, but most cost between $80 to $120. After looking at programming options and being a MAC Shop we figured it was doable. In less the a week we completed IPPOWER.app. Very small, very simple controller for the IP Power.

First you’ll need the IP Power’s IP number. Using an old PC we first configured ours DHCP, using the included IPEdit. (Read their instructions, which aren’t very well translated to english). We then used LanScan to find the device by its Mac Address.

After you have the IP Power’s IP number, just startup IPPower app, it will ask for the IP Number, administration name and password. The defaults are admin, 12345678.

You can now control the IP Power using keys 1 – 4, clicking on button 1 – 4 or sending “/Applications/IPPower.app/Contents/MacOS/IPPower 4” (4 being the outlet to cycle the power on).

We have also setup iChat to support cycling the power. See the attached AppleScript. Configure iChat to execute the script on message received. The script will look for “outlet1” – “outlet4” as a message. And cycle the power with prompting.

For Apple Mac: ippowerminicontroller

Keyboard Tester

Nice perk of my current job is that we are allowed to spend time creating time saving programs. Within reason!

After getting an unusual number of reports of broken keyboards we decided we needed a quick easy way to test keyboards. Using mostly Apple iMacs, that is what we wrote the program for. BUT it works pretty good on windows as well (numerical keypad has issues though, but useable).

Spent less than a day creating the DIY Keyboard Tester using LiveCode.

Keyboard Tester Mac: diykeyboardtestermac

Keyboard Tester Windows: diykeyboardtesterwin-exe

 

Thumb Drive – Data Recovery

After a small mishap, a user couldn’t read data off a thumb drive.  Of course EMERGENCY!

broken_td

Disassembled the thumb drive and under closer review I noticed a bend in the connector. Using a meter I toned out each of the four pins and found that none were connected to board. Noticed when the connector is bent, the internal wiring inside the jack break. Unsure if that is good or bad, but it could keep the board from shorting out when/if plugged into a computer.

usb_ports

Being careful to wire ground and 5+ volts correctly, I wired up an old usb cable from an old keyboard. (Test keyboards with [keyboard tester] and the ones that fail cut off their USB cables and go in parts bin.) Being very careful not to short any wires, solder cables as shown above. The solder pads for the USB connector could delaminate from the board, so follow the traces to a point you can solder to. Being very careful not to overheat anything!ds

td_wired

When I plugged the thumb drive back into computer, the drive was mounted. JUST long enough to copy off its contents. (Pretty sure I had a cold solder join on the chip.)

— Before you plug repaired thumb drive in, make sure you are ready to copy data off, you may only have one chance. —

CloudAtCost – VPN

After a friend that works with IBM suggested I try vpn, and a company called CloudAtCost, I figured I’d give it a try.

Ended up buying three packages with CloudAtCost. One cost less than $13, 1 node, 2 ip numbers, 1 cpu and 512 megs of ram.  So figured for the cost I’d try a bigger option, but made a mistake when purchasing, and ended up with 2 developer packages, both at less than $28..

configured one node to be a vpn server. Using OpenVPN was able to create a vpn server and client, that worked pretty well. So tried to manage many web site clients though this system.

Soon i couldn’t access any of our clients sites from my home where I work remotely. Took two weeks to resolve the issue.

Our ISP blacklisted my home static IP.

After removing all VPN software, getting a new router and modem, sending at least 3 tickets to ISP over a weeks time. They finally replied, oh, you were blacklisted.. I wasn’t happy, but wasn’t too mad, since the problem was resolved.. And it wasn’t on our network (my job), so. New equipment that was getting old was replaced. Just wish ISP would have informed/resolve their issue faster.

 

Creating a Win10 install Thumb Drive on Mac

Company I work for is in the process of upgrading all it Windows 7 netbooks to Windows 10. They supplied us with a limited number of thumb drives with installer. Nice setup, log in as Administration, press ‘Start’ and walk away. However with just under 500 netbooks to upgrade and 10 thumb drives, this process could take a few weeks.

As you can see by earlier post, I snagged a few $4 thumb drives at Target, 16 GB.

According to the Win10 thumb drives they are 32 gb, but only using a little over 8 gb.

Enter Paragon Software’s “NTFS for Mac”. I was able to format my thumb drives as NT, then using an older version of Carbon Copy Cloner (5.3.7) and Snow Leopard. I was able to create a sparse image of thumb drive, then use CCC to image the thumb drive.

Took almost an hour to create each thumb drive on a laptop. But in the end it saved hours of work and allowed for more imaging of netbooks per hour.

So the process is, 1) Partition thumb drive using NTFS for Mac, 2) Erase/Format thumb drive again, as ExFat then 3) use CCC to copy the sparse image onto the thumb drive. Using a USB thumb drive on my MBP, cloning took almost 2 hours, deadly slow. So try to stick to USB 2 thumb drives.

Solidoodle – Rest in Peace

Seems Solidoodle, the 3d printer company, has ceased operation (as of March of this year).

Can’t say I am very surprised, we have two different Solidoodle printers. Neither has worked well, and tech support was a joke. The last resolution was to send the printer back for trouble shooting, had it boxed up ready to go, but thought better of it. Glad I didn’t send it back now. Although it still has an issue, at least I still have the printer.

Sad an American company couldn’t make a go of it and the Press is a pretty printer.

WeMos D1 Mini

Being that they were ordered from China, I ordered a few items from WeMos. OLED Display Shield, Temperature Sensor, Relay and Button shields. All were cheap and using Arduino fairly easy to program just took awhile to get to USA (say a month to the day) [Not complaining, just stating, pay a little more get from USA seller MUCH faster].

IMG_8734

We were able to create a web server, that reads and displays Temperature (T), control a relay over the web (R) and have it display its IP number (within our subnet). HOWEVER, you can’t read temperature and control relay, in the same ‘stack’. So more parts are on order to deal with that minor complication.

IMG_8736The biggest issue was getting the OLED display to work. Seems there was an issue with one of the libraries;

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/36768562/wemos-oled-sparkfun-print-text-does-not-display

Just a matter of deleting two lines of code, and it worked. Course that took two days to find.

Being a true believer in scattering projects over over the place, wireless would be great. But as always, there is the matter of POWER. If I have to run power, I can run an ethernet cable.

Nailed it! – Target Sale

Talk about good timing. Saw Target had a sale for 16 gb Lexar Twist Thumb Drives, for $3.99. Didn’t really have a need, till a project at work came up, image 500 netbooks. So ran to Target and purchased all they had which amounted to 8. For a total of $31.. Sometimes sales are handy.

Oh, on another note while confirming they had the drives still, I found out Best Buy also had 16 gb thumb drives on sale, for $3.99. Just no Lexar.

Score!