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

PyConnect – Power Failures

Wow, been a busy month, almost non-stop.

However I am now able to catch up with projects I wanna do. One was fix an issue with PyConnect.

PyConnect is a great system to connect Plex Server to the families three AppleTV boxes. Long and short it changes the Trailers channel into your Plex Server Channel. And it is easy enough for everyone to use.

However when the power goes out (normal here during rainy season), the kids would have to wait till I get home and re-run the script. The script would asked for admin password. Not something I am willing to hand over to the kids yet.

So after some googling this is what I came up with:

set sshPasswd to “supergeek1”

try

tell application “Terminal”

quit

end tell

on error

end try

tell application “Terminal”

activate

my execCmd(“cd /Applications/PlexConnect-Master”, 1)

my execCmd(“set timeout 30”, 1)

my execCmd(“expect -c ‘spawn sudo ./PlexConnect.py; expect \”*?assword:*\”; send \”&sshPassword&\”; interact’;”, 1)

end tell

on execCmd(cmd, pause)

tell application “System Events”

tell application process “Terminal”

set frontmost totrue

keystroke cmd

keystroke return

end tell

end tell

delay pause

           end execCmd

This was written in Applescript, saved as an Application bundle, and added to the startup items. Noticed if I didn’t quit terminal first, all the system would do is make a few clicking noises and pyconnect wouldn’t start.

It also has the added bonus of not displaying the password, and you still get the terminal activity window to monitor usage.

Not bad for an afternoon’s playing.

Enjoy

~David

Plex, PlexConnect and OpenPlex

Over the last couple of years my family has ripped every movie we own and stored it on a Mac Mini Server with a 4th drive attached. Using Plex and a number of plugins and add-ins, almost every device brought into the house can connect. It has been fantastic. Except.

Plex, do not work on the AppleTV. Until now! We were finally able to install PlexConnect and can now watch our movies on TV’s with AppleTVs connected. There are a couple of short falls.

1) the PlexConnect is started up using Terminal, not everyone in the house is tech savvy.

2) PlexConnect can’t easily be restarted if the system is restarted due to power loss.

Obstacles  had to be overcome included, we have been running Plex on a Mac mini server, PlexConnect won’t run on a server since the ports are already in use. We had to install another copy of Plex on an old iMac, connect that copy of Plex  it to the PlexServer  on the Mac Mini. then installed PlexConnect on the Mini everything worked fine. Oh and you need to install Certificates. There are so many different ‘instructions blogs” on how to install Plexconnect it was difficult to work out the proper install. Basically I just put down all the other instructions and tried to figure out what the end result was and why it didn’t work. Two plex servers, linked to the same data, install certificates and DON’T use a server. Bingo!

Then I wanted to find a way to restore PlexConnect in case of power loss while I was away from home. Due to bandwidths limits (by at&t) it is better for everyone if we are going to watch movies we already own, that we use local copies. (Rather than downloading it AGAIN and AGAIN.. Say ‘Frozen’ for a two year old!)

So started to work out writing a startup program in LiveCode, and ran across a program called OpenPlex. Spent a couple of hours playing with it, but it needed a lot of ‘support’ software installed. I am using an older model iMac running 10.6, and it was getting to be more of a pain to use OpenPlex than to write my own program that would just work..

I’ll keep everyone up-to-date on my progress and provide a link to the finished product when completed.

Have a great day.

A Wonderful Donation and Expansion

One of my sites received a donation from another school. 2 Xserve G5s, a Xserve G4 and a 5tb RAID.. I donated a fiber switch and two replacement power supplies (Both G5’s had blown power supplies, common problem).

Wonderful system, now what.

The question I had in regards to the RAID: Is is possible to have its two drives appear on all the other Server’s desktops?

Fiber switch $70.
Fiber cables, systems came with 4.
Presently only 2 fiber cards.

Plugged the two cables from the RAID, one cable for each “Drive”, into the fiber switch. Then one (1) cable from each of the Xserves. Bingo, it worked. Both servers can access all the data on both RAID drives.

I can see possibilities for databases, podcasts….


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