February 16, 2012

Kindle Fire -- I see you, but you don't see me!

I just used the Kindle Fire to look at some pages here on my Qube, such as some of the reviews. They show up fine on the Kindle, and I can load the images and follow links.

But none of that activity appeared in the Qube's logfile. I can only assume that what I was looking at was cached data on an Amazon server.

I tried the same thing with this page on mee.nu, and Sitemeter didn't show any accesses which were recognizably from me.

I wonder how much of the web they're caching, and how often they check?

UPDATE: It isn't that simple. Moments after I made this post, I looked at it with the Kindle and it was there, including my IP.

UPDATE: OK, I'm an idiot. The reason I didn't see my own accesses in the raw access log is that the script is set up to filter them out. Sheesh.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:31 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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February 15, 2012

Kindle Fire

I just bought one. I don't have my library any more, and I find there are some of them I want to reread. A while back I looked, and the ones I remember fondly are available for download for the Kindle.

So just now I went to the store and bought one.

It connected to my LAN very easily, and with it I can connect to my web page hosted on the Qube. But I can't get outside of there, and I'm not just sure why. If it can use the LAN then it means the Wifi connection is good, and it means it got assigned an IP via DHCP. If it can't get beyond that, then it means it doesn't know what to use as a gateway. I thought I had Railgun (the Wifi hub) set up to announce that properly, but maybe not.

Unfortunately, I can't find any frame in the Kindle where I can look to see what TCP/IP setup it's using. The Kindle is supposed to be for non-technical users, and likely they don't want to confuse them. But I need to see what Railgun told it.

It's charging now, and later I'll dig into the usermanual (which is on the Kindle itself) and see what it says about connection problems.

UPDATE: I'm sure that's the problem. I can't find any place in Railgun's setup frame where I specify the gateway. And I remember that when I set up Saten (the Slate) I had to manually set up the gateway rather than rely on what Railgun said.

I guess I need to hit the Railgun manual.

UPDATE: All fixed and working. I found a place in the Fire itself where I could manually enter all the TCP/IP information. I just bought a book and downloaded it.

Which is a bit confusing. I think Amazon has my old, now defunct, credit card number. I don't think they have the new one. But the purchase went through fine. Who did they charge? I think maybe I should look at my BankOfAmerica account and see if there is a charge from Amazon.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:43 PM | Comments (39) | Add Comment
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January 25, 2012


This is interesting:

A major security flaw was revealed in December 2011 that affects wireless routers with the WPS feature, which most recent models have and enable by default. The flaw allows a remote attacker to recover the WPS PIN and, with it, the network's WPA/WPA2 pre-shared key in a few hours. Users have been urged to turn off the WPS feature, although this may not be possible on some router models.

So I just now got into Railgun's setup menus and looked around, and I can't even tell if Railgun supports that feature, let alone how I might disable it. Ye Gods.

UPDATE: Here's more about it. Wifi Protected Setup (WPS) seems to be a protocol to allow things like printers to use Wifi easily. It uses an 8-digit access code, but evidently the real password space is only about 11,000 values, which means it can be cracked by brute force in just a few hours by exhaustive search.

I don't think Railgun has this feature.

UPDATE: Whew! I downloaded the user manual (something I should have done a long time ago) and searched it, and this feature is never mentioned. I think that means that the Netgear SRXN3205 doesn't have it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:14 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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December 24, 2011

Western Digital MyBookWorld NAS -- installed

For the time being, I don't know how to rename it to be "mintaka". More on that later.

Installation of the new NAS is surprisingly easy. You plug it into the wall. You plug it into your LAN. Then you put their CD into the drive of your main computer and let it run.

It installs a package called "WD Discovery". You run that, and it searches the LAN and finds the NAS. The NAS is preformatted to run in RAID 1 mode, and it has two predefined main directories called "Download" and "Public". You click another button and it automaps those two directories. What with me doing some clicking, I ended up with Download as X: and Public as Y:.

But those didn't show up on Alcyone's "My Computer" window until after I rebooted Alcyone. Now they're there.

The comments on NewEgg's sites about speed are right. I copied 15 GB of large files onto it from Alcyone, and the sustained transfer rate was 13 MB/s. It's not impressive, but it is fast enough to be useful.

Another button on the "WD Discovery" tool supposedly allows you to configure the NAS. When you click it, the browser pops up and connects to the NAS.

And it asks you for account name and password. I don't know what they are, and so far I haven't found an answer in the documentation, so I'm not just sure how I get past that point.

Presumably once you do, that's where you could decide to switch to RAID 0 (which I don't intend to do) or whatever. It's also where you could change the device name. Right now it thinks it's named \\mybookworld and I'd like to change that to \\mintaka.

I'd also like to change its IP. Right now it's using, which is one of the IPs I'm managing with the DHCP server on Deneb Railgun. I'd rather assign it a permanent IP ( ( is Regulus, the Qube. is Deneb, the WHS NAS. is Railgun, the Netgear wifi/ethernet hub. And all my client computers have IPs in the range of Railgun DHCP manages a range of IIRC.)

The problem is that if, for whatever reason, Railgun decides to change it, then all the mounts and links fail.

So now to do a more serious search of the documentation to figure out how to log in to the darned thing.

UPDATE: Aha! Documentation page 87 says that the default login account name is "admin" and the default password is also "admin".

Of course, once you're in you can change that, and I'm going to just on general principles.

UPDATE: Now it has a permanent IP. And the discovery tool knows that it's named "mintaka". However, the \\mintaka path doesn't work. The automatic assignments are to the IP directly. Which is ugly, but I guess it works.

I suppose I could add "mintaka" to that file which substitutes as a local version of DNS, but I'm having a senior moment and I can't remember its name or its path. I thought it was about three directories down in \windows\System32 but I can't find it.

I had to do that for Regulus (the Qube) too, so it's not really surprising. (And one time I added DotClue to it, which means that when I'm suffering from a complete DNS failure that's the only site I can reach.)

Ha! Found it! \windows\System32\drivers\etc\hosts

UPDATE: And one short reboot later, \\mintaka works.

For all practical purposes, setup is now complete. If I wanted to set up Mintaka to do backups, or stuff like that, then there'd be more work to do. But I don't. All I want is lots of disk space, and now I have that.

If I ever want Saten or Arcturus to access Mintaka, I'll have to install WD Discover on them too. But for the time being that's not needed.



UPDATE: I'm pulling 391G off of an old WD USB drive and copying it onto the new NAS. It's been running about half an hour so far. Windows estimates it'll take 19 hours total. That turns out to be less than 6 megabytes per second. The difference between this one and the previous one is that the faster one was made up of huge files (50-150 megabytes each). This one is scads of small ones (less than a megabyte).

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 09:41 AM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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December 21, 2011

NAS arrives

So the NAS just got delivered, a day early, and thank you UPS.

But... it didn't require a signature. And the UPS guy knocked once on my door and left the package without waiting to see if I was here. This is an open stairwell shared by six apartments, and easily visible from the sidewalk, and he left a $500 piece of computer equipment where anyone could have walked away with it.

I'm not very pleased about that. As it happens, I was here and did get it immediately, so no harm. But it could have been pretty bad. It might have been stolen.

Anyway, I'm not going to open it until this weekend.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 12:50 PM | Comments (5) | Add Comment
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December 19, 2011

NAS ships

The new NAS shipped today from New Jersey, by UPS 3-day. Considering that it's the last week before Christmas, I wonder if there's any chance I'll get it this week?

I gotta come up with a name for it. Lessee, it's been a while since I used Orion; maybe that would be good. Procyon is another good one.

I've never used Mintaka. Maybe I should use that.

UPDATE 12/20: The UPS tracking page says that delivery was originally scheduled for Thursday, but they're going to deliver it early, on Wednesday. If so, it means they're going to ship it by air. It's in Philadelphia, and there's no way it'll reach Portland by tonight (so it can be delivered tomorrow) if shipped by truck.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:42 PM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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December 18, 2011

A different kind of toy

Anyone know anything about this thing? Supposedly it's Network Attached Storage but it doesn't have all the baggage that Windows Home Server has.

Deneb, my WHS NAS, is getting full. 7 TB of HD space on it, and only 1.4 TB left, about 22%. But it's worse than that, because when I store stuff on it, it's stored redundantly. So it's really only about 700G of free space left.

Yeah, that's still a hell of a lot, but MS operating systems get weird when drives are too full even if there's free space left. Besides which, Deneb runs backups on my other computers, so the amount of used-space continues to grow.

I am pretty sure that trying to have two WHS NAS's on the same LAN is a major headache. You can't have more than one copy of Connector running at a time on each client computer, for example, so even reaching the second one would be a trial.

But it also looks like the WD NAS isn't trying to do as much. Seems like it can do backups and so on, but it doesn't have to. I think it's probably running Linux,  but that doesn't matter. It's set up as a turn-key solution.

I'd want to run it in RAID mode, so it would effectively be 3 TB of storage. That's still a hell of a lot, and no, I don't need that much immediately. But I'd rather have too much than too little, so if I'm going to get one of these I'll get the biggest one they sell.

So, any comments?

UPDATE: I ordered it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 10:47 AM | Comments (11) | Add Comment
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December 01, 2011

Firefox 8

A couple of days ago I upgraded from FireFox 3.6 to FireFox 8, the latest version. Why?

Well, one of my Flash programs got an upgrade and claimed to be able to read in a flash and convert it to HTML5. So I tried it, but the resulting file didn't look like anything when displayed in IE8 or FF3.6. "Aha!", I said. "They don't understand HTML5 I bet."

So I upgraded to the latest, greatest FireFox. And how did the file look? Pretty much the same, which is to say, I couldn't see anything. Oh, well.

FireFox 8 has a very peculiar absence: there isn't any "reload" button on the command bar. You can right-click in the page and select "reload" from the context menu, but no button. I have no idea why they got rid of it.

Aside from that, so far not really too much in the way of comments. They completely redesigned the structure of the menus and things like that, so I have to hunt a bit to find the "clear the cache" function.

The Cache display has been improved, a bit. It still isn't what I'd like. I wish it would look like a directory display, allowing me to sort by filename or filetype, or even just by size, but you can't sort at all. But they did make the file entries smaller, so more of them fit on the screen. That's a small win. (Almost infinitesimal, but it's a win.)

But I'll be damned if I can understand any reason for getting rid of the reload button. Sheesh.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:45 PM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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November 27, 2011

Mac software -- pearls before swine

I keep running into this: software which is originally developed for the Mac, and then ported to the PC, is nearly always at least partially crap.

It may actually work pretty well, but it will seriously betray its Mac origins in many ways. Poser was like that, for instance. Flash is like that. The UIs of those programs don't really follow Windows norms; we get an island of Macness inside our PCs. (It wasn't until OSX came out that Poser finally started using threads, for example, instead of round-robin cooperative multitasking implemented at the app level. Because that's what you had to do in Mac OS Classic; even when it finally supported threads, they didn't work very well and no one who was sane used them.)

This is part of why I hate the Mac. Mac app programmers saw PC users as heathen, to be converted to the One Truth (i.e. the Apple way of doing things) rather than as a ten-times-larger market who really should be given what they want and are used to. (Apple itself was guilty of this, too; I have nothing but foul memories of all my experiences with QuickTime and now I won't allow it anywhere near any of my computers.)

So now I've got another example of that. I hadn't really realized that Handbrake was originally a Mac program, but now I know it for sure.

I just upgraded to the latest version, 0.95. And all the presets are Apple stuff: iPod, iPhone, iPod touch, iPhone 4, iPad, AppleTV, AppleTV 2, and several others.

There aren't any presets specifically for anything that isn't Apple. It's rather annoying.

I'm seeing whether it can convert one of the Dog Days m2ts files into an MKV. Unfortunately, I'm a little afraid that it's hard-coding the subtitles.

The subtitles on the BD are in PGS format, which apparently is a bitmap, like the DVD subtitles. PGS is 256-color, as opposed to the DVD 4-color, but it's still a bitmap.

I will give Handbrake credit for using all four of my CPU cores, though it's a bit disconcerting to see the CPU usage meter pegged and hearing the cooling fan running full blast. Speedfan says that my CPUs are 78C, which is a bit uncomfortable. I'm going to have to check the settings on Handbrake to see if I can limit it to three, or two.

With 4, it's converting about 11 frames per second. Considering that this is 1920*1080 video, that's not actually shabby at all.

I didn't mess with any of the video settings, except to tell it that I wanted the output file to be about 1.3 gigabytes. After I see what the quality looks like, I might do it again with a bigger or a smaller number.

And if it really is hardcoding the subtitles, then I'm going to have to hunt around to see if there's any other tool I can use for this.

A few years ago I had a pretty cool program which would convert a DVD's bitmapped subtitles into text. It relied on the fact that character generation for DVD subtitles was consistent, no matter what it was, so as it parsed the bitmap, whenever it ran into a character it didn't know, it would display it and ask me to type in what it was. That was only necessary once per character, so at the beginning it happened a lot, but after the first couple of minutes of material, it was pretty smooth sailing for the rest of the file. It may still exist around here somewhere on some backup, but I don't know, and I don't remember what it was called.

I'd be willing to do something like that for PGS, too.

UPDATE: No, it didn't hardcode the subtitles. But it didn't soft-code them either. They're not present at all, which makes the result useless for me. Grumble.

I know this is possible; I downloaded a rip of these exact same BDs which had conversions of the subtitles. So it's a matter of finding out what tool they used.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 06:30 PM | Comments (16) | Add Comment
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November 05, 2011

Shark007 Codecs for Win7 64 supporting Hi10P

Thanks to reader David, I have discovered the Shark007 codecs. It's a competitor for the Combined Community Codec Pack, but unlike CCCP it supports 64-bit players, like Media Player Classic x64.

There is a 32-bit package, downloadable from here.

And there is a 64-bit addon, downloadable from here.

If you have any other codec system installed, such as CCCP, you have to uninstall those first. Then you have to install both of these packages. (And unfortunately, they automatically and unconditionally install both the Bing toolbar and the Ask toolbar on every browser you have installed, so you have to go turn them back off again if you don't want them. That's the only obnoxious thing here.)

Once they're installed, go into the install directory for the 32-bit package (it's "program files (x86)\Win7codecs\tools") and run "settings32.exe" as administrator.

Then go into the install directory for the 64-bit add-ons ("program files\Shark007\tools") and run "settings64.exe" as administrator. You only have to run those as administrator once.

I didn't make any changes to the settings, and MPC64 works beautifully with every MKV I tested, including those encoded using Hi10P.

Shark007 gets the Chizumatic seal of approval.

UPDATE: The best way to get rid of the Bing bar and Ask bar is with the "Programs and Features" applet in the Control Panel. Each one shows up there and can be uninstalled from your system completely.

UPDATE: I just noticed that it also changed my search provider in FireFox to Ask.com, without my permission. I can't figure out how to change it back again, but it doesn't matter because I never use it.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste in Computers at 05:28 PM | Comments (16) | Add Comment
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