~/`~/`Tech Podium~/`~/`

About life as an info-tech - arguing (preaching?) about what tickles my mind. I like Internet Protocol (IP). Which version? Never mind. But I run on IP. Yes, I do ~/`~/`~/` on IP!
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Location: Riverside, CA, United States

Regular guy? Maybe. Was lucky enough to go places on foot, riding, driving, sailing, flying and even dreaming. I do tricks connecting tech-devices and teaching device users - that gave me the wherewithal to go places in Africa, Arabia, Europe, America and want to go to Asia, then into space to Mars (dream on, dreamer) ! Childhood pass time was always in a mechanical workshop fixing something - so i tinker a lot. I like meeting and knowing people.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Inzie! Inzie! Inzikuru!

When she won the Commonwealth Women's 3,000 metre steeplechase, Inzie was not just doing it for herself. She was doing it for the rest of the 27 million or so Ugandans. Dorcas Inzikuru, 24, put Uganda back onto the major news channels for good reasons. We needed it so much considering the poor publicity we suffered recently in connection with campaigns, elections, and murderous rebel movies.

If the government is keen to capitalise on this singular achievement, they should pay up their earlier pledges to the young woman. Last year, an accident while riding on a small hired motorcycle, locally known as boda-boda, reminded us that she needs that car which the government promised eons ago.

If one takes into consideration the huge amounts of money spent on public relations and image marketing consultants - locally and internationally - this one woman can single-handedly achieve the desired result if the government appoints her roving ambassador.

Just saying: "Warm greetings from Uganda. My name is Dorcus. I am a Ugandan. I am the 2005 Women's 3,000 metre Steeplechase World Championship Athletics Champion, and I am also the 2006 Commonwealth Women's 3,000 metre Steeplechase Champion" would lure soooo many investors in a single blow than the said consultants.

Remember, running around a large field more than 7 times within 9 minutes and 19 seconds, and all the time jumping over barriers and splashing through ponds of stagnant water is no mean task.

Well done, Inzie.
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Thursday, March 23, 2006

Look closer, deeper, learn

The zombie... crawls where its master leads, which turns out to be the... burrow. The... creeps obediently into the burrow and sits there quietly, while the... plugs up the burrow with pebbles. Now the... turns to the... once more and lays an egg on its underside. The... does not resist. The egg hatches, and the... chews a hole in the side of the... In it goes.

Hey! This is not an excerpt from a novel. It is observed reality - science. Follow that link to read the full text and you will be a notch more knowledgeable.

Note:
Sadly, the above link is dead. However, buying the book "Parasite Rex : Inside the Bizarre World of Nature's Most Dangerous Creatures" by Carl Zimmer will do you good.

You can also visit his website: http://www.carlzimmer.com
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gShiled wins by far

Did i say, a couple of days ago, that i put out the gShield Linux-based iptables firewall and replaced it with some other stuff from some other folks?

I regret.

I had so much trouble with access to the web that i had to put gShield back online again.

As it turned out, the m0n0wall software could not handle the traffic consistently. Am talking about an ISP network loaded, to maximum available bandwidth capacity, from morning up to around mid-night every day for 365 days through.

m0n0wall was good on features but bad on persistence. At most, it would run for about 50 minutes before collapsing and needing a reboot.

Determined, i went for smoothwall. Got its iso image onto a CD-W and prepared it to replace the gShield firewall slot at the network backbone. Now, this one has all the features you need in a Linux-based firewall: a cool GUI, ssh remote access, https access, DHCP, DHCP address reservation, integrated web-cache, and a horde of others.

But again, it also could not handle the heat. Worked well for the first 2 hours, then it started crawling to a halt every after 30 or so minutes, consuming all the memory and doing practically nothing. I disabled the resource-guzzling web-cache. Problem persisted.

I was using the same machine so that i compare the firewalls on the same platform. Of course another firewall machine was readily available for stand-by switch-over to keep the network running. By late afternoon, i decided to put back my dear work-horse - gShield.

gShield thoroughly beats them. It has worked for over a year now - glitch-free.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Software, software, software

In the technology world, it is software, software, software.

If technology keeps going the way it has been for the last 20 years, then we can safely predict that the future of mankind will depend, increasingly on software.

From the planning of your family expenditure to communicating using mobile phones, or even controlling hi-tech gadgets trawling the Martian surface, software is the thing.

A small glitch in the software, say, for example, on Vodafone's mobile phone network controllers can turn half of Europe into a maddening mess.

Sometimes, i wish there is an alternative. But honestly, i do not see the possibility of one. So, for now, like everyone else, i must use software - and it comes with penalties too. For starters, you don't need to worry about software. You do not need to make a choice. You just use what comes with your gadget. Yet for others, that's just not good enough - there must be something better. Look for it.

And in looking for that, i landed on Manuel Kasper's m0n0wall. Read the user testimonials. Wanted to test it. And hoh, it was a challenge. I have not used FreeBSD before but that's no threat to me. Kasper's m0n0wall is just about 5 MB. Tried it using the generic PC IDE package but my machine's CD-ROM and HDD kept playing games on me.

Then help appeared from Chris Buechler in the form of a m0n0wall Live Installer. Went for it. Its a whopping 92 MB to download using my 128 Kbps line! Yet my machine didn't like it either. After some tinkering, i found that FreeBSIE in safe mode does the trick. Configured m0n0wall and it worked right away.

Anyone who has used Linux-based firewalls and bandwidth manipulators, or even Netscreen and Packetshaper, will be surprised and elated after seeing what m0n0wall can do. By the way, m0n0wall boots up in less than a minute, the GUI is cool and the traffic graph is real-time. Open Source? Yeah, a winner!

The only thing, for now, that i wish to get added onto m0n0wall is "DHCP address reservation" - and maybe, yes maybe, transparent web cache awareness or integration.

Otherwise, i have taken my wall, R Gregory's gShield offline, and slotted in m0n0wall into the network today for a "real live" test drive and so far so good. Time will tell.