Scott Hanselman

Configuring PPTP VPN with alternate Linksys Router Firmware

February 12, '06 Comments [2] Posted in Gaming
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A couple of folks emailed me about how to get VPN to work using the DD-WRT firmware and my Linksys Router and why I said "zero install." Since I work in a corporate environment, as does my wife, we're used to having to install Cisco VPN or other 3rd party VPN clients. I called the solution I'm using for home "zero install" because I was able to use the Windows XP built in stuff with this firmware.

Step 1 - Get a Dynamic DNS Hostname

Dynamic Network Services will give (or sell) you a DNS name like myhouse.dyndns.org that is easier to remember than your DSL or Cable Modem's possibly-changing IP address. Additionally, firmware like DD-WRT will let you enter your DynDNS name and password and will automatically update the service with your current IP address.

Go to your router's Web interface, usually at http://192.168.1.1 and find the DDNS section. Enter your DynDNS username and password, as well as the host address you chose. That will be the address you'll need to remember to VPN into your house.

You can skip this step if you have a static IP address and you're able to remember it. I'm not that smart.

HANSELMAN - Dynamic DNS - Mozilla Firefox

Step 2 - Configure VPN on the Router

Find the PPTP section in the administration section of your router's Web interface. "Enable" the PPTP Server and enter in your router's IP address. This is almost always the same IP address that was displayed in the DDNS section in the previous step. Enter a Client IP range that is outside the range you chose for regular DHCP. I picked 192.168.0.210-220 for VPN'ed clients and 192.168.1.100 for "regular" clients that connect via Wireless or Wired.

Under CHAP Secrets, enter a username and password in the format "username * password * " and make sure to pick a VERY strong password.

HANSELMAN - Services - Mozilla Firefox (2)

Step 3 - Configure the (Windows) Client

This step will happen OUTSIDE your home, perhaps at your local coffee shop or anywhere you can take your laptop and attempt VPN back into your home.

In Windows XP, go to Network Connections and run the New Connection Wizard. Select "Connect to the Network at my workplace" and click next. Select "Virtual Private Network connection" and click next. Enter in any name for this connection and click next. Now, enter the hostname you select in Step 1, like myhouse.dyndns.org and click Finish.

Go back to Network Connections and find the connectoid you just created. Right-click and select Properties. Select the Security Tab and ensure that "Require Data Encryption" is selected as well as "Require Secure Password" is picked in the drop down. If you like, you can go into Advanced and select Microsoft CHAP and MS-CHAPv2, but you'll get the same result.

Now you should be able to connect to your home over any Internet connection you come upon, assuming that connection allows outgoing PPTP connections. I've never had a problem at hotels or cafes.

Now playing: OXM Magazine - Episode 3: Official Xbox Magazine Video Podcast

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Casio Exilim EX-Z3 and Casio Exilim EX-Z750 Digital Cameras

February 12, '06 Comments [1] Posted in Reviews | Z | Movies
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Z750Mo and I picked up a new Digital Camera today. We'd been using a Casio EXILIM EX-Z3 for the last several years and were very happy with it. Sure there's lots of nice Pro-sumer cameras out there, but we wanted a small (purse or pocket) camera that we could take travelling without thinking much about it. Our Z3 was a 3.2 megapixel camera and was taken to four continents without a hitch. All the travel pics that I've posted to this blog and all the photos of Z have been taken with that it.

Naturally we look at Casio first, partially because of the WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor) and partially because the first camera worked so well.

We ended up with the Casio EXILIM EX-Z750 which appears to be very well thought of within this kind of camera.

CIMG4521Things we like about it

  • 3x optical zoom. Digital zoom is useless. I'd like even more zoom, but 3x optical is still pretty good considering the camera is only 0.9in thick.
  • Max 7.2M resolution which is 3072x2034, suitable for 8x10 but VERY nice for 5x7 photos.
  • MPEG-4 movies at 640x480/30fps. We loved the movie support within the Z3, but it was only good for 30 seconds. The Z750 will take video until it fills up.
  • ~300 shots per battery. We'll fill up the memory before the battery dies - important when you're taking photos in the bush.

Pleasant Surprises

  • Has a "Whiteboard Mode" that will automatically de-skew photos of rectangular things. I'll be using this at work. Example below:
    • CIMG4531CIMG4530
  • Has an "ID photo" mode which will be useful for Passport Photos, which we do more often than you'd think.
  • It boots up in about a second, which is cool, and way faster than the old camera.

Stuff to Think About

  • This are some big-ass files. At full resolution with fine quality, we're talking about 4 meg JPEGs. Gotta figure out what to do about that.
  • It's still not that good at low-light and the flash sucks.

All in all, we're pleased. Now I've got a world-weary Casio EX-Z3 for sale in Portland with two docking stations, any takers?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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WatirMaker redux or Watir WebRecorder ne WatirMaker

February 10, '06 Comments [1] Posted in Ruby | Watir | Tools
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Watir WebRecorderWell here's a shiny development. The folks at MJTNet have released a free version of the WebRecorder software that makes Watir code. It's beta 0.1, much as my own WatirMaker was (is).

It does more than my spike does including support for server auth login boxes, popups and nested frames. Be sure to use the mouse to click things as it's a little touchy about using the keyboard, especially if you pressed Enter to submit a form.

This (and WatirMaker) is a great way to jumpstart Watir development. I wouldn't recommend trying, assuming or thinking that you write all your tests with a tool like this, but it's a nice way to get started.

We've ended up writing most of ours from scratch.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Face Recognition...uh, not quite

February 8, '06 Comments [13] Posted in Musings
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Here's a weird thing. A site called MyHeritage wants to use Face Recognition Technology to connect folks with their relatives. As a demo, if you sign up on their site you can get a Celebrity Match as well. It's a fun technology demo, but I wonder how true a representation of their technology it is. I hope this isn't what we're using to stop terrorism.

Here's some results...some more disturbing than others. I wonder how Riya's face recognition would do. Note the "confidence" levels in the pictures below. Maybe this means I'll finally meet Tim Berners-Lee.

Myheritagefacerecognition

 

 

 

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Hanselminutes Podcast 5

February 8, '06 Comments [5] Posted in Podcast | ASP.NET | XML | Tools
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HanselminutesMy fifth Podcast is up. This was one is on Mono, the Open Source CLI implementation.

We're listed in the iTunes Podcast Directory, so I encourage you to subscribe with a single click (two in Firefox) with the button below. For those of you on slower connections there are lo-fi and torrent-based versions as well.

Subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes

As I've said before this show comes to you with the audio expertise and stewardship of Carl Franklin. The name comes from Travis Illig, but the goal of the show is simple. Avoid wasting the listener's time. (and make the commute less boring)

  • Each show will include a number of links, and all those links will be posted along with the show on the site. There were 15 sites mentioned in this fifth episode, some planned, some not. We're still using Shrinkster.com on this show.
  • The basic MP3 feed is here, and the iPod friendly one is here. There's a number of other ways you can get it (streaming, straight download, etc) that are all up on the site just below the fold. I use iTunes, myself, to listen to most podcasts, but I also use FeedDemon and it's built in support. IPodder is also a nice, free, client.
  • Note that for now, because of bandwidth constraints, the feeds always have just the current show. If you want to get an old show (and because many Podcasting Clients aren't smart enough to not download the file more than once) you can always find them at http://www.hanselminutes.com.
  • I have, and will, also include the enclosures to this feed you're reading, so if you're already subscribed to ComputerZen and you're not interested in cluttering your life with another feed, you have the choice to get the 'cast as well.
  • If there's a topic you'd like to hear, perhaps one that is better spoken than presented on a blog, or a great tool you can't live without, contact me and I'll get it in the queue!

Enjoy. Who knows what'll happen in the next show?

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.