Monthly Archives: November 2014

Software: Internet Radio Player

If you’re like me, you like to have some background music playing while you go about your day. While there are lots of ways to listen to Internet radio stations, my favorite is called Radio Tray.

Open your Software Manager, and search for RadioTray.

Software Manager

Software Manager

Once installed, you can launch the program from your Menu. You’ll find it under Sound & Video.

What will pop up, is an icon in your system tray.

System Tray

System Tray

Clicking on the cute little antenna with the radio waves, as seen in the left-most icon above, will allow you to select your preferences, add or delete radio stations, set the sleep timer etc.

Radio Station Listing

Radio Station Listing

Using the Configure Plugins menu selection, you can set the sleep timer and notifications. Notifications are great, as the current program or song being played will pop up in your notification area!

Plugin Menu

Plugin Menu

So give Radio Tray a try, you may get hooked!

Breaking Things: When Hackers Attack

Had an interesting evening here on the farm. As I’ve mentioned before, we stream our goats on ustream.tv 24/7, and as part of that, we have a single odd port inbound to an embedded server so our viewers can control our cameras, changing them as they wish.

Tuesday evening, after  10pm local time, in keeping with our own advice about keeping your router firmware up to date, we updated ours. We have Verizon Fios on the Internet side of our network, and a second WiFi router daisy chained to the Fios modem for our internal farm network.

After flashing the new firmware into both, I began to restore my very strict firewall settings (you do use one I hope!) but as fast as I could get the Fios modem rebooted, someone from China was getting in and taking control of it. It was a cat and mouse game until I finally won, getting the modem booted up and the remote administration  and ping reply turned off before he could get in again.

Continuing my firewall setup, I opened the single obscure  port to my embedded camera controller. The controller is password protected, and automatically blocks the IP address of anyone using the wrong user name and password,  forever! So yes, they can port scan and find the server, but they only get one chance to log in before they are blocked.

One Chinese hacker spent hours port scanning my home IP address, trying to find a vulnerability.

I finally got tired of it, and started port scanning HIM! It was amazing how fast he stopped once he noticed me doing the same to him.

There is a handy web site that I use to see where attacks are coming from, and it’s worth bookmarking for your own use. It’s called: utrace.de

utrace.de web site result of hostile IP address

utrace.de web site result of hostile IP address

Point is, if you are not using the firewall available from your internet service provider, your personal router, and even your individual computers, you should be.

Go check now, configure the hardware and install your Linux firewall software too!

Software: Discovering Your Hardware

A great system tool to find out all about your hardware setup is lshw. By opening a Terminal window and typing: sudo lshw you will get a detailed listing of the hardware that is detected by Linux.

lshw hardware listing

lshw hardware listing

If you’re not comfortable using Terminal commands however, there is a graphical interface to lshw you might like.

Open  your Software Manager and search for lshw-gtk and then install it.   Once installed, you will find the program in your Menu-Preferences menu as Hardware Lister.

Once you launch the program, hit the Refresh button and wait a bit for the software to scan your hardware. Once that’s done, you’ll get a nice, graphical listing of what’s inside the box!

Lshw-GTK

Lshw-GTK

Simple as that!

Hardware: Another New Computer For The Farm

I have always built my own computers from parts purchased at Newegg and other vendors. My current computer, the one at my bedside that gets the most use is one such computer.

It’s also 10 years old!

I’ve been nursing it along with new parts like larger hard drives, more memory etc., but it has finally come to its useful end as a daily machine. I will keep it for loading up Windows 2000 that runs my CNC plasma cutter however.

Off to Newegg, I started putting a motherboard, processor, memory, power supply, etc. in my shopping cart. Money being tight, I decided on a quad core processor, 4 gigs of RAM, case, power supply, DVD burner, and a 500 gigs  hard drive.

With everything ready to purchase, for about $320, I was called away from my shopping to make a run to pick up a prescription from the Walmart  pharmacy.

The trip ended with me bringing home a new computer from Walmart too!

The computer is an Acer, a company who I have purchased scores of computers from over the years for business use. I’ve always found them reliable and well made.

No, this is not a a super-powered gaming machine, and yes, it’s actually a laptop motherboard and memory, shoved into a desktop case;  but boy is it impressive in performance. A well spent $249.00 I think

From the Walmart web site:

Acer Aspire XC AXC-603G-UW13 Desktop PC:
Key Features and Benefits:

  • Intel Celeron J1900 Quad-Core processor
    2.0GHz (up to 2.42GHz via Turbo boost), 2MB Cache
  • 4GB DDR3 SDRAM system memory (expandable to 8GB)
    Gives you the power to handle most power-hungry applications and tons of multimedia work
  • 500GB SATA hard drive
    Store 333,000 photos, 142,000 songs or 263 hours of HD video and more

16x DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
Watch movies and read and write CDs and DVDs in multiple formats on the Acer Aspire Desktop XC AXC 603G UW13

Once home with my new machine, I stuck a Panda Wireless WiFi dongle in one of the rear USB 2 ports (the unit also has a single USB 3 port in the rear as well)  Put a fresh DVD of Linux Mint 17, 64 bit in the drive, booted up and did the install.

It’s interesting how new machines  will actually whine at you, when you configure them for Legacy booting, dumping off the Windows 8.1 install partition.  Now if I could get a refund from Microsoft,  for the Windows 8.1 licence keys I was forced to purchase  with my two new machines. Keys that I will never, ever use!

Boy does this thing fly compared to my old machine. While most of my computing needs involve surfing the Internet,  something the old machine did just fine. What I really give my bedside computer a workout doing, is rendering video.

I’ll take  video with my phone for use on my goat web site. Most of the videos are 2 to 5 minutes long. Once I’ve edited the video to my liking, it’s rendered for use on the web site.

The old machine would take close to 45 minutes to render a 5 minute video into the Flash, .flv format. (Yes, Flash really must die, I hate the format and the stupid Flash plugin crashes constantly, regardless of OS)

Rendering a 5 minute clip on the new machine, the 4 processors plod along at less than 30% and the video was done rendering in 6 minutes!

Machine Stats while rendering video.

Machine Stats while rendering video.

We’ll see how long this low-end consumer grade machine lasts here on the farm. The price was right, but with no expansion slots on the motherboard,  (but of course I took it apart!) What you get is it. The only thing you can do is add another 4 gig of DDR3 SDRAM.

 

Android: GnuCash Checkbook Manager

There is a new Android application you will love if you use GnuCash for your book keeping needs. We love the desktop version, and can’t wait to get the Android app up and running!

I’ll let the folks over at Tech Republic tell you all about it: CLICKY