Monthly Archives: May 2006

Domain Resources

If you’re responsible for running a server on the internet or just curious about your IP address you can find out all sorts of useful information at For example if you run a mailserver you can check your mailserver against a number of popular blacklists all at once. You can also check reverse DNS information for your IP address, whois information on a domain, routing and AS numbers. This makes quite the multipurpose IP tool and one I’m bound to use again.

Is that a VPN in your pocket?

I’ve been doing some VPN work again these days. Some time ago I considered updating my home VPN from PPTP to OpenVPN which is an open source SSL VPN package. I eventually decided to hold off for a few reasons. First, there is a built-in PPTP client in Windows which means I can login from just about any computer without having to download anything. Second, my PPTP solution allowed for a simple Ethernet bridge between the remote system and my home network. Finally, I could log in to the PPTP VPN from my PocketPC device.

As I mentioned I recently setup a VPN system for a client and chose to go with OpenVPN because it was going to be used from only a few specific clients, it was going on a Linux router anyway and did not need to support PocketPC clients. In this case I’m using the OpenVPN GUI for Windows client. It’s not as simple as the built-in PPTP client, but it’s still at least as easy to use as other third party VPN clients I’ve worked with in the past from vendors such as Checkpoint, Watchguard and Cisco. Interestingly enough, as I researched this installation I ran across an alpha port of OpenVPN to PocketPC just recently completed by David G. Lemley, III. At least one of my issues with OpenVPN has been resolved so it may be time to again re-evaluate my use of the aging PPTP protocol for my home VPN.

For those wondering why I made no mention of IPSEC…In my experience IPSEC is both problematic and overkill for a “road-warrior” style system where single clients are going to use LAN resources.

Evolved Gaming

There have only been a few so-called “first person shooter” games which I have played extensively. Heretic, Doom and Quake II are certainly my favorites. Although I don’t play many games at all these days when I do I almost inevitably play one of these classics which I prefer to their more modern counterparts. Of course I was thrilled to learn that Quake II Evolved has continued the development of Quake II in an open source framework. QIIe has some sweet looking graphics that can take advantage of the leaps in video hardware made since Quake II first came out.

Simulating Transportation

If you enjoy playing simulation games as mush as I do (yes, once upon a time I spent hours and hours playing SimCity 2000, SimFarm, SimIsle and more) you might enjoy OpenTTD. Once upon a time Microprose (of Civilization) fame published a game entitled Transport Tycoon and later came out with a Deluxe version. Apparently the game has rabid fans and that popularity led to an unofficial patch (TTDPatch) which fixed some of the bugs left by Microprose when the game was abandoned. Since that time much of the game has been reworked as OpenTTD. OpenTTD includes numerous feature and usability enhancements. Running OpenTTD requires the original graphics files from Transport Tycoon Deluxe, but they shouldn’t be too hard for you to locate on the internet if you are unable to obtain a copy of the original game. Being open source means that OpenTTD can and has been ported to almost any operating system so you should have no problem finding a machine to run it on.

Vintage Apple Networking

If you’re looking for somewhat obscure information about networking old Apple computers I suggest looking at the Vintage Networking site. This is a virtual treasure trove of information. Everything from networking the IIe to booting the IIgs from an appleshare server or sharing your internet connection with an older mac.

The Thomas Crown Affair

This is fantastic. Last week about 80 people showed up to pull a massive prank at BestBuy in New York City. If you’ve ever accidentally ended up in a store dressed in a shirt color similar to the employees and been asked a question by another customer you’ll appreciate this. The story is quite fun to read. In fact, after reading that story I read about many other projects by the same ‘Improv Everywhere‘ group all of which were highly amusing. You can easily spend several hours perusing their archives all the while sporting quite a grin. Check it out.