Archive for the ‘PC’ Category

Making Hamachi2 a trusted network on Windows 7

September 23rd, 2009 Comments off

I’ve been using Hamachi (personal VPN) between my computers and servers for some time to make it easier to access my machines from any network.  I recently upgraded to Windows 7 and then upgraded to the new version of Hamachi called Hamachi2.  Unfortunately Windows 7 recognized Hamachi2 as an untrusted network and disabled any external access to the Hamachi network adapter from outside of the machine.  This obviously defeats the entire purpose of using Hamachi.  I read around on the internet and finally saw something that said that because the new Hamachi2 doesn’t configure a Default Gateway in the network adapter, Windows 7 treats it as untrusted.

Turns out this is easy to fix.  Go to “Network Connections” in your Control Panel.  Right click on the Hamachi Network Interface and choose Properties.  Click on “Internet Protocol Version 4” and select Properties.  On the General tab, click on Advanced.  On the IP Settings tab, click Add under Default Gateway and add in  Voila!  Windows 7 will now recognize the network as trusted and all external access works flawlessly.

hamachi windows 7

Categories: PC, Software, Technology, Windows 7 Tags:

Does Virtualization give Microsoft a chance to start over with “Windows 8”?

August 29th, 2009 Comments off

My recent experience upgrading to Snow Leopard on my Macbook vs. upgrading to Windows 7 on my desktop made me think about the future of Microsoft’s operating system.  Apple has taken a couple steps in the recent past with clean breaks from previous architectures: both the PowerPC to Intel transition and now the 32-bit to 64-bit transition.  The latter is not as clear cut as the former, but nonetheless Apple doesn’t seem to keep backward compatibility in mind as much as Microsoft.  With Microsoft, backward compatibility is both a useful feature and a bane on their developers because of driver and other issues.

I believe that Microsoft might be able to recreate their entire kernel (get rid of the Registry!) for Windows 8 (or whatever it’s called) and still maintain backward compatibility.  With the current (and I’m assuming all future) generations of Intel CPUs, Virtualization is supported out of the box.  I’m speaking of desktop CPUs not as sure about the Mobile versions.  For instance, my three year old Core 2 Duo E6700 supports the Virtualization extensions with no trouble.  What this does is let me use XP Mode in Windows 7 like I used to use Virtual PC.  However, Microsoft has mimic’d the Unity mode concept from VMWare Fusion to allow you to run applications in XP mode but hide the virtual OS running in the background.  This allows the end user to use legacy applications fairly flawlessly without having to know that they are using an age old operating system.

So project out 3 years into the future:  processors get more capable (I hesitate to say “faster”, but lets assume more cores, etc.), RAM sizes on desktops go up (8 GB is rapidly become cheap enough for new PCs) and Developers get more and more experience with multi-threaded and multi-core software development.

If this is the case, then Microsoft has a chance here to completely re-architect Windows 8 from the ground up (shades of Longhorn).  They can get rid of all the legacy vestiges that cause issues and offer compatibility for legacy applications thru an XP Mode (though it will be Win7 Mode) like capability.  This would let users runs all old apps in a virtualized environment, taking advantage of the increases in RAM and CPU, while also creating a brand new OS.  I think device drivers will still be an issue, but Microsoft would be justified in breaking from the past in the interest of future efficiency.  I’m going thru this with Windows 7 and 64-bit drivers vs. 32-bit drivers (and it’s been relatively painless so far).

It will be interesting to see what they choose to do, but the competition created by Apple can only be a good thing!

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Read It Later and Xmarks Firefox extensions plus RIL iPhone App

June 8th, 2009 2 comments

One of my friends introduced me to the Read It Later firefox extension and iPhone application.  I really love the concept but had some trouble getting it going while also using the Xmarks bookmarks synchronization tool on Firefox. I’ve got multiple Firefox browsers running on different PCs that are all in sync via Xmarks.

Here’s what I ultimately did and I think it’s all working now.

Starting on my desktop, I did the following:

1) Turned off syncing on Read It Later entirely (just to be safe)

2) Force synced Xmarks

3) Went to and deleted all Read It Later folders, just to be sure

4) In Firefox bookmarks organizer, created my own folder called Read It Later – Computer Name (in my case, Dash)

5) Force synced Xmarks

6) Went into Read It Later, on the General tab, picked  the Read It Later folder as “Read It Later – Dash”

7) Enabled Syncing on the RSS / syncing tab.

8) Force synced Read It Later

9) Force synced Xmarks

10) Logged into and even though I picked “Read It Later – Dash”, RIL had still created a separate RIL folder.

11) Deleted the RIL folder in FIREFOX bookmarks manager.

12) Double checked settings on Read It Later, to make sure “Read It Later – Dash” was selected.

13) Force synced Xmarks, since now the second RIL folder is deleted.

14) Now everything was working fine on a single desktop and iPhone, I could add or subtract Items and no trouble at all.  No more duplicate folders and such.

On my laptop:

1) BTW, left out that I had disabled RIL on the laptop before I started on my desktop!

2) Force synced Xmarks

3) Now I had an RIL-Dash folder on the laptop

4) Followed the directions above, basically went into RIL settings, picked the RIL-Dash folder, enabled syncing

5) Force synced RIL on the laptop

6) Force synced Xmarks

7) Again there was an extra RIL folder that RIL on my laptop created even though I picked RIL-Dash

8) Double checked settings in RIL

9) Deleted the extra RIL folder in Firefox / Organize Bookmarks

10) Force synced Xmarks

Categories: iPhone, PC, Software, Technology Tags:

2 TB added to my Home Server

January 27th, 2009 Comments off

398_LRG It wasn’t easy and I’m not sure I’m totally satisfied but I added 2 TB to my Windows Home Server.  I stuck with the Vantec eSATA card I had already purchased (that doesn’t support Port Multiplier) and bought a Fantom 2TB hard drive from NewEgg as the external drive.  It’s just a nice looking enclosure with 2 1TB hard drives inside it.  The Fantom enclosure lets you pick RAID, individual drives, or SPAN which combines the two drives into one contiguous space.  I had to use the latter mode since I didn’t have a PM capable eSATA card.

The not easy part was the fact that the first Fantom external HD I got from Newegg sounded like a jet engine when it was turned off (the cooling fan is incredibly loud).  I RMA’d it with Newegg and got a replacement unit and it was just as loud, which sucks since Newegg now charges 15% to restock no matter what.  Ugh.

Then I purchased a replacement cooling fan (40mm x 40mm x 10mm) from Fry’s, a Silenx model but it had a 3 pin connector instead of a 2 pin connector that was in the stock fan in the enclosure.  Double ugh.

I ordered a replacement from (cheap and fast delivery!) that had the right connector and seemed to be quieter (albeit less CFM and slower fan speed, but that seemed like an ok tradeoff).  I plugged in the replacement fan but no joy, didn’t work.  Triple ugh.

This evening I decided to lop off the original 2 pin connector and soldered it on to the replacement fan and voila! now it’s working..

So after a lot of work I got the enclosure to work (and not sound incredibly loud!) and have the extra 2 TB of storage I was looking for.

Parts list:

Vantec UGT-ST300 (Vantec SATA/eSATA PCI Host Card)

Fantom G-Force MegaDisk eSATA / USB 2 (in 2TB capacity, drives included)

AddA 40mm x 10mm 12v VGA/Chipset 2-pin Ball Bearing Fan

Categories: PC, Review, Technology, Windows Home Server Tags:

Vantec UGT-ST300 doesn’t support port multiplier

January 6th, 2009 Comments off

Vantec tech support sent me a prompt response back regarding whether the eSATA PCI card I bought supports port multiplier:  it doesn’t 🙁

The UGT-ST300 does not support SATA port multiplier.  The UGT-ST400 does, but you will need to have PCI-Express slot in order to use the UGT-ST400.  If you have any further question, please don’t hesitate to ask and we will do our best to answer them.

So now it looks like I’m back to the drawing board on my storage expansion plans for the Windows Home Server box.

Categories: PC, Technology, Windows Home Server Tags:

eSATA Dual Enclosure for Windows Home Server

January 4th, 2009 Comments off

180px-ESATA_Logo I am filling up the 2 GB of space that I have on my custom WHS box.  Digital media is piling up fast especially the HD video from our Flip MiniHD.

My Windows Home Server box has two internal SATA drive slots which are both filled (1TB Greenpower drives) so I’m looking into external storage at this point.  I’ve got a bewildering amount of options and am trying to future proof as much as I can.  There are two main options that I can pursue to increase storage on the WHS box:  USB 2.0 or eSATA.  The main benefit of eSATA would be increased throughput for disk read/writes vs. the inherent line speed of USB 2.0.

ugt-st300-02 Unfortunately my WHS box (a Shuttle K45) doesn’t have an eSATA port built-in (doh! should’ve planned ahead).  I bought a PCI card that provides an external eSATA port and one internal SATA port (not useable in my chassis though) from Fry’s and installed it with no issue into my box.  I bought the Vantec UGT-ST300 (Vantec SATA/eSATA PCI Host Card) since my box supports PCI not PCI-E (again the latter would’ve been preferred.)

Then I set about to find a good external enclosure that I could populate with drives, or find an all-in-one unit that comes with drives.  I have too many choices to go with and still haven’t figured out the right answer.  One issue is that WHS has its own disk duplication methodology separate from straight RAID and I want to continue to stick with that to not introduce in any other issues.  However, since I’m limited to the single external eSATA port I think I need to support something called Port Multiplication but it’s unclear to me if my PCI eSATA card supports port multipliers or not.  On top of that I do have a bit of concern on both visual aesthetics 🙂 and more importantly on sound volume from cooling in the external enclosure.

Here is the list of options I’m currently considering:

SAT3520U2ER.small StarTech 3.5in Silver eSATA USB Dual SATA External Hard Drive Enclosure w/ RAID (purchase drives separately)


B_03_angleview_450.gif Thermaltake Muse R-Duo RAID N0006USU (purchase drives separately)



g4cemd_med Fantom G-Force MegaDisk eSATA / USB 2 (in 2TB capacity, drives included)



astb_webAddonics Black Storage Tower with 1 5×1 Hardware Port Multiplier installed ST5HPMES-B (purchase drives separately)


I’m leaning towards trying the Fantom drive first (cost is favorable since it includes drives), though the Addonics Storage Tower should provide the most forward options.  I am waiting to see if WHS comes out with a v2 and am guessing that it would make me buy entirely new hardware so am a little cautious about the drive investment.

If anyone else in the Windows Home Server world has made a decision like this I’d welcome the input on what worked for you!

Categories: PC, Software, Technology, Windows Home Server Tags:

Outlook 2007, Exchange and Hamachi

December 10th, 2008 Comments off

img-hamachimain I’ve been toying around with running an Exchange server at home to make family e-mail a more integrated experience (since I’m used to Exchange at work).  There are obviously a variety of simpler web-based solutions that are available, not the least of which is Google Apps for your domain.  I’m actually experimenting with Google Apps on a sub-domain for more extended family but am not satisfied with IMAP or Gmail’s web interface as my primary interaction method.  Part of this has to do with using Outlook / Exchange for so long at work and getting quite used to the entire paradigm.

I also have my personal domain hosted thru Lunarpages web hosting (on another note, I give them a B-/C+ at best but they are really inexpensive).  I didn’t want to give up having my personal domain hosted at a provider because even if I do run a mail server at home, my Comcast connection doesn’t give me a static IP and more importantly many of Comcast’s IP addresses get put on blacklists due to other spammers.  I actually have my DNS information hosted at and can have a dynamic IP for my MX server but it didn’t seem like it was worth the hassle.  Then there is also the consumer level router I have (D-Link DIR-655) and I’d have way too many ports to open to allow direct access to an Exchange server inside my firewall.

So my desire to try out Exchange at home seemed like it wouldn’t get off the ground.  (Umm, yes, using Exchange is really waaaaaaaaaaaay overkill at home, but lets ignore that for now) :-)  I found out that Microsoft’ Small Business Server 2003 product allows you to actually access remote mail via POP (the POP3 connector).  This seemed like a good route to go, but left the issue of direct access open.

Then I had an idea that I thought was brilliant (though as you usually find out on the internet these days, many others already had the idea):  Setup an exchange server at home and use Hamachi to access remotely (Hamachi is a peer-to-peer VPN system).

After a lot of experimentation here is what I ended up with:

  • Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 running on a relatively old Shuttle SK41G box.  I configured the SBS 2003 server on a domain that follows the following:  servername.externaldomainname.local    The SBS 2003 box uses the POP3 Connector to retrieve mail from my external hosting provider (yes, there is a 15 frequency cap on checking email).  The SBS 2003 server is configured to send outgoing mail via DNS.
  • I have my server name (FQDN) properly setup on using dynamic update for the IP.  That way a reverse DNS lookup on my SBS 2003 server (for outgoing mail purposes) actually resolves properly to handle not being classified as a spam server.
  • Hamachi VPN installed on all the client machines and also on the SBS 2003 server.
  • I also followed the following advice on the SBS 2003 server (though I’m still not sure if this was necessary for my setup):

You need to create a reverse lookup zone for the Hamachi 5.x.x.x network. To do this, start the Reverse Lookup Zone wizard in DNS. The network is 5. , notice I didn’t put anything after 5. , this is important. Since this is a class A subnet, you need to be able to resolve any possible Hamachi address.

  • Outlook 2007 on the client side configured to access the domain name listed above.  I also went into the etc/hosts file and hard coded the server name to the Hamachi 5.x.x.x IP address.  I also actually setup the Outlook 2007 client to not only be setup with Exchange but also checked my direct POP account more often to accommodate for the 15 min POP3 limitation in SBS 2003.
  • And then the final and most important configuration I did was to setup the Outlook Anywhere setting in Outlook 2007.

This last item was fairly critical to get the whole thing working flawlessly from any network (regardless of the host networks restrictions on specific ports).

Outlook Anywhere is within your Exchange Server Mail settings in Outlook 2007.  You go to the Connection tab and under Outlook Anywhere check the “Connect to Microsoft Exchange using HTTP” checkbox.  Click on “Exchange Proxy Settings”.  Here is what I finally settled on:

In the https:// box I put in the just the server name, not the domain name or TLD at the end.  Again just the server name.

Both “Connect using SSL only” and “Only connect to proxy servers that have this principal name in their certificate” were both checked.  The text box underneath has msstd:servername.domainname.actualTLD.  That means I didn’t use .local at the end in this field.

“On fast networks” not checked.  “On slow networks” is checked.

Under Proxy authentication settings, I picked “Basic Authentication” which grays out the “Connect using SSL only” box above.

This was a fairly critical step to allow Outlook 2007 to communicate via HTTPS thru the Hamachi connection to the Exchange / SBS 2003 server.

Please note that you have to install the security certificate that is automatically generated by the SBS 2003 server on your client machine to ensure that everything is recognized.

E-mail me if you want to try something crazy like this and I can tell you more details as needed! 🙂

Links: Hamachi and Exchange, Outlook over Internet, RPC over HTTP



Categories: Link, PC, Technology Tags:

Thinking about a MacBook

October 25th, 2008 Comments off

macbook I was an Apple guy at the beginning of my computer life.  I had an Apple II+, then a IIe, then a IIgs.  Then I moved into Mac’s and had an SE/30 and also a Centris 650.  I had actually overlocked the Centris 650 by myself! It involved piggybacking an faster clock to a circuit on the motherboard, yes it involved soldering.  System 7 then recognized the machine as a Quadra 650 because I went from 25 Mhz to 40 Mhz.

Anyway, I’ve been using Windows for years and actually even got a Mac Mini and promptly installed Vista on it to use as a media center PC in the living room.  This evening I Installed VMWare Fusion on the Mac and messed around with using Mac OS X and Vista at the same time and was impressed by Fusion.  I was able to access my existing BootCamp partition (which had Windows Vista Ultimate) and run it as a Virtual Machine from inside OS X.  I also experimented with Unity mode which lets you transparently run Windows applications inside OS X.  At the end of the day, I actually was not comfortable with OS X any more (too used to Vista), but parts of it seemed interesting though I’m not sure it was that much easier to use.

But this brings to me to the point of this post, I’m actually thinking about getting one of the new MacBook’s and running both OS X / Vista on it.  I may actually boot into Vista when I need the laptop for work, but will use OS X with Unity mode when working on personal things.  I have a great desktop at home so I don’t actually need the laptop as a primary machine, though it could become a great laptop for me to use at work.

Stay tuned, I haven’t bought anything yet but may do so in the near future 🙂  Does this mean I’m a switcher?  Who knows!

Categories: PC Tags: , , ,

OpenDNS and Windows Home Server

March 31st, 2008 Comments off

opendns typo correct I had to use the Restore feature on Windows Home Server a few months ago and had issues connecting the restore PC to the Home Server.  My resolution at the time was to unplug my Wireless Router from the WAN side.  I’ve actually figured out what the problem was awhile ago but never blogged about the resolution.

I use OpenDNS for name resolution at home (great service, I recommend it highly) for faster DNS resolution when using the internet.  However, OpenDNS has a feature called Typo Correction that tries to reconcile URLs or DNS names that don’t resolve immediately.  Because of Windows Home Server’s reliance on NetBIOS to find machines inside your network, it uses not fully qualified names (so ServerName, instead of inside your LAN to find machines.  OpenDNS’s typo correction feature ends up intercepting these requests (during DNS resolution) and it “breaks” the way Home Server works inside your LAN.

Simple resolution:  disable the Typo Correction feature of OpenDNS (click on the picture above).  You have to have an OpenDNS account setup (free) and also identify yourself to your home IP (mine changes as Comcast doesn’t give me a static IP).  I use DirectUpdate to update OpenDNS on my current home IP address to ensure continuity.

In any case, I’m back to using OpenDNS and not having issues accessing my Home Server directly on my LAN.

Links:  OpenDNS, DirectUpdate

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Backing up to the cloud – experience with Amazon’s S3

March 19th, 2008 Comments off

I’m a newfound massive fan of Windows Home Server.  It’s made my backup life much easier across multiple PCs (work and home).  There is a user community developing plugins for WHS and one that I’ve been trying out recently is called Jungledisk.  It lets me choose to backup some of my files from the Windows Home Server machine (for instance, my pictures) to Amazon’s S3 storage service.  The plugin is seamless, you install it and plugin in your Amazon login info for S3 (public and private key’s) and then specify what you want to backup to the cloud.

I’ve been backing up my Pictures for several days now 🙂 and have another day and half to go, but like the fact that all of our photos will be backed up on Amazon’s servers, hopefully across multiple data centers on their side.

The best part?  After days and days of uploading (I’m sure Comcast thinks I’m a bittorrent movie sharer now), my Amazon bill is three dollars.  I love it 🙂



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