Create ISO File From DVD In Linux

I had originally posted these steps on my Tumblr blog, but I figured this would be a much better fit for them. The short of it is that I found an old copy of Typing of the Dead that I had, and then I got it worked on Linux under Wine. The only major downside to the game is that it wants the DVD to be present even when the game has been installed. Needless to say, that’s a pain in the ass. So I started figuring out how to just make an image of the disk that I could mount in my OS rather than bothering with a physical disk.

The first step is to just get the name of the DVD drive containing that disk to make an image of. That was simply done with the df command:

df command results

In my case, it’s /dev/sr0 at the very bottom which is the optical drive. Now to actually make the image itself, which is ridiculously easy on Linux. All you have to do is cat the contents of the drive to a .iso file. Seriously:

cat /dev/sr0 ~/Documents/totd.iso

That’s it! Now I can just get to the file in Nautilus, right-click on it and go to Open With and then selecting Disk Image Mounter. The .iso file will be mounted and the game won’t complain that it needs a disk any longer.

Tagged , , , ,

Belkin Routers – Be Sure To Disable Intellistream QoS

About 6 months ago I purchased a new router; it was around the same time that I got my own modem. The router is a Belkin AC750. It’s not the fanciest router around — a far cry from it, in fact — but it’s also hardly the cheapest. I figured I’d at least try to get something a bit above the bottom of the barrel.

Unfortunately, I’ve been having a lot of issues with my home network since that time. My speeds were nowhere near what I was supposed to be getting from my ISP, which should be around 20 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up. At best I’m getting between 12 – 15 Mbps down and just under 1 Mbps up. Last night I finally had my fill. I ripped apart my home network and pieced it back together, performing tests at each stage. I saw the following experience. Note that all throughput tests were done through the eponymous SpeedTest.net.

  1. I consistently got between 19 – 22 Mbps down and 1.5 – 2.2 Mbps up when connecting a laptop directly to my modem. I tested this multiple times, even going so far as to connect the router again, testing from it, then switching back to the laptop directly connected to the modem. In all cases, the results were consistent.
  2. As soon as I added my router to the mix, I’d see significantly decreased performance. I’d only get between 12 – 15 Mbps down and always under 1 Mbps up. This happened regardless of whether I was using a wireless or wired connection. In the wireless world, it happened regardless of whether I was connecting to the 2.4 or 5 GHz band.
  3. In all tests (where possible due to limitations of devices not having wired networking capabilities without adapters that I don’t own) the results were the same regardless of platform between Windows laptops, Chromebooks, an Android tablet, and an Android phone.

With the router being only 6 months old and basically giving me the same level of performance since I got it, I didn’t think it could be failing. Likewise, I was using the same cable to directly connect laptops to my modem as I was using to connect the modem to my router. Unless the unlikely situation that the port I was connecting the cable to on the router was fubar, that didn’t seem to be the issue. I even got to the point of seeing if DD-WRT would work on my router (spoiler alert: it doesn’t.)

I wrote up a massive rant about this on Google+, and afterward was closing out browser tabs. I still had one open to my router’s configuration page where I got the modem number. I noticed something called Intellistream listed there that I hadn’t paid much attention to after the initial setup of the device. I just thought of it as QoS and so why wouldn’t I turn it on? Apparently I should have done my homework first, because I now have learned that it’s by far the dumbest fucking QoS implementation possible.

There is very little actual intelligence behind Intellistream; it instead just acts like more of a hard cap. When setting it up, it wants you to run a speed test and input your upload and download speeds. When I did this, it was before my ISP bumped me from 15 to 20 Mbps down and from 1 to 2 Mbps up, and thus the numbers I entered reflected this. The Belkin router then takes this as fucking gospel and will refuse to give you speeds above those numbers. I’m not even joking. Someone put 1 Mbps and 1 Mbps into the fields and confirmed that was now the max throughput the device would allow.

Maybe if you have a lot of people living together and thus having competing traffic this throttle in some way helps… but for someone who lives alone like I do, I think I’d have to start smoking crack in order to justify using the world’s shittiest QoS service. Since turning it off, my results have been drastically better, mirroring what I get when directly connected from my modem. I’ve also learned my lesson and will, in the future, spend the extra cash to just get a router with DD-WRT on it and thus cut heinous firmware out of the equation entirely.

Tagged , , , , ,

Thoughts On The 2015 MacBook

I’ve changed my mindset toward some Apple products over the last few years. While I was staunchly anti-Apple as a blanket default back when I wrote this post in mid-2011, I’ve changed my mind a… a little bit. As a part of my job I now support a lot more Apple clients and, to facilitate that, my employer got me a MacBook Air. It’s at the lower end of the spectrum since it’s not my primary machine, but I have to admit that I like it quite a bit. It’s small and light, with a great display (though it’s only 1366 x 768) and amazing battery life. When I’m at conferences, I’m reaching for the Air as opposed to my hulking Windows laptop that weighs far more with worse battery life and an equally shitty screen resolution.

That being said, I still can’t get behind any of Apple’s mobile products; iOS is just heinous to me. It’s far more limited when compared to Android, though I could see arguments being made for that as both a pro and a con. Likewise, I have a difficult time supporting the company itself and would be loathe to spend my own hard-earned cash on them. They aren’t quite at the level of being as evil as your average State-side ISP, but they’re not far away.

So the moral of the story is that their laptops are really the only Apple product that I enjoy. I make a point of this to provide some context with my shock at just how terrible the newly announced MacBook is. I’m literally awestruck that Apple has the gall to charge a starting price of $1299 USD.

2015 MacBook

Announced yesterday, the device has a base configuration with the following specs. Again, keep in mind that this will run you $1299.

  • 1.1 GHz dual core Intel Core M processor (!!!)
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 8 GB RAM

The RAM seems solid. 256 GB of solid state storage seems a bit low to me for something as expensive as this. And a 1.1 GHz dual core processor is, honestly, just downright embarrassing. You can practically start comparing that to the Intel processor in my Toshiba Chromebook 2. That’s just nuts. To make matters worse, you barely get much improvement if you decide to bump things up to the $1599 configuration. Your SSD hits a ceiling of 512 GB and you now get a 1.2 GHz Intel Core M. Now it’s worth mentioning that these two Core M models have the ability to burst up to 2.4 and 2.6 GHz respectively, but that’s still a far cry from even being passable on such an expensive device. And, of course, they’re still dual core procs.

The one thing that it has going for it is a 2304 x 1440 screen resolution, which is pretty epic. But I guess you’ll be spending a lot of time admiring that screen to distract yourself from how you can’t plug anything into it. You get one (!) USB-C port. You have to use that for power… and peripherals… and any displays. You’re going to spend another $100 on adapters alone.

If you want a good look at the device, MKBHD had a really good YouTube video from the event. One thing that I found particularly accurate from the video was the following comment he made:

“People won’t buy this laptop for the power. They’ll buy it for for how pretty it looks.”

It’s hard to argue with this statement. It’s a mind-blowingly thin device that’ll undoubtedly turn some heads if you use it in public. Beyond that, it’s exceedingly overpriced for the hardware, and pretty much anything else will give you more bang for your buck. I just can’t see how anyone would think purchasing this device is a good idea.

Tagged , , , , ,

2007 Transformers Film Free On Google Play

One truly awesome thing about being a Google fan and using Google services is that they give away a decent bit of stuff for free… and the free stuff isn’t fucking U2. In celebration of the 3rd birthday of Google Play, Google is giving the 2007 Transformers for free.

Transformers free on Google Play

Basically just log in with your Google account and buy it for $0.00. Granted, maybe the U2 comparison wasn’t so great in this instance as I’m not particularly a fan of the Michael Bay Transformers films… or really anything done by Michael “Explosions and Lens Flare” Bay. I was a lot more excited when Google decided to give away Gravity for free.

That being said, I know a lot of people who like the films. If nothing else, I was also pretty happy to get to see the original film in the series. It’s not one that I had followed (for the aforementioned Michael Bay-related reasoning), and so the only title I’d previously watched was Dark of the Moon. If I’m going to watch a movie that I want to see but I’m not really that interested in, then I’d prefer to do it for free.

I did watch the movie yesterday and was, admittedly, as unimpressed as I would have expected to be. The plot is just utterly ridiculous, even for a movie about giant robots from space, and the acting is well… the lead actors are Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox. I don’t think we really need to delve much deeper into it than that. If you want to watch shit blow up and see impressive special effects, though, then you really need to look no further.

It’s also worth noting that if you are a fan of the series, the other titles are all on sale.

Tagged , , , , ,

FREAK Vulnerability – Avoid Internet Explorer For A Bit

The Internet is a downright scary place these days, with so many of the technologies and their implementations that we’ve been assuming have been keeping us safe for years being found to contain loopholes and backdoors to allow them to become circumvented. Just when we thought HTTPS couldn’t be hammered any more beyond Heartbleed, now the discovery of FREAK is forcing everyone to once again consider how secure their online activities really are. Especially disconcerting is that, while it was initially believed that Windows was not susceptible to FREAK, it’s now clear that isn’t the case.

I’d argue that this is a pretty solid reason to avoid using Internet Explorer if at all possible. I’m admittedly already not a fan of Microsoft’s browser and always avoid it, but this just pushes things over the edge for me. Microsoft’s normal patch cycle is the second Tuesday of every month (known as, wait for it, Patch Tuesday), so I’ll be very hopeful that this will no longer be the case after those patches roll. In the meantime, though, I can confirm via the FREAK Attack site that IE11 on a fully patch Windows 8.1 system is vulnerable:

IE FREAK test

That’s not good. I’ll definitely be re-testing on the 10th after I install patches. In the meantime, Firefox is definitely a bastion of security, as we see from the same test that it’s not vulnerable. Note that this is version 36.0.1:

Firefox FREAK test

What’s also great, being that Android was initially flagged as a vulnerable system, is that Firefox on it is also safe:

Firefox Android FREAK test

I’ll be updating this on Tuesday to see if I hopefully get new results with post-patches IE11.

Edit: As an extra test, I checked out how Chrome did on my Toshiba Chromebook 2. It was able to pass the test:

Chrome on Toshiba Chromebook 2 FREAK test

Unfortunately, Chrome running on Android was a big fail:

Chrome Android FREAK test

So if you’re running Android, it looks like Firefox is also the way to go until Google can get an update rolled out.

Edit: Posting this update on 3/21 means I’m a bit behind on things, but I have confirmed that the patches released by Microsoft during the March patch cycle did in fact fix the FREAK vulnerability in IE11 on Windows 8.1. If you’re an IE fan, then you can safely go back to your browser of choice!

Tagged , , , , ,

2.4 GHz – 5 GHz Wireless Congestion Comparison

Last week I wrote about switching most of my devices over to the 5 GHz wireless band. It’s been a good experience, and I’ve noticed that my wireless connection does seem to be a bit more reliable at times. The lower range doesn’t bother me any since 99% of the time when I’m on my various devices I’m doing so from my living room, which is also where my router sits.

Last night I decided to take a quick look at the bands and see just how crowded they were. Needless to say it was a telling experience. I’m just curious to see how long these type of benefits will last until more people get routers that support the 5 GHz band. First off, here’s the 2.4 GHz band.

2.4 GHz band

I don’t even live in a super populated area, and this is the amount of congestion I’m dealing with in the 2.4 GHz band. Yikes. If nothing else, my particular network is the only one using its channel and has the best signal strength… though not by much. Now to take a look at the 5 GHz band:

5 GHz band

There are two networks within range of my phone operating in that band. That’s it. There’s no congestion, and nothing competing with my router at all. My signal strength is significantly better than it was in the 2.4 GHz band, as well. Again, living in a more populated area with more people living close by would undoubtedly make these results a bit worse because there are just bound to be some more people with modern networking equipment. For the time being, though, I’m going to be living it up in the far less populated band.

Tagged , , , , ,

Chrome OS – Finding All Of The Chrome URLs

I had mentioned in a previous post that I got the IP information for my Chromebook by going to the following URL:

chrome://system/

Along with that page, I knew there were “chrome” URLs for several other things as well, like Settings:

chrome://settings/

History:

chrome://history/

And Bookmarks:

chrome://bookmarks/

Someone on /r/chromeos had a good idea, though, of asking what are all of the “chrome” URLs available? Rather than pasting in a giant list, though, someone dominated the thread by sharing the following gem:

chrome://chrome-urls/

Wow.

chrome URLs page

There are all kinds of awesome URLs available to basically get every scrap of information you could possibly want about your Chromebook. For example, you can use the Files app to get a quick glance at how much space is left on your Chromebook’s disk. You can use the following to get incredibly detailed stats, though:

chrome://drive-internals/

Needless to say, it’s a very handy page.

Tagged , , , ,

Chromecast Doesn’t Support The 5 GHz Band

Being that I’m kind of dumb, I just realized yesterday after owning my router for months that it can operate at both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This is a good thing for me since, being that I live in an apartment, the superior range of the 2.4 GHz band sometimes leads to a bit of congestion and overlap with my neighbors’ networks. I quickly configured the 5 GHz band and started switching whatever devices I could over to it. It works flawlessly with almost everything:

  • LG G2
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4
  • HP Chromebook 11
  • Toshiba Chromebook 2

Notably, my HP Stream 11 doesn’t seem to support it, which is a bummer but not a deal-breaker. What is a bit more painful, however, is that my Chromecast doesn’t have the ability to connect to the 5 GHz network, either. I was a bit dumbfounded at first, since I figured something so media-heavy would expect users to favor the 5 GHz band if it’s available. I confirmed that what I’m seeing isn’t an error, though.

It’s especially disappointing because I’d love to see how much congestion in the 2.4 GHz band factors in to the quality of my streaming experience as opposed to congestion with my ISP. For example, I occasionally can notice Netflix or HBO Go flipping back and forth between SD and HD stream quality to compensate for the network. It’d be interesting to see if switching to the 5 GHz band would make any difference in that regard. It seems doubtful since when I previously just used the app built into my TV for Netflix I’d see the same quality switches even when it was connected via Ethernet, but it’d be an interesting test regardless.

The good news is that Google seems to be including support for 5 GHz in more recent products. For example, the Nexus Player is able to connect to that band.

Tagged , , , ,

Cowsay Terminal Greeting in Zshrc

I recently had what I can only think of as a truly brilliant idea. On any Unix-like system, I set it up so that my .zshrc file will spit back some basic information for me. It’s usually something like a greeting that includes my username, the name of the system I’m on, and the current time (according to that system). It’s helpful for me to keep differentiating from various systems if I’m on an OS X system, for example, and then SSH over to a Linux machine. It’s shockingly easy to start getting your different terminal sessions all mixed up.

However, why just dump text to the screen? What’s the fun in that when you can have [cowsay](cowsay – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) do it all?

cowsay .zshrc

I discovered that cowsay doesn’t always necessarily handle expansion the best, so I opted to get all of the information into a single variable that I could then pipe to it. It’s worked out rather well.

.zshrc file

Of course the top part of that is just to change my ZSH prompt. The rest is all about the cow, though!

Tagged , , , , ,

Install Lynx Browser On OS X

To be honest, this falls squarely into the realm of “shit that isn’t particularly useful to me but which is neat and impresses people who don’t understand it.” You get some interesting looks at the coffee shops when you fire up Lynx as your browser, to say the least. After realizing that I didn’t have Lynx installed on OS X, I set about correcting the problem.

You can download Lynx here. As shady as the site may look, I promise it’s legit. It’s also interesting that while version 2.8.7 was released back in July of 2009, the current stable of 2.8.8 was just released in February of 2014… so it’s at least a lot more recent at only a year old. I didn’t care enough to see what the differences actually were.

After downloading via my browser (I selected the tarball), the rest is all from the Terminal. I first went to my Downloads folder and extracted the tarball:

tar -zxvf lynx2.8.8.tar.gz

This is literally the only tar command I know how to run. This creates a folder called lynx2-8-8 in my Downloads folder. To keep things neat, I created a folder called src under my profile:

mkdir ~/src

Next I moved the Lynx source code folder over to it.

mv ~/Downloads/lynx2-8-8/ ~/src/

Now I’ll navigate to that folder for the sake of my sanity:

cd ~/src/lynx2-8-8/

Time to get building! First run the configuration script:

./configure

Easy. Now we’ll actually use the make file to build the application:

sudo make install

This will take a bit of time, so feel free to get another cup of coffee unless you really like watching text scroll through your Terminal. Once it’s completed you’ll be able to launch Lynx! It’ll be in your $PATH already, which you can confirm by running:

which lynx

And of course you launch it with:

lynx

Behold the glory!

Lynx Google search results

If you want the help documentation, you can run the following from the lynx2-8-8 directory:

sudo make install-help

Who needs a GUI?

Tagged , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 53 other followers