Archive for December, 2012

The best of 2012

As inspired by Kev:

My 5 best moments of 2012

1. Meeting a special someone
The person responsible for this knows who they are. They’re making me smile pretty much daily right now, I figure that’s as good a reason as any to be #1 in my list of good things.

2. Going to UWaterloo
This factors pretty highly simply because it’s shiny, new and challenging, and took up the last 4 months of the year. First term wasn’t too bad, but I am looking forward to later terms.

3. Traveling
The Japan Trip in February was excellent – seeing different places, taking awesome photos, experiencing a different way of life. Kyoto and the more rural areas we went to are places I’d like to visit again, though I’d think I’d give Toyko a miss the next time around. As a final hurrah for the group of us before we scattered across the world, it was even more special. The wacky hijinks that we got up too – I’ll remember the mock Visa ad thing for a while I hope. =)

Routing my flight to Toronto through Dubai was also a good idea. While I don’t think I’d be going back there simply because of the heat, it was interesting seeing the Burj Khalifa, and traveling the entire length and breadth of their metro system. Just wish I’d gone and seen the UW campus in Dubai, that would have been something interesting to say I’ve done.

4. Finished my two years in the army
I had mixed emotions leaving – it’s nice to be moving on, but I made some really good friends while I was there, and now I won’t get to see them anywhere near as often.

And while it got better at the end, I don’t miss bureaucracy – though I know the real world is riddled with it.

5. Hanging out with people
In Singapore, it was with the monthly (at least) lunch sessions, and crashing people’s houses (mainly HJ’s, admittedly) for overnight movie/board gaming marathons. Standout moment: Spending an hour or so setting up for Arkham, complete with expansion board, only for me to set off a chain reaction of monsters spawning that killed everyone within the first 10 minutes of starting play. TF2 once a week just doesn’t do justice to what we had.

And in Waterloo, the near daily an episode a day meetups, and Cards Against Humanity. Oh, the Cards Against Humanity games. SO much awesome. Not to mention the talks about random stuff till late at night.

And my friends: All of you made me laugh at various times, and I love you lot for that. And that goes for the people in Singapore AND Canada.

If you’re reading this, hope you had an awesome 2012, and an even more awesome 2013.

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Now that I’m actually looking for it

I’m seeing stuff about China’s blocking VPNs everywhere:

New York Times, the BBC, and of course, Slashdot.

Interesting tidbit: OpenVPN over TCP on port 53 apparently works. Not sure why it’d be like that, but maybe it’s something unexpected from infrastructure put in place for DNS poisoning. Possibly unrestricted, but mirrored to the DNS servers, which drop the connection when it’s discovered to be TCP instead?

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Tunneling OpenVPN through SSH

Having a bit of time, and remembering that OpenVPN had an option for SOCKS proxies, I decided to take a stab at getting OpenVPN to work through a SOCKS proxy.

It was far easier than expected. Read the rest of this entry »


Tunneling OpenVPN through stunnel

Continuing my string of posts on trying to get OpenVPN working through China’s Great Firewall… and a recent (and unexpected but much appreciated) report that TCP & UDP ports are blocked quickly, I’m now looking at getting OpenVPN to work with stunnel.

My assumption is that the GFW is detecting the OpenVPN packets, since they’re not pure SSL, and then blocking the IP & port combination. (Yay for packet inspection.) So, right now, I’m thinking use stunnel to wrap the OpenVPN packets in a pure SSL connection. Of course, performance is going to suffer, since we’re now triple layering TCP (first layer: stunnel, second layer: OpenVPN, third layer: the actual web browsing).

But that’s enough theory, onwards to the setup: Read the rest of this entry »



Getting OpenVPN to run on random ports

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have a friend who’s heading to China. I have an OpenVPN server. I thought the two would match together well, but then China went and started to filter & kill OpenVPN connections, and block those IP/port combinations. People are reporting that using a random port (as supported by their VPN provider) seems to work, and so I looked into randomizing what port OpenVPN ran on. Read the rest of this entry »


OpenVPN and China’s Great Firewall

Slashdot linked to an article on China restricting VPN access, in particular OpenVPN clients. (Also: OpenVPN’s forums has a similar report) The problem seems to be they’ve implemented some sort of protocol detection that’ll flag and block OpenVPN connections after a while. Unfortunately, this is no longer an academic problem for me, since I’ve got a good friend who’s going to be spending a few months in China on a university exchange program; and Facebook/Skype/possibly FaceTime are all blocked.  Read the rest of this entry »

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I like uptime

Sadly, reboots must occur.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t wait for a nice time.

[[email protected] ~]# uptime
 16:10:10 up 75 days, 23:59, 2 users, load average: 1.06, 0.69, 0.33
[[email protected] ~]# uptime
 16:10:42 up 76 days, 0 min, 2 users, load average: 0.59, 0.62, 0.32
[[email protected] ~]# reboot

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Review of the Manfrotto 055CXPro3

I picked up a Manfrotto 055CXPro3 tripod for Christmas 2011. At that time, I started off writing a short review of it, comparing it with my then-current 055XProB.

Amazon shipping

  • no problem, earlier than expected
  • price went up after I put it in the cart though
  • center column was damaged in transit, cosmetic marks made by the 3 legs

Tripod itself – compared to 2007era 055XProB

  • 1st impression: Locking different – not really good or bad
  • Good:
    • Covering of screws on latch is gone, washer integrated into screw itself
    • Less parts to loose is always good
  • Bad:
    • Screws to secure latch are now hex head instead of phillips head. Why? I now need a semi-specialized screwdriver to take it apart.
  • Indifferent:
    • Latch and screws on upper & lower leg segments are subtly different. Need to keep track or compare all visually before reinstallation
    • Leg segment tops aren’t molded – additional plastic part used as stoppers. This is probably a direct result of using carbon fiber instead of aluminium.
    • No hand warmers. Using it in winter… is going to be fun.

I’ve also completely dismantled it, cleaned it and rebuilt it. There weren’t any manuals, but I found a part diagram/listing on Manfrotto’s site that helped show how the part fit together. (If that link breaks, I found it under the spare parts section here.)

Took some practice, and a few missteps (particularly with the tension(?) spring securing the center column), but it ended up working fine after clearing the sand out of it. (Where I got sand on it from, I have no clue.)

Once again though, I was disappointed in the need of specialized tools. In this case, a 3/8 (I think) hex key.

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A grab bag of half-finished posts

Because I’ve started a bunch of posts, haven’t finished them, don’t really want to delete them but stuff looks potentially useful, and I’m clearing stuff out.

Read the rest of this entry »


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The bulk of this was written on Nov 16th before I finished CS137 at UW. Most of this stuff still stands.


(Also, why I’m glad I’m using Git, why I love Stack overflow, and frak yes Valgrind) Read the rest of this entry »

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