Use WHM CPanel as Dynamic DNS Service

By Jake Edwards | Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 | Permalink | 1 Comment

Several of the previously-free Dynamic DNS providers have gone paid. I already have a cPanel-based hosting account, so I figured why not use the DNS Zone-editing mechanism to create my own personal Dynamic DNS Provider? Seems I wasn’t the only one who thought of that :).\

WHMDDNS

The following script on GitHub gives you a PHP example on how to dynamically update the zone edit files based on a request from a router or internet connected device that needs the Dynamic DNS Name.

https://github.com/TeamPalmTree/WHMDDNS

This assumes you have the domain within your cPanel account as the primary domain, or an Add-on domain, plus that you have access to the DNS Zone Editing tools.

DNSZoneEditorCpanel

The updater will need to the use the following custom URL sequence;

http://[USERNAME]:[PASSWORD]@webserver.com/WHMDDNS.php?hostname=[DOMAIN]&myip=[IP]

You’ll need to adjust the pattern to match the substitution tokens as you see fit.

OpenWRT & ddns-scripts

OpenWrt has a DDNS updater available through the means of ddns-scripts.

This is a screenshot of how the entry would need to be setup to work with the script above for the following;

Domain: sample.shadowsplace.net
Username: cpanelusername
Password: cpanelpassword

DDNS Setup on OpenWRT for WHMDDNS

Internet Connection Sharing has been disabled by the Network Administrator – Windows 8

By Jake Edwards | Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 | Permalink | 5 Comments

To manually workaround this issue you need to jump into the registry to enable ICS.
This is usually deployed via Group Policy on a domain network.

As usual, be careful editing the registry.

The Workaround

  1. Start > Run > gpedit.msc
  2. Locate;
    • Computer Configuration/Administrative Templates/Network/Network Connections
  3. Disable the following policies;
    • Prohibit installation and configuration of Network Bridge on your DNS domain network
    • Prohibit use of Internet Connection Firewall on your DNS domain network
    • Prohibit use of Internet Connection Sharing on your DNS domain network
    • Require domain users to elevate when setting a network’s location
  4. Start > Run > regedit
  5. Locate;
    • Computer\HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\Network Connections
  6. Add/update a registry DWORD entry for the following, and set it to 1;
    • NC_PersonalFirewallConfig
    • NC_ShowSharedAccessUI

Thanks to Jeff for the find.

Unblock-Us, Netflix, Hulu and OpenWRT

By Jake Edwards | Monday, September 22nd, 2014 | Permalink | 4 Comments

Netflix and other US-based streaming sites like Hulu aren’t currently available in several countries. As a semi-legit workaround, many blocked countries are resulting to using VPN services or DNS redirection services to get around geoblocks.

I personally prefer the DNS services over VPN due to the simplicity of the bypass. However, while the DNS settings can be applied at the router level (and automatically apply to all devices), it does mean that all traffic requests are resolved through the remote server. To avoid this, several rules can be put in place on an OpenWRT enabled router to redirect only requests for certain hosts — specifically the ones we are interested in bypassing the geoblock.

These same rules can be used for other geo-DNS services other than Unblock-Us, simply substitute the required DNS addresses.

Host-Specific Rules for Unblock-Us on OpenWRT

/etc/config/ddns

(or through the GUI, Network > DHCP and DNS > Sever Settings > General Settings)

config dnsmasq
 list server '/netflix.com/111.118.175.56'
 list server '/netflix.com/118.127.33.48'
 list server '/hulu.com/118.127.33.48'
 list server '/hulu.com/111.118.175.56'
 list server '/s.hulu.com/118.127.33.48'
 list server '/s.hulu.com/111.118.175.56'
 list server '/unblock-us.com/111.118.175.56'
 list server '/unblock-us.com/118.127.33.48'

CustomDNS

Chromecast-specific rules

The Chromecast doesn’t currently allow users to specify custom DNS settings. They’re fixed to the Google DNS service, but we can utilise custom Firewall rules on OpenWRT to redirect the requests to specific DNS requests. This doesn’t achieve the per-host redirection, but at least limits it to the Chromecast’s traffic.

/etc/firewall.user

(or through the GUI, Network > Firewall > Custom Rules)

iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING 1 -d 8.8.8.8 -j DNAT --to-destination 111.118.175.56
iptables -t nat -I PREROUTING 2 -d 8.8.4.4 -j DNAT --to-destination 118.127.33.48

Auto-tune the News

By Jake Edwards | Saturday, November 21st, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Auto-tune: “Used to disguise off-key inaccuracies and mistakes, and has allowed singers to perform perfectly tuned vocal tracks without the need of singing in tune.”

News: “communication of information on current events”

Below are a collection of Youtube videos that make up a playlist of auto-tuned news. A link to the Youtube playlist can be found at the bottom of this post.

Some of the videos take a little while to get ‘going’, but most of them have picked up a pretty good beat in the second half of each song.

















http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=736C3116AD309B58

Windows SSL Revocation Issues and Woes

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, November 19th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Recently one of my computer began to act strange, visiting HTTPS sites would always result in a notification of ‘certificate revocation’, basically that the HTTPS SSL certificate is no longer ‘valid’ or cannot be checked if it has been invalidated. It started to affect multiple things on my computer, particular Live Mesh, Google Chrome updating and general HTTPS browsing (such as Google email login) — and finding a solution wasn’t easy…

And so, that is why I am posting what I have found so far; in-case someone else has this issue as well… All the troubleshooting steps are assuming an install of Internet Explorer 8 with Windows 7.

Summary

SSL Certificates arn’t able to be checked for revocation on Windows 7 Professional 32-bit and 64-bit RTM.

The problem appears to affect multiple applications, all of which rely on SSL.

  • Live Mesh
  • Google Chrome updates (Error 7)
  • General HTTP Browsing

Solution

This error occurred again once when having installed the proxy application, WideCap.

The solution that fixes the issue is simple; in an elevated command prompt ‘netsh winsock reset‘.

Troubleshooting

These are the following steps I took in order to try and resolve the problem.

Preliminary steps I took to verify basic SSL settings are correct:

  1. Check the date and time to ensure it is correct
  2. Clear the SSL State Cache
    Go into Internet Explorer > Internet Options. Change to the Content tab. Press ‘Clear SSL State
  3. Delete all temporary files in Internet Explorer
    Go into Internet Explorer > Internet Options. On the General tab, under Browsing History, press ‘Delete…‘ then, selecting all options followed again by Delete.
  4. Running a virus scan to ensure nothing malicious was causing the issue.
  5. Checking that the BITS service was not disabled
  6. Running sfc /scannow to verify Windows files were in-tact

Unfortunately, those steps did not resolve the issue. These following, more drastic steps seemed to resolve the issue. I cannot attribute a fix to a specific step they were all performed together.

  1. Resetting Internet Explorer settings
    Go into Internet Explorer > Internet Options. Change to the Advanced tab. Press ‘Reset…‘. Then ‘Reset’.
  2. Resetting the Windows Firewall settings to default
    In an elevated command prompt, type netsh advfirewall reset, then press Enter.
  3. Resetting the WinHTTP and WinSOCKS configuration
    In an elevated command prompt, type netsh winhttp reset proxy, then press Enter.
    Then, type netsh winsock reset, then press Enter.

Preliminary Workaround

The issue affected various applications as noted in the summary. This is the following steps I took to resolve some of the applications and their errors.

  • Disabling revocation check in Internet Explorer options.Go into Internet Explorer then Internet Options, changed to the Advanced tab. Scroll down to the Security section. Uncheck ‘Check for server certificate recovation’ and ‘Check for publisher’s certification revocation’. Note: This reduces web browsing security substantially on the system and therefore finding a solution was a priority.

Cause

So what caused the issue to occur?

  • Used a proxy tunnelling application, WideCap
    This program tunnels programs that don’t support proxy protocols through just that, a proxy. This program may have somehow affected the WinHTTP or WinSOCK areas of the operating system. I will continue to use this application to see if the problem regresses.

This issue occurred once again and could be attributed to the WideCap installation noted above.

I hope this helps someone who has a similar problem, as unfortunately I couldn’t find the issue reported anywhere else on the internet.

Optus makes browsing the Internet more user friendly

By Jake Edwards | Friday, October 16th, 2009 | Permalink | 1 Comment

I was browsing around the other day, and accidentally mis-typed a URL and was re-directed to a ‘Yes Optus’ page with search results from Yahoo based on my query.

It seems a new service “DNS Assist” to help users find what they were looking for, in the event of a typo or outdated link. While this may be great for some more novice internet users, I would prefer to let Chrome and Google handle my typos…

The good thing is that Optus provide two opt-out methods. The first is the simpler of the two, leaving a cookie which bypasses the DNS Assist service. The other option requires alterations to your internet connections’ DNS servers, which is a more technical, but also more permanent solution.

The cookie opt-out and alternate DNS settings can be found by clicking the “About this page” link on the bottom right of a DNS Assist transition page.

Chrome-esque Icon-Based Orbital Context Menu

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, August 13th, 2009 | Permalink | 2 Comments

This is a post I made to the suggestion section in Google Forums for Chrome. I highly recommend you read the brief and comment/vote based on what you think.

http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Chrome/thread?tid=237226f0615d2dbc

Chrome prides itself on being a fast and efficient browser. This icon-based orbital context menu suggestion would set chrome apart from the ‘others’, by revamping the currently ‘boring’ and monotonous right click menu, which is currently common across all browsers (at least ones that I’ve used!). Take a moment to read the brief below, and let me know what you think of the idea.

Menu Design

Designed in a Chrome-esque fashion, right click items are instead represented by icons and placed in a circle around the right click position. The icons would be a monotone colour, matching the dominant GUI colour of Chrome (depending on theme of course), but ultimately be simple outlines of the ‘action’ in question. Icons such as a printer would represent the action ‘Print…’, while a floppy disk would represent the action ‘Save As…’, view page source represented by a magnifying glass over a text-filled page just to lead a few ideas. I might make a mock-up and post it on here assuming I get time!

Icons are more memorable and quickly identifiable then searching a menu full of text. This icon based orbital context menu would mean actions such as Back, Forward, Reload could all be formed much faster, not dissimilar to ‘gestures’. Placement examples include where the ‘Back’ icon/action would be optimally placed to the ‘left’ of the orbital menu, while ‘Forward’ icon/action would be optimal on the ‘right’.

Mock-Up Right Click Menu for Chrome
This menu is similar to that used in ‘The Sims’ and ‘Left 4 Dead’.

Icons would appear after the user right clicks; a short animation as if the icons were ’emerging’ from the right click origin (as opposed to all appearing instantly, all at once). When hovered, the icon would appear ‘highlighted’ and given a more dominant position. This is explained in more detail, below.

Mock-Up Right Click Menu for Chrome

Menu Usability

The user would ultimately select an option my moving the mouse in the direction of the action. The action is then ‘highlighted’ (by increasing in size and increase in icon brightness, possible with a light ‘aurora’ behind it), while a text label of the action in question could also appear. The mouse action would be unique in that when the user holds down the right click button, the menu appears, and the action will be selected once the user releases the right mouse button. This of course could be an option in the settings depending on the user’s preference. Alternatively the orbital context menu would stay open until the user clicks again.

The mouse action used to say preset words in ‘Left 4 Dead’ would be the optimal mouse selection method while the mouse action in menus of ‘The Sims’ would be similar to the ‘alternative’  (set on an option basis in Chrome ‘Options’) method. While the later method would be somewhat less efficient, it would still be easier to navigate than the current implementation.

The orbital menu would resize depending on how many actions are available, for example, when right clicking in a text box, the number of actions is greater than the context menu of a link. Icons would be about 48×48 at most, however could also resize based on the current ‘zoom’ level of a web page.


Overall

This feature would set Chrome apart with a unique context menu that could potentially also make its way into the ‘download’ and ‘history’ pages as well. The icons are easier to ‘remember’ and would speed up user browsing time.

Take a moment to leave your thoughts below. I already can imagine the implementation, can you?!

Retrieving Bookmarks from Enhanced Bookmarks (iGoogle Gadget)

By Jake Edwards | Thursday, May 7th, 2009 | Permalink | 146 Comments

Recently, the Enhanced Bookmarks gadget has been un-usable due to un-expected changes made by Google to its Gadget API. This has rendered Enhanced Bookmarks useless and users are unable to retrieve the bookmarks they had stored.

There are two possible ways to retrieve your bookmarks. For some, both methods may work while sometimes only one of the methods will work. The steps below outlines one possible method for you to retrieve these bookmarks. A simpler method has also been created, which can be found below. Let others know through comments on this post if either helped you obtain your bookmarks.

Apple Tax: “Paying $500 more to get a logo on it?”

By Jake Edwards | Friday, March 27th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

At a conference mid-march, Ballmer (Microsoft CEO) re-fueled a PC vs. Mac debate by commenting,

“Now I think the tide has really turned back the other direction [against Apple] … the economy is helpful. Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment — same piece of hardware — paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that’s a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be.”

And of course, he is absolutely right. Although I would have priced it at about $700 (USD), $1000 (AUD). This comment cleverly preceded a new addition to the Microsoft campaign. Dubbed “Laptop Hunters” (which suggests more of these ads are to come), Microsoft asks an individual to find a laptop for under $1000, and if they find it, they can keep it.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/watchtheads/video/behindthescenes/

Recently when I was investigating Business Systems, it was proclaimed that Apple utilises ‘Differentiation’ as a tactic to set their brand apart- but when you look at the bigger picture, at what price? A highly inflated one. Especially in the current economic situation, people will factor this price tag (with an excessive Apple Tax) into consideration and turn away from Apple and instead towards PC.

Overall, this new ad campaign milestone from Microsoft really intertwines well with improving the image of the PC. With Ballmer and this new ad jeering at Apple, I can almost feel an impending “I’m cool enough to be a Mac person” campaign rebuttal…

I’m a PC and I dislike Apple :)

By Jake Edwards | Friday, March 27th, 2009 | Permalink | No Comments

Late last year Microsoft started their ‘I’m a PC’ campaign to try and alter the stereotype given to PC users partially by Apple from their ‘Mac vs. PC’ ads.

Microsoft initially produced a website to allow the billion PC users that were dubbed and categorized by a certain pc advertisement, to speak out and show their real faces. http://imapc.lifewithoutwalls.com lets you browse the ‘Real PCs’ of the world, their stories, and ultimately why they don’t fit the ‘PC stereotype’. This project rapidly grew and prompted Microsoft to produce various compilations of these real PCs into TV ads and videos.

Microsoft continued their campaign by then showing the world how easy using a PC can be. Several TV ads represnt kids as young as 4 and 1/2 managing their photos using Windows Live Gallery and using simple functions such as and emailing photos, and stitching together panoramic photos.

Overall, these ads, which can be viewed here, provide a great backing for Microsoft’s campaign to prove that PC users can’t and won’t be stereotyped.

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