Movember – Update

Posted on November 24th, 2010 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: Personal.
Tags: , .

24 11 2010

So, I’ve been growing my Tache, in aid of Movember since 1st November, and well, it’s horrid. My beard, if you can call it that, grows multicoloured, from white, to mousey brown, to ginger, not to mention it looks like someone has just put a load of pubes on my face.

Never the less, I’ve carried it on, and as you can see from the above, am following all the rules. I had to remove my Soul Patch, as this was against the rules. I’ve had a soul patch for quite some years now, and it’s a bit of a running joke, that I’ve missed a bit when shaving.

The interesting thing I did find out yesterday, was that a few places are giving freebies away for anyone partaking in Movember, such as Byron, between 15:00 and 19:00 will give you a free burger, and wahaca Monday to Tuesdays, are giving a free burrito, amazing stuff!

So seeing as I had lunch on the Mo today, I thought I’d give a quick update, then go on the pester for more donations. Think a bit of facebook spamming, and emailing the likely lot at work is well in order.

If you’d like to donate (comeon, you know you want to) please visit my MOSPACE, and donate on there? A few pounds would be awesome. It’s going to a great cause (Prostate Cancer Charity) and I’ll keep growing the mo (looking like a pillock) kthxbi



Posted on November 11th, 2010 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: Personal.
Tags: , .

11 11 2010

So, in the name of charity, this November I am participating in Movember. Movember is an annual month-long event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November.

I rarely participate in charity events myself, but often donate to worthy causes, so decided this is a pretty good thing to do. There are a load of my friends and chaps in my office doing it, so humiliation is shared around.

Movember Mo

To be honest, when I try and grow a beard or any sort of facial growth, it just looks like adolescent multicoloured bum fluff, as you can see above. Any small donation to the charity will make this all very much worthwhile.

The proceeds go to the Prostate Cancer Charity and Everyman, which are two charities I regularly donate to myself, so see these as awesome causes.

Currently I am sitting bottom of the donation league, so really need to start pleading with you all for some of your coppers…. please dig deep, any donation, big or small will be most welcome…

To donate please go to my mo-space over at movember.


Why BT are a bag-of-fail

Posted on September 29th, 2010 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: Fail, IT / Tech.
Tags: , , , , .

29 09 2010

So BT, arguably the UKs biggest ISP/telco, in my opinion are a complete bag of fail. Now I guess writing this means, that I’ll probably never work for them, but hey, who would want to?

I’ve dealt with BT whilst working at $dayjob-1, and the incompetence I saw there, was shocking to say the least. That I can deal with, I got paid to deal with it, but when it’s in my time it’s a different story.

BT or rather BTOpenzone serve a huge amount of establishments with their Wifi ‘Cloud’ offering. Most places like Starbucks, if you have a registered account with them, will happily let you use it for free.

However before you can do this, you need to go through the authentication process with BT. This basically hijacks any DNS request you send, and redirects you to a the auth page. That’s kind of ok, for most users.

However most times when I use it, it’s a complete failure.

  • They use port 8443 for SSL, instead of the standard 443. This can play havock with local firewalls.
  • The certificate they use for is not valid for that domain, so most browsers will flag a massive security warning.
  • Their DNS often is broken.
  • If it is working, the webserver you try to connect to, isn’t running (connection refused).

The last two are especially annoying, like today, in Starbucks (Whitechappel Road). I switch the macbook on, join their wifi, get an IP and DGW, then any page I go to, should redirect me to their auth page. However seems it is slightly broken, as normal.

So this is telling me that Safari cannot connect to the server. This can be a bit vague, so you need to dig a bit deeper. Open up your terminal and try to simulate what the browser is doing.

So you telnet to on port 8443. You get a connection refused. This means that from my macbook, I got over their network, right to the end server, which is saying ‘Hey, that port is open, but I don’t have anything running on it’.

I’ve no idea what is on the backend of however looking at the DNS resolution:
Luke-Sheldricks-Mac-4:~ luke$ dig
; DiG 9.6.0-APPLE-P2 <<>>
;; global options: +cmd
;; Got answer:
;; ->>HEADER<<- opcode: QUERY, status: NOERROR, id: 15147
;; flags: qr rd ra; QUERY: 1, ANSWER: 1, AUTHORITY: 0, ADDITIONAL: 0
;        IN    A
;; ANSWER SECTION:    17378    IN    A

It’s only returning a single IP, which could be the IP of a load balancer, and then a number of servers behind that IP. However I wouldn’t expect all of them to fail.

With the helpful tool nmap, we can see:

80/tcp   open  http     SunONE WebServer 6.1
442/tcp  open  ssl/http SunONE WebServer 6.1
443/tcp  open  ssl/http SunONE WebServer 6.1
8443/tcp open  ssl/http Apache Tomcat/Coyote JSP engine 1.1

So using an old Solaris 8 server (the current version is 10) to run their authentication services. Can’t say for sure, but I wouldn’t be surpised if there is only one server back there. The amount of times I’ve seen this, really does go to show how under speced their ‘solution is’. I look after massive solutions in $dayjob, and this kind of thing would never happen, and if it did, certainly wouldn’t for long.

To sum up: BT you suck.



My ‘cloud’ IM setup

Posted on August 18th, 2010 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: IT / Tech.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

18 08 2010

For a long time now, I’ve had a number of different applications I use to connect to various different IM (instant messaging) mediums, such as Irssi for IRC, Pidgin for Jabber/MSN/etc on my desktops/laptops and usually BeeJive on my iPhone when I’m out and about.

This has all ‘kinda’ worked, it hasn’t been the most elegant of solutions, but it did do what I need it to. Until you add something like the iPad to the mix.

The problem I had, was I’d be signed on to say MSN on my MacBook, and then decide I’ve worked enough for the day, so sign off. Then whilst watching TV in the evening, want to send a message to someone, who only uses MSN, so grab my iPad and sign on via BeeJive. Well that kind of works, except, if I forget to sign off BeeJive, it keeps me online on their ‘cloud’, so I can connect back at any time via the iPad, only the iPad though.

If someone was to send me a message when the client is closed on the iPad, sure it sends a push message to it, but no other device. If I go out, and I know someone has sent me a message, I can’t connect to it via BeeJive on the iPhone, as it doesn’t keep them in sync. Same as if I wanted to log in with the MacBook, I can’t see what that message was.

So I decided this doesn’t work how I want and need it to. So I set about designing my own solution. The aim was to set something up running on my infrastructure, at little or no cost (not always easy when you add any iOS devices in the mix), and reliable.

What I came up with, works really well for me, so thought I’d document what I put together.

The server components run on a machine that is always on, the is the core of the solution. The underlying OS I used is a Fedora 14 box (so Fedora rawhide – the development branch). The packages I’ve used are widely available on pretty much every Linux distribution, ports (OS X, *BSD), so the OS here, really doesn’t make much of a difference.

Server side:
Irssi – a cross platform IRC client.
ZNC – a cross platform IRC bouncer.
BitlBee – a cross platform IM gateway for IRC.

Client side:
Colloquy Mobile – iOS IRC client – use this on the iPad and iPhone.
Adium (Beta) – OS X IM client – use the beta version as it supports IRC.
Pidgin – a cross platform IM client – use this on any Windows or Linux machines i happen to be on.

Again the client side really doesn’t matter, just as long as you have something you can connect to an IRC server with, it should be all good.

The setup uses BitlBee to connect to MSN, G-Talk, Jabber, Facebook chat, and pretty much any other IM network you’d want to connect into. BitlBee presents it’s self as a IRC server, and you contact list is all shown as a room. When you chat to someone you do so as you would traditionally. That part worked a treat.

At first I just had Irssi running with the proxy module enabled, this allows you to reconnect into your Irssi session, with a local client, and ‘pose’ as remote session. This worked well, so I just left Irssi running in a remote screen session, then when I wanted to connect in and chat, I would just open say Pidgin locally, and it would connect to all the rooms the Irssi session had.

This was fine, however, Irssi on it’s own doesn’t support playback. What I mean here is, if someone had sent me a DM, Irssi would have it, but when I logged in with Pidgin, Irssi wouldn’t send me a copy of that message, it only forwards new messages. For these kind of features, I’d need to employ a bouncer, not the thuggish type that stand outside nightclubs, but an IRC bouncer.

I tried a few, but settled with ZNC. I should point out here, that when using ZNC, there isn’t really any need to use Irssi in the equation any more, I just kept it as have a few custom scripts, and all my historic logs are there, so decided to keep it.

ZNC will connect to all your favourite IRC networks, keep you online, and when you connect to it with your client, it will replay all the conversations and DMs you missed since you last connected in. this was exactly the functionality I was looking for.

There are also a host of other cool things you can do with ZNC, so I have mine configured to set me away everywhere 5 minutes after my client disconnects. Also if you team colloquy mobile up with ZNC, you can have it push message your iPhone or iPad if you’re mentioned in a chat, or if someone sends you a DM, I have mine set to only do this if there are no other clients connected, else when I’m at computer having a conversation, both my iPhone and iPad have a bit of a push message spasm. This push message function was exactly what I was looking for to replace BeeJive, except this pushes it to all my devices, not just the one that has my account singed in.. neat I thought.

This my no means is the simplest way to set up your MSN, but for if you want all the prerequisites I did, it really works.

The server topology may be a bit complex so have (for my sins) put together a diagram of how it’s set out, along with a few screenshots.

Any questions, please feel free to ask.


Web interface and more from your Huawei E5830 (Three MiFi)

Posted on April 11th, 2010 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: IT / Tech.
Tags: , , , , , , , .

11 04 2010

Last year I bought a Three MiFi aka the Huawei E5830. The small box of magic has a 3G sim and a battery. It’s basically a wireless router. What this allows you to do is to ‘share’ the 3G connection to 5 wireless devices, as well as an additional one via usb.

So when I’m out, it’s great. If I need to use my netbook, laptop, iPod Touch, or my iPhone or Blackberry if their connection is poor, I can just switch on my MiFi, and as long as there is a decent Three data signal, I’m good to go. It’s a lot more flexible than just having a 3G dongle or using the inbuilt 3G modem on my laptop and netbooks, as I can share it with a number of devices at once, effortlessly.

The problem with it, is it comes with some poorly written software which is windows only app to configure the device, which can only be used when the MiFi is connected via USB. Not ideal? Well no not really. Quite often I’ll let someone I’m with leach off it, and want to set the password to something easy to share, and turn mac filtering off. This is often when I’m out and about, and I only have one windows machine, which is my work laptop, which I’m not in the habit of keeping with me. Also the interface gives no stats as to how much data I’ve used, or any logging.

So I was looking around the interwebs the other night, as I thought there must be a way around this. The previous wireless router (albeit not battery powered but still made by huawei) I had,  did have a web interface at least. Turns out there are a number of different firmwares available if you’re a bit brave, which unlock the good stuff.

First of all have a read of the flashing guide here. The process is pretty straight forward if you follow the instructions. There are two versions of the firmware available out there, one by another network, which brands with their branding, which I wasn’t a fan of. There is also the official firmware (not from three though) which is what I used, and so far am quite happy with. You can get that from here.

Make sure you follow the flashing guide, and if like mine if you flash b0rks half way through and your device then doesn’t turn on, not all is lost. Follow the guide again, and keep trying. For best results use XP. However if you’re going to use Vista/7, then ensure you run the exe as administrator, else it will get half way through the flash, then b0rk, leaving you with a MiFi that wont boot.

Once you’ve updated the firmware it should reboot, and the come back as normal. I noticed that it seemed to turn on a lot faster Also turning on 3G/Data and Wireless seems a lot quicker too. The standard Three utility will still work as before, just connect via USB. However now you’ll have web access to the Mifi, with all the goodies unlocked. So go to 192.168.x.1 where x is the subnet you set, default is 1 (so You’ll get a login screen, the username is admin, as is the password.Then you can go in to all the advanced features. You also get a bandwidth usage which is really nice to have if you’re always running out.

You can also change the config quite a bit, which is awesome. Two things that used to annoy me, that I had to turn it on, then turn wifi on, and then 3G, it should just do it all when I turn it on. Now I can set this… WIN.

Also noticed that it has a mobile (well looks iPod/iPhone friendly) gui too. Point safari to the same IP and you get

So a lot more usable, and I can say goodbye to being stuck to Windows for it. Good luck, let me know how you got on.


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