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Lorin Olsen
Works at DST Systems Inc.
Attended University of Maryland
Lives in Elgin, IL
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Lorin Olsen

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I'm building an always-on download box, and it is both cool and cryptic.

My son and I may very well become roommates - if the winds blow right. So I'm doing some final tweaks on the network here before I pull up the nets to move downstream.

One of the key pieces of cleanup is to build a TV downloader. There are lots of tutorials on how to build these tools. And if you have a PC, the process is quite simple. But I wanted to build it on a Raspberry Pi. So I've spent a bunch of hours this weekend building a Raspbian Jessie image and getting all the tools I need from a variety of repos. I got most of it done last night.

But as is always the case, I always learn something new whenever I do these kinds of projects. And today was no exception. WIth a new system, I decided to build the TV/downloader using Sickrage and SABnzbd. I won't go into great deal concerning the build choices and all of the software versions. But as of this afternoon, I was stumped on a couple of items.

After loading all the apps, I fired up the device and began configuring it. And everything went well. But when I fired up a sample download, I ran into what appeared to be Linux permission problems. And if you've ever worked with Unix or Linux, you know how these kinds of challenges get solved: lots of patience, lots of time-consuming research, and a fair bit of luck.

Basically, the system would download all the pieces. But when SABnzbd went to assemble the pieces, I got what appeared to be a permissions error. So I looked online and found that lots of people had similar problems. I tried a bunch of proposed fixes to no avail. So I brought out the hammer: I switched to running the apps under root.

Unfortunately, that didn't work either. I could access the remote NAS device. But it still couldn't save the file. Since I could do all that I needed w/o root, I switched back to running under a user account.

As I wanted to rule out LAN issues, I tried to store the files on the sdcard of the Pi. Voila. Success. So the problem had something to do with the filesystem - or so I thought.

And then it dawned on me. I wonder if the problem was not the sending system or the receiving system but how the app encoded the filenames. I switched to using my NAS devices while pointing to some different names (without blanks and special characters). This was successful. So someplace between the app designer, the coder, the tester, and the user, we had a problem that needed to be solved.

I haven't logged the bug yet (though I will). But by changing the folder path (and omitting blanks), I got the test file downloaded. And I'm viewing it now. BTW, the sample file was chosen for a reason: I had a cryptic problem with little or no background. There are lots of symbols and not a lot of backstory. So my quest today is very much like the quest of Blindspot: to piece together clues and to solve a mystery.

And, as usual, I had a boatload of fun along the way!

On to Game of Thrones! 
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Lorin Olsen

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Bizarro World indeed!
Microsoft is reaching out to Linux developers in a way that the company never has before. "The Bash shell is coming to Windows. Yes, the real Bash is coming to Windows," said Microsoft's Kevin...
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I don't understand... I've been Bashing Windows for decades...
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Lorin Olsen

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First, GoT. Now the new companion for the Doctor. What a great ribbon for the weekend.
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Truth from a bygone era...

Sola Fide,
Sola Scriptura,
Solus Christus,
Sola Gratia, and
Soli Deo Gloria
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William Hemsworth originally shared:
SOME REFLECTIONS ON SOLA FIDE The term Sola Fide, or faith alone, is one that was at the forefront of the Protestant Reformation.  Even today, this term is one that drives a wedge between Protestants and Catholics.  The term itself can be defined as the…
SOME REFLECTIONS ON SOLA FIDE The term Sola Fide, or faith alone, is one that was at the forefront of the Protestant Reformation. Even today, this term is one that drives a wedge between Protestan…
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Lorin Olsen

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Simple? Not so much!

I had a problem. Actually, there were a couple of problems to solve. First, I wanted to implement a few services - like a custom DNS. But the ISP (AT&T) would not allow any configuration changes to their customer premise router. And then I started to see some suspicious wireless traffic. Bottom line: I needed to put a router behind the AT&T residential gateway.

This graphic (from the folks at Stack Overflow), outlines the simple solution that I implemented. But, of course, it wasn't so simple.

1. I had to reconfigure the AT&T residential gateway. And AT&T really makes that difficult. I had to put the new router behind the gateway. It made sense to put the secondary WiFi array where the previous access point had been located. So I had to reconnect most of the systems to either the original network or the secondary network behind the wireless router.

2. Once the secondary router was in place, I had to find the residential gateway options that would allow a router-behind-router configuration. They do exist. And you can use them without voiding the agreement that you have with AT&T. There are plenty of guides on the Internet. But if you can't find one, just message me and I'll send you a couple of links.

3. Once the residential gateway was configured, it was back to the secondary wireless router for some tweaking. Basically, you set your router as if your original network was the Internet.

4. I installed the Pi that I had set up as a DNS black hole (i.e., an ad-blocking DNS).

5. I went around to every connected device, reconnected it to its new home, and then reconfigured everything that needed to be changed (e.g., gateway addresses, DNS settings, etc).

All of this took a couple of hours - including research. But as is always the case, there had to be a hiccup. And there was.

Now that we had two networks, and now that we had moved all of the devices around, I had to start testing everything. And while testing did reveal some device configuration changes (like my phone), things were working out fantastically - until I tested Plex (i.e., the media streaming solution that I had implemented).

Overall, Plex worked well. I had placed the main PMS sever on the client network (in order to reduce latency). And everything operated nominally. Streaming was working to all desktops and all phones and all tablets. I was feeling good - until I test the XBox.

Since the XBox is in the basement next to the DSL endpoint (i.e., the residential gateway), it made far more sense to have that device on the original network. That is especially true as the XBox doesn't like double-NAT. Truth told, it really doesn't like any NAT. But if I had put it on the client access network, then it would have broken all online gaming (until I could re-configure it). So the XBox went on the original network - along with most other servers/services - with the notable exception of Plex.

In this configuration, the XBox couldn't see or access the PMS server. But I figured that I could get to that today. In the meantime, I was informed that there was going to be a Doctor Who watch party - on the big screen connected to the XBox. I knew I couldn't repair all of the XBox stuff that quickly. So I swapped the sdcard on one of the Pi systems. I connected it to the customer access network. Fortunately, everything worked as planned. Unfortunately, 1080p streams don't like 802.11 b/g/n connections. So there was a little stutter in parts of the streams that were viewed. But there was a short-term fix.

While the Doctor Who party raged on, I did my research for this morning. And as I suspected, I needed to poke some holes through the secondary router and set up some port-forwarding rules. I did this last night - assuming that there would be more to do today. And as usual, I was rewarded with the knowledge that there was more to do.

While I could poke a hole and communicate with the PMS server, I had to make sure that the PMS server info was sent out. Fortunately, the wizards at Plex figured out how to store server address and metadata info on their service. So all I had to do was ensure that both server and client were logged into a Plexpass account. Once done, everything worked.

So after a few hours spread out over two days, I finally have an infrastructure that will bypass the limitations of the AT&T policies which lock down their routers. And the system is far more secure than it was before. Finally, ad blocking is enabled for all wireless users. This means that no one has to use their data plans simply to download ad content.

And for those that think I'm cheating the system, I'm not. Why should I pay to have someone stream bytes of data that i don't want. Just today, 8.5% of content streamed to client devices (on this network) is ad content. And some days, it goes as high as 25%. ISP's should not charge me for content I don't want. If they want to force feed me ads to make their revenue targets, then don't double-dip and make me pay for it!
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The face of the new GOP.

At the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting, delegates describe vicious missives demanding they support the GOP front-runner.
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Lorin Olsen

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What happened to the Grand Old Party?

First, McCain.  Then Romney. And now Trump.  What happened to the Grand Old Party?    And you could easily argue that the party hasn't been the same since Ronald Reagan left office.  

So what to do?

We could always build a new cadre of candidates who could rebuild the party from the ground up.  And that might be worth the effort.  But we would basically be building a new Republican Party.  

But why not?  

So let's tease this out a bit...

Do these look like good steps to follow when forming a new political party?  And is there anyone else in the #NeverTrump  movement (or the original Tea Party movement) that wants to pursue this path?  Or should we just wait and hope for the next election.    
How to Create a Political Party. What is described here are the basics of creating a new political party. Usually it is a very long and complicated process that needs a charismatic personality to start it. This explanation will give you a...
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Lorin Olsen

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And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light.
The bright flash occurs because when sperm enters and egg it triggers calcium to increase which releases zinc from the egg. As the zinc shoots out, it binds to small molecules which emit a fluorescence which can be picked up my camera microscopes.
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Lorin Olsen

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You shouldn't have to care about wireless spectrum and WiFi channels, right?

WRONG. And the higher the frequency, the better the performance, right? Also WRONG.

Yesterday, I replaced an AP designed over four years ago with a router based upon a two-year old design. So what could happen in that time?

Well, quite a bit. Four years ago, wireless engineers were buzzing about 802.11n (a recent WiFi standard). The tablet that I now use was designed back then. So it featured exploitation of the then emerging 802.11n standard. When the tablet was designed, it could use UNII-1 channels. If you remember anything from physics or engineering, you probably remember that higher frequencies require higher amounts of power to operate. So using the lower frequency channels made perfect sense for a battery-constrained tablet.

But since then, much of the research and engineering has gone into UNII-3 channels. These require more power. But batteries are getting much better. So today, current cell phones probably feature support for both the low bands and the high bands of the 5 GHz public range.

So why should I care?

Well, when I deployed the secondary router, it's default channel configuration was the higher band UNII-3 channels (i.e., the default was channel 153). So my tablet couldn't see the new wireless router. After scratching my head for a bit, I realized that changing the channel of the router to use a lower band (e.g., UNII-1 channel 44). Once I made the switch, all of the 5GHz devices (including my tablet) could use the new, secondary router.

Hooray for science.

Higher frequencies require more power but they can transmit more data. But an even bigger hooray has to go to the use of the Internet as a repository for history and for obscure tidbits of knowledge. It took me mere moments to nail down the problem. Then I stood upon the shoulders of a number of authors to resolve a problem. Hooray for a method that ensures that knowledge will be available to anyone - including our progeny. Bravo!
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Lorin Olsen

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That moment when you realize the walls can't stop you - cuz you found your escape by another means.
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There can be only one.
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And there went the evangelical vote that might have supported him.

By answering the question on LGBT bathrooms in North Carolina, Trump may have just lost Indiana.  BTW, how hard would it have been to say that there is nothing in the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to regulate bathroom usage?  This is a state issue - not a federal issue.
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Tech savant and bon vivant
  • DST Systems Inc.
    Senior Manager, 2013 - present
  • Tech Savant & Bon Vivant
    1961 - present
  • Sears Holdings Corporation
    Senior Manager, 2012 - 2013
  • General Dynamics Information Technology Inc
    Enterprise Architect, 2010 - 2012
  • H&R Block
    Senior Infrastructure Engiinee, 2007 - 2010
  • Microsoft
    Account Technology Specialist, 2006 - 2007
  • Sprint Nextel
    Senior Manager, 1987 - 2006
  • MCI Communications
    Systems Programmer, 1985 - 1987
  • Boeing Computer Services
    Programmer Analyst, 1983 - 1985
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Elgin, IL
Overland Park, KS - Fairfax, VA - Derwood, MD - Yosemite, CA - Bowie, MD - Silver Sprints, MD
Tech-savvy cyclist and bon vivant from the US heartland
I am a fifty-something 'electric roo' from the US heartland. I love God, my wife and kids, politics, bicycling, and every bit of tech I can get my hands on.
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The food is always outstanding. And the nightly specials are phenomenal. And the $1 desserts are a real treat.
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