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Linux BitTorrent Clients

I’ve been looking at bit torrent (BitTorrent) clients for Linux over the past few weeks — and to say there’s a huge number of candidates wouldn’t do justice to the number of choices a person has… but like so many things in life, quantity and quality are generally on perpendicular axises.

I set a fairly simple set of requirements for the client:

  • Open source
  • Stability
  • Simplicity
  • Configurability
  • Support protocol encryption (require it)
  • Light on resources
  • Ability to handle torrents via URLs

And I set some nice to haves:

  • Search integration
  • Daemon
  • IP black listing (though I use IPBlock, so this is only a nice to have for others)

So once again I set out to limit the field and do some real testing on Ubuntu 10.04LTS… and the ones I ended up really doing more than just kicking the tires are listed below (alphabetically).  Other failed because they didn’t meet my requirements, they were pieces of crap that should be expunged from the world (LOL), or I just didn’t like them enough to waste time and energy on them.  The links for each of the below are to Wikipedia; you can find links on there to the website for each client.  I installed all of the clients via the package manager on Ubuntu.

Deluge · Deluge is a fairly basic program, though has just about every setting configurable that you might want.  It does have a client / server model (use of it is optional); but a single instance of the daemon is unable to handle multiple users; but it does allow you to terminate your session and continue downloading, and it doesn’t seem to have any issue running multiple daemons (one for each user).   This client also offers a number of “plug ins” to provide a block list, a web ui, a schedule, etc — features most others just include as part of the base system.  I wanted to like this client more than I did; but in the end I can only call it acceptable.

KTorrent · KTorrent is a nicely done program, and it has just about every setting configurable that you might want.  Interestingly by default the queue manager is disabled, so it really doesn’t act much like any other bit torrent client I’ve ever used — but enabling it gives you the ability to download multiple torrent at once.  One short coming is you don’t seem to be able to limit the total number of downloads and uploads together — you can do them individually, but that means for trackers that limit your total active connections you could end up not using all of them.  I’ve also noted that this client seems to be a little “fat” and consume a significant amount of system resources (GUI in particular) when left running for extended periods.  I like this client; but there are better.

qBittorrent · qBittorrent is essentially a *nix clone of the Windows version of uTorrent (µTorrent); and it certainly does a good job mimicking it.  It seems to have all the features I wanted; and none of the downsides.  It has a web ui, a ip filter, etc.  It seems to be reasonably light on system resources and just works.  If I had to pick a standalone bit torrent client, this would probably be my recommendation.

TorrentFlux · TorrentFlux is actually a web ui for BitTornado.  There is a fork of the project called TorrentFlux-b4rt that looks like it will eventually offer more features (and support more bit torrent engines) but for the moment TorrentFlux appears to be much more stable.  It’s fairly basic, but has most all the features one might want.  While many of the others offer a web ui, I think this is probably one of the better “server” solutions for bit torrent clients.

Transmission · Transmission is a very simple bit torrent client; perhaps too simple.  It has all the settings you need, as well as a web ui.  It also has ports for just about every operating system (so if you only wanted to deal with one bit torrent client on multiple operating system this would be a good choice).  Transmission has a huge following; but personally I felt it just wasn’t quite what I wanted.

In the end, I guess I didn’t find a bit torrent client that I really liked… but I think TorrentFlux (or a re-incarnation of it) has good potential to be what I want; and I think qBittorrent is probably my favorite of the stand alone clients.  However, in saying that, let me underscore that every client on this list works, and works acceptably well — so I don’t think you’ll go wrong with any of them… and I’m sure that those with a religious conviction to one or the other will just not accept that their favorite client doesn’t top my list… but in fact, I’m holding the tops slots of my list open hoping I find something better.

NOTE: The use of torrents for downloading does not necessarily denotate that a user is breaking any laws.  That said, because many internet service providers will terminate a user that is using a torrent client, it is a good idea to require encrypted connections and use IP filtering software (with current black lists).

Originally posted 2010-08-16 02:00:55.

AT&T U-Verse – Summary

After thinking over AT&T U-Verse service I’m going to have to make the call that it’s something you’ll have to consider long and hard and figure out if the cost makes it something that’s worth it to you.

AT&T is a horrible company to do business with; but then again, so likely is the company your get your video, telephone, and internet services from now — so that might be a wash.

AT&T is a company that doesn’t engender trust is the least — and you’ll have to keep documentation and follow up on them on just about every aspect of your order, your service, your rebates, your rewards, your bills, etc; but then again, that’s probably all true of almost every company you do business with now — so that might be a wash.

The prices are high; so unless the service offerings are a good fit for exactly what you want (and you can take advantage of some of the bundle discounts) you might want to deal with separate companies for each of the services.

The only real positive thing I can say about AT&T U-Verse is that there isn’t a long term contract; in fact there’s not really a contract of any sort (as long as you ignore the fact that you will need to retain the service for some period of time to actually get your rebates and rewards).

One thing I suspect we’ll see as the economy continues to stagnate is that companies will do more to retain existing customers; so you might find that pricing becomes much more flexible (I’ve already been offered a “free” upgrade to U450 service with the top-tier internet for 90-days… of course I’m pretty sure they’re betting on me forgetting to downgrade [I said “no thanks”]).

Originally posted 2010-05-18 02:00:50.

Have to start keeping an eye on my neighbors…

Only 24 July 2010 Greg Brown, Jr (son of the Santa Rosa County Property Assessor Greg Brown) and his wife Jennifer Brown were caught on surveillance video removing his opponent’s campaign signs in the Florida State District 1 Representative race Doug Broxson.

Because of previous incidents of vandalism, video surveillance was shot by Jason Broxon (the candidate’s son) on property in Holt Florida owned by Don Dewrell.

Doug Broxson’s campaign manager, Kevin Brown (not related to Greg Brown), delivered copies of the tape to the Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Department and the Pensacola News Journal.

Greg Brown insists that he and his wife did nothing wrong by removing Broxson’s signs from property owned by a Brown campaign supporter.

Brown said he saw his opponent’s signs on the vacant lot after leaving a political rally in Jay on Saturday night, and said that the owner of the land had previously agreed that Brown’s would be the only District 1 candidate allowed to place signage on his property.

I personally have a few issues with Brown’s statements.  Jay (Santa Rosa County, FL) is immediately North of our neighborhood (Brown and his wife live just down the street from me), and Holt (Okaloosa County, FL) is no where near any reasonable route from Jay to Milton — in fact, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way (Hwy 87 goes from just East of Jay to within a mile of their house; Holt would be a 25 mile or so detour — on a 10 mile drive)… so to me, there’s something missing in what he said.

Also, apparently Doug Broxson didn’t get the memo that he wasn’t authorized to post signage on that property (and it may well have been posted on the public right of way, it’s hard to tell the distance from the road in the video)… and the “conversation” between Greg and his wife makes the whole episode seem a little suspect; but regardless, it seems very suspect for a candidate to remove another candidate’s signs — clearly we’re not dealing with the sharpest tool in the shed (actually I’ve never met Greg Brown, Jr — but any candidate that puts himself in a potentially compromising situation like this might not be my first choice for making decisions that effect my livelihood).

Anyway, you can find a great many write ups on this with a quick search (you can use the search box to the right if you like).

Bottom line, maybe I need to move putting up my surveillance cameras around my property a little higher on the list — I might not live in as safe a neighborhood as I thought.

Originally posted 2010-08-11 02:00:23.

Google Music – Beta

Google has launched their cloud based streaming music service as a beta; you can request an invitation (using a Gmail account) via the link below.

What does it get you?

Well, up to 20,000 songs in your cloud storage; play back support on most Android devices; play back support from a browser; and an upload program that will sync your library to the cloud.

Not bad for free.

Apple provides a similar service for $25 per year; there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store.  The main differences being that there’s no Android support (basically devices iTunes supports is supported), and Apple actually finger prints the files and serves their iTune version of the music rather than your copy (likely at a higher bit rate — they, of course, don’t incur the storage overhead).

Amazon provides a similar service for $20 per year (you also get some storage for other files); and there’s no limit to the amount of music you can store, but you might find their uploader is a little less friendly to use (OK — to be fair it’s been updated since I tested it — so maybe not).

You can play with the free 5GB version of the Amazon service and decide if you like it, and it’s worth the $20 (I was hoping they’d just bundle it into Prime — but if they’re serious about Hulu they really need to start Al-a-cart charges for services, or Prime is going to have to go up).

Anyway, if you have an Android device, I highly recommend you go ahead and request an invite to the Google Music Beta — you can try the Amazon out as well… if you have an iOS device, you’re probably stuck with the Apple solution (but you’re an Apple customer, so you’re used to having to shell out money for everything).

Also, the Amazon tablets will reportedly ship with a free Prime subscription, possibly a free year of cloud storage might be thrown in as well (that’s speculation on my part).

http://music.google.com/about/

Originally posted 2011-09-10 02:00:28.

Joomla Review

Joomla is one of the most popular open source Content Management Systems (CMSs) around.

The core of Joomla is open source and free to use; however, there are many add-ons and themes for Joomla that are commercial.  In fact, what I found is particularly with themes, almost none of the free themes are what I would consider “professional”.

Joomla has an extraordinarily steep learning curve.  You can do almost nothing with the CMS right after installing it without reading a fairly significant amount of documentation.

Even after reading the documentation, it is fairly involved to differentiate a Joomla site from every other Joomla site (which is why generally it’s so easy to identify a site that uses Joomla).  Don’t get me wrong, you can build a very customized site using Joomla — however, mere mortals might have to hire a consultant.

Joomla to me is unnecessarily complex technology looking for problems to solve in a way that creates job security.  Did I say that? LOL

If Joomla does what you want, and Joomla will create the look-and-feel that you like, and you can understand (and are comfortable with) the paradigm — then have at it.  It certainly works, and it’s very solid.  However, you should consider the total cost of Joomla before you dive head on into it (and while the core system is free, you may find that themes, modules, and consulting adds up quickly).

http://joomla.org/

Originally posted 2010-04-04 02:00:27.

Junk Mail

For a very long time now I’ve been trying to get my name removed from mailing lists at companies.

I’ve tried the DMA do-not-market lists, and the FCC do-not-call lists — as well as the US Postal Service PS-1500 (Application for Prohibitory Order); and while I recommend you try those approaches first, you’re going to find a collection of companies that just believe they can do what they want, and continue to send you mail after you have expressed your desire to have it stopped.

Three such companies I’ve found are:  Dish Network, DirecTV, and Medicom (a local cable provider).

Nothing seems to register with these companies — you can call and be polite, you can call and be abusive — and you will still get mail.

Now, though, I have a new tact — and this seems to work.

When you receive an advertisement from vendors who just won’t remove you from their mailing list, it likely says something like “Call Now” and provides a number… well, call it.

That’s right — call the number; and when they ask why you are calling it, simply politely say because I received an advertisement in my mail box from your company that ask me to — and since I’ve requested a number of times previously to no have anything from your company mailed to me, I can appreciate that it must be very important that I call.

Just continue to be polite, tell then you are not interested in their services; don’t answer any personal questions, and continue to remind them that you have repeatedly ask to be removed from their mailing lists, and state that you are convinced that it must be very important that you call, because they continue to send requests for you to call.

This will likely go on for awhile, just do it when you have something else to keep you busy (like answer email, write a blog post, etc)… be even toned and polite — don’t say anything, just repeat yourself.

If they say they can’t help you and offer another number — remind them that you haven’t ask for anything.  You are simply calling in as requested by the mail that they sent you against your wishes.

Eventually they will transfer you to a supervisor… and they may in fact transfer you again — but the bottom line is that this is the most effective way I have found to actually get your address and phone numbers removed from their databases.

Also, make sure you indicate to them that they do not have your permission to call or mail you… and that you will be happy to call them each and every time you receive a piece of mail from them asking you to do so.

You may find that the sales people on the phone will whine to you about they’re just employees trying to make a living… but they are, in fact, part of the problem, and they have the ability to offer you a solution — they just generally will not until you make it clear to them that you will call (as their companies advertisements request).

Also, you’re not breaking any laws…

The company could send you an order to stop calling them — but that order has effect only as long as they do not send you another request to call them (an advertisement)… so, bottom line, you will achieve your goal, on your terms.

Additionally, I encourage everyone in America to adopt this strategy… if someone keeps sending you mail that you do not want, just call them (like it says to do in the mail) and explain to them that you are calling because they have ask you to — and that you will continue to do that each and every time they mail you; that you have no interest in their services; and have asked on numerous occasions to be removed from their marketing rolls.

One last thing — you do not have to provide them with any more information than is on the mailing… so if it doesn’t have you name or your full name — you only need to provide what is on the mailer.  If it doesn’t have your phone number, you don’t have to provide it (though remember, when you call a toll free number they always get your caller id — you cannot block it).

Originally posted 2011-03-04 02:00:42.

Domain Registrars and Hosting Companies

All domain registrars and hosting companies aren’t created equally…

If all you need from your domain registrar is just to get a domain, then find the absolute cheapest (and many have discounts for some TLDs from time to time)… but in general you might want DNS services, web redirects, email, etc… or even a full blown hosting plan — so it’s work looking around.

My domains are registered with, and hosted by 1and1.com — do I think they are the best… NO, but I do think they have a very good price for the services I happen to want, and their system works reasonably well.

But before you make a decision, you really need to decide what services you want, and look to see who offers what.

Ask your friends, a personal recommendation is one of the best ways to narrow the field.  Remember, though, not everyone wants the same services, so make sure you ask what services your friends get from the various companies, any problems they’ve had, anything they particularly like or dislike — and ask if they chose it because of a special promotional price.  The best deal today, won’t always be the best deal tomorrow.

Do you need your hosting company and your registrar to be the same?  Well, no you don’t…  Often though you’re going to find you get a better price overall by having the be the same.  That said, if you’re looking to move your domains from one place to another you might want to “try before you buy”.

I’d say the only requirement that a company has to have for you to consider them is a “money back guarantee”.  You can look over the information, play with their dummy control panel, etc all you want… but you won’t know if you like it (and it does the job) until you actually try to use it.

Most reputable hosting companies provide a 30-day money back guarantee.  I certainly ended up taking advantage of that at an “unlimited” hosting company.  And that’s something you just need to be sure they have.

The other thing to look at is what the contract term is for a reasonable price.  Some companies want you to sign up for three or four years to get a good price.  My advice is go with someone who gives you a competative price for thee to six months, and maybe even is offering a promotional package that extends the time you pay for.  Never sign up for more than a year unless it’s some incredible price, and then consider whether the company is likely going to be in business for the duration of the contract — and make sure they have a money back guarantee — and pay by credit card.

What if you only need domain registration?

Well, look at the prices charged, and any extra fees imposed.  You can check what the ICANN fee is currently, and contrast that with what the company is providing.  Odds are, though, you do want more than just a domain registration unless you do your own DNS, eMail, web, and blogs…

Here’s a partial list of feature you will probably want to consider:

Price

  • DNS (types of records you can create — additional domains, secondary domains)
  • email (POP, IMAP, SMTP — SSL/TLS — how many domains, how many accounts, forwarders, responders)
  • web (PHP, ASP, PERL, dot NET — how much storage, how much transfer, additional domains, secondary domains)
  • web applications (blogs, web page editors, etc)
  • database (MySQL, Postgress, Oracle, SQL Server — how large, how many)
  • access (FTP, Telnet, SSH, SFTP, SCP, WebDAV)

Here are a few companies to get you started:

  • JustHost
  • 1and1
  • NameCheap
  • Dotster
  • GoDaddy

And do an internet search on hosting companies – that will return quite a few.  Be mindful, many companies do business under multiple names.  I don’t generally consider this a very ethical practice; but not all companies who do this are dishonest.

 

One final personal note.

If NameCheap had more competative prices for hosting packages, and provided IMAP email I’d probably still be using them.  They do charge a little more than say 1and1, but they provide users the ability to control most every aspect of their domains.

I just moved all my domains from NameCheap to 1and1 when I decide I wanted to outsource my email, web, and blogs…

Originally posted 2008-05-12 13:17:53.

Windows 7 – Install With Multiple Disks

I set out this evening to install Windows 7 Ultimate on one of my “high end” desktops, and like all my desktops it has multiple SATA drives running in AHCI mode (after all, it’s “high end”).

No matter how I setup my drives in the BIOS or with the SATA cables I kept getting the larger (newer) drive as DISK0 in the Windows 7 install and the smaller (older) drive as DISK1.

Finally I started doing some reading on the Internet, and I’m not the only person who’s noticed this behavior.  In fact, some say it’s random.

Based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve read I suspect that Microsoft’s EFI BIOS implementation re-polls [discovery] the drives and ignores what the PC legacy BIOS tells it… and the first drive to respond is DISK0.  In my case the drive I want to be DISK0 is probably predictably slower than the drive I want to be DISK1, so I see consistent results.  However, if the drives are very similar (or identical) you could see either become ready first (a micro-second counts).

This is obviously a bug in Windows 7 (didn’t happen in Vista; but apprently is did happen in Vista SP1 and SP2), and can cause all kinds of problems down the road.

What’s the best way to deal with it?

Open up your case and unplug all but the first drive, do your installation, then power up the drives one-by one (if you have hot-swap capability with SATA you don’t need to power down, if you don’t you will have to power down to plug in each drive in turn).

You can easily change the drive letters in disk manager; and once Windows tattoos the drives they should be fixed in order in disk manager.

If you have a motherboard that uses the Intel chip set you may want to download and install the Intel® Matrix Storage Manager for Windows 7.

If PCs used EFI BIOS (like Macs) this probably wouldn’t be an issue, but since Microsoft uses a soft EFI BIOS to boot, they should have tested this better, and they should have fixed it (there are several people who indicated they reported this behavior during the beta testing).

While Windows 7 might be a nice overhaul of Vista; it’s not without it’s problems, and maybe the whole PC heritage is beginning to be too antiquated to keep updating; perhaps it’s time for a new design.

Originally posted 2009-11-12 01:00:38.

Just Say No Brown Bailout

Read up on the maneuvering United Parcel service is aiming for in the US Congress to attempt to limit competition in the form of the FAA Reauthorization bill that could make labor costs increase radically for Federal Express.

Time to put an end to special interest legislation; time to vote out senators and representatives who cater to special interests — hell, in my mind time to vote out every incumbent!

http://www.brownbailout.com/

Originally posted 2010-09-12 02:00:37.

Satellite TV Law Suit

The State of Washington Attorney General filed a law suit against the nation’s largest satellite television provider DirecTV today alleging ‘deception’ was built into their business model.

Great start Rob, you must have a long list of major US companies to file litigation against behind this one.

Satellite TV providers, cable television companies, cellular telephone providers, credit card providers — most all of them seem to build deception into their marketing and customer relationship… and you really don’t need to survey many of their customers to get a good picture of it.

The only thing that’s surprising about this law suit is that DirecTV was so arrogant they didn’t quickly settle out of court for a fraction of what they’ve likely soaked their customers for — and that they may well now have similar litigation filed in most every other state.

For completeness I’ve included a link to the complaint filed against DirecTV by the State of Washington.  You can search for more information on the case, and (humorous) responses from DirecTV.

State of Washington v DirectTV (King County Superior Court, WA)

Originally posted 2009-12-14 01:00:17.