Monday, 10 July 2017

Tomato and Golden Frog

Yes readers, it’s been a few days since the last post.  I’ve been totally absorbed with the new computer.  Initially the problems revolved around the physical assembly of the components.  It’s been 10 years since I last assembled a pc and in that time either my eyesight has gotten worse or the printing on the components has become smaller (probably the former).  Anyway it took me a full day to assemble the pc and then the damned thing wouldn’t start.  The fancy LED’s inside illuminated and the fans started running, but nothing on the monitor.  When this has happened during previous builds I’ve listened for the series of “beeps” the pc makes on start-up and been able to find the fault based on the sequence and number of beeps.  Well this pc doesn’t have a speaker.  Compounding the problem was the fact that the labelling of the cable terminals in the case didn’t match the labelling of the terminals on the motherboard.  What I needed was a diagnostics POST card.  This gets plugged into the motherboard and displays a fault code on a small LCD display.  EVENTUALLY the problem was identified.  There was NOTHING wrong with the way I’d assembled the various components.  However whilst the motherboard has a socket for a monitor the Ryzen 5 cpu does NOT support on board graphics.  In order to resolve the problem I needed to buy a graphics card.  This computer is going to be a media server and doesn’t need a monitor as it will have remote access.  But I needed to attach a monitor to configure the system.  So I bought a cheap second-hand graphic card.  That solved the hardware issue!

The next step was to install the software and I’m using linux.  It’s been some time since I used linux which has also made for slow going.  I can’t configure the RAID (redundant array) as the computer hard drives are in our boxes on their way from the UK.  Consequentially I’ve been trying to do the setup around that issue.  I can report the pc is actually working and I can access it remotely either using ‘putty’ or ‘vnc’.

Another step in the project has been to replace the propriety firmware (operating system) on the Netgear router with a more advanced firmware which will give greater functionality.  I’ve opted for ‘Tomato’.  I’d already changed the firmware to another version of Tomato but two days ago I discovered our VPN (Virtual Private Network) wasn’t as private as I would like.  After some research I selected VyprVPN from Golden Frog.  Their firmware will integrate with Tomato, but when I attempted to do that yesterday it wasn’t successful.  Eventually I worked out that the latest version of Tomato was incompatible with the Golden Frog ‘add-on’.  This meant I had to roll back the Tomato firmware to an earlier version (not easy) then re-install the Golden Frog add-on.  That was finally completed this morning. 

It’s now much easier to select a VPN destination using the Golden Frog firmware on the router.  Moreover Golden Frog use high level encryption software so I’m reasonably confident we are surfing the web anonymously.  Having the VPN software on the router means that every device on our side of the router is now protected.

For several days we lost track of our UK boxes.  The container ship made a port call at the bottom of peninsula Malaysia and then headed towards Korea.  My assumption was our container had been unloaded and was awaiting transhipment.  Pickfords had previously provided us with the container number and after a brief search I confirmed the container was in Malaysia awaiting the arrival of the E.N. France.  Going back to the international shipping website identified the E.N.France was moored at Bangkok.  She is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on 12 Jul before heading towards Fremantle Port, Perth with a forecast arrival date of 19 Jul.  Allow 3 days for Customs clearance, etc and we might have the boxes by 22-23 Jul.

Oh, there was a knock at the door.  A courier had arrived to deliver the dashcam I’d ordered from China.  We now have both the dashcam and TPMS but I don’t want to start fitting them until we have a few more tools.  The Leatherman has been very useful, but I’d rather have a few more specialist tools before I start disassembling the new vehicle.  

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