The blog of roncli blog
Houston, Texas, United States
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Current Posts
Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Yet Another Long Night
Posted: 4:31:00 AM 0 comments
I hate it when I get momentum to work on something after midnight.

So I took a look at Reborn's ipfw/natd problem today. I actually tried to use pf, but I couldn't get anywhere with it, so I started to try to resolve the existing problem. I did succeed in getting the DNS working, although that was more of a problem with dnscache not able to listen on multiple addresses than with ipfw/natd. One problem solved.

The other problem had me baffled, though. I had absolutely no ability to VNC into my internal network from outside, where I had before I "upgraded" to FreeBSD 6.1. This is because I lost all of the configuration files when I went to upgrade.

Anyway, just tonight I figured out my problem. Basically, a remote machine will send a request to Reborn on a port that it is to forward. It does this fine, and the machine it is forwarded to processes the request fine, returning it to Reborn. The problem is when Reborn sends the response back out, it is sending it from the wrong address, namely the local ten-dotted address.

And I have absolutely no idea how to fix it.

But at least I know what the problem is now. Hopefully I'll have one of my Linux techie friends know what's wrong with my configuration and be able to fix that.

But for the love of Chick-Fil-A sweet tea, it's 4:30 in the morning, and I have a meeting in 5 hours. The curse computers put on us these days.

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Tuesday, May 30, 2006
The Long Weekend
Posted: 2:13:00 AM 0 comments
Well, the long Memorial Day weekend has come to a close, and to be honest, I have amazed myself with how much I got done. I found the bug with Backup that causes it to run at 100% CPU until you kill it and squished it. That allowed me to repackage and finalize the MSI that will be distributed once roncli Productions comes online. I've also found the bug in Due Process that causes it to tell Windows it didn't startup properly when, in fact, it did. I still have one more feature I want to add to Due Process before I finalize its MSI, which is the ability to never allow a process to run (&%*#% ctfmon.exe!). That shouldn't take terribly long.

On the website front, the forums are slowly moving along, I anticipate 12 hours worth of work remaining before they are online. However, once that's done, I have at least two sites I can port them to, including Outpost Music, something I plan on doing before I leave for vacation.

The problem is that Pwned Print is slipping further than I had wanted it to. I've been quite ignoring this big 8 hour task for the simple fact that it's... well, 8 hours. And overdue. I want to sit down and at least start it at some point, maybe I'll do it tomorrow after work or something.

Overall, I've managed to not slip further behind in my projects than I was a week ago this time, and I'm more optimistic than ever that I can follow these projects for some time to come.

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Monday, May 29, 2006
BOINCing around
Posted: 3:26:00 AM 0 comments

Not so long ago, I got full into using BOINC, the new software that drives the SETI@Home application. As you may recall, I was running a SetiQueue for a couple of years until they shut the classic application down. I was a bit reluctant to get back into it, but after some time, I've bit the bullet.

I've found there's now a ton of applications out there using the BOINC structure to do the type of grid computing that SETI@Home made famous. The result? Me adding almost a dozen and a half different projects to share the free resource time among the six computers that I use (Successor,, Reborn, ModPlug, and the two I use at work). SETI@Home has a huge head start because of the fact that I was running it on one computer for quite a long time to see how I liked it. Well, I liked it.

There's a site called BOINC Synergy that displays stats for all BOINC projects, even ones not listed on BOINC's site, including alpha and beta tests and projects that are under development. If you're into BOINC or any type of grid computing, this site's worth checking out. Projects range from search for extraterrestials, to finding a cure for cancer or AIDS, to security cracking challenges, to Chess960 algorithms, to 3D rendering... the possibilities of grid computing seem endless.

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So Much To Do
Posted: 3:15:00 AM 0 comments
I did some research as to where I stand for four other projects today... holy crap, do I have a lot to do on so many things. I'm trying to take it one project at a time. I see the light on Backup and Due Process, as all that needs to be done for them is to fix bugs and make the final package. But the roncli Productions website is just going to take forever.

I got some good work done on the forums today, but I got a late start and didn't get as far as I had hoped. Most of that stems from the complexities that exist in my classic ASP forums code. Translating it over to ASP.Net 2.0 is going to be interesting.

I also decided to add the bug fixes necessary for OSMusic.Net into the projects, and hopefully I'll slowly get to those. I'm surprised, after 5 months of nothingness, 8 songs have been added to the site within the past two weeks. I don't know if it's going to become a more active site as a result, but the activity is quite welcome.

I took a good look at Outpost Music, and decided that, when the time comes, I'll simply copy the forum system from roncli Productions into Outpost. In the meantime, there's some additions I want to make to the site to make it more functional for me and the other members of the group.

Finally, I looked at The Nightstalker page, where my music is supposed to go. I decided that I'm going to add all of my current releases there, and eventually I'll go back and add my old tracked releases as well. Maybe some day I'll convert them to Reason, but each song is a project in and of itself - I can see that taking years.

There is no shortage of work for me to do, I have stuff planned out to July 1st, and some of that work is set aside to plan out future work. There's so much to do, and I wish I had more hours in the day to do it with.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006
A Day Off... Kind of
Posted: 10:33:00 PM 0 comments
I decided to take a bit of a day off in my catch up, doing only what was needed to complete today's tasks. Both of them involved working on the upcoming roncli Productions website, and both were completed sooner than expected.

My body aches from tennis, although after only 3 times out I'm feeling a bit more athletic. Imagine. Me. Athletic. Heh.

It almost turned out to be a day off at work. A power problem caused there to be no power at work when I arrived, so our computers and everything were off. We were contemplating what time to leave when the power came back on for good at about 10:30. Oh well.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006
Still Catching Up
Posted: 11:58:00 PM 0 comments
After falling behind badly in the first week of my committment to do 2 projects a night, I feel I'm making a lot of progress. That's good, I didn't want to have to scrap the idea entirely and end up with nothing ever getting done.

The progress for Pwned Print is finally coming along nicely with all but one of the 5 tasks I had scheduled for last week being finished. Yesterday, I cleaned up my desktop and my god does it look empty. But it looks really nice and gives me a lot of space to work with. I was able to review my progress on roncli Productions and scope out another week or two's worth of work in it. I've also been able to figure out what I need to do with Backup, and after this I'll probably do the same for Due Process.

Tonight, after doing a little bit of Pwned Print, I finally sat down and figured out how to backup files in SQL Server 2005, and went a step further by scheduling monthly maintenance on the indexes and database size. Then I dove into Linux, compiled and installed BOINC, SETI@Home, and Einstein@Home (not in the plans, but remarkably easy to do), and wrestled with getting that to run. After a bit of a scare (yes, you CAN accidentally type in rm /*/*), everything was running smoothly.

The three things from last week I still haven't done is correcting the NATd and IPFW configuration for Reborn, a single form for Pwned Print, and review what's left to do for Due Process, which I should get to before I head to bed. All in all, a pretty full Monday and Tuesday, and I'm finally making some real progress on these projects.

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Catching Up
Posted: 12:07:00 AM 0 comments
Well, on Sunday I managed to finish up the stuff I was working on for the upcoming roncli Productions website. I had a few frustrations with ASP.Net again (as usual), but got by them after a while. I look forward to designing the rest of the sight.

However, I got nothing else done on Sunday, as most of the day was dedicated to fixing my damn NAT. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, the ipfw.rules and natd.config look right, and most things work. However, I can't figure out how to open up ports like I was able to before I last formatted the machine. It will be an open issue for a while.

In the meantime, today I got quite a bit done, including specing out the rest of what will be needed for roncli Productions. I will be, for the second time, writing forums in ASP.Net. This time I won't be building the HTML as I go, I'll actually be using the contrals as they were meant to be used.

I also got two completed forms for Pwned Cars, speced out the rest of what's needed for Backup 2.0, and even got some time to play with BONIC on Linux, as I'm wanting to get SETI@Home running over there. What I had speced out to be 10 hours took me 4 at best.

All this while spending an hour playing tennis after work... and man am I sore. Good thing it's time to sleep, I need it.

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Sunday, May 21, 2006
Not going well
Posted: 1:35:00 PM 0 comments
Seems the projects aren't going as well as planned.

The messaging system in roncli Productions is nearly complete, though. I did finally get some time to work on that last night, despite wanting it done on Wednesday. However, it's not 100% complete. Further, I never got a chance to fix the NATd and IPFW support on Reborn, and absolutely no progress has been made on Pwned Cars. I also wanted to clean up my desktop and compile and install SETI@Home for both the Reborn and ModPlug servers so that could be running in its idle CPU time. I doubt I'll get to backing up the SQL Server on any time soon.

Fortunately, Sunday is a long day, and I've got a lot of time to do a lot of things, and I'm in a good working mood. Let's see what can get done!

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Thursday, May 18, 2006
Another Long Night
Posted: 1:15:00 AM 0 comments
I knew the night was going to get off to a bad start when I didn't even get sat down in front of the computer until 7 o'clock. It wasn't for a bad reason, though. Saurin called, discussing some possible projects (as if I don't have enough, see last night's post for details on that) that might be on the horizon if I'm interested.

But despite chatting for about a half an hour after work, I decided to open up Pwned Print to play around with the interface. I open Visual Studio.Net, and it opens up a few code screens. Then it tries to open a designer and dies.

Uh oh.

I spent the next half hour trying to figure out what the hell was wrong with my computer. I did a chkdsk on the hard drive that contains the source code, as that drive was known to be bad at one point (don't worry, all the code is in Source Safe and backed up twice onto Reborn), and it returned fine. I had serious thoughts of starting on that reinstallation I've been toying with before I had an idea. I opened up BOINC and suspended it. As soon as I did that, everything worked perfectly. What the heck is going on between Visual Studio and a BOINC application that causes Visual Studio to lock up? I hate it when applications don't play nice with others.

No problem, 7:30 rolls around and Kathy's up and about. I get started playing around in the code and my personal BlackBerry goes off. There's email that I have to attend to, and by the time I finish up with that, it's 11. I work another half hour, then Kathy messages me because she has no money to get any food, so I had to feed her.

12:30, I sit down for the last time, and after another half hour of work and I've at least got half of my daily goal done. Seems to be my standard since starting these projects, I can't get more done than half of what I expected to.

I was supposed to work on the roncli Productions site launch, but never got close to touching it. Here it is almost quarter after one, and quite frankly, after being up for 18 hours, I'm more than ready for bed.

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Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Posted: 1:59:00 AM 0 comments
I decided to jump into Microsoft Project to organize my list of projects. My god, do I have a lot of projects. Not counting weekly tasks, I have 27 projects. Twenty-seven. When am I going to find time to do them all?

I suppose that's what Project is for, finding the time to do them all. It's not very encouraging at first glance, but when I glaze over the details, things do move along, if slowly. I doubt I'll ever complete all 27 projects, though, as certain projects, such as the D3TL 2003 upgrade (yes, I know it's 2006), D3DSN, and MediaSmarts probably isn't going to happen. They are the absolute lowest on my priority list right now, although I will at the very least review where these projects stand before June is out.

My goal is to get PwnedCars done before my vacation in June - by the way, I'm leaving for Melbourne, Australia on June 17th - and get some significant progress done on the new roncli Productions website. After that, I've got some long-term projects, including Cent, which I've mentioned here before. Since I've actually had to use C++ at work, I'm a bit more comfortable with the language, and hope that can help me get more done on Cent.

Here's a large (but incomplete, I must have some secrets!) selection of the 27 projects I have, for your interest: - Where ModPlug used to be hosted before the first crash, this box now holds some websites for MisterX (Kim), and its future is unknown at the moment. It probably will turn into a hosting box for the next, but that's up to Kim & LPChip. (By the way, technically isn't an address, it's just my designation for the computer itself.) - Reborn is my router, running FreeBSD 6.1 just like the ModPlug box. It's also my network's backup server with 300 GB of storage space. It backs up everything, including my MAME collection, OSMusic.Net, and all of the photo's Kathy's got stored on her computer. - This is my main computer, and the reason it's a project is because I want to reinstall Windows. Yeah. That's going to be a fun day or three. - This is the Windows server where all my ASP websites live. The only thing I need to do is figure out how to backup the databases so that Backup can pick them up and put them onto Reborn.

Outpost Music - My music group that I haven't really done much with in a year and a half. Well, it's high time I got the forums working. I'll likely work on that after vacation.

The Nightstalker - Not to be confused with, is solely devoted to my music. However, there's only 2 songs listed there right now. Considering I've released over 50, that's got to change.

Chess - Not sure what to call this yet, but I'm really interested in making a site with Java that will allow people to solve chess puzzles, play games, chat, and more. Definitely a long termer.

Cent - I really haven't come out and said what this is, but it's my dabbling into CrystalSpace to see if I can write a legitimate 3D first person shooter. It uses Crystal Space as its rendering engine, so once I understand it - and I understand a lot of it right now - writing the necessary code should just be a matter of time. How far I go with it depends on how well it runs.

Solar - Solar is a TCP/IP Text Processing Engine. I can hear it now. Huh? Basically, it is a telnet server that allows multiple connections, allowing them to interact. It would be great groundwork for a MUD-type application, but I really haven't had any plans to do anything with it. Putting it in as a project at least gives me an opportunity to improve it.

ChessCli - This is definitely being called ChessCli, and is my attempt at creating a WinBoard chess engine.

Outpost IRC Bot - Not sure if I even want to continue this project, but it was designed to be a cutthroat one hour compo manager. I had a lot of ideas for this about 4 years ago. Whether I can recall them, well, who knows. Logs - I'd really like to expand, as I'm recording a lot more information than I'm displaying. I'd also like to work on the performance and get this thing smoking along.

Torrent Keeper - Frustrated with the lack of true multithreading BitTorrent applications, I started Torrent Keeper about a year ago. It hasn't gone anywhere, but I figure this will likely follow Backup and Due Process as one of the first few roncli Productions offerings.

Word Field - A silly idea of mine that I'd like to follow through on eventually. Combine word scramble, mine sweeper, and some aspects of Press Your Luck, and you've got a good idea what this game will be like.

D3TL 2003 - As mentioned above, I started to do an upgrade of D3TL in 2003. The database was really badly designed, even though it was much better than just updating a Flash file every now and again. Problem is, I don't play Descent anymore, and given that there hasn't been a real game played in months, I might be better off saving an idea like this for Cent if I ever finish it.

D3DSN - This is the Descent 3 Dedicated Server Network. Yes, it's still up. No one uses it though, because the software's buggy. When I went from Visual Basic 6.0 to .NET, I really messed up with some timing issues. What I really need to do is add true threading to that application, but the last time I tried to test it with Esa, I ended up giving up because he wasn't seeing the new web services for some reason or another. Again, if I ever pick this up, it will probably be for Cent instead.

IsItUp - Recall September of last year when I high-tailed up to Lubbock, TX, to escape Hurrican Rita. While I was up there, I was interested in whether or not my servers were up. So, I wrote IsItUp, an insanely simple app. I might expand it a bit, but probably will end up being released as freeware.

Numbers - Some people write "Hello World". I write Numbers. I've written this game in many languages, including TI99-4 Basic, Macintosh QuickBasic (OS 7.0 days!), C128 Basic (dual screen!), and finally Visual Basic 6.0. It's a rather addicting game, and over the years I've added some features to it that make it even more challenging. I want to do something with it, I just don't know what yet. Blog - Yes, the very same one you are reading! I'd like to add some things to the blog, maybe my BOINC stats, maybe my Google Calendar agenda, perhaps some other widgets that will make the site more interactive.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2006
CDBurnerXP Pro
Posted: 9:35:00 PM 0 comments
More good software, CDBurnerXP Pro sounds like an expensive, state of the art CD Burner. Well, knock out the word "expensive" and you've got it right. I downloaded the approximately 11 MB program, installed it in seconds, and had a CD burnt within 10 minutes after installing. No confusing wizard interface, just a very solid CD burning application that's free. Check it out.

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Microsoft's Latest Resource Hog
Posted: 1:02:00 AM 0 comments
I haven't talked about bad software in a while, either. At all costs, avoid Microsoft's IE 7 beta.

It's not that it's a bad browser. They have tabbed browsing, now, so it's not all that bad. Popup blockers, phishing filters, all sorts of neat little bells and whistles have been added. However, all of this comes at a cost.

IE 7 has destroyed my computer's performance. I have web browsers open all the time as part of what I do, and whenever I do, my CPU is instantly a constant 25 to 50 percent. Not all of it is IE 7, either, csrss.exe joins in, running 10-20%, even after reinstalling the one hot fix Microsoft updated late last month.

The last thing I want is a computer that's annoyingly slow, and IE 7 has done it. I can't wait to get a chance to sit down and uninstall this stupid browser. Maybe I'll just take all of Windows with it, that can't be bad.

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Google Calendar
Posted: 12:58:00 AM 0 comments
I haven't talked about good software in a while, so let me introduce you to Google Calendar.

When you first look at your calendar, you see nothing but... well... a calendar. I never was big on using a calendar before, and I really had nothing to put in there. So I started by creating a schedule for the Houston Aeros 2005-2006 season. It actually went fairly well, I could put in the name of the arena they were playing in along with the city and state (or providence, they played a few games in Canada), and it would come up in Google maps. Neat!

Next, I put in my vacation, flights included. It's a bit lacking in time-zone specific information, but I was willing to overlook that for getting 3 hours advance notice of a flight.

Finally, I started throwing my blocks for working on projects in there, and that has really gotten me fully into using Google Calendar. I'm fairly amazed at how simple the interface is to use, yet has many features that make using it worth it. Check it out, even if you don't use calendars much. You may be surprised at what it has to offer.

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Bad start
Posted: 12:52:00 AM 0 comments
So much for getting a good start to my 2-a-day projects. I got wrapped up in silly stuff I was doing and never got around to managing my projects for the rest of the week. Oh well, I'll work on it tomorrow I suppose. Hopefully I can get something started.

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Reborn is reborn
Posted: 12:46:00 AM 0 comments
What I refer to as my 4th computer, known as Reborn, has been... well, reborn.

On Thursday, I logged in to find most of /bin gone. No idea what happened. I did an in-place reinstall of FreeBSD 5.4 and everything seemed good, minus an unusual lack of space on my / partition. It wasn't a big deal, though. I spent the next two days on and off portupgrading and otherwise making sure it was running fine.

Sunday, I got brave. I decided to in-place upgrade to FreeBSD 6.1. The lack of space on the / partition killed the upgrade and left me with a non-functional system. Someone suggested I had a virus of some sort, or even got hacked. Argh! So I reinstalled most everything Sunday, and today I finished up configuring the DHCP, NAT, and Firewall so that the box was back to normal.

The good news in all of this is I finally am getting a feeling of comfort within Linux. I now know more about rc.conf, what /usr/local/etc/rc.d is used for, how to configure and upgrade applications, and so on. I'm not quite ready (read: not ever going) to make Linux my primary machine, but the server side of it is really making me consider my options in terms of my choice of servers when I do things.

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Monday, May 15, 2006
This blog
Posted: 1:32:00 AM 0 comments
So I've been terrible updating this blog so far this year.

I do hope to change that, however. I've decided to get organized and work on at least two projects a day, reporting on what I've done here so that at least I can show myself some progress, if not the people who follow this blog. Things will start tomorrow, so expect to see regular stuff up here soon!

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