Tag: Geek

DD-WRT firmware on Netgear WNDR4300 Router – Parenting Tool

To be honest, we haven’t been doing the best this summer with keeping the kids off their electronics.  In fact, we’re doing the worst we’ve ever done.  We’re busy.  The kids are addicted to their electronics and turning them off is a bit like taking the drugs away from an addict – not without a fight.

Not that long ago, I instituted a wifi blackout at 10pm and recently rolled it back to 9:30pm.  This helps keep the kids from trying to sneak their devices into their rooms to communicate with friends or play connected games. It also renders xbox online games mostly useless and stops youtube video watching all together.

Next I added a mid-day wifi blackout from 4-6pm to force the kids to go outside and play while the sun is out.  The first week went over like telling a smoker they can’t smoke on and airplane in 1980.  They played right up to the blackout time and then moped around for the next 2 hours.  After several days of being irritated with their antics, I threatened to extend the blackout if they didn’t start going outside to play.   Now it has been several weeks and they have actually started pulling out board games and making up their own games to play.  So far so good.

The next phase of my plan is to flip the blackouts so that the wifi blackouts are the norm and instead there will be open wifi times.  Once school starts, I plan to setup their wifi access so they can only have access between 6-8:30pm.  That should prevent them from rushing through their homework to get to video games and also kick them off early enough that they can take their ridiculously long showers before bed.

DD-WRT access restrictions on my router seem to be working pretty well.  Every once and a while they flake and I have to jiggle the handle by re-saving the already saved settings.  It is annoying but it isn’t frequent enough to make me want to switch to some other router or firmware.

Ubuntu 14.04 Tweaks

Here are some of the Ubuntu 14.04 tweaks I’ve found and took note of.  I didn’t invent or figure out any of these things (so don’t give me credit).  I just googled and then used them and took note of them so that I could use them in the future.  I no longer know where I found any of these so I’m sorry I’m not linking to the real source.  Hopefully someone else will find these useful too.

Click icon in unity taskbar minimizes a window or restores a window:

To enable:
dconf write /org/compiz/profiles/unity/plugins/unityshell/launcher-minimize-window true

To disable:
dconf write /org/compiz/profiles/unity/plugins/unityshell/launcher-minimize-window false

Change the terminal tab color so it is easier to see which tab is selected:

# Add this to the file to change the tab color in terminals so you can see which one is selected.  This will make the ative tab white and the inactive tabs grey

# Modify this file

TerminalWindow .notebook tab:active {
background-color: #ffffff;
TerminalWindow .notebook tab {
background-color: #C0C0C0;

Add ‘open in terminal’ to nautilus file browser:

sudo apt-get install nautilus-open-terminal

Force a higher resolution than the laptop screen provides:

Enable higher resolution:
xrandr –output LVDS1 –panning 1640×922 –scale 1.2×1.2

This is how I can force resolution to go back to default:
xrandr –output LVDS1 –panning 1366×768 –scale 1×1

Install encfs so you can have encrypted directories:

# Install encfs
sudo apt-get install encfs
sudo addgroup <your username> fuse

# Install Gnome Encfs Manager
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gencfsm
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-encfs-manager

DD-WRT firmware on Netgear WNDR4300 Router – QoS and Port Forwarding Don’t Work Together

A few days ago I installed the DD-WRT firmware on my Netgear WNDR4300 Router.  This router was pretty good but the Quality of Service functionality was lacking.  I decided to try a switch to DD-WRT since I read on the web that it was possible.  This guy’s blog post describes the process very well so I followed his lead.

First I downloaded the img file from going to the dd-wrt site and searching the router database.  Then I downloaded the img file and uploaded it to my router.  After the install I refreshed the page and the dd-wrt software came up!  Easy!
Then I tried to configure QOS.  I set mine up by MAC address so it took some work to compile the list.  We have a tone of devices connected to wifi in my house at any one time:  ereaders, phones, pcs, game systems, oh my!  I first started by adding all the MAC addresses into the list but quickly realized that only the high priority devices need to be listed.  I listed my phone (for VOIP calling), our whole-house magicjack and my work and personal computers as higher priority devices:qos1I set the 2 voip devices as Premium.  I set my 2 computers at Express.  My kids game systems and ereaders will all be set at Standard by default.  This setup seems to work OK so far (after only a day or two):qosSetupOK, now for the bad news.  After googleing around and a fair amount of experimentation I discovered that UPNP or static port forwarding DO NOT WORK with QOS on DD-WRT firmware.  So you have to pick which one you want more.  This really stinks because I need both.  Xbox requires UPNP or static forwarding.  For now I’m using QOS but I might have to disable it to allow Xbox to use upnp.  If anyone knows how to get UPNP or static port forwading to work with QOS on DD-WRT please leave a comment.   If anyone knows of a router that can do both QoS and Port Forwarding well and at the same time, please leave a comment.  As soon as I enable QOS, my port forwards stop working.

Encrypted Folders with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (32bit)

Yesterday I setup encrypted folders using Ubuntu 14.04 LTS (32bit).  First I used CryptKeeper and then I switched to Gnome Encfs Manager.

I wanted an encrypted directory that could hold some old documents that needed to be encrypted (pdf statements, spreadsheets, etc).  First I installed encfs like this:

sudo apt-get install encfs
sudo addgroup <your username> fuse

Then I installed CryptKeeper from the Ubuntu Software Center.  CryptKeepr was sketchy.  Sometimes the toolbar shortcut was there.  Sometimes it wasn’t.

Then I tried Gnome Encfs Manager.  To install it I did this:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gencfsm
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install gnome-encfs-manager

Gnome encfs manager has more options and seems to just work.  It will mount your encrypted directory wherever you like (configurable).  When you try to mount it it asks your for a password.  You type it in and tada!  Encrypted dir!

Brother MFC J825DW with Ubuntu 12.04, Windows 7, RHEL 6.4 and Android 2.3

I recently bought a Brother MFC J825DW all-in-one printer/scanner/copier/fax machine. This is a wifi enabled printer so it made it possible for me to put the printer downstairs in the same room where we keep the kids’ computers. Now I don’t have to hear the loud printing noises in the middle of my work day. My wife is in school so she prints a lot – hundreds of pages of coursework for her classes. I was sick of leaving the room while I was on the phone to avoid the loud printer noises. Now the printer is downstairs closer to her and I am no longer tethered to the printer.

Here are my end of week one observations:

  • Setup for wireless use was super easy and did NOT require tethering it to a computer
  • Setup for Google Cloudprint was easy so I can print from my Android devices
  • Ink is cheaper than my old HP and there are generic suppliers that make Ink VERY cheap.  I’m not sure they work yet but I’m hoping they do.
  • Setup on Ubuntu was easy
  • Setup on RHEL was easy
  • Setup on Windows was easy
  • Print quality is just OK when on draft mode.  Draft mode and fast printing is fast and faded because it uses less ink.  I’m OK with the draft quality but I wish it was just a tad bit better.  Nothing to complain about though.
  • The printer doesn’t have any lights to tell you it is on – but it is on.  A tiny led would have been nice – but I don’t mind now that I know it is on even when not lit up.
  • The printer is more quiet than my old HP.  I could hear the old HP from downstairs.  This printer I cannot hear from upstairs.  Sometimes I can barely hear it from the next room.
  • So far I’m VERY happy with it

Ubuntu 12.04 Fix Screen Brightness For Lenovo G580 Laptop

I’m posting this to help anyone that has the same problem I did.  The problem was that my Lenovo G580 screen stayed at max brightness after installing Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (32bit).  The brightness up / down buttons did nothing.  During the day it wasn’t much of a problem but in the evening the screen was too bright.  The fix was pretty simple:

Edit the grub file:
sudo vi /etc/default/grub

Change this line:

So that it says:
GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT="quiet splash acpi_backlight=vendor"

Save and exit the file.

Now update grub:
sudo update-grub