Category Archives: Internet

Setup Dropbox to sync on a schedule – Mac version

Currently I am living in a part of rural Virginia, where the only option for internet is ViaSat internet satellite.  The service has its ups and downs, but the worst part are the data caps, and they are cell phone low.  In fact the highest plan I can buy is 25GB of data transfer and that is about $140 per month.

One thing that I really miss is the ability to have my Dropbox synced at all times.  The data transfers can be high if I am putting videos and photos into my Dropbox.  Dropbox’s application currently allows you to throttle the bandwidth, but it’s either on or off…

ViaSat does offer something nice…  every morning from Midnight to 5AM they shut off the meters allowing unlimited usage.  I decided to leverage this and make Dropbox sync only during this free window.

Doing this on a MAC boils down to just two things.

1.  Create applications to launch and stop dropbox.
2.  Schedule a daily task to START Dropbox.app at 12AM and to STOP Dropbox.app at 5AM.

 

Create applications to launch and stop dropbox

On the Mac there is an awesome program called Automator that lets mere mortals create easy programs that can do various things.  I highly recommend looking into this capability.  It is really handy.  For this problem, we will use automator to both Launch and kill the dropbox app at the times we want.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 09.50.52

1.1. First lets open Automator,  which is in the system’s Application folder.

 

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 09.52.33

1.2. Then click “New Document” to begin a new Automator document.

Select "Application"

1.3. Select “Application” to create a new application. (This first one will be setup to open the dropbox app)

 

Select Utilities on the left. Drag the "Start Application" task into the workflow pane on the right so it looks like this.

1.4. Select Utilities on the left.
1.5. Drag the “Start  Launch Application” task into the workflow pane on the right so it looks like this.

Save the new application into the system's Applications folder. I named it "Start Dropbox"

1.6. Save the new application into the system’s Applications folder.
I named it “Start Dropbox”

 

Perform a similar process to create another Automator app to "Quit Application." Make sure to assign the dropbox.app in the dropdown box, and also uncheck the save confirmation.

1.7. Perform a similar process to create another Automator app to “Quit Application.” Make sure to assign the dropbox.app in the dropdown box, and also uncheck the “ask to save changes” confirmation.

You should now have two automator apps that are in your applications folder.

1.8. You should now have two automator apps that are in your applications folder.

Next we will schedule these applications (a.k.a. workflows, scripts, etc.) to run automatically in iCal

 

Create a new Event in iCal on the first day you want this application to run. Setup to start at 00:00 i.e. midnight. Under alerts, setup a custom alert to open a file. Choose the Start dropbox app we made. Alert timing should be "At time of event" to make sure this fires off at the time we want.

2.1 Create a new Event in iCal on the first day you want this application to run.
2.2 Setup to start at 00:00 i.e. midnight.
2.3 Under alerts, setup a custom alert to open a file. Choose the Start dropbox app we made.
2.4 Alert timing should be “At time of event” to make sure this fires off at the time we want.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.29.36

2.5 Set this event to repeat every day.

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 10.40.45

2.6 Repeat 2.1 through 2.5 to setup an event to “Quit Dropbox” at 5am (or whatever time you want)

You should end up with two new daily events on your calendar.

You should end up with two new daily events on your calendar.

 

One more tip. I put both of these events on a new "Automator" calendar, so I can uncheck it so it doesn't clutter up my iCal.

One more tip. I put both of these events on a new “Automator” calendar, so I can uncheck it so it doesn’t clutter up my iCal.

What is an air gapped Computer?

An air gapped (aka Air Walled) computer is essentially a technique for keeping a computer or network secure.  This is usually done by keeping the computer off the network physically.

This can be done to keep sensitive data on the Air gapped computer or network from being compromised, but can also be done to keep another network safe from an unknown network.

Examples from wikipedia follow:

  • Military/governmental computer networks/systems;
  • Financial computer systems, such as stock exchanges;
  • Industrial control systems, such as SCADA in Oil & Gas fields;
  • Life-critical systems, such as: Controls of nuclear power plants;
  • Computers used in aviation, such as FADECs and avionics;
  • Computerized medical equipment;
  • Very simple systems, where there is no need to compromise security in the first place, such as: The engine control unit in an automobile;
  • A digital thermostat for temperature and compressor regulation in home HVAC and refrigeration systems;
  • Electronic sprinkler controls for watering of lawns.

This Air gapping was discussed on the HBO series The Newsroom during the first episode of the third season, called Boston,  where some whistleblower trying to give Neal classified documents asks him to get an “air gapped computer.”  In the show they describe this as a computer that is not and has never been connected to a network. While this is not inaccurate, you can see above that there are other scenarios that qualify.

 

Filtering a range of IP addresses from Google Analytics

In order to exclude false site visits from my Google Analytics, I have implemented a filter that excludes everything from an IP address range.

First, I check my IP address.  I used my “WAN” ip address since that’s what Google sees when I visit my site.  I don’t have a static IP so this will likely change over time.

Screenshot 2014-10-27 17.13.01

Now that I know my current IPaddress… what is the IP allocation range for ViaSat? Lets look at ARIN (American Registry for Internet Numbers), for the answer…

Screenshot 2014-10-27 17.46.29

This gives us a nice range of 131,072(2x256x256) IPv4 addresses.   I decided to just filter out anyone who is coming in over ViaSat’s ip range.  Sorry ViaSat visitors but your only being filtered from Analytics, so this isn’t such a big deal.

Log in to your Google Analytics account, then click on Admin.  Click “All Filters” then click “New Filter.”   Give it a name, then select “Custom” filter type.

Select “IP Address” in the Filter Field if it’s not already.  Then in the “filter Pattern” text box, you put a “regular expression” that suits the range you want.  In this case I am doing

^184\.(2[0-1])\.([0-9]|[1-9][0-9]|1([0-9][0-9])|2([0-4][0-9]|5[0-5]))\.([0-9]|[1-9][0-9]|1([0-9][0-9])|2([0-4][0-9]|5[0-5]))$

This should exclude the range from 184.20.0.0 to 184.21.255.255

I used the free IP address range regex generator from Analyticsmarket.com

Hope this helps someone.

Amazon Kindle 3

I bought the new Kindle 3 and I love everything about it.  Well, almost everything…

For some reason they went from the second generation Kindle’s innovative paging buttons, which used outside hinges to prevent accidental page changing, to the original style paging buttons.  This is very annoying and I find myself accidentally hitting the buttons at times. 

Other that that minor annoyance it is perfection.

Windows Vista SP2 is released to Download center

 
Finally Vista SP2 has been released to the general public for download. While the update is mostly a roll up of existing individual updates, there are a few SP2 only updates (blu-ray write support, exfat 2 support… to name a few). 
 
Here is a link to get to the Vista SP2 download center.
 
Microsoft claims there are over 700 bug fixes and updates in SP2. 
 
From Microsoft:
 

Hardware ecosystem support and enhancements

  • SP2 adds support for the 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) from VIA Technologies, which adds the ID and vendor strings for the new VIA 64-bit CPU.
  • SP2 integrates the Windows Vista Feature Pack for Wireless, which contains support for Bluetooth v2.1 and Windows Connect Now (WCN) Wi-Fi Configuration. Bluetooth v2.1 is the most recent specification for Bluetooth wireless technology.
  • SP2 improves performance for Wi-Fi connections after resuming from sleep mode.
  • SP2 includes updates to the RSS feeds sidebar for improved performance and responsiveness.
  • SP2 includes ability to record data to Blu-Ray Disc media.