Raspberry Pi 3

I just ordered one from Newark Electronics.  At a meeting today, we had a discussion about Raspberry Pi 3, so I thought I would post my notes for reference.

I did some quick checking, and I would recommend only buying the Raspberry Pi 3 because it has better specs (faster CPU, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth included), it’s the same price ($35), and it’s compatible with just about everything you would want to do (including Windows 10 IoT).

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
http://www.newark.com/buy-raspberry-pi

Note – Raspberry Pi 2 case works with 3, and I just buy the cheapest one I can find. I use extra micro-USB phone chargers to power mine, and I’ve been buying Samsung SD cards for my phone and projects. You can buy kits, too, but with my basement of spare parts, this hasn’t been an issue for me ;).

Raspberry Pi (Pi-Hole project)
https://pi-hole.net/

Notes – I have seen some side effects, for example links on CNN seem to go through an ad service, so they are blocked. Overall, it hasn’t had any impact on any work I’ve done at home, or on any devices we have in my house. There are tons of articles about customization of Pi-Hole via Google Search.

Windows 10 IoT Core support for Raspberry Pi 3
https://blogs.windows.com/buildingapps/2016/02/29/windows-10-iot-core-support-for-raspberry-pi-3/

2600 Magazine article – New Yorker
http://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/print-magazine-hackers

Joybubbles – guy with perfect pitch, discovery of 2600 Hz vulnerability attributed to him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joybubbles

Wikipedia 2600 entry – also notes H.O.P.E. originally organized by 2600
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2600:_The_Hacker_Quarterly

Samsung Note 4–contact sync issue

After updating my Note 4 to Android 5.1.1, I noticed that a few of my contacts weren’t synchronizing correctly from Google.  After looking into it further, I realized there were MANY contacts that were missing.  No real pattern, but I’ve never seen this before.

I tried to resolve the problem by stopping the sync for Google Contacts, but that didn’t work.  I also read several articles (many, many articles) that were inaccurate or incomplete, then I started from scratch and documented my process.

    • Removed all the accounts that synchronized contacts (Google, Samsung, Company e-mail, etc).
    • Cleared cache for all applications
    • Cleared System Cache

 

Process to clear system cache

  1. Press Home, Volume Up and Power buttons together.
  2. Let the Power and Home buttons go off when the Note 4 starts vibrating.
  3. Now recovery screen will be shown to you. Select Wipe Cache partition using the Volume Down key.
  4. Confirm the step by pressing the Power button.
  5. Reboot System Now option needs to be selected and confirm it by pressing the Power button.

Raspberry Pi-Hole

I was trying to optimize my home network and determined using a local DNS server significantly  improved our internet experience.  I did the testing with my home server, but it’s a beast (six cores, 32GB RAM, and 4-6TB storage).  Since I have a spare Raspberry Pi B+, I figured I would use it.

Researching further, I found the Pi-Hole Project (http://pi-hole.net/).  Not only does it provide a local DNS server, but it integrates ad filtering!  It works quite well, and didn’t take any technical skills to provision.

  1. Install Raspbian build on Raspberry Pi – reference link below
  2. Run this command from the shell (command line): curl -L install.pi-hole.net | bash
  3. Configure your computers/devices to use the Pi as their DNS server – I configured my wireless gateway to point to the Raspberry Pi so all my systems automatically use it. 

    NOTE – setup your gateway to use an external DNS as a secondary to avoid issues

Reference Links
Raspbian image downloads
https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/raspbian/

Pi-Hole Project
http://pi-hole.net/

Windows 10–favorite new feature

I’ve been using Windows 10 through the Windows Insider program, but I’m still discovering new features.  This morning I was using Sysinternals to test something and realized it wasn’t on my Path.  I decided to edit my system settings (clean things up, and add a path to my Sysinternals folder).  Normally I cut and paste into a text editor, edit, then paste it back in, but lo and behold, Windows 10 has a new feature! 

Be still my heart!

image

Android issues with Netgear R6250 and Motorola SB6121

I haven’t read about other people with this exact problem, so I’m posting my solution in the hopes of helping some other poor soul.

 

Problem

We had significant performance issues with 2.4GHz and 5.0 GHz wifi connections on our Android phones.  The symptom was clicking on any link required over a minute to render the page.  Worse case was as much as 2-3 minutes for shortened links (regardless of short link provider).  I tried installing Android based proxy servers and DNS servers.  Also checked to make sure I used good DNS servers, and installed Microsoft and Linux DNS server on my network configured to use root instead of a forwarder. Nothing improved wifi performance.

 

Solution

Installed Tomato for the Netgear R6250.  Install details below, and after configuring the Wi-Fi, the upgrade resolved all the Android performance problems.  I’m familiar with the Tomato firmware and ran it on several older Linksys devices (WRT-54G and others), and I’m very impressed with the release for the R6250.

 

My install process is below.  Software downloaded from AdvancedTomato – https://advancedtomato.com/downloads/router/r6250

1.       Using the Netgear interface perform the following tasks:

a.       Backup R6250 configuration and save it in a reference rolder

b.       Restore default settings for the router using

c.       Use existing interface, install the Tomato “initial’ binary using the GUI

2.       Log in to tomato and re-flash router using AIO.trx file

3.       Erase NV ram – you can do this by clicking the “erase nvram” box when you load the AIO binaries

4.       The Tomato Flashing Guide expects the wireless will not be detected after reboot.

a.       The Wifi appeared to be working correctly, for me.

b.       I restarted anyway, all was well

5.       Wireless was detected and working correctly

6.       Read Tomato documentation and configure your system in a secure fashion

 

Cable Provider:                 Comcast, Performance Tier service, 25/6 Mbps
Cable Modem:                  Motorola Surfboard SB6121
Wireless Router:               Netgear R6250, native firmware v. 1.0.3.6


Reference Links

AdvancedTomato – Netgear R6250
https://advancedtomato.com/downloads/router/r6250

Software to securely erase hard drives

Did some R&D for my brother and wanted to document the best options for securely erasing hard drives for sale or donation.

Disc Wipe Utility – Windows executable and source (should compile on UNIX/Linux systems).
http://sourceforge.net/projects/disc-wipe/

Eraser – Windows scrub utility
http://sourceforge.net/projects/eraser/

diskscrub – UNIX source code
https://code.google.com/p/diskscrub/

Microsoft Help file not displaying on Windows 7

I wanted to document this issue because if it happened to me, there’s probably someone else who is experiencing this issue. I downloaded the Exchange 2013 Help file and opened it locally. Nothing displayed. Nothing at all. The right display pane was blank.

I searched online a bit, and finally found the culprit – the file was flagged when I downloaded and I needed to Unblock the file before it could be opened locally.

clip_image002 => clip_image004

Click Unblock, and everything displays correctly. I was really scratching my ass over this one.

clip_image006=>  image

Big Changes Ahead

I’m just back from TechEd 2014.  I was drinking Microsoft Kool-Aid from the firehose for a week.  I can summarize it in one word – “Cloud” (capital “C”).  This is an oversimplification, but that was the theme.

I came home totally committed to testing the Microsoft Cloud.  My original intent was to consolidate all my cloud services to one.  I did a quick analysis, and focused on the ‘top tier’ providers – Dropbox, Box, OneDrive, and Google Drive.  Based on my current ‘investment’, it came down to OneDrive and Google Drive and Google won for one reason – it seems that OneDrive has decided that random files need to be deleted.  For no obvious reason I find files in the Recycle Bin on multiple computers.  Most recently this was the PowerPoint and other docs I downloaded from TechEd.

Right now, I’m paying $1.99/month for 100GB of Google Drive storage.  This will tide me over until at least the Fall.

Next project is migrating my web sites (including this blog) to a Virtual Private Server.

Comcast speed upgrade

OK, people badmouth Comcast, but this is a pretty good deal.  I upgraded my cable modem in 2007 to DOCSIS 2.0 and IPv6 support.  It might be time to upgrade to DOCSIS 3.0.  I’ll do more testing over the weekend to determine if I really need the upgrade.  Note from Comcast and my speedtest.net results below (before resetting the cable modem).

Dear Valued Customer,
Great news! We’ve increased your Internet speed!
We increased the speed of your Performance Internet service by up to 25%! You now have download speeds up to 25 Mbps and upload speeds up to 5 Mbps.

http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/3101918667