Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Watch out for this VPN hack!

Have been using Virtual Private Network (VPN) on and off for a couple of years. Until recently, had major problems getting a VPN to work on Linux. Inclined to believe that Brighthouse was blocking the well known Open DNS ports.  Astrill VPN changed all of that.

Open VPN is more secure than the ancient Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and the Cisco Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) which is aged, too.

One way to check the integrity of a VPN is to use the DNS leak test at

Astrill VPN appeared to have some issues with the DNS leak test. Suspect someone. probably the federal government, has developed a technique, to track or hack VPN activity.
After installing the Astrill VPN, I noticed both Yahoo and Google DNS servers were aware of the VPN. After attempting to block these servers in my firewall, I used,  which identified a CIDR address for the Yahoo network.

Unless you have an WAN networking background, you are unlikely to know what a CIDR address is. The CIDR address allowed me to block the entire offending networks from the VPN. 

I used the Astrill Settings | Site Filter | Exclude These Sites option and added these addresses:, and

After making the change, the DNS leak test indicated the VPN was functioning normally.

Of interest, this solution worked on both Windows Mint 17.1 and Windows 7 laptops.

BTW the belongs to PSI Net, an old Darpanet contractor that has worked with NSA for many years. PSI net developed Dropbox,a a program that Ed Snowden suggests Internet users should avoid.

While writing this article another VPN interloper popped up, with the 174.125.00/16 network address. The first CIDR address ( keeps out of my VPN.

Think of the VPN network as all of the connections between your PC and VPN server.  Blocking Yahoo and Google addresses in the VPN connection will not prevent you from getting to the Yahoo web site or from receiving Gmail.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

UBEE DVW3201B is an excellent and inexpensive cable modem.

The Motorola/ARRIS cable modems are often unreliable

Had been using a Motorola SBG6580 SURFboard Wireless Cable Modem which always seem to run slow. I have Brighthouse Lightening service that is supposed to run at 60 mbs, but the Motorola modem ran at about half that speed. 

One of the Brighthouse call center techs indicated the SGB6580 has an upgrade. The newer units have a metal plate on the back suggesting the 6580G may have some sort of radio frequency (RF) leakage problem. 

Bought one of these modems because I wanted to be able to configure it and to disable wireless on the unit. 

When you buy a cable modem, you can set the firewall to high, disable the wireless and password protect the unit. When a cable company installs its unit, you are at its mercy. 

Of interest, most cable modems have a user password and an administrative (admin) password that only the cable companies know. Try this for the admin login and password: The admin login is the last 8 characters of your MAC address (no colons) with c0nf1gur3m3 as the password

Also tried the MOTOROLA SB6121 SURFboard Cable Modem. This unit is less expensive and only has one Ethernet port while the 6580 has four. The Internet frequently stopped working after installing this unit.  The transmit and receive lights would blink orange on the 6121 and then the Internet would stop. So the unit was returned for a refund. 

The UBEE DVW3201B has none of these problems. It has four Ethernet ports and two voice (RJ-11) ports. Need two Voice over IP (VOIP) lines: one for a landline and the other for faxing. 

 This UBEE unit is large: 9 x 9 x 2  inches

In the past Brighthouse would have to install a second voice modem on a coax splitter if you needed a second voice line.  "A multimedia terminal adapter (MTA), or Home Phone modem, operates much the same as a cable modem, but an MTA can deliver home phone service in addition to high speed Internet."

Four Ethernet and two voice ports on the UBEE DVW3201B

The UBEE  DVW3201B provides both Internet data and two voice ports. Called BrightHouse technical support who referred the call  to the Road Runner help desk. It took about one hour to provision the unit for both voice and data. 

Now no longer need the splitter for two modems. This UBEE does it all and my Internet is running above 60 mbs. 

Best of all, you can purchase one of these UBEE cable modems for about $16 on The 'used" unit I purchased appeared to be brand new. Although this is a DOCSIS 3.0 cable modem, UBEE has newer models out today, so perhaps the company is trying to liquidate the older units. 

Buy one before they are gone.


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Friday, December 5, 2014

A home entertainment system for about $1000

The new 4K LCD/LED TVs are popular and coupled with a 4K DVD player and a 5:1 soundbar, you can  have a very capable home entrainment system.

The 4K TVS are ahead of their time, so finding 4k media can be a challenge, Have found less than 50 4K DVDS for sale on and Ebay. Found two 4k streaming videos on Amazon Prime and about 25 on Netflix.

The best media broadcasts in the US are 1080P and likely to stay that way for many years. In Korea, 4K broadcasts have been compressed and broadcast over conventional HD (1080P) . However, you would need a special setup box or TV tuner for this to work. The broadcast would have to be compressed and decompressed, causing latency in the video stream.

You don't need a Smart TV unless they are a better deal than a dumb TV.  Why,? Because smart TVS are inferior  in many ways to media on a a Roku appliance that features Netflix, Amazon prime and many other apps and news media.

A 4K Samsung Smart TV has the same functionality as a Smart DVD player such as the Samsung BD-F7500 4K Upscaling 3D Wi-Fi Blu-ray Disc Player. The DVD player costs far less than the cost of the TV. So if you want Roku functionality without buying a Roku unit, buy the 4K upscaling DVD player

Watched Ghostbusters I tonight on one of these upscaling  DVD players and it was amazing. The point is if you want to get much out of a UHDTV, you will need streaming 4k media from the Internet  or some 4k mastered DVDs. You will need a 4k Blu ray DVD player for 4k DVDs.

Be aware too that 4K TVs are really Ultra High Definition (UHDTVs). UHDTV is is 3840 pixels wide by 2160 pixels tall (8.29 megapixels). There is even a higher resolution 8K Super Hi-vison TV in Japan.

To finish off you home entertainment system,  check out a 5:1 soundbar. The VIZIO S4251w-B4 5.1 Soundbar with Wireless Subwoofer and Satellite Speakers is an excellent system that has a fiber optic TOS interface to a UHD or HDTV. It connects using Bluetooth to a remote subwoofer that has wired connections to two rear speakers. 

Once I got the subwoofer powered up, the subwoofer and the two remotes started to work. Be aware that both your home router and Bluetooth enabled PC can interfere with the Bluetooth connection between the soundbar and the subwoofer. 

You can have such a system for about $1000 depending on what you pay for the UHDTV or HDTV.  An upscaling 4K or UHD DVD player should cost about $200 or less. The 42 inch Vizio Soundbar was on sale for about $200 on Cyber Monday, it is now a $100 more, but watch for a price drop.


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