Friday, March 21, 2008

IPCop DNS and DHCP Tips

As I may have already mentioned, IPCop is an excellent open source firewall system that uses low-end computers that sit between your internal network (Green Zone) and the Big Bad Internet (Red Zone). Here are some things I to do with my network that simplify my job as an admin:

  • When using it with a network that has it's own internal DHCP and DNS servers, be sure to put DNS pointers to your IPCop's internal IP on the relevant internal DNS servers. Then you can access it by going to http://ipcop:81 when on your internal network.
  • On a smaller network, the IPCop makes an excellent DHCP and DNS server. However, when we set up IPCop, I've sometimes found it to give our external DNS servers to DHCP clients. Even when the hostname is registered in DHCP, our name queries try to use external servers that know nothing about the internal network. This is easily fixed by setting the IPCop's IP as the first DNS. I've found that this can speed up DNS resolutions a bit, also as it caches DNS info.
  • IPCop's internal DNS server is not self-aware. That is to say, if you punch in http://ipcop:81, you'll get an error message. But if you add it to the HOSTS list (Services -> Edit Hosts), it becomes easily resolved once you have have started using your IPCop for DNS.

AVG 8 - Worth the wait? (The wait for the download, that is!)

For whatever reason, downloading AVG's antivirus package seems to take longer than actually installing it. That said, the new version 8.0 seems to have a much friendlier interface, scan faster, and come with more features than ever, even in a basic edition. With these added features, the price has gone up considerably. I'm not sure if it's because it has been so vastly improved, or because their parent company is in the Czech Republic and the US Dollar isn't as valuable as it used to be.

The down side? Well, it seems that in Windows 2000 the firewall component may mudge up web connectivity for applications that need it (like Crossloop). However, since Windows 2000 doesn't come with a firewall, I'd prefer to fight with AVG's clunky firewall interface than have no firewall at all.

The new AVG Administrative interface (AVGAdmin) does an excellent job showing information at a glance, and offers yet more powerful features that 7.5. The most improved part of the AVGAdmin component is the Remote Installation feature. 7.5's was extremely difficult to use. 8's has vastly simplified the process, and seems destined for greatness.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More Time Wasters - Free First-Person Shooters!

What, ME waste time? Well, occasionally I can stop geeking out on network and such and geek out on something really fun - FREE GAMES! I'm a Mac user, so you Windows Weenies should consider yourselves lucky that I think about you occasionally. All right, I HAVE to think about you, because no one else with a Mac wants to play video games with me. If I want to play games, I either need to boot into Windows, or, preferably, find cross-platform games. I prefer the cross-platform option. So you can have your Windows, and I can have my OS X, and we can play together without having to hear me grouse about how dirty I feel running Windows on my MacBook Pro.

That aside, what does a smarmy geek like me play?

Well, there's the old standby Scorched3D, a game of ballistics and wacky weaponry. While not fast-paced, this is definitely a great time-waster - my 8-year-old son's favorite!

Now, the First Person Shooters (henceforth FPS's) I was talking about:

The most popular one, and one of the most polished, in my opinion is Wolfenstein - Enemy Territory. Set in World War II and featuring a rich set of features, there are almost too many reasons for this the be the most popular FPS. Features include lots of weapons, a robust online gaming community, multiple player classes, and a level-up system that rewards persistence. Oh, and it will run on older computers that have 3D graphics cards.

The only drawbacks to Enemy Territory are PunkBuster (this program somehow keeps people from cheating) and the lack of a Single Player mode. While PunkBuster works well under Windows, it is difficult to make work under Linux and OS X. That said, if anybody would like a tutorial for getting PB working under OS X or Linux, just tell me so in a reply to this post!

Nexuiz is the coolest looking of the established FPS's (I'll tell you about some of the less established in a moment), and, frankly, looks as cool as just about any commercial FPS (except Airborn, that one ROCKS!). It's set in a futuristic deathmatch arena, and has lots of cool weapons. Features include stunning graphics, a good choice of avatars, and fast-paced action. The Single Player mode is fun, and the online community has lots of servers with lots of players.

While it will work on a lame computer, you'll get the most out of it if you have a good gaming system.

Now we get to the lesser-known games. Just because they're lesser-known doesn't mean that they're inferior, it just means that there hasn't been much buzz about them.

World of Padman, based on an obscure gaming magazine comic strip, is best described as Quake meets Toy Story. That's right, you control toy action figures as they battle to the death with zany weapons. This game is under active development, and seems destined for greatness if it keeps up the momentum.

It has only online play available (Single Player mode is still being developed), and when I went on around 5:30 Central Time, there were lots of servers, but noone was playing! Bummer! I'm hoping that maybe a few someones will see this post and decide to populate the servers. Online Community: ignoring this game would be a tragic waste.

Another excellent game that's rapidly coming together is Warsow. It has clean, almost simple graphics, and allows for unique freedom of movement - actions include sliding down rails and jumping off of walls - a kind of Parkour Deathmatch. Again, there is not a Single Player Mode, and there were no players online, although there were a wealth of servers just waiting to be played!