DDWRT HideMyAss VPN

It’s time for me to review how well HideMyAss has been working with my Linksys Cisco E-2000 DD-WRT router.  My last post outlined how I updated my Cisco E-2000 to DD-WRT version 18946 from the recommended 14929.

I’m happy to say that the newer version of DD-WRT has been a blessing.  I decided to go ahead and purchase a year of service from HideMyAss after seeing how well their service works with DD-WRT.  The larger versions of the DD-WRT firmware support openVPN which is also supported by HideMyAss, which makes things very easy to set up.

HideMyAss VPN Usage

HideMyAss essentially lets you set up a VPN connection from your home network to almost any country in the world.  This allows other users on the internet to see your IP Address as being somewhere located in another state or even country.  For example, If you live in New York City and decide to use HideMyAss, you could easily choose to appear as if you were connected to the internet in Los Angeles.  I elected to set up my VPN connection two ways:

  1. I downloaded the HMA! Vpn client for windows on my laptop.  This will allow me to use HMA! while I’m away from home on random open wi-fi networks.  The VPN tunnel is encrypted, therefore preventing random people from sniffing open wi-fi networks and gaining my information.
    HideMyAss Windows Client
    HMA! VPN Windows Client

     

  2. At home, I elected to set up HMA! VPN directly onto my DD-WRT router. This ensures that all traffic leaving my network is secured via a VPN tunnel.  This prevents my ISP from traffic shaping, snooping on my internet usage, or having any clue of what I do online period.

HMA! VPN Set up Windows Clients

Setting up HideMyAss on your windows computer is simple.  All that needs to be done is the following:

  • Log into the HideMyAss.com Dashboard
  • Download the HideMyAss client for Windows 7 (also works on Windows 8)
  • Type in your username and password
  • Press the connect button EASY!

HMA! VPN Set up DD-WRT clients

Surprisingly, this is easier than you could imagine.  HMA! has an automated script that will set up your DD-WRT router with a VPN connection to any of their servers worldwide!

  • Log into the HideMyAss.com Dashboard
  • Select HideMyAss set up for routers
  • Select the country or city you would like to connect from
  • Press Submit
  • Follow the easy screenshot instructions provided by the HideMyAss auto-configurator to log into your DD WRT router and begin enjoying your secure connection to the internet!

DDWRT HideMyAss Summary

As always, I will only provide marketing for items that I use myself and feel are outstanding.  HMA! fits the bill. Superior customer service. Superior website. Superior period!

This is an amazing combination of tools and I highly suggest this set up for everyone!  We hear all of these crazy lawsuits from random government affiliated organizations for clicking on the wrong link or a child downloading songs from the internet.  HideMyAss is a solution for less than $7 a month that would prevent all of this nonsense.  If you can afford to go to Starbucks once a month, you should have this service.

On top of this being one of the best VPN services online, if you have problems setting up HIdeMyAss I’ll gladly help you for FREE!  Just click the below banner and get started today by securing your internet usage.

Sign up for HideMyAss

Linksys Cisco E2000 DD-WRT

Linksys Cisco E2000 DDWRT
Linksys Cisco E2000 DDWRT

Linksys E2000 Best Build for DDWRT

I purchased a Linksys E2000 last year for the sole purpose of using it as a DD-WRT router for my home network.  It’s been a beast of a router for the last year and I had some down time to research the newer DDWRT builds that support the E2000.

For the last year I’ve been utilizing build 14929 which is the suggested build from the DD-WRT community wiki.   However, I am debating on purchasing a VPN subscription to one of the major VPN players and wanted a build for my E2000 that would support openVPN.

One thing about DD-WRT: It’s a great piece of router software that is poorly documented and all pertinent information is contained in a DD-WRT community forum and wiki that is unbelievably hard to navigate.  One of the main purposes of writing this post is to document what I did so that it may help someone in the future.

I tried a few of the new DD-WRT builds and landed on the best DDWRT build for the E2000: 18946 Mega.  The update process is tricky, and following the wrong advice can leave you with a bricked router.

Linksys E2000 DDWRT Upgrade Process:

If you’re running DD-WRT on the Linksys E2000 already (Probably version 14929), here’s the steps you follow to upgrade to a newer build:

  1. Use one computer hooked to the router via an ethernet cable.
  2. Do a 30/30/30 reset.
  3. Flash the 18946 build that has “mini-e2000.bin” in the filename though the administration panel at your routers web-admin (probably 192.168.1.1).
  4. Do a 30/30/30 reset
  5. Wait 5 minutes
  6. Flash the 18946 build filename that ends in “big-nv60k.bin” through the administration panel at your router’s web-admin.
  7. Do a 30/30/30 reset
  8. Wait 5 minutes

E2000 DD-WRT settings:

You must perform these setting changes if you don’t want the E2000 to overheat.

  • Wireless > Advanced Settings > Fragmentation Threshold: 2306
  • Wireless > Advanced Settings > RTS Threshold: 2307
  • Wireless > Advanced Settings > TX Power: 50
  • Security > Firewall > Uncheck block anonymous WAN Requests
  • Open a telnet to your router and perform the following at the command prompt to fix the clock frequency:
    nvram set clkfreq=300,150,75
    nvram commit
    reboot
    

Benefits of DDWRT

Without getting technical, DDWRT is simply better than the garbage software that comes default on most routers.  Not all routers are supported by the DDWRT project so if you wish to use the software, check with their wiki before purchasing a router.

I updated my DDWRT firmware version for one purpose: To support a VPN service so that I’m less traceable on the internet.  A VPN (Virtual Private Network) service allows you to securely tunnel your traffic through their servers located across the globe so that traffic no longer can be retraced to your city/state/neighborhood.

Some may ask, but why hide? What am I afraid of?  Simply put I’m extremely ethical, however I don’t wish for my traffic to be sniffed, parsed, or decoded by my ISP.  Another benefit is that I’ll be able to use the VPN when I’m utilizing free wifi and know that my connection is 100% secure from sniffers.

Which VPN service is best?

I’m currently researching which VPN services work best with DD-WRT and will sign up for HideMyAss (appropriately named).  Look for future posts outlining how to utilize DDWRT with HideMyAss.

HideMyAss.com

Free WordPress Setup

If you follow my blog, you currently know that I’m running a fiverr gig setting up wordpress blogs for people.  The cost to the customer is $5 dollars.  This service is mainly for customers who already have a hosting account and are happy with their hosting provider.

What I didn’t realize is that many people who are looking to install a custom wordpress blog don’t necessarily have the techno-geek means or real estate.  In order to set up your own wordpress website you need:

  • Web Hosting
  • FTP Client
  • Cpanel Access
  • Database Knowledge
  • Patience
  • More Patience.

I, being a geek married to a non-geek, can understand the frustration some people get into when trying to delve into starting their own online blog for their family, potential business, marketing, or are just simply trying to start making money online.  Don’t pull your hair out, let me help you.

Dont pull your hair out, let me help you!

If you’re one of those people, please don’t pull your hair out anymore.  I’m here to help you!   If you need a new blog installed, I’m willing to install wordpress for free!  Yes, I’m crazy (My wife will verify that).  I’ll install your wordpress installation for free.

I truly have the heart of a teacher. I’ll help you find inexpensive, reliable web hosting and be your personal source of information. I’ll set up your wordpress blog for free and as a bonus, you’ll get the following:

  • Free most-recent-version of WordPress installed
  • SEO optimization done
  • Secure your wordpress installation
  • Install a wordpress theme of your choosing.

To get started NOW simply contact me using the form below and let’s get started working together today, I’m excited to meet you.

Your Name (optional)

Your Email (required)

Windows 7 rescues Guild Wars 2

I have recently been playing Guild Wars 2 and really enjoying the game.  Tonight I’ve been updating my security system and cleaning up my computer.  In the process I cleaned up my desktop which tends to get cluttered at times.

Guild Wars 2

Finally, after a night of updating my computer and cleaning it up a bit I decided to play Guild Wars 2.   I double click the Guild Wars 2 icon on my desktop, only to get the following dreaded error:

Unable to located Guild Wars 2
Unable to locate Guild Wars 2 executable

My heart sunk.  This stinking game took over 10 hours to download the first time and I didn’t want to have to do it again.  I purchased the digital download version of the game that apparently unbeknownst to me automatically installs itself to a folder onto your desktop.  This folder, which I assumed was leftover junk from the install, was recently put into my recycle bin and emptied!

Frantically, I fired up an old friend of mine named UndeletePlus and did a scan for recently deleted files on my harddrive.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that it would fine my guildwars2 folder.  However, it failed and was unable to locate any Guild Wars 2 information.

Now I’m seriously crushed.  But in the back of my mind I was hoping that Windows would have a solution for this.  Ah-ha! I remembered enabling the “previous versions” setting in my Windows 7 install.

Windows 7 Previous Versions

I simply navigated to my desktop folder via windows explorer.  After locating my desktop folder (C:\Users\David\Desktop), I simply right clicked and went to properties.

Windows Explorer Right Click Menu

Once inside the properties window, I located the previous versions tab.  This tab lists old versions of your folders that Windows 7 saves at restore points and other important times.  Luckily, I was able to browse a version of my desktop folder that was saved at 5:15PM today!

Windows 7 Previous Versions
Windows 7 Previous Versions

Windows 7 Recovery

Inside the desktop folder saved from 5:15PM today, I was able to locate the Guild Wars 2 directory and copy it to my root C:\ drive where it should’ve been installed in the first place.

Guild Wars 2 Folder
Guild Wars 2 Folder

Oddly enough, I deleted this folder initially because I thought it was leftover junk from the Guild Wars 2 install.  Apparently, however, the Guild Wars 2 install only consists of a few files:

  • Gw2.exe (21 megabytes)
  • Gw2.dat (~14 gigabytes)
  • Gw2.tmp (very small)

The moral of the story: Windows 7 saved the day.  I’m by no means a windows fan boy, but the previous versions feature is extremely nice.

IP security camera system

This last weekend was labor day and unlike most Americans I didn’t spend it drinking and partying.  I spent it preparing an ip security camera system for my home.  If you read my blog, you recently became aware that I have built a cheap windows HTPC.  Since I now have a server-type computer that is powered on 24/7 I wanted to put it to use.

IP Security Camera Setup

I had a few wireless IP security cameras sitting around and decided to upgrade the firmware and install them.  The cameras are very similar to the Cisco-Linksys Wireless-N Internet Home Monitoring Camera’s that are available via amazon and work perfectly.  As a standalone camera, they’re pretty nice and can email you motion detection updates and have various other features.

Standalone, they’re pretty nice, but I wanted great.  So I searched the internet for a camera monitoring software to install on the HTPC that would save the motion detected video clips.

Wireless IP security camera software

I came across iSpy, an open source ip camera monitoring software solution that was perfect for my needs.  The free version of iSpy provides the ability to detection motion and record the clips where motion is detected.  If you upgrade to the paid service, you can send SMS alerts and even upload detected video to youtube.

I wanted a solution that would put my motion detected video clips into the cloud, and iSpy provided the recording aspect of the solution.

motion detection in the clouds

In the iSpy settings, there is an option that lets you choose the folder that you wish to be utilized to save motion detection clips.  Here’s where web 2.0 savy-ness comes in to play. I chose the public folder of my dropbox account for the security motion detection clips to be saved.

This allows all motion detection video to be uploaded to the cloud instantly.  If a home intrusion begins, the theif may turn off my power or unplug my computers to steal them.  By the time this is done, my motion detection clips would already be stored in the cloud thanks to dropbox.

Now I can view my clips via the anrdoid dropbox app and know that all motion detection is uploaded immediately.  Talk about peace of mind for a super cheap price!

Take it a step further with IFTTT

IFTTT is a web 2.0 service called “If this then that”.  Basically it’s a simple programming if statement that utilized web 2.0 services.

Currently my setup looks like this:

  1. Motion detected
  2. Video file recorded to public drop box folder
  3. Video file uploaded to cloud storage

I wanted to take it a step further and receive email updates with the video files attached.  Gmail offers a ton of storage for free and the ability to send and receive email from mobile devices easily.

I set up an IFTTT recipe that simply checks for new files added to my public dropbox/security camera/ folder and then attaches those files and emails them to my gmail account!  This adds a second layer of video backup and instant notifications to me when motion is detected on any of my ip cameras.  I have shared the IFTTT recipe with the world and can be viewed by clicking here.

Summary

My final setup looks like this and is all ran from a low end HTPC that I built on the cheap.

  1. iSpy running in taskbar on HTPC
  2. iSpy detects motion on one of my wireless IP Cameras and records the video clip
  3. The video clip is stored onto my harddrive in my dropbox public/Security Camera folder.
  4. IFTTT web 2.0 service detects a new file in my dropbox folder.
  5. IFTTT attaches new file to an email and sends it to my personal gmail account.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments below and feel free to let me know how you have your home security systems set up.

UPDATE: I have added a free Android IP Security webcam to my security system and made a blog post about the process of setting it up.

WordPress twenty eleven featured scroll

Twenty eleven doesn’t scroll!

I’m a huge fan of wordpress and use it for most of my websites.  The software is dead on and so configurable that it can literally do anything that I need it to.  I’m a wordpress geek and I’m proud of it!

If you enable the WordPress showcase, you’ve probably wondered why the developers didn’t automatically scroll your featured “sticky” posts. This is totally annoying, but luckily we can do whatever we want with open source software!

Many sites that you vist (like mine) will feature a few posts and scroll them with an image scroller.  Twenty Eleven features the posts in text format, but does not scroll your sticky posts.  With the below code you can have your featured posts scroll and not worry about creating a wordpress image scroller.

WordPress featured scroll

I stumbled across a piece of code that will automatically scroll your featured posts. The code is:

<script charset="utf-8" type="text/javascript">// <![CDATA[
// Auto-advance the showcase slider
 // Source: http://pastebin.com/s6JEthVi
 jQuery(document).ready(function(){
 var change_every = 5; // The number of seconds that the slider will auto-advance in
 var current = 1;
 function auto_advance(){
 if(current == -1) return false;
 jQuery('.feature-slider a').eq(current % jQuery('.feature-slider a').length).trigger('click', [true]);
 current++;
 };
 setInterval(function(){auto_advance()}, change_every * 1000);
 });
// ]]></script>

Installing the twenty eleven scroll code

To get the code working, simply navigate to your dashboard. Once in the dashboard, edit the page that you’re utilizing the showcase theme on and paste the above code into the HTML section of the page. Save the page and you should experience immediate SUCCESS!

Windows Media Center Streaming

I’ve recently came upon a problem that required some thought and ingenuity to overcome so I thought I would make a blog post about Windows Media Center and how it has solved my problems.

Slingbox SB260-100 Overview

I have a need to watch TV over the internet from a location that has no televisions.  I know there are illegal avenues for doing this, but I wanted to stay legal.  I researched slingbox, and ended up purchasing the SlingBox SOLO from amazon.

The Slingbox is a device that confuses some people, but serves a rather simple purpose.  You can connect your cable connection to the slingbox via RCA/component inputs and then connect the output to your television as normal.  The slingbox, when connected to your home router, will provide a way for you to watch television on the go from your android phone, iphone, web browser, etc.   It’s a fantastic idea that I wish I would’ve thought of.

After receiving my slingbox, I realized the inputs do not include a coaxial input.  Go ahead and laugh now, I realize that many people don’t even use coaxial inputs to their televisions anymore, but I’m not a huge TV addict nor do I care about HD quality.  The way a slingbox works is almost the same as if you were sitting in front of your TV.

For example, say I’m at a remote location and wish to watch my cable subscription.  I can remotely log into my slingbox via the internet and control my cable from a remote location. In turn, if my wife is at home she would be unable to use the cable port/DVR box that I was remotely controlling.  She could watch the same channel as me, but hopefully not change the channel.

Slingbox Streaming Problem

So here’s where the problem arises.  I have a coaxial cable in the room I wish to place the slingbox and the slingbox does NOT have a coaxial input.  I could purchase an additional DVR box from Cox Communications for $7.99/month + $9.99/month for the DVR “service”.  What a huge F*&ing rip off.  If I was an idiot and wanted to purchase a DVR for the slingbox it would cost me $18 a month and I would be plugging a HD input into a SD stream.  This makes absolutely no sense (too bad for Cox since their prices are so astronomical).

I had an old computer laying around that had Windows 7 Home Premium installed and I happened to find a Conexant 23880 Video Capture card in the bottom of a dusty box in my closet.  I installed the Video Capture card into the computer and fired up Windows Media Center.  Viola! I now have a computer that can Play/Record/Pause Live TV from a coaxial input in SD format.  Not only can it watch TV, it can also play any clips, music, or videos I’ve downloaded from the internet BONUS!  All this for the price of whatever it costs me to provide electricity to this computer.

Windows Media Streaming Slingbox Solution

Now that I have a computer with Windows Media Center that will play my coaxial connection, my problem still remains that I need to provide RCA input into the slingbox so that it can stream my cable via the internet.

Welcome the solution from amazon! Say hello to my little friends:

The Belkin Audio Y cable will provide a way to input the red and white RCA connection from the media center computer to the SlingBox SOLO.  This will provide the audio for the slingbox video stream.

The PC to TV video converter is the workhorse of the operation.   This bad boy takes VGA output (monitor output) from the media center machine and converts it to RCA (yellow) video input to the slingbox.

Since the slingbox is equipped with an IR blaster, it will be capable of controlling the media center computer remotely when a Windows Media Center IR remote is installed.  This Remote was less than $20 and will do the job nicely!

This solution isn’t complete yet since the parts are on order, however once they arrive I’ll update with the final working solution.  You may be wondering how I’ll control the computer if the outputs are sent to the slingbox.  The answer is two part:

  1. I’ll have a small 19inch tv hooked up on the output side of the slingbox.
  2. I will be able to remotely control the computer with logmein.com’s free services.

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading, please feel free to ask any questions or provide input in the comments below.

Questions answered about SEO Fightback

I wanted my questions answered so I went to the source! I PM’ed the owner of SEO fightback on the warriorforum and here are the results:

Q: How are posts submitted to my wordpress blogs that I open up to the networks from the SEO fightback network?

A: Other people in the same network (we have many networks) as you create posts, sometimes (randomly) they will be sent to your blog via the WP plugin. Don’t put money sites into the system. You put “feeder” blogs in, and then use your posting points to create links to your money sites.

Q: If I cancel my subscription do my links get deleted from the blogs that I have submitted to?

A:As you as you don’t delete other people’s links, we won’t delete yours, even if you leave. If you delete other people’s links after leaving, then that’s cheating and we don’t allow that

Q:  What plugin/access do I give to SEO fightback for my wordpress blogs?

A: WP plugin. It’s in the WP directory, and has been vetted by WordPress.org.

Q:  When I submit an article to a network, who decides what blog it’s posted on? Does the owner of the specific blog have to approve my post?

A: The system allocates the content somewhere. No, the blog owner does not approve the post, we do!

By going to the source, I’ve directly answered my questions and am ready to take the next step.  SEO fightback seems like it will provide the means necessary to help attempt to fix my google sandbox issue with the Amazon Associate Experiment!

If you want to “play along”, feel free to use the following affiliate link to sign up for SEO Fightback!

Amazon Affiliate Experiment Update #1

As I was updating some web 2.0 sites with some manual linkage with website “S” I was multi tasking and doing some research on the build my rank blog network.  Apparently, the latest panda update from google has successfully taken down the buildmyrank blog network by de-indexing all of their host sites.  What a bummer!

This will set me back a few days as I do some research to find an alternative to buildmyrank.  I guess I could always create my own blog network, but that could take a while.  For the sake of this experiment I’ll attempt to find a similar product to test results.

As a side note, this goes to show how important it is not to put all your SEO eggs in one basket.  If you were on the first page of google and all you had backing you were links from buildmyrank you could potentially see all your profits decline in one day! OUCH!  As a professional you need to protect your income with multiple streams of traffic and backlinks.

I’m considering signing up for SEO fightback which is a network of blog networks.  When I attempt to do research on the product, the SERPS are littered with garbage affiliate spam.  However, from what I understand it works by users providing the real estate (wordpress blogs) to categorized networks within the network.

Here’s an example of how I think it works:

  1. I sign up and search for a blog network that will accept my wordpress blogs [alternatively, I could start my own blog network and accept membership].
  2. I submit my wordpress blogs to the networks I wish to join and get “credits” for the blogs that I submit.
  3. I can use these credits daily to create posts on the blog network.  The networks do NOT spin content and do NOT dupe content.
A few questions I have:
  • How are posts submitted to my wordpress blogs that I open up to the networks from the SEO fightback network?
  • If I cancel my subscription do my links get deleted from the blogs that I have submitted to?
  • What plugin/access do I give to SEO fightback for my wordpress blogs?
  • When I submit an article to a network, who decides what blog it’s posted on? Does the owner of the specific blog have to approve my post?
With all of the affiliate spam and garbage out there, I can’t get good answers to my questions.  If you can answer my questions, please provide some insight in the comments.

All in one SEO

All in one SEO wordpress plugin is a great addition to any wordpress blog, and one of the many plugins that I highly suggest get installed with every wordpress installation.  The all in one SEO provides SEO optimization for wordpress blogs.

The features that I enjoy are:

  • One click installation and works out of the box without much configuration.
  • Automatically optimizes titles for search engines
  • Has the ability to avoid duplicate content errors generated when google crawls your website.
  • Provides canonical URLs for your blog navigation
  • Automatic generation of unique META tags.

This is a fairly simple plugin to set up and install and with a little configuration, this plugin can be made fantastic.

 

WordPress Page vs Post

WordPress contains pages and posts.  In general a page is something you wish to be static, such as a contact me page , about us page, or other important informational page.  A post is generally a typical blog post that doesn’t contain information that each visitor to your site may require.

Category and Tag options 

Each page and blog post can be categorized via category names and tagged with tag names.  This is very important!  When setting up your blog, you need to determine 7 – 10 category names and NEVER overly exceed that number of categories.  Tags can be used an unlimited number of times and do not need to be predetermined.

It’s also important to note that you should not have a category that is the same as a tag name and vice versa.  This could provide some sort of small confusion to users or the search engine crawlers.  The best way to do this is to consider tags as a way to fine tune your categories into smaller niches.

All in One SEO configuration

Now to the good stuff, let’s configure All in One SEO and get our blog to a point where the SEO will be optimized and not generate errors from the google crawler in the google webmaster dashboard.  The most important section to understand correctly is the checkbox area that allows you to index vs noindex certain features of your wordpress blog.

All in one SEO configuration

In general I prefer to index my categories and noindex my tags.  I also noindex my archives.  By doing this, it decreases the chance that google will send users to pages that I don’t value as high as other pages. It creates a better experience for the user and also a better experience for the bot that’s crawling your webpage.  This helps avoid duplicate content.

Also in order to decrease duplicate work on yourself, you can generate your meta tags based upon the tags you manually tag onto your posts.  This may seem confusing if you’ve never written a wordpress blog post, but those who have will appreciate not having to type the same keywords in multiple times.

Since I’m not really targeting a specific niche with this blog.  It’s generalized to the most point and I could care less if I get traffic or not. Because of these reasons, I chose to autogenerate the meta descriptions on my posts.  If you are writing a very specific amazon affiliate targeted blog, you may wish to manually enter your meta descriptions (I would suggest it.)

The rest of the configuration

It’s important to carefully fill out each part of the All in one SEO configuration.  Properly type your title, overall description, and main keywords.  It’s okay to leave the variable title tags the way they are, but they are highly configurable.

 

Hopefully I’ve scratched the surface enough to get you to want to configure All in one SEO on your blog.  If you have any questions I’ll help you anyway I can, just ask in the comments.  Good luck!