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Windows 10 has adopted a rather novel way to distribute security updates.  In the past, Windows Update was used and your system downloaded security patches from Microsoft’s servers and installed them automatically (if you had Windows configured to do so).

Now, it seems that with Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to save a little cash by using your bandwidth to distribute updates instead of it’s own servers.

Here’s how it works:  Your computer connects to Microsoft’s update server and downloads the required patches.  Then, when someone else wants the update, it contacts Microsoft’s servers and requests a list of nearby distribution points, which are actually other people’s computers who’ve opted in to being part of this system.

There are a couple of problems with this.

  • First, not everyone has an unlimited bandwidth plan, so participating in the system will use your bandwidth and if you go over your limit, you pay for it.
  • Second, everyone is opted in.  By default.  you have to actually go in and turn this feature off.

If you’re like me, you don’t want someone else connecting to your system and downloading stuff without your knowledge as this can present a potential security risk.

So.  Here’s how to turn it off:

Select Start, Settings

Select Start, Settings

Select Update and Security

Select Update and Security

Select Windows Update, Advanced Options

Select Windows Update, Advanced Options

Select Choose how updates are delivered

Select Choose how updates are delivered

Click on On

Click on On

Now it is off

Now it is off

And that should do it.  See how easy that was?  Instead of letting people opt-in to the program, it required 6 clicks!

Coming up soon:  How to actually turn on ALL the privacy settings.

initrd

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So since Microsoft has released Windows 10 into the wild, there have been a bunch of articles flying around about how Microsoft wants your personal data.  To get this, there are a whole bunch of privacy settings which are turned “on” by default which allow Microsoft to, among many things, collect and store your personal data and use your computer to distribute updates to the faceless masses on the internet.

I have had a copy of Windows 10 running in a virtual machine for a while as part of the Insider program.  Now that I have an RTM version, I decided to run a little test.

First up was to take the Windows 10 install and perform all the privacy precautions I had read about.  Turning off location services, using a local account, turning off using my system as a P2P distribution server, etc.  Then I shut it down.

Thusly using the Windows 10 control panel and settings pages to turn off everything privacy related that I could,  I performed the following actions:

1.  Power it up.
2.  Log on.
3.  Wait for it to stop loading.
4.  Power it off.

While doing so, I was capturing all the traffic going into and out of the virtual network interface.  Some interesting things showed.

During the first run, I simply picked out the DNS queries which were being requested during this process.

Here’s what showed up:

dns.msftncsi.com
ipv6.msftncsi.com
win10.ipv6.microsoft.com
ipv6.msftncsi.com.edgesuite.net
a978.i6g1.akamai.net
win10.ipv6.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
en-us.appex-rf.msn.com
v10.vortex-win.data.microsoft.com
client.wns.windows.com
wildcard.appex-rf.msn.com.edgesuite.net
v10.vortex-win.data.metron.life.com.nsatc.net
wns.notify.windows.com.akadns.net
americas2.notify.windows.com.akadns.net
travel.tile.appex.bing.com
www.bing.com
any.edge.bing.com
fe3.delivery.mp.microsoft.com
fe3.delivery.dsp.mp.microsoft.com.nsatc.net
ssw.live.com
ssw.live.com.nsatc.net
login.live.com
login.live.com.nsatc.net
directory.services.live.com
directory.services.live.com.akadns.net
bl3302.storage.live.com
skyapi.live.net
bl3302geo.storage.dkyprod.akadns.net
skyapi.skyprod.akadns.net
skydrive.wns.windows.com
register.mesh.com
BN1WNS2011508.wns.windows.com

I dutifully added all these entries to the hosts file in the vm which is found under c:\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts.  I redirected them all to 127.0.0.1.

Then, I ran (as administrator)

ipconfig /flushdns

Then turned off the vm and started again.  On the second reboot, these additional entries showed up:

settings-win.data.microsoft.com
settings.data.glbdns2.microsoft.com
OneSettings-bn2.metron.live.com.nsatc.net
watson.telemetry.microsoft.com
watson.telemetry.microsoft.com.nsatc.net

I added those to the hosts file as well, ran flushdns again, and rebooted.

The system seems to boot a bit quicker (no, I did not time this), but zero DNS queries are made while booting until you actually start doing something which requires it, such as, oh I don’t know, opening your browser.

initrd

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For the longest time, I have been looking for the solution to a problem.  The problem was, I had an 8Gb Eye-Fi X2 Pro SD card that was, apparently, not compatible with Magic Lantern.

Magic Lantern, by the way, is  a way to add pro level features to your non-pro Canon DSLR.

See, Canon DSLRs come in a few different grades.  First, you have the consumer grade cameras.  Things like the 500D, 600D, 700D.  Then you have the “semi-pro” cameras; 50D, 60D, 70D.  Finally, you have the “pro” versions:  5D, 6D, 7D.  In the pro versions, you also have revisions which keep the same basic overall physical characteristics, but provide additional features.  The current “state of the art” is the 5D MKIII.    I’d love one, but the pro versions cost into the several thousands of dollars.

Anyways, check out the Magic Lantern website and they give a pretty good overview of the additional features that are offered.

So.  I have an EyeFi X2 Pro 8Gb card which, as I understood, wasn’t compatible with Magic Lantern.   Something about the boot flag not being set properly since the EyeFi card has it’s own OS which is recognized by the Canon camera’s OS.   Looks like I  was wrong (Hey, it happens!).

So.  Here’s the way it works:

  1. Stick your EyeFi card into the USB adapter that comes with it.  I tried this in my build-in card reader but it just didn’t work properly.
  2. Download the EOS Card utility.
  3. Download the latest version of Magic Lantern for your camera and unzip it onto the EyeFi card’s root directory.
  4. Open the EOS Card Utility as an Administrator (Right click, Run As Administrator)
  5. Select your EyeFi card in the drop down and click on the big Magic Lantern button.
  6. Eject your card from the PC and toss it into your camera.
  7. Put the Camera in Manual mode (M on the dial on top), and turn on the camera.
  8. Press the Menu button and navigate to the Firmware Update Page.
  9. Select to update your firmware (don’t worry, it’s not really flashing your camera, it’s safe).
  10. When the Screen tells you it’s updated correctly, turn off the camera, remove the battery, and re-insert the battery.
  11. When you turn it back on, wait a second and then press the Trash Can Icon to access the Magic Lantern menu.
  12. Pay yourself on the back because you’ve just enabled a bunch of kick ass features on your “consumer” grade camera.

I’ll update this if anything changes, but for now, refer to the Magic Lantern wiki for info on what to do with your “new” camera :)

initrd

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The following notes are from my dealings with Network Solutions this last month.

I will add that I’m a GOLD VIP member.

December 24th, I get an email from Network Solutions telling me that one of my .net domains has been automatically renewed.  For $114! The following quotes are some posts I made on Facebook concerning this whole thing:

On the phone with Network Solutions right now. They tried to charge me $114 for a .net domain name renewal! I’m transferring all my domains away from them as we speak. That’s just crazy!

So I called them and got everything worked out. I even got them to refund me the $114. Seemed like it was just a waiting game at this point. Boy was I wrong:

Wow. Network Solutions is worse than I thought. So I get the email confirmation from idotz.net to approve the transfer. Then I got 10 emails in a row from Network Solutions about the transfer. 2 emails for each domain. One says that I should verify that the emails and such actually came from network solutions because they’ve gotten reports from customers about 3rd parties sending phishing emails about domain transfers in attempts to transfer the domain to some unknown 3rd party. The second email contains a “secure” link that I need to click on in order to either approve or cancel the transfer.
The link in the email is to https://www.registrar-transfers.com. When you mouse over the link, it actually goes to a non-secure site: http://cclinks.networksolutions.com, which then transfers you back to https://www.registrar-transfers.com, which has a SSL certificate that expired in May of 2014, almost 8 months ago!
So, I called them again to just do the approval on the phone since their emails and website cannot be trusted. I mean really? Displaying a secure link that actually goes to an insecure link which redirects to a site with an expired certificate? Keep in mind that these urls include details in the POST string about the transfer. Sure. Just send all that in the clear.
That just reeks of a phishing site. I told them as much and they have “escalated” my trouble ticket. Hopefully to someone who knows something about how the web works.
These guys are morons.

Also, all the emails I’ve ever gotten from NetworkSolutions have been marked as phishing emails automatically by Thunderbird, mainly because their emails contain links that say they go to one location, usually an https site, but really redirect to a second, different domain that is normal http. So I was told that even if I don’t click the link from the email they sent me, that the approval will be automatically approved in 5 days. Then this happens:

The drama continues. You had one job Network Solutions. This is from the email I received at 1am:
“We understand that you’ve initiated a transfer on 12/26;however, we regret to inform you there is a technical problem with the outbound transfer request. The issue will cause the transfer to fail after a 5-7 processing period. In order to avoid unnecessary processing time, we’ve canceled the transfer on our end. ”
And they keep asking me why I want to transfer away from them. They can’t even maintain their core business without problems. Oh, and that secure site they wanted me to click on? The SSL certificate is still expired.

First, notice the grammar problem. “5-7 processing period”. It’s missing the word “day” in there. Second, I thought it was taken care of?!? So I called them. Again. While on the phone, they keep asking me if there is any way I want to stay with them. “We’ll drop the yearly rate to $9.99 if you stay”. Well here’s the problem with that. The main reason I stayed with them this long was for the auto-renewal they had. That way I don’t have to worry about renewing manually. The catch? If they drop my price to $9.99 per year, then I will have to call them each year, for each domain, in order to keep that price. So I can get it for a normal price, but then I have to waste half a day to get it. Screw that!

One of the biggest things that bothered me about netsol is that they try to upsell too much. If you just want to log in, you get like 4 attempts to upsell you crap, then if you want to do something like update a dns entry, you have to go through 3 more pages of upselling. It’s awful.

So now they told me that they will cancel the domain transfer on their side, and I’ll have to re-initiate the transfer with my registrar again. Then I will need to call them AGAIN to bypass their expired and untrustworthy SSL email and start this all over again.

I told them that all they need to do to fix all this is to update their SSL cert on www.registrar-transfers.com and I’ll click on the link and that will avoid any issues.  This is their CORE BUSINESS and they can’t even handle that.

I’ll update this as the nightmare continues.

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This was annoying the first time I saw it. You select some text in an email message, and what does Thunderbird do now? Start an automatic search on Bing! for the selected text. So, I went to about:config and removed the names of all the search engines they had in there. Namely, Bing! and Yahoo. Restart Thunderbird and guess what? Now it defaults to Amazon Search!

Searching in about:config for amazon reveals nothing! No “official” way to remove it.

I got frustrated enough that I finally said “screw it” and downloaded the Thunderbird source tree and decided to make some of my own changes and just use the one I build locally.

Well, turns out there’s a much easier way to accomplish removing these. I chose to replace it with Google search since it’s what I normally go with.

Simply navigate to C:\Program Files (x86)\Mozilla Thunderbird\searchplugins

Delete everything you see in there, and create a new file called google.xml

Put the following contents into the file:

<SearchPlugin xmlns=”http://www.mozilla.org/2006/browser/search/”>

<ShortName>Google</ShortName>
<Description>Google Search</Description>
<InputEncoding>UTF-8</InputEncoding>
<Image width=”16″ height=”16″>data:image/x-icon;base64,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</Image>
<Url type=”application/x-suggestions+json” method=”GET” template=”https://www.google.com/complete/search?q={searchTerms}”/>
<Url type=”text/html” method=”GET” template=”https://www.google.com/search” rel=”searchform”>
<Param name=”q” value=”{searchTerms}”/>
<Param name=”ie” value=”utf-8″/>
<Param name=”oe” value=”utf-8″/>
<Param name=”aq” value=”t”/>
</Url>
<SearchForm>https://www.google.com/</SearchForm>
</SearchPlugin>

That should do it. Restart Thunderbird and viola! You’ll have a useful search function in your email client now.

By the way, all those seemingly random characters in the file above is just an encoded version of the google search icon. (notice it’s between <image/> tags.

However, be warned! If you simply delete all the files in the searchplugins directory, when you right click on something in Thunderbird, you’ll get every menu option possible. Even if it doesn’t work. Since it can’t parse a plugin xml file, it will just display everything instead.

initrd

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Cheese and Garlic Stuffed Mushrooms:IMG_20140924_210606-sm

2Tb Butter
1Tb chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1t red wine vinegar
1/2 c Shredded cheese
1 slice bread
3T Parmesan cheese
10 large button mushrooms
3t olive oil

Preheat oven to 200C

Toss the butter and garlic into a pan and cook over medium heat until all the butter is melted.
While that is going on, take the slice of bread and turn it into crumbs.
Once the butter is all melted, drop in the breadcrumbs and vinegar. Cook for about 2 minutes or until breadcrumbs have soaked up all the butter and are lightly toasted.
Once finished, move the breadcrumbs to a bowl to cool.
While waiting, clean and stem the mushrooms and place them on a baking dish/sheet.
Mix in the Parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs and add any other seasonings you like to flavor.
Stuff the bread/cheese mix into the mushrooms and sprinkle with shredded cheese.
Drizzle olive oil over the top and stick in the oven.
Bake for 10 minutes or until slightly soft.

Let cool for 1 minute. Serve hot.

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Ok, these are simple and go without saying but hey, I’m bored.

Usually when I get off work (around 7am), I’m kind of hungry.  When I get home, I’ll cook up a quick breakfast sandwich or 2.

IMG_20140831_065100

Breakfast Bagel Sandwich

1 Bagel (i use onion) or 1 English Muffin
1 medium/large egg
1 T milk
1/2 t garlic salt
1 slice of ham (or substitute sausage, turkey, etc)
1 slice american cheese (or your favorite)
1 t butter

Put the bagel or muffin in the toaster oven and toast how you like it.
Toss the butter in a pan and put over medium heat.
Mix the milk, garlic salt, and egg in a bowl and whisk together.
Toss the eggs into the pan and stir them up until they’re about 1/2 set.  Then I scoot them together until they form a square shape about the size of a piece of sliced cheese.
Flip the eggs and take your muffin out of the toaster.
Place the egg on the muffin, then add the cheese and ham.  I put the whole works back in the still warm toaster oven for about 30 seconds to help melt the cheese.

Viola!  Only takes a few minutes, not much cleanup to do, and it a quick breakfast snack.

Enjoy.
Initrd

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As long as I’ve lived in Japan, I’ve had a favorite ramen shop.  Arashi Kagetsu.

My favorite ramen they make there, is 嵐げんこつらあめん (Arashi Genkotsu Ramen).

Since moving to Alaska in May 2014, I have found myself missing this ramen.  So, my attempt to recreate the soup they use will be documented here:

IMG_20140829_203202

Completed Ramen with butter

So far, it’s not even close, but as I’m cooking for one, I’ve not had the opportunity to really buckle down and buy everything I need to make the real effort that it deserves.

10 chicken necks
1 can beef broth
1 can water
1 medium chopped onion
1 T honey
1/4 c Soy Sauce
1 T chopped garlic
1 T sake (I use Ozeki)
1 T rice vinegar
1 t hon dashi
3 T red Miso

Basically, toss it all into a slow cooker and let it sit for 6 hours on high, or 10-12 hours on low.
Run the resulting soup through a strainer, then some cheesecloth to get rid of all the left over bones and such.
Drop what’s left into a pot and reduce by half. Store and freeze what you don’t use immediately.

About 1/4 cup of this broth when mixed with about 1 1/2 cups boiling water will go nicely with noodles.

I will add more next time I get a chance to work on it.

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I’m going to start posting here again.  It’s been a while, but since I have little else to do after moving to the USA after 20 years in Japan, I guess I should start doing something.

Expect mostly recipes, local photography, and hardware hacking.

Cheers!
initrd

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The laser printer here at my office just had a series of jams, one of which tripped the “Call a service Tech” flag on the darned thing. Rather than calling the tech to reset it (I managed to clear the paper problem myself), you can simply enter this code on the control panel:

P*C*14

Then Press Execute, then Tap Yes, then hit the B/W Copy button, then hit the reset button.

P = Program (#)
C = Clear

Problem solved, no maintenance fees!

initrd

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