Firewalls for Home Use

A question I see often is what firewall is the best for a home/residential environment? Before I get into that, we must realize that the majority of non tech-savvy people do not even have a firewall, or they have one but it’s not enabled/configured correctly, or they’re just not sure. In an age where we see more weaponized vulnerabilities and threats year after year – this is a huge problem. The problem though, is as big as an issue for consumers as it is for businesses such as ISPs and network device manufactures.

Home router firmware hasn’t change much over time. In early 2016, The Wall Street Journal looked at the security capabilities of the top 20 home routers. Only six of those had up-to-date firmware at that time, and just two of them had good password processes. The recent ASUS settlement with the Federal Trade Commision over the critical security flaws in their home routers is further proof that home router manufacturers don’t take security seriously. Today’s home router selections don’t offer you the flexibility to set up your network the way you see fit. They also don’t provide you visibility into the devices that are connecting to your network says Untangle.

There is a wide array of security practices that would probably make you shake your head.  Just the other day I was at my parents place and found that the ISP provided modem/gateway’s firewall was set to “NAT only”. The firewall was disabled and it even stated that this was the default option and that enabling the firewall was “optional”. I would highly suspect that this is the default configuration for all of the ISP’s customers. This means the firewall functionality and security legwork is responsibility of the end-device. Scary! Continue reading…

Windows Server 2016 – Technical Preview 5

Install

Microsoft has released Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 (build #14300). You can see what’s new here. This could probably be one of the last few TP (tech preview) builds that we will see. Especially so if Microsoft is still firm on their plans to officially launch Windows Server 2016 this summer (Q3 2016).

As long as you are running VMware ESXi 5.5 or higher (6.0 or later is recommended) then Windows Server 2016 is an supported operating system on VMware. You can even select it as an option for the guest OS on virtual machine version 11 or higher. Keep in mind that VMware VM version 11 restricts you to using the web client ONLY. When moving from a previous version of Windows Server to Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5, you will need to uninstall the previous version for a clean installation of Technical Preview 5. You can download TP5 as an ISO, however Nano server is only available in VHD format. See Getting Started with Nano Server for full details.

Personally I was never a fan of Windows 8.x or Server 2012. So far I think that Windows Server 2016 is already step in a better direction. Even in technical preview it offers many improvements of it’s predecessor. Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 provides a wide range of new and enhanced features and capabilities spanning server virtualization, storage, software-defined networking, server management and automation, web and application platform, access and information protection, virtual desktop infrastructure, and more. The GUI version or what is now referred to by Microsoft as the “Desktop Experience” is my current de-facto standard. If you use or have seen Windows 10 then right out of the box you will notice that Server 2016 is a stripped down, optimized, server version of Windows 10.

Choose Standard or Datacenter edition, depending on the features you need:

  • Windows Server 2016 Standard
    • Up to 2 VM’s or Hyper-V containers
    • Unlimited Windows containers
    • New Nano Server deployment option for “just enough OS”
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
    • Unlimited VM’s and Hyper-V containers
    • Unlimited Windows containers
    • New Nano Server deployment option for “just enough OS”
    • Shielded VM’s and Host Guardian Service
    • Storage features, including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica
    • New networking stack

Windows Server 2016 Technical Preview 5 Gallery:

Overall Technical Preview 5’s new features seem to be focused on Hyper-V, Networking, Storage, Nano Server and Security. In Server 2016 you will also find Windows Defender and “Windows Server Antimalware” is installed and enabled by default.

The introduction of Host Guardian Service (HGS)’s new feature Shielded Virtual Machines which focuses on the security of virtual machines running in the Hyper-V environment. The goal of shielded VMs and Guarded Fabric is to help provide service providers and cloud operators the ability to offer their tenant administrators a hosted environment where protection of tenant virtual machine data is strengthened against threats from compromised storage, network, and host administrators, as well as malware.

This is just a quick post showcasing the new tech preview build. I will have a more in-depth view of all of these features and more when a release candidate build is finally available.

What do you think of Windows Server 2016 so far? Comment below!

SubPac S1 Tactile Bass Systems Review

s_subpac_desk

As some may know I am a bit of a bass freak / audiophile. My car’s sound system is a great example of this. Music in general is a very influential and important part of my life. I listen to many different genre’s of music and my taste in music changes over time.  Anyway enough about me, this article is about my experience with the SubPac S1.

I had been watching the company called StudioFeed USA LLC for months following the teaser announcements of this product. I had been patiently waiting for the pre-orders to launch for months.  Even after my order was placed it took 2-3 months for delivery because of their initial popularity and the hand-made quality that goes into these things. I couldn’t wait for it to arrive!

The SubPac is a high-fidelity tactile bass system that quietly and directly transfers low frequencies (bass) to your body, providing the physical dimension to sound. As you lean against it (S1) or wear it (M1), you will experience a fully immersive music/sound dimension that truly is the natural, logical progression to the sound experience.  SubPac’s tactile transducers operate similarly to a speaker but vibrations are conducted through the SubPac’s vibrotactile membrane rather than through the air.  The result is an accurate, powerful and immersive experience that traditional speaker systems cannot achieve.

I can’t even begin to describe the size the smile on my face once I hooked this baby up for the first time. The ability to actually feel the music just makes it just so much better. It’s like you’ve got a 2000W sub-woofer built into your chair that only you can hear. I live in an apartment complex so I can’t exactly have my sub-woofer very high, at all. With the SubPac that doesn’t matter anymore. I have never had the intensity knob past the half-way level. It works great for music obviously, but also movies and video games.

My Setup

The SubPac S1 fits perfectly in between the back rest and head rest of my DXRacer computer chair. This makes it literally feel like it’s just a part of the chair. On the previous chair I had it made me sit a bit too far out on the chair and it made it too uncomfortable.

Wiring Setup

I had to do some audio card magic to make this work properly for my desired setup. I still wanted the ability to use my headphones without having to switch and play around with cables when I wanted to use my normal speakers or headphones. I also didn’t want to compromise my surround sound setup with a 3.5mm stereo cable and wanted to continue using the optical cable if possible. Normally you would just hook up the 3.5mm stereo out on your PC to the IN port on the SubPac and then the OUT port to your speakers. However I instead use my normal optical out to my surround speakers but loop-back the audio on the optical to the stereo. I then use a 3.5mm stereo out cable from the PC to the SubPac. This frees up the SubPac’s out port for my headphones permanently, no switching ever required. I drew up a quick diagram to explain this better.

subpac_wiring_diagram_v4

Conclusion

5/5. I would highly recommend the SubPac. Every piece of music you have ever owned that has a full sound will be rediscovered – any new music will be delivered the way it was intended to  – with the energy of the low frequencies physically felt in a visceral way (while not disturbing anyone around you).   The price is easily justifiable from the craftsmanship and quality that goes into building these and how much you will use it (all the time). The whole idea of the SubPac is awesome. SubPac has even helped many hearing impaired people experience music and sound. What an accomplishment!