First education venture – eduX

eduxMy wife is very excited to begin a new venture with three other partners in education services. The school is called eduX, a language learning centre in Shiogama-guchi (Nagoya) – opening this week on the 8th of August followed by eduX Kids in Mizuho-ku (Nagoya) sometimes in October. It is going to be a busy year for the family!

Watch.am – A new horology blog

Vincent Nguyen and I have been talking about starting a watch/horology site, a passion he and I shared; we dragged Chris Davies and recruited Radhika Seth from Yanko Design to launch Watch.am – I aimed for a simple minimalistic design on Watch.am. We will be updating the blog daily, so enjoy!

How to setup pptp VPN server on Linux [Tutorial]

I’m moving to Japan very soon and remembered that Google Voice won’t be working once I step onto Land of the Rising Sun. So I figured I should setup a VPN tunneling for me to access services that is available only in the US. Setting up PPTPD is fairly easy and straight forward. I’m using SoftLayer BYOC (Build Your Own Cloud) which cost $70/month for 2TB bandwidth (inbound bandwidth is free – unlike Rackspace cloud).

I picked the Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx for this example, but you can use any distro you prefer.

First, you need to install the PPTP daemon (server), and we are going to use apt-get to install it.

apt-get install pptpd

Once it is installed, let’s create user accounts for your VPN server by editing the chap-secrets file. Use any editor you like, I personally prefer Nano.

nano -w /etc/ppp/chap-secrets

Each users should be added in new line with following structure

yourusername pptpd yourpassword *

Next step is to configure localip/remoteip assignment on pptpd.conf

nano -w /etc/pptpd.conf

Since my local router is on 192.168.0.1, I wanted to avoid using the same IP assignment for my VPN connection. so I’m using 192.168.111.xxx instead on pptpd.conf

localip 192.168.111.1
remoteip 192.168.111.234-238,192.168.111.245

Now, let’s get IP forwarding working by editing sysctl.conf file

nano -w /etc/sysctl.conf

then uncomment this line

net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

Save the file and reload the configuration.

sysctl -p

Next is to edit rc.local file for iptables rule

nano -w /etc/rc.local

Add these line right above exit line. (eth1 is my public ethernet port, adjust as needed)

/sbin/iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -s 192.168.111.0/24 -o eth1 -j MASQUERADE
/sbin/iptables -I FORWARD -p tcp -syn -i ppp+ -j TCPMSS -set-mss 1356

Last but not least, let’s define the DNS to use with our pptpd. Currently I’m using Google Public DNS – It is fast and reliable; I know some of you prefer OpenDNS.

nano -w /etc/ppp/options

Uncomment the entries with ms-dns 192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.2 then replace the IP with Google Public DNS IPs so it look like this

ms-dns 8.8.8.8
ms-dns 8.8.4.4

You are done! Next is just reboot your server and you should be able to connect to using PPTPD and send all your traffic thru this server. For more pptpd.conf reference, you can find them here.

If you have tips,comment, or unable to get it to work feel free to post them here.

SlashGear iPad App is launching soon – RC Screenshots

We launched SlashGear iPhone app last month and will be launching our iPad app in a week or so. The iPad App would be so much different than the iPhone counterpart. Here are some screenshots.

Finding the right CDN for SlashGear

It has been interesting and educational two months; I had the chance to use several major CDN services on SlashGear. Choosing the right CDN is a matter of pricing/budget, delivery technology or features and POP availability. The CDN vendors I had the opportunity to try are MaxCDN, InterNAP, Highwinds, Akamai, and EdgeCast.

MaxCDN has the best implementation of web based management console. I really enjoy using them and still do use them on R3 Media sites (SlashPhone and AndroidCommunity). The cache-hit number is pretty impressive at 96.62%. Unfortunately MaxCDN does not have presence in Asia where 12% of our traffic came from (95% for SlashGear Japan). Last I heard, they are planning POPs in Asia.

I don’t have many complainw on InterNAP, however they are not the fastest of bunch, but not the slowest either -routing sometimes does not provide the best route.. Pricing is pretty competitive.

HighWinds is a very affordable CDN vendor, unfortunately it rewrites files URL rather than sticking with predefined CNAME you have setup for the account. Great reporting tools (entirely made of Flash) and control panel.

Akamai is the big dog in CDN business; I was very excited when giving it a try. It has robust control panel, fast aggregation of content when setting up origin pull, and it has many POP around the world. Speed is impressive, however I was disappointed to find out it was not the fastest out of the bunch and pricing is amazingly high unless you commit to a high bandwidth bucket. If you don’t need much bandwidth you can try VPS.NET, they are Akamai reseller with reasonable price.

EdgeCast was one of the CDN I didn’t plan to include in my search for CDN vendor, but I’m glad I did. Sales were very accommodating and responsive. Setup was quick and simple, however I wish their management control panel would provide origin pull progress and detail reporting. They performed the best during my usage (Pulling data from Dallas, LA and Nagoya), almost 28 percent faster compared to InterNAP and 14 percent faster compared to Akamai. I was very surprised by the delivery speed on small object (has not tested video delivery yet – large file object). Pricing is very competitive and they will work it out depending on your situation and usage.

So by the end of the day, I picked EdgeCast CDN to power SlashGear.com, and SlashGear.jp due to its performance and pricing. However video files are still being serve-using HighWinds as part of UK2Group sponsorship.

Disclosure : MaxCDN sponsored SlashPhone & AndroidCommunity CDN bandwidth. UK2Group sponsored SlashGear TV videos bandwidth using HighWinds CDN.

Welcome Ben Bajarin to SlashGear Team!

It is a privilege to have Ben Bajarin from Creative Strategies on SlashGear. Looking forward to read his thoughts on the tech industry with his column at SlashGear Ben also blog about technology on his tech blog here.

About Ben Bajarin

Since joining Creative Strategies in 2000 Ben has researched the global transition from analog to digital in consumer technologies and entertainment media. He has focused on projects and developed strategies in the markets of the digital home ecosystem, mobile computing, digital lifestyle and interactive entertainment, trying to understand how and why consumers will use new digital technologies in their everyday lives. His expertise is in understanding the Gen X and Millenial consumers and their present and future demands for technology.

His research and strategic work spans digital entertainment and media, brand marketing and awareness, social media and consumer products and services. Ben manages Creative Strategies behavioural analysis and digital home research center where the impacts of many consumer behaviours, digital home / family and digital lifestyle technologies are studied.

His current and past clients have included Sony, HP, Dell, Toshiba, Philips, Palm, NVIDIA, Intel, AMD and Microsoft to name a few. He speaks regularly at industry events and trade shows, appears frequently on technology radio shows, is quoted frequently by the press and has regular television appearances commenting on the latest technology news.