Archive for the ‘Windows’ Category

No fixed IP address? No problem!

January 14, 2019

Over the years I’ve been pretty lucky with our ISPs – I’ve usually been able to get a fixed IP address so setting up a DNS entry for a subdomain to point back to ‘home’ has been fairly simple. I’ve been able to use that to VPN/tunnel back to the home network to access resources and fix the families machines from anywhere in the world. It also made using the SmartDNSProxy service really simple as it was a set and forget exercise.

Sadly with our new ISP (and long awaited move to NBN) fixed IP addresses are not offered for residential packages (and the cost of upgrading from residential to ‘business’ offered very little value) so I had to come up with a solution.

I could have gone with a service like NoIp.com or DynDns, both of which are supported by our router, but it added additional cost and either required me to move DNS hosting or use (and pay for) a DNS name that I didn’t control and while that supported my “phone home” scenarios, it didn’t help with the Smart DNS Proxy configuration every time the IP address changed. None of the existing IP updater utilities that I could find addressed the problem either.

Luckily, Cloudflare (my DNS provider) has an API that let’s me quickly update the IP address for a specific subdomain, so the DNS entry I use for ‘home’ could be updated, and SmartDNSProxy also have an API to programatically update the relevant details for their service.

As I have a Windows PC that’s always on (it’s the hub for our Media Center, and some of the home automation scripts) I decided to put together a quick PowerShell script that I could set TaskManager to run every five minutes and following a reboot (power outages being the most common cause of an IP address change) and would:

  • Obtain our current public IP address
  • Check the entry for my ‘home’ DNS entry at Cloudflare
  • If they differed, update CloudFlare, SmartDNSProxy (and any other services) and log the change (just for my curiosity)

So far it’s worked flawlessly (the CloudFlare API took a bit of figuring out, it’s very flexible but luckily well documented and has meaningful error messages!) so I’ve tidied it up a bit, removed my API keys and other identifying ‘stuff’ and shared it as a GitHub project for anyone who needs to do something similar.

Over time I may re-write the script for bash so I can run it on the Raspberry Pi that I have around for some other little projects but at the moment it’s not an always-on machine so no urgency … though if anyone needs it, let me know.

Links:

Off shopping for a Windows8 laptop

February 23, 2013

While I’m loving Windows8 via Fusion on my Macbook Air, my daughters HP tx2 has finally bitten the dust (two batteries, two chargers, a strip down to repair the fan) but it’s done a good 4 years of daily (and pretty unforgiving) use.

So it was time to go shopping.

Her requirements were pretty simple – about the same size as the tx2, a decent keyboard, WiFi and bluetooth (for the mouse) and good graphics capabilities.

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BootCamp and Blank Screens

December 10, 2010

I have my MacBook Pro running BootCamp and a 64 bit Windows 7 (so I can use all of the 4GB RAM). I also have a DynaDock so I can drive a total of three screens (the MacBook Pro screen, one via the Apple connector and the third via the DynaDock connector, which I also use for all my USB connections, wired Ethernet and speakers)

The problem is that when the laptop goes to sleep sometimes I don’t get all my screens coming back to life – they stubbornly sit there showing nothing. Just stay black.

I’d made sure that I had the latest DynaDock DisplayLink drivers and checked Windows Update and BootCamp to make sure everything was the latest and greatest… but I’d not thought to check that the Nvidia drivers themselves were up to date.

Luckily Nvidia have a smart detection page which works out what display hardware you’re using and lets you quickly and easily install the latest drivers. Turns out form my GeForce 9400M BootCamp had installed version 527.79 of the driver, when the latest “Verde Notebook Release” was 260.99.

A few minutes to download and install, a reboot and … so far not a black screen to be seen.