21 May 2007

Windows XP Won't Return Ping, Otherwise Fine

I make this post in the hope that it will help some other poor sap who's run into the same head-bangingly frustrating problem with Windows that I did.

(some incidental keywords for Google: windows one-way ping doesn't respond to ping Internet works no ping can't connect)

Here's the situation: A couple of weeks ago, I bought a refurbed Tablet PC (Toshiba Portégé 3500, for anyone who's curious) off of eBay, mainly to allow me more mobility. (The Toshiba weighs 4.1 pounds... the department Dell laptop weighs >10 pounds. Yeah.) However, there are some applications on the Dell that I'd really like to be able to use remotely, so I was trying to set up TightVNC (third-party open-source remote desktopping application) so's I could log into the Dell from anywhere.

Soooo, I installed TightVNC on both computers, set up the server as a service on the Dell (so it automatically loads the server on boot), and tried to connect. Nothing. On further investigation, I found I actually couldn't even ping the Dell (from anywhere); nor could I ping the Toshiba. Even after disabling Windows Firewall and McAfee entirely... nothin'.

So. After trying an interminable number of combinations of settings and plying Google for at least ten hours, I came upon what must be the single forum post that had the answer. Namely, the Cisco VPN client that MIT uses for remote network localization (important for things like Matlab licensing and access to journal subscriptions) itself includes a firewall, which in this case was shutting out both the pinging and the TightVNC connection. Two quick clicks in the menu of the client, and both functions work slick as ice. G'bah!

So. This might not be the magic bullet fix for some people, especially if they don't have Cisco VPN installed. But... check every application you can think of for a firewall setting and make sure it's disabled! (I suppose this seems pretty obvious in retrospect, but... at least nobody else I asked thought of the VPN as the possible culprit, so... I'mma not feel too bad on this one!)

Ain't technology grand? :-p

16 May 2007

Pokin' Through xkcd Archives...

...I ran across this comic. And yep, I laughed pretty much right where it indicated. :-p

15 May 2007

Would You Buy A Rock Off Of eBay?

Proof that you really can buy just about anything on eBay... how about rocks? 800+ hits' worth, no less.

This one actually looks pretty nifty, I think...

Incidentally, I'm sure there's value in this one to someone who knows their geology, but... $175 asking price, wow.

Okey, done rambling now.

04 May 2007

Dragons Are Cool

Most of you probably know who Peter Jackson is. Most of you probably have seen and enjoyed (or not) those couple of movies he made back whenever.

Well, I'm telling you right now, be excited about this upcoming project (article on Guardian.co.uk):

First hobbits then a giant gorilla and now Peter Jackson is turning his hand to an air force of dragons, manned by crews of aviators.

Téméraire, a historical fantasy book series that sees squadrons of dragons fighting in the Napoleonic wars, has captured the imagination of the Lord of the Rings director.

The plot centres on British naval captain Will Laurence, who seizes a French ship and discovers an unhatched dragon egg - a gift from the emperor of China to Napoleon. When the egg hatches, he is forced to become the dragon's keeper. The monster is called Téméraire (meaning "Daring" in French).

A few months ago I was looking around for something to do with the rewards points I had accumulated on my credit card, and I decided I'd try to find myself some new fiction authors to read. I was poking around Amazon, looking at various authors I'd seen recommended around the 'Net, trying to find some stuff that appealed. One book that did appeal was His Majesty's Dragon, the first of the Temeraire trilogy (now a quadrilogy - the fourth book will be out mass-market later this year) by Naomi Novik. I bought it, it came, and I stuck it on my bookshelf along with the five or six other titles I'd gotten.

Then, after reading a couple of other books — I reread Ender's Game and read a mystery-suspense novel by Dick Francis, Risk (Francis's main site here) — I pulled HMD off the shelf. Now, bearing in mind that I have a hard time putting books down anyways, I tore through at least the first half of the book (~160 pages, give or take) in my first sitting (This probably meant a bedtime of about 4AM. :-p), and read the rest of it over the next two days. I liked the book so much, I actually didn't want to read anything else before I could get my hands on Throne of Jade, the 2nd book in the series. (And, in reality, didn't... I just last week bought the 2nd & 3rd books and am about 120 pages into ToJ.)

So.... If Jackson & Co. do as superb a job artistically on this film as the reportedly did on LotR (I haven't actually seen them yet. =8-O) and hew pretty closely to the quality of character development that's in HMD the book... should be something you don't want to miss!

02 May 2007

Because It Annoys Me

An interesting story over on Yahoo, via AP. I really can't imagine (a) how that would actually work well, or (b) how people would think that it's not going to get them fined and/or jail time.

But, that's not why I linked to it. Why I linked to it is in the very first paragraph. Dictionaries, people!! M-W.com, if nothing else!