Sean's Blag

The Personal Blog of Sean Callaway

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Fallout 3 Fails to Launch on Windows 8

This morning, I discovered that Fallout 3 would fail to launch after clicking ‘Play’ on the launcher. This is the first time I’ve tried playing Fallout 3 since moving to Windows 8.

The solution is actually quite easy: install Games for Windows Live. This can be acquired here. Install it, sign in with your Live ID, and Fallout 3 will run just fine.

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New Windows Checksum Utility

Last night, as I was downloading an update to VLC Player, I was thinking that most people I know don’t know what checksums are for, let alone how to verify one.

So, I fired up Visual Studio and got started designing a simple form that will let’s you drag-and-drop a file onto it, then displays the MD5, SHA-1, and SHA-256 checksums.

Coding went pretty quickly, as the .Net Framework has most of the functionality built into it already. Now, I just need to make the checksums selectable, so that users can copy-and-paste the checksums, and clean up the UI a bit.

Presently, CheckSumer RC1 is available for download as a portable .exe (a zipped version also is up there). I will be creating an installer that ensures the proper .Net Framework (currently 4.0) is installed on the user’s system.

https://github.com/seancallaway/CheckSumer

CheckSumer is licensed under the GNU General Public License, Version 2.

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Building a New Home Server: Introduction

I am currently in the planning stages of building a new home server to replace my HP MediaSmart EX470 and the rack-mounted boxes in my lab. I am confident that I can build a machine that performs all of my lab duties, as well as the functions of my home server (account synchronization, serving media, storing computer backups).

I plan on installing VMWare vSphere Hypervisor on the machine and installing the following VMs:

  • Windows Server 2008 R2 – act as a domain controller for the home network
  • pfSense – router/firewall for the home network, as well as a VPN provider (site-to-site and road-warrior)
  • something to serve up Active Directory-protected shares (individual user network spaces and computer backup repository) and public/anonymous read-only shares (media)
  • various Linux VMs for lab purposes

I plan on posting more parts as this comes along and will cover topics including hardware selection, software selection (for the NAS part), and configuration.

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Alton Brown’s Bleu Cheese Dressing

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces Gorgonzola
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions


Put the Gorgonzola in a small mixing bowl and mash it with a fork. Add the sour cream, buttermilk, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and black pepper and whisk to combine. Serve or store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 1 week.

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/blue-cheese-dressing-recipe/index.html?oc=linkback

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Setup a Day of Defeat:Source Server on Linux

This is the basic method I use to create a number of game servers that I run for my gaming clan. All of these servers get a pretty decent load and work very well.

I am using an Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS server here, but this should work with most Linux distros.

Create A Game User

Here, I create a new user that the DoD:S server will run as. I named mine hlds, like the old version of the dedicated server, and have it use bash as it’s shell.

$ sudo useradd -s /bin/bash -m hlds
$ sudo passwd hlds

Then, I logout and log back in as this new user.

Install SteamCMD

As the game server user, run the following commands to download SteamCMD:

$ mkdir steamcmd
$ cd steamcmd
$ wget http://media.steampowered.com/client/steamcmd_linux.tar.gz
$ ./steamcmd.sh

This will auto-update SteamCMD and leave you at a Steam> prompt. Now, we install the DoD:S server files.

Steam> login anonymous
Steam> force_install_dir ../
Steam> app_update 232290

This will take a while, as SteamCMD downloads all your server files. When it is done, it drops you back at the Steam> prompt and you can type quit.

Create Your Server Configuration

The game server does not come with a default configuration file, so without knowing what you’re doing, creating one can be kind of difficult. I like the dodbits DoD:S Server Config Maker, which will let you create one via fill in the blanks.

Take the server.cfg that this generates and place it in the dod/cfg/ folder.

Create A Startup Script

Using your favorite text editor (vim, emacs, etc), create a file called start.sh in your home directory. Place the following in there (obviously, change IP to match your server):

screen -A -m -d -S dod ./srcds_run -game dod +map dod_avalanche +maxplayers 30 +ip <server's ip address>

Save the file and exit your editor. Now, make that script executable with the following command:

$ chmod +x start.sh

You’re all ready to go at this point.

$ ./start.sh

will fire-up your server, but you won’t see anything. That’s because we used the screen command to separate the game from your terminal session. You can logout, but the game will keep on running.

So, how do you get in? Simple:

$ screen -x

Now, you are attached to the game server’s console. You can exit back out, keeping the server running, by pressing Ctrl+A then Ctrl+D.

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New Computer Setup – October 2013

Get yourself a new computer recently? Here’s what I recommend doing before you start using it:

Head on over to Ninite.com. This site lets you pick from popular free applications and gives you an installer that downloads and installs your selected programs without you having to do anything. The programs that I recommend are:

  • Web Browsers: Chrome

Google Chrome is becoming a memory hog, but I can’t get myself to switch to Mozilla Firefox, as I keep having issues with it. If you’ve got more that 4 GB of RAM, you should be fine.

  • Media: VLC and iTunes (only if you have an iPhone/iPod)

VLC is the only media player you’ll ever need (except for playing Blu-Rays).

  • Runtimes: .NET, Silverlight (for Netflix), and Java (only if you need it)

Avoid Java if you can, as it has security vulnerabilities almost every month. At a bare minimum, disable it in your web browser.

  • Documents: Foxit Reader

Foxit Reader is a fast, easy-to-use, and secure PDF viewer. The latest version will even let you create PDFs.

  • Developer Tools: Notepad++

An outstanding text editor. I use it for coding and looking at all kinds of files. You may not need this one, but if you are a power user, you’ll want it.

  • Other: Steam (assuming you’re a gamer)
  • Utilities: TeamViewer (if I give you tech support) and Classic Start (only if you’re running Windows 8)

I use TeamViewer to remotely access my friends’ and family’s computers when they need tech support. If you’re one of these, then download it.

Classic Start brings the Start Button back to Windows 8.

  • Compression: 7-Zip

While I am a die-hard WinRAR fan, this is the next best thing and is free.

Anti-Virus

I am currently loving BitDefender Free, which is light on resources and works very well. Download and install.

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Mumble Channel Viewer JSON URI

If you’re using MumPI to allow the Mumble Channel Viewer plugins to see your Mumble server, you’ll eventually be asked for the JSON URI.

This is what you should use:

http://yourserversdomain/MumPI/?view=json&serverId=1

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Tony’s Steak

From Bon Appetit, June 2012.

  • 6 scallions, thinly sliced (white and pale-green parts only)
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 1/3 c soy sauce
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T light brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 t hot pepper sauce
  • 1 t toasted sesame oild
  • 1 2-lbs flank steak
  • kosher salt

Combine scallions and next 7 ingredients in a large resealable plastic bag and mix well. Add steak; seal bag, pressing out excess air. Turn steak to coat. Refrigerate overnight, turning bag occasionally.

Heat a gas grill to high. Remove steak from bag; wipe off excess marinade. Season both sides lightly with salt. Grill steak until well browned, about 6 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain.

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Rebuilding the Icon Cache

I keep running across users with a problem where an icon–usually, the one for Microsoft Outlook–changes to a blank, default icon and cannot be restored via Change Icon. This problem is caused by a broken icon cache. While this may sound bad, rebuilding it is pretty easy.

First, save all your work and close all open programs: what we’re going to do will restart your computer. Next, open up a command prompt and enter the following commands:

ie4uint.exe -ClearIconCache
taskkill /IM explorer.exe /F
DEL "%localappdata%\IconCache.db" /A
shutdown /r /f /t 00

After executing the last command, your computer will restart and the icon will be restored.

What This Does

The first command actually clears the cache. Then, with “taskkill” we close Windows Explorer, so that we can delete the Icon Cache and Windows won’t complain about it being in use. The third command actually deletes the icon cache. Finally, we restart the computer immediately, which will recreate a new cache as it starts.

 

Special thanks to sevenforums.com for helping diagnose this issue.

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Rolling My Own Email Server

The other day, I came across an excellent article on replacing Gmail with your own solution. As great as it was, it is really only meant for a single user and isn’t scoped to providing email for people who will never SSH into the mail server. So, I began to search out a build for a good mail server.

What I Think I’ll Be Using

  • Debian as the OS. Debian is my go-to for Linux servers, as it is stable and has a fairly small footprint.
  • Postfix for my MTA. I played with exim4, but didn’t care for it much. We’ll see.
  • Dovecot for IMAP access.
  • AMaViS, ClamAV, and SpamAssassin for keeping things safe and sane.

I’ll check back as my build progresses and things get online.