Saturday, March 31, 2007

AcidRip - DVD Ripper For Linux

AcidRip is a Gtk2::Perl application for ripping and encoding DVD's. It neatly wraps MPlayer and MEncoder, which I think is pretty handy, seeing as MPlayer is by far the best bit of video playing kit around for Linux. As well as creating a simple Graphical Interface for those scared of getting down and dirty with MEncoders command line interface, It also automates the process in a number of ways:

* Parses DVD into contents tree
* Finds longest title
* Calculate video bitrate for given filesize
* Finds black bands and crops them
* Gives suggestions for improved performance
* Other stuff!

Worked on Ubuntu. Free, and works well.

WireShark - Ethereal - Free Network Sniffer

Same developers, same code, different name. The Ethereal network protocol analyzer has changed its name to Wireshark. Wireshark's powerful features make it the tool of choice for network troubleshooting, protocol development, and education worldwide. Wireshark was written by an international group of networking experts, and is an example of the power of open source. It runs on Windows, Linux, UNIX, and other platforms. 5 out of 5 stars.

Etherape - Visual Ethernet Scanner


At the present time, EtherApe has enough functionality to be useful, but it's far from complete. It's still beta software, and new features and bug fixes are being added all the time. Here is the list of features, current as of version 0.9.5, in no particular order:

* Network traffic is displayed graphically. The more "talkative" a node is, the bigger its representation.
* Node and link color shows the most used protocol.
* User may select what level of the protocol stack to concentrate on.
* You may either look at traffic within your network, end to end IP, or even port to port TCP.
* Data can be captured "off the wire" from a live network connection, or read from a tcpdump capture file.
* Live data can be read from ethernet, FDDI, PPP and SLIP interfaces.
* The following frame and packet types are currently supported: ETH_II, 802.2, 803.3, IP, IPv6, ARP, X25L3, REVARP, ATALK, AARP, IPX, VINES, TRAIN, LOOP, VLAN, ICMP, IGMP, GGP, IPIP, TCP, EGP, PUP, UDP, IDP, TP, IPV6, ROUTING, RSVP, GRE, ESP, AH, ICMPV6, EON, VINES, EIGRP, OSPF, ENCAP, PIM, IPCOMP, VRRP; and most TCP and UDP services, like TELNET, FTP, HTTP, POP3, NNTP, NETBIOS, IRC, DOMAIN, SNMP, etc.
* Data display can be refined using a network filter.
* Display averaging and node persistence times are fully configurable.
* Name resolution is done using standard libc functions, thus supporting DNS, hosts file, etc.
* Clicking on a node/link opens a detail dialog showing protocol breakdown and other traffic statistics.
* Protocol summary dialog shows global traffic statistics by protocol.
* Scrollkeeper-compatible manual.

Great for visual review of traffic on your LAN or WALN network. 5 out of 5 Stars in overall preformance. 4 out of 5 since the project is still in beta. Look for more reviews on this fantastic Ethernet scanner!

Software Phones Versus IP Phones

First lets get the facts straight. Both are needed and can be used on all types of platforms. for those interested in voice over IP visit our VOIPiT forum where we discuss Voice over IP software and hardware reviews.

Software based phones:

Pros: Free or low cost
IP USB phone compatible ( phone set) $29

Con: Have to own computer and be able to install software and manage applications.
Slight learning curve for those new to the net.

Hardware based phones

Not all vendors are the same. tested several items, and they just did not make the cut. They lacked in either echo cancellation or feedback controls. A decent phone for the dollar is our Roby Ip phones found online here.

I love my Sipura 1000, and 2000, and looking for low end unit that meets quality controls and service.

Hubs versus Smart Switches

In building a few networks over the year most people are confused as towards why they want a managed switched or managed hub over just a plain old hub. In my testing I used a couple of units and the results were almost identical with totally different gear. Hub versus Smart Switch

The first beast was a 16 port smarts switch by Addtron. Pretty decent but an unmanaged smart switch gives you no control over the network traffic. 10 base T I think.

Second beast was 3Com Superstack 2 . PS Hub 40 - which is a 10 megabit managed hub.

After doing allot of testing at the ten mega bit level ( for wireless network purposes) we found the results were better for the SuperStack versus the smart switch. Why would you care about a hudb you ask ? Most routers have limited ports (4-5) and hubs are cheap ways of extending those ports. Hubs sell for 10-20 dollars are most used places and are very easy to find at thrift places for just a few dollars.

In hooking a hub to a switch you will either need a cross over cable or a cross over port on the unit that switches. The 3com did not have one but the Addton did. At full load I was getting only 50 percent of my bandwidth through either device switched or hubbed, meaning it only goes so far at 10 megabit. The overhead is higher.

You can use 10 megabit gear but make sure your intersections in your network are not being choked. use a managed hub or switch and set limits on your ports, and add filters if needed to stop unwanted traffic from flooding your network.

For the money Hubs are cheapest, for the quality of service a nice Cisco 2924XL with enterprise OS , will be the best quality for the money in todays market. The Addtron and 3com were both ebay buys for under $29.

XMMS Media Player for Linux

XMMS was loaded on my Ubuntu Media PC. I also tested 3 other media players and found XMMS was the best of its class.

Since I got my new Ubuntu CD and switched, I had to find a media player that would not such the live out of my beast while I burn DVD's, I love to listen to my media. The nice thing is its small, light CPU and plain works. I give it 5 out of 5 in freeware and five out of five overall. Needed more visual effects to compete with main stream paid media software. Overall this boy is loaded, works with any media or MP3 stream and runs without glitches. In my personal opinion I see more need for media software developers like this in more areas. Media players are know to be CPU hogs and XMMS runs on a low end media box without any glitches.

Went in and added it viia add/remove feature. Searched for media player. Found it in sound and video , clicked OK, and system jumped on my network and installed it and it's dependency files. Install from clean box took only about 15 minutes from start. Difficulty is 1. One must know how to read and type. or at least read and point and click.

Next version:

Sunday, March 11, 2007

AVG Free Edition

As many of you already know, Virus, worms , and Trojans are here to stay on the Internet. Depending if the network has activated port filtering to reduce attacks, or is just monitored, a PC with XP or 2K loaded with network access and no protection can be infected in just a matter of minutes. 10-12 to be exact.

We tested over 10 packages both free and pay, and fell in love with Free AVG.

Simple, easy to use and free.
five stars

Web Site

Get AVG Anti-Virus Free
AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition is a free anti-virus protection tool developed by GRISOFT for home use. We invite you to join the millions of satisfied customers worldwide who have downloaded the software and now enjoy the benefits of AVG Anti-Virus Free.

New in AVG 7.5
Improved virus detection based on better heuristics and NTFS data streams scanning
Smaller installation and update files
Improved user interface
Windows Vista ready
and more

What you get with AVG Anti-Virus Free
Easy to use
Regular and automatic virus database updates
Realtime protection of files and e-mails

Scheduled and manual testing

Windows and Linux
And most of all ... great customer satisfaction!