Setting up Xbox Live to work with FreeBSD, PF & Verizon FIOS

April 20, 2015 at 3:47 pm (Computers)

It took me a bit of digging across several sites, but I now have our Xbox connected to XboxLive properly.

My network is a little more complicated than most, as I have a DMZ zone between my ‘inside’ network and the internet.  Basically, inside devices connect through my FreeBSD gateway/firewall to the DMZ side of the FIOS router, and then out to the internet.  All internet traffic prior was routed through from a single internal address to a single DMZ address on the firewall, then out to the internet through the FIOS router.

The steps that I took are:

  • Set the FIOS router’s DHCP addressing to a narrower range than the default (0-254) – I used 100-254.  This will allow you to assign static IPs below 100.
  • Pick an address for the Xbox on the DMZ side, and set it as static on the FIOS router – XboX_DMZ
  • Add the XboX port forwarding rules to the XboX_DMZ address.
  • Add a second IP address to the DMZ interface on the FreeBSD gateway (in the rc.conf file)
    • ifconfig_xl0_alias0=”inet 10.0.0.2 netmask 0xffffffff”
      • Note that you have to use the “netmask 0xffffffff”, it won’t work with 255.255.255.255
  • Add a line to the PF rules file – the first sets the internal and external addresses, the second sets a bi-directional one-to-one NAT mapping for the Xbox
    • Xbox360 = “192.168.0.245”       # Internal Xbox Address
      Xbox360_ext = “10.0.0.2”        # External Xbox address for bi-nat
    • binat on $ext_if from $Xbox360 to any -> $Xbox360_ext

You may need to configure some additional PF rules, depending on how strict your packet filtering is.  The Xbox needs to use TCP port 3074 and UDP ports 88 and 3074.

Resources that I used to figure this out, and may be helpful for you are:

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Why I Won’t Join A Union

July 31, 2009 at 2:36 pm (Family Life, Politics)

I was recently invited (again) to join the union at work.  When I declined, I was asked why.  Since my answers were so intelligent and well articulated (yeah, right), the union member asked if I would mind putting it in writing.  Here’s what I gave them:

I will not join the guild for the following reasons.

Principles:
The ‘service’ that the union provides is a monopoly.  A monopoly is a bad thing, when applied to the provider of goods (Standard Oil), and services (AT&T), but it is equally bad when applied to collective bargaining.

The advantages provided by a union are an inverted bell curve, with the unskilled at one end and the obsolete at the other.  Both are afforded protections that are disproportionate to their value.

Dues for membership are based on salary, with members that earn more paying a larger share.  The lowest paid employees are charged the least, while they enjoy benefits that are significantly more than they could expect doing the same work for a non-union shop.  The membership dues should be a flat fee regardless of salary.  Or to be completely fair, inverse to salary, charging more to those who benefit the most.

In the name of ‘fairness’, the wages of less valuable employees are artificially inflated, while simultaneously lowering the pay of more valuable employees.  It is immediately recognized as wasteful and wrong when the company pays more for an item from one vendor, when the same item is available for less from a different one.  The same principle applies to salaries.

The ‘fairness’ of the wages also tends to drive the most skilled (and most valuable) employees out. It wouldn’t be ‘fair’ for some employees to receive merit pay or bonuses while others didn’t, so people who are highly skilled can get more somewhere else.

Experiences:
My first experience with the union at <company> was during the orientation.  While I oppose unions on principle, I attended with an open mind.  That was short lived, because I had a few questions and wanted to see how a guild meeting worked.  The short answer was that the meetings were open to members only, and that I could go if I joined.  If I didn’t like what I saw at the meeting, I was still a dues paying member until the opt-out period next year.  I believe the exact words I used at that time were ‘pig in a poke’.

Twice, I have seen employees leave <company> for greener pastures simply because their salaries could not exceed the union-agreed scale.  I have been personally told by my manager that I would have received a merit pay bonus because of my performance during the virus crisis in 04, but that they did not give them out any more because the union had filed grievances every time one was put forward.  I was given a few days off with pay instead.

I had some experience with AFSCME prior to coming to <company>, and my experience with AFSCME was no better.  On several occasions, I saw first hand how damaging unions can be.  When dealing with people, there will always be an occasional ‘bad apple‘.  Most people are conscientious workers and respectful co-workers.  In a non-union shop, the ‘bad apples’ are quickly removed.  When one of the ‘bad apples‘ turns up in a union shop, it is usually difficult to remove them.  The process varies, but it inevitably wastes the time of everyone involved, and pushes more work onto the coworkers of the ‘bad apple’ while they exhaust their levels of arbitration.  If the arbitration is successful in keeping the employees job, morale in their unit will suffer.  After all, if THEY can get away with it, why can’t everyone?  One of the extreme examples of that occurred at <company>.  Our unit (bargaining unit employees only, btw) had a ‘good riddance’ party when he was finally paid enough to leave.  The cake was bitter-sweet, because that was money that could easily have been put to better use in profit sharing.

One fo the frequent reasons given for why we need to be part of the collective (union) is that employees would be mistreated if they didn’t.  They claim that weekends, sick leave and vacations, as well as bathrooms are all a product of union efforts.  While that may be true in the strictly literal sense, much more has been gained by the skill of individual workers.  There were examples of this during the dot-com boom, where companies that couldn’t afford the extreme salaries demanded got creative with their benefits.  Movie nights in company conference rooms, guaranteed work-from-home, game rooms, and gourmet cafeterias were not uncommon.  While most of those companies failed in the crash, some survived – as did their benefits.  The Google campus is a prime example.

A skilled worker will ALWAYS be able to negotiate a benefits package that better suits them than the ‘one size fits none’ type that the unions negotiate.

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There Ought to be a Law

June 11, 2009 at 2:50 pm (Guns)

A reportedly insane (by his sister) 88 year old man shot and killed a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC this afternoon.

Maybe a law to keep people from having loaded rifles would have helped – or not.

Or maybe if a convicted felon (he once tried to kidnap the Federal Reserve board) were prohibited from owning guns – but wait, they are.

Is there any way to prevent this kind of incident?

Sure, but that’s not a price I’m willing to pay.  All that would be required would be to find all the crazy, hateful people, and lock them up (or dispose of them in other ways).  The Chinese have occasional success with it, and the Nazi’s that he idolized were quite good at it as well.  That’s a case of the cure being worse than the disease.

So, what does this unfortunate incident show?

Crazy people, especially hateful ones, will do crazy and hateful things – up to and including killing people.  Laws to prevent them from doing so just aren’t effective, since they aren’t interested in following them.

In this case, the best possible thing happened.   An armed man at the scene prevented him from injuring or killing a whole lot more people.  It is obvious that his intention was to cause as much death & destruction as possible.  This differs from other ‘active shooter’ incidents in that the gun used to stop him was already at the scene.  If it hadn’t been, the police would have taken at least minutes to respond.   It’s uncomfortable to think about the amount of damage that he could have done in those minutes as the only armed person among thousands of unarmed people.  There is an appropriate quote at the Holocaust Museum’s website, ‘At that time, a gun and a million dollars, the gun was worth more than a million dollars.’

All you need to do is compare the outcome of the Virginia Tech and the Binghamton Immigrant Center with the ones at New Life Church and the Holocaust Museum.  The difference is clear.

What if he had picked a different place, one without armed guards?

Some place like a shopping center, school, library, swimming pool, or mall?  We’ve already seen examples of those.  The shooter will kill and continue to do so until they are confronted.  If the gun used to confront him has to be brought from somewhere else by a police officer, then the casualty list is long.  If it’s already there, then the list is shorter.

But why were all the other people unarmed?  Because THEY aren’t crazy, and followed the law.  So the effect of the laws exclusively keep NON-CRIMINALS disarmed.

Why didn’t the laws work?

But they did.  And do, just not the way they were intended.  The laws were 100% effective at keeping HONEST, LAW ABIDING people from breaking the laws.  In short, people that weren’t inclined to be violent were prevented from having defensive tools, while the violent, crazy man didn’t bother obeying the law.

What can be done?

If we aren’t going to eliminate or isolate all the violent crazy people, including potential ones, then incidents like these will continue.  You can’t legislate sanity.  The only practical thing is to minimize the damage caused by them.  And the best way to do that is to make sure that as many non-crazy people as possible have the means to stop an attack as soon as it starts.  Since it isn’t possible for everyone to have an armed escort, the next best thing would be to be your own armed escort.  Remember that the guard that stopped the Holocaust Memorial shooter wasn’t a cop, but an employee of a private security firm.  The Holocaust Memorial delegated the job of protecting them to the security firm.  Each indivicual has the right to defend themselves, and hiring a bodyguard for that purpose is merely delegating that job to someone else.  It’s a common misconception that the police are there for that purpose, but numerous court rulings, including one from the Supreme Court show otherwise.  The police have a general responsibility to the public as a whole, not to any individual.

Your safety is entirely your responsibility.  I’d suggest that you act accordingly.

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Analysis of 20/20’s ‘If You Only Had A Gun’

April 14, 2009 at 9:07 pm (Guns)

20/20 recently aired a show called ‘If You Only Had A Gun’.  If you’re interested in watching it, it is available in two parts on Youtube.  Part 1, and Part 2.

The segment shows the predictable results of what ‘would’ happen if a minimally trained student were in posession of a gun when a mass shooter stormed into their classroom.  Underwhelming, to say the least.

The ‘armed’ students were supplied with a firearm and holster that they were completely unfamiliar with.  The segment didn’t say, but I would be surprised if they actually drew their handgun from the holster more than three times.

It is my opinion that this ‘test’ was specifically configured to yield the results that it did for the following reasons:

  • The ‘cover’ garment supplied, an extra-long t-shirt was specifically chosen to make the firearm more difficult to remove from the holster.
  • The student was equipped with necessary, but restrictive safety gear – helmet, neck guard, and most importantly, cumbersome gloves.  At least two of the students appeared to be having trouble deploying their firearm because of their gloves.
  • The ‘armed’ student was always placed in the same seat in the room.  The shooter shot the instructor, then immediately turned on the armed student, regardless of if they had presented the firearm or not.  Historically, active shooters shot the people closest to them first.

While this type of ‘scenario’ will be used to show that the ‘best’ response is to run or hide, they failed to take several things into account.

  • The 20/20 scenario ONLY has any meaning if it occurs in the first classroom where a shooting occurs.  Many VA Tech students had enough time to try to barricade their classrooms.  In that situation, the results would be very different.
  • The shooter doesn’t know where an armed student will be sitting, or even if there is an armed student at all.  The armed student, given the extra second or two that the chaos in the room would provide, would have had much better results.
  • No mention is made that even by unsuccessfully engaging the shooter, the armed student would have enabled several other students to escape uninjured.

My offer to 20/20, give me those students for ONE hour, let them choose their own seat, and have the shooter engage all the students in the room.  I’ll guarantee significantly better results.  Especially compared to a trial where there are NO armed students.

For anyone interested in practicing for ‘real life’ situations, IDPA or USPSA matches are a great way to do it.

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Squib Loads

April 5, 2009 at 5:25 pm (Guns)

As with any tool, firearms are occasionally subject to malfunctions.  Some are mechanical problems, some can be attributed to operator error, while others are directly the fault of the ammunition.  Good maintenance goes a long way in preventing mechanical problems, and modern firearms are extremely reliable.

Even so, it is important to know how the gun you are shooting feels normally.  Anything abnormal should immediately be checked.  Heavier or lighter recoil than normal, a different sound, or even smell, can indicate a problem.  Ignoring the first sign that something unusual has occurred can have catastrophic consequences.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Novice Shooters

March 29, 2009 at 2:20 am (Guns)

Two of my wife’s friends were interested in going to the range, so we scheduled it for early this afternoon.

The first had taken the NRA Basic Pistol course a few years ago, and hadn’t been shooting since.  She was excited, and hopes to get a suitable defensive gun and concealed carry permit in the near future.

The  other had only fired one shot from her former husband’s rifle, which left her bruised for a week.  She wanted to go, but is VERY nervous around guns.  She was expecting to fire a few shots, not like it, and retreat to the ‘safety’ of the car while we finished shooting.

I gave them about 10 minutes of safety & basics before we headed out.  It consisted of the NRA’s three rules, and basics on grip, stance, trigger control, and sight alignment.  I took an old broken Marksman bb pistol that I’ve painted red to use as a training aid.

The first remembered most of her prior training, but wasn’t clear on if she should be using the Weaver or Iscocoles stance.  I spent a few minutes with each of them and we worked out a comfortable two-handed stance for both.  This led to a discussion on the drive to the range about stances, which I explained are a very personal matter.  Physiology and strength play a large part, and very few people use a textbook one.

Since these were novice shooters, I went over my other two rules.  If something is wrong, I’ll tap their shoulder, at which point they are to remove their finger from the trigger guard.  This allows me to correct errors without them removing their grip or sights while they are still occurring.  My other is that if anything unexpected or troubling happens, the gun is to be laid down on the bench pointing downrange.  As these are novice shooters, any malfunctions they experience are beyond their ability, so I correct them at that point.

Once at the range, after a brief wait for a lane, we finally got down to shooting.  The least experienced goes first.  As I always do, the first magazine is only loaded with one round so that the gun is empty in case they don’t manage the recoil well or (gasp) turn around.  The next two magazines are loaded with two each, and if they are comfortable we then move up to five.

From then on, we shoot 5 magazines of five rounds between target changes.  I stand behind them and reload so they have a fresh magazine by the time they’ve run the last one dry.  I also keep an eye out to correct any problems they have as soon as they appear.  It’s easy to avoid bad habbits if you never get into the habit in the first place.

Both of the new shooters ended up firing about 75 rounds, with groupings about 8 to 10 inches from 30 feet.

Then my wife wanted to shoot her .45.  Apparently two Marines who were firing in the lane next to ours had made some comment about the ‘wimpy’ .22 that we were using.  They were shooting a .40 glock or sig at the 20 foot line, and patterning like a short-barreled shotgun.  (Grouping at that distance shouldn’t be measured in feet, guys.)   So she sends her special VisiShot target out to the 30 foot line and proceeds to put 20 rounds in an 8 inch group.  We change targets, and she’s not quite done showing off yet, so she fires two more magazines one-handed.  Her friends, and the Marines were suitably impressed.  As was I, because she’s really only been shooting for about three months.

On the plus side for the day, two novices have a bit more experience.  A person who ‘didn’t like guns’ had a really good time shooting, and my wife’s flinch with her .45 seems to be gone.  The only downside was that of the 100 rounds of .45 that we shot, I only brought home 80 spent cases to reload.

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Not-so-HOT lanes

March 10, 2009 at 7:36 pm (Family Life, Politics)

I commute to DC daily, so I’m interested in anything that will have an impact on my commute.  Currently, I’m a SLUG, but occasionally take the VRE or bus.

Virginia has been talking about converting the existing HOV lanes, which only busses and cars with 3 or more passengers can use, to HOT lanes which would be open to anyone with enough cash to pay the toll.

Official information can be found at virginiahotlanes.com and www.vamegaprojects.com.

The entire process seems to have been done in a less than open and honest manner, to the point that the Prince William County board of Supervisors passed a resolution requesting that VDOT or the contractor appear before them.  It’s gotten so heated that the slug-lines forum was invaded by a troll that turned out to be Shirley Ybarra, a lobbyist and former VA Secretary of Transportation.

I have problems with anyone messing with my commute, so I wrote the following letter to my two state representatives about it.

To: Sen. Charles Colgan
district29@senate.virginia.gov

To: Del. Jeff Frederick
DelJFrederick@house.virginia.gov

I am writing to you as a commuter from Northern Virginia who is concerned about the impact that the proposed HOT lanes on Interstate 95 and 395 will have.

Any additional capacity on 395 section of HOV lanes would only cause more delays.  The bridges into the District and streets surrounding them are already at or above capacity.  Additional cars arriving at these choke points will not help things.

According to an article in the Free Lance Star (http://fredericksburg.com/News/FLS/2009/022009/02102009/444886) the re-striping of the lanes near the pentagon would result in lanes that are extremely narrow, and dangerous for busses to travel in at speed.  This is already an area of congestion, and would only get worse with narrower lanes.

An article in TheNewspaper (http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/24/2458.asp) said that Transurban/Fluor are expecting a level of revenue, and if any other road improvements are made that adversely affect it, Virginia would have to reimburse them for it.  This clause makes a lot of sense for them, but not for Virginia.  It would have the undesired effect of increasing the cost of necessary road improvements or halting them entirely.  Any improvements that Virginia would make to the roads near the HOT lanes, especially improvements in traffic flow, would cause fewer drivers to pay for the HOT lanes.  This would trigger the payment for their decreased revenue, effectively punishing success.

An article in the Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/07/19/AR2008071901651_pf.html) revealed that Virginia would have to pay Transurban/Fluor if the non-paying vehicles in the HOT lanes exceeded 25%.  Assuming that busses and carpools currently using the HOV lanes would remain, I have not seen any proposals for improvements that would increase the carrying capacity of the HOV/HOT lanes by 300%, which would be required to keep Virginia from paying.

Relinquishing control of the existing HOV lanes would also cause problems, because the State Police would no longer be allowed to open the lanes for all traffic in the event of an accident.  It would also extend the rush hours because the extra capacity would not become available at a set time.

I think that a much more sensible alternative would be to change the HOV-3 to HOV-4 requiring four passengers in each car, removing the exemption for hybrid vehicles, and building additional commuter parking spaces in Prince William County and south.  Every space in the main commuter lots in Prince William County is filled daily, with many people parking along the sides of roads or other unauthorized areas.  Every parking space built removes a car from the road.

The costs are quite troubling as well.  The total cost of the project is expected to be over $1.6 Billion.  Transubran/Fluor are only contributing $349 Million to it.  And for that, they get a guarantee that 75% of the traffic will be paying, the completely unregulated tolls are geared to maximize their profits, there is no fixed buyout price should Virginia decide to take posession of the roads again, and their monopoly will outlive children born before it starts.  Perhaps that is best explained by the illegal $177,000 donations that Transurban/Fluor has made to the Governor and legislators.

Other people have written about it as well:

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Tennessee Paper Publishes Concealed Handgun Permit List

March 4, 2009 at 10:15 pm (Guns, Politics)

Well, another newspaper has decided it would be a good idea to provide a searchable database of all the concealed handgun permit holders in their state.  This time it’s the ‘Comercial Appeal’ in Tennessee.  They try to justify it at http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2009/feb/15/inside-the-newsroom-case-for-gun-permit-listings/ (No links for them, sorry)

The list can be found at http://www.commercialappeal.com/data/gunpermits/ (No, I’m not linking it, copy & paste it if you want)

Feel free to express your displeasure with their decision to make the data available by calling them at 8OO 444 6397 or by their online feedback form at http://www.commercialappeal.com/feedback/

If you do, please be polite.  No sense ranting at them, it will just perpetuate the stereotype.

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D.C. Tea Party 2009

March 1, 2009 at 3:40 pm (Politics)

Friday at noon, I attended the New American Tea Party in front of the White House.

One thing that anyone who has been to rallies knows is that conservative rallies tend to be much less well attended than liberal ones.  From what I’ve seen, especially at the World Bank protests, this is because conservatives have jobs, while the attendees at liberal protests are unemployed kids being financed by their parents.

Even so, and with the short notice given for scheduling this protest, it was quite well attended.  I would estimate between three and four hundred people, counting the ones that arrived late or left early.

Here are some pictures that I took of it:

There were a few Gadsden flags, including a home-made one in attendance:

And since it was at the White House, there were the perpetual orange-clad AbuGhraib/Gitmo protesters (who outnumbered anyone watching them).

And no picture of gatherings in front of the white house would be complete without a picture of the grizzled (and probably smelly, nobody gets very close to him) No Nukes protester, who has been there since the 70s.

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Range Report – Taurus PT1911

February 28, 2009 at 1:58 am (Guns)

I got my wife a new Taurus PT1911 as a belated Valentines day present, and we took it to the range the following day.

I’ve always liked the 1911 model .45s, and this is one of the best I’ve seen straight out of the box.  And that doesn’t include the gold-plated hammer, grip safety, ambidextrous safety, magazine release, trigger, and barrell bushing.  Not that the bling was the deciding factor.  We were also looking at a new Rock Island and a used Thompson in about the same price range.  Neither were stainless, so it was an easy choice.

This gun had, from the factory, a match grade trigger which is slightly lighter and just as crisp as the one on my gun – and I paid a master-armorer to do my trigger job.  The slide to frame mating was at least as good as mine, as was the ‘fluff and buff’.  The feed ramp and throat were smooth and mirror polished.

At the range, I was expecting a few malfunctions (failure to feed, failure to extract, etc) as is typically common with the 1911s until they are broken in.  This is usually more noticeable with lighter loads, so the first box fired was FMJ.  After that, we (read my wife) went through three boxes of relatively light SWCs.  There were a few stovepipes with this, but they occurred when my wife’s was not providing a sufficiently stable base for the recoil to do it’s job.  The only other malfunction was caused by one of the magazines that didn’t always lock the slide back on empty.  Some of the earlier models seem to have had some problems with the extractor tension being too tight, but that seems to have been resolved – or at least not a problem with this gun.

Other than the questionable magazine, the Taurus is an excellent gun.  With it, you get more than you pay for.

The only disappointing thing was that the CrimsonTrace laser grips that we bought for it don’t fit with the ambidextrous safety.  My wife’s just going to have to live with the simulated pearl ones that it came with.

P.S.

I’ve been asked about the selection process, etc. so here goes.

My wife fired a few other guns, and liked the heavy 1911 the best.  The aluminum framed ones were uncomfortable for her to deal with the recoil, so a polymer frame was definately out.  “Ol Slab Sides” also has a slightly narrower grip than the double-stack 9’s, and the recoil impulse of the 9 is sharper than that of the .45.

She picked out the gun herself, including filling out the forms.  Ownership is more than just paperwork, but the entire process focused on what she wanted.  There’s a significant emotional difference between ‘mine’ and ‘one of yours’.  This gun is hers.

Read that last sentence again.  It’s important.  An entire post might be in order about the difference ownership makes.

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