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Running a Home Office Web Server with a Dynamic IP

Posted in General | Windows Server 2008 | Community Server at Tuesday, February 10, 2009 2:19 AM Pacific Standard Time

I’ve blogged about my server closet in my home office before. I used to have three servers running in my home office and for Internet service I had AT&T DSL with 5 static IP addresses. That all changed by accident when I was looking into current pricing and found I could upgrade my speed and I would get a lower cost. However, someone over at AT&T DSL misread my order and changed me from static to dynamic, so yesterday morning I got knocked offline. I spent over 2 hours on the phone with them and they told me it could take up to 48 hours before they could get me static IP addresses again. So I started looking into getting my blog back online with a dynamic IP.

One of my goals for last year was to outsource most of my home network to external servers because I didn’t like dealing with it. So last year I did outsource email to Google Apps, DNS and some websites to Godaddy, and Subversion to Dreamhost. Because of that I was able to downsize to a single server which I run a few websites on. I also had been having network speed issues so I had just purchased a new router+dsl modem, the D-Link DSL 2540B which happens to support Dynamic DNS.

Setting it up:

  1. You need to make sure your router supports Dynamic DNS and you need an account with a Dynamic DNS service. I used dyndns.com since they have free accounts. I setup mine to be bryantlikes.dyndns.org.
  2. Delete the A record for your DNS (if you have one) and then create a new CNAME for your domain that points to the Dynamic DNS name. So, for example, blogs.sqlxml.org has a CNAME that points to bryantlikes.dyndns.org. If you have other CNAME records already (for example, www), then point those to your dynamic DNS entry as well.
  3. Forward port 80 to your web server in your router settings. This is different for each router, D-Link calls it Virtual Servers under the advanced tab.

At this point your website should be available from the Internet. However, internally you won’t be able to hit it. The port forwarding only happens from the WAN interface and not the LAN one. In order to get it working internally you have to take a couple more steps.

  1. Setup DNS on your web server if it isn’t already on there. Then add a new domain for the domain that you used in your dynamic DNS. For example, I added the bryantlikes.dyndns.org domain and then created an A record for the root that points to my web server’s local IP address.
  2. Make sure your DHCP clients all point to your web server as their DNS. It is the only DNS Server that redirects the dynamic DNS entry to your local server.

That’s it! You should now have your dynamic IP serving up web pages both internally and externally. This caused me a bunch of headaches and googling yesterday so I thought it was worth blogging about. I glossed over lots of setup in each of the steps so if you want more information let me know and I’ll try to add it.

A Year of Climbing Mountains

Posted in General | Cycling at Wednesday, February 4, 2009 3:54 AM Pacific Standard Time

This post is actually about cycling more than coding, but as I thought about it I realized that being a Software Developer is often much like mountain climbing. Each time I get to what I think is the peak (or close to the peak) I see that there is another even higher peak up ahead. For instance, I’m finally getting comfortable with Silverlight 2 and just starting to get a glimpse of Silverlight 3. A Software Developer can never stop learning (especially if you’re a web developer). I still remember my first glimpse of the .NET/FX mountain range at PDC 05 which we now know to have peaks such as WPF, WCF, and even Silverlight. It was very overwhelming at the time, but now it is fun to look back at where I was then. Quite a view from up here. With all the new stuff coming this year, Win7, Silverlight 3, VS 2010 (betas at least), it will be a year of climbing for sure.

But the real climbing that inspired this post is climbing on my bike. Last year I got serious about riding my bike and did three big rides: 62.5 mile ADA Ride, 100 mile Coolbreeze Century, and the 175 mile MS Socal Ride. At the start of the season I rode mostly flats with a few hills but pretty much hated climbing. During the ADA ride I kept up with a pack of riders that were much faster than me but I would quickly get dropped every time we hit any kind of a climb. After that I started riding Rockstore once a week during the Wins Wheels shop ride and would ride Santa Susana once or twice a week. I did enough climbing prior to my century that I didn’t get passed a single time on any climbs and I was the one dropping the pack. On the MS ride I did get passed on one climb (by a girl), but that was because I was resting the in the shade so that I didn’t pass out from heat exhaustion. :)

I’ve actually started to enjoy climbing and so this year I’m planning on doing two rides: Cruising the Conejo and Ride Around the Bear. Both are century rides, but both have a lot of climbing. Cruising the Conejo has 6,000 feet of climbing while Ride Around the Bear has 10,000 feet of climbing. I just started to train for them in earnest this week and sometimes I wonder if I’m crazy to attempt these rides. Right now I know I couldn’t do it, but that is how you get to a place you want to be. You plan to get there at a later date and set that date in stone, otherwise you’ll never get there.

So this year is a year of climbing for me, both in cycling and in software. Hope to see you on one of the peaks!


Posted in General at Thursday, January 1, 2009 7:04 PM Pacific Standard Time


My resume is hopelessly out of date right now, but I’m posting it as-is for right now.



Co-author of SQL Server 2000 XML Distilled
October 2002; Curlingstone Publishers; ISBN: 1904347088


Work Experience

2005-Present Avanade Inc. Seattle, WA
Solution Developer
Custom application development using BizTalk Server and SQL Server.
2003-2005 Countrywide Financial Simi Valley, CA
Developer Analyst
Primarily developed a SharePoint Portal for internal reporting
  • Created the RsWebParts to integrate SharePoint and Reporting Services
  • Created and maintained Analysis Services Cubes for reporting
  • Built custom .Net applications for data extraction
2002-2003 Bryant M. Likes Consulting (BMLC) Simi Valley, CA
Primarily built ASP.Net applications that run off SQL Server 2000 backend databases.
  • Built Intranet applications utilizing ASP.Net
  • Constructed ASP.Net portal applications
  • Integrated ASP.Net message forums in websites
1999-2002 Telsurf Networks Westlake Village, CA
Senior Engineer
Primarily responsible for the development of a distributed architecture for voice applications.
  • Designed multiple SQL Server 2000 databases
  • Utilized SQLXML features
  • Integrated with Exchange 5.5 and 2000
  • Developed COM+ components
  • Engineered XML over HTTP architecture
1996-1999 Baarns Consulting Sylmar, CA
Senior Consultant
Primarily developed web applications with SQL Server backends.
  • Created and/or extended SQL databases (6.5, 7.0)
  • Designed ASP applications
  • Programmed both client and server side scripting


Microsoft Certified Solution Developer

2893 Reservoir Dr.
Simi Valley, CA 93065


Font Smoothing for Windows Server 2003 RDP

Posted in General | .NET | Visual Studio at Wednesday, July 9, 2008 6:59 AM Pacific Daylight Time

A few days ago Peter Provost blogged about Brad Wilson's Dark Visual Studio color scheme. I decided to try it out (again) since I felt like I needed a little change in my coding environment. For my current project we are using Windows Server 2003 for our virtual machines and I'm using Hyper-V to run them. One of the things I like to do with my Hyper-V machines is RDP into them since that gives me better clipboard support and I can connect my local drives to the machine and access them easily.

The problem is that Brad's color scheme uses the Consolas font which doesn't render very nicely if you don't have clear type font smoothing. Well after a little digging around I found out that Microsoft just recently released a hotfix to enable font-smoothing in RDP on Windows Server 2003. So I gave the hotfix a try and as long as you check the "enable font-smoothing" checkbox in the RDP connection it works perfectly.

Before the hotfix:


After the hotfix:


Much better on the eyes. And I think I like the dark color scheme. I'll give it a few days and see how it goes.

How did I break Google Maps?

Posted in General at Tuesday, June 24, 2008 7:48 AM Pacific Daylight Time

On my Windows Server 2008 laptop, if I open Google Maps in the browser this is what I get:


Everything is totally scrambled.  It used to work just fine in IE8, but now it is completely broken. I've tried turning Emulate IE7 on and off, clearing my browser cache, etc, but nothing seems to fix it. I guess I'll have to go download Firefox to see if that fixes it.

Speeding Up Windows Server 2008 Boot Time

Posted in General | Hyper-V | Windows Server 2008 at Friday, June 20, 2008 9:47 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Peter Provost just posted on Speeding Up Vista Boot Time:

When you have a computer with a recent model CPU, chances are it's a dual-core CPU. Both Intel & AMD have been producing dual core CPU's for a few years now. By default, Windows Vista will only use a single core during boot-up. You can easily change this from the System Configuration utility:

He then goes on to show how to do this (not sure if he pulled the instructions from somewhere else since it seems to be quoted, but there is no source linked). Anyhow, you can do the same thing in Windows Server 2008 (just follow his steps).


I just tried it on my laptop and while everything still worked, I can't really say if it was actually faster.

Tour De Cure 2008 Complete!

Posted in General | Cycling at Sunday, June 15, 2008 4:34 AM Pacific Daylight Time

Yesterday I rode in the 2008 Tour De Cure which was part of my 2008 goals for the year. I rode the 65 mile route in 4 hours and 20 minutes (which turned into 67 miles after I took on wrong turn). You can see the map below which I uploaded to Google maps by converting the TCX file from my Garmin 205 to KML using this handy converter.

View Larger Map

The ride was a lot of fun and I managed to keep up with a pack of pretty fast riders for the first half of the race (ave. speed was around 19 mph). I lost them on the hills though, but caught up with them at the rest stops. :)

Up next is the Bike MS: Southern California Ride - Sept. 20-21 which is almost three times as long but over two days. I am still raising money for that ride and if you'd like to sponsor me you can do so here.

Build Zune Games Today.. or Maybe Tomorrow

Posted in General | .NET | Zune at Wednesday, May 7, 2008 6:09 AM Pacific Daylight Time

The XNA Team announced the CTP of the XNA Game Studio 3.0 today:

Today, we are delivering the first Community Technical Preview (CTP) of XNA Game Studio 3.0, giving you the ability to build games for the entire family of Zune media devices.  This feature gives you access to the majority of the XNA framework APIs while retaining a seamless sense of integration with the Zune media experience.  In addition, this release now requires either Visual Studio 2008 Standard Edition and higher (C# language support must be installed), or Visual C# 2008 Express Edition.

I downloaded the CTP today thinking I could whip up a quick sample hello world game during my lunch break just for fun. After installing it on one of my virtual machines I realized there was no way for me to get the game (or even test the game since there doesn't appear to be an emulator) to my Zune since there isn't a way to "plug" my Zune into my virtual and according to the FAQ:

Q: Can I transmit the game to another Zune device wirelessly?

A: No, you must deploy the game to your Zune through your device connection on your PC, using XNA Game Studio 3.0 to deploy.

Ok, no problem I thought, I'll just install the VS 2008 C# Express Edition on my host. So after installing that and then installing the CTP it would crash every time I tried to add my Zune to the device center. Then I remembered reading this in the FAQ:

Q: Does the CTP work for 64-bit mode?

A: This CTP doesn't work in 64 bit yet.  We plan to support it before RTM.

Hmmmm.. I guess programming Zune games isn't in my near future. If I have time tonight I'll give it a shot on my desktop PC which I haven't moved over to 64-bit yet (mainly because I'm still waiting for a 64-bit client for Home Server).

Longest Certification Title Ever

Posted in General | WF | Certifications at Thursday, May 1, 2008 7:29 AM Pacific Daylight Time

I just recently found out that I passed the WF 3.5 beta exam (well, actually I passed it some time ago but it took Prometric, the world's worst test provider, a while to figure out how to send the score to Microsoft). So here is my new logo:


Since they wrap a lot of the words, you really need to spell it out:

Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist - .NET Framework 3.5, Windows Workflow Foundation Applications

I think that is my longest certification title to date. The Windows Mobile 5.0 is a close second.

BTW - I also found out that I didn't pass the WPF or the WCF exams so I'll have to retake the real ones at some point.

Don't Tell Me How To Run My Laptop

Posted in General | Live Writer | Vista at Thursday, April 24, 2008 6:51 AM Pacific Daylight Time

I went to install Live Mesh on my Windows Server 2008 Laptop just now and got this lovely message:


I had run with UAC enabled for some time but finally got tired of all the flashing and waiting that goes on whenever I start Hyper-V manager, want to change a network setting, or even when I just want to switch power plans. So I was already quite annoyed at UAC and then I read this article.

"The reason we put UAC into the platform was to annoy users. I'm serious," said Cross.

After reading that I decided that I would turn UAC off, and wow what a difference. Everything was faster. I would click the Hyper-V manager and it would actually open instead of wait, wait, flash, hit ok, wait, flash, wait, wait, open. I could change my power plan just by clicking on the power icon in my tray. It was almost as if I was using Windows Server 2008 as it was designed.

So now I've been a happy non-UAC user for a few weeks and was excited to install Live Mesh but no. Microsoft has decided for me that I can't use it unless I turn on UAC. This is just as bad as when I try to install the Windows Live applications and get this message:


This message is a bunch of BS because if I extract out of actual MSI packages, every single one of the applications will run just fine on my Windows Server 2008 machine (or Windows Server 2003 for that matter), but someone has tried to decide for me where I can run it.

Hey Live Team, just tell me what you support and don't support, but don't make me hack your installers just because you don't like what or how I'm running my machine.

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