Google wave !

Posted by Happy Hippo on 9/30/2009 09:28:00 pm
Update: google has cancelled this project, because not many people were actually using it.

If you haven't heard about google wave yet, then you must live in some very remote place! This is a new idea from google that promises to replace e-mail and the way we communicate with each other. I watched the video about this technology , which you can find here:

Marco Manzini Landscape and Nature Photography
If you like it, you can request an invitation here: https://services.google.com/fb/forms/wavesignup ,  because currently it is invite-only. Personally I quite like the idea and have signed up for it, but I guess they don't have any invites yet :(


Creating high quality EAN-13 barcodes for free with Microsoft Excel, Word

Posted by Happy Hippo on 9/12/2009 01:48:00 pm
Update: a very good free website that generates high quality barcodes for you: http://www.terryburton.co.uk/barcodewriter/generator/
Update: if you require some sort of Windows automatization (e.g. in Excel), check out Auto It programming language for writing scripts : http://www.autoitscript.com/site/autoit/

The EAN-13 barcodes are used worldwide for marking products often sold at retail point of sale (for example books, etc). I recently found this free EAN-13 barcode making way (requires Microsoft Excel or similar), which I want to show below. First you need to download this archive that contains two files: EAN13.xls and ean13.ttf.

After you have downloaded and unzipped these files, right click on the ean13.ttf and click Install.

Then open EAN13.xls file in Microsoft Excel, and click Enable Macros (it will not work if macros are disabled!).

Now you can create your own barcodes, just by replacing the numbers with yours. Remember, you only need to enter first 11 digits of your code, the last one is a check digit and is calculated automatically. 
If you want to paste this code directly into a word processing program, just right click the cell with the barcode, and copy it, open your word processor and paste it there. 

Or alternatively, zoom in on the cell with barcode in excel, and press Print Screen button on your keyboard. And then crop the screenshot in any image editor. This will give you a high-resolution picture of you barcode.
Marco Manzini Landscape and Nature Photography
Alternatively you can use this program to generate the barcode for you.


Shrew Soft VPN tutorial on Windows 64 bit with IPsec

Posted by Happy Hippo on 9/10/2009 02:35:00 pm
Note: if you tried installing older version of Shrew VPN (e.g. alpha version), and you keep getting blue screen, I recommend doing System Restore to get rid of it (it might also affect other programs you installed after Shrew VPN). Otherwise it's very difficult to stop BSODs.

I published the NCP-e VPN configuration tutorial not so long ago, which was the first 64bit IPSec VPN client that worked for me, it's not free (probably that's why), most other clients gave me blue screens while installing drivers. But now it seems, as we are getting closer to Windows 7 64bit release date, there soon be a choice of even free IPSec VPN clients working on 64bit Windows 7. It's for you to decide whether you want a commercial VPN client with more support and extra features or just a free VPN client. I only intend to publish my personal experience when testing them. Now it's time for Shrew VPN client, which only recently (3rd of Sept) released it's RC3 version, that worked on my computer.

After downloading the 2.1.5(rc3) version of Shrew VPN, start installing it, a message or two maybe pop-up asking to confirm driver installation, which may hide behind the installation window (press ALT+TAB if your installation doesn't seem to be doing much to check if it's hiding somewhere), click yes (install) to it. Update: version 2.1.5 is no longer in beta or RC version, so you can download the stable 2.1.5 version of 05 Dec 2009 (or newer betas if you fancy testing new releases).

If you have a .pcf file from your older CISCO VPN client, then open Shrew Soft VPN, go to File>Import>Select .pcf file extension from the filter>Select your file>click open. Try connecting now, if it works then great (it didn't for me at this point). If it doesn't then click Modify>select "client" tab>Navigate to NAT traversal>Select "force-rfc" Update: force rfc is probably not required in most configurations, only in very particular cases. If it's still not connecting, check the configuration as described below.

If you don't have a configuration file from your old Cisco client, then make sure that you have these common settings:

  • IPSec gateway (e.g. vpn.blahblah.com or
  • IPSec ID, also known as group ID (usually just a word)
  • IPSec secret. also known as group password (also a word)
  • remote access personal username (xauth username)
  • remote access personal password (xauth password) 
 (and maybe other advanced settings as well, if you were given those)

1) First add a new connection profile, by clicking ADD button, you will see General VPN settings tab, enter your IPSec gateway in "Host Name or IP address" field (and port settings if you were given them).

2) Navigate to client tab, and select force-rfc under NAT traversal (leave other settings on default, unless you were given different ones). (see the first image for the screenshot). Update: this is probably not required for most connection types

3) Navigate to Name Resolution tab, and leave all automatic settings (unless you were given specific WINS, DNS servers etc.., but try automatic first).

4) Navigate to Authentication tab, select Mutual PSK+Xauth under Authentication method (if you method of authentication is IPSec group ID and pre-shared key, select a different one if you are using a certificate, etc..).
  • Navigate to Local Identity sub-tab, select Key Identifier under Identification Type and enter your IPSec group ID in the "Key ID String" field.
  • Navigate to Remote Identity sub-tab and leave it on Any Identification type.
  • Navigate to Credentials sub-tab and enter your IPSec Group Password in "Pre Shared Key" field. If you are using a certificate as your authentication method then select your certificate in this tab.

5) Phase 1 tab, Phase 2 tab and Policy tab usually don't need any changes, unless you were given particular settings that you need to enter, like main exchange type if you are using a certificate, encryption algorithms supported by your server, PFS exchange, etc ..

Click save, and then in the main program windows click connect. You will be asked for your Xauth username and password. Enter them and if your connection is successful, you can check your IP address on www.whatismyipaddress.com .

There are also two things that I recommend, go to File>Preferences>Tick Minimize when connection succeeds and Tick remember the connection username. And select Visible in system tray only for both drop-down lists, because it's very annoying to see those two windows in taskbar all the time.

Main VPN window (aka Access Manager can be closed now , or minimized if you want it to stay in system tray, it allows you to edit VPN connections, but otherwise is not needed to be open).
And I have not found a way to remember Xauth password yet, you'll have to enter it everytime you want to connect to your vpn.

That's it!
If you need any help or think something in this tutorial is wrong or misleading, leave a comment or contact me via message box on the right =>
Sign up for  updates from this blog as well!! there will be more interesting STUFF!

Useful Tip: 

To run Shrew VPN automatically or from command line (or remember password), create a text file in Notepad and add this line:

cd C:\Program Files\ShrewSoft\VPN Client\
start ipsecc.exe -r "configuration name" -u "user name" -p "password" -a

(without quotes), and save this file as 1.bat. Now when you run it, Shrew VPN will pop-up, connect and disappear automatically!! It's magic!!!
Marco Manzini Landscape and Nature Photography


The Story of Stuff

Posted by Happy Hippo on 9/01/2009 12:14:00 pm
I recently found this website : http://www.storyofstuff.com/ which is about a study of where the stuff comes from, and where it goes. Please watch it!
Marco Manzini Landscape and Nature Photography

What is the Story of Stuff?

From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world. It'll teach you something, it'll make you laugh, and it just may change the way you look at all the stuff in your life forever. *

taken from http://www.storyofstuff.com/

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