Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bit Torrent Killed My Router

Adam's VOIP Setup

I'm a long time Vonage customer and I have a very old Vonage Motorola VT1005 VOIP Router that they gave me when I signed up way back in 2003. It turns out that this box can't handle all the action that Bit Torrent sends its way; something about a limited size of the NAT table not working with the large number of connections opened by Bit Torrent. Typically it needs to be reset at least once a day when any sort of Bit Torrent activity is going on.

Airport Extreme DMZ Setting

The solution is to keep the poor VT1005 out of the way of all that traffic. Instead of using it as your main router, stick it behind something more up to the task, like an Apple Airport Extreme. Of course the VOIP functionality works best if there is no firewall between it and the network at large. The solution to this is to put the VT1005 in the DMZ of your main router. To do this you first need to make sure the VT1005 has a static IP address. You can set this on using the web interface of the VT1005. After that, go to the admin interface for your main router and set this new IP address as the DMZ IP address. On the Airport Extreme this setting is called Enable Default Host, as you can see in the image above.

There are a few other issues to be aware of when dealing with the VT1005. It has an advanced setting so you can disable NAT and put it in bridge mode. This seems like a good idea since it ought to avoid the NAT table explosion, but that solution seems to have the same daily reset issue. Also, it's a bit tricky to get back to the web interface of the VT1005 if you've put it into bridge mode. There is no way to get to the device after that! The trick is to directly connect your computer to the VT1005's PC port and set the IP address of your computer statically to with the gateway set to Then point your browser to and you'll be able to change the NAT settings again. Finally, make sure you have the VT1005 set to use the factory MAC address. I was trying to fake out my ISP and set the MAC address to the same number as my Airport Extreme. This will work if you ISP gives you more than one IP address and you're in bridge mode (NAT disabled). But it won't work if the Vonage box is setup in your DMZ. Your router and the computer in the DMZ can't have the same MAC address or things just won't work.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Desperate Housewives on Miro

I blogged about Miro a couple weeks ago. I'm impressed with Version 1.0 after using it regularly for a while. Previous versions hung regularly and were even resilient enough that Force Quit wouldn't kill them. I've had no hangs what soever with 1.0.

One trick I've learned is how to add first run TV shows to Miro. Since Miro is also a Bit Torrent client, it can download Bit Torrent files. With Bit Torrent, the problem is finding the torrent files that you're interested in. This problem is solved by using RSS feeds for the torrents. If you give Miro an RSS feed, it will download files indicated in that feed. The RSS trick works for YouTube's Top Videos as well as Bit Torrent. But the problem remains, where do I get interesting RSS feeds of torrent files? It turns out there is a site called tvRSS that has organized a large number of torrent files for TV shows.

To get this to work, you find the feed you want from tvRSS by clicking on the show you want to see. You'll see something like the above image. If you right click (or control click for single button Macs) on the link Search-based RSS Feed, you can copy the URL for the RSS feed. It will look something like this:

Next, use the Add Channel menu in Miro and add this URL to for the channel. Miro will then start downloading the newest episode from the RSS feed. You might want to rename the channel with the show name as the default channel name isn't very pretty.

By default Miro will only download the newest show and will delete it if you don't watch it after five days to save disk space. If you want the older episodes you can click on them in the channel view and Miro will download those as well. When new shows appear in the RSS feed, Miro will automatically download them. This works great for new and popular shows. However, the older a show is, the less likely you'll be able to download it. This is just an artifact of how Bit Torrent works. During and after downloading a file from Bit Torrent, your client acts as a server for other folks to download the file. This is great when a file is popular since lots of folks will be downloading it and you'll have a lot of peers that can pass on the data. However, this scheme runs out of steam pretty quickly. If a file is old, it will be difficult to find other peers that are still willing to share it. Think of the five day delete rule in Miro. If you've deleted the file after five days, you're not going to be able to share it with other Bit Torrent clients. In a way, this is a lot like broadcast television. A signal is sent out and it fades away into the distance. Similarly, these torrent files burst out onto the net but fade away over time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Tivo for the Internet

Miro is an open source (cross platform) media player and downloader. Their slogan is Miro turns your computer into a TV. It's a bit of a stretch, but it does give you the idea. In a lot of ways it turns your computer into a Tivo for the Internet. Now that I live in Vietnam, I'm sorely missing my Tivo, so Miro is help ing with my Tivo withdrawl. One of the best things about Miro is that it allows you to download rather than stream video, including YouTube video. This means that if you're bandwidth challenged (like on a plane or in a third world country) you can still watch videos you've already downloaded. Of course this means you need to have the forethought to download them before you get on the plane or before you head off to bed. Miro helps with this in that you can manage subscriptions that automatically download. The videos are kept for a while and eventually deleted, making room for move videos. This is how it's like a Tivo. Season passes on Tivo work in a similar way.

The major drawback to Miro is the quality of the content. I haven't really found much worth watching. Supposedly it will handle Bit Torrent, which has a better selection of content but it's more difficult to find.

The other problem with Miro is that while it links to a few video sites, it's still missing the best video search engine, Truveo. Given that Truveo has a free open API, that should be easy to fix!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Zach is Everywhere

Tesla Motors is one of my favorite companies. I like it for a number of reasons:

  1. Cool Product (all electric sports car)
  2. Cool Town (San Carlos, where I used to live)
  3. Very Green (Bought one to stick it to Big Oil)
  4. Great People (See Zach below)
Just thought it was funny that while surfing the web here in Saigon I ran across this article about Veronica Belmont (who?) and immediately recognized Zach Edson from Tesla Motors.

Recently I was lucky enough to get to test drive the Tesla Roadster. (More on that in another blog post.) Zach Edson and Joe Powers were the guys that hosted me on this ride. I'm sure it was a pain in the rear for Tesla to arrange test drives for folks that had already bought a Roadster. To be fair, the drives were about feedback, not about giving the owners something fun to do. Sure, as owners we've put a lot of (blind?) faith in the company. But Zach and Joe went above and beyond in arranging the test drives. Thanks guys!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Open Social: Cross Platform Social Apps

My man Ted Rheingold at Dogster has a great post about Open Social. Turns out this could be a big deal. I've been thinking of building a Facebook application, one of the drawbacks has been that it would only work on Facebook. Now with the Open Social API this might be more attractive. I wonder how difficult it would be to build a compatibility library between Open Social and Facebook so Open Social apps could be run on Facebook. :-)

Check out the bizarre "Campfire Chat" video on Open Social. It's a great parade of who's who in social networking. When did Marc Andreessen loose all of his hair? Notice the contrast between the NorCal geeks and the SoCal metrosexuals. I'll let you guess which is which.