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Cheaper Internet, Phone and TV service in BC / Lower Mainland

January 4, 2015

After a welcome to 2015 price bump to $120.90 + tax by my current (Internet 25mb / TV Basic / Home phone 1 feature) provider Shaw , I decided to shop around and see what is available. I was looking for no contracts at all, so month to month.   As of January 23rd, 2015 you can cancel any service without 30 days notice, so it seemed like a great time to shop around! I also wasn’t going to switch providers every 6 months from one company to another either, so I was looking for a more permanent solution.

The following is what I was able to find for the total of $80.45 . There might be better deals, but I was happy with what I found:

1. Cable internet 25mb down / 2.5mb up, unlimited bandwidth (better than now) – $36.95

2. Digital Home Phone 11 features / 200 North America minutes / ability to transfer number. (better than now) – $9.50

3. Basic TV service – 125 channels / 20 HD / music channels. (similar to now) – $34.00

Old yearly total after tax: $1624.90. New yearly total after tax 1081.25. This ads up to almost $550 in saving per year. I also have 10 additional home phone features, cheaper long distance, unlimited internet, all of which I didn’t have before.

Internet Service Benefits / Downsides

I started my research with Internet and found out what many probably do not know: Shaw / Telus have to, by law, to lease their lines to smaller companies as to keep competition alive and kicking. Those smaller companies do not have big resources to advertise, so most never heard of them. So basically you can have the same quality internet, through same wires for much less. Another benefit is that you would have no cap in many cases on how much you use per month. Telus and Shaw will limit you to 150gb or 250gb etc.  for different plans. Do remember that you may need to purchase / rent a modem,  however this is no different from getting a service from Shaw / Telus.  TIP: If you are looking for great deals on modems, I highly recommend searching for used ones on http://www.amazon.com/ . After a quick search I found modems for under $20.

Benefits for switching: Same quality connection, no bandwidth limits, no downtime, much cheaper.

Potential downside for switching: There might be installation fee involved, and you may need to rent a modem if you do not have your own.

Company I switched to: http://lightspeed.ca/

Home Phone Service Benefits / Downsides

There are many companies that are fighting for Home Phone market. With almost everything on cell phones right now, this might sound very strange to some younger audiences. However, there is a familiarity of using the Home Phone service that many still cling on to, including me.  Some companies that I have seen that use Digital Home phone service: Shaw, Fido, Primus, Vonage. I can probably add 20 more companies, but these are the bigger ones. Digital home phone is almost the same as the regular home phone, with few differences. Digital home phone signal travels through your internet connection. You need to have internet connection in order to have Digital Home phone.  This technology has evolved so for end user there shouldn’t be much difference. TIP: Only Telus does not use Digital Home phone, they use the old wires – the ones that were on Telephone Poles! Due to some innovations in technology they still use those same wires to deliver not only phone, but also Internet / TV service.

Benefits for switching: 10 additional home phone features, 200 North America minutes, 1.9c Canada and 2.0c USA minutes after you spend 200 free minutes, apps for cell phones to get cheap long distance, keep the same phone number.

Potential downside for switching: Only downsides are when you switching from Telus 1. No service when you have no internet 2. Additional box for connection.

Company I switched to: http://www.yak.ca/

TV Service

About this one I do not have much to say, except that for some reason Telus offers basic channels for much less than Shaw, so I selected them. For many you can just stick with Netflix and Internet streaming and not even pay for TV. Or you can get free over the air channels (CBC , CTV, Omni, PBS etc.) with an antenna. You may need to test what kind of reception you get in your area.

TIP 1: Purchase a refurbished Telus PVR at Future Shop / Best Buy / London Drugs. I got $50 credit and paid the box $50, in other words it was free. The box is like new and carries a full 3 year warranty.

TIP 2: Telus often offers discount pricing if you are new customer. Go to following page for latest offers:

http://forums.redflagdeals.com/telus-home-services-bundles-great-promo-offers-plus-50-100-bill-credit-1443852/

 

 

 

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Install WordPress on Ubuntu Server

May 28, 2010

Download and install WordPress:
On your Ubuntu  server…

WordPress download and unzip:
cd /var/www/ – to get to root directory for web stuff
wget http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz – to download the latest WordPress installation
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/ -to unzip files (this will place them into /var/www/wordpress/)
sudo mv /var/www/wordpress/* /var/www/ – to move all the files to the /var/www/ as this is recommended location and will be root directory of yourdomain.com

Now delete the index.html file since you will be using index.php file:

sudo rm index.html

If you want multiple WordPress blogs create additional folders at this point, if not, skip to MySql!:

Create folders:
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog1/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog2/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog3/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog4/

TIP: Hold CTRL on your keyboard and then press up arrow to view previous commands that you have entered.

Put stuff in folders:
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog1/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog2/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog3/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog4/

Move stuff into right directory:
sudo mv /var/www/blog1/wordpress/* /var/www/blog1/
sudo mv /var/www/blog2/wordpress/* /var/www/blog2/
sudo mv /var/www/blog3/wordpress/* /var/www/blog3/
sudo mv /var/www/blog4/wordpress/* /var/www/blog4/

Setup MySQL:
$mysql -u root -p
mysql> CREATE DATABASE wordpress;
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON wordpress.* TO “wordpressuser”@”localhost” IDENTIFIED BY “password”;
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
mysql> exit

If you want multiple blogs just repeat the steps and change the DATABASE names, i.e. wordpress2, wordpress3, wordpress4, wordpress5.

Lastly we need to configure those wp-config.php file(s):

cd /var/www/
sudo nano wp-config-sample.php

Now change the Database Name, Database UserName and Database Password to whatever you specified when you were creating the Databases in MySql.

-Hold CTRL and press O and you will be prompted to ‘write’ the file, in other words save it. Change the name to wp-config.php and press Enter and click Y to save the file.

-CTRL X  to exit nano

You can not go to http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php to setup your WordPress blogs!

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Setup Linksys Router for home Server

May 28, 2010

So you are thinking about setting up a home server, but you are not sure what to do with your Linksys router? I will try to explain it below in a way that is easy to comprehend.

First, we need to talk about “Automatic DHCP” and “Static IP” addresses, and how router actually does what it does. This is from my limited understanding. You can always search for detailed information online.

Router acts somewhat as a hub, meaning that it serves internet connection to many wired/wireless clients (computers). It also protect anything connected to it from external intrusion.

Router uses your unique IP address, the one your Internet Provider has assigned to you. When you have a cable modem, this address doesn’t change, even if you restart the cable modem or the router. With  DSL connection I heard differently, so you may want to look more into that if you have DSL connection.

In turn router creates its own naming scheme to serve computers connected to it locally. With the Automatic DHCP configuration selected, it will normally assign addresses like this: 192.168.1.100(computer 1), 192.168.1.101(computer 2), 192.168.1.102(computer 3) etc.. depending on how many computer you have.

If you turn off the power, the router will automatically assign addresses to computers so there is a great chance they will not have the same addresses as before the router was turned off. That is why using Static IP address is much better in case you want to run your home server.

Static IP address configuration allows you to assign, for example 192.168.1.95 to your server and the router will always know where to find it, no matter what you turn off or what gadget loses power.

In your router setup you will be able to select Static IP from the drop down menu, where it says Automatic DHCP, and then enter desired addresses.

Also you will need to make some changes on your server computer to also enter that static IP address where it is needed. Depending on which server you are running, you will need to find the info on Google.

Finally the steps for changing the settings in the router:
– Open a browser and point it to http://192.68.1.1 which is the default address for Linksys routers, unless you have changed the address before, of course.
– By default, user name stays empty, and password is admin
– Go to Applications & Gaming tab and make 2 entries:
Application: whatever  Start: 80    End: 80    Protocol: Both IP address: your server IP address Enable: Checkmark

This will enable HTTP requests to reach your server from the outside world.

Ti find your router IP address:

http://compnetworking.about.com/od/workingwithipaddresses/f/getrouteripaddr.htm

Server IP address: Type ifconfig in your Ubuntu server and you will find it under eth0 right after “inet addr:”. For other servers, please search for the steps on the web.

Save the settings and you are done!

If you haven’t done it before I recommend securing your router. There are many good guides online for achieving this.

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Ubuntu USB Stick – Flash Stick Installation

May 28, 2010

You will see lots of programs that claim to support creation of bootable Ubuntu USB drive . I have found that many are outdated and not that good.

The best tool in my opinion is “Fedora LiveUSB Creator”. This small application will allow you to use ANY ISO image and place it on a stick. You can make a bootable USB stick in 3 simple steps from 1 window!
1. Click on Browse button and select an image (ISO) file –> 2. Select target device (USB stick) –> 3. Click “Create Live USB”

Here is where you can download it:  https://fedorahosted.org/liveusb-creator/

Hope that it works for you!

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From Rags to Riches – Ubuntu 9.10 LAMP Server, Webmin, WordPress

April 23, 2010

Have a domain name and some old computer parts, and want to host a couple of your own Worldpress blogs? For example if you wanted 5 blogs, you could be saving some $40 on hosting a month plus you would pay no WordPress fee for domain name mapping – making it more than $500 in savings a year.. not too shabby.

I’ve spent 2-3 days reading dozens of different “how to” pages to achieve this, so I figured to write it all down on one page. Do note that this most certainly isn’t the best way to accomplish this setup. I am total newbie and I never ran a server before.
That being said, I cannot guarantee that what I did will work for you, but I hope some of the information will be useful to some of the readers.

Hardware I used: Single core Celeron 2.8ghz, 512mb DDR333 ram, 80GB HDD, Linksys WRT54GL router, no CD/DVD – I used a 4gb stick, and a cable internet connection.

Here are the steps that I had to take:

1. Download Ubuntu ISO and place it on a stick
2. Install Ubuntu Server 9.10 LAMP
3. Install Webmin
4. Confusion
5. Setup the IP Forwarding with Domain Name registrar
6. Setup the router
7. Setup DNS Zones in Webmin
8. Download and install WordPress
9. Set up multiple WordPress blogs

1. Download Ubuntu ISO and place it on a stick
Go to http://www.ubuntu.com/getubuntu/download-server and select your download location from the drop down menu. Click on “Alternate download options” and select either 32 bit or 64bit version depending on what CPU you have. Google your CPU version if unsure. 64bit is apparently better, but your CPU has to support it.
Once you have the file on your computer you can burn it to a CD, but as I mentioned above I placed it on a flash stick (2gb or more stick is recommended).

The best tool I found to accomplish this was “Fedora LiveUSB Creator”. This small application will allow you to use any ISO image and will place it on a stick and make it bootable in 3 simple steps from 1 window.
Click on Browse button and select an image (ISO) file –> select target device (USB stick) –> click “Create Live USB”

***Note: some of the older motherboards do not support booting from USB. In that case just use a CD.

2. Install Ubuntu Server 9.10 LAMP

Now we are ready to start the installation. Place the USB stick into server USB port and start the computer. On my ASUS motherboard, pressing F8 brings up a boot order menu, where I selected my USB stick. If this doesn’t work for you, you will want to go into BIOS, by pressing “Delete” key on your keyboard and then find the setting for changing boot sequence. Place USB stick as first option, save changes and continue. (don’t forget to put it back in original order once you are done with the installation)

There are many sites that have step by step, picture by picture installation steps (just Google it). But since it is very straight forward, as in click on continue many times, I will just have a brief description here.

I used “Guided – use entire disk”, meaning the whole disk was for Ubuntu Server and I selected
I did not encrypt the home directory
I left HTTP proxy information blank as I do not use proxy server to connect to internet
I selected “No automatic Updates”
I selected LAMP server – use arrows to highlight it and then press Space to selected it
I entered the passwords whenever I was asked to, for both Ubuntu and MySQL

After 15 min or so you should be in your brand new text based Ubuntu Server environment. Don’t worry, you will not use it much.
What I did at this point is I installed Bind9 (needed for DNS server setup):

sudo apt-get install bind9 dnsutils

3. Install Webmin
Webmin will allow you to control your server via GUI, remotely from any computer with a browser. So the server stays text based, as that is the safest / fastest configuration.

First you need to install some Perl libraries:

sudo apt-get install perl libnet-ssleay-perl openssl libauthen-pam-perl libpam-runtime libio-pty-perl libmd5-perl

download the latest version of Webmin:

wget http://www.webmin.com/download/deb/webmin-current.deb

and then install it:

sudo dpkg -i webmin_1.510_all.deb

You can now access your server remotely: https://serverIP:10000 (after you set up the router that is – step 6)

4.  Confusion
What is my IP address? will router allow access to my server from either local network of from the internet???

-http://checkip.dyndns.org/
-Router will only allow access to your server if you add exceptions for specific ports (80 for HTTP requests, 10000 for Webmin)

So how it works is:
-Someone tries to access http://www.yourdomain.com
-HTTP request is forwarded to your IP address through your registrar
-Your router receives the HTTP request and forwards it to the computer you specified to forward it to (server in this case)

This all means that you now need to setup your IP forwarding with your registrar and the port forwarding on your Router.

5.  Setup the IP Forwarding with Domain Name registrar
Registrar forwards any requests made to http://www.yourdomain.com to your IP address (router).
With my registrar this is a free service, and you just go into your account, go to domain list and select “Forward to IP” and enter IP address. I am guessing that all registrars will have this, but no idea.

6. Setup the router
It is time to forward the HTTP requests through port 80, and Webmin requests through port 1000, to your server.

But first, we need to talk about Automatic DHCP and Static IP addresses, and how router actually does what it does. Again this is from my limited understanding. You can always search for detailed information online.
Router acts somewhat as a hub, meaning that it serves many wired/wireless clients (computers). It also protects your internal network with a bunch of stuff that I do not understand.

So to continue, router should be using your unique IP address, the one your Internet Provider has assigned to you. When you have cable modem, this address doesn’t change, even if you restart the cable modem or router. With  DSL connection I read differently, so you may want to look more into that if you have DSL connection.

In turn router creates its own naming scheme to serve computers connected to it locally. With the Automatic DHCP configuration selected, it will normally assign addresses like this: 192.168.1.100(computer 1), 192.168.1.101(computer 2), 192.168.1.102(computer 3) etc.. depending on how many computer you have.

My router is now set on Automatic DHCP (which I will need to change, as if you turn off the power, the router will automatically assign addresses to computers and you will need to change router settings).
You may want to read up on using Static IP address. This means that you can assign, for example 192.168.1.95 to your server and the router will always know where to find it.
In you router setup you will be able to select Static IP from the drop down menu, where it says Automatic DHCP, and then enter desired addresses.
Also you will need to do some changes on the server if you want a Static IP:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/ubuntu/change-ubuntu-server-from-dhcp-to-a-static-ip-address/

Finally the steps for the router:
– Open a browser and point it to http://192.68.1.1 which is the default address for Linksys routers, unless you have changed the address before, of course.
– By default, user name stays empty, and password is admin
– Go to Applications & Gaming tab and make 2 entries:
Application: whatever  Start: 80    End: 80    Protocol: Both IP address: your server IP address Enable: Checkmark
Application: whatever2 Start: 10000 End: 10000 Protocol: Both IP address: your server IP address Enable: Checkmark

Router IP address:

http://compnetworking.about.com/od/workingwithipaddresses/f/getrouteripaddr.htm

Server IP address: Enter ifconfig on your server and you will find it under eth0 right after “inet addr:”.

Save the settings and you are done!

If you haven’t done it before I recommend securing your router. There are many good guides online for achieving this.
Also the steps above are for Linksys router, so you may need to look for guides for other routers.

7.  Setup DNS Zones in Webmin
Webmin is a really useful little program that can do complete server administration remotely through a browser. However, I used combination of Webmin and entering the code on the server directly to do the setup.
The main reason is availability of information. Whatever the steps / guides that I was able to easily find on Google I used. But I am sure that Webmin alone can handle everything with ease, if you take time to learn it.

Signing in & updating:
– Open your browser and point it to https://serverIP:10000
– You will be asked to sign in (ignore security warnings and continue – you are connecting through LAN)
– You will be greeted with a nice GUI interface displaying your system information
– Package updates line will show you how many updates are available – so do update at this point

DNS setup:
– Click on Servers on the left then on Bind DNS Server
– Click on “Create master zone”
– Under: “Domain name / Network” enter: yourdomain.com
– Under: “Master server” enter: ns1.yourdomain.com
– Under: “Email address” enter: hostmaster@yourdomain.com
– Click on Create and then return to zone list
– Click on Address icon and under “Address” field enter: your IP address (the one you got from http://checkip.dyndns.org/)
– Click on Create then return to record types
– Click on Name Alias, under Name enter: www and under Real Name enter: yourdomain.com. – notice the dot at the end!
– Go back to Addresses and under Name enter: ns1 and under Address enter: your IP address (the one you got from http://checkip.dyndns.org/)

Go back and save / apply changes are you are done. You can now go to you  rdomain.com and you should see a page stating “It Works!”

Repeat the steps for your other domains: yourdomain1.com yourdomain2.com etc….

So having a bunch of master zones might not be the best solution, but that is what I found, so that is what I used… and it works.

8. Download and install WordPress
On your server…
If something doesn’t work just stick sudo in front of the command, as I probably forgot to put it everywhere where it is needed 🙂

WordPress download and unzip:
cd /var/www/ – to get to root directory for web stuff
wget http://wordpress.org/latest.tar.gz – to download the latest WordPress installation
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/ -to unzip files (this will place them into /var/www/wordpress/)
sudo mv /var/www/wordpress/* /var/www/ – to move all the files to the /var/www/ as this is recommended location and will be root directory of yourdomain.com

Now delete the index.html file since you will be using index.php file:

sudo rm index.html

Since you are already here, if you have 5 blog lets create 4 more WordPress installations:

Create folders:
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog1/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog2/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog3/
sudo mkdir -p /var/www/blog4/

TIP: Hold CTRL on your keyboard and then press up arrow to view previous commands that you have entered.

Put stuff in folders:
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog1/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog2/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog3/
sudo tar -xvf /var/www/latest.tar.gz -C /var/www/blog4/

Move stuff into right directory:
sudo mv /var/www/blog1/wordpress/* /var/www/blog1/
sudo mv /var/www/blog2/wordpress/* /var/www/blog2/
sudo mv /var/www/blog3/wordpress/* /var/www/blog3/
sudo mv /var/www/blog4/wordpress/* /var/www/blog4/

MySql setup:
$mysql -u root -p
mysql> CREATE DATABASE wordpress;
mysql> GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON wordpress.* TO “wordpressuser”@”localhost” IDENTIFIED BY “password”;
mysql> FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
mysql> exit

Since you are here already, if you have 5 blogs, do the above 4 more times. Just change the DATABASE names, i.e. wordpress2, wordpress3, wordpress4, wordpress5.

Lastly we need to configure those wp-config.php files – 5 of them in total, for each Database and blog! But it is really easy.

cd /var/www/
sudo nano wp-config-sample.php

Just change the Database Name, Database UserName and Database Password to whatever you specified when you were creating the Databases in MySql.

-Hold CTRL and press O and you will be prompted to ‘write’ the file, in other words save it. Change the name to wp-config.php and press Enter and click Y to save the file.

-CTRL X  to exit nano

Now do this for other wp-config-sample.php files that are located in /var/www/blog1-4/.

At this point the first Master Zone domain name you setup in Webmin is ready to go. You can go to http://yourfristdomain.com/wp-admin/install.php and setup your blog.

Now lets set up the rest of the blogs 1-4.

9. Set up multiple WordPress blogs
For this we need to use Virtual Hosts. Again, don’t know if this is the best way to do this, but here it goes:

-Go to Webmin one more time
-Click on Servers –> Apache Webserver
-Click on Create Virtual Host tab
-Address: Any
-Port: select last radio button and enter 80
-Document Root: /var/www/blog1/
-Server name: yourdomain1.com

After you have created virtual host, go to “Networking and addresses” and under “Alternate virtual server names” enter: *.yourdomain1.com  and save the changes

You can now go to http://www.yourdomain1.com/wp-admin/install.php to setup the 2nd blog. Do this 3 more times for the blog2-4.

As I stated many times before, I am sure that not all of the steps I used are the best out there or even the right ones, and I cannot guarantee that they will work for you. I only hope that there is some useful information.

If you want to host many blogs look into WordPress MU.