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Asus RT-AC88U Unboxing Photos

I’ve been looking for a WiFi router that has support for link-aggregation, dual WAN, dual-band (802.11ac), has good range, built-in network security and traffic analyzer, has USB 2.0 and 3.0 and has eight gigabit ports. Only a few routers are in the market that has all these features so it’s a quick decision to make which I did couple of months ago to replace my aging Linksys DD-WRT 54G. Below are the pictures I took during the unboxing. 🙂

The box of this router is big. And I mean really big! In all honesty, I wasn’t expecting it to be this huge.
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You can see in this photo how it sizes up compared to my Thinkpad x260. It’s much bigger and the laptop might even fit inside. 😮
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Once you remove the top part of the box, you’ll be greeted with the router in it’s plastic cover.
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After removing the router itself, you’ll be greeted with the Asus logo and it’s tag line. You’ll also see three of the four antenna peeking out.
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What I loved in this unboxing was the attention to detail made by the manufacturer. They have cutouts and thumb holes that helps in the removal of the packaging without damaging the other parts or ruining the unpacking experience for a peripheral that cost this much.
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Once the upper layer that held the router is removed, there is a small compartment underneath the Asus logo that holds two LAN cables, the AC adapter and cord options.
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Removing the four antenna reveals another compartment that holds a cord option, CD and user’s manual.
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Here are the contents for posterity. Notice the different cord options which is a nice addition since there wouldn’t be a need for a plug adaptor if the available wall socket is not compatible. It has different wall socket options from different regions like US, UK and ASIA.
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Here’s a close-up shot of the AC adapter.
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Lastly, here’s how it compares to the Thinkpad X260 when all the antennae are attached. Almost but not quite. 🙂
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Gut Feeling

It all started when Joey decided that she wants another litter.

She got busy with Benjie on 09/09/2016 despite our efforts to keep them apart. Unlike her first litter where we did not know when she got it on with Benjie, this time around we know the exact date. With that in mind, I went ahead and downloaded an app to determine when she would be whelping her second litter – yes there’s an app for that. The screenshot below is what I got:

screenshot_2016-11-05-19-07-45.jpgBred: 09/09/2016. Whelping: 11/11/2016

We wanted to be prepared when Joey whelps her second litter so we were closely monitoring her health, diet, temperature and temperament. I also committed to myself that I would create a whelping box similar to the first one where her pups would be kept safe for the first couple of months.

20161011_100014.jpgJoey on 10/11/2016. One month to go before the expected due date!

Right after All Soul’s Day (11/01/2016), I already had this nagging feeling that Joey is close to giving birth. I had to keep looking at the app and tell myself that I still have 10 days to go. I started to buy the materials for the whelping box on the morning of 11/05/2016 hoping that I would have enough time to finish. I guess Joey had other plans! She gave birth to her first pup for the second litter right after lunch. Exactly when I was in the middle of constructing her whelping box.

20161105_130451.jpgJoey and her first pup for the second litter!

It was a bit hard constructing her whelping box while also being kind of her nurse. Wifey and I would take turns watching over Joey as she gave birth to each of her nine puppies. We would then move the pups out of the way when she is resting or when she is having spasms when another puppy is about to come out. Although she gave birth to nine puppies, only seven survived. The other two were not breathing when they came out. We declared them unrecoverable only when Joey has already gotten too exhausted trying to revive them and only after we tried to do a CPR on the lung cavity. The final indicator that the pups were dead was when they let out a small amount of pee which signaled a loss of muscle control – much like in humans on their final seconds.

The whelping box I made measures 4ft. long by 3ft. wide which I think is enough for 7 puppies and Joey to fit in. Unlike the first whelping box, I made sure that the whole front is open and can be closed for safety reasons. I used a piano hinge to attach the front ramp to the whole box.

20161105_194513.jpgWhelping box with the ramp down.

20161105_194536.jpgWhelping box with the ramp up. Kinda reminds me of Bravestarr’s Fort Kerium in Fortress Mode 🙂

Although I was able to finish the box within the day, we decided not to move Joey and her litter from where she gave birth and just let her recover from exhaustion. We just prepared her box for their movement the following day. We added towels to keep them try and warm as well as some electric fan to keep them cool during days that are hot and humid.

20161105_194603.jpgAnother look of the whelping box from the different angle. 3/4″ marine board all around!

Here are some pictures of Joey resting after whelping her second litter while a curious pup snuggles with her.

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When Services Don’t Work As They Should

Don’t you just hate it when you are paying for services that doesn’t work as they should?

Finally, after being a long-time subscriber, I went to a PLDT business center and asked them to cut my line. I told them to cut everything including the landline, mobile landline and DSL internet. They asked me why and I told them that the internet service is so slow (like less than 1Mbps slow) despite being subscribed to the 8Mbps plan. Then they proceed to ask me if I’ve reported the issue to their support hotline. F*CK! Of course I did! More than once! And nowhere near the advertised speed! For crying out loud, I am paying for almost 3,000PhP per month and I should be the one reporting if I am not getting the service that I am paying for?!

Moving on, I subscribed to Smart’s All-In 500 plan since the 4G-LTE speed in my area is way better than their sister company’s DSL offering (yes PLDT, I’m referring to you). I intend to use the postpaid line as my internet for the household.
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The idea is to get charged P5 per 15 minute from the plan’s consumable amount and let the Anti-Bill Shock (ABS) kick in to cap the charges. The ABS was 1,200PhP for as long as I can remember but this October, Smart changed it to 2,500PhP. As long as I am getting better (unthrottled) speeds and no volume caps, I can live with that. By my computation below and from my experience with PLDT, I’m still getting a better deal even with the new ABS.
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The only problem with the ABS increase is that my credit limit is set to only 1,000PhP. This means that if my unbilled usage goes beyond that limit, the service is temporarily disconnected. Smart has a dashboard called mySmart where subscribers can request for an increase in credit limit. Below the form is a section for Important Reminders – fair enough.
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So I went ahead and submitted a request for an increase in credit limit to 3,500PhP so that it is more than the ABS.
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Lo and behold, I got a response the following day via SMS:
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I was almost impressed with the response time – almost. Reading through the SMS, I would have to…

  1. Submit the same documents I submitted when I applied to become a postpaid subscriber – just a few months back.
  2. Submit those documents to http://www.smart.com.ph – when the form to request for a credit limit increase does not have any facility to do so!
  3. Go to Help & Support and narrate the concern – what the f*ck is the credit limit increase request form for?
  4. Fax. lol

In just an hour or so, I get another SMS:
notsmart

Can somebody please let them know that a quick response time means squat when it is out of context?
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Gallery

Seagate Backup Plus Unboxing Photos

A few weeks ago, I bought a 4TB Seagate Backup Plus Portable online from one of the local sellers in Manila. This drive will serve as a storage for snapshot backups of my NAS (Network-Attached Storage) at home. Below are the pictures I took during the unboxing. 🙂

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The label on the box says 200GB of Cloud Storage for OneDrive is included but must be activated by June 20, 2017.

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The top of the box is has a tamper-evident seal that guarantees that the initial contents of the drive came straight form the manufacturer.

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The same tamper-evident seal can be found on the bottom of the box. This is how it would look like if the seal has been tampered with.

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The contents of the box are the Quick Start Guide and the drive itself inside a protective plastic shell which also contains the USB cable.

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Here’s the “top” of the protective plastic shell. Notice the six nubs that should somehow absorb and distribute the force should there be any impact from this side during transit. The protective shell is easy to open, much like Amazon’s frustration-free packages.

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The drive is wrapped in plastic inside the plastic shell together with the USB cable.

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The drive itself comes with a Micro-B SuperSpeed USB receptacle.

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The included cable is a Micro-B SuperSpeed on one end and a standard Type-A on the other end.

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After plugging it in on my laptop, it was recognized immediately by Windows 10 without the need to install any drivers. The OS reports that the total drive space is 3.63TB and so far, this is more than enough of what I need for my NAS but as the saying goes, “you can never have too much backups.” 🙂

How To: Auto-mount A Network Share On Raspberry Pi On Boot

Find Out What’s Available

The first thing I did was to show all the mount points available on the server where the network share is:

$ showmount -e 192.168.1.4

The result should be something like this:

Export list for 192.168.1.4:
/Recordings
/Multimedia
/Download

Create Mount Folder in the Raspberry Pi

Then I created a folder in /mnt so that I can mount the network share on the folder:

$ sudo mkdir /mnt/multimedia_share

OPTIONAL: Mount Manually Before Attempting To Auto-mount

I manually played around with the mounting before actually trying to get it to auto-mount. A fun exercise for n00bs like me.

If the network share allows anonymous access, the following command should “map” the network share to the /mnt/multimedia_share

$ sudo mount -t cifs -o guest //192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share

Otherwise, a mount error will be returned:

mount error(13): Permission denied
Refer to the mount.cifs(8) manual page (e.g. man mount.cifs)

If the network share requires credentials for access, the following command should be used:

$ sudo mount -t cifs -o username=user_name,password=plain_text_password //192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share

To unmount, use the following command:

$ sudo umount //192.168.1.4/Multimedia

Configure Auto-mount on Boot

If we manually mount the network share, we will lose the “mapping” once the Raspberry Pi reboots. To have it mount upon boot, we have to edit the /etc/fstab file:

$ sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add the following line at the end of the file:

//192.168.1.4/Multimedia /mnt/multimedia_share cifs username=user_name,password=plain_text_password,file_mode=0777,dir_mode=0777 0 0

Save the file and run the following to have the network share mounted:

$ sudo mount -a

There wouldn’t be any feedback like a success message if there are no errors. So to see if the mount was successful, run the following:

$ df -h

That command should return something like this:

Filesystem --- Size --- Used --- Avail --- Use% --- Mounted on
/dev/root --- 15G --- 2.9G --- 11G --- 21% --- /
...
//192.168.1.4/Multimedia --- 5.4T --- 3.1T --- 2.4T --- 58% --- /mnt/multimedia_share

Note the last line where the details of the network share is displayed including the total size, used and available space.

To test if the auto-mount configuration worked, reboot the RPi:

$ sudo reboot

After it restarts, connect to the RPi and try to access the contents of the network share by going into:

$ cd /mnt/multimedia_share

How To: Generate SQL scripts from Liquibase changesets

There is a useful feature in Liquibase called Offline Database Support that allows you to generate the SQL scripts from the changesets without actually updating the database. This Offline Database Support functionality is called updateSql. This becomes handy when you cannot directly run Liquibase changesets on the target database or if the output of the changesets needs to be reviewed.

Note that updateSql checks the transactions within the DATABASECHANGELOG table to determine what SQL statements to generate. With that said, in the event that you cannot directly run the changesets against the target database, you can ask for the DATABASECHANGELOG table and use that to keep the history correct.

To streamline the process of generating SQL scripts, it would be useful to create a batch file that would contain the command and parameters. Let’s say that the filename is GenerateSQL.bat which currently contains the following values targeting an Oracle database:

C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.2-bin\liquibase ^
--classpath="C:\Dev\liquibase-3.3.2-bin\lib\ojdbc7.jar" ^
--driver="oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver" ^
--url=jdbc:"oracle:thin:@ORA-DBDEV:1521:DEVORA11G" ^
--username=DEV_LIQUIBASE_TEST ^
--password=asd123 ^
--changeLogFile="C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\%1" ^
--logLevel=debug ^
--logFile="C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\output.oracle.log" ^
updateSQL > C:\Dev\LiquiBase\ORACLE\output.oracle.%1.sql

where…
Line 01: Location of Liquibase binary
Line 02: Location of JDBC driver. Valid values are:

  • ojdbc7.jar (ORACLE)
  • sqljdbc41.jar (MSSQL)

Line 03: Name of the JDBC driver. Valid values are:

  • oracle.jdbc.driver.OracleDriver (ORACLE)
  • com.microsoft.sqlserver.jdbc.SQLServerDriver (MSSQL)

Line 04: Details of the database server. Valid values are:

  • jdbc:”oracle:thin:@<SERVER_NAME>:<PORT>:<SERVICE_ID>” (ORACLE)
    • jdbc:”oracle:thin:@SERVER01:1521:DEVORA11G”
  • jdbc:”sqlserver://<SERVER_NAME><SERVER_INSTANCE>;databaseName=<DB_NAME>” (MSSQL)
    • jdbc:”sqlserver://SERVER01SQL2014;databaseName=DEVSQL”

Line 05: Database server username
Line 06: Database server password
Line 07: Location of the Liquibase change set file (*.xml)
Line 09: The log file for the operation
Line 10: The file where the generated SQL scripts will be stored.

Lines 07 and 10 have “%1” which represents an argument passed during execution of the batch file. This batch file can be used as follows:

C:\Dev\Liquibase\GenerateSQL.bat ChangeSetFileName.xml

This command will create output.oracle.log and output.oracle.ChangeSetFileName.xml.sql

You can integrate this process in Visual Studio by following this article. Note that you need to change the contents of the batch file to use updateSql.

How To: Install Liquibase On Your Local Machine

STEP 1

Download all pre-requisites and dependencies:

* – Download sqljdbc_4.1.5605.100_enu.tar.gz then extract sqljdbc41.jar
** – Download ojdbc7.jar

STEP 2

  • Install Java JDK
  • Extract Liquibase to a folder on your local machine (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-bin)
  • Copy sqljdbc41.jar and ojdbc7.jar to the lib folder of Liquibase (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-binlib)
  • Modify the liquibase shell file located on the root folder (e.g. c:devliquibase-3.3.3-binliquibase.bat) by adding “-Xmx1024m” after JAVA_OPTS=
IF NOT DEFINED JAVA_OPTS set JAVA_OPTS="-Xmx1024m"

java -cp "%CP%" %JAVA_OPTS% liquibase.integration.commandline.Main %CMD_LINE_ARGS%

OPTIONAL:

  • Add Liquibase to your PATH environment variable by:
  • Right-clicking Computer > Properties > Advanced System Settings > Advanced tab
  • Click Environment Variables button
  • Edit PATH variable and put in the Liquibase folder (e.g. c:\dev\liquibase-3.3.3-bin)

Congratulations! You are now a proud owner of a computer with Liquibase.