Mac VPN Setup

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Mac, Networking | No Comments »

I have a Mac at home, used as a media server (it’s plugged into my TV and stereo) which is on 24/7, and recently became interested in the idea of setting it up as a VPN server. There are two main reasons for this; firstly, so that I can mount its drives from my MacBook Pro wherever I might be, and secondly so that when using free wifi connections I can route my traffic securely through my VPN at home (side-benefit – using the VPN with my iPhone means that I can bypass O2’s restrictions on age-restricted material, such as b3ta.)

Most of the information I needed came from this excellent article at tinyapps.org, but there are various other aspects to the setup that I have subsequently discovered and are worth sharing.

Having followed the instructions in the linked article, I could connect to my VPN from both my MacBook Pro and iPhone, but the MBP couldn’t see the home Mac’s drives. There are a few steps I had to take to make this work.

Considerations

IP addresses:

Most domestic routers assign IP addresses in the 192.168.0.x or 192.168.1.x ranges. I setup my router to use a different subnet, 192.168.200.x, so that there will be no crossover between what the local router is serving up for IP addresses and what the iVPN is serving. In iVPN’s address range field I then chose 192.168.200.50 – 192.168.200.60.

I have also set the router to assign the home Mac a reserved IP address, so that it’s always the same.

OS X setup:

My MacBook Pro is running Lion, but I think this is the same for earlier versions. After setting up your VPN connection in System Preferences, your connections need to be set in the right order. In the Network preference pane, click on the options button under your network interfaces to choose “Set Service Order”

 

Here, HomeBase is what I’ve called my VPN connection. Then in the following window, drag your VPN connection to the top.

And click OK.

Now when connected to my VPN, in the Finder I can use command-K to connect to server, and type in my home Mac’s IP address on the home network. This is always the same as I have told the router to reserve it. ┬áMy home Mac is at 192.168.200.4, so in the Connect To Server box, I type in afp://192.168.200.4. I am then prompted to log in as if I was at home.

One more thing:

I have found that the VPN service doesn’t play well with uPNP on the router. I have disabled uPNP, and set up manual port forwarding rules for all services on the network.

 

 


Wondering what to listen to?

Posted: December 12th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Music | No Comments »

Aquarium Drunkard’s review of the year is well worth a look. Particular favourites of mine are Girls and Wye Oak.


Indie labels withdraw from Spotify

Posted: November 18th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Internet, Music, Spotify | No Comments »

Looking at my subscriptions in NetNewsWire, I realised that one of the brown, “not recently updated” ones was my own. Oops.

Anyway, here’s an interesting article from wired.co.uk –

200+ labels withdraw their music from Spotify: are its fortunes unravelling?


OS X Lion

Posted: July 26th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Mac | No Comments »

I was going to write a post about Lion, but @smithsocksimon’s already written what I was going to say much better than I would have. Some Lion impressions.


Dropbox and its new terms of service

Posted: July 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Internet | No Comments »

Excellent write-up by Chris Randall of Analog Industries on Dropbox’s wide-ranging new rights to the stuff you share with them.
Terms of (Dis)Service…


iTunes and the modern citizen

Posted: June 30th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Apple, Internet, Music | No Comments »

Excellent post by smithsocksimon on the troubles faced by people such as himself who regularly move country when it comes to iTunes purchases and accounts.

No Schengen for iTunes


Wobbly!

Posted: June 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Music | No Comments »

Here’s a single cymbal hit, filmed at 1000 frames per second


Maybe it’s all a hoax

Posted: June 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Apple | No Comments »

Robert X. Cringely on Apple’s mysterious data centre


Google Swiffy

Posted: June 28th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Internet | No Comments »

Well, what do you know? One minute I’m talking about avoiding Flash, next minute Google publish a tool to convert your Flash content into nice HTML5.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s Google Swiffy


Life without Flash

Posted: June 23rd, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Internet, Mac | No Comments »

Just read an interesting post by Shadoe Huard – 7 months Flashless – about, well, not using Flash for 7 months. I’ve been doing the same for some time, and it’s transformed my browsing experience.

As an iPhone addict, I’m used to having Flash content denied to me; however I’m also used to having alternatives provided to me. iPhone content developers are increasingly using HTML5 to provide iOS-accessible content, and this is coming to the desktop too.

I’ve not gone to the extreme of completely removing Flash, but I have employed workarounds. The greatest is ClickToFlash. This excellent Safari plugin disables Flash content, replacing it with a box notifying you that there is Flash content. You can then click on the box to enable the Flash content, should you wish. The benefits are tangible – pages load faster, and the fans on the MacBook don’t whir up to 10000000 rpm!.

There are a few sites out there that are still sadly heavily Flash reliant. I’m a Liverpool fan, so I visit liverpoolfc.tv every day. This site unfortunately uses a great deal of Flash navigation. The good thing is that ClickToFlash offers the option automatically to enable Flash content on a site-by-site basis. This means that the site displays as it is meant to without me having manually to enable the content on every visit.

YouTube is of course another Flash-based site. ClickToFlash however blocks the Flash video and serves up the HTML5 video that they provide anyway for iOS devices. The result is much lower processor overheads for watching web video. Not just YouTube – Vimeo is also served up as HTML5.

Probably the most insidious usage of Flash however is advertising. A combination of ClickToFlash and the methods outlined in my recent post about ad-blocking mean that you can view websites in peace. A problem with Flash is that hovering the mouse over a Flash ad normally doesn’t show where the link goes to, so it can be difficult to find the server to add to my block list. Techniques have also been developed to obfuscate the link in the source code, so just blocking the Flash full stop does the trick.