Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

Offline Weekends :: 21 – 22 Sept. 2013

21 / 22 Sept. 2013

– I want to replace my Fender Deluxe Reverb amp with the smaller Princeton model (yup, the one I sold to get the Deluxe). With no idea how much they cost, or what models are available, my first thought is to head for the website. Of course, that’s now off limits, so instead I made a phone call to GAK. The salesman and I discussed my old Princeton, my pedalboard, the current models available, and the merits of the forthcoming models. It was a more valuable experience than any solitary internet research could possibly have delivered.

– I was trying to get rid of a cold, so had a Berocca with my breakfast. I instinctively put an ice cube in it, which for some reason I thought was worthy of Tweeting. It seemed idiotic when I thought about it, twice as much so when I wrote it in my notebook, and ten times as much now. Even though I think it’s really valuable, Twitter is mostly vapid.

– Twitter again. I was listening to Autechre, and was struck by what a vital piece of information this was to share with the world. With no access to Twitter, I took a second to think about what I was actually trying to accomplish – I think I just wanted someone to talk to about some great music. Social networking seemed really sad all of a sudden. I texted a music-loving friend to recommend the group and a couple of their albums, he text back saying he’d give them a listen. I can’t wait to discuss them in person.

– The opening track from What Burns Never Returns, Don Caballero 3, has a section that sounds a bit like Zoot Allures, one of my favourite Zappa guitar pieces. I was satisfied to have made the connection, and couldn’t think why it was necessary to publish this information (which was my first instinct).

– Probably the best offline moment came on Sunday. I had a train delayed by half an hour, and without Reeder, Hacker News, or Twitter to entertain me, music was my only option. How completely fucking stupid that music is fourth on that list. I listened to the first Storm and Stress album, without distraction; it was a perfect experience of a wonderful record.

Internet Addiction ::

Last Friday, I finally got round to watching the TED talk embedded above. It’d been sitting in a Chrome tab for a couple of weeks before that — 18 minutes repeatedly deferred in favour of bite sized online entertainment: some weird Twitter, another Kobe vs LeBron video on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram. Of course, I knew all about Paul Miller’s experiment in Internet abstinence from the time that it was announced (online, naturally) and followed his reports throughout the time he was ‘offline’, which I certainly found to be curious, but never anything more. A weird thing happened when I watched his talk, though — I really felt like I got what he was talking about. I’d read about all this stuff in his columns, but this time it really resonated.

Writing this now, I wonder if perhaps I subconsciously place greater value in communication that feels more tangible, like video shot in a lecture setting, than yet another online dispatch. I’m certainly curious about the shift in my ascription of credibility, but that’s tangental, for now at least. What really spoke to me about Paul’s talk was the feeling of stress, the inhibition of creativity, and the almost adversarial nature of his relationship with the Internet. It sounded unhealthy, and it sounded like my relationship with the Internet.

It dawned on me pretty quickly while watching the talk that I am hopelessly addicted to the Internet. Paul talks about people not knowing what boredom is like any more, and he’s absolutely on the money — the slightest break in my concentration while trying to do something that requires some effort, and it’s CMD-space -> ‘t’ -> enter (open Twitter), or CMD-Tab -> CMD-T -> ‘n’ -> enter (switch to Chrome, open in a new tab). These are very real, very practised neural reflexes — a mental ‘panic button’ that my brain pushes at the slightest hint of boredom, and often times in intellectually taxing situations.

My name is Zebedee and I’m an Internet addict.

This was an important realisation for me, and it’s something I feel the need to regain control over. It also sounds like perfect, if a little ironic, fodder for a recurring series of blog posts (of which this is the first) in which I attempt to understand my Internet problem, and chronicle my voyage of self discovery.

Linux Command Line Basics Part VII: Tunnelling Using SSH

Knowing basic *nix terminal commands is an absolute must for any computer pro. Whether you use Windows, Mac OS or Linux, you’re bound to face the command prompt at some stage, so here’s my crash course in CLI. In this final part of my guide to the basics of command line Linux I’ll show you how to tunnel an internet connection using SSH.

SSH Tunnelling

Tunnelling an internet connection using SSH has many uses – if you’re on a restricted network at school or work you might not have access to certain sites. By tunnelling to a remote machine you can bypass these restrictions, allowing access to any site. The reverse is also true – by tunnelling into a machine at school or work you can gain access to resources on its local network which might not ordinarily be available to external connections.

Opening the Connection

The link established between the local and remote machines is akin to using a proxy server – we’re going to tell the browser (Firefox) to route data through a port on the local machine which is forwarded a specified port on the remote server. Requests will be made by the remote server and the results forwarded back to your local computer.

You need to choose a port which isn’t reserved for a common service – usually a high number in the port range (in the screenshot below I’m using port 9999).

Opening the tunnel to the remote machine

The command line SSH options are:

$ ssh -C username@remotemachine -D [port number]

Using this method will open a remote Terminal session also – there are options to simply open the connection and return the command line immediately, but this way you won’t forget about your connection, and it’s easier to close it when you’re done (just exit the SSH session).

Now that the port is open for business we need to instruct the browser to use it. Launch Firefox and open the preferences window. Click the ‘Advanced’ tab & select ‘Network’.

Click ‘Settings…’ to open the connection options dialog box. Select ‘Manual proxy configuration’ in this dialog box.

Now set the ‘SOCKS Host’ to ‘localhost’ and the port to 9999, or whatever port you selected when you opened the SSH session. Your config page should look something like the screenshot below:

We’re done, so save the changes you’ve made and exit the Preferences window. One way you can test whether your connection is working is to visit an IP/location site such as and see where it places you on a map.

To end the connection, simply exit the SSH session as you would normally. Remember to change back the settings you altered in Firefox, or it won’t be able to access the internet.

And that concludes my crash course in *nix command line – we started learning about the file system and are very quickly forwarding connections, using remote GUI applications using X and more. Hopefully this has demonstrated just how powerful the command line interface can be, and by taking just a little time to become better acquainted you can start accomplishing some really cool stuff. Thanks for reading!

For a full list of topics covered in this tutorial series, head over to the index page.

Linux Command Line Basics Part VI: X Window System

Knowing basic *nix terminal commands is an absolute must for any computer pro. Whether you use Windows, Mac OS or Linux, you’re bound to face the command prompt at some stage, so here’s my crash course in CLI. In the previous section of this guide we set up an SSH connection so we could operate a machine remotely. Now it’s time to extend this functionality using the X Window System to provide some remote GUI action to augment the remote CLI access we set up previously.

The X Window System

The X windowing system has been around for the best part of three decades and provides facility for displaying graphical content on a remote computer. Whilst a proficient command line user can perform advanced operations using only text input, some things are undeniably easier using a GUI. By using X, a remote user can wield the power of the command line alongside GUI programs, a formidable combo for a productive user.

One of the best parts of X is how simple it is to add this functionality to your remote session. The only change required from the SSH setup introduced in the previous section is the addition of  ‘-X’ to the beginning or end of the arguments. For example, if user ‘randymarsh’ wants to connect to the remote server ‘’ with X, he would enter:

$ ssh -X randymarsh@

Make sure you use a capital X! (more…)