Thursday, October 20, 2016
We all know what a proxy server does, right? A proxy server acts as a sort of path to the internet on a network that is not otherwise connected to the internet. Your computer talks to the proxy server, the proxy server requests the web page you are looking for, the web server sends the page back to the proxy server, and the proxy server sends the page to you.
What if you wanted to do the opposite? What if you have web servers that are not directly connected to the internet and you want to have them serve pages to the public? A reverse proxy can do this for you.
In my case, I have a live TV server on my home network that I want to make available on the public internet. I have made a post about Emby (formerly Media Browser) before. It's a great way to stream your live TV and recordings to your various devices. However, I decided that I wanted this traffic to be encrypted and I wasn't very happy with the way Emby handles SSL on its own.
Here is where a reverse proxy comes in. A full featured web server handles SSL much better than a standalone application can. I wanted to be able to plug in the automation of Letsencrypt to be able to conveniently renew my SSL certificate. I couldn't get this working with Emby itself. So, I turned on the IIS feature on my Windows box and setup the proper domain binding on the default website. Then, I installed the Application Request Routing extension for IIS. Then I enabled the proxy feature of the extension.
Then the URL Rewrite module needed to be installed. After installing, you need to create rules to work with Application Request Routing.
It worked beautifully! I also got the added benefit of not having to specify a port number in my URL anymore. My requests to my domain are now standard port 443 https requests. The requests then get proxied to the Emby app on port 8096 running on the same machine.
I anticipate that my reverse proxy setup will also come in handy to be able to proxy SSL traffic to multiple services that I am thinking about setting up on this box. IIS will be able to handle multiple domains coming in and proxy them to other applications. It's an absolute win-win scenario.
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
The release date for Windows 10 has been announced. It is coming on July 29, 2015. The upgrade will be free for consumers that are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. I am not going to upgrade.
This little icon appeared in my system tray yesterday:
If you look back through my previous posts you can easily see that I am a big Windows Media Center fan. Microsoft will not be including Windows Media Center in Windows 10.
If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
I have grown quite fond of Windows Media Center ever since I abandoned the Comcast X1 platform. It has been absolutely flawless as a DVR platform for me. With the X1 DVR I was missing recordings of my favorite sports teams for no apparent reason. Windows Media Center has not missed a single recording for me.
I'm not saying that you shouldn't upgrade to Windows 10. However, if you are a Windows Media Center fan, stay far, far away.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
It's time that I post what I've been up to lately.
This past semester I took a Python and Powershell class. In all honesty, we didn't do too much with Powershell. We only spent about three weeks on it compared to nine weeks on Python. What I didn't expect from this class is that it would cause me to completely dive in to Python.
We spent two weeks on Python web frameworks and focused specifically on Django. Django has really hooked me. Once you learn how it works and learn a little Python, it is so simple to get a dynamic, powerful web page running in no time.
I think my boss might be annoyed with how much I have dived in to Django. I have now created three web pages on our intranet that have tools I have seen a need for. Two of them I created from scratch, another one is an adaptation of Django-helpdesk for our environment.
For years I have been telling myself that I am not a developer. Well, I just might have some developer blood in me. I'm going to continue learning Python and Django and see what else I can do with it. If you have any coding background at all, I highly recommend that you go through the Django tutorial. It is one of the best tutorials that I have ever been through.
Now, I'm off to create another Django powered site...
Friday, February 13, 2015
I need to post a follow up from my post almost a year ago about Windows Media Center.
In August my family resubscribed to cable. We have a college football addiction that cannot be cured with over the air TV. We got the Comcast X1 system on a promotion for two years. I was mostly satisfied with the service, but there were a few bugs with setting recordings and then having them not record. I also wasn't too happy with the picture quality on some channels. It sure seemed to become pixelated at times.
Even after getting cable, I was still using Windows Media Center to record some of the over the air programs that we enjoy. I then discovered software that plugs in to Windows Media Center to provide a web interface to stream your recorded shows and live TV over the internet. It was time to find a way to make this work with my cable!
I ordered the Silicondust HDHomeRun PRIME in December. It was a little bit of a pain to setup because you have to go to your cable provider and get a CableCARD to insert into the device. You'd think that they could activate the card at the office and then you just take it home and put it in and be off and running. The process is not that simple. You have to call in after you have the card installed and have the provider "pair" the card to the device that it is installed in. I called in and found someone who could do the pairing process. After about 30 minutes I was getting my cable channels on my Windows Media Center.
What a sight it was to see ESPN and all of the other premium cable channels on my Windows Media Center guide.
I have been blown away by the possibilities that the HDHomeRun PRIME has unlocked for me. Earlier in this post, I referred to plug-ins that can provide a web interface for streaming your content. I just recently moved from Remote Potato to Media Browser 3. These are both free plug-ins that integrate with Windows Media Center. I discovered Remote Potato first and used it for awhile to be able to remotely schedule programs to record when I am away from home and also to stream recorded content. However, it never really worked for live TV. While I was searching for a way to fix live TV on Remote Potato I discovered Media Browser 3. After installing the server program and the ServerWMC plug-in for Media Browser, live TV was streaming flawlessly in my browser!
For anyone who understands port forwarding and dynamic DNS, it is a really simple process to get all of this running over the internet. All of this can be done for the price of $10 for Windows Media Center on Windows 8 (it is free on Windows 7 Home Premium or above) and for about $100 for the HDHomeRun PRIME. Coincidentally, as I write this post, the HDHomeRun PRIME is $78 on Newegg.
If you desire to take your home entertainment and especially your recorded programs on the go with you, I highly recommend this setup with Windows Media Center and the HDHomeRun PRIME.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Our family has grown to a considerable size of five. We decided that our little Saturn SL1 just wasn't cutting it anymore. Back in December we got a 2011 Dodge Grand Caravan.
I've been doing some reading on the technology in this vehicle and in other newer cars. I am very intrigued by the fact that newer cars actually have software updates. I found that there were several versions of the software that runs the head unit in my van that had been released in the past couple of years. I couldn't allow something I own to not be running the latest and greatest software available!
The process was pretty painless. I downloaded the firmware files and copied them to an empty FAT formatted USB stick. Then I stuck it in the radio's USB port, held down the phone button, and a prompt came up asking if I wanted to upgrade the software. In about five minutes it was done.
Honestly, there are only difference I have noticed so far. First, the interface changed from a blue color to a black color. I like this change because it matches the color of the radio itself. Second, there is now an option for a camera delay. This causes the rear backup camera to stay on for a few seconds after you put the car into drive.
Anyway, the point of this post is to say that our cars are now in line with our computers. It's time that we keep them up to date just like we do with our computers.
Tuesday, March 18, 2014
With the shutdown of Aereo, which I blogged about earlier, I decided that I needed to come up with a quick solution to fill my TV needs. I've never had a DVR before, but I became hooked on Aereo's DVR feature. It was very nice to be able to record NFL and MLS games and other TV shows to watch them later.
My needs aren't very big. My family hardly watches any TV. There are a couple of shows that we watch regularly, though. One of them is on ABC. We used to watch on ABC's own website, but ABC started making us wait at least a week to watch because we don't have cable TV anymore. This really is aggravating! I'm sure that this trend will only continue as people continue to "cut the cord." Thus, I decided that I needed a DVR.
First, however, I needed a working TV signal. There was a Real Salt Lake game on later in the day and I needed to watch it! I double checked Aereo and it really was dead. I needed an antenna to receive over the air TV signals. I know that installing an antenna outside will always give the best results, but I decided to see what I could do with an indoor antenna. I found that the Winegard Flatwave Razor Thin antenna was getting some good reviews. There were other antennas getting good reviews too, but I needed something I could get locally. Time was not on my side and game time was quickly approaching. I ran into town and purchased the antenna. Before going home I tried out the antenna at my grandmother's house and I was not pleased with the results. I was tempted to return it, but decided to try it at home first.
I fought with the antenna for several hours. I still don't know why I struggled so much with it. My Vizio TV kept giving me a generic "Scan Error" message as I tried to search for channels. I finally found a spot in my living room window where I could at least get it to scan enough to get signal from a few channels. After playing with it for quite some time, I found that if I unplugged the antenna from the TV before starting a scan I could get better results. I finally got a scan to complete and I had a working TV signal, but I still needed a DVR.
Thanks to my good brother-in-law, I had a digital ATSC TV tuner card lying around not being used. I decided to throw this into my Windows 8.1 machine and see what I could do. I paid the $10 for Windows Media Center and I was off and running. It was a pretty simple process except for the fact that it messed up a few channels with incorrect frequencies. I used the software that came with the TV card to scan for channels and compared with what Windows Media Center found. It was easy to correct the problems in Windows Media Center's lineup this way.
I am quite pleased with the results. To watch TV, we hit the power button on the media center remote that came with the TV card, and the computer comes out of sleep and automatically turns on the TV within a couple of seconds. It really does feel like a real TV experience without the fuss of logging in to a website to watch TV which we were experiencing before. I think we are much better off now. We might not be using Aereo if they are able to restore service to us in Utah.
I know that I could have accomplished good results with free software, like Myth TV, but I needed things to work quickly without fussing with config files and package dependencies that come with Linux distributions. I would love to experiment with Myth TV, though, when I have some free time.
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