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SSH Proxy Tunnel for US based connections

Posted: November 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: SSH | 2 Comments »

So you’re in your favorite coffee shop cruising the net and doing some work. You’re downloading email and doing you thing. What some of you may not realize though is that you are broadcasting your data in the clear. Which means that anyone sitting close to you with a few simple tools can see everything you’re transmitting and receiving. I’m going to show you how to secure your data by encrypting it with an SSH tunnel.

Now this is one of my favorite tricks out there because you can not only encrypt your data but also redirect your Internet connection. Thus you can obscure your IP address and also because of GeoTracking can mask your country of origin. This is particularly useful when trying to watch content on a site and the site mistakenly thinks that you are not in the country you claim to be. Or if you’re behind a corporate firewall that blocks web access and you want to get a connection to the outside world.

What we need for this demonstration is two things, a: server capable of allowing SSH connections and b: Mozilla Firefox. Now you can use Safari but I find that Firefox works more consistently. If you do not have access to a server that allows SSH connections such as a web hosting provider you can use any of the services listed on the bottom of the screen. (

First open your terminal application and type in the following command. ssh -D 8080, first the D flag states that the SSH connection Specifies a local “dynamic” application-level port forwarding. You can specify a bind address but since we’re leaving this blank it’s going to bind to the loopback address of the local computer. This works by allocating a socket to listen to port on the local side. The 8080 is the local port that we’re going to be using. Then we’re going to add the -Cfq and N switches. C requests tcp compression, f for sending ssh into the background, and q for quiet mode. The last switch N is what allows this to all be possible, it tells the ssh server to not execute any remote commands, such as bash and to just stay open. We then specify the SSH server that we’re connecting to, in this case it will be my very own webserver

enter your password and you’re done.

Next, open Mozilla Firefox. In the url bar type in about:config. This is all the configuration options for Firefox, the ones we’re after are to do with proxies. So in the filter box enter “proxy” and hit return. You’ll notice a number of different settings here. The first one we’ll want to change is network.proxy.socks, we’re going to change this to our loopback address this is the address that our SSH tunnel is bound to. Second network.proxy.socks_port change to 8080 which is the bind port specified earlier. Third we want to change the network.proxy.socks_remote_dns to true.

Now that we’re done those options Firefox is configured to connect via an SSH tunnel, aka a proxy. But it’s currently not using it, we can it on by switching the last option to 1 instead 0 and likewise when we’re finished with the tunnel can switch it back to 0.

I’m going to now open a connection to in Firefox which is hooked into our remote tunnel and then another connection using Safari. Noticed the how the IP address are different. This is because Safari is using my local IP where Firefox is using my hosting providers IP.

As another example of how you can pipe an application’s internet connection through an ssh tunnel we’re going to use Adium and connect to my msn and aol accounts. Just open Adium, then preferences, click on the account and go to proxies. Enter again the localhost and port 8080 and select SOCKSv5 proxy. You can use this trick with any application that will allow you to use a proxy. Now any chats I send and receive while here are encrypted.

Hope that helps!


Posted: November 23rd, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Insight | No Comments »

TEDxVancouverTEDxVancouver was simply an amazing event. The people and the lust for inspiration alone was something to behold, but of course the talks were of the spotlight that day. While all the speakers were breathtaking and I’m sure there are a lot of other sites out there that can give you a play by play I thought I would share what I took away from this day.

1. Take a concept with content and place your own context on it
2. Users will always get what they want to consume, it’s just a matter of time so there’s no point in trying to control it
3. Ask yourself, who am I that causes the eyes of the people around me not to shine?
4. Success could be graded on how many people’s eyes you make shine
5. The search for extra-terresterial life has gone unfruitful probably because any advanced civilization who came before us encountered the same problem as us. They destroyed their home and did not survive.
6. The world will not change and neither can you save it by typing on Twitter. Get off social media and commit to the message instead of just relaying it.
7. Framing a discussion for your target audience is key to convincing the business world to act on global climate change.
8. Having wind and land based solar energy options may not be enough to eradicate coal burning plants because they cannot provide base-load power. Nuclear may be a viable option.
9. Our fight or flight response causes rigidity and inflexibility. Learning to cope with the problem and find conflict resolution, no matter what that may be, is key to our evolution.
10. Respect the baby boomers, understand that they used to exist in a world where it was not “their oyster.” Today Gen Y’s and X’s are told to conquer, boomers were told to work hard, save, squander, and die.
11. Calorie restriction not only ties into longevity but also the environment.
12. Anxiety has a negative impact on our creative centres but is very useful for making us focus and to get a job done.
13. A lot of people in this world believe that we are our ethnicity, regardless of who we are. We wear our skin colour like a badge.
14. Vancouver has the highest percentage of mixed relationships in North America :)
15. “being black informs me to who I am, but does not define who I am.” – Barack Obama
16. Context is king, LIVE your message.

Cutting the Umbilical Cord

Posted: November 5th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Insight, Work | No Comments »

I quit my job. It’s was a big step…. no, it was a huge step towards where I actually want to be in life. I wasn’t happy working a 9-5 day in and day out. I think it has something to do with that salary slave (being paid one flat rate for all my professional services) feeling. That did not jive with how I wanted to live.

panhandler However, this new found freedom and choice of working for myself comes with a price. Finding funding. Thankfully my first few months have been funded by some smart decisions on my part as well as person who has a lot of faith in me. You know who you are. My concern actually lies in my next round, which will need to be quite substantial comparatively. It’s at this point that I begin to see the similarities between owning a startup, and having a sign similar to the one on the left. You see, when I had a full time position I was taken care of, in fact the company that I used to work for took care of me and all its employees so well that it was a very difficult decision to leave. When I walked out for the last time and saw that door close behind me the first thing that raced through my mind was; “did I do the right thing?” “Did I just totally screw myself over?” “Can I do this?” For you see, now I have no extended medical, no extended dental, no automatic payment system into my bank account and worst of all no one to blame except myself. This is the price that I have to pay. The sacrifice of that umbilical cord, that lifeline. My cash flow will no longer come via automatically deposited, semi-monthly payments. Instead it will come by means of investors and angels.

It’s a big leap of faith on my part to go after what I dream and at the end of day I feel happier and more fulfilled. I’m sure it will be a big challenge and a huge adventure, and really why wouldn’t I go for it? As Seth Godin pointed out to me in Tribes, it was the fear of the possibility of failure that was holding me back. Once I wrapped my head around that, I quit.