Categories
Software

AdGuard – blocking ads and trackers at the OS level

Everyone loves ad blockers, so long as your livelihood does not depend on advertising. Pretty much everyone I know is running some sort of ad blockers in their browsers, such as uBlock Origin or AdBlock Plus; and the newer Firefox browser even comes with an in-built ad filtering engine! (Which is great btw) But browser extension is so 2009. Let’s read on to find out how you should be dealing with ads and trackers filtering in 2020.

Categories
VPS

1-year free cloud instance with 3TB transfer

Came across a free 12 months VPS offer. You get a full year’s worth of cloud instance with 1 vCPU, 1GB RAM, 40GB SSD as well as 3TB data transfer. That is 750 hours per month of free usage, which you can either leave it on 24/7, or spin up 750 instances for 1 hour. Either way, it is within the free tier.

Categories
SpeedTest

SpeedTest Singapore script

One of the first few things you would do after getting your hands on a new cloud instance is probably to run a few bandwidth measurements on speedtest.net. I certainly do. But it gets a bit tedious having to find out the Singapore servers without a GUI.

Fueled by my own laziness, I have created a sg-speedtest script which would automate the whole process – installing the necessary packages (and removing them thereafter), testing all the Singapore servers and printing the results on the screen. All in the time while you go grab a coffee.

Categories
ISP

ViewQwest has crappy network peerings into China. Period.

ViewQwest. China. Slow. You can make any sentence with these three words without negating them and the resulting statement will be true.

Categories
VPS

AWS Lightsail US$3.5/mo instance reviewed

This is a personal, independent review of the service which I have paid for, and is in no way affiliated with AWS.

As mentioned in the inauguration article, I was in the market for a VPS with excellent internet connectivities to improve my streaming experience for content hosted in certain countries. My household streaming consumption is about 1.6TB per month, of which about a quarter, or 400GB, could use some accelerations.

Categories
Networking

My favorite Traceroute tool

Traceroute helps you quickly find out the network path and measure the transit delays of packets across the internet. The standard implementation displays only the IP or rDNS entries, which may not allow you to identify the geographic path at first glance.

Categories
Networking

Allow only Cloudflare CDN servers to your web servers

We love to use Cloudflare CDN because it improves latency and uptime, and the price is just right (free) for the starter pack.

Normally, a web server’s ports 80 and 443 would be opened to the public internet, with access restricted by selected IP ranges by either ASN or country, depending on what the administrator has configured. But if you are using Cloudflare’s CDN service, you can permit TCP 80/443 access only to their servers, and block all other incoming requests. You can then fine-tune access control using Cloudflare’s web application firewall. It would greatly reduce your web server’s attack surface.

Categories
VPS

Comparing cloud instance performance across different providers

If you have been in the market of shopping for a cloud instance, you will notice the offerings are deceptively similar: 1 vCPU + 1GB memory with a 20GB disk and 1TB bandwidth, for the same price. Are they really similar though?

Far from it.

Categories
Networking

Using your cloud instance as a proxy with Dante server

Let’s say you have a Cloud VM lying around with, it is entirely possible to turn it into a personal proxy for your internet traffic. It is probably not going to help you unlock region-protected content since services like Netflix and Hulu would probably have blocked the IP range operated by hosting service providers, but it may still be useful in cases where you need to get around your ISP’s slow network transit and peering issues.

Categories
VPS

Quick config and optimization of your cloud instance

So you’ve got your first Linux VM, hurray! Here is a quick prep guide to get it up to speed.

In this example (and throughout this blog), I’ll assume you’re using the Debian-based Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – which is ideal as it comes with newer software packages and is quite a bit easier to manage than CentOS.

Setting hostname and timezone

After SSH-ing into the terminal, the first two things you’d want to do is update the hostname and timezone settings of your VM. These can be done by the following commands: