Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dynamic DNS

As I previously mentioned, I've got fiber running into our home now. One of the issues I discovered was that, unlike Comcast, the IP address changes frequently and the DNS name is built dynamically from the IP address. If you have a need to get to your machine then a "dynamic DNS" service is one way to go. There are several out there which offer free services - I choose DynDNS. Here's a few things I discovered...

After signing up for an account, you can create a dynamic DNS using one of their 25+ domain names such as .blogdns.org, dyndns.org, homeip.net, or even kicks-ass.net. With this DNS entry you can supply the IP address it points to so "mycoolname.homeip.net" will route to the IP address of your home computer.

There are free utilities which can automatically update your DynDNS account with a new address. DynDNS Updater is one I found which works well. You install this on your home computer and leave it running (either in the system tray or install it as a Windows service). It will periodically check your external IP address and, if it's changed it'll update DynDNS. I later stumbled on a casual mention in a forum that D-Link has the ability to update a dynamic DNS built right in. After logging into my router, sure enough I found it under Tools / DDNS. I figured it was the best way to go as it would be running on my router, know when the IP had changed, and save from installing running one more thing at home.

However, DynDNS has a pretty good FAQ which brought a couple of things to light. First, the only "recommended" router is a Linksys model. Second, they feel that the software method is better because you can configure various settings and the logging capabilities are much better. I've experienced it first hand. One of the times my IP changed the D-Link DDNS didn't work and, as DynDNS said, I had no idea why. After that, I turned it off on the D-Link and re-enabled the software which has been running fine since. I keep a little server going at home so it wasn't a big deal.

To avoid problems with having to run a web server on ports other than 80 you can use another free DynDNS service called "WebHop". With that, you specify a name such as web.mycoolname.homeip.net and redirect it to a URL such as http://mycoolname.homeip.net:8080. That way you can bookmark and give out a "standard name" without having to remember the port and it'll get redirected to the correct port at your dynamic domain name. This also makes it easier if you embed links as you can use this aliased name and only maintain the actual URL in one place.

Original post

FTTP, baby! (Verizon FIOS)

We're finally on fiber at my house, na-na! Dan Bricklin has a long article with lots of photos on his blog so here's some random points I've discovered since the install.

  • Earlier in the week the fiber line was brought down from the pole to the outside of the building in preparation.
  • The install really does take 4+ hours.
  • The final connection into the "ONT" was made from the feed left earlier using a portable splicer that melts/fuses the glass fibers together
  • The glass really is about the size of a human hair
  • The meter reported 18 Mbs download at the ONT
  • Verizon offers 5 Mbs down / 2 Mbs up for $34.95 and 15 Mbs down / 2 Mbs up for $44.95 (both with a one year agreement, phone call to upgrade)
  • They also offer a 30 Mbs down / 5 Mbs up
  • Unlike high-speed cable, Verizon installs a battery backup in case of power outage that's rated for 4 hours (tech said he's heard of customers getting 8 hrs of life from them)
  • They pull the old copper wires from the house during the install
  • I read in a forum somewhere that all the old regulations regarding access and required sharing of lines with other providers only pertains to the copper lines, not the new fiber ;)
  • They give you a D-Link DI-624 wireless G router which also has four ethernet ports
  • Vonage's Linksys router is now "hanging off" (behind) the D-Link and it only required a power off/on to pick up new address from the D-Link
  • D-Link's default internal IP is 192.168.0.x whereas Linksys (w/ Vonage) was 192.168.15.x
  • D-Link's router really is true port forwarding - you can, for example, map port 8080 outside to 80 inside (Linksys forwards a port to an IP only - same port)
  • Verizon blocks port 80 (port forwarding works around this)
  • Fiber uses PPPoE like DSL does
  • In the span of 4 days I've had 4 different external IP addresses assigned
  • External DNS names are dynamic, containing the IP address (e.g. pool-x-x-x-x.subdomain.fios.verizon.net)
  • Discovered free dynamic DNS service (dyndns.org) to overcome name/ip changes

A big SORRY to Dave Burke - I'm sure it'll be a while before fiber finds its way up into Vermont.

Original post