Yesterday was the first official day of the conference and it went far more smoothly than we could have hoped for. Everyone seems so full of excitement and just brimming with ideas that when put together with the other teachers seem to cause random outbursts of inspiration. When you see the number 180 written out it doesn’t seem like that many people, but when you are confronted with that many at one time… it seems like a rather large group indeed. The conference has folks from around the country and many from outside of it. There is a pretty huge contingency from our neighbor to the north, and a few from across the pond as well. I’ve heard there is an Irish teacher here, but I have not met her. While watching the twitter hashtag during the day everyone seems to be getting so much from the process.
My morning was extremely busy, as I played gopher for any teacher that had forgotten something. I did a lot of runs to the store to pick up this or that and deliver it to their class room. From a tech support standpoint everything seemed to go smoothly, as the morning sessions tended to be put on by folks who are already seasoned presenters. After lunch they had the keynote session and twitter blew up after that, so I am guessing the guy was extremely dynamic. In the afternoon I finally sprang into action with a few last minute games of “trace the cable” to figure out what exactly had gotten unplugged in the shuffle. A number of the issues were ones we simply could not resolve due to the fact that my wife’s school employs a rather draconic web filtering system.
The Search for Internet
I admit much like a student I spent a good chunk of my time yesterday in search for a way to circumvent the web filtering system. It seemed like every other site I attempted to hit was either blocked for partially malfunctioning because some content delivery network they use as actually the thing being blocked. You find out just how many things you read are hosted off things like Imgur when you encounter a web filtering system like this. A few weeks back we lost our router, and I am still in the RMA process with Asus to get a replacement, but one of the nice features of the Nighthawk is that it comes with a really cool OpenVPN client. So a good chunk of my morning was spent trying to configure this.
For starters I could not remote into my machine at the house, as apparently RDP was blocked by the draconic filters. So I did one of the most truly contorted things to gain access to it. Apparently my workplaces web based SSL vpn worked just fine, so I remoted into work… and then turned around and remoted into my machine at the house. I was pretty sure I was moments away from ripping a hole in the internet. There I configured the client the router, and when it came to downloading the OpenVPN client… I had to do that on my home machine and gmail it to myself, since the OpenVPN website was blocked as well. Finally when I got everything installed I fired it up… and for a moment I thought it might be going to work… but the packets kept timing out.
So not only did they have a web filter in place but they also had a packet inspection firewall in place that was knocking down the packets coming in that it recognized as OpenVPN. In utter futility I flailed around a bit trying a different combination of port, maybe hoping I could disguise the traffic as something common. The problem is since I am on Cox internet, all of the common and benign ports are being blocked on my end since they don’t want you hosting a web, ftp, or mail server at your house. So after trying a dozen or so ports and going through the contorted process of transferring the configuration over gmail just to make sure it was working… I gave up and resigned myself to playing some Bejeweled 3. This is how you can tell I am really bored… I play Bejeweled because at this point I can play it on auto pilot.
After giving up for a bit and playing a few rounds of bejeweled I had another idea. For some time I have known exactly how to root my Samsung Galaxy S5, but didn’t do it for one reason or another. Like I felt like that was just a mess I didn’t want to deal with, and any of the potential ramifications of doing it. I want to be able to fiddle with my device freely, but at the same time I have no interest in doing a lot of the reasons why you root an android in the first place. Essentially I wanted to hold off doing it until I had a solid reason to. The complete and total lack of decent internet at the school was apparently that reason. The Samsung S5 has a built in Wifi hotspot but in their infinite wisdom AT&T seems to have installed a piece of software the blocks it anytime it tries to start. You have to be on one of the metered plans to use it, and since we are on the old grandfathered unlimited plan… this means we cannot.
The thing is I see the reasoning for blocking it. They don’t want someone using their phone as their ONLY internet provider and doing all sorts of random stuff like bittorrent over their wireless network. For me however I want to be able to use is as a backup network when I cannot for some reason connect to one. I feel like if I am paying for this device, I should be able to use its internet connection in any way I see fit within reason. The rest of the world can do this without problem, and carriers outside of the United States don’t throw up these artificial restrictions. So emboldened by my frustrations… I installed the Towel root on my phone, and turned to the dark side.
It still took me a little bit of doing, but right now I have my phone connected to my laptop via bluetooth and PDAnet and the connection is amazing. I figured all of this out pretty late in the day but I was able to get out and play some FFXIV with little to no lag. I just have to figure out how to also connect it to my chromebook, and then I will have a way to use it when I do not have access to WiFi. Even cooler this also means I should able to finally use a Dualshock 3 controller with my android to play some emulator games! Everything that I have heard tells me that the android is a truly amazing emulator system, but in order to get it working well you need root access. Now that I have finally crossed that threshold I figure this is dawning a new age of random crap I use my phone for.