Sometimes I have the need for either temporary access, or a dedicated box to access a customer’s network remotely in a secure fashion. This remote access can be accomplished using software that I can install on a customer’s computer, but sometimes that is not possible….either the customer doesn’t want extra software running on their computers, or there’s not a good computer to install it on. In those cases I use a modified Linksys NSLU2 device running a version of Linux that is configured to provide for secure remote access.

Remote Access using a Linksys NSLU2

How it works

From my computer, I run an SSH Tunnel program (See my previous article Access data behind your Firewall from inside the customer’s location …its the same software) that uses the Secure Shell (SSH) protocol to establish a “Tunnel” between my computer and my Modified Linksys NSLU2 sitting on the inside of my customer’s network. The customer’s firewall does need to be modified to allow the connection to come in and get redirected to my NSLU2 device in order for this to all work correctly.
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 | Posted by MobileDataGuy | Categories: HowTos, Virtual Office |

Hi, this is Mobile Data…

5 December 2007

“Hi, this is Mobile Data Guy and I think I just found the an ultimate way to blog. I am using a service called Jott and I have tided in to my blog here at and I can dictate my blog postings while I am driving,r on the phone or walking down the street. It’s just got to be the ultimate in mobile blogging. listen

Powered by Jott”

Ok, so its not 100% perfect in translation, but that could be my fault in running words together (see above: “tided” => tied it “driving,r” => driving, or.) Either way, its a great way to capture an idea or get a start on a blog post and then revise and edit once you are someplace that you can do that from.

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 | Posted by MobileDataGuy | Categories: HowTos, OtherStuff |

In a previous post Access data behind your Firewall from inside the customer’s location I wrote about getting to my data that was behind my company firewall while located on the inside of my customer’s network behind their firewall/proxy server. This was accomplished by using a program called Tunnelier from a company called Bitvise. Tunnelier allows you to create an SSH tunnel through the local web proxy and over to my company SSH Server, while on my local laptop it starts a SOCKS proxy for local programs (like IE or Firefox) to connect to and thus be able to reach my company’s data while remote. A problem arises though when the program that you want to use….most notably Opera Web Browser in my case…does not support the use of SOCKS. Well, there’s a solution to this problem called ProxyCap. It will “Sockify” programs that are opening an outgoing IP connection and redirect it through a proxy. In my case I’m having it redirect to the local SOCKS proxy that Tunnelier has created locally.

So, to continue where my last article left off; To get Opera to use your SSH tunnel, you need to:

1. Define your local SOCKS proxy In this case I have defined a SOCKS v4 proxy on localhost ( port 8081(I did have the port at 1080 in my last article, but had to change it to resolve a port conflict with another app I was running). Be sure and use SOCKS v4, and not SOCKS v5 as the current version of Tunnelier (11/2007) seems to have an issue with killing the SSH tunnel when too many SOCKS v5 clients are talking to it. SOCKS v4 does not exhibit this issue.

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 | Posted by MobileDataGuy | Categories: HowTos, Virtual Office |

Android: The next Linux?

5 November 2007

As you may have heard, Google today announced its much anticipated mobile phone initiative know as Android. Today was just the announcement….no handsets to show off, no cools apps to see, but there sure is a lot of talk about it already.

I was looking at it all and I kept coming back to the thought that this might be the Linux of the cellphone industry. [And yes, I know Linux runs on a couple of handsets already, but that's not the point I'm trying to make.] Before Linux, users really didn’t have any other choice for an operating system on their new computers….it was Windows or nothing. Then Linux came along and those with the technical savvy could run software that was free. Now a days there are plenty of articles out there about how close Linux is coming to being able to replace Windows as the operating system of choice for businesses. Granted its taken years to get here, but here we are anyway. Now we might have the same kind of software in Google’s ‘Android’ in that its Open Source, free to anyone who wants to load it, and it allows any developer to write code for handsets (and it also is based on Linux).

I don’t think for a minute that everyone is going to rush out and get these phones. For the vast majority of business users, I would surely recommend that you don’t go for the first wave of these things, as there are going to be many technical issues that could cause loss of phone service. Wait a while for things to sort themselves out, or for when you see a new application that you can’t get on your “normal” handset. I plan to get one of these to play with….but its not going to be my business phone! …at least not to start with ;)

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 | Posted by MobileDataGuy | Categories: Opinions |

Unlocked Cell phones

23 October 2007

Walt Mossberg recently wrote that he wanted the cell phone companies to Free My Phone so that he could use whatever phone he wanted, with whatever software he wanted.  There’s a lot of pros and cons about his position in my opinion, but its a debate that I’ll leave aside for now.

There are a lot of us out here that have already freed ourselves from some of the constraints that cell phone companies put on us consumers by buying unlocked GSM phones from Europe.  The upside is that you (usually) get a cool phone with features that many folks around you may not have, and if you don’t like the service at one carrier, you can take your phone over to the other carrier’s store and get new service without the added cost of buying a new phone!  The downsides, however, can be immense:

1.  They cost tons more  US Carriers subsidize some of the cell phone’s cost when they sell it to you. Your $100 phone that’s locked into one carrier can cost you $400-$500 if you buy it unlocked.

2.  You better know how to configure your phone.  If your a tech head like me, this isn’t much of an issue….if not, you may have problems.  Voice calls pretty much work with no configuration at all, but if you want to send a Text Message (AKA SMS Message), you better know the SMSC address/phone number, or your going nowhere. Picture Messages (AKA MMS Messages) get even more fun to configure. And good luck trying to configure the Browser to work right.  Not for the average user.

3. No Support.  If you have a phone that isn’t even here in the US, then don’t even bother calling support if you have an issue.  WAP Gateways, MMS & SMS Message Centers all have some form of device database that they reference when they need to send you a message.  Some they can get off the Internet. Most carriers that I work with maintain this database internally, so if your weird, International phone isn’t there, then you may not get those kinds of services correctly….and good luck to you to get them to add support for your phone.

Cell phone companies have a hard enough time trying to ensure a good customer experience with the number of handsets they already have….I can’t imagine what it would be like if any ‘old handset was allowed on their networks.

So to Walt, I would say:  Be careful what you wish for.

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 | Posted by MobileDataGuy | Categories: OtherStuff |