Do not directly connect to your VPS using OpenVPN

The traffic that goes through a direct OpenVPN connection can be easily detected by the Firewall, and it will not take long before the IP address of the VPS is blocked. The traffic must be masqueraded via another layer of obfuscation. But if the Firewall decides to block the full ranges of IP addresses of a VPS provider, it can easily do so, thus categorically making any means of obfuscation useless.

I am no networking expert, but I will jut propose a wild idea here: perhaps the Syncthing protocol can be used as non-centralised proxies for web traffic, because I find its relaying servers very efficient in circumventing firewalls.

Experience with BuyVM and Ramnode

As you may be aware, this blog runs on the VPS from Ramnode. My experience with Ramnode has been very positive, because the uptime of the instances are quite good (I have one instance that has over 200 days of uptime) and the system is very stable. The connect is also very fast from the mainland China. Either connecting from providers such as China Telecom or China Mobile, the download speed can peak at about 10MB/s via a SSL tunnel. If an instance expires, that will not affect other running instances, and only the VPS with an unpaid notice will be suspended. Often times, I don’t want to use a VPS instance any more, or the IP was blocked by GFW, so I will simply let it expire but keep ordering new ones from Ramnode. Right now I have ordered over 17 orders of VPS from Ramnode over the past few years and I even recommended it to other people.

This is unlike BuyVM is very strict with unpaid instances — even you do not want to use one of the VPSs any more, an unpaid instance will affect all the running instances (this is at least what I experienced when I was their unwanted client). All the invoices must be paid in full or otherwise, they don’t want to do business with me.

If you reside in China and need a VPS, I highly recommend Ramnode and especially the servers hosted in Seattle. For BuyVM, I don’t know if they are still in business, but my experience with them was very negative.

Why is it so difficult contact RFI Chinese and send them a feedback?

I enjoyed listening to the Chinese language program (les grands) penseurs Français (法国思想长廊) by 赵越胜。The program is a great introduction to French thinkers because it is concise, clear and the content is well-structured. However, when I want to listen to all the previous episodes from the very first one, I found that the only way to do it is visiting their website and click on dozens of program pages to download the mp3 files one by one. This is time consuming, error-prone and frustrating.

Why not use a podcast app instead? Because I cannot find the complete list of all the podcasts of this program, and only the latest ones are available for download. I also checked the RFI Chinese website, and the feed subscription on it is not complete.

Is this due to the restrictions of the feed mechanism or just a stingily misconfigured setting of the number of feeds for subscription? I don’t know, but I want to get the complete podcast of this program and listen from the very beginning and it is not easy to do so. Also, RFI Chinese uploaded the wrong file for the episode called 卢梭与伏尔泰, because the mp3 file on the website feed is Asia_weekly_09-12-17_SEM49.mp3, which is not about les grands penseurs Français.

And I took my time to send a feedback through the contact form on RFI’s website. However, after I clicked ‘send’, I saw a cirle spinning and spinning forever, and my suggestions to RFI Chinese failed to go through.

Then I thought maybe I can send them a private message via twitter, however, I was prompted by twitter that @RFI_Cn was not following me so I couldn’t send them a message. No, I am giving RFI a international long distance call to send my feedback and suggestions.

As a last resort, I thought I should post my frustrations here on my blog, because if RFI Chinese cares about their listener’s feedback, they should fix their website contact form or simply leave an email address.

If RFI Chinese read this post, please kindly contact me at thinkweird (replace with.@.symbol) gmail.com.

Contact Info via WeChat or Email

If  you want to contact me, maybe the fastest way is via WeChat or Email:

  • WeChat ID (微信号) thinkweird
  • Email address: thinkweird#gmail.com (replace # with @)

I’d be happy to get to know you.

What’s wrong with Hollywood?

Gravity is mediocre. The Internship is a commercial for Google. This is the End is a disaster. These are all getting high scores from IMDB. When the bad things get good reviews and high scores, it means the whole industry is at risk — the trust is lost. When movie watchers know the hard earned money and precious time are spent on manipulated reviews and scores, they will stop going to movie theaters. What’s coming next Hollywood? Depression.

Don’t watch Gravity

Gravity’s score and reviews on IMDB is dubious. For a stunning high score of 8.7 and over 48 thousand votes, I thought this movie must be very good. However, the result is disappointing. I will just give this movie a 6.0 for its visual effects but the story line is very simple and hurried to the end.

The inflated score on IMDB, just like it is on Taobao, will hurt the whole movie industry as the disappointed audience will no longer pay to watch movies with good reviews, knowing that the scores have been rigged. The good movies will suffer because they will not get the attention they deserve and are easily drowned in the noises created by illicit promotional activities. The individual’s voice will not be easily heard, although they supposedly have an equal vote with the movie ticket they buy.

In a digital age, the public opinion can be easily created and swung by a few key strokes and clicks — the monopoly of media tycoon can manipulate the statistics and the masses will buy into it and buy the mediocre products — the best ones do not even have a chance.

Some notes in the aftermath of Breaking Bad

OK, I was wrong about the finale of Breaking Bad and Heisenberg did die. The most unforgettable line in the last episode is, when talking about why he did what he did, “I liked it. I am good at it”. This explained why he wasn’t successful as chemistry teacher, because he didn’t fulfill his destiny — to do the things he is good at. The scene when the hidden machine gun in the trunk mowed down all the gang members is a cathartic outbreak of revenge. It is well done. However, it could be even better if he used his chemistry skills to deal with the gangs.

Now here is some new information I found about Breaking Bad. Bob Odenkirk performs the lawyer role brilliantly in the movie. He grew up in Naperville, Illinois. From his biography on IMDB, he is “three credits shy of graduation” and wrote extensively for comedian shows. He also won a few Emmy awards. One day, I perhaps need to write a book to list the successful college dropouts and the unsuccessful college graduates. Bryan Cranston certainly know the importance of sticking to it. I think when he was at the lowest point of his career, he had thought about quitting and became an insurance salesman. However, he didn’t. Here is what he said about why he didn’t give up: “You know, this business is pure luck. It truly is. There is a tangible amount of luck that is necessary for a successful career, and the only way that luck happens is if you’re prepared for it and you stick with it. If you drop out of the scene, your opportunity for luck diminishes greatly. No one’s going to say, ‘Hey you’re an insurance salesman. Come and do this movie.'” “I don’t need to work, but I love to work and I will make the movie if I would want to go and see it. ” “It is also interesting to learn he drove motorcycle around the US. It was just two confused boys running away. My brother was on the verge of becoming a deputy sheriff, and I was grappling with whether I wanted to be a police officer or an actor. So we got on our motorcycles and just left California with no plan. I had $70 in my pocket, and that soon ran out. We got odd jobs wherever we could. We worked at cafés, in carnivals, at beachfront hotels selling suntan lotion, earning just enough to get back on the road. We camped everywhere, the cheaper the better. Just a patch of grass was all we needed. A few times we stayed at midnight missions, in Texas and Louisiana, and those were always scary.”

Walter White will not die

I haven’t watched the last episode of Breaking Bad, but I am pretty sure Water White did not die in the finale. The producers and script writers have two choices: one is letting Mr. White put up a good fight and kill all his enemies and died a heroic death. The rationale behind this ending is Mr. White has late stage cancer and he will die anyway. The second ending is Mr. White will kill all his enemies and walk into the setting sun as Heisenberg — with his tell-tale hat.

I think the second ending will be favored because if Mr. White is dead, there won’t be opportunities to produce a possible sequel and even a movie on this brilliant story again. The death of Heisenberg means the loss of commercial interests, so he will not definitively die in the denouement.

In all circumstances, Mr. White will join hands with Jessie and annihilate the new meth cooks in a violent way. After the revenge, he will reclaim his money and leave for good, leaving behind the suspense that he would come back one day in a sequel TV series.

The focus of the last episode will be his revenge with the gangs, reconciliation with Jessie, temporary reunion with his family, and most of all, the redemption of his name — he is still Heisenberg!

Is this comment about Harvard true?

The image of Harvard is subverted in my mind when I watched the documentary The Inside Job. Now I read this comment somewhere on the web:

Harvard is one of most snobbish college that taking applicant’s parents social status  into consideration in admission process. Harvard has a lot of criminal politician/businessman’s kids.

Is it true that there is a seamy side under all the glamorous images?

Maybe a GRE vocabulary site one day

Maybe I will lauch my first ‘commerical’ site dealing with GRE vocabulary in the spring semester. Knowing a lot of words and be able to use them properly is something I want to do, and it would be wonderful I could teach and learn those words at the same time.

Guess what, I already found a good theme for that GRE site. It is called jQ developed by http://devolux.org/. What’s cute about this theme is that it can toggle between the post titles only or the whole content of the posts. Besides, it has a handy indicator for visitors to adjust font sizes easily.

jjQ theme.jpg

The site could also come with a handy forum, and bbpress seems to be a good choice.