How I want to spend my summer, technically speaking

As I complete my first full year as an assistant prof, I’m considering what techie projects I’d like to tackle this summer. In college, I always assumed that my professors reclused themselves to reading everything in the library while propped up on their patios. They may have also spent all their time on the golf course as far as I know. I hope to spend more time outdoors, but I also want to be able to keep my tech skills sharp. Here’s my preliminary tinker list.

Build PFSense Firewall

I’ve always just used the standard, out of the box, Netgear variety wireless router. I’d like to build and configure my own to experiment with traffic shaping, VPNs, and more specific port-forwarding rules. I built a PFSense firewall as a virtual machine in my previous position. The open source distribution was easy to get going and appeared to have all the features I was looking for at the time. I’m also interested in using its traffic graph feature to see how much bandwidth we are using at home. This may help me make the determination of whether to stay at my current level of broadband Internet or if I need to bump up or drop down a level. Who knows, I might save money in this process.

Re-build FreeNAS server

I built a FreeNAS┬áserver last year as a digital dumping ground and backup space for all my files (including media). I took the quick route and am using the live boot option over a flash drive. It works, but FreeNAS will allow you to add things like SubSonic┬áto your FreeNAS server. Unfortunately, you need to have FreeNAS installed on a fixed disk. I’ll have to work through backing up all my data so I can destroy the mirrored array and re-build the new installation. Seems like futile re-work, but I hope it’s worth it in the end.

DNS

If there is anything that is annoying about a home network, it’s that you have to remember 192.168.x.x. every time you want to access one of your devices. I’d like to use a readily available Linux distro to run DNS. It would be so much easier to access freenas.myhouse.com instead of 192.168.0.101.

Too Ambitious?

Honestly, the list is probably too ambitious. I’ve got a whole other list of projects to get prepared for next school year already. It depends on how much it rains. At the rate we have been going so far this spring, I could get these done in a week. If the sun starts to shine, I just might be on the golf course or working in the yard. If you’ve been in class with me, let me know what tinkering you are thinking about doing this summer!

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