Afterburn 1×01: The Pilot Episode

Here is the (not so) long-lost pilot episode of Afterburn, uploaded with pictures for your enjoyment!  As always, do us a solid and comment, rate, like, follow and/or subscribe!  Much appreciated!

In this episode of Afterburn, Drake imbibes alcohol, Hammy’s dad flies a B-1, and Atari still doesn’t have a job.

How To Use A (Real) Router With AT&T U-Verse DSL

AT&T U-Verse DSL is many things: expensive, sub-par, flaky, but the worst part about it (besides the utter contempt they have for their customers and the monopolistic attitude of their executives) is the downright shitty quality of their highly-touted “residential gateways”. These are just glorified DSL modems with (barely) built-in WiFi and a barebones user interface. If you have only a computer and a phone (and maybe a tablet), it will suffice (as long as you stay in the same room), but if you’re going to be streaming to your TV, playing online games, setting up IoT devices, or using any other manner of modern technology (in addition to your phone, tablet, and computer), you absolutely will need a real router. Don’t get taken by the monopoly phone company, make sure they don’t charge you for the gateway, and buy yourself a proper router–it saves so much headache and hassle with just a little extra setup cost and effort!

[amazon_link asins=’B00Z0V2NQ8,B00F0DD0I6′ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’airbornesurfe-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’3050a466-dd42-11e6-b078-4177c187720a’]

Assuming you’ve already bought a proper 802.11ac router and at least plugged it in, you’re going to want to connect to the device and make sure the connection type is set to “Dynamic IP (DHCP-Assigned)”. You may need to refer to your router’s instruction manual to reference how to do this. Go ahead and set up the residential gateway by plugging it in to a power source and connecting the DSL (phone) line as the AT&T installer did when he got his muddy footprints all over your carpet. Run an Ethernet cable from the “Broadband” port on your router (it may also be labeled “WAN” or simply “Internet”) to one of the available LAN ports on the back of the gateway. With another Ethernet cable, connect a computer to another open LAN port on the gateway.

This page looks like 1998 threw up all over it. (

On the computer you just connected, open a browser and point it to This will take you to the residential gateway’s settings interface. For the price that AT&T charges for their horrid little modems, you would think that they might invest a little bit in UI design. Once your eyes stop bleeding, click the “Home Network” link at the top. On the right side of the page, you should see a box labeled “Status At A Glance”. Click the “DISABLE” button next to Wireless.

The system will ask you if you are sure you want to disable the built-in wireless router, to which you should respond “CONFIRM”.

Now, we need to edit the firewall settings for the new router. In the “Local Devices” box on the left, identify the wireless router from the list (there really should only be two options, and you can easily narrow it down if the gateway is only displaying IP addresses–just confirm the computer’s local address) and click “Edit firewall settings”.

On the next page, make sure the router is selected from the drop-down menu under the “Select a computer” heading. Then, click the radio button next to “Allow all applications (DMZplus mode)” and then the “DONE” button.

Verify all the settings are correct as you put them in (the device is the router, all applications are allowed, all protocols are allowed, all ports are open), then return to the home screen. Close your browser, unplug the Ethernet from the computer, then cycle the power on the router. Once the router is back up and broadcasting, connect a device to the wireless network, open a website, and voilà! Now you can get stronger WiFi signals, better connections, and have more granular control over your network than you could with one of those terrible little AT&T residential gateways alone!

I built an HTPC from an old VCR

My latest grand project has come about from a desire to have an integrated home entertainment solution and an inability to find any off-the-shelf product that handles media the way I want it to.wpid-wp-1427424367999.jpg

My first impulse was to build an HTPC in a traditional desktop-style case, but I could not locate one that would fit in my IKEA Besta TV stand. As it happens, I had a cache of old VCRs taking up space in storage after my VHS digitising project, so I grabbed one that would suit well and got to tinkering.

A few hours of Dremel work and the original RCA and Coaxial ports are replaced with USB and HDMI.
The front RCA ports made a convenient location to add a couple front USB ports.

 The form factor of the VHS turned out to fit an mATX motherboard and power supply side-by-side almost exactly. Thankfully, there was still plenty of clearance for fans and other internal bits as well. Best of all, the case pays homage to a time in my childhood when the VCR (actually, this exact VCR) was the focal point of entertainment–perhaps even more than the NES that sat next to it. After all, you can’t play Super Mario Bros. and build Lego models at the same time!

Still a slightly jumbled mess inside, but it works.

With the internals completed, I set about assembling the software suite. XBMC provides the main interface while Firefox and RetroArch supplement functionality for most streaming services and video games. The biggest decision I’ve had to make was whether to build the system on Linux or Windows. I’ve completed comparable versions under both, but I eventually paid for a Windows 7 license to take advantage of the superior graphics processing compatibility provided by Microsoft DirectX as well as eliminate the headache of futzing around with Wine compatibility settings.

Original serial number and patent labels joined by the ubiquitous “Intel Inside” decal.

The end result is an all-in-one streaming media, local media, classic and modern gaming machine that evokes an aesthetic of an era that is quickly fading into the annals of history.

The original date of manufacture label: June 1993.
21 years of reliable service and counting!
The unit’s cassette door broke off sometime in the late 1990s, so I 3D printed a replacement to seal the innards from dust. I also replaced the original 7-segment display with a USB liquid crystal display.

MSI Motherboards Are a Bargain

When I began planning for the VCR project, I made a trip to my long-time, brick-and-mortar computer parts purveyor Micro Center to shop for components. The motherboard is obviously one of the most important components you can purchase, since it will determine all the other parts you can install. My biggest determining factor, though, is price.

At roughly $60, the MSI H81ME33 Intel mobo is a fantastic bargain that offers support for the latest Intel Core processors, USB 3.0, 4K UHD video as well as some niceties like a metric fucktonne of USB ports, a simple BIOS screen with mouse support, a one-click overclock function, and a simple BIOS updater all in a space-saving mATX form factor.

The mobo is finicky with Linux, requiring a little jiggery-pokery and breath-holding while it pre-boots, but it works like a champ with Windows. My only real hitch is that it doesn’t enjoy USB peripherals like DVD-ROM drives and some wireless keyboards, but it usually yields to its human overlord after a nominal delay.

Support for MSI motherboards is self-directed, so you’re going to need to have some decent Google ninja skills if you run into a problem. The nice thing, though, is that the website is easy enough to navigate and the basic support documents are quickly located.

There are proprietary drivers available for all the on-board components, and MSI provides a few utilities that one can customise their system with, though I prefer not to use them.

Backup Files On Schedule With CrashPlan

If you need a simple backup scheduler, give Code 42’s CrashPlan a try. CrashPlan is available for Windows, Linux, and OSX and allows file backups to local, networked, and off-site locations with a simple, easy-to-use setup.

Download and install CrashPlan Free to each computer you want to backup and one the machine you will use as a backup server. You can have any number of machines connected to your “cloud” with the only limitation being the available space on the server. I have it backing up my Macbook Pro and VCR to an external hard drive connected to the VCR. These backups are also mirrored in an encrypted folder on a computer at my office across town.

CREDIT: Code42

Cloud backup storage is also available from CrashPlan for a nominal fee, but with off-site storage being as easy as connecting your work computer, I don’t see much need for it.