Dutch Wonderland

We decided to try out a small park called Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster, PA. Sure, it was a fair bit of a drive for us, but we thought it would be fun.

I personally knew nothing about the place, which was a nice way to approach it. The park is geared towards young kids (pre-teen) which means that they can go on nearly every ride (depending on height, of course) on their own. Parents can even ride on most of the rides with the kids.
In addition to the rides, Dutch Wonderland offers a small water park which is fun and refreshing. When we went, it was pretty crowded at the water park, with the occassional kid who was completely out of control (where his mother?!), but it was managable. The large tube slide was the only disappointment there: the line was hidden and surprisingly long. So, even what you thought was a short line was at least a 30 minute wait.

The rest of the park, surprisingly, absorbed a lot of people. There were little to no lines, which meant that it was very easy for kids to get right back in line to go on a ride again. This only added to the fun!

The park is pretty shaded with trees and other foliage, so even on hot days, it isn’t like baking in the sun at Disney World.

The park closes at 8:30pm, which is more than enough to wear out pre-teen kids. Exiting the park passes everyone through the gift trap shop where kids beg and plead for their parents to purchase them something. That basically means that if you expect to get out of the park easily at closing time, forget it: the gift shop gets mobbed making it difficult to maneuver through. That also means that if you want to buy a gift or trinket, buy it earlier in the day.

Dutch Wonderland was a lot of fun!

OpenVPN

Openvpn, for those that are unfamiliar with it, is an excellent point-to-point VPN software package.

I tried it out in an environment where both ends were Fedora Core Linux systems and the installation went extremely well. In fact, it was almost simple. ๐Ÿ™‚ The tough part was getting the configuration fine-tuned enough such that it would be both secure yet easy to use.

The real key was an article in SysAdmin that covered how someone installed OpenVPN on a Linux server, and built a customized OpenVPN install on a Windows desktop system using the NullSoft Install System.

It was not long before the environment was completely off of the Cisco VPN hardware (part of the PIX) and fully on OpenVPN. The trick, however, was battling the situation where the single Linux server was down for one reason or another (a failed mirrored drive). The only secondary system that was available was a Solaris 8 system which is the predominant system in our environment anyhow.

So, I set about getting OpenVPN up and running. Unfortunately, Solaris 8 does not have a built in tunnel device (aka: tun) that OpenVPN requires. The documentation within the OpenVPN readme was a little misleading:

* Solaris

For 64 bit, I used the tun-1.1.tar.gz source and compiled it.

Of course there is a but ๐Ÿ™‚
In the tun-1-1\solaris\Makefile I changed a line so it compiles with 64 bit

CFLAGS = $(DEFS) -m64 -O2 -Wall -D_KERNEL -I.

I just added -m64 and it worked.

The tun driver works fine as said previously, however we noticed there is a minor problem when creating multiple tunnels on Solaris.
Mr Tycho Fruru changed the code in tun.c file where he locked the tun device number to -1. This way it is impossible to specify the name of the tun device but it is still possible to have multiple devices.
The modification will increment automatically meaning starting from tun0 —> tunX I know you are not responsible for the tun coding but if you think the modification can be useful for you feel free to use it.

http://openvpn.net/solaris/tun.c

Now, that tells me that you need to add the option to the CFLAGS to build it as a 64-bit binary and that, if you are creating multiple tunnels, you need to patch the tun.c file.

BZZT. Wrong. You need to do both if you want to do anything with the device, otherwise Solaris will not make any of the /dev/tun* devices, and, hence, OpenVPN will not work.

Of course, that minor difference in terminology resulted in about 4 business days of effort on-again/off-again effort to get OpenVPN working on Solaris 8.

Another individual contacted me regarding his troubles getting the “tun” driver to build and install properly under Solaris 8, and I helped walk him through it. Oddly, he couldn’t even get it to compile (through no failure of his own)! I sent him a tar file of my patched and compiled version and he was able to get things up! So, I thought I would make it available here (not sure why, but wordpress stripped out some of the periods.ย  The file should be named tun-1.1-patched.tar.gz). Perhaps I was lucky (seems that way) to get it to compile.

On-Line Game Rentals

Over the years, I have been an avid Netflix rental customer and loved every minute of it as their service has gotten better over the years. I’ve since discontinuted that service only for the fact that I do not have a lot of time right now.

Now, thinking of the way DVD Movie Rentals work, I had it down to a science. I would get the DVD at home and we would watch it that night. The next day, I would take it with me to work and drop it in the mail there (It is in Philadelphia). The very next day, because the local Netflix facility is in the general area, Netflix would check in the movie, and send me out a new one. It was like clockwork!

Having that experience, I decided to investigate the on-line game rental arena. We have a PlayStation 2 that all of the family members enjoy. With that in mind, I hunted around for reviews on different on-line game rental services. I found a couple (rather dated) individual ones on the popular GameFly, and then I found Video-Game-Rental-Review.TopTenReviews.Com which had a nice side-by-side comparison.

One thing I found was that nearly all of them only have one distribution center. Well, that plainly sucks if you are on the opposite coast (east coast) from the main distribution center (west coast) and everything goes via the US Postal Service (snail mail). However, a few stood out because they have several distribution centers.

Another item to note is the differences in the ways the queues work. With Netflix, if you have something at the top of the queue that has some form of wait status (any form of wait status), it is immediately skipped and you are shipped the next available title in your queue. Not so with the game rentals. If you have anything that has any sort of wait in your queue, the system will not send you anything for 1 to 2 days as it is waiting for that item to become available.

That’s kind of a pain, if you ask me. But that’s just me.. maybe I’m the odd one out on this.

So, after carefully choosing one, I chose Gamerang.com because they got good reviews and one of their distribution centers is in the state I live in. I thought that would definitely help.

I signed up for their trial on line and happily filled up my queue. I sat back and waited for the disc to arrive. It is now 6 days later, and no disc has arrived. ๐Ÿ™ I called saying that I wanted to cancel the service because it didn’t meet my expectations (I could have driven there, picked up the disc, driven it home, played and beat the game, and driven back to drop it off by this point in time), and, after some time on hold, they asked me to stay on with the compensation that they would extend my renewal period by 1 week (to make up for the lost week).

I thought that was nice of them, honestly. So, I will stick with it for now to see how it pans out. I am still leaning towards going back to the Blockbuster GamePass, though.