You can use both Gandi BaseKit websites and Google Sites together, but you have to remember the “.”.

When editing Zone Files (DNS settings) at Gandi, remember to add an extra “.” at the end of each value, or settings will not work.

This is particularly useful when you want to combine a Gandi BaseKit website with various Google Sites websites.

For example, I run a BaseKit site at, and I want to use Google Sites to get around the 3 page free limit for BaseKit. So to add a Google Site to Gandi, I need to map the site using Google Apps Domain settings, log into Gandi, and add the following setting to the Zone File:

Example: SubDomain TTL IN CNAME GoogleDNSURL.

In Reality: Test 10800 IN CNAME

Credits go to Google Apps Help.

Why don’t HomeGroups work with PrivateFirewall? Here’s how to fix it.


Update (4/21/2013): This post has been updated to fix some more issues. The quick summary is this:

Open all TCP and UDP ports for SVCHost and System (System Services) from 137-65535 for the local network (low security).

Add all HomeGroup computers to the Trusted Networks/IP Addresses area. Check the firewall log for recent HomeGroup attempts.

However, not all issues are fixed. PrivateFirewall should be disabled (allow all connections) in order to set up a HomeGroup, and while network sharing works with PrivateFirewall on, HomeGroups have some difficulties under mixed Windows 7 and 8 networks.


PrivacyWare’s PrivateFirewall is a very good HIPS/Firewall combination. Unfortunately, there are a few issues that can appear from time to time, such as this one: with PrivateFirewall off, Windows HomeGroups work, but with the firewall on, HomeGroups are blocked. Here is how to fix it.

Allow the following ports for these two services:


1. In/out tcp port 3587 2. In/out udp port 3540


1. In tcp port 2869 -WIN mediaplayer networking 2. In/out tcp port 5357-5358

SVCHost should be fairly easy to spot, but System may be masquerading as System Services.

Ports can be adjusted on the PrivateFirewall > Main Menu > Applications page after right clicking on the application anme and selecting Customize, then Add new rules.

Credits go to ITMan at WildersSecurity for this fix.

Update (4/21/2013): Some issues remain with local settings and ports. Here’s what I did to fix them:

Port fixes

Windows 7 (and 8) can use many more ports than what is described in the fix above, which can prevent HomeGroups from working correctly. Microsoft has a good document describing all the network/firewall interactions. There are quite a few individual ports, described by RaviShankar at McAfee Forums:

To find other computers running Windows Vista or Windows 7, open these ports:

UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

To find network devices, open these ports:

UDP 1900, TCP 2869, UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

To make HomeGroup work correctly between computers running Windows 7, open these ports:

UDP 137, UDP 138, TCP 139, TCP 445, UDP 1900, TCP 2869, UDP 3540, TCP 3587, UDP 3702, UDP 5355, TCP 5357, TCP 5358

The basic fix is to open all ports in System Services and SVCHost to the local network (low security checkbox) from the ranges of 137-5358 for UDP and TCP. I also noticed that HomeGroups involving Windows 8 and 7 use very large ports as well, in the 55,000 range, so adding up to 65535 should open everything up. This is only advised if your local network is trusted. Do not, of course, open these ranges to the whole internet (high security checkbox). You can also individually open up each port (check the firewall log for all the ports being used), but this is easier.

Trust fixes

PrivateFirewall also relies on trusted networks and computers to make the low security settings work. Open up the PrivateFirewall Main Menu and check the Trusted Sites/IP Addresses area to make sure that your network and all computers are in there. If not, an easy way to add these computers is try to access the HomeGroup on one computer, check the firewall log, click on an entry (the recently generated UDP or ICMPv6 Neighborhood Solicitation traffic), and select Trust Remote. Or, go to the router’s configuration screens to pull up a list of all local clients and IP addresses.

How do you set up a Gandi Blog with Windows Live Writer?

Gandi, a very good domain name registrar, offers free dotclear 2.0 blogs with every domain registration. Here is how to set up Windows Live Writer to work with the blog.

First, log into your Gandi blog account. Click on Blog Settings. Activate the XML/RPC interface under Blog configuration. Click on save, and you should get a block of text under the save button like this:

XML/RPC interface

XML/RPC interface allows you to edit your blog with an external client.

XML/RPC interface is active. You should set the following parameters on your XML/RPC client:

Server URL: Blogging system: Movable Type User name: YourUserName Password: your password Blog ID: BlogIDNumber

Next, open up Windows Live Writer. When it asks you for the type of blog you are using, select Other services. If it asks you to select a blog type, select Movable Type and input the Server URL shown above into the Remote Posting Web Address box.

After that, add your Gandi account information (username and password) and the address of the blog (http://BlogSubDomain.YourDomain.TLD). After that, you should be good to go. Happy bloggings!

Do you have a WordPress blog? Need to know where the RSS feed is?

The RSS feed for any blog should be at YourSite/feed/

In more detail, it should look like this: or http://domain.tld/feed/

Credits to PerishablePress.

Troubleshooting the SimpleTech SimpleShare NAS? Here are some tips.

Last week, I bought a SimpleTech SimpleShare 250GB NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive off of Newegg. It comes with a handy print server, RAID capability, multiple USB HD capability, and all sorts of handy things. Now that it is running, it is actually pretty cool. It’s a useful device that comes with a free software backup utility. Windows XP also comes with one, but I figured I’d use this one instead.

There are, however, a glaring problem with the drive: the setup process. For most people, it should be ok, but forums all over the web report problems mapping the drive to a drive letter. How do you fix it? It’s pretty easy when you know what to do:

The first thing to check after discovering Error 53 is to disable the integrated print server. You can enable it later after mapping the drives, but don’t use it right now. You can access the menu for this in the advanced portion of the setup.

If that doesn’t work, it might be the firmware. Version 1.09 is not as feature rich as 1.07, but upgrading the firmware might solve the problem. This “new” firmware removes RAID functionality, user controls, domain controller, and some other things, but it just might fix the biggest problem. It also allows your drive to spin down when not in use, something 1.07 has problems with. You can find this firmware at SimpleTech but be aware that it is probably just a stopgap measure since 1.07 is the official version.

As I said, now that it is working, it is a pretty cool device. It runs fairly cool for an external drive and has a lot of functionality built in. It’s great for backups, has a print server, and, if the setup works the first time, it’s not too difficult to use. And if the setup doesn’t work, that is what this post is for.

Have you ever picked up a paper, read it, and thought it was terrible? And then you realize it’s your own work? It happens to everyone. In fact, it’s part of the writing process. Here are some tips to make your own writing better.

First drafts are naturally not very good, for that’s what a first draft is for. But final drafts should not be.

So what’s wrong with most writing these days? Well, there’s a lot of jargon. Jargon means that there are words that are too technical, or too specific to a field, and the average person just wouldn’t understand. Another problem is that writing can easily become a jumbled, confusing mess. Just thinking and re-reading would help to eliminate most of these problems. Of course, grammar and spelling are always issues.

Writing 101 – The Ideas

What should you think about when writing? Three words: Audience is everything. Audience tells you what kind of attitude to write in, what type of writing style, how technical the paper can be, and so on. What kind of fonts should you use for your audience? Serif fonts are best for printed materials, and sans serif for computer reading. What kind of visuals are you going to include? Will the audience understand why you did what you did? Audience should be the first thing you think about when writing.

What else? Is it clear? Will the reader understand what you are talking about? Remember, everyone understands the same words differently, and maybe 60% of your own meaning is picked up by the reader. Be sure to explain, give examples, and eliminate confusing ideas.

Consistency. Consistency means that you use the same words over and over again. This doesn’t mean that you start every sentence with “However,” but it means that if you are naming an idea, you use the same name every time. Don’t call a “clock” a “timepiece” or a “time keeping device”. If you call it a clock once, keep it the same for the rest of the paper.

One idea that I picked up recently from my own writing courses was Parallel Structure. This is a little harder to explain, but easy to show. Take a look at list 1, and think about it:

Example list 1: Tables

  • Tables – flat.
  • Where people sit.
  • Brown.
  • A table is surrounded by chairs.

So what was wrong in list 1? No Parallel Structure. Now take a look at the revised list:

Example list 2: Tables

  • Tables are flat.
  • Tables are where people sit.
  • Tables are brown.
  • Tables are surrounded by chairs.

See the difference? Each idea has the same grammatical structure. The ideas are better presented using parallel structure and are emphasized just by organizing it properly. This applies to lists, phrases, and titles as well.

And that brings us to the next point: Organization. Effective writing uses organization to bring out what is important and obscure the less positive details. This means that paragraphs must have introductions and conclusions, remembering that the introduction and the conclusion get the most attention in a paper. White space should be used to break up the paper. Write the best stuff at the end, the second best stuff at the beginning, and the worst stuff in the middle. If you do this, then your papers will be more persuasive and much clearer.

Writing 102 – The Writing

Preparation is crucial to writing effectively. Depending on what you are writing, you may or may not want to include all of these items, but they will help in almost every case. Prewriting includes brainstorming, outlines, audience profiles, and all that other stuff. Before you put pen to paper, you need to be thinking about what you are going to write and how you are going to present it. The writing itself becomes easier once you’ve done your preparation. Then the actual writing begins, but that don’t think you’re done yet. You’ve got revision and editing to do.

In writing, I usually follow these steps.

  • Complete an audience profile. Basically, describe your audience. Write it down so you can refer to it later.
  • Make an outline. Outlines really help to keep ideas on track. Plus, you’ll have done some organization, so you will have an easier time writing as well. Remember, you can always change your outline if you decide something is unnecessary.
  • Check the facts (again). I try to do this after the outline to focus the ideas in my head. Is all the data necessary? Is anything unimportant or incorrect? Trim the useless stuff and focus on the good material.
  • Write a first or rough draft. This is not meant to be perfect. Get the ideas on paper and then go back to edit your work. With the computer, I tend to do a lot of revision while writing the draft, but remember that you’re just trying to get it done. Don’t worry too much about all that other stuff just yet.
  • Revise your work. When you’ve finished your draft, now’s the time to check for errors. I’m assuming that you did basic editing on your rough already. Grammar and spell checkers will help you, but the computer doesn’t catch everything. Read it and fix grammatical errors. Then revise. Revision is not about little things. Instead, you’re checking to make sure your paper makes sense. If it doesn’t, change it. Do the ideas connect? Are there transitions? Does it meet the criteria? Constantly critique your work and try to make it better.
  • Write the final draft. Your final may not be what you originally planned on creating, but it ends up much better once you’ve done prewriting and revision. In the end, you should be proud of your work because you’ve put time and effort into it.

Writing 201 – Moving On

Writing can be a difficult thing. By no means am I the best authority on writing, although I know something about it. You should try to take writing classes as much as possible. Writing is a vital skill for successful workers in today’s society. You won’t get anywhere if you don’t know how to write. Along with writing, I suggest that you read as much as possible. Reading is the best way to learn new vocabulary and understand sentence structure. You’ll pick up useful idioms and clichés that you can learn to avoid. Best of all, by reading, you’ll develop better comprehension skills that you can also apply towards writing. In the end, no matter what style of writing you’ve formed, if you at least consider my ideas, you’ll be a better writer.