VPN Server After a Month Usage

It’s been more than a month since I started to provision a VPN server in Tokyo on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. I’ve been watching TVs and movies in Japan whenever I have time. I analyzed how much it would cost me to have a semi-permanent VPN server in Japan on OCI previously and I estimated it at $1.8 per month. Has it been really that little? Here is the actual cost.

So for entire March (31 days), it was $1.98. If cost per day is $0.06, it would be $1.86 but it was $1.98. I found out the resource cost to the fraction of cent is $0.064, so it came up to $1.98. That said, a stable and reliable VPN server without noisy neighbor problem at less than $5 is very very reasonable.

One thing I found out is that if you connect multiple devices at the same time, it can get unstable. I have no problem with it because I can’t watch multiple TVs at the same time. If I wanted to have multiple devices connected, I’d provision one or two more VPN servers because one ARM host is at around $2 after all.

DMZ

DMZ in computer network world is an area in the network where there is no protection. DMZ in real world is where there is no military force but if you put an unpatched computer in DMZ, the computer would be totally infected and it would be in a very bad condition. So what I’m thinking is DMZ should be named differently. I think it should be like Exposed Zone (EZ?) or Unprotected Zone (UZ).

I mean it is possible to put your computer in DMZ but who does it nowadays anyway?

Going Back to the Office

I am going back to the office from next Monday. It has been 2 long years since the company let all employees work from home. It was amazing to see my company quickly adopted WFH right after the pandemic started. I had an option to keep working from home even after the office reopening but I choose to go back to the office a few times a week.

I miss the face to face communication with people. My team is scattered all over the US and some in different country but I am going to enjoy some impromptu conversations with other engineers.

My commute is going to be mainly by train. It also has been 2 years since I took the train the last time. Wow, it’s been 2 years…

Programming Languages

I like programming languages. Each programming language has its unique syntax sugar.

The language that I use the most nowadays is Python. It just gets things done at work.

The first programming language I had my hands on seriously is Visual Basic 6. I remember buying a beginner’s package at Fry’s electronics for $99. At that time, I just came to US wanting to be a software engineer. Not knowing where to start, I thought I’d start from somewhere. That gave me a career. It was a very rough start where I had to work 16 hours a day for a while and the requirements changed every day and to make matters worse, a sales guy sold an enterprise solution to a big customer while no code existed at that time. It was a .com era and it was a crazy time. The company doesn’t exist anymore for the obvious reason. VB 6 was the first language I became fluent with and I also got a skill to write ASP (Active Server Pages). VBScript was what I breathed every day at that time… I still remember how to code it today.

Dim rs As RecordSet
Set rs = New RecordSet
' Do stuff here
If Not rs Is Nothing Then
    Set rs = Nothing
End If

Though it makes me feel nostalgic, I wouldn’t want to code in Visual Basic anymore.

I rambled too much about the past but if I had started my career with a language like C++, I think my career path would have been different but after all I am at where I want to be, so it’s all good after all. I never had a chance to get my hands on C++ and I’m interested in it.

My Own VPN Server in Japan

I’m from Japan and I want to watch movies and TV programs in Japan from time to time. I subscribe to Amazon Prime in Japan but the IP address here in US prevents me from watching movies on it. In my opinion, that kind of service really kills advantage of the Internet but there must be business reasons why they want to filter the traffic by the source IP address.

To get around it, you could use a VPN connection. You can connect to a server in Japan and watch contents there pretending that you are in Japan. Yeah, there are VPN services out there and you can easily get decent service relatively reasonably but as an engineer, I thought why don’t I create a VPN host in Japan.

I provisioned a host in Japan on OCI. It is a ARM64 Ubuntu host. After Googling some, I was able to find a nice article that let me walk through steps to configure a VPN server. After like 20 to 30 mins, I was able to use the VPN server. It was a breeze.

As far as I see, the ARM64 Ubuntu host in Japan is free so far, so as long as you are willing to go through some steps your self, you get a free VPN server in the country you want.

Blog is My Home

This blog is no popular but I feel so home here. There is no one who tells me what to do with it and no one tells me how should write certain code. I get that from work, which is fine but I feel a total freedom in this blog. And I realize that I love what I do. That is why I spend my own time in the evening to dig into what I’m interested in. No rush, no deadline, no politics… It’s just me wandering in the software world.

At the same time, I often come to this site while I am working for reference. I sometime hit a hurdle but I remember I have done it before in my blog, so I come here and search. This blog is my external memory. I cannot remember everything for sure. I also hope that parts of this blog site will help some people out there. Though this is not a popular site nor I don’t get many comments, that’s what makes writing blog fun.

Making VS Code Terminal Look Cool

I’m a fan of oh-my-zsh and p10k. They makes my terminal look very cool and useful. To make that happen, I have to set the Terminal font to “MesloLGM Nerd Font” or one of the nerd fonts.

After you set that up and start your VS Code, you realize that the terminal part looks all screwy.

You can go to preferences in VS Code and change the font face of the terminal and set the font to make it look cool as well.

2021 at a Glance

I have been blogging since June 2018. This year has been rocky in my personal life (health wise) but I accomplished something great in this space. I have taken full control over my blog engine and DNS by moving my domain name to DNSimple and by provisioning WordPress engine on Docker on OCI. That was some struggle but it was totally worth it for me because I’ve got to learn so much from it.

After all I am a software engineer and I should be able to do it but if you don’t try to dig into it, I would never have accomplished it. This blog is hosted in OCI where the ARM64 host is free of charge, so I am only spending the money for the DNSimple service which is about $60 annually. $60 for your own domain and a free hosting for your blog site is totally worth it if you don’t mind spending some hours to get it up and running.

My passion is in automation, so I will blog my findings in that area in the next year or whatever is related to software engineering. This is my space after all. Thank you for the all visitors and the ones who left comments in this site.

I look forward to interacting with more people next year.

AWS Workspaces Cost

I tried AWS Workspaces for a few days and the cost so far is the following.

$5.67 in just 3 days… The cost per month would be about $56.7. When I provisioned a Windows host, it said “Free Eligible”. I’m probably not understanding what’s costing me but that’s misleading to me.

So if that’s the cost I am going to have to bear, I am removing the workspace. Sorry Amazon, this is no go for me.

Amazon Workspaces

AWS has a feature called Workspaces. You can have Windows desktop on AWS cloud for relatively cheap price. I just provisioned one that says “Free Eligible” so I don’t know exactly how much it costs (AWS always has something to charge…) so I will see how it goes in the next few weeks and I’ll report the cost here.

It’s really nice to have a desktop on Cloud in a sense that I don’t have to manage hardware. That said, I am not sure if it can be used as my development machine because the free tier spec is quite weak.

Here is the spec of the virtual desktop.

  • 1 CPU (at 2.5 GHz)
  • Memory: 4GB
  • Diskspace: 80GB+40GB