2013-03-22

Connecting to public WiFi hotspot in Linux: Server not found

The fancy hotel I was in at a conference was using a captive portal to enforce login for their free WiFi hotspot. For some unknown reason, likely a configuration mess-up in their inherently-broken Microsoft-based architecture, my browser couldn't present me with a login screen but instead reported a connection reset, usually indicative of a firewall reject rule.
It worked perfectly on Macs and Windows, so poor me running Linux, eh?

I fixed it, albeit perhaps suboptimally, with the following 1-minute hack:
Knowing a bit of networking, I needed to find the gateway's IP. One can either use ip, route, or even ifconfig for that. My IP was 10.5.50.174 and the gateway's, as provided by ip route command, 10.5.50.1. I put the gateway IP in the browser and was redirected to hotspot.plaza.local, which this time resulted in standard server-not-found error, indicative of a DNS failure. I didn't do much digging, but I figured hotspot.plaza.local and 10.5.50.1 were the same machine, but as is normally so, the server was configured to only answer on its virtual hostname, not the IP.
So I added the following entry to /etc/hosts file:
10.5.50.1    hotspot.plaza.local

Afterwards, everything worked out as it was supposed to, except my relationship with Google Academy. Apparently, they don't necessarily greet an advantage-taking hacker in their ranks. :(

Update

As later thoroughly diagnosed, the problem was coorchestrated by:
The solving fix is to
$ sudo service avahi-daemon stop
and, if running NoScript, temporarily disable ABE.

2013-03-09

Recipe: Ginger chews, candied ginger, syrup, and tea

The other day, a friendly servant in Ljubljana's only falafel outlet gave me a ginger bonbon. I immediately fell in love with the candy that with its 7% ginger content striked me surprisingly hard with its depth. I loved it! Decided that I need more.


Around our parts, an eight-pack normally costs just under two standard units of money (which is not a lot, considering how good the candy is), but I decided to make my own even better.

I found the following two recipes on which I'm basing this report:
The recipe I am hereby proposing very efficiently produces, from 1 kg of fresh ginger root:
  1. 1 kg of candied crystallized ginger, 
  2. 1 kg arbitrarily-soft chewy ginger bonbons, 
  3. 2 liters of ginger syrup, and last but not least, 
  4. 50g of dried ginger pulp for tea.