Getting started with a UniFi Dream Machine Pro

It’s not an exaggeration to say that I’m an Ubiquiti fanboy. I like their kit a lot and my home network has been 100% UniFi for quite a few years now.

I’ve just moved in to a new home which I’m getting rewired and this will include putting structured network cabling in, terminating back to a patch panel in a rack in the loft. I have a small amount of “always on” kit and I wanted as much as it as reasonably possible to be in standard 19″ rack format. This is when I started looking at the Ubiquiti Dream Machine Pro to replace a combination of a UniFi CloudKey and Security Gateway, both excellent products in their own right.

My expectation was that I would connect the UDMP to some power, move the WAN RJ45 connection from the USG to the UDMP, fill in some credentials and (mostly) done! As I’m writing this down, you can probably guess it didn’t quite work out like that.

The UDMP completely failed to get an internet connection via all the supported methods applicable. PPPoE didn’t work, using a surrogate router via DHCP didn’t work, static configuration didn’t work. I reached out to the community forum and, in fairness, got very prompt assistance from a Ubiquiti employee.

I needed to upgrade the UDMP’s firmware before it would be able to run its “first setup” process, but updating the firmware via the GUI requires a working internet connection. It’s all a little bit chicken and egg. Instead, this is what you need to do:

  • Download the current UDMP firmware onto a laptop.
  • Reconfigure the laptop’s IP to be and plug it in to any of the main 8 ethernet ports on the UDMP.
  • Use scp to copy the firmware to the UDMP using the default username of “root” with the password “ubnt”:
    scp /path/to/fw.bin root@
  • SSH in to the UDMP and install the new firmware:
    ubnt-upgrade /mnt/data/fw.bin

The UDMP should reboot onto the new firmware automatically. Perhaps because I’d been attempting so many variations of the setup procedure, after rebooting my UDMP was left in a errored state with messages like “This is taking a little longer..” and “UDM Pro is having an issue booting. Try to reboot or enter Recovery Mode”. To get round this I updated the firmware again, this time doing a factory reset:

ubnt-upgrade -c /mnt/data/fw.bin

The UDMP then rebooted again without error and I was able to complete the setup process normally.

It’s a bit unfortunate that UDMPs are shipping with essentially non-functional firmware, and it’s also unfortunate that the process for dealing with this is completely undocumented.

Elite Dangerous: Tips for explorers

If you’re not into, or don’t have the equipment to go bounty hunting, exploring in Elite Dangerous can be a lucrative way to make money.  Here are some tips for Commanders wanting to have a go.

You will need a detail scanner which costs CR250,000.  You can explore with just the basic scanner, but it’s much harder.  Assign the scanner to your secondary fire group. It you want to explore deeper space, then you’ll need a fuel scoop, too.   You can get by without a scoop to start with but it means you need to be careful not to stray too far from an inhabited system.  It’s a good idea to keep track of the last inhabited system you were at, if you start to run low on fuel, head back.

Pick a system where there’s no navigation information available, look for the red system information icon in the galaxy map. Systems with an actual name rather than a designation are likely inhabited.

As you jump into the system, whilst still in witchspace, set the throttle to zero. You’re going to arrive very close to the local primary and don’t want to get too hot.  As soon as you exit, press and hold secondary fire to charge the scanner, it takes a few seconds before firing.  The first object you’ll immediately pick up is the star, point the ship at it and hit your “target ahead” key.  You’ll see your ship start scanning it, this takes a little while.  If your detail scanner picks up any other nearby bodies, you’ll get an alert telling you.

Target each unexplored object in turn, working from closest to furthest away.   Anything within 5ls you can scan just by rotating your ship and pointing at it, however at some point you’ll need to start moving around the system.

Be careful near the star, it’s easy to overheat your ship.   If an object is on the other side of the star just point your ship away from the star to get some altitude and, when the heat levels decrease, gradually turn to get the target in your sights.

Learning to jockey the FSD’s autothrottle is essential.  If you keep overshooting objects then you’ll just waste time.  Once the object is in your sights, push the throttle forward until the power line turns blue and leave it there.  Your ship will now automatically accelerate and decelerate for you.  You’ll need to get each object within range to scan, the distance depends on the mass of the object.  Stars can be scanned from a long way out, gas giants from about 100ls, planets from around 20ls or 10ls and rock belts 5ls.

Not all systems contain planets, or they might be out of the range of your detail scanner.  You can try looking round the sky for objects moving relative to the background, I don’t bother and just move on the the next system.

Data you gather can be sold at any station provided you’ve travelled at least 20LY from where you got it.  The least you’ll get is a few hundred credits, however even a single star explored will usually net you around CR1200.   More interesting systems, with high metal content planets, will net you much more.  The highest I’ve seen to date is CR53000.  There seems no point in hoarding the data, the price doesn’t change regardless of distance.

Every so often, seems to be about 1 in 20, you’ll get an interdiction attempt.  It’s up to you whether you fight or flee but if you lose your ship, you will also lose any navigation data you have not sold.  If you get something juicy, it’s probably worth making a deliberate trip to an inhabited system to cash it in.

As you travel around a solar system, you’ll see blips on your scope marked Unidentified Signal Source.  If you investigate these then you may be lucky and it’s free cargo (albeit it will be marked stolen), or it may be dumped toxic waste, or it may be a trap.  The traps are not usually hard to evade if you don’t feel like a fight.  Stolen cargo can be offloaded at the black market, you might have to carry it around for a while before you find one.  I usually limit myself to investigating one USS per system, usually once I’m done with exploring.  If it turns out to be a trap then I just jump to the next system.


How to get less junk email

I am fairly frequently asked for tips on getting less junk email.  There’s quite a few things you can do that will cut the amount of junk you get, or at  least let you get an idea of where it came from.


  • Don’t have a catchall account, only ever accept mail for real mailboxes.
  • Use as few generic or role addresses as you can.  sales@, info@, help@ etc will all draw in unwanted junk.
  • Delete or disable legacy mailboxes, don’t alias them to another user’s mailbox.
  • Use different email aliases for different sites.  So I might have  martin-slashdot@ for Slashdot,  martin-elreg@ for The Register, martin-dominos@ for Dominos etc etc.   If mails arrives to these addresses, and it’s not from that specific organisation, then something has leaked when it shouldn’t have.
  • Once you’ve finished with a particular site, remove the alias.
  • Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone.  If you get email you didn’t want from a company, call them to get yourself removed. Where you’ve had no contact with a company before, tell them politely that they are breaking the law by sending you unsolicited email.
  • Understand the difference between spam and UCE.  With spam it is rarely worth your time tracking down the sender, UCE may well be.
  • Don’t click on unsubscribe links in spam messages.  Do click on unsubscribe links in UCE messages.  With the latter, if the unsubscribe isn’t instant (“It may take up to 10 days….”) then blacklist the sender.


And, of course, if junk mail really is a big problem for you, consider using a commercial anti-spam and anti-virus filtering service to get rid of it.  Obviously I would recommend antibodyMX, but there are plenty of other providers out there.


Restoring a teak garden table

Last weekend I started cleaning up the garden. First job was to break out the pressure washer and remove 6 months of bio-film from the patio, shed and fences. Then we unpacked the our large teak table and were dismayed to find that it had not fared well under cover.

The wood was covered with watermarks and had various genera of stuff living on it, including large areas of black mildew. This was not a cheap table, so I started researching about how to go about saving it.

Firstly, I just left it to dry out. After 3 to 4 days of airing I was relieved to see most of the watermarks had vanished. Next I took a small hand sander, found the finest grade sandpaper I could and went over the entire table lightly, taking off just the very top layer of the surface along with most of the crud that was clinging to it.

Next I washed the table down, removing as much of the dust as possible and left it to dry out completely.

Looking around the shelves at my local DIY store, I found this stuff which is apparently highly dangerous to just about everything living, if the dire warnings on the back of the pack are to be heeded. Sounded perfect 🙂

Painting this stuff onto the teak immediately brought back the colour and the grain of the wood and was soaked up like the table was a sponge. I kept repainting until the stuff stayed on the surface rather than being immediately absorbed.

Left overnight, all the excess was drawn into the wood, leaving it feeling slightly waxy and beautifully textured. Picture here.

Perhaps not the most interesting thing I’ve ever written here, but will hopefully be useful information for people with a similar problem.

HOWTO: Building a mail server with Exim, Dovecot and Squirrelmail

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged, I find Twitter a bit easier to keep updating. In the fine tradition of itch-scratching, I recently rebuilt my own personal mail server based on a virtual private server from Bitfolk using Exim, Dovecot and Squirrelmail. You can find the HOWTO here, I hope you find it useful.