Virgin Media FTTP Install – Fibre to the Home

Project Lightning is Virgin Media’s latest expansion of their network, potentially passing 4 million extra premises, a large portion of it will break away from the traditional hybrid fibre-coaxial network and change to radio frequency over glass and FTTP.

The installation took about 2 hours and was similar to an ordinary coaxial install, the CPE are the same as legacy installs but there’s now a larger “omnibox” that houses the incoming fibre and powered RFoG node.

Laying the microduct
Laying the microduct

The microduct contains the blown fibre, but it is only installed “spade depth” in the ground which could cause problems in the future if you were to change the surface.

Internal Wall Box - The cable on the right connects to a small power adapter which feeds power out to the RFoG node in the external wall box.
Internal Wall Box – The cable on the right connects to a small power adapter which feeds power out to the RFoG node in the external wall box.
External Wall Box
External Wall Box

The external wall box is bigger than before, it houses the fibre which is pre terminated at one end with an SP/APC connector and blown to the local distribution cabinet where it is then spliced into the rest of the fibre network.

Inside the External Wall Box - FTTP RFoG Node
Inside the External Wall Box – FTTP RFoG Node

The RFoG node is a Vector BOOSTRAL 610 which is IP42 rated for external use, the wall box cover doesn’t have a rubber seal and slides over the wall mounted piece, time will tell if it can stand the elements!

Vector BOOSTRAL 610 Data Sheet

If you’re interested, the Virgin Media Project Lightning Developers Guide shows a lot of the technical detail that makes up the local side of the new RFoG network.

VIVID 200 Speed Test
VIVID 200 Speed Test

I went for VIVID 200, a nice upgrade over the previous FTTC which topped out at about 30Mbps, we’ll have to see how things go as more and more customers are added to the network.

If you’ve got any questions about the install, head to the comments section below.

Roasted chickpea and broccoli burritos

Makes 6-8

Shamelessly taken from Thug Kitchen because it’s so nice! If you think the spice blend might be a bit hot, feel free to leave out the cayenne or reduce the chili powder.

You will need:

  • 2 400g tins of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 large white onion
  • 1 red pepper
  • A large head of broccoli
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • A large baking tray
  • 6 – 8 tortilla wraps
  • 1 avocado
  • Some mixed leaves
  • Anything else you like to put in burritos

For the spice blend:

  • 2 teaspoons of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon of ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of ground coriander
  • Half a teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil

Stick your oven on at 220C, whilst that’s heating up peel the onion, deseed the pepper and chop them up along with the broccoli. Aim for chickpea sized pieces, fairly small, not too chunky.

Place all the chopped veg in a large bowl and add the drained, cooked chickpeas. Pour in the olive oil, soy sauce, give it all a good stir and throw in the spices, mix until it’s all covered.

Pour the mixture out onto your baking tray and bake for 20 minutes.

Either chop or mince your garlic then add it to the baking tray mix, give it all a good stir and return it to the oven for 10-15 minutes.

The broccoli probably looks burnt, but that’s the plan, it’s not really burnt, it’s just full of deliciously crispy flavour.

Now to make your burritos! Halve, peel, deseed and slice up that avocado, add some leaves or whatever else you want in your burrito, maybe some hot salsa!

Roll, serve and wait for the party to happen in your mouth.

Pasta with a creamy avocado sauce

Serves 4

How hungry are you? Can you wait 12 minutes, because that’s exactly how long it takes to make this simple and delicious meal.

You will need:

  • 400g of your favourite pasta, I used linguine
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • A few basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of lemon juice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A 200g tin of sweetcorn
  • A few cherry tomatoes
  • Some kind of food processor

Right, fill a large pan with boiling water, stick your pasta in it and cook it however it says on the packet.

Whilst that’s doing its thing we can make the sauce, halve your avocados, peel them and get rid of the seed, stick them in the food processor along with the basil leaves, peeled garlic and a twist of salt & pepper to taste.

Process it all together until smooth.

With the processor running drizzle in 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil until the sauce emulsifies, you’ll see the sauce change in consistency and thicken. You might not have to put all of the oil in so see how you get on.

Drain your sweetcorn and quarter your cherry tomatoes.

Your pasta should be done by now (see it’s that quick), drain it and return it to the pan, stir in your avocado sauce, sweetcorn, tomatoes and serve!

Adapted from: http://www.thecomfortofcooking.com/2012/08/creamy-avocado-pasta.html

Roasted aubergine and red pepper couscous with halloumi cheese recipe

This is fairly quick to knock up and makes enough for 4 portions, it’s also easy to make vegan by replacing the halloumi cheese with sliced tofu.

Ingredients – Makes 4 portions

220g uncooked couscous

Olive oil

Freshly ground black pepper

1 vegetable stock cube (I use a Knorr stock pot)

330ml boiling water

1 large or 2 medium red onions

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large aubergine

2 sweet red peppers

1 250g block of halloumi or 1 block of tofu

1 can of cooked green lentils (Lentilles Vertes)

A drop of truffle oil – Optional

Method

Right, heat your oven to 200C, I’ve got a fan oven.

De-seed your peppers, chop them into pieces, make them however big you want.

Chop the aubergine into slices and then into pieces, again, any size you want but bear in mind you want all this to roast fairly quickly.

Throw the pepper and aubergine on baking tray, drizzle with olive oil, add a twist of black pepper and mix it all together.

Put that in the oven to roast and grab the onion(s).

Peel and chop the onions, put them in a large pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a twist of black pepper, cook over a medium heat until they’re turning soft and almost translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook for a few more minutes but don’t over cook the garlic.

Once the veg has been roasting in the oven for 10 minutes take it out, give it a shake and a turn and put it back in the oven for 10 minutes.

Slice the halloumi cheese into 8 slices, add a little olive oil to a frying pan and get it on a medium heat. Add the slices of halloumi and cook until golden brown, keep an eye on them, they can brown quickly. When both sides are done remove from the pan and set aside.

Your roast veg should have had about 20 minutes now, check to see if it’s done, I like it slightly crispy and almost burnt, each to their own. If it’s done, turn the oven off and get started on the cous cous.

Dissolve the stock pot in 330ml of boiling water, add the couscous to the pan with the onions and garlic and place on a very low heat. Add the stock to the pan, stir to cover the couscous and put a lid on the pan.

After 2-3 minutes give the couscous a stir, it should have swollen up and taken on all the water, if it hasn’t, put the lid back on and give it another minute but keep checking.

Once it’s done, drain the lentils and add them to the pan along with the roasted veg and halloumi cheese.

Add the totally optional drop of truffle oil and give it all a good stir, I know it sounds really pretentious but I think it really makes a difference. If you’ve not got truffle oil and you’re tempted to get some make sure it’s a good quality oil with some real truffle, I’ve got some of the Truffle Hunter oils.

Plesk root password recovery

I was doing a password rotation on a server the other day and for some reason it failed whilst I was updating root. Maybe the password was too long, maybe Virtuozzo doesn’t do proper validity checking but either way I lost access to root.

Luckily if you’ve still got access to a Plesk admin user you can use this to your advantage and get root access back.

First of all you need a user with SSH access, in the Plesk admin panel make sure the account is set up with ‘/bin/bash’ as the root directory and not ‘/bin/bash (chrooted)’.

SSH into the server with that users’ credentials and create two scripts, the first one:

#!/bin/bash
cp /etc/shadow /tmp/shadow.tmp;
chmod 777 /tmp/shadow.tmp;
exit;

The second:

#!/bin/bash
cp /tmp/shadow.tmp /etc/shadow;
chmod 640 /etc/shadow;
exit;

Place them in /tmp or wherever you want to run them from and name them what you like, I’ll refer to them as 1.sh and 2.sh from here on.

Give the scripts execute permissions:

chmod +x /tmp/1.sh /tmp/2.sh

Now go back to your Plesk admin panel and go to Server > Tools & Resources > Scheduled Tasks.

Search for or select the user ‘root’ and add a new task.

Enter */1 in the Minute field and * in the rest of them, in the Command field enter the path to your first script, most probably /tmp/1.sh.

Hit the OK button.

This cron job will run the first script once a minute, on the minute so wait a minute and it will have made a copy of the /etc/shadow file called /tmp/shadow.tmp, check your /tmp folder for this.

Once the file has appeared, remove the task in the Plesk admin panel so it stops copying the file every minute.

In your SSH session open /tmp/shadow.tmp in your favourite editor.

Copy the whole line for a user that you know the password of, you might want to choose the line that matches the SSH user you’re currently using as you definitely know that password.

Replace the line (most probably at the top of the file) for the root user with the one you’ve just copied and then change the username at the beginning of the line from whatever user it is to ‘root’, save your file making sure it’s still called ‘shadow.tmp’.

Now go back to the Plesk admin panel and make a new scheduled task, exactly the same configuration as before but set the command to be ‘/tmp/2.sh’.

Hit the OK button on the task and wait 1 minute for the task to run, after a minute remove the task so it doesn’t carry on running the script. If you’ve done everything right you’ll have replaced the password hash for the root user with a known password and you’ll be able to log in as root using this known password.

Once you’ve logged back in change the root password and clear up the files in your /tmp folder.

Let me know how you get on, I know the scripts could be cleaned up and consolidated but I didn’t want to use a delay so that I wasn’t rushed in making sure I’d edited the files in time, it was easier just to run two cron jobs.