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© Rakhesh Sasidharan


Random audiobooks post

(I found this post in my drafts. Think I started typing it some weeks back on my phone and then forgot about it as I got side-tracked. Didn’t want to delete so here it goes).

I’ve been listening to a lot of audiobooks recently which seem to be generally well received but for some reason I don’t like them. In fact I have had to return so many of these. Makes me feel odd that I have different tastes to the majority. That doesn’t seem right.

For instance the “Bobiverse” trilogy by Dennis E Taylor. I finished the first book but it was a bit of a drag. And I listened to one chapter of the second book and couldn’t take it.

Or the “Three Body Problem” trilogy by Liu Cixin. I struggled through till about midway and then couldn’t take it anymore. But the book has such amazing reviews and is widely well received.

Then there was “Ready Player One” (left quarter way) and more recently the “Fear the Sky” trilogy (left midway of first book).

Somehow I don’t feel the excitement that everyone else seems to feel with these books. I don’t connect with them for some reason. It’s not that I don’t like sci-fi, it’s just that I didn’t feel so much for these books or like their plots or pace. (Oh and don’t forget “Gateway” and “Calculating God” – though the latter was due to the narrator. “Gateway” was good till about 2/3rd when I lost interest).

I think the right narrator matters a lot when it comes to audiobooks. Kind of obvious I guess, which is why Audible even lets you return books you don’t like. Recently I have been listening to a lot of James Bond audiobooks. I started off with “Casino Royale” which was read by Dan Stevens, and was amazing! Then I moved on to the rest – mostly the ones read by Simon Vance (who again is amazing!) and also “Moonraker” read by Bill Nighy (a great listen!). Then I listened to “Diamonds are Foreover” by Damian Lewis and that was “mehhhh”. I don’t know if that’s because I didn’t like the narration or coz the plot was boring. But the next two in the series, again read by Simon Vance were quite good, and just recently I completed “Goldfinger” read by Hugh Bonneville and that was superb both in terms of plot and narration.

Similarly I love the Wil Wheaton + John Scalzi combination. Great stories & perfect narration. Or Will Patton’s narration of Stephen King’s “Mr. Mercedes” trilogy – blew me away! I thought I’d love anything read by Will Patton as he was just great. But I listened to “Deliverance” and while I still loved the narration the story wasn’t enough to keep me hooked on. I’ll have to see if I can find some other Stephen King + Will Patton combination.

Another favorite narrator is Simon Prebble. I think except one book (“Mrs. Queen Takes the Train” – which I found boring but again, unsurprisingly, has great reviews on Audible) I have finished anything he has read.

Other narrators that I like (but I have sometimes had to stop listening to midway coz the stories didn’t hook me enough) are Ray Porter (especially his Raymond Chandler audiobooks) and also Luke Daniels.

Update: Oops, how could I forget George Guidall. His reading of the Walt Longmire series is something I can never forget. Sadly though, since he was so amazing in that and now his voice is forever associated in my head with Walt Longmire and the characters of those books whenever I hear him in any other setting I imagine Walt Longmire. Which is funny coz now I am listening to him narrate “Jar City”, which is an Icelandic murder mystery, and it’s so hard to get over the feeling of Walt Longmire and his cast somehow being in Iceland and having Icelandic names. :)

NSX Edge application rules to limit HTTP

Not a big deal, but something I tried today mainly as an excuse to try this with NSX.

So here’s the situation. I have a pair of ADFS WAP servers that are load balanced using NSX. ADFS listens on port 443 so that’s the only port my VIP needs to handle.

However, we are also using Verisign DNS to failover between sites. So I want it such that if say both the ADFS servers in Site A are down, then Verisign DNS should failover my external ADFS records to Site B. Setting this up in Verisign DNS is easy but you need to be able to monitor the ADFS / WAP services externally from Verisign for this to work properly. Thus I had to setup my NSX WAP load balancer to listen on port 80 too and forward those to my internal ADFS servers. To monitor the health of ADFS Verisign will periodically query http://myadfsserver/adfs/probe. If that returns a 200 response all is good.

Now here’s the requirement I came up with for myself. I don’t want any and every HTTP query on port 80 to be handled. Yes, if I try http://myadfserver/somerandomurl it gives a 404 error but I don’t want that. I want any HTTP queries to any URL except /adfs/probe to be redirected to /adfs/probe. Figured this would be a good place to use application rules. Here’s what I came up with:

NSX application rules follow the same format as HAProxy so their config guide is a very handy reference.

The acl keyword defines an Access Control List. In my case the name of this ACL is allowed_url (this is a name I can define) and it matches URLs (hence the url keyword). Since I used url it does an exact match, but there are derivatives like url_beg and url_end and url_len and url_dir etc. that I could have used. I can even do regexp matches. In my case I am matching for the exact URL /adfs/probe. I define this as the ACL called allowed_url.

In the next line I use the redirect keyword to redirect any requests to the /adfs/probe location if it does not match the allowed_url ACL. That’s all!

This of course barely touches what one can do with application rules, but I am pleased to get started with this much for now. :)