Accessing my internal system using brew.my-sky.com

ACP provides a neat feature where you can get a no-ip address which allows you to access your observatory using a unique name (mine is brew.my-sky.com).

I have the problem of not being able to access my observatory using my-sky.com from within my home network. Access works fine from outside the home, but within your LAN you have to address the observatory as 192.168.x.x. This leads to awkward coding of web pages/twiddlers, bookmarks that don’t always work, etc.

Solutions
1) Supposedly, buying a fancier router that supports NAT loopback can resolve this issue. I was preparing to do this; the model I was looking at costs about $130. I did not test this out since solution 2 worked.

2) Change the etc/hosts file on your home computer. This file resolves name addresses before the system goes out to the Internet for DNS resolution.

In my case, the observatory computer 192.168.1.10 hosts the ACP server. My home computer is where I mostly work from. I want my twiddlers, and my blog entries, to use brew.my-sky.com to access a couple of web pages I have created. These do things like show current weather, forecasts, and operate the power controller in the observatory.

The hosts file is located in c:\Windows\system32\drivers\etc. I added the line
<code>
192.168.1.10 brew.my-sky.com
</code>
There should be no leading spaces. A single space or tab separates the IP address and the name.

Caveats:
1) When you edit the hosts file, Windows will not let you save it back in the etc directory. Save it into your Documents directory, remove the .txt extension Notepad insists on adding, then COPY (don’t move) the file to etc.

2) In theory the system immediately starts using the new hosts file. To make sure, use a cmd.exe window and enter “ipconfig /flushdns” to clear the cached entries.

3) test by pinging your domain name.    “ping brew.my-sky.com”
a) If the host file is not active, you will see your remote IP address (like 75.67.23.110).
b) If it works, you will see the local address 192.168.1.10.

4) You may need to restart your browser? I did not need to, but several net posts indicated this was necessary. Firefox in particular may cache DNS entries.

5) One system continued to have problems (a laptop with Windows 8.1). I found that I needed to add permissions for Users to the hosts file (Properties/Security on file hosts). It would only let me add a particular setting, but that worked fine.

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