August 20, 2001

Advogato Entry 179


Not sure what it is about music, but I always have to keep hearing more of it. I need to listen to new stuff, or my brain turns to mush.. It's something I realized several years ago, though I've always had trouble actually finding music, since nobody on the radio will tell you what they just played. I don't really like it, but I've ended up turning to MTV and (mostly) MTV2 and actually occasionally hearing music I like. At least they label their music..

Tuned in recently to notice Sugar Ray. Some cognitive dissonance there.. I actually like a lot of the music from that guy/group, though I thought I didn't.. Also heard Michelle Branch, who reminds me a lot of a girl I was obsessed over in high school. Strange that the one song of hers I've heard reminded me how I felt back then..

I'll have to pick up some more music to see if I can get my brain to unstick and start thinking again..

Last little note about this: I was watching something about Neanderthals/Cro Magnons last night, and they mentioned something about the brain. They aren't really sure if Neanderthals came up with art and jewelry on their own, or if they learned it from the Cro Magnons. It's interesting because they said something to the effect of, ``The jewelry was a manifestation of something more inside,'' suggesting to me that art is something more than I thought it was. The creative process, I guess, involves art, music, engineering, science. Everything. And if parts are taken away, we stop moving forward. The ``don't touch'' attitude is bad, I think..

I need more art in my life

and a girlfriend..


Exchanged some e-mail with one of the campus networking guys. He's interested in getting together at some point to discuss my firewall ideas in more detail. I should really talk to my boss a bit about it (and the discussion should go all the way up the chain and around the staff, probably). I shouldn't be representing the whole School without some more support (I'm only an underling, so I may have overstepped some bounds..)

I forget how much time can be spent playing games. SimCity moves too slow sometimes. Of course, it moves excruciatingly slow with disasters. Things just don't seem to burn as fast as they did in the previous versions ;-)

I kind of think Loki should see if they can port some older games. Hell, a lot of great old DOS games won't even run on Windows these days

Bah, talking too much. I should get to work.

Posted by mike at 08:39 AM Central | Music , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 17, 2001

Advogato Entry 214

Well, I decided to snmpwalk my building's router, and was somewhat surprised to see that it actually worked! I'm now graphing traffic in and out of my apartment building with MRTG. As I suspected, the connection is pretty much maxed out. What surprised me was that outgoing traffic was the big culprit. Okay, that fact didn't surprise me, but I was amazed at how big the effect was. I thought that both incoming and outgoing would be pretty much pegged, but outgoing traffic was maxed (around 189kB/s -- the maximum theoretical bandwidth of a T1 appears to be 192 kB/s) and incoming showed a fairly normal curve. Annoying that it looks like there are just two or three people sharing lots of data and screwing up the connection for everyone else..

I'd like to learn how to make prettier graphs with RRDtool, but then I need to learn a new `frontend.' Of course, the current method for configuring MRTG sucks anyway. It's really annoying to have to modify line after line after line just to duplicate an entry for a new interface or host. Maybe I should just look at some config file generators..

Finally sent in the booklets for Nielsen ratings. They might not count what we watched, since I mailed them a few days late. Who knows. Of course, my roommates didn't really bother to keep track anyway..

I got tangentially involved in the news in the last week. A news crew from WCCO followed some folks from a new security company in town around downtown and the campus looking for open wireless networks. They apparently printed to some people's printers and sent out forged e-mail. They stood outside where I work, and started accessing professors' computers. Needless to say, the wireless firewall project got a kick in the rear to get operational soon.

It's really close to being ready anyway. Unfortunately, we won't have any encryption mandated on the network, so we'll have to block some of the nastier protocols that let passwords go out in the clear a little too much. Telnet, FTP, POP3, and IMAP are all probably going to be blocked. Debating locking out SMB shares as well..

In my Internet Programming class, I was happy to learn about pseudo-terminals. If it's not already obvious from the screen, they're `virtual' terminals which are moderately easy to hook up to a program. He showed an example of using Perl's IO::Pty and Net::Telnet to run ssh. Pretty funny, but it looks like it should work.

I need to write a chat server and client in Perl this weekend. I suppose I could emulate the behavior of talk if I really felt like it.. Probably too much effort..

There's a big orange sign on the front door notifying our building management that they forgot to pay for sewage service. I wonder if the city posted that today.. The stupid office people usually aren't around on weekends at all anymore.

Hmm. I should go buy some music.. The stuff I'm playing is becoming very redundant..

Posted by mike at 11:40 AM Central | Internet , Old Advogato Diary , School , TV , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 23, 2001

Advogato Entry 221

Spent a while talking to my Dad about the wireless firewall project I've been playing with for months. I was reminded of some of the reasons why we wanted to use `real' IP addresses instead of RFC1918 `internal' addresses. We wandered onto the subject of the new version of IP, IPv6. I believe he wasn't aware that it used 128-bit addressing.

Anyway, I'll probably be replacing our home's Linux IP Masq gateway with a Linksys router. My Dad isn't a Linux guru, so I'm sure he'll appreciate the web-based administration. Also, it's probably slightly less politically charged than having a Linux box sitting there. Annoying that Linux users even have to think about that..

My family is planning to go see Monsters, Inc. tonight.. Not sure if I'll do any shopping this weekend. If I do, I'll have to see if anything jumps out at me as a gift for Sarah -- her birthday is Sunday.

Posted by mike at 06:34 AM Central | Movies , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

November 26, 2001

Advogato Entry 223

Well, of course, it turns out that Sarah turned 21 last night. Her pre-college friends and current roommates worked pretty hard to get her drunk, though she seemed to be taking it pretty well by the time I and my alcohol-free roommates left her with those folks at around 11 PM.

Actually, we first went to Cattle Company (a.k.a. Stuart Anderson's). Had some steak. Got full. Then we went to a bar a short distance away.

My roommates and I mostly stood around looking dumb. I must have been looking really dumb, since one of the first people I was introduced to was `Gay Paul.' That did wonders for my self-esteem, let me tell you (*cough*).

Ended up watching some of the people there play pool. Tried to fix one of the little web terminals that was there (kinda wish I'd had a BBC on me), but it was running WinME -- probably not worth resuscitating anyway...

Got a picture taken with Sarah. I probably looked stiff as a board or something (I don't really photograph well), but hopefully it'll turn out. Got a nice hug as we were leaving, so that made me feel pretty good. It was probably alcohol-induced though. She left a pretty funny voice message with us at some late/early hour. It's saved, so we can play it back to her anytime ;-)

Anyway, still slowly hacking away at the wireless network firewall at work. I haven't been working on it hard enough, though I've been waiting for folks to finish other things..

Don't forget, Star TrekWeakest Link is starting momentarily. I only ever watch Weakest Link when they have celebrities on. It's usually pretty funny, though they're often evil people, and usually kick off the best players...


Wow. The Star Trek folks were pretty cool, and usually picked appropriate people to kick off. Wil Wheaton managed to stay in the game for quite a while -- he was the last one to walk off the stage before Levar Burton and Robert Picardo duked it out.

Wil was playing to support the EFF, so too bad he didn't win.

Posted by mike at 04:58 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , TV , Wil Wheaton , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

December 09, 2001

Advogato Entry 231

Tired again, though I got up later today. That usually happens, too. I didn't get up early enough to keep Josh from waking up Dan two hours earlier than he had to be up. Josh thought we were all leaving to see a dance performance at noon. Sarah had told me that it was 2:00. I'd asked her, since I thought I heard Josh say noon, which seemed really weird for a Sunday (or, well, any day). Anyway, I didn't correct him until this morning, as I thought I'd just mis-heard him -- I didn't know he actually thought it was the wrong time.

Anyway, it was a good show. Five different dance routines. They were all pretty cool, though the last one was the best, IMHO. It had some good music. I guess I first thought it seemed pretty superficial and simple, depending on the music too much. Maybe it was, but it got the biggest applause, and it felt inspiring. I'm not sure what it was supposed to inspire, though ;-)

I have yet another programming assignment due on Tuesday at midnight. I have a test this week, then finals start next week. I should try to attend all my classes, get some review in for the finals. I also need to try to fit in some time with an advisor, though I don't know if that will happen.

I think I forgot to mention earlier that the wireless project is finally getting off the ground at work. Students, faculty, and staff can log in with their x.500 IDs, and they can even set up a `permanent' (semester-long) account that doesn't require them to keep logging in.

It's still a very poor security model. I wish it could be made better, but I just don't have the time or resources to research the options as a student.

Of course, I'm lazy. I don't know why that is. I've blamed it on my lack of female companionship, but it's impossible to say if that's it or not. Sarah continues to fill up a big chunk of my thought process... I hope I can come to some resolution to this stuff rolling around in my head. Unfortunately, Christmas break will probably be a stressful time for me in this regard, no matter if she becomes closer to me or not. Well, I don't know if I could keep my thoughts straight if we became closer -- I've never been in that sort of situation. I do know that I'll start having strange thoughts if things stay the way they are now...

Hmm... I wonder if I'll be bringing my computer home this Christmas. I haven't had two monitors at home before. Dunno if I'd bring both or not. I should just buy a laptop like Dan's. Crap.. I'm almost ready to shell out what Dan did to get his. It was like $2500! I'd want something lighter, though. His feels like a brick (though he usually has two batteries installed at a time to increase the time he can spend away from a wall jack). Needs more research.

He's been having some trouble with his wireless card. He thought it could do 128-bit WEP, but I guess not. I've been asking some questions on the TCWUG list, though his computer is running XP, so I'm not going to get into too many details.

Sometimes I'm amazed at how good XP is. Linux is awesome as well. The difference to me seems to be that XP seems to be a lot of flashy stuff without a huge amount of substance. Linux is the other way around. Well, that's my impression at least.

Well, the thoughts have stopped flowing for today...

Posted by mike at 06:27 PM Central | Dan , Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 15, 2002

Advogato Entry 252

Got a wireless card for my laptop today. Cisco Aironet 340 from work. Looks like it doesn't support WEP at all, though iwlist seems to report that it handles 64- and 104-bit encryption. Strange.

Trying to figure out how to get the winmodem in my laptop working. Not that I need it now, but it'd be great to finally have a backup for when our building's network goes down. It appears to be a PCTel 2304 MDC modem (PCI), but the pctel drivers don't appear to work -- they look like they're for ISA PnP winmodems. `lspci -vv' reports that there's a subsystem of a Conexant unknown device 0x5421.

Oh well, I have ethernet almost everywhere anyway, so it doesn't matter too much if I get this to work.. It'd just be kind of cool. I think that's the last piece of non-working hardware on this box. (Hmm.. not exactly.. I still need to figure out how to get the video drivers working completely right..)

Posted by mike at 09:18 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

January 17, 2002

Advogato Entry 253

Ahh.. Feeling much better today. Turns out that the F I got was due to a missing grade on a paper I did. The professor still had the paper, so he recalculated my grade. B+


We also finally got the wireless network converted over to the system I invented.. It's pretty cheesy, but it works. It restricts traffic to people who have a University x.500 ID, though nothing gets encrypted or anything yet.

I chatted with Sarah online the other day, and things kind of tumbled out (well, she sort of asked). Logically, I know things can't work out the way I want them to, but hopefully we'll be able to talk about it and find some happy medium.

So, it's not the best day of my life, but I'm definitely feeling a thousand times better than I was just a few days ago.

Posted by mike at 11:38 AM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 07, 2002

Advogato Entry 262

Having a bit of a crummy evening. I was tired this morning, and decided not to go to class. That was probably a bad move, and I stayed inside pretty much the whole day. Sarah and Josh brought me along to try out the Leaning Tower of Pizza that just opened downstairs. The pizza's pretty good, probably worth the price. As good as Papa John's is, I need some variety in my pizza diet ;-)

Anyway, I got reminded of things I didn't want to be reminded of while sitting across from Josh and Sarah. Blech.

Need to get some homework done soon. I'll have a busy weekend writing code or doing other work in pretty much all of my classes. I need to get some motivation to do that stuff. Not sure what the best place to do my work is. I've been doing a lot of stuff on my laptop these days, though I think it's probably easier to do programming on my desktop, where I have two monitors. The downside is that I can't relax on the couch with it ;-) Then again, even the laptop is annoying to deal with on the couch.

...And I do worry about the radio waves emananting from it into my legs.. I suppose it doesn't make me feel any better when the thing warms up to 50 degrees C or better..

Posted by mike at 08:16 PM Central | Josh , Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , School , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

February 28, 2002

Advogato Entry 268

I've done a lot of browsing today, picking up little bits about the updated Microsoft settlement. I don't even know where the settlement is, though.. I guess I don't feel like reading that now anyway ;-)

Reading about some networking stuff. I'm getting kind of concerned about the lack of IPv6 deployment, but I was amazed at the fact you can just do `apt-get install freenet6' on Debian Woody and get an IPv6 address. With a little fiddling, you can have your very own /48 prefix (sort of, it goes through some ISP in Canada). At any rate, it's a good stepping stone. I saw that it's now possible to set up reverse DNS entries for the IPv6 addresses you get through Freenet6, which would be a good thing to work on and see if IPSec/IPv6 works.. I guess I need to look into using a USAGI patch..

I need to get my roommate to plug into our Linksys WAP11 access point so I can get IPv6 going over the 802.11 connection in my apartment.

I wonder if I'll get a chance to fiddle with IPv6 on our wireless gateway at work.. Not sure if I want to play with that or not ;-)

Posted by mike at 08:09 PM Central | Internet , Law , Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 12, 2002

Advogato Entry 277

Not really understanding the relationship between hotplug, cardmgr (PCMCIA), and usbmgr. Apparently, I can't use both cardmgr and hotplug at the same time. Okay, I can, but the kernel event daemon (keventd) and cardmgr will both start the networking scripts when I insert my wireless Ethernet card.

I haven't been able to get hotplug alone to work with my ethernet card, so I apparently have to run at least cardmgr. I guess this means that if I want to do USB stuff, I need to run usbmgr, which obviously doesn't try to start the networking scripts.. I guess it's good I don't have FireWire on my laptop, otherwise I'd have to see if there was a firemgr or similar program...

I suppose I probably just didn't properly set up hotplug..

Posted by mike at 04:17 PM Central | Laptop , Old Advogato Diary , Software , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 16, 2002

Advogato Entry 288

I was halfway looking at cell phones the other day, and then my parents suggested today that I get one, since I'll probably be moving twice in the next few months, and don't necessarily want to pay for activation over and over. Of course, if I do get a cell phone, it'd probably be an expensive one that totally ruins the purpose of getting it ;-)

Well, maybe not. I guess I don't even know what features are good.

VoiceStream seems to be a popular carrier with the people I know. They appear to have decent coverage around here and decent prices (IMHO, not that I've looked much), but some ratings the company gets are pretty poor. They're deploying GPRS, some sort of networking technology that's apparently decent speed (I guess theoretically up to about 114kbit/s)

Hmm.. The data prices are steep, though. Ooh! I can pay $60/month for 20MBytes. Uh, yeah.

I suppose that just means I won't use it for what I want to use it. I think some of the voice plans allow for a little bit of data per month anyway.

Well, I'll probably head to a store tomorrow and get more info..

Posted by mike at 09:21 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 21, 2002

Advogato Entry 289

Ah, the joys of turning into Big Brother.

We put a 3c905B-FX card into our Netsaint server the other day and connected it up to the building gateway today. The idea was to "mirror" incoming/outgoing traffic onto that interface, and log packets.

It's getting us in trouble already.

Ordered a cell phone on Sunday, should show up in the next few days.

Moving in a week.. Did some packing/cleaning already. Bare walls in the apartment make me feel pretty sad actually.. :-(

Posted by mike at 01:17 PM Central | Old Advogato Diary , Wireless , Work | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 26, 2002

Advogato Entry 290

Got my cell phone on Thursday. I got service through VoiceStream since their rates seemed pretty low, and I only had to sign my life away for a minimum of one year. AT&T and others wanted me to contract for two years. Their coverage is probably lowest of the big carriers, though I think they have the biggest GSM service in the US (Deutsche Telekom bought them a year or so ago).

Coverage isn't really a problem for me. I'm planning to use this phone instead of a land line, at least for the summer, so if it works outside of the local area, I'll just consider it a bonus. I found out it doesn't work at my office, but that's a windowless room in the middle of the building, behind at least two layers of concrete... Signal is good at my current apartment, though the meter blips off occasionally -- I'm curious why that happens..

Anyway, I just got the free phone they had, the Motorola T193. It's tiny, slightly smaller than Sarah's Nokia, at least (I think she has a 3360, but I'm not sure -- it has the same form factor, whatever it is).

I think VoiceStream had sent me a text message when I first got the phone, informing me of the phone number, but I think I accidentally deleted it. I'd gotten another text message, telling me I had a voicemail, but that was someone leaving a message for a girl named Brooke, IIRC. Anyway, I deleted the text message informing me of that, and then I think I deleted another one, which was probably the phone number. In the end, I used the phone's text messaging facility to send myself an e-mail, and the number was on the From: line ;-)

I was pretty surprised when I started looking into various phone services. For some reason, I expected companies to be upfront about the various services they offer -- what's included in which plan, etc. I suppose I might have gotten a clearer picture if I'd gone into one of the cell phone shops to get it, but I didn't want to get railroaded into a plan I didn't like. The information on the web was just awful, though.

I still don't know exactly what services I get, though. I realized after a while that the Internet service that had been promised wasn't working. After searching high and low to try and find some information, I called customer service. I was informed that I'd been put on a plan different than what they advertised on the web.. The code for the plan was apparently just one character off, so the guy switched to what I thought I ordered.

I've seen people complain about the customer service department, but I haven't had trouble yet. I suppose I'm just lucky. However, I have a suspicion that my Linux user habit of trying to find the solution myself by searching and trying various things probably makes me more prepared when I call them.. We'll see what happens in the future.

I've found VoiceStream's websites to be very inconsistent. They contract out various services to different organizations, which probably contributes to the mess. It's not hugely inconsistent -- that'd probably be better! I've found myself browsing around, having buttons suddenly disappear on the next page, etc. They also have some very short session timeouts. I've had to re-login many times.

I've noticed that the various websites seem to use different technologies to power them.. VoiceStream's main websites appear to be powered by ColdFusion, the iStream pages (iStream is the name for their data service) appear to be running Microsoft's Active Server Pages, and my billing info is brought to me by servlets. Very weird, IMHO..

The phone I got has similar inconsistencies. I think it has at least four different font sizes, but I can only pick two in the phone settings. Composing text messages uses the smallest font, browsing the web uses the next smallest. The default interface font is the second-largest, and there's a huge font that is the other option. Going between big and huge is not my idea of configurability.

Even the instructions for activating my phone weren't very good. I knew about SIM cards and whatever beforehand, but someone who didn't know about that would probably be really confused. There were at least two sets of instructions, but I think they started with "turn on your phone," neglecting the "insert your SIM card" part.. One set of instructions said I had to call someone with my IMEI number (apparently the handset serial number) and a number printed on my service agreement. Well, I didn't have a service agreement in the box I got, so I was glad that the phone seemed to work right out of the box, once I figured out exactly how the SIM card was supposed to be put in it's place..

It'll be a while before I can say whether I like the service or not. With all of the weird things I've seen already, I could never give it a strong thumbs up, but it's relatively cheap and I can text Sarah whenever I want ;-) I'm paying $30/month for 200 daytime minutes, unlimited weekend minutes, toll-free long distance, 300 text messages, and 1MB of data. I paid an extra dollar this month so I could have a "Smooth Criminal" ring tone, too, but nobody's called me yet.. *sigh*

Posted by mike at 08:38 AM Central | Hardware , Old Advogato Diary , Sarah , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

April 29, 2003

Firewall Fun

I was just looking over at Soekris at their various products. Someday, probably after I get a job again, I suspect I'll plop down some change for a net4521, along with at least one 802.11 card from NetGate or Demarc. I'll need to get a CompactFlash card or a Microdrive too. Also, it might be fun to play with the vpn1211 hardware encryption board. Somehow, I don't think a 133MHz 486 would handle IPSec very well ;-)

Anyway, one nice upside to getting those things would be that I get rid of the big power-hungry computer that is currently routing my Internet traffic. The problems are that it's expensive to get those parts, and I'll lose my print server in the process (of course, it's dumb to have your firewall double as a print server, but I live dangerously. Sometimes. ;-)

Posted by mike at 12:21 AM Central | Encryption , Hardware , Internet , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 01, 2003

It Doubles as a Cluebat!

Must buy this book. Slashdot review of it here.

Wireless is fun, but totally insecure.

Posted by mike at 05:27 PM Central | Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

May 15, 2003


I've been monkeying a bit with my phone (Motorola C332), sending different commands to it. I bought a USB cable for it a while ago so I could try using it as a modem. It turns out that I can actually access the phone book and some other bits of the phone. I signed up to to get some developer access from Motorola, so hopefully I'll be able to get the full supported command set at some point.

I started playing with this because I came across gsmlib yesterday, but it didn't work. That library and tools supports a different variant of the commands than my phone does, so the library will have to be extended to handle that at some point..

Posted by mike at 04:41 PM Central | Hardware , Software , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

September 03, 2003

I Wonder if E.T. Had T-Mobile

I couldn't get my phone to work today in the Cities. I could search for networks and see T-Mobile, but it wouldn't let me register. Two of my co-workers here in Hudson live around St. Paul, and they coludn't get service there this morning either. I finally got to Hudson and tried getting onto the T-Mobile network, but that didn't go, so I tried registering on AT&T. That seemed to work, although my phone still says “T-Mobile”

Posted by mike at 09:14 AM Central | Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

October 11, 2003

I Compute, Therefore I Am

Went out and bought computer crap today. I'll call it my bonus for actually going to work for these next three days (pay for this week should about cover the parts).

The motherboard I got is pretty nifty, though it requires no less than 3 extra expansion slots to hold all of the excess connectors for USB, FireWire, and audio (although the board I got didn't come with the audio riser thingy—I may have to go order one, but I might just get a PCI sound card).

I've been battling with the IDE controller and Ethernet drivers. The Linux kernel that comes on a standard Debian install disc doesn't understand either one properly. I had purchased a 200GB drive earlier, but the older kernel only understod ATA100 drives and lower, meaning that I could only see the first ~137GB of the hard drive. So, I looked through my closet and found a 1GB drive (my former roommates at UV will recognize this one as the tormentor that I had placed in the sun room for my audio playback box). That installed fine, and I eventually was able to upgrade to a kernel that understands the IDE controller well enough to access the entire 200GB of my big disk.

Unfortunately, I still haven't gotten the gigabit Ethernet chip working (Broadcom Tigron3 5788). The most recent stable release of the Linux kernel (2.4.22) doesn't support the card, but there is a driver for the basic chipset “family” that it's in. I did some searches and discovered that the chipset should be supported properly in the prerelease kernels for 2.4.23. So, I've got to figure out how difficult it will be to compile this stuff.

Fortunately, I've had my 256MB USB keychain drive to sneakernet things onto this new box. I tried hooking the new machine up to my desktop system via FireWire, but something gets messed up whenever I try that.

There was a strange little sticker on one of the USB ports saying to not use that particular port when Bluetooth is in use. I haven't been able to figure out if there's actually a Bluetooth module on the motherboard, but it would be cool if there was. In theory, I could use that instead of finding an IR receiver for a remote control. Well, if a signal can manage to penetrate the computer case ;-)

Posted by mike at 10:55 PM Central | Hardware , Software , Wireless | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)