mdlbear: Welcome to Rainbow's End (sign) (rainbows-end)

So, it was a week.

I actually got in a couple of walks, so that's good. Half an hour takes me to the bus stop at Goss Lake and E. Harbor, so it makes a nice turnaround. It is, unfortunately, uphill coming back. But a nice walk. I've also been making progress with shelving, and the last pod arrived, with our mattresses, so I could put the beds together. And I have Flame and Snuggles, my guitars, back.

That was the good stuff. On the other hand, ...

I also paid the outrageous copay for Colleen's humira, and (after something like six hours on the phone spread across multiple calls) got what I hope is correct information about how much I'll be paying before the "catastrophic" coverage kicks in. The whole system isn't designed for patients -- it's designed to transfer money from the large corporations that pay for their employees' insurance, to "insurance" companies, and from there to drug companies. As soon as one transitions to Medicare the "copay assistance" card goes away, and your copay goes from $5 to $1400.

Meanwhile, two of our four cats had pretty serious upper respiratory infections. They responded to antibiotics, thank goodness! but...

And it being that kind of a week, one of our toilets isn't draining properly, and I can't reach the problem with a snake. So tomorrow we'll have to call a plumber. Oh, joy! And, it being that kind of week, I got confused about the beds and swapped the head and foot ends. This doesn't work so well with adjustable beds, because the ends adjust differently. Fortunately they roll, but I may still have to do some extra work.

Notes & links, as usual )

mdlbear: A brown tabby cat looking dubiously at a wireless mouse (curio)

Fairly productive this week. Still feels like I'm getting farther and farther behind.

Lots of network administration -- I now have all three of the household's routers upgraded to dd-wrt. By the way, the fact that now Microsoft pushes Windows 10 upgrade to PCs without user consent gives you yet another reason to upgrade your computer to Ubuntu or Linux Mint.

Emmy had some lovely 4x6 prints made of "cat and mouse", and I finally got Curio's Rainbow Bridge page to a state where I don't mind posting the link. I cried while I was working on it. (This is not a bad thing, on the whole. Tears are better than being numb.)

More links in the notes.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The big news for this week is that the Starport is up for sale. You can see it at (which immediately redirects to, but it's kind of cute anyway), here on Zillow, and likewise here, here, and here. Make me a high enough offer and I'll throw in

Um... maybe I should update that site?

The miserable headache I had last night turns out to have been due to dehydration. I need to drink more. Water, that is. I probably don't need to drink more coffee or gin. Beer?

Comcast has been giving us trouble all week; first a widespread outage in our area on Tuesday, then video flakiness yesterday. Thinking seriously of dumping them and going to CenturyLink and Dish. Tempting.

Work has been fairly interesting; I'm starting to work on a new (internal) service. Which means learning new things, which is fun even while being frustrating.

I've been doing a lot of puttering, including some yardwork. I hate yardwork. Grumpy bear. For some reason I like putting dishes into the dishwasher, but not putting them away after they're clean. Why, yes, I am avoiding paperwork. I disappoint myself frequently.

The usual hodge-podge of links and random notes below.

raw notes, with links )
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

So... as promised, here's the state of the Starport's silicon life-forms and their network ecosystem. In some ways it's not all that bad. In other ways it's awful.

basically thinking things out in text here; skip if you're not the right kind of geek to be interested in this stuff. )

It would be nice to get enough of this done by the time Colleen comes home for her to come home to working, largely spam-free email. It would also be nice not to be paying for over $100/month worth of services we don't need.

mdlbear: (tux)

No, I have NO FSCKING IDEA why my linux-based router won't route packets from the DMZ port to anywhere else. I'm guessing it's some piece of Shorewall misconfiguration that's been lingering around since the last time I tried banging my head against this particular problem.

However, my head is very damned sore now, and it at least continues to route from the internal network, so I was able to put the wireless router there where it used to be. At least it works now, even if it isn't as secure as I would like it to be. What's more, the WAP now seems willing to route to the internal network (it had damned-well better, since it's a host on it), so users of my internal web pages should be happy now.

I'm not happy. But it's less broken than it's been for several months, so I'm going to move on for now.

Note to self: any hostnames used in the firewall rules had better be in /etc/hosts, because you can't get to any DNS servers while the firewall is busy configuring itself.

Duh! It helps to enable masquerading for the interface. It helps to read the useful comment I left for myself in /etc/shorewall/masq. It would help even more if that solved the whole problem: it still doesn't route to the internal network. Grump.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

... so this morning I took advantage of the fact that installing the new UPS required me to power down the entire bloody rack to re-route a few cables and to reconfigure the "interim" gateway machine that had been my main DSL router since last April when I installed it, and make it the "interim" gateway for the old DSL line. Pretty simple; I took down the mail server because I wanted to be around when I turned it on in case it didn't work. Good thing -- there are still some pieces of configuration that have to be changed. Like the hostname? Little things like that.

I left the old gateway turned off; the final uptime was 603 days. It will eventually become the main gateway.

At that point, I headed out to Fry's to get a new DSL modem. They had a D-Link for $50. Stopped at Sears on the way home for vacuum cleaner bags; by the time I got home it was raining hard.

One of my Linux laptops, Argo, is currently the interim gateway for the DSL line. It's taken me about the last 3 hours and a support call to get the bloody D-Link configured: apparently it's not really smart enough to come up in bridge mode by itself. That's going to keep causing me trouble, I suspect. (Come to think of it, my old modem probably just needed a reset...) (Never hurts to have a spare, though.)

I also picked up a cheap ($15) 5-port ethernet switch for the Y.D.; she's been complaining about slow wireless connections on her laptop. Part of that, and I suspect a lot of other network flakiness, was almost certainly due to the fact that the boneheaded family sysadmin (yours truly, of course) had the same gateway IP addresses configured on both routers. Probably never would have discovered it if the Y.D. hadn't told me she had an internet connection at a time yesterday when I knew that the main DSL line was down.

My shiny UPS (APC BX1500LCD) is currently showing a 17% load, and an estimated run time of 34 minutes. This makes me happy. I'd be even happier, presumably, if I didn't have as many machines running in the rack. I'm getting there...

Next in line for configuration are mail on the old gateway, DNS and possibly web on the interim gateway, and a re-install from scratch on the new gateway. Which will have four ethernet ports -- Whee!

update: 17:34 ...and a couple of firewall fixes later, mail is back up. Some messages may have been lost between early this morning and now; I sometimes wonder about forwarding. I *really* need to fix email. But not today.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

One of this morning's power glitches took out the DSL line. Grumble. The "line" light is green, but there's nobody home. The phone works, though. I put in a call to Sonic; they tested the line, didn't see the modem, and said they'd put in a call to AT&T; I haven't heard back. I'll try again later.

The only other thing I can think of is that the power surge somehow damaged the modem in some subtle way. I'll ask whether it's worth my while to buy another modem tomorrow, not that I relish the though of going out in the storm again.

The power glitches this morning convinced me that today would be a good day to take advantage of the $30 mail-in rebate on a 1500VA APC UPS that Fry's was advertising. The drive, while not as harrowing as it could have been, was still pretty bad; I ran into two non-functional traffic lights.

I scored the last of the advertised UPS in the store. Good timing. It will replace the two UPSs currently in the server rack (a 500 and a 650) and add some additional features (it has an LCD display) and better monitoring. It can also be muted -- I'll have to look for a similar one for the bedroom; it'd be good to have something quiet next to the bed for my facehugger. In the meantime I can mute the 500VA unit that's currently in the rack.

As long as I have the servers powered down tomorrow... )

This is not what I'd planned to be doing this weekend.

mdlbear: (abt)

Yesterday was pretty busy, actually. Started the day by rebooting the fileserver without the old IDE drives, though I left them in the case just, um, in case. Took a little longer than expected to get all the glitches out of the grub and /etc/fstab setups, but I never needed a rescue disk. Got a start on updating the daily mirror script for the new partitioning.

Measured the distance to the Younger Daughter's school -- it's about 1.7 miles by car, so maybe 1.5 by the obvious walking route. An easy morning walk for me, thought I don't think the Y.D. is interested. Would do her a lot of good, though.

Spent most of the morning at work reboooting the computers in my office and making sure things were still ok after Monday's power outage. Everything was fine, except that I missed a meeting because my reminder software runs on my desktop. Oops. Had a good idea in the afternoon that elegantly solves a nasty cross-site-scripting vulnerability, at least in the most common case. No, I can't say anything else about it yet.

Three mile walk, with hills. I needed that.

Spent some time in the afternoon researching short-run CD-ROM prices. I think I can get the bonus disk, About Bleeding Time, to a duplicator sometime this week, which means it should be ready in time for Baycon, in (urk!) a little over 2 weeks. I was originally planning to just get them printed, and burn them myself, which would give me the freedom to burn plain CDs or CD-Extra's for those who need them, but it's possible that CDROMs with audio will work for almost everyone. Depends in part on whether I can fix the remaining level problems by Friday.

When I came home I bounced the fileserver again to install the second 400GB drive for the mirror, formatted it, and finished rewriting the mirror script -- with some sanity tests in case I didn't finish the initial copy by the time the script had to run. Which I haven't -- I just started transferring the big partition this morning, and it looks like another hour or so to go. (8:24am: it's done now.)

Then, in a fit of productivity seldom seen in this decrepit old fractal, I added the missing bit of goodness to my TrackInfo script to look in the current directory for a secondary metadata file. That means that in albums like About Bleeding Time that have multiple versions of the same song, I can actually give them different descriptions in the liner notes. Yay! So I did that, too, burned a test disk, and took the [ profile] flower_cat out for a test drive. Reluctantly gave up on putting in the version of "Silk and Steel" from Consonance -- the 5KHz feedback was never entirely suppressed, and it made the guitar sound twangy, too. Too bad -- it was a much better performance.

At this point the home network is in pretty solid shape, and shouldn't need much more attention until the time comes to move hosting for and its email, at which point I'll be able to dump my old DSL line. Repackaging the gateway and upgrading my workstation hardware are also on the short list, but aren't particularly urgent and won't require much in the way of time or planning.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Well, powerless, anyway. There was a massive power failure in the neighborhood of our lab at about 1:40. As the scope of it became clear I shut things down (except for one server box that I'd forgotten about... oops!) while my manager rounded up people so we could hold our 2:00 meeting a little early in the naturally-lit conference room.

Now I'm home. Before I left this morning I'd gotten the new router properly configured, so I now no longer have to worry about the laptop and its easily-removed power cord, and the other denizens of the household no longer have to sip the net through a soda straw. I'll need to install the new, twice-as-big backup drive in the fileserver sometime today, but that should be pretty easy (he says). It may require a couple of minutes with a rescue disk to reconfigure the bootloader, but I can handle that.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

Got up ungodly early, for some reason -- 4:30 or so and I couldn't get back to sleep, so I got up around 5am. Grah. Figured I'd get some work done on the network setup while nobody but me was using it. Hah!

Went out for a walk (4 miles, same route by Los Gatos Creek as yesterday), came back a little after noon, had some leftover ribs, and got back to hacking the gateway. Almost made it. There are still some serious oddities on [ profile] selkit's machine, but I think that any machine that gets its IP address from DHCP should get the fast connection now. Still need to finish making the switch for the static IPs. And at least the laptop isn't pretending to be a router anymore.

geeky details )

About the time I was finished stabilizing the network, the [ profile] chaoswolf was in serious need of some attention. Since her fiancé was busy, I went up and mounted the shelf standards and tabletop for her hobby center. There was a certain amount of stupidity involved -- it didn't look level, so I remounted one of the standards only to find the screws going in the same holes they'd been in before. But that's done.

So, at this point in the writing of this post, is the front yard rose-pruning I've been meaning to get to all week. Part of the problem is that I only think about it when I'm actually looking at them, which means going in or out of my car, and the pair of pruning shears that's normally on or near the front porch has disappeared. So has the pair that lives in the shed under the back stairs. Fortunately, I keep a pair hidden in my toolbox in the office. The good pair.

The net result is that I haven't gotten a darned thing done on the album, but what I have done definitely needed doing. I probably still have time to work on the bonus album, which is very close to done. But I need to get printed blanks ordered and figure out exactly what I'm going to burn on them, if I'm to have them in hand by Baycon.

album contents/format geekery )

If anyone out there has any experience making dual-session (CD-Extra) disks, and especially doing it in session-at-once mode on Linux, let me know. I'll be burning them at home: the short-run duplicators I've found will take uploaded audio files or ISO files, but won't let you mix 'em. Foo.

mdlbear: (grrr) that when you take it off the shelf to restart sshd, it's possible to accidentally disconnect the power and not notice because, well, it's a laptop and it has a battery that can keep it going all evening when the lid is closed and the backlight is turned off.

If I'd had the replacement system ready to go I could have just slipped it in and nobody would have noticed. But I didn't, quite, and didn't want to fuss with it.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The [ profile] flower_cat and [ profile] chaoswolf are off at a Baycon -- or is it Westercon? -- meeting; a newly-arrived [ profile] selkit is in the living room hacking something in SL, and the [ profile] super_star_girl's plans for the afternoon have fallen through. I'll have to see if there's something I can do to amuse her. Meanwhile, the taxes are done except for the printing; I want to walk the Wolfling through hers and make sure she doesn't need her tuition as a deduction. I can use it if she doesn't.

Meanwhile, I still need to work on bringing up the new gateway system, and make sure there's no more recording I need to do. Some of the parts I put down over the last week seemed a bit shaky. And there's still a bit of percussion work needed.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

Which is to say that a great many chores and to-do list tasks got done this afternoon and evening, but very little actual work. No more recording, for example.

But I did, finally, go through the Pile of Stuff to the Left of the Keyboard. tPoSttLotK is where I tend to toss paperwork and such that doesn't have to be handled immediately, but looks as though it's going to need attention in the next month or so. What this often means is that stuff gets ignored until it's no longer relevant, but in this case I found a couple of health-related receipts that I'd been looking for for a couple of weeks. And a great deal of clutter has been eliminated, though there's still a small pile of things that will need attention soon.

Going back in time to the start of the afternoon, I found out that my car is waiting for some parts -- it'll be ready tomorrow. The front struts and bushings will get fixed under warranty; flushing and replacing the transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, and coolant will cost me.

Tried to set rat traps in the garage attic, and failed miserably, nearly getting a finger broken for my trouble. I'll go get glue traps on the way home tomorrow.

Went out for dinner with the [ profile] flower_cat. We wanted to try someplace new, so of course the kids wanted to stay home and have something familiar. OK with us -- we went to Los Gatos to try Transilvania, a Romanian place we'd been eyeing for months. It is to yum!

We split an appetizer of grilled portabello mushrooms with marinara sauce and melted blue cheese, and a glass of a heavy, dark red wine whose name I unfortunately failed to catch. Then I had the sarmale (ground beef, pork, and rice rolled in pickled cabbage leaves, served with polenta, pickled cabbage, and sour cream on the side), and Colleen had the bulsz (polenta layered and baked with romano and mozarella cheese and served with a dollop of sour cream on top). Finished off splitting a serving of savarina -- sponge cake soaked with syrup and rum, with whipped cream and cherry preserve.

After dinner I got DNS going on the interim gateway (took all of 10 minutes), followed by the aforementioned clutter reduction.

And now it's time for bed. Past time.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

The new DSL line is working well; I did a little tweaking with the ruleset to cut down on log clutter. The most common attack turned out to be Windows messenger popups. Go figure.

So here's the transition plan... )

And did I mention that I still have taxes to do? Did the last of the receipt data-entry today; next up is the year-end credit-card summaries from AMEX. They categorize charges so it's easy to spot the charity contributions.

mdlbear: (grrr)

After a lot of jumping up and down and screaming, I appear to have a crude firewall (using Shorewall on my Debian laptop, which was conveniently at hand) on my new DSL line that I can route through. I can traceroute to and read lj -- that's a good sign. Yes, it's faster. Much faster. Ship it.

Total debug time: about 4 hours. Apparently the Debian version of shorewall.conf is missing the crucial line:


... so of course it wouldn't forward packets. Grump. There were a dozen or so other assorted things to fix in the example config, but that was the big one.

About the only other things I've done today was getting the assorted receipts organized for data entry, and taking a 2.5 mile walk.

Now I'll have to change the DNS entries for my assorted domains, and -- most importantly -- fix my mail configuration so that it will relay through sonic's mail server.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

...and his techs will appear. My shiny new DSL from came on mere minutes after my previous post; the AT&T tech showed up about an hour later to test the line. There was a mysterious outage after I upgraded my service from one static IP address to eight -- apparently it took a while for something to propagate. But it's working fine now: says I'm getting 5175Mb/s downstream, and 656Kb/s upstream. That's a bit of a step up from 325Kb/s each way on the old link. So long, PacBell SBC AT&T!

Nobody showed up to install a "home run" or an outside splitter, but as it turned out I didn't need it. All my inside wiring goes through a single point,

Darned if I know what I'll do with 8 IPs -- one will be the main gateway and web server, some of them will get used to NAT some of my inside boxen, mainly so I can ssh to them directly, and some will get used for assorted web servers. Eventually I'll probably want some for ssl (https), since certificates are tied to IP addresses.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

... or whatever the AT&T installer's name is. My window was 8am-5pm, so I can't formally gripe yet, but if he's not here by the time I post this I'll call Sonic and see if they know anything I don't. I have the DSL modem plugged in, with no sign of a signal.

Wherein we find more geeky details about firewalls and routing. )


Apr. 5th, 2007 09:34 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)
Wherein the Mandelbear goes into geeky detail about networking hardware, network topology, and SATA drives. )

Next on today's schedule is organizing the credit-card receipts for tax data-entry. (The checkbook is easier, but I did that Tuesday.)( done)

Busy day

Apr. 4th, 2007 07:37 pm
mdlbear: (hacker glider)

After breakfast, coffee, and taking the kids to school and work, the first order of business was going up into the attic to pull a run of Cat5 from the phone demarc to the server closet in the office, to get ready for the tech's arrival on Friday. Dragged up a piece of plywood to lay over some of the bare ceiling joists, and found an 8-foot length of 1x12 that filled in the gap, so it all went pretty smoothly.

Next item on the agenda was driving up to Ikea to return the damaged desk that I bought on Sunday, not to mention recycling a van-load of cardboard from the preceeding week's assembly projects. Also picked up a couple of basket-drawer frames for the [ profile] chaoswolf (to replace the ones she put together wrong), and a folding chair for general use.

By the time I got back, my DSL modem had arrived from Sonic. Then a quick lunch, followed by afternoon at the Embedded Systems Conference in the San Jose convention center. This involved spending all afternoon on my feet, but without either the exercise or the pleasure of a good walk. I've been going since the first one; this one was a little smaller than last year, and much less crowded. Intel had a large booth, but I'm not sure why -- they're mostly out of the embedded market these days. Eight-core servers don't count. OTOH, the 8-core server demo had a couple of these cool Thinkpad keyboards. I like the fact that it has three mouse buttons.

ESC was basically the usual suspects; nothing really exciting. The top swag was a bright orange messenger bag from TQ, a clip for holding sunglasses, a pen, and paper from Montavista, and a pen-shaped 4-bit screwdriver from VIA

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

After a couple of meetings, one of which started at noon and dovetailed neatly into a very productive two-hour conversation which will almost certainly end up with an invention disclosure, I came home to put the Y.D.'s desk together. First thing I noticed was a piece of crumpled-up paper on the floor by the diningroom table that turned out, on closer inspection, to be the missing Ikea receipt for the damaged desk. Yay! Fell out of somebody's pocket, from the look of it.

Put the desk together, which took about 2 hours. The [ profile] super_star_girl said, "It's just as pretty as it was in the showroom!" So she's happy, which means I'm happy. I don't think I was in any shape to assemble the thing last night -- daylight and rest were essential. Just installed her computer. Her sister's old Canon printer is missing somewhere in the garage attic, but everything else is up and running.

The DSL install is scheduled for Friday, and the modem is on its way via UPS. Still need to run cat5 to the demarc.

Still need to do taxes. I'll start data-entry tonight. Still have three or four parts to record, and a half-dozen or so songs to mix. Probably Friday, since I have to be here for the DSL install.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

In startling contrast to the absolute zoo that is Ikea on weekends, Ikea at 5pm on a Monday is well-stocked and practically deserted. I'll have to remember that. I was also rather surprised to discover that I can manhandle a 99-pound box by myself without either dropping it on my foot or wrecking my back.

Only had time for about a half-hour walk today, but combined with a lighter-than-usual lunch and all the weight-lifting and stair-climbing I've done over the past three days I think I've gotten my exercise for the weekend.

Got to work fairly late because I spent probably more time than I needed to signing up for DSL with Toyed briefly with the possibility of staying with the Death Star for a fast, dynamic-IP connection on my main number and moving my mail and websites to a virtual host offsite. It would have been cheaper, but it would have taken more effort to set up and I would still have lost my static IP and hacker-friendly terms of service. When my rates go up after a year I'll reconsider -- I'll have had time to work on it and make a smooth transition. And I'll still be on Sonic.

No telling how long it will take for the Death Star to provision my line; they have to roll a truck (at a cost of $200) because I have too many extensions for the usual one-filter-per-phone approach to work. OK with me; I wanted a splitter at the demarc in the first place. I'll save the tech some trouble and run the cat5 myself. The attic access is through the Younger Daughter's bedroom, which fortunately has been recently cleaned. (Hence all the business sent in Ikea's direction.)

When I do go with a virtual server, it may very well be with, but I'll take suggestions.

mdlbear: the positively imaginary half of a cubic mandelbrot set (Default)

With the Fiancé ([ profile] selkit) coming down soon from the frozen North for an extended stay with the Wolfling, the question of upgrading our miserable 384Kb/s DSL line once again comes up, this time with some urgency.

the alternatives in detail )

OK, so I seem to have convinced myself that Sonic is the way to go. So the main choices are:

  1. Switch to Sonic on my existing DSL line and take my chances with how long I'm without service during the transition.
  2. Add Sonic on my primary line, then drop the secondary. Take my chances on how long it would take, including the possibility of AT&T putting roadblocks in the way like they did last time. Smoothest transition -- only one DNS change.

Any advice? There are additional questions, like how to bridge my email and locally-hosted websites if I go with option 1. But we'll go with this one basic choice for now.

I really don't have the time to be messing with this, but that's another matter.

mdlbear: (hacker glider)

I'm in the process of decommissioning my old desktop machine, which has a noisily-expiring CPU fan. It's had a good run; I'm not complaining. But I just spend the last 2 hours, almost exactly, transferring 55GB of data off it and onto my new desktop.

That's about 25GB/hour. It would have been faster if I'd been able to use gigabit etnernet (which both machines have, but my ageing hub doesn't), but not ten times faster because I would have been limited by the speed of the disks. Maybe five times -- call it 24 minutes or so. So I could have saved time by driving down to Fry's and buying a GigE hub, but not much.

It would have been faster still to power down both machines, pull out the drive, and move it over. Ten minutes, maybe. Except that the new machine doesn't have room in its case for another drive, and I wanted to keep reading blogs working while I was slinging bits.

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