Category Archives: Computer Stuff

D-Link or bust? Or D-Link busted?

Those of you who’re fairly close know that I’ve been having network problems back at the ranch lately.

A few months back, I was doing a firmware update to my router and it bricked. And, since I’d had it over a year and a half, tech support was NOT going to RMA it. Especially since the device was no longer in production.

So one fairly-well-working 808-HV down the tubes.

So here I was, looking for a router with more than 5 ports again.

Other than the bricking, which I put down to unfortunate happenstance, I’d been fairly happy with D-Link. And since most of the other high-end consumer/prosumer router devices out there usually maxed at 5 ports (and I needed more), I would either have to buy D-Link again, upgrade to a low-end pro router, or go with a router and a second switch.

My setup isn’t so tough that I really NEED a pro-grade router. Plus plunking down several hundred bucks for one isn’t something I can easily justify.

I also would like to avoid sprouting network devices all over the place. Adding a separate router/switch combo adds another possible point of failure to my network and also increases network latency.

So I settled on the DIR-130. Nice little router. 8 ports. Pretty much all the features I had before.

Here, my troubles began.

I was able to duplicate my original setup in relatively short order. And everything was nice. For a while.

Then I noted that the router would periodically “lose” the web interface. The device still functioned, it still router, it still did DHCP and port-forwarding. But the web interface simply stopped functioning (or even being accessible). The only way to get the management interface back was to bounce (power-cycle) the router. A MAJOR pain in the cojones, but not a complete show-stopper. Additionally, I’d seen complaints about this around the web, and the next firmware update was supposed to fix this. Being a somewhat happy D-Link camper, I chose to wait.

Fast forward to September. The new firmware update was out as of August. So I snagged it and, being somewhat leery since I’d bricked my last device this way, flashed the router.

Everything came back up nicely. No headaches. Nothing. Success!

Ha. Ha. Ha.

So, thinking everything was great, I began browsing the interface, looking for updates/changes, making sure my settings were all preserved, etc. Then next thing I know, my network just “goes away”.

Just to be on the safe side, I reboot every device on the network. Then I notice I’m not pulling DHCP. Nor is the LAN working, even with static IP assignments. Worst, I can’t access the router!

One emergency call to D-Link later, and I was faced with yet ANOTHER bricked router.

So I drop the $150 for expedited cross-shipping. A full week goes by and the new device arrives. And guess what, the device isn’t running properly, and the default logon in the manual isn’t working. Unfortunately, with this device I’m only eligible for 9-5 weekday tech support to make sure the device runs, and it’s Friday night 8PM.

So I had the privilege of waiting an entire fscking weekend to get my stuff working. And by the time I got on with D-Link support, I was swearing up and down that if they didn’t get it working, they were getting the RMA unit back in the mail.

Sure enough, the default logon was different from what was in the manual. So I was in. I set the router up on the 1.0 firmware (why the fuck are they shipping new units with the old firmware anyhow?), then held my breath and flashed to the 1.10. I browsed around in the interface for a bit, then pushed my config into the router.

And problems started… again.

Certain ports (ssh, FTP, web) weren’t functioning properly. I had portions of the interface that showed this data, but the sections were grayed out, and duplicating them in “live” sections of the interface didn’t help.

So I bit the bullet and restored the router to default and got ready to manually config.

My setup isn’t much.

Approximately 5 DHCP reservations. Three computers, one NAS device, and one Wireless AP. This way, when I remote in, I don’t have to hunt all over my network for a random address. No problems right? WRONG!

First off, DHCP reservation is FUCKED UP on this device. Initially I’d reset the DHCP assignments to be between 2 and 150 (150 being the default upper limit). So when I tried to assign my first workstation to *.2, I get an error stating “2 must be within the DHCP range”.


Back on the phone with D-Link IMMEDIATELY.

For some reason, the interaction of DHCP and address reservation isn’t working properly. I have to shrink the pool of DHCP addresses down to within 50 addresses (the maximum number of reservations on this device is 50) before it works properly. And the imbecile on the other end of the phone hangs up on me thinking that the problem is solved. It isn’t!

Random addresses within that range STILL don’t auto-assign! I get the “# must be within the DHCP range” bullshit. Literally, I can assign IP addresses 2-5 fine. But then, DHCP’s first address assignment after that is 23! And doing reservation of an IP for anything between 6 and 22 fails!

Yes, I could go ahead and statically assign addresses to my standard network node but why the fuck should I have to? This is what I bought this device for! Now I need to call in to them yet AGAIN. Waste MORE time. All for something that should work out of the box.

Worse still, they have yet to credit the $150 back to my bank account.

Needless to say, in the future, I’m not putting D-Link on my short list of network equipment providers.

Apple vs Microsoft: The greatest fight that never was.

Yet again, we’re hearing about why Microsoft should fear Apple. I wish some of these “journalists” would find some REAL news to report.

“I, a journalist, in the publishing business, tried a Mac and prefer it to a Wintel PC.”

Big freaking whoop!

“Microsoft should be scared. Now I can run their stuff on MacOS through Parallels!”

Excuse me? What? Did you have a valid point there somewhere? No? So sorry!

Microsoft doesn’t give a shit about the Mac. Seriously! Sure, they steal interface cues from them (and have some things stolen back in return). This entire myth about Microsoft and Apple being in a knock-down, drag-out fight is utter crap!

Why? Let’s walk through this.

You bought a Mac! You’re rebellious and unique! Just like a few million other people.

It runs MacOS! Woo!

You can run Parallels on there and load Windows. Then you can run Windows apps!


THINK about this for a second.

You bought a Mac. Then went out and bought a full-blown copy of WINDOWS to load on there as well. Plus all the Windows apps!

How EXACTLY has Apple now, via you, bitten into Microsoft’s market? Guess what. They HAVEN’T.

The only one whose market gets bitten into are the OEMs, HP, Dell, IBM, etc.

Apple got their money. Microsoft got THEIR money. And more, the situation is probably even MORE profitable for Microsoft, as most of the people looking to buy a Mac are likely buying full RETAIL copies of Windows and assorted software to chuck into Parallels! This means higher margins for Microsoft versus the margins they get from the OEM licenses they provide.

Here’s the math. It probably costs Microsoft a grand total of $2 PER PACKAGE to put out a retail copy of Vista Ultimate. Which retails for between $250 and $360. That’s a 12,500-18,000 percent profit margin based on materials costs alone (ammortizing development costs into it brings it down to a more far reasonable margin, I’m sure). They receive FAR less in the way of margins from their OEM licensing.

So for all the children out there who want to see a face-off between Cupertino and Redmond, then stand back and chant “fight fight fight”, grow up already. The current arrangement is beneficial to BOTH companies. So it’s highly doubtful they’re going to start poking each other in the nose now.

My little blather about Linux.

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention, I’ve been a Linux user for well over a decade now. I like it, I love it, I want more of it!

Currently my favorite is Ubuntu. If you have even a single synapse firing between your ears, you can install and use Ubuntu. If you don’t, you can still use it. It just takes longer.

What’s REALLY impressed me is that each release is getting better and better. 4.10 was my first impression. And it was a HELL of an impression. 5.04 was even better, with better hardware support. 6.06 was DAMN impressive, and guaranteed supported for 3 years?

Even so, my little Dell craptop had a few quirks in it. Switching between wireless networks was entirely manual. Edit the config file, kick the networking service and go.

6.10 was 6.06 plus a little more hardware support. A little unstable (it WAS a development branch..) but on the whole, not bad.

Now with 7.04 getting ready to push out in April, I’m stunned yet again. Hardware support is better still, and wireless. FLAWLESS. It’s every bit as easy as flipping back and forth between networks in Windows. Hell, even Beryl (SWEET 3D desktop manager) works right without major tweakage. And these are the PRE-FINAL “Herd” RELEASES I’m working on! If this keeps up, my PARENTS (who fear and hate computers) will be able to install Linux without worrying about configuration!

Okay, enough yapping and backing of “my horse”. Apparently our boys at Dell are finally pulling their heads out of…the sand…and finally taking notice of Mother Torvalds’ other child. And ABOUT *CENSORED* TIME TOO!

The long and the short. A while back, Dell put up their IdeaStorm site. Ostensibly to solicit feedback from the user community. Needless to say, they got inundated with requests for Linux like you wouldn’t believe. Initially, they tried just ignoring and removing anything Linux-related. But that just garnered MORE attention.

A short time ago, they put up a survey to gather information on what potential customers are looking for in terms of Linux offerings.

Now the possibilities here are worth noting. Imagine being able to buy a system from Dell. Even if it didn’t come pre-installed with Linux, you could grab an install disk from a supported distro, install, and be up and running IMMEDIATELY. No tweaking stuff till it likes your hardware. It just…works.

Now, even if it IS “just a Dell”, that’s worth a HELL of a lot to some people. And Dell themselves don’t even need to lead the development here. They simply need to release hardware specs to the Linux vendor of choice (and maybe a little cash that otherwise would have gone towards Windows development). Dell and a company like RedHat, Novell, or Canonical could do a brisk business in Linux (either pre-installed or after the fact) at that point.

So go ahead. If you’re considering Dell, and would welcome Linux offerings, go on over. Then stay and read some of the feedback.

Another update? So soon?

I dunno. Maybe I’m not feeling well or something. But yep. Another update.

Took a cruise out to Phil’s casa last night and came back loaded for bear (or at least a really pisssed chihuahua) with computer hardware.

[Image Removed]

These are three of the four machines I acquired. Two are dual Celeron 500 (don’t laugh, it’s not like I’m gonna game on the damn things). The third is a dual P3 800 system.

System 4 is a decomissioned Dell 2400. Dual P3 1Ghz with 2 gigs of RAM and six 9.1 GB SCSI drives. I currently have Ubuntu Linux installed on it and it’s in the process of updating.

RC5-64 Broken!

For the first time in over 4 years, my client is shut down for a reason other than a reboot or a system move.

As the link at the top of this post notes, approximately 2 months ago, a system in Tokyo turned in the winning key. But, due to a problem with the keysever, it wasn’t noted until almost a month later.

Congratulations to whoever the winning key submitter was.

For those who didn’t know, quite a few members of the various communities (primarily BattleTech-related) on EvilNET partook in this contest as part of Team BattleForce.

The contest ran for 1757 days before the proper key was found.

Personally, I was a key submitter for 1489 days of the contest. I turned in 1,801,316 blocks of keys.

Team Battleforce’s age is determined by the member of the team with the longest contributing history.

Team BattleForce’s members contributed keys for 1615 days. They contributed 3,699,385 blocks of keys. At it’s peak, we had 27 members, 24 of which finished with the team.

Among the ones whose names I can successfully match to e-mail addresses.

  • Charles Borner
  • L. Derek Evans
  • Michael Flynn
  • Theodore Penn
  • Clint Swereda
  • Rob Chverchko
  • Richard Knight
  • Nic Jansma
  • Thomas Hilton
  • Daniel Frost
  • Paul Sjardyn
  • Camille Klein
  • Josh Manka
  • Eric Fredriksen
  • John Borreson
  • Sam Crowell
  • Chris Geyer
  • Kenneth Horner
  • Tommy Noedtve
  • Allen Schezar

There were couple more people than are listed here. However, I am exceedingly bad with names, and cannot remember enough to match names with e-mail addresses as are listed for the team. If you’re one of these people, e-mail me and I’ll add you in.

Simply follow the LINK to the overall team stats page.

I’d like to thank all the members of Team BattleForce for their participation. It was a long, fairly, and at times, boring road. But hey, we had fun competing didn’t we?