Category Archives: Rants

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”.

HUH?!?!?!?

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.

Yup. It’s all the fault of games.

I knew it was going to happen. The “experts” simply couldn’t help themselves.

Sooner or later some overqualified idiot was going to lay the blame at the feet of “violent video games”.

Last time I checked, a video game doesn’t force you to go around blowing people away. Just like the gun doesn’t point and fire itself. Just like people don’t automatically put themselves in the line of fire.

But no. Nowadays nobody’s really at fault for their own actions. It’s their terrible upbringing. It’s the media. It’s games. It’s that they were abused by someone. It’s that they didn’t get enough sex from their girlfriend.

BULL FUCKING SHIT!

Nobody forced them into this. They made the damn decision to go postal on their own. Their own sad way of drawing attention to themselves. Because they were too stupid to find another, productive way to draw attention to the fact that “hey, their life sucked!”

However, it’s always easier to affix blame to something else. Especially now that this jackass is worm-food, by his own hand. So the option for revenge (not justice) has been severed. That and there’s a lot more MONEY available from the game companies than there is from this guy’s parents.

I’m not inured to the tragedy these people suffered. It’s horrible, and I wouldn’t wish it on more than one or two people.

HOWEVER, we sometimes have to accept the fact that people go nuts for no discernable reason and pull fucked up things like this. Trying to place blame is natural of course. But ultimately pointless.

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!

GAME OVER!

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.

Oh for the love of…

Have you EVER had one of those days where someone just did something to you that’s well and truly death-worthy?

I walked out of work today to find my hood dented and my front grill pushed in.

A co-worker who’d been trying to get out of the driveway had been trying to back out around me. And, instead of just coming to get me, or at least get my keys, he decided to mickey-mouse his way out. In the process hitting me.

THEN, instead of coming in to tell me he hit me, he leaves! So I walk out of work half an hour or so later and find my car fucked up!

I get his ass on the phone and he tells me “well I knew I bumped you, but I didn’t see anything wrong”.

Gigantic WHAT THE FUCK here people! If you hit someone, ESPECIALLY if they’re less than fifty feet away COME AND TELL THEM!

Grrr.

The smug and the self-entitled.

As some of you know, I have ties to the local 2600 group here in Chicago. Now, those of you who know me know I’m anything BUT a budding computer criminal, as are most of the people I interact with there. There’s an astonishing variety of interests there, and, over the last three or so years, we’ve built the group into something to be proud of.

We have a great venue in the Neighborhood Boys and Girls Club. The people running the club like us and are genuinely interested in what we have to say and offer. And, as a result, we’re been pushing like hell to help them out in various areas where our myriad levels of technical expertise can assist them.

The rules are fairly simple. The 2600 meeting guidelines are as follows.

  1. We meet in a public area. Nobody is excluded. We have nothing to hide and we don’t presume to judge who is worthy of attending and who is not. If law enforcement harasses us, it will backfire as it did at the infamous Washington DC meeting in 11/92. (You can find more information on this event in the Secret Service section of our web site.)
  2. We act in a responsible manner. We don’t do illegal things and we don’t cause problems for the place we’re meeting in. *Most* 2600 meetings are welcomed by the establishments we choose.
  3. We meet on the first Friday of the month between 5 pm and 8 pm local time. While there will always be people who can’t make this particular time, the same will hold true for *any* time or day chosen. By having all of the meetings on the same day, it makes it very easy to remember, opens up the possibility for inter-meeting communication, and really causes hell for the federal agencies who want to monitor everything we do. (A few meetings have slight variations on the meeting time – these are noted accordingly.)
  4. While meetings are not limited to big cities, most of them take place in large metropolitan areas that are easily accessible.While it’s convenient to have a meeting in your home town, we encourage people to go to meetings where they’ll meet people from as wide an area as possible. So if there’s a meeting within an hour or two of your town, go to that one rather than have two smaller meetings fairly close to each other. You always have the opportunity to get together with “home town hackers” any time you want.
  5. All meetings *must* contact us to let us know how things are going even if nothing unusual is happening. If we don’t hear from your city on a regular basis, we’ll have to stop publicizing the site since telling people to go to where no meeting is really doesn’t do anyone a service. You can email us at meetings@2600.commeetings@2600.com or call us at (631) 751-2600. We also need a way of getting back in touch with you. Anyone can have meetings and set whatever rules they wish. However, if they’re going to be affiliated with 2600, we ask that these few guidelines be observed. Thanks.

As noted, we have set a few additional rules. Mainly those requested by our venue.

  1. No smoking in the building. Smoking may be done outside however.
  2. No alcohol or drugs. This is a Boys and Girls Club.

However, recently, we’ve run into problems with a certain small group of people at the meetings. The worst of this group has been an individual by the name of Jeremy Hammond. And in the past few months:

He has rooted boxes owned by the BGC. Not bad in and of itself. However, on several occasions he’s done this without express permission. And, afterwards, he’s left the boxes in a compromised state and refused to clean it up. This has cost valuable man-hours of labor restoring the systems to a working configuration.

He has received permission to do an independent security audit on a system owned by one of the Chicago 2600 group. However, without permission, he proceeded to root the system and compromise it. Again, he refused to clean up after himself (or even enumerate the security flaws he utilized). And, again, caused someone else to incur expensive man-hours of cleanup. This security incident directly lead to the decision of the colocation provider to remove the system from their network.

After a disagreement with the individuals responsible for the Chicago 2600 website, he proceeded to compromise the network at the BGC and eventually was able to break into the administrative functions for the Chicago 2600 mailing list.

Also during this period, he was able to compromise the Chicago 2600 website in such a fashion that the site needed to be reverted to remove all the interactive features, just to keep him from interfering with it.

Additionally, he has repeatedly violated the guidelines for the meetings including:

  • Using systems in the BGC to compromise (break into) live systems (and websites) out on the Internet.
  • Consumption of alcohol on the premises of the BGC. Despite repeated warnings not to do so.
  • Posession and consumption of illegal drugs on the premises of the BGC. Again, despite warnings.

During this time, we also became aware of Jeremy’s activities in the larger community around Chicago. And, having already dealt with the FBI once over a whack-job who just happened to attend some meetings, what we learned about him and his civil and criminal activities made us all too eager to distance ourselves from him.

In his most recent escapade, Jeremy very nearly cost us the BGC as a meeting venue.

At the meeting on Friday, August 5th, 2005, Jeremy had attended the meeting, ostensibly to mend fences over the recent ugliness between him and several of the other 2600 members. Mostly, he just came off as smug and insincere, but, for the sake of peace in the group, it was just going to be left alone.

However, after the departure of one of his group (whom we later learned was a writer for the Chicago Reader), Jeremy and his friends went out, got high, and vandalized a building in the neighborhood. And not just any building. The Illinois Battery Company. They’re right across the street from, and a financial supporter of the BGC.

Rightfully, we were outraged by this, as were the trustees of the BGC, as well as the owner of the Illinois Battery Company. As pictures of the vandalism showed up almost immediately on one of the multiple sites Jeremy maintains, we had a pretty good idea who did it. Moreover, we had witnesses (neighbors) who observed Hammond and friends.

At that point, a group of us were ready to move the meeting to another venue, as we couldn’t guarantee that this kind of idiocy would not happen again, and we were unwilling to put the BGC and their community through that.

However, we’d underestimated the goodwill we’d accrued in the community. Not only were they NOT angry at us (as a group), the formally requested that we NOT move the meetings.

Anyhow, Jeremy, when confronted with witnesses and his own website as proof, admitted to the act and offered a half-hearted apology.

The BGC and the Illinois Battery Company agreed not to press charges if Hammond and one other accomplice would return to clean up the mess they’d made.

While they did show up, once, they didn’t complete the cleanup. And now, over a month later, the mess still hasn’t been cleaned up. And, as such, Jeremy is now banned from the premises of the BGC.

Now this young man is accusing the Chicago 2600 group of being “anti-hacker” and claiming he’s going to “reclaim” the group for *real* hackers.

Yep. This is the kind of stuff you want to be teaching kids.

A sample of the crap Jeremy leaves at meetings.

A sample of the crap he leaves at meetings.

Jeremy's try at vandalism

Jeremy’s try at vandalism.

Graffiti still visible a month later.

Graffiti still visible a month later.

Bah. Make the decision about this guy for yourself.

Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.