The Long Delay at Time Warner
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 6 bells (3:16 pm)

For the past few weeks I've been working on a strange issue from my Time Warner cable connection at home. There were two symptoms: a long delay of roughly 30 seconds when trying to open a web page on my company's webserver, and a similar delay when connecting to my office via secure shell (ssh).

I soon found out that some of my coworkers see the same problem, but only those that have Time Warner cable at home—but not all of those that have Time Warner see the long delay.

Many theories were thrown out about what was happening: a DNS issue, a firewall, some kind of faulty caching proxy server, etc., most of which were ruled out because we didn't see the same problem from all locations and that I could reproduce the problem on two separate servers. Watching the webserver's logfile showed no entries for the 30 seconds I waited and then all of a sudden the log was populated and my page loaded quickly.

Examining the differences between the clients with and without the problem, I noticed that those that behaved as expected had working reverse-DNS entries, while those that had trouble returned an error when I queried for their reverse DNS address.

So as a test, I disabled reverse-DNS on my SSH server at my office and BAM—the delay was gone!

Continuing the experiment, I added a record for my home IP address on my server's /etc/hosts file. Just like that, I was loading pages at full speed with no delays.

When I query for a reverse-DNS resolution of my home IP address, Time Warner's server returns an error. Contacting them to have them fix their broken DNS server has been an awful experience, starting with "Let's reboot your router first."

Since I expect this to never be resolved, and since I run my own DNS servers anyway, I started adding in-addr.arpa zones for the broken ranges of DHCP addresses. While this will work for me, it's a hack at best and I would rather get the issue fixed. Unfortunately it's out of my hands.

So Time Warner, surprise me. Fix it up, or un-configure the range of addresses even! Don't just leave it broken.

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Making the Switch
Posted in Tech
Forenoon watch, 5 bells (10:43 am)

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I've been learning the Dvorak keyboard layout over the last couple of weeks. Yesterday I switched my main work computer over to use Dvorak and although I'm typing slow now, I'm getting better. I also have some empathy for people that can't type, as my typing speed is now quite slow.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-26
Posted in Twitter
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:03 am)
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Looting Portland
Posted in General
First watch, 1 bell (8:52 pm)

I drove home from Portland today with several hundred pounds of loot. About as much as my car would carry. On our first day there we managed to hit all the big places we wanted to visit: Bob's Red Mill, Powell's City of Books, and IKEA. We stocked up on grains from Bob's, 50 pounds of flour, 25 pound bags of Scottish oatmeal, coconut granola, cream of wheat, and 10 grain cereal. We also picked up a dozen or so of the small 1 pound bags of things like black currants, coconut flour, wheat gluten, potato flour, sea salt, muesli, etc.

From Powell's we bought a couple of shopping bags full of books. We mostly buy used, so it's not as expensive as it sounds. IKEA provided two new DVD shelves (we are running out of room on our existing ones), and a few random parts I can hack together to make a good shower rack to hold shampoo, soap, etc. We also picked up a table for Lorien's uncle.

Aside from that, we bought some dry egg noodles at Costco (they stopped carrying them at our Costco in Cd'A!), some chocolate from Bernard Callebaut Chocolates (very tasty), and a couple of bags of assorted goodies from Trader Joe's. We also found some of our favorite Finnish licorice treats we didn't think we'd see outside of Finland at the World Market store near my mom's (score!) along with a couple of 4-packs of root beer I've never seen before.

All in all, it was a fun trip. I just wish it wasn't such a long drive…

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-19
Posted in Twitter
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:03 am)
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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-12
Posted in Twitter
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:03 am)
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Configuring a Cisco 881W with DHCP
Posted in Tech
Morning watch, 8 bells (8:22 am)

I just wrote up a long page about how I configured a Cisco 881W router to fetch an external DHCP address from my Internet provider, serve internal DHCP to my clients, and set up a wireless network with WPA encryption.

I have seen nothing else like this guide on the Internet, probably because Cisco consultants jealously guard their secrets to justify their extremely high hourly rates. Time for a change…

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Almost Reformatted
Posted in Tech
Afternoon watch, 4 bells (2:05 pm)

I almost had to reformat a Windows 7 machine today that wouldn't recognize the primary drive or the copy of Windows installed on it. Running the repair option from the DVD saw the secondary drive and gave me no option to fix the master boot record. Opening a command prompt (again, using the Repair section of the DVD) defaulted to the D: drive, but allowed me to change to C: and view files just fine.

So my first though was to fdisk /mbr the thing, but fdisk is no longer part of Windows. That gave me a sad. Fortunately, there's a new alternative: bootsect /nt60 c: /mbr

Running that and rebooting took me right back to the installed operating system, so saving itself from a pending reformat.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-09-05
Posted in Twitter
Morning watch, 6 bells (7:03 am)
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Connecting To a Cisco Router With Minicom
Posted in Tech
First watch, 2 bells (9:10 pm)

This article about connecting to a Cisco router with minicom just helped me solve a nasty problem I've been having.

PS. The default IP address of a Cisco 881W router is 10.10.10.1 with a netmask of 255.255.255.248 (or /29), and the usable range of IP addresses for that setup is 10.10.10.1 to 10.10.10.6.

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Creative Blog Spam
Posted in Strangeness
Forenoon watch, 3 bells (9:56 am)

I got these weird spam comments in my moderation queue recently:

weird blog comment spam

Since I got two of these, I can't say they're terribly original, but at least it's honest spam…

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A Quick Update
Posted in General
Afternoon watch, 7 bells (3:50 pm)

Okay, let's see. Build a squirt gun from a sprinkler valve, PVC, and a couple of 9v batteries. That was fun.

I started learning the Dvorak layout. It's something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I'm using Master Key and am very happy with it. If you need a typing tutor program, check it out. It runs on Windows or on a Mac.

My liver is fine. Probably because I'm a teetotaler.

I'm working on deploying a Cisco 881W wireless router at home to test some VPN and routing ideas from work. When it's up, I'll have the biggest wireless router on the block, and the ability to launch multiple SSIDs and name them things like MakeTheBarkingStop and ShutYourStupidDogsUp. No reason, really.

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