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Networking Madness

Last night our wireless networking seemed to quit working. The wired network seemed fine. So I attempted to log into my favorite router, my D-Link DIR-615, only to find it would not accept my administrator password. A wave of panic washed over me. Didn’t I change that password so Cathy could block the children’s Internet access when they needed a little guidance? If I did, I certainly don’t recall telling her how to access the router’s management software. I searched for a way to hack my own equipment hoping there was a reset option that would reset the password without losing the logs, security settings, etc. I efforts turned up nothing. All I could do was hold down that reset switch to return the router to factory defaults. On the positive side, it kept the firmware updates in place. I’ve dorked with the router settings enough that this exercise was probably necessary anyway. So how did it happen? The only thing I can figure is that when I tripped breakers for the water heater repair this past weekend the router probably got borked.

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Developer Tip of the Day

If you have two servers with the same directory structure and you are ftp’d and remote desktop’d into one of these servers, when you ftp a file if it doesn’t immediately appear in the directory in the remote desktop, then you are probably ftp’d into the wrong server.

To non-developers, I acknowledge that as you read that you probably hear Charlie Brown’s adult wah wahs in your head. For that, I apologize!

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EZ Home Network Management – Use static IPs

I love technology and I want my children to know technology therefore they have Internet connected computers in their rooms (because I question the advice of the experts suggesting that computers in the bedrooms are bad ideas but that is for a different post). Tommy and Sarah use Windows XP due to their software needs but Noah uses Linux and although he could boot to Windows, he never does!

If you have more than one computer connected to the Internet through DSL or a cable company then you have a router that is probably assigning IP addresses to your computers by DHCP. First off, all our computers are named. If you didn’t name the computer yourself, it got a pseudo random name like CW123-Laurence1 when you installed your operating system. Now, you can change this name at anytime. For instance, our computers are based on famous artists and psychiatrists such as Monet, Freud, Dali and so forth. These names are absolutely meaningless to a computer. Computers like numbers! Your computer also gets an address assigned to it. This is your IP address which will look something like or DHCP randomly choose a number when your computer connects to the network (ie. is turned on). So your child might be on Monday and on Tuesday that same computer could be

Having randomly generate IP addresses is not really a big deal since the numbers are behind the scenes, right? I say no! One reason I am completely comfortable having computers in each of the children’s rooms is that I monitor them. I can look at the router’s log files or a sniffer and know exactly what traffic is crossing my network. I can also remotely disable their Internet connections without pulling wires or hampering other connections. I can do this because their IP addresses never change. I still have DHCP enabled so that if someone is visiting they can simply plug into the network. Each of our home computers have a static IP. Companies with static IPs keep charts to relate an IP to a user (Bob == but I find that cumbersome for a household. My scheme? Birth year! If your child was born in 1992, then the IP address is Got twins? Put the second one at or make them share a computer.

Naturally this is a little pointless if you only have one or two computers in the house. In the coming years, I bet you surprised how many devices in your house start relying on an IP address. "Honey. Can you ping the toaster and see if my breakfast is ready yet?"

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Ted Stevens was right!

It is a series of tubes!

Tubes creates personal private ‘spaces’ for your friends, family, colleagues, teams, communities or just yourself, across your various PCs and devices, empowering you to manage your digital life. With Tubes, you can now easily share and distribute your digital content with everyone you know – bi-directionally. [Source]

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How to ask for help online.

IRC was the first an early instant messenger. I use IRC on EFNET daily as djuggler and sometimes CFNinja. I also spend some time in Dalnet‘s #coldfusion. As an independent consultant the people that hang out on the subject specific IRC channel are often invaluable sources of information acting similarly to the team environment you may find in an office. "Hey Joe, did you hear …?" "By the way, you shouldn’t do it that way because this security bulletin released yesterday said …" I program primarily in ColdFusion and PHP using Microsoft SQL and MySQL for databases. You will often find me in the channels #coldfusion, #GPS, #geocaching, #juggle, #php and sometimes, rarely, in #mysql or #sql. In IRC, anyone can create a channel so if you are interested in a subject you can probably find a channel, #ijumpintoicywater.

In the tech channels, people sometimes get a little egotistical or the regulars get tired of the same ol’ newbie questions that could easily be answered with a google search and the "I feel lucky" button. At some point, the regulars quit answering.

My mantra is that the Internet is a reflection of the real world. Like in the real world, if you want an answer, you have to phrase your question correctly. Bash is a service to forever memorialize some of the stupid things (or funny things) that are said in the IRC channels. Remember, the Internet is permanent (and so are those naked photos you put up).

#684045 +(1170)- [X]

<Numi> I was having trouble getting screen dumps in unix so I went into #unix and said
<Numi> "Does anyone know how to do a screen dump in unix?"
<Numi> 5 minutes and no reply, so I modify it a bit
<Numi> "Two hot girls are stripping on webcam for me, how do i take a picture to show you guys?"
<Numi> 13 offers of assistance within 2 minutes. Brilliant.

If you use Firefox and are interested in using IRC, an easy way would be to install the Chatzilla extension. Personally, I use mIRC and am one of the 3 people in the world that actually paid the licensing fee.

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Are your ports blocked?

Many ISPs, particularly residential, block ports to control traffic or protect their users. This means that if you want to run a webserver from your home and your ISP has blocked port 80 then you have to jump through some hoops to make it happen. How do you know if port 80 (or some other port you need) is blocked? Use the Can you see me? service.

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Test your speed.

On August 9 I asked How fast are you? C|Net brings a new speed test service to our attention. uses a snazzy graphical interface and records results. Other than making it look like the icon of the person is taking a whiz on the servers, the interface really brings this one home. I question the accuracy as it is the first service to truly rank my connection at the 6.5Mbit/s that it is supposed to be.

C|Net also offers their own meter similar to and

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How fast are you?

I enjoy writing about technology at Spy Journal Tech Tips. My lastest piece discusses Internet connection speeds. Reprinted here:

Our children will never appreciate the handshake of a 300 baud modem. The thought of transferring anything at 1200 baud is unthinkable even if we invoke the sacred z-modem. Now-a-days you are more likely to talk about megabits per second (a data rate) instead of baud (a symbol rate).

I find it amazing how our data communications have increased in such a short time. We used to drool over a T-1 connection (1.544Mbit/s). Since only businesses could afford such luxuries, people would plan weekend gaming sessions at their work place or stay late to download and surf in ways that the average home user could only dream possible. Now, your cable connection is likely faster than a T-1. Comcast advertises 6Mbit/s standard with 8Mbit/s for some extra money and is currently testing 16Mbit/s in Richmond, VA. The near future promises even better (28Mbit/s)!

What is your speed? Online testing services such as and can help you see if you are up to snuff. Your internal networking equipment can cause slowdowns so by-pass your router, hubs and other gear by plugging your computer directly into your cable or dsl modem when speed checking. You may need to power cycle the modem after connecting directly. (aka DSL Reports) is a fantastic resource when troubleshooting or investigating network speeds.

Your system software can influence speed. Tools like SG TCP Optimizer can greatly improve your Internet connection by adjusting network settings you may not even know exist.

See also It’s the latency, stupid for more understanding of speed issues. Read about hacking the Linksys router and Linksys Blue Box Router HOWTO.