somewhat daily mutterings

/Computing No Boost for Me!

In case you were wondering, no the Linksys WSB24 antenna booster will not work with your WRT54G Router. I couldn't find it definitively stated anywhere (other than that it's not approved by the FCC), so I thought I'd try it (I don't need no stinkin' FCC approval :-)). It just plain doesn't work. Signal goes almost to zero. Don't even bother trying it.

Now I've got a decision to make:

  • Sell the WRT54G and revert to boosted 802.11b
  • Sell the WSB24 and try a wireless bridge to extend access
  • Sell the WSB24 and just live with semi-sweet coverage
What's a poor geek to do?

Posted: Thu Jul 31 13:57:19 -0700 2003

/Computing Networking Hell (Redux)

OK, my site is back up after having been down since Friday, the 18th. My Cisco 678 seems to have stopped responding to the LAN side of things, although all the blinkenlights looked OK. I couldn't ping the backside of the thing, no matter what I did, so I gave up and bought a Zoom X4 ADSL Modem/Router. Setting up the X4 was not a real big deal, although Qwest didn't give me a lot of help (it's not a supported piece). However, once the X4 was online, my Linksys WRT54G just wasn't doing it's thing. I figured that replacing the modem would be a plug-n-play thing and that once it was working, the rest would be gravy. Wrong and wrong. I had a real heck of a time getting the Linksys working in the new config, so I was stuck with boring old wired networking, and a website that wasn't.

However, Zoom's tech support proved to be quite awesome (I was very pleasantly surprised by this), and after quite a bit of back-n-forth, my network is back up. It was all my fault, of course. At some point while I was thrashing around trying to get the Linksys to work again, I must have set it to 'router' mode, when it should have been in 'gateway' mode. I must have further combined that with some other stupidity that I reset later. Anyway, one day while pondering the Linksys' admin screens for the umpteenth time, I noticed this mis-setting, and fixed it. Instant wireless joy!

Now I was wire-free, but my website wasn't up. Somehow, in the Cisco days I'd had one static WAN IP assigned to the Cisco, and another to the Linksys. My domain name was associated to the Linksys' IP addx. Just how this worked, I haven't the faintest - but my Linksys now resides on a subnet with the X4 because there was just no way it was going to work with a static WAN IP address. Anyway, I had the requisite HTTP port forwarded on both routers, but I could not get a port scan to show the port. I also could not browse the site using my static IP. Over the course of a day or so, it slowly hit me that maybe I just couldn't see my site from inside my network. So, I ran on over to Gibson Research to sic their port scanner on my IP address. Sure enough, it showed port 80 available. I IM'd a friend my static IP address and asked her to try my site. Yep, she could see it. So, I updated my DNS records, and now I'm in business. Well, except that I still can't browse my site from inside my net using my WAN static IP or domain name.

Can someone out there tell me how my network could have worked as it was before? My Cisco was assigned a static WAN IP, and the Linksys was assigned another one. Is there some magic that the Cisco did on Qwest's network that made this config work?

Can someone also tell me why I can't browse my own damn website from within my network?

Posted: Mon Jul 28 20:25:41 -0700 2003

/Miscellany Die eBay Scammer Scum!

I've been bidding here and there on used Apple TiBooks on eBay, which has brought the scammers running to my email doorstep. Yesterday, I had an exchange with someone who wrote me using eBay's communication feature. The message related how the writer had noticed me bidding for PowerBooks and wanted to offer me one for $750, shipping and insurance included. The writer also made pains to include a link demonstrating his great eBay feedback.

After a quick check of the domain from which his email was sent (some cheesy non-validated email service from Czechoslovakia) I was pretty much immediately suspicious, but a morbid curiousity led me to check out the feedback he claimed as his own. Lessee: a few model train purchases, tickets for a Santana concert in VA, and a few horse racing prints. Nothing about computers. There was more feedback, but it had become too old to research. So, in my first reply to the writer, I asked where he is from. The reply was "the UK", along with instructions on how to pay for the item via http://www.uk-escrow.co.uk/register.php.

I checked out the escrow site, which looked professional. However, I immediately noticed that the registration page was not secured (the URL begins with "http", rather than "https"). Also, I've heard about scam escrow services becoming a big problem. So, I replied to the guy with a mail asking "how was the Santana concert?", to which he replied "Santana concert?". I followed up with "how is the model railroad coming?", to which he replied "how does this concern the offer I've made you?".

Assuming that this dude had hijacked a legitimate eBay user's account, I decided to determine whether the guy had been sharp enough to change the user's email address to his own. So, I sent a mail to the user via eBay's mailing service. The scammer replied with essentially the same escrow note he'd sent before, so he'd at least covered that base. Tiring of the game, I finally sent a mail wishing the guy luck "selling" his "PowerBook" (I didn't include the quotes). It was very hard for me not to write him back and tell him what an idiot he was not to at least do the research on the stolen account's feedback in order to be able to answer my questions. But I decided that it was wiser not to give him scamming tips.

About midday today, I got another mail offering to sell me a PowerBook at a very attractive price. However, this one offered to work out an inspection before payment. I suspect scammage, but I'm not sure yet. I'll report back here when I know more.

Posted: Thu Jul 17 19:39:31 -0700 2003

/Cycling HOT HOT HOT

Man, this must be the hottest ride home I've ever had. I think it was around 95 or so, under intense sun. It was so hot I could feel heat waves rising from the pavement. It was so hot that my brake levers were warm to the touch in many cases.

Posted: Thu Jul 17 19:10:39 -0700 2003

/Miscellany Recommendation: Oberwerk Binoculars

If you're looking for a good binocular for a reasonable price, consider buying from Oberwerk. I ordered one of their 10x50 wide-field, waterproof binos, and was impressed by the quality of construction, but a little less so by the sharpness at the edges. I communicated this to the proprietor, and he explained the trade-offs with wide-field binos between the wide field-of-view, and edge sharpness. I at first accepted this explanation, but after some more informal testing I discovered that the distortion was unacceptable in only one side, which meant to me that the "bad" side was a defect. I wrote him again and he asked me to reurn the binos so he could take a look.

A few days later, I got a mail from him admitting that the binos did have some unusual distortion, and he offered a replacement 10x50 that he'd personally tried out, or an exchange for something else, such as his 9x56 or 10x56. After a couple more emails, I decided on the "something else" option, and ordered an 11x56 for $30 less (cost: $100). The 11x56 rocks! I've not put in a lot of time with it yet, but so far, it is very sharp to the edges and handles great (although it's a bit bigger than the 10x50, naturally).

In our correspondences, the proprietor was frank and open about the trade-offs and realities of his products. I believe he can do that because they speak for themselves. By the way, if you're more in the high-end market (like Fujinon), he can help you there, too.

Posted: Wed Jul 16 19:50:13 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling "Ride Your Motorcycle To Work Day" A Bust

Well, I considered it one, anyway. I braved the near 100 degree forecast today and rode my motorcycle to work (chances are I'd have done it anyway, even if it wasn't RYMTW day). I thought, "this will be cool - I'll see a bunch of riders out on their bikes for once". How wrong I was. I saw one other motorcyclist this morning, and one this afternoon. That seemed like less than I'd normally see. Bummer.

Posted: Wed Jul 16 18:50:10 -0700 2003

/Computing Java Benchmark, Including new iBook

Any time I get a new machine I run my non-scientific, hand-rolled Java benchmark app on it, and then publish the results. Here's the breakdown, including my new iBook:

Int     Double  String  IO      Total   Platform
-----   ------  ------  -----   ------  -----------------------------------------------------------

0.632   1.092   2.048   0.655   4.427   Sun Ultra 10/440 (128M RAM, Java 1.2.1)
0.104   0.726   3.507   0.516   4.853   Apple Macintosh G4 (dual 877mhz, 512M, Java 1.4.1)
0.549   1.425   2.753   0.67    5.397   Sun Ultra 5/400 (128M RAM, Java 1.3)
0.16    2.31    3.07    0.33    5.87    P700 Desktop, 256M, Java 1.3
0.266   3.547   3.719   0.515   8.047   Gateway E5200 (Dual PIII 450, 128 Megs RAM, Java 1.3)
1.102   2.86    3.296   1.15    8.408   Ultra 1 200E, 256M, Java 1.2.1
0.261   0.982   7.687   0.588   9.518   Apple iBook 900 (640M RAM, Java 1.4.1)
0.07    0.06    10.065  2.423   12.618  P600 Celeron Laptop, 256M, Java 1.2.2
4.825   19.903  1.439   0.89    27.057  HP 9000/800/N4000 2x440, 4G (under heavy load)
2.207   5.423   22.302  4.305   34.24   Sparc 10 (2x50mhz), 128M, Java 1.2
0.895   18.134  62.011  3.782   84.822  Sharp Zaurus SL-5500, Jeode VM
The list is sorted by total time. You might want to import this table into a spreadsheet to play with different sorts. From a quick glance, it looks like the iBook loses out in the String processing area for the most part, being half as fast as its big brother G4. My old Sun Ultra 10 is still king, at least in total time. Of course you have to take all these numbers with a grain of salt: my benchmark is highly unscientific, the conditions weren't controlled, and it realloy tests the JVM implementations on each platform as much as it tests the platforms actual speed. Still, fun to compare!

Posted: Mon Jul 14 07:28:44 -0700 2003

/Computing/Mac New iBook

OK, I finally committed to a new laptop - a 900mhz, 12" iBook. I was really torn between the iBook and the 12" PowerBook. But after spending an hour today in front of them, I decided that I'd rather have the iBook and $300 than the PowerBook. I'm as susceptible as the next guy to power lust, but the 900mhz G3 should be able to cover 99% of the requirements I have in a computer (after all, I've never pushed my dual 867mhz PowerMac, except in games and movies, and that's a very small percentage of my total computing time). Also, I noticed again today how incredibly hot the PB gets. That would really annoy me since I do intend to use this new machine in, of all places, my lap!

The iBook hasn't let me down so far. I was on my wireless network within a few minutes, and I'm typing this entry wirelessly from the upstairs couch (I moved inside because I was getting eaten alive by mosquitoes). So, I'm really happy so far.

Posted: Sat Jul 12 22:04:34 -0700 2003

/Travels Ruidoso Family Reunion

MB, Jake (the dog) and I went down to Ruidoso, NM for the weekend of the 4th of July to spend some time with my Mom, and my brother and his family. It was a great, relaxing time. We pretty much just ate and hung out by the pool, which was just fine by me. We had a couple of bear sightings, which was kind of exciting, too.

Dumpster-diving Bears

Electrical Storm over Ruidoso

Posted: Tue Jul 08 19:48:10 -0700 2003

/Miscellany Mt Evans Climb

Last Wednesday (07/02/2003), MB and our nephew Chad and I did a hike/climb up Mt Evans, which is one of Colorado's many 14,000+ foot peaks. I'd ridden to the Mt Evans summit on my bicycle before, but the hike was a totally new experience. Like most weekend (or in this case, mid-week) warriors, we were a bit underprepared, but it all turned out OK in the end. The problem is that we didn't quite understand the trail route we'd chosen, and weren't paying attention when we started. The climb we'd intended to do was a 2-mile round trip. When we were .85 miles into it, I used my GPS to determine that we were still over a mile from the summit.

Unfortunately, we had only enough food and water (comfortably, anyway) for the 2-mile trip. We knew we were on one of the trails, though, so it was a matter of deciding whether to push forward or to retrace our steps. We pushed forward for a while, and just as we were getting a bit worried about our progress we met some trailblazers. They put us on the right path to the summit, and the rest of the hike was mainly a rock scrambling traverse of the western face. The views were, to put it lightly, amazing.


Summit Lake from .85 mile Point [more pix]

Posted: Tue Jul 08 19:48:01 -0700 2003

/Motorcycling Central Colorado Motorcycle Tour

I joined Dave (a coworker of mine), and his friends and aquaintences on a great two-day (06/30 - 07/01) ride through the central Colorado mountains. Over the course of two days we put in a leisurely 400+ miles, passing through Evergreen, Conifer, Fairplay, Buena Vista, Leadville and Copper. I returned on I-70, while the rest of the group continued home to northern CO.


Top of Independence Pass [more pix]

But I Almost Didn't Do It

The tour was almost scuttled, for me anyway, when I dropped my bike after hours of washing, waxing and other preparations. I had the bike on our front sidewalk to do the work. Our sidewalk is narrow, we live on a hill, and the road is strongly crowned. When the bike is on the sidewalk, I always take the bike off the centerstand very carefully due to this combination of factors. Well, I guess I wasn't careful enough this time, because when I took the bike, which had been warming up, off the centerstand, I got leaning just the slightest bit the wrong way (into the road). The hill, narrow sidewalk, and crown, combined to make it impossible for me to get the bike righted, so it went crashing to the ground, with me jumping off at the last second. I got to watch the right mirror/turn-signal pod explode under the weight of the bike. What a bummer!

Once my neighbor and I had the bike righted, I picked up the turn-signal pod pieces, and inspected the bike. No real damage other than a deep scuff on the plastic cover of the bar-end weight and a few scuffs on the right-side saddlebag (which had popped off, but popped right back on), and of course the pod. The fairing was no more scratched than usual, which I suppose is a blessing.

As I was doing the damage assessment, I became aware of a burning sensation in my left calf. I looked down to find that I had several burned spots on my leg. Apparently, the bike had turned over far enough that my leg brushed over the header pipes as I jumped off. What another bummer!

With the turn-signal pod in pieces and my leg burning like hell, I was pretty depressed and decided I wouldn't do the ride after all. I really didn't want to ride without the turn-signal and mirror, and I couldn't imagine pulling boots up onto this burned calf of mine. So, with heavy heart, I called Dave to let him know not to expect me at our rendezvous in Idaho Springs.

With nothing better to do, I iced my leg and worked on the turn-signal pod. It turned out that the pod had actually broken apart at natural join lines, so making a long story short, I was able to glue it and the turn-signal lens back together with airplane glue. The next challenge was to mount the pod back onto the fairing. Unfortunately, the mounting plate had bent, putting one of the mounting studs at an impossible angle for pod attachment. When I tried to bend the stud back into place, it popped out of the hole in the mounting plate to which it was riveted. "Now what?", I thought, "I'm really screwed". However, it occured to me that I could straighten the mounting plate now that the rivet hole was exposed, by inserting a screwdriver shaft in the rivet hole and applying appropriate pressure to the plate to bend it back into alignment. That done, I was able to twist the stud's rivet-end into the hole it came from. The twisting caused the stud to bind back into place; I found that it was surprisingly strong after this manipulation. The pod went on fairly well, except that it cracked in half again on the glue seams as I applied pressure to it in order to snap it onto the mounting plate. So, I glued it back together, in-place on the motorcycle, and used a thick rubber band to hold it together while the glue dried.

A few hours later (at night), the pain of my burns had subsided a great deal. I took the bike out for a 40-mile spin over rough roads, and at speeds up to 80mph to test the pod installation. The pod assembly held, and I'd been able to wear my boots comfortably over my burns. I was back in the ride!!

Posted: Mon Jul 07 23:00:00 -0700 2003

/Miscellany I Have a Lot of Catching Up To Do

My week of "mandatory vacation" has been pretty busy so far. I just got back yesterday from a two-day motorcycle trip though the central Colorado mountains, and today I climbed Mt. Evans from Summit Lake with MB and Chad (my nephew). I have tons of pictures to post, and little time to do it, because we're off again tomorrow. I will catch up, I promise.

Posted: Wed Jul 02 18:40:11 -0700 2003

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