Corporate Inanity

This is going to be short because well I don’t do long rants. But my ISP, SFR, is a steaming pile of shit. We’ve been using them for almost 7 years, and even longer if you count that the company they bought, Neuf, bought AOL France. They’ve been shedding customers left and right (up to 4 million/year) and now I can see why.

So a few weeks ago we received an SMS saying the bill hasn’t been paid. Not too strange, we normally wait until the last minute because we have 2 mobiles and internet with them, easier to pay them when all the bills arrive rather than one this week and another 2-3 weeks later. So bill paid, done. The next day the phone doesn’t work. Call support and the rep says he’ll take care of it, gives us credits, and it should be sorted in a few days. 10 days later the phone is still not sorted, but we weren’t using it and simply forgot about it. 3 days ago the internet was turned off. Called SFR again and the reps were completely useless as they say the internet has been turned off because the bill wasn’t paid. But the bill was paid. “okay, it will take a few days, up to 72 hours. In the meantime you can go to the Agence SFR and get a 3G dongle until its turned on.” So the misses marches down to the agence and they can’t give it to here because we haven’t paid the bill. .

Apparently none of the reps can fix the situation. We’ve already accumulated over 6 months worth of credit with all the calling, complaining, and glad handling. We’ll use that free internet to close the account, find the nearest office to drop off their equipment, and search for a new ISP.

I’m still boggled it takes 72 hours to “turn on internet.” I can order a Macbook from Shanghai and it will be here in 24 hours, more or less. For some companies, the digital economy is a buzzword in their PR releases and not something they grasp all that well internally.

Now that’s just really dumb

I’ve been struggling with my custom PC over the weekend. After ordering, waiting, and assembling the parts it just didn’t go all the way like I wanted it to. My Gigabyte P35-DS3R was stuck at “Verifying DMI Pool…”. I searched all over the internet about why I would be stuck at “Verifying DMI Pool……” after assembling everything correctly. I tested the motherboard to see if overclocking the easily overclockable Q6600 was the proper. Not. I thought the order of SATA drives was the problem. Not. I thought the drive had gone bad between the time I plugged it in the first time and the time I restarted the computer. A disk check later, not. So I disabled the ACHI capabilities. Meaning I would loose Hot-disconnect, NCQ, and RAID. This basically made the computer I planned to build with nearly unlimited capabilities, incapable of doing some of the things I would like in the near future.
So I browsed the forums and checked other posts on the same board, and I got nothing. One day I was browsing the OSx86 forums and someone with an ABIT IP35 (a similar chipset with similar features) mentioned the Boot Order in BIOS.
Apparently, my Pioneer DVD Drive is no longer recognized as CDROM, but as PIONEER-DVR… down in the bottom of the list if bootable devices in BIOS. It’s important that CDROM is not selected if you are using AHCI or else it will hang everytime. Realizing this might be the problem I’m having I changed the BIOS, booted and got the “Press any key to boot from CDROM”. Yes!
I posted this here in case someone else with a gigabyte P35-DS3R motherboard also encounters this Verifying DMI Pool error. Maybe the search engine gods will have this in a useful search.

OpenVPN on TAP

I’ve been using OpenVPN at work for a while now. One of the things I was curious about was the difference between TAP and TUN connections. By default OpenVPN uses the TUN. The release notes said something about compatibility in other operating systems and I saw a nice split of Windows and PC users so I decided compatibility was the more important. But the cost was the performance of the system. I’m not sure on the network level what the difference between a TAP and TUN connection. I know a tun uses single port. and a type creates a virtual device that uses a tunnel. But I decided to switch our internal VPN to TAP.
What a difference that makes. Using TAP we can browse other computers on the VPN as if they were on a localhost. And the speed of file copies went up a little bit. Browsing the server improved dramatically.
So if you are using OpenVPN and are on a primarily windows environment I would suggest using TAP in the server and client configs. The steps are

  1. open client config.ovpn in your favorite text editor.
  2. change dev tun to dev tap
  3. open the server config.ovpn in your favorite text editor
  4. change dev tun to dev tap
  5. change the server IP and subnet to: server 10.8.0.0 255.255.255.0 or whatever your iprange will be
  6. restart all server and client openvpn daemons
  7. breathe the fresh air of having local network speed on boxes far away

Cheers

GMail hacks, just be aware.

Recently while reading digg I came across a post from another blogger who’s Gmail account was hacked and he lost control of his domain. The hacker exploited a cross scripting hack in GMail and took transferred his domain name to himself. The crook now wants to ransom the domain for $250.
With your information you can never be too careful. As a web developer I work at trying to avoid situations such as these. I take the latest security developments into account when working on a website. And you can never have enough security.

uTorrent

Jeff Atwood of Coding Horror has a post on uTorrent. One of my favorite bittorrent clients. I’ve been using it for almost 3 years. It’s slick, silent, and unobtrusive. What good software should strive to be. The software I’m working is not that. It’s complex and intuitive. uTorrent is the best of both worlds. My wife likes it because she can subscribe to a few RSS feeds and get up and running in 2 clicks. I like it because I’m a tuner. It gives me real time information on my traffic, statistics, and error messages. It’s tuned to the point where I rarely have to touch it.
Start the computer, wait…. Everything starts automagically. Check the download folder if you are looking for something in particular. When it’s done it will be waiting for you. That’s it! I occasionally get a phonecall about a program that has disappeared or not in the write place. It happens when an unfamiliar file format is downloaded (for example *.mkv) and doesn’t know where to put it.
Did I mention it’s light. except for hits on the disk cache I rarely see any activity. 2MB – 20MB is all that’s required. Usually, I have a windows update that will interrupt the process but it never complains (except if the disk is full)