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Kitty in the Window

Kitty in the Window

    New cable modem arrived and was installed today, so we'll see how that goes.  Jollywombat posted some interesting data about our connection (I've permanently mirrored those here and here).  As can be seen on the graph, the signal pretty much jumps off the chats without transition time.  Not having experience with signal transmission of this type, I can't say if that's normally how bad things happen or not.  However, it's clear that this event isn't gradual.  What can be observed is that the signal isn't fluttering on the edge of operational specifications.  Thus, we're not experiencing errors caused by some "just out of range" syndrome.  It looks like some event takes place that throws the signal way out of range for some period of time.  Since the graph ends with the signal still out of range, I can't say if after the period the signal returns to normal, but that could be the case.
    Speaking of graphs, my hard drive price tracking script found 500 gigabyte hard drives bottomed out again today, hitting $99.  That's the first time I've seen this price since I bought my drive back at the beginning of May.
    Attended the first rehearsal for the summer production of It's Only a Play.  I will be playing a key part in set design, construction, lighting and sound.  It's going to take a bit of work-- likely more then I'm anticipating again, but I know I'm going to love it.  Didn't take long after Hair before I had the itch to be back stage again.  Something about a 100 channel lighting rig, 96,000 watts to push it, batons that can fly several hundred pounds 50 feet in the air and a shop full of power tools and wood.  Too much fun.
    Pictured is a kitty in the window.  This is an early shot taken with my 70-300mm lens.

June 18, 2007

Happy Birthday Pluvius

Tyson (a.k.a. Pluvius)

Tyson (a.k.a. Pluvius)

    An other call to Charter this afternoon.  About 3:00pm our already sluggish connection completely dropped out.  A pretty friendly tech support guy said our signal levels look awful, which is the opposite of what the line guy yesterday saw.  I mentioned the modem being labeled as suspect and when he found out it was a Cisco, said it should be replaced.  I only know it's a Cisco modem because that's what the line guy said it was-- there are no brand markings on the modem.  The new modem is scheduled to be here tomorrow.  I'm wondering if we're not chasing an intermittent problem-- perhaps a loss connection somewhere that keeps being bumped by a squirrel, blowing tree branch or temperature expansion.  Whatever the case, the dance continues...
    Tried to compile Pidgin so I could get SILC support on my Ubuntu box.  I did get the program to compile and I even had the ability to create an SILC account.  However, it would never make the connection.  Clearly something wasn't working right, but I don't know what.  Guess I'll just await for the Ubuntu guys work this one out-- I have too many other things to do right now :(
    A happy birthday goes out to our very good friend Pluvius.

1 comment has been made.

From Jollywombat

June 18, 2007 at 5:24 PM

Your using an ambit modem actually. Around 11pm last night your Forward signal level dropped from a -3 or so down to a -26, then compleatly died just before 3pm by dropping to around a -30. No other modems in your area show a signal jump like that, just yours. The links have a screenshot of your modem output, as well as a graph of your signal levels for the past week. Blanked out your personal info since this is an open comment.

June 17, 2007


    Wow... wasn't excepting a comment from Charter (our ISP) on my blog-- guess the line guy must have mentioned my website.  Well, was down from around 8:30am until after 2:00pm.  Last night we were down for around an hour, which is what prompted the call in the first place.  So I was glad when the line guy when he showed up.  He had a look at a few things and discovered a bad filter on the pole.  That, a few replaced connectors and one replaced squeal chewed wire and he said our single had improved.  There's still concern about the cable modem itself, but we're starting with this.  Naturally, I'm going to be keeping an eye on the connection.
    Latter this evening, our connection did drop out.  I decided to put the cable modem in the path of a fan to see if maybe that will help.  The connection came back fairly quick after I did that, but it could have just been acting like it normally does-- dropping for a few minutes and returning.
    I tried to setup Pidgin, the instant messaging client, on the Black Dragon.  I've been playing with the SILC (Secure Internet Live Conferencing), which Pidgin has built-in.  Well, it's built-in and enabled for the win32 version.  On Ubuntu, it's not included in the binary distribution.  Apparently the SILC library isn't ready in Debian/Ubuntu yet.  Thus, Pidgin doesn't have it enabled.  That's a pain, because that's why I installed Pidgin on that machine in the first place.  I could build Pidgin from the source code, but didn't tonight.  An other time.
    SILC is the only IM protocol that natively support encryption in chat rooms.  I use encryption any place I can, especially when chatting on-line.  Most non-tech savvy people know nothing about CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act), which requires all Internet Service Providers to have systems in place so the FBI (and/or some other law enforcement agency) can monitor individual's internet traffic.  This act is suppose to enable law enforcement additional measures to monitor and take down terrorists.  In theory, that's all this system will be used for.  If the idea of sitting before a military tribunal in Cuba, explaining your constitutionally protected right to have a satirical conversation to a friend over the internet doesn't sound like fun, then keep this in mind: CALEA only captures information traveling to and from your computer.  Encryption renders this system pretty ineffective.  They might know you were engaged in an IM conversation and at what times; maybe even the length of the lines of the conversation-- but the content itself would continue to remain obscure. 
    It's not really the FBI's search for terrorists that concerns me.  Chances are that if the FBI is monitoring you, IM encryption isn't going to detour them.  They could use the "sneak and peak" clause of the USA PATRIOT and install a key logger on your computer, or record the images on your monitor using radio emissions, or send you to some other country and have someone beat you with a rubber hose until you confess.  However, a system like this are a powerful tool.  How about an other Watergate scandal, this time monitoring political group's internet traffic rather then breaking into offices-- no security guards to screw up the process this way.  How long before the RIAA and MPAA are allowed to "monitor" those suspected of illegal file sharing?  Using encryption is like locking your car door-- won't stop everyone, but it will stop the the petty crook.

2 comments have been made.

From jollywombat

Madison WI

June 18, 2007 at 8:44 AM

Actually, I was on the website before the tech ever went out to your site. Saw the web address in your account and decided to look it up. Nice site by the way. As I said, let me know how stable the connection is. I will try to keep an eye on it as well. Hard to diagnose short drop-offs like you state you are experiencing though. If you really want to do more troubleshooting, just request a modem from Charter for a month or so and see if the problems still exist. That way you can at least have evidence to point back to us that it isn%u2019t a personal modem problem. With regards to your comments on encryption for chat usage and such, it is only a matter of time until the major chat sites/programs institute their own forms of encryption and advertise this fact to their user base, but the catch will still be that backdoors will always be there for the "proper" agencies to utilize when they feel the need.

From StaAck


June 23, 2007 at 12:10 AM

CALEA is pretty fuckin scary. Considering all I have to do is add two firewall rules. I can see the positive uses for it, but there is too much room for abuse IMHO. But I will give props to Mikrotik ( for making it easy for us to become compliant.
   I've had problems with my ISP, Charter, ever since I got the service.  The connection has been intermittent, dropping out for usually a no more then a minute at random.  Last year in July, Charter came out to "fix" this problem.  They removed a filter from the line and left, which did nothing at all.  A friend who works for Charter had a look at our setup and said the problem was on the pole.  I had told them this, but they didn't listen. 
   Lately the connection has been dropping out more frequent, and for longer periods of time.  I hate calling Charter because I usually spend a long time on hold, but I got upset enough about this one to call.  Strangely, I got through to a tech right away with no hold time at all.  The techs are usually pretty easy to work with and has put in an other work order for repair.  We'll see if this amount to anything.
    Pictured is Crystal

1 comment has been made.

From Jollywombat

Madison, WI

June 17, 2007 at 4:52 PM

Hello, Wondering if your internet problems are resolved or not now that the work order was closed out. I am in a department that handles CBN calls on the weekends in addition to network monitoring 24/7 at Charter. I understand the frustrations with charter services, and trust me, employees have to deal with it too. Let me know if you have any other issues.
   The heat has been building up and we've been running the air conditioner more and more.  Not quite as much as late summer as I found using the blower fan to cool the computer works pretty good-- thus the room doesn't need as much air conditioning.  The Garage is no longer cooling down as much at night, so it looks like we're at the end of comfortable weather for the remainder of the summer.  I look forward to fall :)
    Pictured is Link
    Started English 102 today.  I needed this class, but the reason I took it this summer was because I wanted it fought by this professor. Everyone raves about him and even after the first day I can see why-- he knows the subject and is passionate about it.
    This is one of a couple random shots I took today using my 70-300mm lens.