Marathon? Check.

Well, Angela and I both completed the Richmond Marathon this afternoon. We both finished in (nearly) our goal times; Angela a little bit faster and me just a hair slower. However, the important part is that we finished.

After running, we cheered on some of the last folks coming across the finish line and then headed home to get cleaned up. Angela had kindly booked a couple’s massage for the two of us, which was absolutely fantastic (hey, two another first for me today!). Then we met some friends out for dinner: Angela’s running pal, Heather, and her fiance and our friend, Robert, who ran a great 8k this morning.

We’ve had a great day of running in some beautiful weather, but it’s time to go to get some rest. I’ll update this post soon with all the gory details, but I just wanted to say thanks to our friends and family who encouraged us and a special thanks to all the Training Team staff and runners who really made this so much fun. You’re all terrific.

Marathon Preparedness




Marathon Preparedness

Originally uploaded by super_structure.

Well, Angela and I are as ready as we’ll ever be. In less than ten hours, we’ll be on the way to running 26.2 miles. It’s been a long time coming (well, six months) and we are ready for it.

We went to the pre-race pasta dinner put on at the Presbyterian church just down on Monument Ave this evening. The pasta was some of the best I’ve ever had, too. Angela’s got her stuff all ready, her plans to run with her buddy for at least the first ten miles, and her iPod loaded with fun songs.

Me, I run at least half the time alone and just looking around at all the sights. One of the best parts of running is getting to notice things at street level you’d never see even from a car. Tomorrow, I’m going to take in the city of Richmond and love every minute of it. All 270 276 of them.

Hanging Myself Wirelessly

Around midnight, while typing ping -t 192.168.1.11 with one hand while the other held a tiny flathead screwdriver point across two Flash ROM pins, I thought to myself "Self, what the hell do you think you’re doing?"

I’ve been listening to Steve Gibson’s podcast called Security Now! since it began a few months ago. It is a great podcast for everyone who wants to learn about how to keep both home and corporate computers safe from threats. They’ve had a great series on wireless (WiFi) security that boils down to this: if you’re not using WPA (or derivative, such as Radius), you’re simply not secure. Disabling SSID broadcast and MAC filtering don’t help squat. Anyone using KisMAC or NetStumbler can be on your WEP "protected" in less than an hour just by listening (or, sniffing, if you like that term better).

So all this has had me very worried since our network is far less secure than I thought it was. We’ve been hacked once, although I’m pretty sure it was a neighbor just trying out NetStumbler for fun. I didn’t want anyone getting on our network and using our broadband for free or worse, getting onto our systems and snooping. I don’t need somebody getting my old tax files or anything1 Why did we have a WEP network in the first place, you ask? TiVo can’t use WPA encryption methods. Okay, the solution there is to use a USB ethernet adapter (as opposed to the USB WiFi adapter we have now) and then bridge it onto the wireless network with something that can use WPA. Simple enough, right? No, not really.

First of all, TiVo has very limited drivers for network adapters. I finally went with the Netgear FA120, and it works great. For the wireless bridge, I first thought I’d use a wireless access point by Linksys. I’ve had great luck with their routers and other network gear, this seemed promising. Well no amount of tinkering seemed to get the access point to act in repeater mode (think of a wireless bridge that also acts as a signal booster), despite all the firmware upgrades that claimed to fix that exact same problem.

Sveasoft Firmware

I successfully installed the Sveasoft firmware on my older router.

Next, I tried to use two of the same wireless routers with third party software by Sveasoft which allows the second router to act as a repeater and access point. This seemed ideal since routers are cheaper than access points and have rebates to help the cost even more. I was able to upgrade the firmware on my old router without problem, but sadly things didn’t go so well for the new router (both have to have the third party firmware).

Router Guts

You ever wonder what you’re router looked like on the inside? Hard to believe that’s a 125Mhz Linux computer, huh?

The firmware upgrade froze up and the power light just started flashing. If you own a Linksys WRT54G, let me tell you that the blinking power LED is sort of like seeing a human bleeding from the ears: a small sign that something terrible has happened. I tried hard resets as well as trying flashing the router with older Linksys firmware. I even tried a warranty voiding, last ditch effort to get it into failsafe mode. Around midnight, while typing ping -t 192.168.1.11 with one hand while the other held a tiny flathead screwdriver point across two Flash ROM pins, I thought to myself "Self, what the hell do you think you’re doing?" I fancy myself as power user, but this was way above and beyond what I should be attempting for a piece of hardware I could simply return as being defective.

The next day, I returned the "bricked" WRT54G to CompUSA and tried to look for a replacement. The problem is, they didn’t have any of the older, Linux OS versions; they only had the new V5.0 models, which can’t use any of the fancy third party firmware. Same thing at OfficeMax, Circuit City, and Best Buy: only the new, improved easy setup models. Finally, at Best Buy (as I was about to drive over to check Staples), I though that maybe I was going about this all wrong. Wouldn’t power-line adapters do the same trick, and negate the need for dumbing-down my wireless network just for TiVo? So that’s where I stand now. I may still have issues with the older wiring in our home, but could it be worse than finding every way conceivable to break our wireless network? I hope not.

  1. My ideal solution is to eventually have a network storage that will only allow machines I assign to it access, and then via password. This way I can even just remove it from the network, or isolate it, all together. []

Youth Make Believe

You’d play Poncherello, from CHiPs?

Not too long ago, I got the first season of Battlestar Galactica on DVD. That’s the new SciFi Channel version, which is a good show if you’re not already watching it. Several of the episodes guest star Richard Hatch, who played Capt. Apollo in the original series, as a rebel leader named Tom Zarek.

I was pointing out to Angela how cool I thought it was that Richard Hatch was involved with the new show some. I explained to her that when I was a kid (around six or so), my friend Robert and I pretended that we were a couple of the characters from Battlestar Galactica. Robert always played at being Lt. Starbuck (played by Dirk Benedict, who would later go on to play Face on The A-Team). I always played at being Apollo.

I told her, as a matter of fact, Robert and I had a rule: he’d play the blond guy and I’d play the dark-headed guy.

"He’d play Luke, I’d play Han."

"He’d play Ted, I’d play Chris, the helicopter pilot from Code Red1.

"He’d play Baker, I’d play Ponch."

silence

"You’d play Poncherello, from CHiPs?"

"Well, yeah."

"Eric Estrada?"

"Well, I wasn’t blond. Robert was."

"Jason, you’re way too white for that."

"But I’m not blond."

  1. Okay, so you may not remember this show, which was about a family of firefighters in Los Angeles. The show also starred Lorne Greene as well as a dark-haired Sam J Jones (he was bleach blond in the previous year’s Flash Gordon. I loved Code Red so much, that I told everyone for about a year that I wanted to grow up to live in Los Angeles and fly a helicopter, just like the guy in the show I used to pretend to be. []

Amazon’s Inverse Shipping Costs

What strange laws govern the economy of the parallel universe that is Amazon.com?

Okay, here’s one that boggles my mind. I ordered several unrelated items from Amazon on Sunday evening, part of which consisted of the following:

  • 2- Delonghi Oil Radiator Heaters weighing a total of 58 lbs. Free shipping (cost would have been $44.50) and delivered on Wednesday afternoon.
  • 2- Silver Cufflinks weighing a total of 4 oz. $4 for expedited shipping and delivered on Wednesday afternoon.

What strange laws govern the economy of the parallel universe that is Amazon.com?