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?