Sunday, December 29, 2013

I Hate Big Box ISP's

Sometimes I hate "big box" Internet service providers.  In this case, Comcast (or Xfinity, which ever name you'd prefer) is my target.

We had a power outage in this area a week and a half ago.  Normally, this is not an issue.  However, this was wide-spread enough that Comcast decided to add custom routes in the network, and hasn't figured out how to remove them.

What it means for me

I have to have Internet access for my job.  I need it to be accessible from both sides (public to the private network, and vice-versa).  However, I cannot ping the public IP address that they provide from the public side.  I can't connect to it from there, either.  Since I'm an idiot with some networking experience, I start looking at trace routes.  From the inside :

traceroute to virtualserver (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX), 64 hops max, 52 byte packets
 1  router (  7.623 ms  1.502 ms  1.832 ms
 2  XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)  10.849 ms  11.573 ms  11.102 ms
 3 (  11.262 ms  13.049 ms  11.200 ms
 4 (  11.564 ms (  15.901 ms *
 5 (  16.767 ms  14.778 ms  15.931 ms
 6 (  27.885 ms  28.708 ms  24.411 ms
 7 (  36.089 ms  246.011 ms  185.173 ms
 8 (  24.435 ms (  27.180 ms (  26.129 ms
 9 (  81.675 ms  82.868 ms  87.086 ms
10 (  89.675 ms  88.852 ms (  92.166 ms
11 (  124.252 ms  122.275 ms (  124.109 ms
12 (  122.540 ms  122.649 ms  123.540 ms
13  * * *
14  vpslinkrouter (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)  122.334 ms  124.073 ms  127.955 ms
15  virtualserver (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)  121.408 ms  121.116 ms *

From the outside looking back to that IP address :

traceroute to XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX), 30 hops max, 40 byte packets
 1  vpslinkrouter (XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX)  0.063 ms  0.082 ms  0.073 ms
 2 (  0.297 ms  0.392 ms  6.757 ms
 3 (  0.232 ms  0.259 ms  0.316 ms
 4 (  0.654 ms  1.991 ms  1.971 ms
 5 (  6.401 ms (  6.502 ms  6.519 ms
 6 (  6.563 ms  6.502 ms  6.400 ms
 7 (  8.090 ms (  7.971 ms (  6.892 ms
 8 (  57.804 ms  57.789 ms  57.833 ms
 9 (  61.152 ms (  58.932 ms  58.892 ms
10 (  77.619 ms  77.642 ms  77.613 ms
11 (  100.511 ms  100.459 ms  100.443 ms
12 (  109.087 ms  112.585 ms  111.537 ms
13 (  111.017 ms  109.492 ms  111.080 ms
14 (  110.072 ms  108.898 ms  110.121 ms
15  * * *
16  * * *
17  * * *
18  * * *
19  * * *
20  * * *
21  * * *
22  * * *
23  * * *
24  * * *
25  * * *
26  * * *
27  * * *
28  * * *
29  * * *
30  * * *

Outbound traffic was routed from SLC, UT, USA to Denver, CO, USA.  In Denver, things take a different path than the inbound traffic.  In fact, inbound traffic is getting routed through New York City, NY, USA.  Even with THAT, it should be easy to pin point the problem.

Why I hate "Big Box" ISP's

So, I jump on the phone with them.  2 hours and 25 minutes (yes, I tried for this long), 8 transfers (3 times at the same group, too), 9 "that's beyond what I can do for you", and two online chat sessions later, my phone battery dies.  Not one idiot works for Comcast that knew that when I talked about an IP address in Denver that was their router, I wasn't meaning my home network router.  When this contract is over (if I can find a good ISP), kiss Comcast good bye.  If someone wants to pitch in to buy me a fiber connection, I'd be one happy camper!  But, in the mean time, I have to deal with big box idiots that associate "router" with "in house wireless" rather than a nice Foundry device sitting at their Denver office.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

It's a Dangerous World Out There

The Honda Civic has been giving me fits again - it has a really loud rattle at idle, and it's been getting worse.  Sure, I'd love to be able to work on the vette again - to try and get back to the electrical, but it's not going to happen until I have a stable method of transportation.  I borrowed what is called a "mechanics stethoscope" - it's a mutation off of a doctors stethoscope, but instead of the diaphragm at the bottom (the thing you put on your back), it has a loose rod.

Here's how it works.  You put the usual binaural "ear pieces" where they'd normally go (if you put them elsewhere, I do NOT want to ever use your mechanics stethoscope).  Then, when the rattle is happening on the car, you simply place the rod onto various parts of the engine or components - making absolute certainty that you do NOT get it stuck in moving parts such as fans or belts.  You will hear a slightly amplified form of the rattle depending on how close to the rattling part you really are.

Here's my experience.  I went out with this to check the loud rattle on the civic.  Since it was cold (14 degrees), I put the ear pieces to my ears before I went out to the car so I could also put on the balaclava.  I'd suggest NOT doing this - every time I bumped the bottom end of the stethoscope, there was a really loud "thump" that seemed to cause pain.  Once I had the car started and the hood up, I began methodically setting the rod onto various components.  The engine block was first (new engine, wanted to make sure it was okay), transmission was next (wanted to make sure there wasn't a bad bearing or torque converter going on, or a stripped gear), and then the usual suspects.  It all stopped with the alternator.  It seemed to be the loudest.  The tool seems like it worked well.  I needed to remove the alternator to get it checked.

Here's the result.  I titled this post "It's a Dangerous World Out There".  So where was the danger?  Aside from not getting the thing caught in any moving parts, what could possibly have happened?  Well, I identified the alternator as a potential problem (and then saw the pulley on the alternator sitting at a bad angle).  So, I decided to remove it.  While I was laying underneath the car, clothing starting to stick to the concrete beneath me, with a large wrench to remove the alternator bolts, and not having much feeling due to the cold at this point, I dropped the wrench.  Normally this is not a problem.  However, I've been in the cold for a bit so the bridge of my nose is numb (right where the wrench hit), and I'm already frustrated.  Luckily, I was wearing glasses, which broke the fall of the wrench.  I rolled out from underneath the car, bent the glasses back to shape, felt kind of odd about my nose (no blood from the inside, so it's not broken), and went back to work.

Every time I stood up, I felt a little weird.  When I finished up as much as I could (the alternator is still there and needs to be disconnected), I went inside to console my sweet wife (another failure).  Looking in the mirror later that weekend told me I did break the skin.  Apparently, it's hard to take me seriously when I've been hit right between the eyes.