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The Why of Things

April 4th, 2008 3 comments

Growing up, I was labeled a “bright” kid by my teachers and family. But I always had one big problem: If I didn’t understand something I would get really frustrated. As in, suppress the urge to go outside and break a two by four in half frustrated. Most classwork came so easily to me that I was not very prepared for the times when I didn’t fully comprehend something right away.

I haven’t felt that way very much since leaving school for the working world, but CIDR notation is making me feel that way again for the first time in a long time. CIDR notation is basically a way of describing IP ranges and also figuring out their broadcast and subnet masks. I’ve spent a few hours today trying to figure this out and all I’ve accomplished so far is a battle to keep myself from going outside to find that old friend the two by four.

In case you’re wondering, no, I’ve never actually broken a two by four in half out of frustration. It sure SOUNDS like a fun way to work it out though.

Here’s my real problem: The best way I can wrap my head around something is to know WHY it exists in the first place. What is it there for? What is the purpose? I understand how IP addresses work in the basic sense, which is why the complicated CIDR setup seems completely pointless to me. All IPs, unless you’re inside a network using NAT, are unique. So it really seems to me like someone created this entire system as a lazy way of distributing IP ranges. How hard is it to say, for example, 69.200.100.10 – 69.200.100.15? Why does there need to be this huge complex system?

Bueller?

All I’m getting so far is “it works this way because this other part means or does such and such” but what I need to know is WHY it’s necessary for that “such and such” to be happening in the first place.

Considering DNS is supposed to have roots in math, statements like this one drive me crazy:

indicating prefix length with a suffix

It’s either a prefix or a suffix, not both. This reminds me of my psychology classes where they tried to describe behavioral tendencies using mathematic formulas, and when I asked the professor about solving such a formula I was basically told you couldn’t.

Update: Many, many thanks to Mike Neir for giving me an explanation that, while it doesn’t make me feel like an expert, has at least answered my initial “big picture” questions and has set me on the path to really understanding it. Thanks Mike, you rule.

Categories: life, network, work Tags: , ,

Twitter

March 26th, 2008 No comments

So I’m giving Twitter another chance. For those of you who have never used it or seen it Twitter is basically a messaging system. Think of Facebook’s status indicator and build an entire service around it.

You can check out my twitter profile below.

Categories: life, network, tips, webtools Tags:

SSH, SOCKS proxies, and Firefox

December 8th, 2006 6 comments

This tip is courtesy of the Ubuntu Blog, but I just discovered it also works perfectly well in OS X and with some hot Putty action you could probably even pull it off with Windows. I’m writing this using it now.

A coworker of mine recently came down with some kind of outer space soul sucking virus and was ordered by his doctor to take a week off. Any hardcore geek will tell you that automatically means a lot of potential keyboard time, so he decided to setup a remote connection to the work network.

Being security-minded is important in the hosting world (it should be more important everywhere else) and so the inevitable question arose as to how he could best pull this off. Like an increasing number of laptop owners he also uses open wireless networks a lot (so do I) and you really shouldn’t be using open wireless with any password or data you really care about.

VPN’s work well for remote connections but can occasionally be a pain to set up depending on how your company has theirs configured.

If you have a computer/server running Linux or any other variety of OpenSSH server which is connected to a more trustworthy network you can create a SOCKS proxy SSH connection to it using the following command:

ssh -D 9999 user@server

The -D creates the SOCKS proxy, 9999 is the port, and user@server is your user name on the server you are connecting to and its host name or IP address. Then just set Firefox to use the SOCKS proxy as localhost and set the port to 9999. Presto – instant secure web traffic.

Categories: firefox, mac, network, tips, wireless Tags:

My Kingdom for a DNS Server

November 27th, 2006 2 comments

Thank you for calling Comcast, how can I help you do my job today?

I am forever doomed to call Comcast tech support…

Read more…

Categories: comcast, life, network Tags:

New Modem Test Results

November 26th, 2006 No comments

Happy post-Turkey Day y’all. We just spent the last week moving, then went to Chicago for the holiday weekend, and a few minutes ago I put the finishing touches on our new cable modem and network/wireless. More to follow on all of this later.

Here is the result of a bandwidth test I ran on the new modem:

Not bad. Now I’m off to read up on the WRT54G and all the fun stuff you can do with it.

Categories: life, network, wireless Tags: