Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hungry Tired

Being sleepy always makes me hungry! Sounds like it's not just me.

Losing sleep may increase appetite and, as a result, weight.

from Lack of Sleep Increases Weight - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tummy Hurting

Now that Karston appears to be outgrowing the abdominal pain that caused four years of colic, I've found a great little chart to help figure out Long-Term Abdominal Pain. Here's hoping you don't need that resource!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Stay Home

You know how some days you wish you had stayed in bed? Well, I wish I had stayed home today instead of coming in to work!

Early this morning, there was a power blink that affected my office building.

I got to my office and heard a siren. A quick check of stepping back into the hall confirmed that the siren was inside my office, and not for the building. I had trouble locating the source of the high frequency sound, so I started shutting things down in that corner, starting with the easiest. After warning the Nagios keeper, I powered off my old Solaris workstation, but all that turned off were the fans. I warned everyone watching the various network monitoring applications, and pulled the power on my switch, but again only fans turned off. So it turns out that the APC UPS (hissssss) under my desk, the one I had turned off more than two years ago because it started beeping intermittently to tell me it had no battery capacity anymore, was the siren. No lights on, but what a squeal! I had plugged it into a hard-to-reach location behind my desk five years ago, and never unplugged it because it was so hard to reach.

The side effects of that are still on-going -- and that's what I've done for work today! Bah.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Grandstream and Belkin

Our telephone service has been so awful (usually we have a lot of static on the line, and it goes out completely once or twice a year) and the price for basic service keeps going up, so I finally relented on my "different connectivity modality for redundancy" stance and picked a VoIP service. We're trying to get it to work right now. I hit a problem that's obvious to me as a network engineer, one that's probably tough to diagnose otherwise.

We have a Motorola Surfboard SB5100 Cable Modem that has its moments of showing its age. When it takes a nose-dive, it uses as its WAN IP address; since that address is not routable (RFC1918), we lose Internet connectivity. However, it randomly comes back to life on its own, so Time-Warner doesn't want to replace my cable modem. The lesson here is that when I log in to the SOHO router and see as the WAN IP address, I assume the cable modem is ill.

Following the directions, the next item we hooked up to the cable modem is the Grandstream HT502 VoIP box. On one side, it connects to the cable modem, so it gets the cable modem's WAN IP on its WAN interface. On the other side towards our home LAN, the default IP address is In order to make almost all network configurations plug-and-play, it also serves DHCP out that interface for your home network. It uses the range to for DHCP by default.

To troubleshoot this, I plugged in my MacBook Pro to the LAN interface of the HT502. I checked my ARP table among many other things, and I saw the MAC address of my default router change. That's when I knew the problem.

But the desired operation is to plug in our SOHO router next. We have a Belkin F5D7230-4 that has some pretty sweet advanced features with a simple interface. Yeah, it's also old and needs an upgrade since it has that Flash bug. Belkin hasn't released firmware to fix a router this old, so I have to reboot it when I can read email but not browse the web. I've had several Belkin routers (I love some of the unique features), and they all use the default IP address Where have we seen that before? Yeah, you can't have two systems with the same IP address on the same network because IP addresses must be unique in order to address unique machines naturally.

Of course, the initial red herring was that I logged in to the Belkin router, and saw that its WAN IP address was because the Grandstream HT500 series, like every DHCP server I've ever seen, starts handing out IP addresses from the bottom of its range. I was sure our cable modem had indigestion, but not so sure that I didn't follow proper troubleshooting data collection first.

Anyway, the fix was easy. Hook up cable modem to VoIP converter to laptop, then use my laptop to browse to and go in to the settings to change the default IP address to another permissible RFC1918 private IP address; I picked and changed the first two octets of the DHCP range as well ( to as well. Update, reboot, renew my laptop's DHCP lease ( as expected). So then I put the Belkin router on the LAN interface of the Grandstream, and put my laptop on one of the LAN ports of the Belkin router, and network connectivity was back to normal!

We'll have to overlook, for now, that the Grandstream only once gave a dial tone, and I wasn't here to hear it! That will need to be fixed, but for now, I've climbed enough troubleshooting mountains for one evening.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recycled into a Child's Shirt

Kid's shirts can be so inexpensive as to make this not-as-useful, but I made Karston a long-sleeved shirt from one of my old tee-shirts and a "rag" tee-shirt. He really liked the unique print on the front of my old tee-shirt that I didn't wear anymore, so this project was worth my time. I finished it in a week, just working on it a few minutes most days.

  1. trace an existing long-sleeved shirt that fits well onto large-enough paper (like a paper grocery bag sliced open)
  2. cut pattern
  3. cut pieces from inside-out shirt
  4. pin shoulders
  5. thread serger
  6. serge shoulders
  7. serge neckline
  8. pin sleeves to shoulders, matching sleeve top to new shoulder seam
  9. serge sleeves to shoulders, but leave sides open
  10. pin sleeves and sides
  11. start at cuff, and serge from sleeve to side
  12. serge bottom of shirt
  13. pin hem
  14. iron hem in place
  15. switch from serger to sewing machine, thread sewing machine
  16. stitch hem using a stitch with some stretch (zig-zag typically, but I used a wave to go with the shells)
  17. pin fold-over elastic around neckline
  18. stitch foe at neck with zig-zag
  19. using a small crochet hook, catch all serger ends underneath closest serged seam

VoilĂ , one long-sleeved kid's shirt, made an adult's shirt! Easier to do than I expected too -- sergers really are fast!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The RSI of Email

Email is an essential part of my day job; it's how I get most of my work-related information. If I don't have email at work, I feel adrift (before seizing the uninterrupted moment to get some actual work done!). So me liking my email client is essential, too. If I'm frustrated at email, it spills over to work. If my email feels seamless, I'm less stressed and I feel on top of "things" at work.

Today I had the unmitigated pleasure (yes, I'm being sarcastic) of blowing away all of the settings for my Thunderbird email client and starting over, so I once again did a quick status check on available mail clients. Once again, they all-but-one suck on the same point: how much they want me to use the mouse. I'd like to see a lot of messages at once so I can follow long threads, and I'd like to see a lot of the message I'm reading at once so maybe I don't have to scroll down. This means, unlike the rest of the world from what I can tell, I prefer more windows, and I despise panes within a single email window. (This is a preference setting in Mulberry. I like Mulberry.) Once I open a message in its own window, when I press the delete key on my keyboard, I want that message to be moved to the Trash (no longer taking up space in the long list of messages) and I want the next message to show up. No mouse, one keypress, two actions (delete, open next). If I have to use the mouse, it will take me more time and could contribute to a repetitive stress injury.

However, since I was deep in the settings, I did figure out today how to get Thunderbird 3 to pass my non-RSI email client filter! So not only did I blow away my Thunderbird profile (after saving my address books!), I even upgraded from Thunderbird 2 to Thunderbird 3! I thought I was going to be the TB2 curmudgeon forever!

The settings I wanted are:

Thunderbird > Preferences

Advanced > Reading & Display

>> Open messages in: (*) An existing message window

>> [ ] Close message window on delete

For me at least, Thunderbird is the best fit on two points: less mouse RSI / more keyboard speed, and IMAP tags. Of course, I just got migrated to the Exchange server that doesn't support IMAP tags, but I'm still hooked on tagging.

So I do want messages to open in the existing message window, and I do not want to close that window when I delete a message. Whew! I'm upgraded, I finally got all of my accounts added in just so, and work may now resume. Oh, whoops, the day is almost done!