The Continuing Saga of Gigabit Internet Service

So I already wrote about trying to get my old router to support my new internet speed, with no success. What I didn’t write about was that, in my frustration, I had placed an order for another, different new router (than I wrote about), which I was sure would be capable of gigabit speeds. It arrived today, and even though I had ordered an upgrade of my old router’s hardware, I couldn’t help myself, but to try it out.

Based on the enormous success I’ve had with using quite a bit of Ubiquity gear at my church, I bought an EdgeRouter Lite. I am already familiar with using these things. We had a similar model for awhile, powering our wifi, until the big upgrade with the new building. Also, I was used to running Vyatta-based routers back in my DataCave, coho-admin days. So I was sure I could get it working.

I ordered it from Amazon, with the “free, 2-day shipping” available with Prime. Except that, even though it was “Prime,” it was coming from some goofy 3rd-party, and took 3 days to arrive. Not only that, but when I got it powered up and logged into it, I saw that the firmware was six years out of date. I’m making a mental note here.

NEVER EVER ORDER ANYTHING FROM AMAZON THAT’S NOT FULFILLED BY AMAZON, OR BEING SOLD DIRECTLY BY THE MANUFACTURER!

I should have just bought it directly from Ubiquity. I can almost guarantee that a unit bought straight from their site wouldn’t be 6 years old. It’s not that the new firmware doesn’t work. (And I really admire Ubiquity for the support.) But there may or may not have been hardware bump I’ve missed out on because of this, and it’s not worth the hassle to send back and reorder.

Besides, it’s the principle of the thing. I’m trying to not buy anything from Amazon if I don’t have to. I was there, and saw “Prime,” and if I don’t do my homework, it always bites me in the rear end. ALWAYS. Why should I have to work so hard to make sure I’m getting something in the 2 days I’m paying for? I’m just going to start spending that energy creating an account with the manufacturer’s storefront from now on.

Anyway. It took me longer to get the configuration going than I had hoped, but I think it’s finally up and running. I’m finally at a point where I can test it. Drum roll…

So far, so good. Guess I’ll try to cancel the order of the upgraded single-board computer hardware.

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Christmas Day, 2019

Here’s how my Christmas Day went, after a lovely morning of opening presents with the family.

I just upgraded to Comcast — I mean, Xfiniti — gigabit internet service, and got rid of all TV service. (I’m going to try streaming everything now, and I’m sure that will be fodder for another post in the future.) Unfortunately, I discovered that my nifty, little, fanless, single-board-computer router, running Linux, can’t seem to push any more than about 300 mbps on its ethernet ports, no matter what I try. So I fell back to using my Linksys Velop mesh wifi as my router, and then continued to try to figure out if I could get gigabit speeds out of my little computer’s NIC’s.

I had already looked at several things in Linux. All the basics checked out. Yes, before I even got the service activated, I upgraded to a DOCSIS 3.1-compliant cable modem. Yes, the kernel thinks it should be running at 1000 mpbs. Yes, it’s set to full-duplex. So I started to get serious, and I…

  • turned off everything.
  • cleared the kernel iptables rules
  • turned off the firewall completely
  • upgraded the NIC driver using a supplemental driver in the Ubuntu repos
  • upgraded Ubuntu from LTS to current

After all of this produced no change, I noticed that the board had a firmware update available. In for a penny, right? So I…

  • failed at using their utility to create a bootable firmware update USB stick on my Mac
  • did it on my work PC
  • used it to boot the SBC, but found I couldn’t get a console
  • tried different baud rates and serial programs, to no avail
  • tried and failed to create a new bootable image, using a different program on my Mac
  • tried to create new bootable image on Windows using the different program
  • noticed that my work laptop automatically deleted the firmware image as soon as I copied it over
  • tried to create the new bootable image on Windows under Parallels
  • hassled with which “machine” has control over the USB stick
  • found I couldn’t copy-and-paste between host and guest
  • upgraded all of Parallels, and Parallels Toolbox, on both guess and host
  • finally created new bootable image, which also did not boot
  • finally tried a different USB stick, which worked the first time

I finally, finally, finally got the router’s firmware updated, and, of course, there is literally no difference in the throughput. I’ll leave it to the reader to take a guess at how long this took me.

I also discovered tuned, which I was really hopeful for, but it also does not do anything for me.

So, like a sucker, I’ve now ordered the upgraded version of this board, which should fit in the same case I already have. I’m holding my breath…

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Far Cry 4 Humor

I’ve been playing through Far Cry 4 again, just because it’s one of my favorite games ever, and I need a break from RDR2 and Witcher 3. I had to stop and note how funny it can be.

In one of the convoy escort missions, you’re supposedly protecting a truck full of books, bound for a library. When you accept the mission, Ajay says, “The pen is mightier than the sword, right?” And the person giving you the mission says, “Sure, but not as mighty as a rocket launcher. Now…” Then, when you meet the truck and driver, she says, “Hurry up, we have places to be, and people to shoot.” She also asks Ajay if he’s read Sun Tzu’s Art of War, among other books, and then concludes that it’s fine, as long as he’s reading. Along the route, she keeps saying things, like, “Knowledge is power, and knowing is half the battle.” The whole thing had me cracking up.

Also, right before this, I opened a loot chest, and got a “user manual” as the treasure, so I was already laughing.

And don’t even get me started about Hurk in Far Cry 5.

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Carl Miller on Twitter: “Here’s a fake news merchant telling me how it actually works. It’s so important to de-mystify this kind of thing. Instead of seeing them as all-powerful threats to democracy, a lot of people doing it are actually just using spammy

This is a clip from a report by the BBC that creating, boosting, and then selling fake content has become a real job in other countries. This particular report has an interview with a man from Kosovo, and (thanks to the last election) the work in Russia is now well understood, but I remain convinced there’s an entire industry for it in China. The US is the fake-news chew toy for the rest of the world, and Facebook is ground zero. The election next year is going to be a mess.

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Can end-to-end encrypted systems detect child sexual abuse imagery?

A few weeks ago, U.S. Attorney General William Barr joined his counterparts from the U.K. and Australia to publish an open letter addressed to Facebook. The Barr letter represents the latest salvo …
Source: Can end-to-end encrypted systems detect child sexual abuse imagery? I’ve argued that FAANG companies can continuously scan their networks for garbage, but won’t because it’s expensive. Meanwhile, they’re sitting on figurative mountains of cash. A well-respected cryptologist dove into the details of whether or not you could do automatic image recognition in the face of end-to-end cryptology. While that’s an intriguing complication that I’m glad to see people working out, I don’t care about that part. What I do care about is how expensive of a computer process it is. He summarizes thus:
Despite the relatively small size of these problem instances, the overhead of using MPC turns out to be pretty spectacular. Each classification requires several seconds to minutes of actual computation time on a reasonably powerful machine — not a trivial cost, when you consider how many images most providers transmit every second.
So, yes, this can be done. Heck, Facebook does facial recognition all the time on uploaded phots, and suggests peoples’ names to you to check their work, and this is just a subset of the larger problem. Admittedly, the memory sizes to convolute the image into a digital fingerprint surprises me, but, again, it’s simply not beyond the wit of man to do it; it’s a lack of will to spend the money. So they continue to use a small army of meat-space computers to do this, subjecting them to the absolute utter depravity of man, and catching only a fraction of the illegal filth.
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House passes compromise defense bill, creating a Space Force

“I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!” President Donald Trump tweeted.

Source: House passes compromise defense bill, creating a Space Force

“Historic.” “Compromise.” “Space Force.” $738 BILLION. I wish more people on the Right would ask, “BuT hOw WiLl We PaY fOr It?!” when it comes to military spending.

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Daring Fireball: The Other Shoe Drops: Away Fires CEO Steph Korey After Months-Long Search for Her Replacement

But one of the strangest things was that while it was ostensibly a story about the company, the actual story felt almost entirely like a hit on Korey, personally. No other executive’s Slack messages were quoted as evidence of the perceived cultural problems.

Source: Daring Fireball: The Other Shoe Drops: Away Fires CEO Steph Korey After Months-Long Search for Her Replacement

I like this take. It feels like it fits all the pieces together.

And I guess that’s why Gruber continues to be a force of nature in the tech media.

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The Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times worse than initially thought – CNN

The amount of land impacted by an oil spill in North Dakota is almost 10 times larger than initially reported, officials say. The disclosure comes about a month after the Keystone 1 Pipeline leaked about 383,040 gallons of oil.

Source: The Keystone Pipeline oil leak is almost 10 times worse than initially thought – CNN

So I see the oil industry has learned the IT industry’s trick of initially underreporting the severity of breaches. Including the part about doing it by orders of magnitude.

Or maybe they both learned it from the government, which always over-reports economic growth, and under-reports joblessness.

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Behringer WING – A complete overview – YouTube

Looks like Berhinger has done it again. This board looks like it would be even more of a pleasure to run than the Allen & Heath D-Live, has at least as much capability and capacity, and it’s still less than $4,000.

They reference “mid/side” recording a couple of times. I looked that up. Very interesting. I want to find an excuse to try that out.

Even Behringer’s own video, above, has a lot of technical difficulties, and several sections where the audio from the 2 cameras overlapped. I should have watched this Sweetwater video. Everything they do is awesome.

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ADL International Leadership Award Presented to Sacha Baron Cohen at Never Is Now 2019 – YouTube

It’s time to regulate Facebook, Twitter, Google, et. al.

I love just about everything about this, but the money quote, for me, is this, at 15:40…

“… when discussing the difficulty of removing content, Zuckerberg asked “where do you draw the line?” Yes, drawing the line can be difficult. But here’s what he’s really saying: removing more of these lies and conspiracies is just too expensive. These are the richest companies in the world, and they have the best engineers in the world. They could fix these problems if they wanted to.”

In the past couple days, I was mocked on Twitter for making the same argument. I’m convinced there is a small army of astroturfers working for Facebook, who run around telling people that we just don’t understand how hard it is (to remove garbage from the platform), and that it simply can’t be done, and we just have to live with the resulting dumpster fire.

I still say: Bologna.

What needs to happen, and SBC alludes to this in his speech, is that all postings should go through a sanity check before going live. As a 40-year, veteran programmer, I stand by my assertion that it would be possible to scan for a lot of stuff that should just be weeded out: pornography, violence, gore, racial slurs, and knowingly-inaccurate conspiracy theories, like anti-vax, flat earth, faked moon landing, and holocaust denial. The filters could catch 90% of that garbage, especially the egregious stuff. The rest could be marked for further review by human beings, which wouldn’t have to deal with the truly horrific stuff any more.

But here’s the rub: it would take another data center’s worth of kit to do this, which would be bad enough on its own for the sake of cost, but putting all posts through a “cool off period” while they were scanned would also be disastrous to “engagement,” which the company cannot abide, because it would be a massive hit to the bottom line.

That’s why it will never happen on its own. It must be regulated. The problem, of course, is regulatory capture, which is trivial, when you’re one of the 10 largest companies in the world. That’s a whole other ball game, which probably has to be fixed first. Sigh.

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