Verizon: The Saga Continues

Remember that phone line I had Verizon install at our house earlier this week?
It’s not working. According to VZ repair, it’s “an outside problem” and they’ll have somebody take care of it by 6PM on Monday.
Can they get ANYTHING right?

The Man Page Minute Lives!

So, I’ve struck a deal with the Fresh Ubuntu podcast that will essentially be carrying my (as-yet-failed-to-launch) podcast, the Man Page Minute as one of their show’s regular segments. My plan for the podcast was to cover command line basics, specifically on Linux and related platforms so that beginners could learn the power of the command line. This stemmed from a segment that we briefly did on the MacNu podcast last year, but it never really went anywhere.
Here’s a (very) brief outline of the first segment which I’ll be recording shortly, and should appear sometime in an August episode:

  • Why use the command line?
    • failsafe administration (X won’t load, headless system)
    • faster for many tasks (deleting multiple files)
    • powerful (regexps, process manipulation)
    • faster for remote administration (ssh)
  • How to access the shell
    • Applications | Accessories | Terminal
    • ssh to your machine
  • Command of the week: ls
    ?????? -a, –all??? do not ignore entries starting with .? In other words, show hidden “dot files.”
    -A, –almost-all – Doesn’t show . and .. (the parent and current directories)
    -l???? use a long listing format
    -h, –human-readable
    with -l, print sizes in human readable format (e.g., 1K 234M 2G)
    -m???? fill width with a comma separated list of entries
    -r, –reverse
    reverse order while sorting
    -R, –recursive
    list subdirectories recursively
    -s, –size
    with -l, print size of each file, in blocks
    -S???? sort by file size
    -t???? sort by modification time
    -1???? list one file per line
    -x???? list entries by lines instead of by columns
    -X???? sort alphabetically by entry extension

"Thank You For Calling Verizon, Your Broadband and Entertainment Company"

I don’t even know how to respond to that. Maybe this whole DSL fiasco is their idea of keeping me “entertained.”
The rep I spoke with this morning apparently had a brain, because the first thing he did was to talk to his supervisor. He put in the request to switch us back to a dynamic IP address (hmm… wasn’t this already supposed to be in the works, you know, from the last two days’ phone calls?).
So now we’re waiting for possibly another 24 hours. Three days without phone and Internet.
Verizon, I swear to God, if I could wipe you off the face of the planet, I would. You are the worst. You’ve surpassed my hatred of Network Solutions to be the number one, most hated business entity I’ve ever had the displeasure of dealing with. May your stock plummet, your lines turn to dust, and every idiot that works for you suffer an eternal damnation of having to deal with utterly incompetent technical support representatives in hell.

Verizon: "You Want Serivce? Hahahaha! We're a Monopoly!"

So I called Verizon back today to inquire about the status of our Business DSL account. Here are the noteworthy excerpts:

  • They could not pull up our order status because “their system froze”
  • The showed no record of our (2+ hours long) phone calls yesterday

The customer service rep I had was quite eager to help. (They always are.) She insisted that my account was switched over to a static IP.
So I asked her, “could you give me the static IP address then?” Within a couple of minutes, I had it.
So I asked her, “if my account was active with a static, why did nobody volunteer this information to me yesterday so I could have gotten back online and maybe avoided 1-3 days of downtime?” Of course, she had no good answer to that.
UPDATE: Not surprisingly, the static IP they assigned isn’t working either. I guess the standard practice at VZ is to just drop all services when someone makes a change. It’s much simpler that way…

Baby Skunks Are Really Cute

I returned home today to find that our humane pest removers had indeed shown up last night and removed the skunk that we caught. And we have another one today. So the count is at four (out of seven).
Prior to finding out that they had collected one lasts night, therefore thinking that the poor thing was in the trap for 36 hours, I went out and shoved a couple of veggie-kabobs into his trap. One of the cutest things I’ve ever seen was the skunk chowing down on a piece of zucchini. Adorable. Of course, the wife and kid had to one up me by bringing him a leftover bowl of soup and feeding that to him, and apparently him lapping up the soup is cuter than the kabob action.

Why Do People Have Trouble With Attachments?

People have trouble with email attachments. I’m not talking about opening them, I mean just sending them. And I’m not talking about technical limitations, virus scanners, or file size limits. I mean just attaching a file to an email.
How many times has this happened to you: You compose an email, and you ask the recipient to “please see the attached file.” Only there’s no attachment.
Because you forgot to attach it. I’ve been on the sending and receiving end of this one. Has it happened to you? Do humans just get so obsessed with the composition of their email that they forget to attach the file and can’t wait to hit the SEND button? I don’t know, but I know it’s not just me.

Verizon, You Suck

Verizon, you suck. You cannot suck enough. I am so looking forward to Fairpoint Communications taking over your business here in New England because I am not convinced that, no matter how bad they are, you are worse.
Thank you, Verizon, for making me take yesterday afternoon off, to wait for your technician, between the hours of 1pm and 5pm, to come and install my new telephone line. Except, you never showed up. Instead, you called me at 5:15pm to say “due to unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to keep our appointment.” (No $#!+.) “We will be sending someone to your location tomorrow between the hours of 8AM and 5PM. You do not need to be there at this time.
What?! Then why the ^&*@ did I need to be there all afternoon?!
That was yesterday. Then, this morning, I came in to work to find our business DSL was down. Here’s the backstory. A couple of weeks ago, I ordered an upgrade to our account. Basically, it doubles the cost of our DSL so we have a static IP address. I wanted to do this because I wanted to run our Outlook Web Access (Exchange) server on a public IP. Since they block inbound port 80 connections, I wanted the static IP because they allow you to run a web server with that package. Then I realized that they do not block inbound port 443 connections with a dynamic IP address. So I installed a self-signed SSL certificate on my Exchange server, and presto! I can access OWA via my DynDNS-assigned IP address.
So I had my assistant call and cancel the order. Somehow, I knew when it took her almost an hour to do this, that things were not going to turn out right. My suspicions, although put far on the back burner, were confirmed this morning, as our Internet connection was down. After a half an hour on the phone with these jokers, my assistant got

  • confirmation that they had switched us over to a static IP, despite our order to cancel, and
  • disconnected.

I called back, more than a little irate at this point. The charming lady on the other end of the line stated that “I’m not showing you as having a static IP address on your account.” Of course, that doesn’t help, as we still have no Internet connectivity at all right now… So I told her this, insisted that we were offline, and she was nice enough to reconfigure our account so that we could get online again. Total time wasted, 7 employee-hours.
As I was finishing the call, the customer service rep said “Usually when people order the static IP and decide to cancel the order, we tell them to wait until it goes through, and then cancel it, so they don’t have to go through this long down time.” First off, no one told us that. Second, wow. You guys really DO suck. Your internal processes are so messed up that you cannot cancel an order even if the cancellation notice is given over a week in advance.
So, they expect to have things repaired within 3 days. Until then, we wait…

No Sugar Added

Today I’ve decided I’m going on an official diet. My first step will be to not add sugar to anything I eat. This will be interesting. My first cup of coffee today is bitter, and I’m so tempted to put some sugar or maple syrup into it.

Ten Things Your IT Department Won't Tell You (With Good Reason!)

Last week I read an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled Ten Things Your IT Department Won’t Tell You. It’s a really good article.
My first reaction to hearing this was “the writer and editor who approved it should be fired.” There are reasons we don’t want people to know this stuff! So here’s one of the most respected news publications in the country is telling people how to circumvent corporate content filters, access their company files on their home PCs, and how to install applications on their work PC that aren’t allowed. Brilliant, WSJ. Way to turn a bunch of ordinarily (mostly) harmless users into serious threats to network integrity and security. Not to mention how many kids you just informed of ways to circumvent content filters so they can surf porn while at school. Oh yeah, brilliant move.
Yes, like the Anarchist’s Cookbook, if someone really wants to learn how to do any of these things, there are plenty of other places they can go to find them. And now, thanks to the WSJ, a lot more people know this.
However, after further consideration, I asked myself “is just another form of full disclosure?” After all, all the WSJ has done is pointed out that these techniques and tools are out there, which is really no different from what security analysts and hackers do on a daily basis when they find flaws in applications and systems across the Internet. Okay, so now everyone knows about file-sharing sites for sending large files. So we need to on our content filter along with Now they know you can use Google as a proxy. Similarly to how we block Gmail, Google Talk and Google Image Search without blocking the rest of Google itself.
I’m curious to do some further reading on what the rest of the sysadmin/security community has to say about this.


Okay, so I never called myself a trend-setter. My wife and I are watching the first episode of Lost now. Yeah, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. More later, assuming it’s worth writing on.