The Treehouse Blog


DNSSEC at home

by on Jul.17, 2010, under Happenings, Networking

Since the root zone was signed this week, I spent a bit of time today setting up DNSSEC validation on my home recursive server.  It was relatively painless (so far).  I did opt to not enable DLV though – not fond of it receiving every host name I resolve.


One resource I would have liked to find and could not was a deliberately unvalidatable non-root zone/record that could be used to see a validation failure.  If anyone knows of or finds such a thing, please pass it along.  Now we get to wait for .com, .net, etc, to catch up to .bg and .uk in the publishing of DS glue for deeper validation.

UPDATE 7/22/10:  Just found the following site which makes available bad records for testing purposes:

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G1/Linksys Wifi Problems

by on Mar.13, 2010, under Networking

Awhile ago I finally upgraded my home wireless network (a single WAP54G v2) from TKIP to AES.  This has been something on the to-do list since I got rid of the Axim (which wouldn’t support AES).  I tested my two wireless client devices – a laptop and my G1, and they seemed fine at the time.  All was well.

Later I noticed that the G1 was not functioning on my home network, yet worked on other similarly secured networks I connect to.  It would connect, obtain an IP address, but not pass traffic – which is a pretty bad scenario since the G1 wouldn’t automatically fail back to its GSM data connection.  I did the typical troubleshooting with “forget”-ing the network and reconnecting, etc, but this was unsuccessful.  More detailed analysis showed that almost immediately after DHCP completed successfully, the G1 would see no traffic generated from the network, and the network would see no traffic generated by the G1.  With the laptop working fine through all of this, it really seemed to be a problem with the G1.

After essentially exhausting other options, I turned my attention to the WAP.  I tried changing the SSID which didn’t help, and reverting back to TKIP, which worked fine.  I then decided to upgrade the WAP’s firmware, from 2.07 (2004 era) to 3.04 (2005 era – still 5 years old!).  The wireless security settings are more granular than the former version – and after reconfiguring – the G1 works on AES.

Hopefully this time it will keep working.

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DIY DSL using FlowPoint 2200s

by on May.17, 2009, under Networking

When I am occasionally asked about what might be used for networking two random buildings together, the first two thoughts are generally private DSL and wireless.  I’ve not had any personal experience with private DSL, but I know that Patrick had used it in the past, and I think he had used Flowpoint gear.  As I have a possible project in the works, and want to know a bit more about what I’m talking about, I bought a group of  5 FlowPoint 2200s on eBay.

Configuration didn’t go terribly smoothly.  While I was able to setup a typical 9600-8-N-1/no-flowcontrol rollover connection to the boxes, they would seem to not recognize keystrokes after the boxes booted.  If they were configured to do that, I haven’t been able to figure out how.  Fortunately with watching my DHCP server to find their IP addresses (they seem to try to lease them even when statically configured), and using the password override which thankfully works on telnet and not just console, I was able to reconfigure all but one of them.  The last one refused telnet connections (presuming a firewall setting).  If anyone has any idea what might be wrong with the console setup, or other ways of resetting the box, I’d be interested to hear.

As for the point-to-point, or what they seem to call back-to-back portion of the configuration, I found a document describing the setup process.  The routers would link up using this, but would not seem to bridge.  Bridging would be a much easier and more elegant solution for the applications I’m looking at.  I switched the protocol to RFC1483 instead of PPP which seemed to allow the bridging configuration to work.

While approaching ancient, the Flowpoints appear to be the cheapest back-to-back SDSL options out there.  Mine do seem to have a max speed of 1536 kBPS (that’s a T1 less ESF overhead, iirc), but that would probably be fine for my needs.  Anyone using better cheap gear?

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G1 migration

by on Apr.12, 2009, under Networking, Technology

I went to a local AT&T store last Tuesday and signed up for service on the G1.  I put the phone on the counter and after the sales guy asked if it were unlocked, and I said that it was, things moved on quickly.  He took my information and began the process.  I walked out with a G1 on AT&T’s network and a receipt for $0 for the SIM.  I checked out data in the car, and it was working despite not having the “wap.cingular” APN settings, which I added later just in case.

I checked my online account access upon getting home.  The sales guy hadn’t setup data access, so I quickly selected the unlimited data and text option.  It also seems that the phone hadn’t been branded a “smartphone” so all of my options were for non-smart phones.  I asked the tech for detailed billing to be enabled (apparently there’s a fee for that in AT&T land) but I couldn’t tell from the website whether it was or not.  Later detailed call logs became available, so I guess it is enabled.  Unlike Verizon, only outgoing numbers are listed, which is a lot less helpful.  UPDATE: Either I missed them before or they didn’t work before, but the detailed call log does seem to have originating numbers now.

I am understandably nervous about data usage charges until I get the first bill.  Recently the bill amount was listed – something like $114 – but I can’t see the bill itself for a few more days.  Some quick figuring suggests this is reasonable for a month’s worth of service and an activation fee, but I’m not sure that’s what it is listing.  Even more recently, itemized data sessions began appearing in the details, all under my unlimited data setup, so I think things are setup correctly at this point.  UPDATE: I have now been able to see the whole bill, and everything seems to be in order.  The changes I made to my account seemed to be retroactively applied on the date I made the change (ie, the date of service start).

The number port from Verizon took about 14 hours.  This was a lot longer than Chris Z. had experienced.

I’ve purchased a few accessories – an adapter to allow both 3.5mm audio and power to be connected simultaneously – for occasional audio use in the car.  Also a mini-USB car charger and additional mini-USB to USB cables for use at home and work. I have not bought a case.  The slide-out keyboard seems to make the possibility of a good skin-type case almost nonexistent.  I also didn’t buy a charging cradle, so even though I have two batteries, I’d have to swap them to charge (like the VX8600 which I also had two batteries and no charger, and unlike the X30 which I had two batteries and a charging cradle).

A few software migrations (updated in previous entry) have been completed, so the X30 will be placed in deprecated status this week.  The 5 items I always check my pockets for before going to work can now be reduced to 4.

One other minor annoyance is that I’ve already found some places that AT&T has lower signal strength than T-mobile had.

I might be turning into an Android fanboy.  The iPhone is still much prettier though.

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G1 Testing – Part 3

by on Apr.05, 2009, under Networking, Technology

Part my “phone decision tree” is carrier selection.  The G1 and the iPhone are both GSM phones that can be unlocked from their respective networks.  I’m somewhat familiar with AT&T’s network – I used to have their service and found it good, and Doug currently has their service, and we’ve compared Verizon/AT&T coverage on occasion with comparable results.  To evaluate T-mobile, I purchased a pre-paid SIM for their network.

At home, I get about 2 bars out of 4 on the G1 with T-mobile pre-paid.  This is comparable to my Verizon EV-3-bars and 1x-2-bars, and Doug’s about 2 bars of AT&T.  At my parent’s place I get full signal, same as Verizon.  At work, I expect full strength being a stone’s throw from their tower.

For further comparisons, I did about a 100-mile road test and managed to get Chris B. to go along and observe signal strengths.  Here were the generalized results:

  • Home to Roxbury:  T-mobile > Verizon
  • Roxbury to Fannettsburg (along turnpike):  T-mobile = Verizon
  • Fannettsburg to Ft. Loudon (route 75):  Both poor, T-mobile < Verizon
  • Ft. Loudon to Chambersburg (route 30):  Marginal Verizon, but mostly no T-mobile
  • Chambersburg to Caledonia (route 30):  Both very good, T-mobile = Verizon
  • Caledonia to Shippensburg (route 233, Ship Rd):  Both generally poor, T-mobile = Verizon
  • Shippensburg to Home: Both good, T-mobile = Verizon

These observations were generally consistent with the published T-mobile and Verizon coverage maps.

With these observations, T-mobile appears to be a viable carrier for the locations I spend most of my time.  But cell service is nice to have places where you don’t spend a lot of time as well.  Looking at the state-wide zoom level for AT&T, Verizon, and T-mobile, it appears clear the T-mobile is really, really lacking.  AT&T and Verizon appear to be about comparable.

In performing this comparison, I found it hard to believe that there were no good tools to show multiple providers coverage areas simultaneously.  Verizon’s coverage map was good, with a google-maps-like drag-scroll interface.  AT&T and T-mobile were not.  In all cases the zoom levels for the maps poorly corresponded, making comparisons that much more difficult.

What about roaming?  I had read/heard about T-mobile and AT&T having mutual roaming agreements.  Can I purchase T-mobile service and use AT&T’s network?  I tried selecting AT&T as the provider with my T-mobile pre-paid SIM, and it did not work.  That does not necessarily mean that it would not work with a “real” T-mobile plan.  However, I would really expect the provider coverage maps to show areas that they mean to cover with roaming, and T-mobile does not show anywhere near AT&T’s footprint.  Besides, I have read of peering agreements changing over time without notice, so even if it worked now, it might not forever.  I’ve decided it’s not worth getting a real T-mobile account just for testing internetwork roaming.

As a break from the analysis, I did manage to get to try T-mobile’s EDGE data service on the G1.  I’m not sure exactly how it happened.  I upgraded to R33 last night, and while around my parents house, a new “G” icon appeared with in/out data arrows.  An app that tracks data usage confirmed that it was the 2G radio interface, and that it was passing traffic.  I was able to play around with Google maps, web browsing, IM’ing, ping, and ssh using EDGE today, and the performance was fine.  This evening however, it stopped working and the browser shows a page saying that the G1 needs a real data plan.  Still, I was pleased to have the brief opportunity.

What about 3G?  If I use the G1 on AT&T can I use 3G?  The answer appears to be no, due to different frequencies/bands used for T-mobile’s and AT&T’s network and handsets.  But T-mobile does not have 3G anywhere near me anyway.  AT&T does, so if 3G is a requirement, the iPhone has to be the way to go.  Otherwise, using the G1 on AT&T locally should be no different 3G-wise than using it on T-mobile.

Conclusion: T-mobile isn’t a viable carrier for me.  The G1 can work on AT&T’s network as long as I don’t need 3G.  If I need 3G, the iPhone, AT&T (and going to Carlisle or Hagerstown, for now, at least) is the only option.  Do I need 3G?  Probably not.

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