Saturday, July 17, 2010

It is unwell with my soul?

The last couple of weeks have tested me in a rather disturbing way: I depend upon the Internet for survival to an extent similar to food and sleep. You have to wonder just how healthy this can be.

Some background...

Broadweave, the local iProvo ISP monopoly, summarily took me off the Internet saying one of my IP addresses was maliciously attacking other IP addresses on the Internet. They said it's been going on since May and refused to work with me to identify which of my computers might have been doing this. As all of my computers are behind a router, it's not a no-brainer to discover the culprit. I would like to have known a lot more about the attacks (what ports if not what addresses). They rudely turned down all pleas for help. I was basically treated as if I were some evil hacker whose address should be Bluffdale, Utah (the state penitentiary) rather than Happy Valley.

I didn't even have words with them from my side (I try not to do that anymore; it's not productive and one inevitably regrets saying nasty things later).

The point here isn't to rant about Broadweave (although I'm keen to say some very disparaging things about them), but to note that I was without Internet service two weeks ago.

In case you are wondering, I relocated my web server,, and associated domains, to my nephew Richard's house. We actually relocated my Java Hot Chocolate pages to one of those five nine's sort of environments where its reliability will be total and never in question as it has been especially with Broadweave's unreasonable treatment.

I moved to Comcast for Internet service. They told me it was none of their business if I used their network for the most heinous denial-of-service attacks on record. They would not turn me off. I'm sure they were exaggerating, but I appreciated that their service will give me the time and liberty to figure out this problem.

Yesterday, I was doing some serious packet sniffing in an effort to discover if there is any malware on any of my computers. I launched Wireshark on Julene's Windows XP box and my Windows 7 box in an attempt to get started. I filtered out port 22, port 80 and port 1990 (SSDP) traffic hoping to minimize the size of the traces, since I don't expect whatever my computer(s) to be doing wrong will be happening on those ports. I kicked off Wireshark and retreated to other occupations including some television viewing.

The inhibitor of IT services strikes me again...

At an unspecified point, my Internet service went south last night. I came back around 2200 to see what sorts of packets were flying between my machines and the Internet only to find my Internet service gone. I rattled around for a bit, called Comcast, then went to bed.

This morning, I arose, mowed a couple of lawns, got some breakfast, chatted with a neighbor, then returned to do battle with the ugly Internet denial monster.

Trying out another router I had, I discovered that both routers failed to get a WAN address from Comcast. Otherwise, my internal LAN worked just fine, but no Internet service.

Comcast passed me off to some service that wanted $150 to fix the problem. I thought this sum might be a little steep to learn some basic factoid and, sure enough, after chatting with two nephews and a neighbor, I re-discovered the latency of cable modems. Comcast had me unplug and then plug back in my modem several times. That's not nearly enough to reset it. At one point, my nephew suggested I try powering down the modem for at least a minute. That jarred something in my distant memory of back when I had used Comcast cable Internet service in the past and so I did that and it immediately solved the problem.

What this comes down to, however, is that I'm not a viable person without Internet service. This fact struck me two weeks ago when Broadweave exorcized me from the human race, and it struck me hard again last night. This is very disturbing. My instinct is that there is something very, very wrong about feeling this way. Nevertheless, thinking about it, and about what I do for a living, it appears an inescapable state of things in my life: I simply work on the Internet. Not only is it where the work I do shows up now, but my very ability to do much work at all (software development using rapidly changing methodologies) assumes an Internet connection.

Alas, I'm useless without it.

Post script:

I know people say a lot of things about Comcast. However, I've been a customer of basic cable television and Internet connection service for a decade or so including at this house and our old house which I never moved to iProvo fiber. I've never found much to complain about. When I call them with a problem, they're usually about as helpful as they should be within the responsibilities of their service.

"Not my job!"

In Broadweave's case, they aren't too interested in helping a single customer remain a customer if they think it's going to be much work to help him. Is this not the conclusion I'm meant to draw? It may be that they don't have the technical competence to offer and just don't want to "get it all over themselves."

Their sanctimony is more than a little surprising, though, and it's odd that they would let a bad situation go on for a couple of months without alerting me, imposing a time limit beyond which they just cut the service off. If I had known in May and they let my service continue until late June, I'd probably have had more than enough time to figure it out even without their help.

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