Sunday, July 26, 2009

Awkward WPA2 Issue

Yesterday I was at my brother's, trying to fix a WiFi problem he had for the past six months. The problem existed ever since I set up the wireless network at his house, which probably says something about me :(.

Anyway, the problem is like that: the network works fine with the PC connected to it via cable, and with our Nokia smartphones connected to it via WiFi. Also, a PS3 device is connected wirelessly.
The only device not working properly is a Dell laptop. The laptop was able to connect to the network after a long time, and then only web browsing worked. No instant messenger, no e-mail, no file-sharing. Only the web, and quite slow.

I eliminated the possibility the problem is around open ports and/or port forwarding, after messing with it for about an hour or so. I also noticed some things started working once I disabled the Windows firewall.
Also, everything worked perfectly when the firewall was on, and we used a neighbor's unsecured wireless network.

Then it hit me that the problem might be in the network security. After few minutes I had everything working perfectly: changed the security setting from WPA2 to WPA, and that's it!

I hate to think that some problems are voodoo problems, but this one had all the symptoms. Until today I found out this is a well known issue with Dell laptops. Someone I consider an expert explained:
  1. You can try and upgrade the driver. But it doesn't always work.
  2. You can reduce security to WPA, but that, as we all know, means the network is hack-able.
  3. You can use an external WiFi NIC.
Too bad I didn't know it on the first place. Considering the situation, I'll leave the network with WPA security and hope for the best.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why reboot, why?

My goal for last Sunday was: be able to talk in Skype and/or other VoIP clients without being "cabled" to my PC. Connecting my Nokia N95 wireless-ly will be a bonus.

So I bought a Bluetooth adapter, and decided to use the BT headset I used with my cell phone. Compare the installation process between different OSes:

Windows: Connected BT adapter. Windows driver automatically installed. Added BT software. Reboot. Upgraded BT software. Reboot. Paired BT headset. Launched Skype. Skype BT add-on installed. Reboot. Upgraded Nokia PC Suite. Reboot. Everything works.

OS X: Connected BT adapter. Paired BT headset. Launched Skype. Installed Nokia Mac software. Paired Nokia. Everything works.

All of those reboots took me a lot of time, so I didn't manage yet to test it on Linux. Rumor says I'll need some special software like in Windows (making the BT headset function as an audio I/O device), so I might update about it when done. Even though, I don't expect any reboots to take place.

Why on earth did I have to reboot that much?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Viruses In Linux

Many Linux users, and non-Linux users, believe Linux is a virus-free OS.
Other believe that even if a virus hits a Linux machine, the impact would be little, as it runs without root privileges.

So the shocking news are: both wrong. Linux distros has bugs and vulnerabilities which can be exploited for malicious activities. Such can include remote-control trojans, rootkits, data-theft, and so on. Those viruses gains root access without the user's acknowledgment.

Recently I found at work a server hosting tons of Linux viruses, with the source code, which exploits recent kernels used in modern distros. Here are few examples.

I don't want to raise any panic. Linux is still way safer than Windows. So does OS X. This is mostly due to the fact those OSes are far less popular on the desktop. Also, updates are released faster, and thanks to package management, installed regardless which piece of software is vulnerable.Link

Anti-Social Networking

I admit: the only social network I'm taking part of is LinkedIn. I don't like twitter, because I don't feel the urge to talk into the void. I don't use facebook, because I'm not looking for a date. The list goes on...

One side effect I noticed about social networks, facebook specifically, is the fact they encourage anti-social behavior. I'll explain. In the past few months two of my friends (which are not related to one another) got back from a long trip abroad, and found new jobs. Some mutual friends of mine were able to tell me the details about the pictures uploaded to facebook, and the job title of those that came back. But that's it. Nothing else. Most of them didn't consider calling or meeting and get the details about the trips or the jobs. In my opinion, this is what matter most. Seeing someone's pictures is one thing, but listening to the experience and the stories around the trip is entirely different.

So those who gets updated through somebody's profile might think they know the person in question, but in fact, they know nothing.

Other side effect is the fact some people are relying too much on those networks as the means of communication and the primary source of knowledge about those they are connected to. Others, rely on the network's updates about people's status, birthdays, couple-state (single, with a g/f or b/f, married, ...), etc. too much. No updates - no knowledge.

The sad ending of this post is the fact I don't think things are going to change for the better. We'll rely more and more on technology to do our tasks, including social tasks, and our brains will become degenerated.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ireland. Tags

First, allow me to apologize for not updating my blog in a while. I have a good reason for that: I just got back from Ireland. Wanna see? Here.
Ireland is a great place for a trip, and I would highly recommend it. Perhaps I'll dedicate a post about things to do and things not to do there.

Second, starting from this post, I'm adding labels to the posts. "OpenSource" will naturally be about open-source software. "General" has nothing to do with anything else except my life and musings (such as a post about Ireland). "Technology" - well, enough said...
If I understand correctly, readers could choose to subscribe to specific labels only. I'd still prefer you'll read everything I write, but hey, that's up to you.