May 2002


Scripting News has been talking about live blogging for a while new, so I thought I’d try it. I’m at a conference and Vernier Networks is presenting. I use wireless hubs myself, so my information could be wide open to capturing utilities (at least if I weren’t using encryption and secure servers). So here goes:

The presentation is on wireless network vulnerabilities. Wireless offers great flexibility and eliminates the need to wire, but vulnerabilities in wireless create new problems to overcome. The answer is strong encryption on wireless lans. the encryption needs to go in a place where is covers everyone connecting and where it’s easily configurable (manageable).
Wireless in schools needs to be provided to students (and teachers) in such a way that we can control it. More importantly, you need to be able to provide shool services (like online testing) while preventing unwanted uses( like personal emailing).

A good way to delineate the services you want to provide is to create a grid with services across the top and user categories down the side. Just check off the services that each group should have access to and you quickly have a good snapshot of your desired security configuration.

Once you decide who and what to control, you need to decide where to control it. This is a balancing act. The farther up (or farther away from the wireless access points toward the center of the network) the control is, the more it covers the general network and the easier it is to configure. The farther down (or toward the wireless access points) the control goes, the more control you have over what is accessed.

Vernier network boxes provide this control. A key feature of Vernier equipment is that no client configuration is needed–you don’t need to set up each computer for this controlled access. This control can be organized by class, instructor, time of day, day of week, etc. So a science class could be given wireless access to the network only during the school day–nights and weekends could be blocked so that students can’t try to hack into the network all night or weekend.

If a user roams from wireless hub to hub, proprietary systems can have difficulty providing coverage and service. Vernier supports standards-based software such as PPTP, IPSec, and others to provide seamless integration while stationary and roaming from network access point to access point. Redundancy is provided and in development to keep coverage and provide failover tolerance. Profiles can easily be set to cover one and two hour delays, half days, and virtually any scheduling combination of controlled access to the wireless network.

Vernier uses an OSI model Layer 3 approach versus the Layer 2 functions used by 802.3 and 802.11 protocols. The products thus handle higher level network security.

Well, Dewayne at AIT seems to have resolved things after my last call. He seemed genuinely concerned, but since I asked him to verify their address for my ceritfied letter and that my bank and attorney told me to start building up documentation before legal action–well, maybe that didn’t hurt.

I’ll believe it’s over when I see the $$ in my bank account. Why did they have to wait until I started the legal documentation path? Hosers.

Apparently (if I have the story straight) the FBI Phoenix office wrote a report in July, 2001 that warned of Arab suspects enrolling in flight schools. The report wasn’t acted upon (or not well enough acted upon) by September 11th.

Maybe I’m getting more conservative in my middle age, but how does this retroactive finger-pointing help anyone at all? We all know hindsight is 20-20. The FBI creates thousands of reports, and they are all followed up on as necessary. The FBI is not psychic. The attack on September 11th was unprecedented in scope and technology. How could someone have ever predicted that jet planes would be turned into living bombs to be used against political targets?

I’m sure that in time we will discover plenty of “warnings” that were “unheeded.” Who knows, maybe Jeanne Dixon predicted “some kind of violence involving the Middle East” last year–how could we have ignored a crystal clear sign like that, folks? All that is just more rationalized backstory–not the facts.

Our society seems determined to shoehorn its own stories into tragedies–don’t we realize or even care that this junk just cheapens the real events? People are already letting September 11 fade in their minds–this doesn’t help. It was a horrible tragedy, perpetrated by a man and an organization who could have used their millions to publicize their message in any number of ways other than violence. Now it’s too late. Let’s just leave things well enough alone, remember the day as it happened, and do what we need to do now.

Just got the Google Results box running over on the right hand side of my blog. Pretty cool.

I’m having some really difficult problems with our last Internet server provider, AITCom.net. I moved our server over to logjamming.com a couple of months ago (I’d highly recommend them–only $60/year, and the best money we ever spent). Then I cancelled our AIT account and faxed in the required confirmation. We were all set.

Or so I thought, until my credit card gets hit for a whopping $132.89 on Friday. It seems that AIT not only charged me for a new month, but upgraded me to a “Server 2” membership (unrequested and unauthorized) for over a hundred bucks.

I’ve been on the phone since Friday with Greg, Selena, Candace, Juanita, and Duane, trying to straighten this out, and I’ve gotten nowhere. They said the confirmation fax never arrived, but don’t seem to recognize that I resent them the fax and the receipt showing proper delivery on 4/29.The manager who is supposed to fix this, Cory Clinton, doesn’t seem to ever be there when I call. I’m building up documentation–a certified letter is next. They have 30 days to refund the money, and then I can file the documentation with my bank to get the money back. If I’d known this was going to be a problem, I would have cancelled my credit card before the charge hit. I think I should cancel it anyway after this is over. Oh, well–you live, you learn.

This is just too funny. If you have a telnet client, telnet to towel.blinkenlights.nl and then hit enter.

Adam Curry writes a moving piece about the true story behind Pim Fortuyn’s assassination in the Netherlands. His point is more valid than many realize. I’ve been on the spot a few times when newsworthy events happened, and I’ve never seen an accurate portrayal of the truth in the media. Robert Heinlein said the same thing back in the fifties or sixties, so it’s not a new phenomenon. It’s curious (and potentially ground-moving) that the most accurate and up to date information about September 11th came from amateur weblogs that day. Why can’t the media get it right? Check out Adam’s article here .

My cousin Dominic Mancuso lives in the Netherlands–I wonder what he thinks of this?

My doctor is great. I called yesterday and they got back with me today, asked me what was up, and let me know what to do next. I now have an appointment with a cardiologist on June 5.

I think it’s time to write about other stuff–this has to be boring to read…..

The new HP: You are what you eat. Analysts and many others have been wondering for a while which product lines would survive the HP-Compaq merger. Here’s details of who won, and what brands will live on. [CNET News.com] This is interesting, very much so for me, since I’m looking at HP as a possible vendor for my 24 station replacement PC lab this year. If I remember correctly, this news was outlined in broad strokes before the buyout, and HP has promised to produce a detailed product line direction within 30 days.

Notes from Jobs’ WWDC Keynote [MacNN] Most of this stuff is on various Mac news sites as well as Apple’s site, but it’s some pretty neat stuff. I can’t wait until Jaguar comes out. We’re buying servers this summer, so the rack mount server is particularly interesting.

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