Archive for January, 2008

When You’re a Geek 2

How to know you’re really a geek, part 1.

You refer to your daughter’s double ear infection as, redundant.

A Better Place 1

In the end, sanity prevails. The eBay seller sent me a message this afternoon saying that Vonage assured him his account would be terminated by COB. In my initial contact he’d promised to cancel the account a few days ago; obviously took him a little longer, but I won’t hold it against him. Still somewhat cynical, I attempted to activate the new adapter online… and it worked!

I’m a little sad, however, that I won’t have an excuse to play around with ettercap.

The moral of this latest installment? Don’t take what Vonage says at face value. When they tell you go buy a retail device (for nearly three times the price you paid on eBay), just take that to mean: get the person you bought it from to deactivate the old one. Oh, and don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

The Warpath 4

After discovering that, if left up to Vonage, the D-Link VTA-VD device I just purchased off eBay would be useless, I became determined to get it working.

Turns out, my initial idea of cloning the MAC address from my old Vonage adapter was amateur (at best): while this changes the MAC address that the adapter uses for Ethernet communication, it must still report the old address to Vonage when it’s being provisioned. Long story short, changing the MAC address had no effect whatsoever.

I did, however, discover that the VTAs apparently run an embedded flavor of Linux (cool!) with an SSH daemon installed and running by default (cooler!). Unfortunately, it uses a different account than the web interface (bummer). A glimmer of hope was the instructions for unlocking various SIP devices, include the D-Link VTAs. But I was shutdown yet again: the manufacturers have apparently gotten smarter and started patching up the security holes that people have been hacking into.

Now it’s down to the wire. Wireshark, that is. I used Microsoft’s bundled ICS to become a gateway on my wired NIC, which is attached to the VTA via a cross-over cable. Then I started sniffing traffic. It looks like the VTA now has DNS server addresses hard-coded into the firmware, removing the easy way to rewrite DNS requests. ARP spoofing? But it’s definitely making a request for an XML provisioning file, which I was also able to download. Unfortunately, it’s encrypted.

Maybe this is more trouble than it’s worth.

$vonage != $service 5

I’ve had Vonage for just about three years now. Over the past year or so, our phone line has probably been down more than its been up (the miracle of technology). I’m not ready to blame that on Vonage, however, since the adapter itself appears to be on its last leg. While trying to reconfigure it a few weeks ago, I realized that the integrated switch (it’s a combined router/switch/VTA device) was no longer working. I also noticed that the device was inordinately hot, so I’ve chalked it all up to hardware problems initiated by overheating.

In the hopes of salvaging our home phone, I ordered a used VTA device from eBay. I didn’t think twice about it; it’s definitely not the first piece of technology that I’ve acquired second hand, let alone from eBay, and I’ve had very few problems with any of it.

Of course, I made the assumption that Vonage would allow me to activate a used device. That was apparently not only a naive assumption, but also a fatal one.

As chronicled in various parts and pieces here, here, here, and probably many other places, Vonage apparently refuses to reassociate the MAC addresses of their VTAs (unless, of course, it’s been “reconditioned” by them).

Did I just buy a paper-weight? I’d be more than aggravated.

Obviously, as most of us know, this is purely an artificial limitation imposed by Vonage. Why? Are they worried about people recording the MAC address, selling the device, and then cloning it to steal calls? Do they get a little bonus for selling new devices? I have no idea.

The worst part, however, might not be their refusal to reuse a device. I could live with that, had only I know before I spent money on something that’s (currently) useless. But even with a bit of searching, I can’t find a single warning from Vonage on the dangers of buying used. I can describe this as nothing short of irresponsible, almost criminal.

So the moral of the story is, and I’d say this in big bold, emblazoned letters if I thought that it would somehow get it more exposure across the interwebs: whatever you do, don’t use Vonage. Erm, I mean, don’t buy a used Vonage device.

Like the good deviant I one day hope to be, I’m currently in the process of attempting to clone the MAC address of my previous adapter on the new one. The device supports twiddling with the MAC address, but, once I changed it, has been unaccessible (at least from work via the various SSH tunnels I have going). Yet if I delete it’s DHCP lease from the router it immediately reacquires one, so I’m thinking it’s caught up in some endless reboot cycle after attempting contacting Vonage. I’m going to keep digging.

The Campaign Trail 3

While the nation waits for the next step in the Presidential election, an entirely different campaign is coming to close. Of arguable significance, the Pats kept their season alive with a — becoming routine — win over the Jaguars last weekend, and will face the San Diego Chargers this weekend.

Can you tell who we’re voting for?

(In other news, I almost attended an Obama… rally, I guess? Unfortunately, it was after work so I didn’t get there quite as early as I must’ve needed to. I couldn’t find a parking spot, and the line was winding through the parking lot. I gave up.)

Go, go, go… 1

The best Obama ringtone.

The Importance of Bits 2

With their abundant availability both in volatile and permanent storage (i.e., RAM and hard-disks), sometimes I think the value of bits is lost on more recent developers, especially those that write in a very high-level language, like, say, PHP. The past few weeks I’ve been working very closely with some data analysts in our company — in particular, I’ve been compiling some very large tables (think nearly 1 billion rows per month) into “views” (technically, they’re completely new tables) that are much more manageable.

Tonight, mostly as an exercise in futility, I began looking at some of the foreign keys stored in the gargantuan tables. One of them in particular links to a table that currently contains (oddly enough) 256 rows. It grows very, very slowly. Currently the column is a long integer: 4 bytes. Imagine for a minute that we replaced that with what MySQL calls a small integer, or 2 bytes. Last month’s table was in the neighborhood of 900,000,000 rows, times 2, divided by 1024… That’s something just shy of 2 GIGAbytes that we’ve saved. (Never mind that there are about 4 other foreign keys this could also be applied to).

Every byte adds up, folks. Save ’em while you can.

(Some might call this inconvenient math. I’m not quite that unscrupulous.)

h4x0ring 2

This post tells the humorous story of how a regular consumer hacked his neighbor’s wireless AP, then proceeded to lock his neighbor out of it with a new password, MAC filter, & c. Only to discover that his neighbor had, in fact, retaliated by hacking his wireless AP. Or something like that.