July 13th, 2019

children of dune - leto 1

so this happened and it was a thing

Yesterday, I finally fulfilled a long standing (aka three to five months) dream of making my DD-WRT router my primary router and gateway and turn my home into open source nirvana. It was beautiful. I had internal DNS, I could access all local LAN IP addresses with $myitem.idlewilde.home, I got to micromanage my device settings as has not been done in this universe since the fourth-fifth day of Creation itself (not saying this was on par with "Let there be light" but it was definitely higher up than say, creating goddamn mosquitoes). I even had ntopng running to stare at shit like flows and random numbers that mean something (what, who can say?) and assign everyone not just their very own IP address but device type. I could ssh into this sucker and edit any config file I wanted so suck it, Netgear. It. Did. Everything.

Except connect reliably to the internet.

(Those who have known me less than five years are like "oh, that's sad" or "fuck, that's hilarious" (or both! BOTH ARE LEGIT). Those who have known me greater than five are wondering what I set on fire this time. I didn't, but I did overclock my router's CPU so yes, legit worry. Apparently they don't have much in teh way of heatsinks and kicking up their transmit power can be sketchy.)

You're wondering what went wrong? I literally don't know and neither does any DD-WRT forum or anywhere google reaches. I am not yet at searching the Tors but come on, it's a close thing.

However, I do know one thing that went wrong around eight to ten this morning: my modem, for reasons that pass understanding, just dead refused to recognize it anymore. And even after frantically replacing the DD-WRT modem with my regular old normal not-hackable netgear one, it still refused to recognize it and kept trying to use my computer's MAC addrews instead of its own to connect which really didn't work (please don't ask why, it just apparently happens?). So I gave up and called my ISP for a reset of the modem, which according to google over mobile data (as that was all I had), modems do this. Which is true; they do. Or more specifically, some do provided they have those settings and what not and your ISP has really strict equipment restrictions so their users can't make a mess of their network, aka basically protect the network from people like me, which under the circumstances I'm seeing their point but still protest on principle.

My ISP, however, has no special settings, configs, etc; my modem was just being a dick.

Tech girl and tech guy were baffled: we all gave up and tried everything then did everything in different order.

Example:
Tech: Okay--unplug ethernet cable from modem first, then router, then unplug modem--no, router! Then modem. Then wait ten seconds then plug in ethernet--no, turn on modem, turn on router, then ethernet cable to modem and router while clucking like a chicken.
Me: *DOES IT*
Me: WHY GOD--
Tech: Okay, unplug router ethernet first, then stand on one leg while reciting the alphabet backward--

X number of power cycles (as above) and three or four remote resets later, it--started working. For no reason. Me and tech were stunned.

Me: ...I have internet. Google is opening. THIS IS HAPPENING.
Tech: You're kidding. *checks something* How?

After thanking him for his help (I heard something not unlike a joker laugh as I hung up so hopefully, he's okay), I DNS flushed my laptop three times, restarted it and cleared all network profiles before risking logging in to the router and--there is literally no goddamn reason. I checked the modem diagnostics and my router settings and logs and...yeah. This isn't the first time I've changed my primary router, or even the first time I've switched to an open source one (though the last time was only for testing).

So I've been casually looking around and actually, there are lots of reasons this could have happened, various scenarios that are perfectly possible, but none are actually possible in this case This is because generally, to get these kind of disastrous network results, I would actually need to know a lot more about networks (while at the same time still knowing shit but sure I know everything) to pull it off. It's not quite thousand years of typewriter monkeys and Shakespeare but like, a minimum of a D in a networking class that I napped through level, and I haven't taken a networking class yet.

So that made me humble. I know now some things are beyond my ken, or at least cannot be learned by poking configs to see what happens. I am wiser.

Then I found an email exchange I had with Batman on open source routers a couple of months ago.

(Note: Batman is BFF's husband who has a masters in math and CS and is working on his CS PhD and interns at google along with working full time. He's legit the smartest person I've ever met, can explain literally anything forever, and makes you feel smart while learning.

I'm actually not kidding; ask him a question and not only does he never, ever, even by accident imply you were dumb for not knowing or you can't understand the answer, but makes you feel super smart for asking and he'll reflexively work out how you need it explained no matter how many times you're like "...what?"

I call him Batman to remind myself not to call him every time something goes wrong (and because he's crazy smart, yeah). You do not call him for a script that won't run any more than you'd call Batman for a jaywalker. That way I don't end up with him on speed dial when I'm going through a coding phase.)

Anyway, I offered him one of my routers preflashed with OpenWRT (like DDWRT but even harder to understand and configure but much prettier interface) so he can play with it and destress from all the PhDing he's doing. He emailed me back and I guess I skimmed because in the second paragraph, I just caught a very important offer for me.

Networking books. Not just any networking books, but grad student in CS and math networking books with possibly his notes in them and an excuse to call him and ask so many questions because when Batman says 'if you need help with jaywalkers I'm here for you', that's different.

(I'm not going to be like, presumptuous or entitled here. I'll offer to make them dinner and pop out the network paraphernalia over coffee and crumb cake. Maybe like a lot. They're close by, it wouldn't be that weird. I have a large enough backpack.)

WHEE I AM GOING TO SCREW UP MY NETWORK LIKE A CS GRAD STUDENT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Next time my modem is a dick, uit won't be because it may have developed sentience and an asshole personality; it'll be because I hacked the firmware and fucked it up personally.

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