The Perfect (Network) Storm

For the last few months, we’ve had a really annoying and intermittent issue with our home networking setup. I’ve had my home network configured to use the 192.168.100.x IP range for several years. In February this year, my Time Warner issued cable modem failed and I purchased a Motorola SB6121. This summer, in preparation for Google Fiber coming to our area, I upgraded my router to a Cisco RV130 small business VPN router. Ever since then, at odd intervals, we’d notice issues with internet access and discover that the router had reconfigured itself to use 10.10.10.x range for the internal network.

After the first couple of times of manually resetting the IP range, I created a backup config file to quickly restore the correct settings and reboot the router. I contacted Cisco support and spoke with several different support technicians. One had me set up a syslog server on my network so we could get a durable copy of the log entries from the router since the internal logs are cleared on a restart. This week, the support tech I was working with and I were reviewing the logs and found something pretty startling.

Any time the cable modem would lose connection to the upstream network, it would assign the IP address to the device connected to its ethernet port until it could reestablish a connection to the upstream DHCP server. That device just so happened to be the WAN interface of the RV130 router. Even though it only happened for a few seconds, the router would see an IP address on the WAN in the same range as the internal LAN. At that point, it made the decision to change the internal IP range to 10.10.10.x to avoid a conflict.

The fix was simply to pick a different IP range for my internal network. Once we figured out what was going on and reconfigured the internal IP range, I tested the theory by power cycling the cable modem while tailing the log file from the router. Sure enough the router configuration stayed consistent and we haven’t had issues since then.

Who would have guessed that a decision that I made 8+ years ago would conflict with a decision the Motorola engineers made for their equipment defaults?  I’m just glad we’re finally stable and I can get back to solving problems with the software that I write vs the stuff in my house that needs to “just work”

Spotify – You can check out, but you can never leave

UPDATE: After replying to the email below, a support representative got back in touch and my Spotify account is now closed. I made sure to let them know that my reason for closing my account was their privacy policy. No idea if it’ll make a difference or not but maybe if they get a bunch of people leaving they’ll wake up.

As I was catching up on overnight updates in my Twitter stream this morning, I ran across a conversation talking about the new privacy policy that is now in effect at Spotify (you can read the highlights here or read the entire thing here).

I’ve been a very casual user of their free account for the last year or so but had recently started using their service more from the app loaded on my Mac. As I read through the highlights of what Spotify makes you agree to let them do, I decided that their service was no longer something I was interested in. I uninstalled their apps from my Mac, iPhone and iPad (and will be making the rest of my family do the same thing later today). I then began searching for how I could have my account cancelled and that’s where the real frustration for the day began.

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Autonomous ERGO Desk – Unboxing and Assembly

Last fall I wrote about making the switch to a standing desk. At the time I went the “cheap” route, getting a used frame from a friend and a recycled door for the top. A couple months ago, I found out about a project on Kickstarter for an electrically-adjustable desk. My experiment has gone so well (hey, I’m still using the standing desk 10 months later) and the project looked so great that my wife and I decided we needed these to replace our existing home office desks.

The project touts itself as the first smart office desk—offering a sort of artificial intelligence that knows when you come to the office, tracks when you need to transition from standing to sitting and can even interfaces with your home automation system. At then end of the day, we decided that we didn’t really need the “smart” features for the difference in price and purchased two of the “DIY” models. The DIY model consists solely of the frame and adjustment controls without the smart features or the top. I also have some pretty specific desktop size needs that the top offered with the desk could not meet, so we’ll be building custom tops for our desks soon.

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My Static Blog Site Experiment Has Ended

A few months ago I got the itch to move off of WordPress and onto some kind of static blog generator system. I read and researched and finally settled on OctoPress and set it up on GitHub pages. There has been a lot of attention to static blog and site generation over the last year or so and there are definitely use cases for them, but I’ve decided they are not for me. What I found was that, while I could host my blog for free on GitHub (after jumping through a few hoops), there were several issues with using OctoPress that made me crazy.

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Gettin’ off my duff

Well, at least partially. Since there are so many different ways that could be interpreted, let me explain.

I’ve worked at home almost all of the last 14 years as both a full-time employee and freelance programmer–a good chunk of that that time in both roles at the same time. That means a LOT of hours spent at my desk writing code sitting down. For the past couple of years I’ve been mulling over the idea of converting to a standing desk because of the recent research telling us that sitting for long periods of time is killing us slowly.

One of the things that has kept me from jumping into this with both feet has been cost. Dedicated standing desk units are pricey and I honestly didn’t want to drop a ton of cash until I knew if I could commit to a full-time standing desk arrangement. Couple that with the fact that I had knee surgery a few years ago to remove some cartilage and I wasn’t sure if I could even physically make it work. So, I kicked the idea can down the road…and kicked it…and kicked it.

This is the part of the story where my buddy Jim Priest enters stage left. Jim has been a standing desk person for years. He happened to have a spare standing desk sitting around and agreed to let me borrow it for a test run. I got it last week and went about figuring out how to rearrange the home office to integrate it. The desk was well used and the blonde-colored top that was with it had a slight bow in the middle. The rest of my office furniture is black. Continuing in the “be cheap” vein, I went to Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore here in Cary and bought a 24″ interior door, painted it black and screwed it to the top of the desk frame. Total investment so far is about $12 including paint for the desk plus an anti-fatigue mat to stand on (which I have no idea how much it cost because my wife picked it up for me on Friday).

I knew that my body wasn’t strong enough to stand 100% of the time from the beginning. A few years ago I bought a really nice office chair on a recommendation from Dan Wilson. It’s not inexpensive either and I certainly didn’t want to lose the use of it. The last time I was thinking about doing this, I bought a replacement cylinder for the chair that was much longer than the factory one. I installed that last week so now I have the ability to switch between standing and sitting during the day. My theory is that standing some during the day (as much as I can) is better than sitting all day.

Anyway, today is my first full day of work at the new standing desk so we will see how it goes. For you visual people, I’ve attached a couple of photos of the before and after of my side of the office.

Home Office - Original Version Home Office - Standing Desk Version