Trying to order broadband

We're moved in to our new house now (just a couple blocks from where we were living, in the same subdivision). The previous owners indicated that DSL was available in the area (our old house was just barely beyond the 18,000 feet limit from the telephone companies central office). I'd been looking forward to the prospect of being an Xmission customer at home again.

Turns out DSL is not yet (2006!) available. So the only real option is a Comcast cable modem. The downsides are they charge you more if you don't also get cable TV from them, they don't have an option to purchase a static IP address, and while the download speeds are impressive the upload speeds aren't...

The other odd thing about Comcast is that they think that our new home is within five miles of Dallas, TX and Irving, TX in addition to Main Street in Layton, UT(!?).

I submitted an order on their website Tuesday morning and they indicated that my "order has been electronically forwarded to a Comcast representative. After your order has been reviewed, a Comcast representative will contact you to complete/confirm your order. Then you're on your way!"

Two days later they haven't called to "complete/confirm" my order. So I'm not on my way yet, and I'm guessing I'll still be without Internet access for another weekend. :-(

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Online again at our new house with new Apple equipment

We have internet access again—Shauna called Comcast and told them we really did want to be their customer since they hadn't ever responded to our online order.

Mac Mini

I purchased a Mac Mini last Saturday which I intend to use as a new firewall since it will run silent (the antithesis of our old P-133 firewall). I plan on installing the macppc port of OpenBSD on it. I haven't configured it yet since being on call after hours for work (something I get to do every five to six weeks) did not seem like the wisest time to be making firewall changes.

I also purchased a second Mac Mini to use as an Asterisk server for developing telephony applications. And I picked up a closeout 1.9 GHz G5 17" iMac for only $1,100 to serve as a new family computer. ...And an Airport Extreme base station. ...And the family-pack upgrade of OS X 10.4 (Tiger) for my laptop & Shauna's old iMac.

My new Apple equipment goes along quite nicely with Shauna's new furniture, at only half the cost! ;-)

— Michael A. Cleverly

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Prolific siblings

I'm starting to work on my promised (in advance!) belated family Christmas 2005 gift: the collected 2005 blog book of all my siblings posts'.

This book may end up being fairly large. Consider the number of posts:

  1. Michael
  1. Becca
  1. Anna
  1. Rachael
  1. Talmage
  1. Mary
  1. Eliza
  1. Camilla
  1. Paul
  1. Cade
  1. Dad
  1. Chris
  1. Shauna
  1. Mom
  1. Robert

Should be a fun typesetting project! My first thought was to list all posts chronologically (interleaving multiple authors) but Becca and Shauna have both said they'd prefer to have all of one persons posts grouped together. Your thoughts?

— Michael A. Cleverly

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OpenBSD on a Mac Mini

One of the two mac mini's I bought was meant to be an OpenBSD firewall. Reasons for considering a Mac Mini with as a firewall:

Configuring OpenBSD was more or less straightforward—I did run into a couple of "gotcha's" but they were easily overcome with a bit of Googling.

OpenBSD initially only wanted to lay claim to eight gigabytes (of the 40 GB disk). The solution was to run fdisk and change the size of the A6 partition.

The USB ethernet adapter works fine (the Mac Mini only has one onboard ethernet connection, and for a firewall you need two), but there are a lot of apparently spurious errors logged to the console. Since the maximum speed of the cable modem link is only a couple of MB/sec I expect the USB ethernet adapter to hold up fine.

At the end of the installation notes it says you can configure the firmware to automatically boot into OpenBSD:

Autobooting OpenBSD/macppc

It is possible to automatically boot into OpenBSD (selectably into Mac OS) by setting up the following:
setenv auto-boot? true
setenv boot-device hd:,ofwboot

[to save the results into NVRAM]

These settings assume that the master of the first IDE bus has OpenBSD installed on it, either in MBR format or in shared mode with ofwboot copied into the first HFS(+) partition. It is not necessary to specify '/bsd' on the boot line or in the boot-device variable, since it is the default.

My experience was that when the boot-device was set just to hd:,ofwboot the computer wouldn't start up. The only way I could get it to work was by setting the boot-device to be hd:,ofwboot /bsd.

Next up: besides a few recommended post-installation steps I'm installing snort, nmap, bash, screen, tcl, expect & squid.

— Michael A. Cleverly

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