Sat, 27 Sep 2003

Fed up and Fee-ed Out

I'm so sick of bank fees I could scream. I've been a Wells Fargo customer for over 10 years. It's way past time to switch banks.

NetBank is probably where I'll land. Interest paid on checking, no fees for online bill pay, or any of the other services I typically use. They live on the Internet, like I do. Seems like a good match.

The straw that broke the camel's back was a $30 wire transfer fee. Wells Fargo quoted me $20 over the phone, but would not do the transfer by phone or fax. They insisted I show up in person at the bank. The local branch manager charged me $30.

Thinking (hoping?) she was wrong, I sent an e-mail inquiry requesting an adjustment if the branch was in error. Wells Fargo's reply sounded like some of the television commercials I've seen recently:

I researched the $30.00 wire transfer fee charged to your account…The fee for this type of wire is $20.00. Additionally, there is a $10.00 fee if a store banker assists with sending the wire.

I'll probably be hit with a $30 research fee for being fool enough to question the wire transfer fee.

Suck rocks Wells Fargo, you've sucked your last drop of my blood.

[/general] [link]

Nancy Lundquist’s Guatemala Pictures

My good friend and coworker, Jonathan Lundquist, and his wife, Nancy, made a trip to Guatemala in April. They are both avid photographers and they came back with some great pictures.

Nancy posted her pictures on their weblog. NOTE: It's one, long page filled with images. Even with my broadband connection, it took several minutes to load the page. Well worth the wait, though.

[/general] [link]

Lost in Translation

Attempting to build upon our success last week, we ventured out to the movies last night.

Based on a chart in the Friday paper indicating a thumbs up from all reporting reviewers, we picked Lost in Translation.

This movie sucked. If not for three cups of coffee, stretching dinner out long enough to fill time before the 9:40 start, I would have slept through it. If not for the fact that we were blocked into the center of our row, we would have walked out.

Here's my recommendation. Wait until it's playing at the dollar movies, give your dog a buck and send him to the show. That is, unless (a) you like your dog; (b) you value a dollar.

[/fun] [link]

Wed, 24 Sep 2003

Riding in the dark

The sun sets, now, before our evening ride ends. We finish in the soft light of dusk, which, for me, was near complete darkness Monday and Tuesday. I wear my prescription sunglasses when I ride. Removing them is not an option — I'd just as well close my eyes.

With the sunglasses on, and the sun down over the western horizon, the rabbits begin to look like bushes and the bushes begin to look like rabbits. It's unsettling when the rabbits don't move as you approach and it's downright unnerving when the bushes dart across the trail in front of your wheel.

We're planning a trip to see our families next month. We'll take the bikes with us and do a little daylight riding in the Arizona sun. We'll have the opportunity to see some new wildlife, perhaps including snow-birds, which, they tell us, drive automobiles and eat unsuspecting cyclists for lunch.

[/cycling] [link]

Mon, 22 Sep 2003

Safe Comcast HighSpeed Internet Installation

Comcast HighSpeed Internet default installation procedures are not safe. They leave unsuspecting users susceptible to worms and viruses. In addition, there are many accusations that the Comcast install installs spyware on users computers.

The problem is a Catch-22. If you're running a Windows based system, you need to apply security patches before you expose your computer to the Internet. But the only reasonable way to get the security patches is to download them from the Internet.

There is simple alternative to Comcast's default installation instructions that has the benefit of an additional layer of security and privacy. You don't need to install any software provided by Comcast.

If you are running Linux, or another unsupported OS, you can get your Comcast HighSpeed Internet connection up and running without access to a Windows based PC by following these instructions.

  • Do not connect your computer directly to the cable modem. Use a broadband router with NAT. Connect it between the computer and the cable modem.
  • Configure your browser to use, port 8000, as your proxy server, excluding
  • Navigate to and complete on-line registration process.
  • When registered, disable the browser's proxy server settings.
  • Update Windows with all Critical Updates using the Windows Update site.
  • Update your virus scanner and use it, or an online virus scanner to ensure your system is virus free.

On my Comcast connection, last week, I received over 14,000 Welchia probes from over 700 different hosts. And that's just Welchia. There are dozens of other threats raining down on my firewall all day every day. Barely a minute passes, on average, without some kind of parasite trying to determine whether or not I'm a vulnerable host and infecting me.

A new Comcast users is likely to be a vulnerable to recent worms and viruses. Even a brand new system is unlikely to come from the factory with current security patches. Bundled virus scanners likely have out of date virus signatures.

So, my advice to all Windows users is to first obtain a good broadband router with NAT support. There are several broadband routers to choose from. Among them are options from:

In addition to some added security, broadband routers with NAT allow you to share your Internet connection with other computers in your household.

It is understandable that Comcast does not want the added variable of a broadband router or firewall device between the PC and the cable modem; it would complicate installation and troubleshooting. However, exposing vulnerable computers to the kinds of worm and virus attacks we've seen recently probably leads to just as much, if not more, trouble down the road as infected computers chew up bandwidth, frustrated users overload support centers, and systems have to be sanitized.

[/internet] [link]

Sat, 20 Sep 2003

Matchstick Men

Last night, Jenny and I went to the movies for the first time in ages. We saw Matchstick Men and loved it.

We've filled our summer with cycling and haven't turned the television on for weeks, so we hadn't seen any advertisements, reviews or commentaries except for the brief blurb in the newspaper describing the currently playing movies while we made our selection. So, we had the pleasure of seeing the movie without having seen all the highlights in a trailer.

This one gets my recommendation.

[/fun] [link]

Sat, 13 Sep 2003


Jenny and I made the ride to Rockford and back this evening. While we were waiting in the left turn lane for the light on 32nd and Highway 27, a cyclist pulled in behind us.

My plan was to time myself, as usual, on the big climb. So, when we reached the bottom of the hill, I started the stop watch and charged up the hill for all I was worth.

I waited for Jenny at the top. The cyclist that had pulled in behind us at at the light came up the hill ahead of Jenny. He pulled to a stop and complimented me on my climb. "You nailed that hill. You really hammered it."

He wasn't far behind me. He was lean not an ounce of fat on him. He wasn't winded; obviously he had climbed the hill at a comfortable pace. I asked where he was headed. "Freeman, or maybe Rockford if I have time," he said. "I'm just visiting friends here. I haven't ridden this way before.

Rockford and back is where we're headed, I told him.

I rode to Coeur d'Alene this morning, he said. "But I needed a few more miles."

At that he pedaled away. Wow, I said to myself, when I'm in my seventies, I want to be just like him still riding and riding strong. I was inspired.

[/cycling] [link]

Stealthing Port 113 on D-Link DI-604 Router

In recent days, the most frequent Google searches leading readers to my site seem to have come from people trying to figure out how to stealth port 113 or their D-Link DI-604 Routers.

I wrote an article titled Dropping IDENT requests causes e-mail delays explaining why, in some cases, you may not want to stealth port 113. The article does not explain how to stealth port 113, if that is what you want. This article adds that information.

You may want to review the prior article, first, to determine if that's what you really want to do. If so, the solution is quite simple.

To stealth port 113 on D-Link DI-604 Router simply forward port 113 to an unused IP address on your network using the technique described in the D-Link TechSupport FAQ.

Some routers, such as the Netgear RP614 automatically stealth port 113. If you experience delayed connections to outbound services like SMTP and IRC, you may want to un-stealth port 113 so packets are refused instead of dropped.

To un-stealth port 113 on Netgear RP614 (or many other routers), forward port 113 to an active IP address on your network that responds with a closed port. In my prior article, I forwarded port 113 to a network connected HP printer. For the RP614, see the port forwarding instructions in the reference guide.

In either case, you can use Steve Gibson's excellent ShieldsUp!! page to test the results of your configuration change.

[/internet] [link]

Wed, 10 Sep 2003

The big crash: 7 years ago, today

On a cold September morning, just like this one, seven years ago, today, I pulled on a cycling jacket, long fingered gloves, and headed to work. I left a few minutes later than usual. My ride took me past Central Valley High School where classes had started just a few days before.

A 16 year-old student, licensed just a few weeks prior, made a left turn in front of me. I steered left and braked for all I was worth, first trying to avoid an impact with the cab of his small, Toyota pickup that would have sent me through the glass, then trying to avoid a crash all together. I didn't make it. I impacted right at the back axle, went airborne and landed on my back in the street on the other side.

The crash fractured both the radius and ulna of my left arm, sheering off the ball joints at the wrist. It left scars on both arms where they impacted the side of the truck and a deep bruise across my right leg that took months to fade away. My arm was repaired with stainless steel plates and screws. The crash destroyed my bicycle.

Seven years later, I'm back on the bike. I'm not riding as many miles as I did then, but I'm enjoying every minute I ride. I'm hoping for a less eventful ride to work this morning.

[/cycling] [link]

Thu, 04 Sep 2003

Finally, Googled

I made by first blog entry about 6 weeks ago. The Googlebot finally found me in the early morning hours Tuesday (9/2). Last night, I saw the first hit from a Google search, and a couple more today.

When I checked last night, I wasn't able to find any search results for my own site. Whatever entry point I have into the great Google engine hadn't been updated, yet.

As of today, I can, indeed, search. So, finally, I'm Googled.

The hit's I'm getting from searches are encouraging, so far. They are hitting some of the technical articles I've written. Hopefully, my ramblings will prove to be beneficial to someone else.

[/internet] [link]

Wed, 03 Sep 2003

More miles than hours

The days are getting shorter at the same time I'm getting more fit and able to ride longer. I'm finding there are more miles to ride than hours of daylight to ride them.

Jenny continues to get faster and stronger. This past weekend, we rode nearly 100 miles together, much of it hilly. She stayed right with me.

In fact, she scared me. She was about 20 yards behind me as we approached a stop light. The light turned green. I still had 50 or 60 yards to go. Knowing it is a very short light, I sprinted for all I was worth to make it through.

Now, I'm no sprinter, but I cleared the intersection at my top speed. When I was safely through, I turned to see if Jenny was coming through or if she was stopped on the other side. She nearly ran over me! Not only was she through, she was right on my wheel!

Speaking of top speed, we went to Pig Out in the Park this weekend. While we were there we caught Top Speed at the IMAX Theater. Watching Marlo Streb handle a mountain bike and Marion Jones do the 100 meter was amazing. If you haven't seen it, do!

[/cycling] [link]

About this weblog

This site is the personal weblog of Marc Mims. You can contact Marc by sending e-mail to:
[email protected].

Marc writes here about cycling, programming, Linux, and other items of personal interest.

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