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Warped minds

This week: Warped minds; Router problems; Network design; Let the work commence; Autumn is here;

Otok Hvar South Coast
Otok Hvar South Coast

We almost had enough rain to measure early on Sunday – not quite, but almost…

The sound of a few rain drops beating on the greenhouse roof woke me. But there was insufficient to register on the rain gauge. So it has been back to irrigating the plants and orchards this week.

At least the temperature is dropping, so I have reduced the amount of water being delivered.


Warped minds

I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week dealing with computer issues.

Ever since this blogging website was hacked earlier in the year, I have beefed up the security and virus protection. There is no eCommerce, there are no email lists to harvest, the photographs are all low resolution so are not saleable, so why would anyone want to hack it?

My security report this week told me that in the past seven days, there have been 740 malicious attempts to break into the admin area which controls the website.

When I was creating the website last December, I read extensively about security and took advice from the experts. So “admin” which is the default log in term, together with a suggested password, which are the default settings for the admin page, has not been used.

There were 617 attempts just using “admin”. I’m pleased I took the advice offered.

This week I have changed the settings again, beefed up the security some more and whilst the attacks continue, I’m doing everything I can to make it difficult for these people with warped minds.

You can never say it will never happen. All you can do is make it difficult, so they go somewhere else (somewhere easy!).

I queried the attacks with experts and was told they want access so they can use the site to host illegal material, or so they use my bandwidth and storage for nefarious activity.

These are things which the average website visitor would never see. It’s no longer just about stealing credit card details and email addresses!


Router problems

The next issue was the weather router going down. I bought a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) so that when the mains electricity fails – as it often does, I don’t loose the weather system.

It is at this point that I wish I had enrolled for computer networking classes.

Eventually I traced the fault to one of the linking routers, which failed at precisely 00:01 on Tuesday morning. That is a really odd time to fail, the moment the clock changes to a new day.

That set off a daisy chain of events. I needed to get a spare router out of the store, together with some cable. Once found, I had to configure it. This is not a difficult process, as I keep a detailed record of settings, but it does take a bit of time. I soon had the network up again.

What has been more problematic has been the weather router. I have probably spent more than 10 hours in total, over three days, trying to get the little box to work.

TP-Link
TP-Link Weather router

Then when I did, I made the mistake of trying to change it from wired to WiFi connection, and I lost the whole thing, all over again.

Multiple emails, multiple messages on technical support forums, and a lot of time spent following instructions didn’t help.


Network design

I have been dealing with routers and small networks for years, but am completely self taught. Networking engineers spend years years learning how to PING devices on a network.

I have some smart software which does the job for me.

It does help that I learned to code in DOS, because you have to use the command prompt – that throwback to MS DOS 3.1 and Windows 3.0. But it is still here, in the background, even in Windows 10.

Who remembers the Command Prompt? Type <DIR/C:>

Because of the unique features of my Dol house, I have several routers, all in a “daisy chain”. This extends my network between the buildings but the failure of one meant that other parts of the network also went down.

Router Daisy Chain and WiFi connections

WiFi signals will not penetrate meter thick stone walls, so a different network design is called for.

It’s a long story, but at the time I created the CAT6 network, the easiest way was to have several cheap routers to extend the area of coverage. Now there are other options, but I have a legacy system.

When I dismantled the failed router, I discovered a grub or caterpillar of some sort had got in through the cooling vents and had shorted out the circuit board.

Open heart surgery
Router open heart surgery

Removing the fried carcass didn’t bring the router back to life, so the short has obviously done some other damage. It has been running day and night for around 8 years, so probably doesn’t owe me very much. I bought it originally from the JCG store in Dragon Mart in Dubai.

I installed a network relay box in the hall and all Ethernet wires terminate there. What I have decided to do is to order a new and larger frame relay box. This will allow the UPS, satellite modem and ancillary items to all go into one hole in the wall.

Typical wall cabinet network box

Good job I have thick walls! At the same time I will simplify the system and just have two makes of router instead of four, which should make managing the network a little easier.

I have a small CAT5e relay box in the hall, but I can’t fit everything inside. Because of the delayed building work and stored furniture in the hall, it is difficult even to access.

Small relay box
Small relay box

Let the work commence

The builder has been in touch this week, wanting to discuss a start date for the building work (at last!).

Work starts here
Work starts here soon!

Also the builders merchant has delivered the plywood sheets which will be the cladding for my home-built storage shed.

Plywood sheets
Plywood sheets

It has meant a rapid reassessment of where the temporary storage will go. It was going where the new building will be, because I really hadn’t expected work to start this side of winter.

I have some space, and with a little juggling can get everything into place near the cottage.

Space for a shed?
Space for a shed?

I have a finite amount of time to get everything ready though. At least there is no sign of any significant rain for the next two weeks.


Autumn is here

Despite the continuing above average temperatures, autumn has arrived here in Dol.

The felines are starting to grow their thick winter coats, most noticeable is Callie my Arab Mau, a breed which has no under fur. Most felines have two layers, a thick under fur and a longer top coat.

The change from a fine, light summer coat, ideal for hot climates is quite noticeable. At least it’s not like the spring where the moulting winter coat is deposited everywhere you look.

Outside, the sun rises later every day, is much lower in the sky and it is pleasant working until mid-day. Overnight temperatures have now fallen to just below 20ºC.

This week I have been repacking mulch around the citrus trees. The area around each tree has been enlarged with weed suppressant plastic. I then covered the plastic to a depth of 4 or 5 centimetres with a good home made mulch.

Extending weed free area
Extending weed free area

I will have more mulch in a few weeks when I start the annual pruning cycle.

The edges have been weighted down with stones, also as a means of keeping the mulch in place. It will not be long before I will be putting the shade netting around the trees again to protect them from the winter winds.

Mulched
Mulched

With the permanent steel frames in place, it will be a much easier task this year and based on my experience last year, one which is well worthwhile. All the trees have grown well, despite the dry summer and several have fruited for the first time.

The one job I was planning on doing was to plant some Lucerne, but to do that I need rain. Early autumn planting, when the soil is still warm leads to stronger plant growth.

I need to break up the surface of the soil with a Dutch hoe first, allow the weeds to germinate, hoe again and then sow the Lucerne seeds.

But with just 35 mm of rain since the 1st June, one third of the average, the clay soil is baked hard like concrete and I couldn’t plant anything at the moment.

The only saving grace is that there are no weeds germinating. NRC

One Response

  1. Elizabeth
    | Reply

    Sorry to hear about your network trials and tribulations. But…. Exciting news that the building work will soon be under way again. You have waited rather a long time for that to start. I’m sure you’ll soon have your she’d sorted. We look forward to seeing how things develop.

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