I goofed and tried to secure a web admin interface

Now Firefox won’t let me log in. I’m going to have to factory reset the router, configure it all over again, and this time leave it configured for clear text only.

This seems like going backward.

I mean, I get it: it is clear that RC4 is too easily broken, so support for it was removed.

But I’m not so wealthy that I want to just throw away an otherwise fine – old – router. I put the latest version of Tomato on it that still runs on that platform; but, that version of firmware is from 2010.

This is for my Internet of Things network. Nothing on that network is going to be terribly fast, so I certainly don’t need a high powered router. Still, if a lightbulb gets compromised, I’d like there to be at least a tiny bit of work involved in capturing the router’s password. RC4 may be brute forced in minutes with a GPU, but a lightbulb doesn’t have that sort of processing power.

Anyway, I goofed up. I saw an article about how to convert the web admin interface to use https only, so I pushed the button to generate a new certificate. Now I’m locked out and have to wipe the router back to factory reset.

The official error message is: Error code: SSL_ERROR_NO_CYPHER_OVERLAP

Thank you smarter people than me, for not allowing an override, even temporarily. Thank you smarter people than me, for making sure my IoT wireless access point web admin interface password has to remain in clear, plain text, forever.

Trendnet EdgeSmart switch VLAN configuration – set one port on a different VLAN

This was difficult, so I will provide a How-To here. The goal was to put port 8 on my switch on VLAN 4084. This is my Internet of Things (IoT) VLAN.

A prerequisite of course, is that the downlink from the router to the switch has the VLAN 4084 tag in it. For me, that will be port 1 on the switch.

Another PITA is that the Trendnet EdgeSmart switch self configures to – and that is hard-coded. After you get a machine directly connected to it (with a static IP address), then you can configure the switch to use DHCP to put it on your main LAN. But if you find that you want to factory reset to start over, you’re going to have to go back to the static IP config on 192.168.10.x. The MAC address doesn’t show up in the router until after the DHCP inspired reboot, so you have no idea of what the new web admin interface IP address is. After the switch has rebooted, then you can go in to the DHCP leases and find out what the new IP address is. I don’t know that I would have bothered, except that the laptop I was using has a little smaller screen, and the Trendnet web interface is primitive. I could not get decent screen shots on it because of the primitive web page rendering, so I needed to access it from a bigger screen, which meant making it available on my main LAN, which meant DHCP. But I digress.

What I’m trying to get to:

End result is 802.1q VLAN tagging on downlink port 1 and no tagging on port 8

First step: Modify VLAN ID 1

Here is what the web admin page looks like after a factory reset:

After factory reset, you have only VLAN 1 on all ports – but no tagging anywhere

VLAN ID 1 is the default VLAN. But if you never turned on VLANs, it would never have mattered. The default configuration (out of the box) is that if a frame with that VLAN tag were to show up on the switch, all the ports on the switch would strip that tag out (“un” tagging) before putting the frame on the wire of the ports. However, port 8 is a member of VLAN 1. That would cause us trouble later.

On the VLAN ID 1 modify page, we want to set this:

First, on VLAN 1, move port 8 to not-a-member away from static untagged

First, we move VLAN 1 to not-a-member away from static untagged for port 8. Then we apply the change. This will free up port 8 to be assigned a different VLAN later.

What it looks like after:

VLAN ID 1 untagged ports are 1-7 leaving port 8 available

I may be overly sensitive here; but this is a terrible user interface. If I didn’t know better, I would think that the top part (which is really for adding a new VLAN) was telling me the current status of the ports. It is not. But it looks like all the ports are in the not-a-member group. They used a whole bunch of screen real estate to not show me what the actual status is, but what it could be if I were to proceed. I wonder if putting the “Tagged VLAN Table” at the top would be better, and not showing the grid layout of port assignments at all until someone clicked Modify or View.

Second step: adding the new VLAN

Now we can add our VLAN 4084 with port 8 assigned:

On the main web admin screen, create the new VLAN and assign it

So I typed 4084 into the VLAN ID field, added the descriptive name, then clicked in the Static Untagged section on port 8, and then clicked Apply. This gave me the screen below. Note that we are not done yet.

This was the problem: the web interface uses what looks like radio buttons, so the idea that seems to be presented is that clicking on Static Untagged port 8 should move the port from VLAN 1 to VLAN 4084. But attempting to click on port 8: Static Untagged did nothing.

Behind the scene, port 8 was still a member of VLAN 1, so the admin interface would not assign Static Untagged to port 8 in VLAN 4084. It was super frustrating that clicking on port 8 static untagged did nothing: no errors, no warning – just a refusal to work with no response or feedback at all. I could put port 8 in the static tag membership, but those frames would (likely) not be understood by the IoT device. Although the interface showed me the radio button, I could not put port 8 in the Static Untagged membership. A better developed interface would have prompted me with something like “Assigning this port to Untagged will remove VLAN 1”. Okay, do that. Please.

We’re almost there. The configuration will now look like this:

VLAN 4084 is defined and will present on port 8 (once it gets there)

Step 3: add the trunk to the uplink port

Modify VLAN 4084:

Modify VLAN 4084

Make the modification: frames to port 1 should be tagged with VLAN 4084. This is because I chose port 1 as the uplink port. The uplink is the trunk connection to the core of the network. But when the switch presents the frame on port 8, the tags should be stripped off (“un” tagged):

VLAN 4084: port 1 tagged, port 8 untagged

Apply our changes, save the configuration, and reboot the device on port 8.

If our VLAN 4084 is otherwise configured correctly, our IoT device should now be on the IoT VLAN. Enjoy.

As painful as this was, I wish I’d bought something else with a better web admin interface than these Trendnet switches. Ultimately, they worked, but man I wasted a lot of hours trying to get them to work. That was four hours of my life I’m not getting back. I should have spent the extra $15 for a switch with software / documentation that doesn’t suck.

The Rocket Mortgage web site is privacy hostile

If I have any sort of privacy controls enabled, the Rocket Mortgage web site does not work. They have some sort of cross-site scripting going on where they throw something at https://streaming.split.io/ (which is actually a ably.com )

Even when I tell Firefox to keep everything together in the same container, Rocket Mortgage fails it. My only choice to get it to work is to disable all privacy controls.

Thanks, Rocket Mortgage. I simply love you for pimping out my data to advertising johns. Not.

Apple HomePod is still a fail

I’ve got two devices which tell me that the HomePod is on the wrong Wi-Fi network. Yes, I can believe that. Care to help a fellow out and fix it? Apparently that’s not a thing they had to program.

Extra points to Apple that the electric power plug cannot be disconnected at the device; but requires me to crawl under my desk and unplug it from the wall. I have no idea if a hard reboot by unplugging the power will help, but that appears to be the only option.

At least the Amazon Echo devices had particular button sequences for various levels of reset. Also, the power cord detached at the device, too.

But Apple is too cool for buttons and plugs. You dimwits.

Anyone can whine; how about a solution, David? Sure. It’s stupid, but it works:

  • Switch your iPhone / iPad to the correct Wi-Fi
    • Why do you even have more than one Wi-Fi network, David? The answer is Three Dumb Routers.
    • Remember: the S in IoT stands for Security.
  • Exit the HomePod app on your phone
    • I don’t know for certain that this step is required. But I do know that when it comes time to reach out to the HomePod, the act of opening the app will trigger an inventory to be taken. Probably there is some sort of polling cycle that tells the app to inventory this IoT device: but why leave that to chance?
  • Unplug the router providing the wrong Wi-Fi the HomePod is clinging to.
    • The stupid HomePod won’t be able connect to a Wi-Fi network that is off.
  • Unplug the HomePod
    • Leave it off for 15 seconds or more.
      • Decades ago in electrical engineering class, one of the professors gave us an extra credit math problem to calculate the amount of signal left in circuits as the capacitors drained. The clock crystal is still running; signals are still generated. Generally speaking, for computer circuits, it took about five seconds for the capacitors to drain. Best practice in engineering is to triple anything safety related – so: 15 seconds. This is safety related because you don’t want some weird random signal triggering some logic just because a capacitor wasn’t fully discharged: you could fry something and then the magic smoke escapes.
  • Plug the HomePod back in
  • Visit the HomePod in Apple Home app
    • It will whine that the HomePod is on the wrong network; but this time it will do something about it.
  • Plug your main router + Wi-Fi back in
    • Thank goodness the Apple programmers didn’t program the HomePod to have affinity to the previous Wi-Fi just because it returned to existence.
    • Since it was my secure devices Wi-Fi, I do actually want that network to work.
    • If I had a family here, I would have needed to blast out prior warning that the network was going away. Good times.

I don’t know. Maybe the people at Apple never thought people ought to secure their home with more than one Wi-Fi network?

I was really annoyed at Proofpoint; but really it was (partially) my fault

sudo postconf -e 'maximal_queue_lifetime = 1d'

I get it: some random guy sets up a new mail server, and you don’t know him from Adam, so you block his email.

They blocked me with a 400 series error. My new Postfix server had the default configuration of waiting five days before giving up. That wasn’t great, because I thought I’d sent an email, but the recipient never got it.

This failure was particularly irritating because my financial advisor needed me to sign an actual piece of paper to change the business relationship. She emailed me a document. It came across in her email that she was concerned about timing, this was rather urgent. I printed the document, signed it, and then emailed her back (on January 4) that I signed the document, but my schedule was such that I wouldn’t be able to bring the document to her office until Friday the 6th. Now I find out that Proofpoint never let my server send her that email; from her point of view I just completely shined her on.

That explains the weird look the receptionist gave me when I showed up on Friday with the signed document. They thought I had ghosted her. I didn’t: Proofpoint had decided to be a bully by stringing my mail server along with a 400 series error, until my mail server gave up and I finally got the 500 series error: blocked.

500 series errors are “it didn’t work, and it’s never going to work, what you are trying failed, we’re done.” 400 series errors on the other hand are “whoops – something went wrong, but it may be on our end rather than yours.”

I think it is a little disingenuous for Proofpoint to reply with a 400 series error “whoops – something went wrong, but it may be on our end rather than yours” when it was never going to get better. They blocked me because my mail server is new, and doesn’t have any reputation with them. That’s not going to get better on it’s own.

The big difference between 400 and 500 series errors is that 500 series errors are known problems. Because they are known problems, the results should be sent back immediately. 400 series errors have traditionally been allowed five days before the sending mail server reports an error. The idea behind 400 series errors was that perhaps you need time to fix a problem: so the sending mail server will try for five days before giving up. Perhaps you are moving to a new data center and you need a whole weekend to migrate. If you start Friday night and are done my Monday morning, the people sending you email will still get their messages to your users. It took several days, but eventually the email got there.

On the other hand, if I am sending an email to not-an-actual-user@some-real-domain.tld then the receiving mail server can immediately give me a 500 series error: not-an-actual-user does not exist. It didn’t work, it’s never going to work, what you are trying failed, we’re done. The sender (me) learns immediately that I mis-typed the email address or something.

I’ve recently gotten some DSN Fails trying to send to @icloud.com users. Same reason: they don’t know my mail server from Adam; but at least Apple was kind enough to let me know immediately that the mail didn’t go. I can at least text the person what I was going to send them in email.

Off-topic but mildly interesting: I had a user at work mis-type an email address by tacking on an extra period at the end. Like they finished a sentence with a period, but this was an email address. DNS has a top level, but to climb the tree means adding a trailing period and doing another DNS query. In other words, my computer could try to look up “mybox” and if that doesn’t resolve, tack a period on the end and look again. That would resolve to “mybox.mydomain”. If that doesn’t resolve, tack a period on the end and look again. That would resolve to “mybox.mydomain.tld” So when the resolution process finally gets to the very top Top Level Domain (TLD), searching stops. Those TLDs are a defined list; which is how DNS knows that there’s no more searching to be done. But whoops if the user asked for mybox.mydomain.tld. <—notice the trailing period. Then DNS is going to keep returning a 400 series error: it looks like there should be an upper level domain, but nothing responded, so maybe that box is just down right now? Try again in a few minutes. Five days later, my user finally got the DSN Fail. He was ticked off: why couldn’t the computer tell him he’d mistyped the email address? Well, because it kept looking for a mail server higher up in the DNS name hierarchy than .com

Quarterly Inventory

The time frame is October through December 2022

Dear FutureMe,

Today would be a good day to do a quarterly inventory.

How is your personal life going?

How is your work life going?

How is your volunteer service life going?

Personal Life:

  • Amazon Echo purge
    • I decided to abandon Amazon Alexa because they insisted on pushing advertising into my morning wake up routine. My morning wake up routine exists because I want to wake up grateful and happy. Playing a wake up song and then violating my peace with your advertising produces anger, not peace and grattitude. so, I’m out. I unplugged all my Amazon Echo devices and sought replacements.
      • Mycroft was no good.
        • The Raspberry Pi image they have doesn’t do audio levels right.
        • They have a terribly overpriced Raspberry Pi which does, so maybe that’s why the community version sucks.
        • They require a cloud login to use the service. Not a fan.
      • Apple Homekit is not great.
        • The microphone on the HomePod mini is super sensitive, which would be good if the software behind it wasn’t weak.
        • The software behind the HomePod is a low effort undertaking. Way too often I get an idea of something to ask it, and it (essentially) replies with you should do that on your iPhone. Mostly, it successfully controls the smart lightbulbs; and that’s about it. As an example, tomorrow morning I would like a reminder that I’m going to breakfast with my son at 7:00 AM. With the Amazon Echo, this was easy. With the HomePod, I get “your iPhone is not available. Check that it’s powered on and it’s software is up to date.” Both those things are true, so something else is wrong. Or really, the HomePod just isn’t going to store reminders and I should be doing these things on my iPhone. But even if I did a reminder on my iPhone, I’d need to be near it to get it. The Amazon Echo devices were a far better implementation of basic functionality.
        • I set up Automations on an iPad to light up a Bluetooth -enabled television sound bar. Automations don’t work well with Bluetooth, and putting the question to Reddit /r/Shortcuts got my post deleted by the mod because he doesn’t like the question being asked so often where the answer is “yes, Apple does not do this well”.
          • Something you can try: if the device (in my case, an iPad) can be put on the Settings –> Bluetooth –> list of possible connections screen, and just sit there, then Shortcut Automations on the iPad can light up the various Bluetooth devices within reach. But if something (like an errant Shortcut Automation) takes screen focus away, then the next Shortcut Automation which tries to light up a Bluetooth sound system, won’t, and you’ll never get the audio you wanted. If you wander over a few hours later to where the iPad is, you’ll see whatever caused your apparently really bad at multitasking iDevice to lose track of Bluetooth connections.
      • I put an image of Home Assistant on my Raspberry Pi.
        • So far it looks like it might work out best. I do have a problem though; I had set up my WiFi using Steve Gibson’s Three Dumb Routers scheme. Yes, it is secure. Whoops: my Home Assistant box needs to be able to talk to the Internet of Things (IoT), so it is on the IoT network (the “S” in IoT stands for “Security”). But I would like to be able to configure it from my main machine here on the secure network. I litterally cannot get there from here (which is a good thing). I’m going to have to put my network training to use for this home project.
  • The Helm email appliance company business exit
    • I got an email they are going out of business; I have until December 31 to find a replacement.
    • I built a replacement Dovecot + Postfix server.
      • It would have been on Amazon AWS Lightsail, but:
        • Amazon commits the crime of false advertising with their Lightsail lowest tier boxes. They advertise a 512 MB RAM machine, but deliver a 474 MB RAM machine. Mail-In-A-Box refuses to install on a 474 MB RAM machine, so the easy way to transfer my mail services to be on my own machine was out.
        • Opening a technical support ticket got me nowhere because the help desk person doesn’t actually know, and his backline support told him lies about kernel memory consuming RAM; that’s why the machine doesn’t have the full amount. I work in an environment with 600+ virtual machines and have spun up almost 70 of them myself, on Xen, KVM, and VMware. I know what virtual machine provisioning does and looks like. Amazon chose to underprovision by 9.25% so they could stuff more VMs on a blade. I’m not nearly as annoyed that they underprovisioned as I am that they lied to me about it.
        • Fine. You’re going to lie to me about your business practices? I’m out.
      • Now, I’m a Linode customer.
  • A thief stole a Christmas package off my doorstep.
  • Christmas was in Coos Bay, which meants an all-day drive Friday, Christmas with the whole family on Saturday and Sunday, and then an all-day drive back on Monday. The In ‘N Out at Redding California was not, because the place was packed, both times. Costco gasoline up there was almost 10% cheaper than in Visalia, which surprises me. Of course the gasoline in Oregon was cheaper still.
  • Haven’t played video games, but have been watching television instead. Never had watched the Harry Potter films, so am slowly going through them. On number 3 right now.

Work Life

  • Exterro has been terrible. It got listed in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. I can see in global search-and-redact brief moments of shine and wonder. But implementation had been terrible. Even after months of project implementation, the Go Live date came and nothing worked right the first time for several weeks. Product support is out of Calcutta India, which means every support request we make takes 24 hours to turn around. Most often, the front end help cannot help, so they have to take screen shots of what is wrong and submit that to back end support. That’s going to burn another 24 hours.
    • Lately, they aren’t even acknowledging problems I’m presenting them.
  • Waterford Technologies MailMeter has been a much better project implementation.
  • 1301 days until retirement.

Volunteer Service

  • Currently recording Secretary for the local 503(c) corporation; if I don’t get the meetings minutes done quickly, it stresses me out all month.
  • I have three other service positions going on. One of them means travelling to Sacramento and other places.
  • Currently going to six meetings a week; sometimes seven if a friend asks for a ride to a meeting.
    • Sunday morning: central service representative
    • Sunday evening: technology chair (I bring gear that lets the meeting be online and in-person, beyond just an iPhone. Using a laptop and a PTZ camera, Zoom attendees can be on a monitor in the room, and we have a wireless speakerphone which lets everyone be heard).
    • Monday Night: no service position
    • Tuesday Night: treasurer
    • Thursday night: no service position
    • Friday night: general service representative
    • Monthly, as opposed to weekly meetings:
      • First Wednesday, General Service meeting
      • Second Tuesday, Central Service meeting and board of directors meeting.
  • I was also a volunteer at our New Year’s Eve event. My first duty was to be stage manager. Then, I set up coffee, I set up games in a room for game night (although Bill H. came by on purpose, we only had a few people drop in and take a look). I helped with getting the appetizers put out, and then helped in the kitchen with slicing the deep pit barbeque beef and slicing and plating cake and pie. Lastly was cleanup with the take-away of New Year’s Eve balloons glitter: never again. Didn’t get out of there until 1:30 AM.

Irons in the fire:

  • I owe an article to the newsletter.
  • TRA web site to replace Mike K’s web site.
  • Move my volunteer service web site from Amazon to Linode
    • Also, I need to upgrade PHP and the Bitnami base makes that tough. Worse, the database will need to go from ASCII to UTF, which tripped up the migration tool I was using.
    • Add input forms to the web site and convert to three pages: newcomers, members, and information for professionals.
  • Newly elected as Registrar, I need to plan an event which is tentatively scheduled for February 25.
  • World Ag Expo volunteer service.
  • What I would really rather play with: Tilt Five Augmented Reality glasses; mine came in. 😀
  • It’s time to back up my main machine, too.