The Netgear FVS114 router is a small little box, but don’t let it fool you: It’s the biggest pile of shit I’ve ever had the displeasure of trying to configure. VPN on the whole seems to be some kind of smoke-and-mirrors, propellerhead handjob involving IP addresses (check), shared keys, certificates (uh…), authentications, policies (WTF?), and seventy-three other acronyms that make my eyeballs bleed. This product is billed as an easy-to-configure product for the average homeowner, but this is LIES. The only homeowner doing any configuring on this thing is that guy who ran the computer lab in college who smelled like cheese.
Buying the box and configuring it is pretty straightforward, I guess. I say “I guess” because it could be continually pinging every server in the Czech Republic and I wouldn’t know; after I stepped through their wizard, there was a pretty simple little screen that came up and connected with the Netgear website, and I could see the internets, and so I figured it was working OK.
Attempting to connect using the built-in VPN client in XP met with a big zero: Netgear wanted to read a menu in Mandarin Chinese and XP wanted to recite times tables in Swahili. After looking around for open-source help (hint: don’t bother), I found that Netgear sells VPN client software which is supposed to work seamlessly with the box, and come with pre-configured setup files that I could use to connect to the router. Not wishing to waste any more of my client’s time, I ordered it, and it arrived this afternoon.
My installation process went something like this:
- Install the software.
- Use the “wizard”, which misconfigured my client software so badly that I had to uninstall and reinstall it.
- Follow the PDF “Manual,” which was written for the entire family of VPN routers but mainly focused on the more expensive FVS318 VPN router, and includes multiple menu items that our router doesn’t have, making configuration impossible.
- Folow the software “Help” files, which recommend a THIRD, COMPLETELY DIFFERENT METHOD OF CONFIGURING THE SOFTWARE. Which doesn’t work. And results in another uninstall/reinstall cycle.
- Research the downloadable profiles, and find that there are only two files written for routers that I don’t have.
- Realize there is no online help, and that support via Netgear is fee-based.
- Uninstall the software for the last time.
Netgear’s documentation is the most poorly written, incomprehensible mess I’ve ever been forced to read: each of the manuals were written on different continents by different engineers about different products. And none of them worked; if I’d been able to get one of them to function properly, I’d be happy.
Consider yourself warned: This is crap. Stay away.
The Idiot: 0
It’s not quite official yet, but OK, it’s official. The word on the street is that I’m headed back out to San Francisco at the end of this month for a project kickoff meeting with a new client (I’m keeping names and places confidential). I will be spending the next two weeks brushing up on several new technologies, a content management system, and my sparkling personality.
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In other news, a brief interruption in Movable Type service here at Idiot Central was traced back to a botched install of MT-Akismet in hopes of stemming the tide of comment spam. I was about to freak out yesterday when all I got after logging in to the management section was a blank page, but I walked away from it for half a day and remembered what things I’d monkeyed with when the site started to go south. So, to sum up: When the manual says that MT-Akismet doesn’t work with MT 3.1, it’s not kidding.
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I’m finding that installing and configuring a private VPN is about as easy as assembling a nuclear reactor underwater with directions in Chinese. I’m not a stupid man, but do they make this shit impossible to understand on purpose? Seriously, I haven’t had to deal with this many acronyms at one time in my life! And it seems like the vendors all have different acronyms for the same thing. Just call it one word and be done with it, you dorks.
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After a good bit of time in development, I’ve posted a replacement for (what I considered) one of the weaker illustrations at the Alphabet Project, the letter Q. I was trying something different, but I wasn’t ever really happy with the solution. The new solution is in the form of a concert poster for a show I didn’t attend, and it stars a lady I figured I’d find much more about here on the internets-but didn’t. I wound up using screen grabs from a video I found online for photo reference.
I’m also working furiously on new art for a larger project, something I’ve been threatening to do for years, and something it took a well-timed and much appreciated push from my wife to actually begin: I made a down payment for an advertisement at the Directory of Illustration last week. The Directory is a combination of marketing tools which include a searchable website, a hardback book which gets distributed in the fall, and a pile of other resources for promotion. This means that my work will be seen by a ton of new people very quickly. This also means I need to have a page layout for the book by the beginning of May, and I have space reserved for 20 illustrations on their website right now. Part of my revisit to the Alphabet Project is to clean up the work I’m not entirely happy with, which means that Paul Bremer will get a rework. Mark Felt will probably get looked at (or maybe replaced). And Interpol will probably get cleaned up too. Once I’ve got that stuff looking tight, I’m going to post a handful on the other site and see if anything happens.
I don’t think I’m going to be sleeping much in the near future…
This is oh, so not safe for work, but good goddamn, it’s funny. I laughed so hard my stomach hurts.
A few months ago, Jen and I bought a Pur water filter from Sam’s Club, the kind that screws onto the end of the faucet and hangs over the sink. For $40, I figured it was better than buying another stupid Pur filter for the pitcher in our fridge. Installation was pretty easy, and when I turned the water on, it flowed through the tap smoothly. When I turned the filter on, however, water began shooting from each seam in the plastic housing, bypassing the filter and spraying the entire sink. No amount of tinkering fixed the problem, and I gave up on it in disgust.
The second contestant is pictured here:
It’s a Whirlpool WHCF-SUF under sink main faucet filtration system. Theoretically, it’s supposed to sit in between the cold water supply valve and your kitchen faucet, and filter out all sorts of harmful impurities from your cold water. In reality, it’s a waste of money and time.
See the little blue hoses there? Some genius engineer at Whirlpool decided to substitute them in place of normal $.50 threaded hoses, the kind that are easily obtainable at any hardware store. This is a halfassed plastic hose and pressure clamp attachment that does not stand up to normal water pressure. This means that after one has spent fifteen backbreaking minutes under the kitchen sink, disconnecting the old hoses, screwing the filter head into the cabinet wall, and attaching the plastic hoses, water will spray all over the underside of the cabinet when the pressure is turned back on. No attempt to correct the situation will result in success, and only result in soaked frustration.
I’m no plumber, but I’ve run a couple hundred feet of PVC tubing and sweated my share of copper joints. I should have realized this was a bullshit product when I opened the box, but I chose to give it a try. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
We’re going to have a real plumber come in and give us a quote on installing a whole-house filtration system, something that goes in with copper tubing, pressure relief valves, and a warranty. Enough of the mickey mouse bullshit.
Would it be completely assinine of me to even consider purchasing this beauty of a vehicle? Something this large, expensive, improbable, unwieldy, and impractical? Because that bumper is about a mile wide, and I’d swear to Dog it’s smiling at me.
I need a real garage…