Dec 16

Routing

Say that you have two (or more) network cards in your machine. One you want to use for internet access, and the other to access a corporate network but you don’t want to pass any internet traffic that way – either because there is no route there or it’s censored.

Most people will tell you this is not possible just using Windows, but it very much is. From the command line, you can use the “route” command to add static routes with multiple gateways – as many as you like, really.

But be careful – once you start static routing, pretty much every network that you want to reach that is not explicitly defined on some NIC must have a route explicitly declared at the command line.

So to make a static route to the internet, you’d open an administrator command line and type:

route add -p 0.0.0.0 mask 0.0.0.0 172.16.1.1 metric 1

This tells your machine to add a persistent (the -p switch) default route for any traffic that doesn’t match any other network and to route it out via 172.16.1.1, which in this case is the gateway of the router that I want to reach the internet with. This address must be defined also as a gateway on at least one of your NICs. Please note, your specific IP address information might be and almost certainly will be different.

But now you have another problem – depending on its size and organization, you likely will not be able to reach some corporate resources so you have to add routes for those as well (telling you how to find/figure out those is way beyond the scope of this tutorial).

And that would look something like this:

route -p add 10.106.20.0 MASK 255.255.255.0 192.168.10.126 METRIC 10

This tells any traffic bound for the 10.106.20.0/24 network to use the gateway 192.168.10.126 (which must be defined on at least ones of your NICs).

I’ll admit this isn’t intuitive or easy, but it is very, very useful. Anyone who tells you multiple gateways won’t work in Windows is full of posh, simple as that.

Dec 15

Fonts

Ah, so this is why the fonts look so terrible in Office 2013.

I knew they had done that for “Metro” or whatever they are calling it now, but not for Office 2013 entire. Explains why it looks like a distended corpse on-screen, then.

And no way to switch it back. Brilliant. Also explains why I was reading emails in that atrocity of an Office suite at a quarter speed.

Dec 14

Bad characterization

I run into this a lot, but why is there still a 255 character path limit in Windows? What a fucking joke. Things like that make me want to move back to Linux where such issues do not occur.

Dec 14

Still useful

Some of this is really scary and will be used incorrectly as people in general use data and stats to reinforce their own biases, but I’ve complained a lot lately so I’ll point out these interesting bits that is actually pretty obvious if you are, like, awake ever.

Max Simkoff, Evolv’s co-founder and CEO, told me that his company’s big-data crunching had revealed a stream of intriguing, contrarian results. For example, “people with a criminal background stay longer on the job and perform better at entry-level hourly jobs,” he said. Having “relevant experience” for a job didn’t track with later productivity. Indeed, the relative quality of a manager or supervisor was more important in influencing worker attrition and productivity than the background of the individual workers. Other useful insights — as reported by the Atlantic’s Don Peck in a comprehensive recent feature story, “They’re Watching You At Work” – include the nugget that educational attainment is not as big a factor in job success as the conventional wisdom believes.

Anyone who is not beset and afflicted by an MBA would know this already. I’ve found that in the workplace (and I’ve hired a lot of people) that education means almost nothing, and in some areas within IT at least it is actively harmful. Experience does matter, but intelligence matters more. After the first 3-6 months of experience benefit, smarter people always always always do better without exception.

How to measure intelligence, though, and personality suitability? It’s very hard. I’ve not found any way to do it successfully. No one has, I guess, or we wouldn’t keep reading articles ad infinitum that discuss it.

Dec 13

Reversion to uselessness

To add to the masochism I’ve been subjecting myself to lately, I downloaded the Firefox nightly that has the Australis “theme.” Also called “take away everything useful from our users” theme.

This GUI was designed by gibbering loons high on fucking fermented holly berries. What a bunch of assholes must have designed this interface apocalypse. And I know they are assholes because they have fully and completely ignored their user base over the past few years as they have removed functionality and ignored all complaints.

I’m grateful to the original Mozilla developers, but most of them are now gone. The imbeciles have taken over. Yes, they owe me nothing. But I also don’t have to keep my mouth shut about how shitty it is becoming.

I no longer recommend Firefox to anyone. Most people I just tell them to download the latest version of Internet Explorer if they have Windows 7 and above. It’s less hassle and the interface at least doesn’t look quite as atrocious, and it’s improved markedly in the last three years.

If Firefox is going make itself as shitty as all other browsers, might as well use the other browsers.

Dec 13

The good stuff

I am helping a new company get off the ground. As with many startups, low cost and good functionality without a lot of BS is essential.

So I bought this firewall for them to use and it’s really damn good for the price. Better than some $1,500 firewalls I’ve used.

The interface and how to set things up is a bit confusing, but not really if you’ve used true high-end enterprise-grade firewalls. And I’ve used the most confusing, counterintuitive and convoluted $50,000+ enterprise-grade firewalls you can imagine, so it was pretty easy for me. I can see how it would trip up people who have only used consumer-level gear, though, as it’s absolutely not just clicking a few buttons and having something useful happen.

All that said, the Zyxel just works, is stable and seems fast though it hasn’t been under any true load yet. And might never be – it’s a small company.

But if you want an enterprise-class firewall at a consumer price, it’s a good one. I highly recommend it.

Dec 13

UnHaimpered

Overall I don’t care for Haim all that much, but I like this performance because it’s raw and yet controlled, and the singer completely rocks that guitar during the solo going into the bridge.

Also love at the end when the bass guitarist plays the drums. They are really really good, even if not quite the type of music I usually dig.

Dec 12

Function

The biggest division between the Windows 8 supporters and those who despise it seems to be that anyone who does a lot of work on their machine abhors Windows 8, while those who mostly use 2-3 applications and do little else seem to like it.

To further complain about optimizing everything for phones and tablets, I attempted once again to use Office 2013 today, specifically the Outlook 2013 portion of it. Holy crap what a terrible interface. Everything is too large in a half-hearted attempt to optimize it for touch I presume. And all of the colors and visual cues are gone to eliminate graphical elements to make it faster on a tablet. There are no delineating features to indicate what is a read mail, what to click on, or any indicators at all telling you what you should be doing. It basically violates every design guideline known to humanity, and in addition has large SCREAMING all-caps everywhere.

All of the colors (if there are any at all) are muted. Most of the fonts are gray or light gray, further adding to the absolute uselessness of the interface. I read very quickly, but on Outlook 2013 I often had to go back and read things several times as my eyes just could not process the terrible fonts. (This can be changed, but I am talking about the defaults that most users will never touch.)

In Outlook 2013 which I gutted out using for six hours today, it took me 3-4 times longer to deal with the same volume of email. Since I get several hundred emails a day that I have to respond to, this is a real problem.

Also the taskbar icons for all of the Office applications look identical so it is impossible to distinguish them. Is that Lync or Outlook? Who knows? Furthermore they both are shit, so who really cares?

What an absolute fucking failure of design. It’s so terrible that even regular users have to notice this. I do everything quickly, so visual cues are very important to me; it’s why a terrible interface and bad fonts slow me down so much. But this interface disaster is so egregious that I can’t imagine anyone not noticing it.

Dec 11

8/10 or why I can’t talk to most people

I got eight out 10 of these correct, and could’ve done better but one question has an incorrect answer on the quiz.

incorrect

The answer is actually 5%, but they claim it is 1% which is utterly wrong and hasn’t been true since the early 2000s. Probably relying on outdated data.

No surprise – this is the sort of stuff I make sure to know as if you don’t have a baseline on the world, you really shouldn’t be having any opinions about it.

My results (I did not look anything up and did the quiz in about 30 seconds):

result

Dec 11

Hunger

Listening to a stodgy older very religious woman talk about reading the first book of The Hunger Games trilogy.

“It’s sooo weird,” she said.

By genre standards though it is a great book, it’s not really weird at all. Not compared to some I could have her read. But no matter – it is kind of odd (and great) hearing non-geek people talk about books that in my childhood during the 80s would’ve been constrained to the absolute ghetto of culture.

Of course, stuffy Slate critics and other assorted curmudgeons will never grant that such fare is better than their preferred boring white male midlife crisis bromidic melodramas, but it is. Similarly, Catching Fire the film will never make any year-end “best of” lists even though it is also a better film – sometimes achingly better – than the critical darlings about starving orphans playing soccer in Armenia or whatever latest bullshit fervor they are on about.

Even though genre is ascendant these days and – as Catching Fire does – deals with the concerns and problems of the real world better than high culture and even middle-brow culture, the film and films like it will never be granted admission to the club.

Fine with me. Such people only punish themselves, as the best scene in any movie this year is in Catching Fire when the robotic cameras in a cold-swept courtyard are panning and tilting around Katniss and Peeta as they mime a hot-blooded love affair for a deluded-yet-demanding Capitol audience a thousand miles away – an audience which when the two were in the arena a few months before would’ve been just as entertained by seeing them mutilated and then slaughtered.

Very powerful scene among many in the film, and one with more to say about our current world of drone wars, inhuman entertainments, mass delusion, and inequality than any movie this year but which will go unremarked by the stuffed-shirt critic cadre.

But as I said, these protectors of something not worth protecting are only hurting themselves as the world is changing all around them.