Monthly Archives: April 2014

Macbook wifi dying

Has anyone seen these symptoms?  Googling gets me lots of networking issues all of which are rather different, and whose suggested solutions I had tried before googling.

The symptom: networking (over wifi) just stops working.  The mailer sits and spins, or the browser times out trying to load a page.  Same happens when I try the router’s page.  Anything from the commandline hangs until DNS lookup times out.  Meanwhile, if I fire up the other laptop it works just fine, indicating that the router and its outward connection are just fine.

Nothing too unusual so far.  But trying to diagnose it, it begins to look like a hardware issue.  It won’t “search for networks” as it normally would.  And turning airport off, it simply can’t be turned back on: that is to say, I turn it on from – for example – Network Diagnostics – but it remains resolutely off.  Similarly the networking wizard bombs out when it tries to activate airport.

So far the only solution I’ve found is to shut it down and restart from cold.  But yesterday morning I did that and it lasted only ten minutes before dying again.

Anyone seen similar symptoms?  Is there anything I can do to try and fix it?

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Bleeding Heart

The fallout from heartbleed seems to be manifesting itself in a range of ways.  I’ve been required to set new passwords for a small number of online services, and expect I may encounter others as and when I next access them.

The main contrast seems to be between admins who tell you what’s happening, vs services that just stop working.  Contrast Apache and Google:

Apache: email arrives from the infrastructure folks: all system passwords will have to be reset.  Then a second email: if you haven’t already, you’ll have to set a new password via the “forgot my password” mechanism (which sends you PGP-encrypted email instructions).  All very smooth and maximally secure – unless some glitch has yet to manifest itself.

Google: @employer email address, which is hosted on gmail, just stopped working without explanation.  But this is the weekend, and similar things have happened before at weekends, so I ignore it.  But when it’s still not back on Monday, I try logging in with my web browser.  It allows me that, and insists I set a new password, whereupon normal imap access is also restored.  Hmmm … In the first place, no explanation or warning.  In the second place, if the password had been compromised then anyone who had it could trivially have reset it.  Bottom of the class both for insecurity and for the user experience.

There is also secondary fallout: worried users of products that link OpenSSL asking or wondering what they have to upgrade: for example, here.  For most, the answer is that you just upgrade your OpenSSL installation and then restart any services that link it (or reboot the whole system if you favour the sledgehammer approach).  Exceptions to that will be cases where you have custom builds with statically linked OpenSSL, or multiple OpenSSL installations (as might reasonably be the case on a developer’s machine).  If in doubt, restart your services and check for the OpenSSL version appearing in its startup messages: for example, with Apache HTTPD you’ll see it in the error log at startup.

RIP Ragnhild Kew

My mother died on Sunday.  She lost her battle with cancer, and with the treatment that was at times worse than the disease.  She leaves behind many friends and relatives, amongst whom special mention must go to my father, whose recent life has been totally dominated by caring for her.  In the past several months as she got worse, that extended to my brother and myself taking turns in supporting him.  And an array of friends and neighbours who rallied around, as indeed she had done for others in her life.

I had returned home last week for the two concerts that were a major highlight of my calendar, and so it was that at the moment of her death, I was in the final rehearsal for the Stabat Mater :

Stabat mater dolorosa / juxta crucem lacrimosa / dum pendebat filius.

The story of the mother witnessing the cruel death of her son is not a perfect fit, but nevertheless seemed strangely appropriate.  Indeed, crucifixion would (by virtue of its relative brevity) have been an altogether less gruesome fate than the horrendous treatment she was on for the last few months.  Who would treat a domestic pet so cruelly as we do a dying person?

Requiescat in Pace.