Live from Brussels

Musings from a bored analyst/project-manager.
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Saturday, March 06, 2004
Linksys Problems Again...

Skip this post if you are not a geek. It won't interest you one bit... I warned you!

I've been having some trouble with my Linksys router and my laptop in the past months. I have an Acer Travelmate 242LC which I use to surf, blog etc. from the couch. To read my e-mail however, I contact my linux server upstairs via VNC (a free tool which lets you use a remote computer's desktop).

The problem was that while VNC worked, it would hang after five or ten minutes. Usually this happened every time the cooling fan of the laptop switched on. I don't know why, but for some reason my network connection goes down for a fraction of a second and then comes back. The only application that seemed to have problems with this was VNC. Downloads, surfing, SSH sessions, streaming music or video all seemed to work just fine.

Then I thought: what if I connect via SSH to the machine upstairs, and just tunnel the VNC connection through it? Maybe it will be more forgiving then, since VNC then thinks it is connected to a local port. So I tried it, and it seemed to work. But then I started to get freaky error messages and disconnects from SSH as well, stuff about checksums on packets not being quite right or about 'MAC errors' and whatnot.

So then I did what every geek would do: I hit google. Turns out these errors were probably being caused by the Linksys router's firmware, which didn't like SSH very much. But newer versions of the firmware were available, so I installed the latest one. Victory! The connection worked... But what was that?

All my settings in the router were gone! My PPPoE settings... my port forwarding settings... all gone! I ended up having to go online over the phone line with my laptop in order to retrieve the right settings from my provider's website. So I was on-line again... I quickly restored port forwarding so that inbound HTTP requests went to the webserver again, and SSH sessions could come in from the outside world.

Alas! When I tried to log in to my home machine from work, nothing but 'server not found' messages! Arrgh! Now what? I just found out: by default the router only makes a PPPoE connection when an internal machine requests something from the web, and disconnects after five minutes of idle time! Stupid, stupid, stupid! But fixed now...

Still reading this? Then you must be a real geek! Go here and treat yourself!

Just Like on TV...

I just came back from a meeting in Antwerp (it had to do with a youth-movement I'm a member of called Chiro, somewhat like the boy-scouts but different). Anyhow...

Halfway the meeting somebody enters the meeting room, says he's from the police and that if anybody needs to leave, just look for him because one of their cars is blocking the entrance. We all looked at each other in surprise. What was going on? But the person chairing the meeting was quick to explain why the cops were in the building. It was a stake-out!

Apparently burglars had stolen a lot of stuff from a building site across the street in the past few days. And today a large shipment of electrical appliances had been delivered there to be installed. The cops suspected the burglars might strike again, so they set up an observation post...

After the meeting I had a quick chat with the cop on duty: apparently the building had been burglared 26 times already! But that was not the worst case he had known: another building in town was at 54 burglaries already! Talk about having some nerve!

And people wonder why the extreme right law-and-order party Flemish Bloc gets so many votes in Antwerp...

Thursday, March 04, 2004
Art... What is It?

Just found a hilarious video clip at
Art.... It is some student with a video camera and some editing software who made a brilliant parody of an art-pundit interviewing an art-expert about art.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

I just came back from lunch with Loïc Le Meur of U-Blog fame, and after talking with him I feel even stronger that we live in historic times as far as blogging is concerned. Interesting stuff is about to happen, real soon now!

Too Funny

For an illustrative example of what happens when you use Google image search to find pictures for your newspaper, go here: SAS joins fresh bid to snare bin Laden - PakTribune. Look at the picture and tell me why they didn't see straight away that this was a PhotoShop...
(thanks to dof)

Tuesday, March 02, 2004
Great News for Bloggers! - Study: Very few bloggers on Net - Mar. 1, 2004.

Do you know what this means? The current blog explosion is only the beginning! Imagine InstaPundit, but ten times bigger: it can happen... poor Glenn!

Think about his bandwidth bill!

Monday, March 01, 2004
Another One Wakes Up

After dof, now the blog of Flex Flint has come alive again! Yay, springtime in Belgian bloggerland ;-)

About Time...

Eight years after he was arrested, the trial of Marc Dutroux is finally starting today. Dutroux (and some accomplices) are accused of kidnapping, raping and killing a number of children.

The case file against them is over 400.000 pages long and has been put together during one of the most mediatized and dramatic police investigations ever in Belgium. Unreliable witnesses, allegations of political cover-ups, incompetent investigators and even an escape attempt that went on for several hours and led to the dismissal of two ministers... we've seen it all in this case.

Now I'm no fan of the death penalty, but I'm sure that in the U.S.A. Dutroux would have been 'fried', shot, injected or hanged about six or seven years ago, or at least convicted and awaiting execution. And even if the trial had taken place in a state that didn't have the death penalty, he would be serving his sentence anyway, after receiving a speedy and fair trial.

Why we can't have this in Belgium is beyond me, but I'm seriously wondering about it as I watch the rising costs of the whole circus unfolding further and further.