How to ruin an uptime

I had this old Belkin wireless router at home, and I knew it was on the way out for some time now. The symptoms were it would occasionally just stop allowing any new connections. A couple weeks ago I purchased a nice little Netgear wireless router to replace it with, but as luck would have it, I didn’t do it fast enough.

I have told stories here about my penchant for procrastination at home. They are all too true I assure you. It’s sort of like that old adage that the mechanic’s car always is in need of repair Likewise, so it is with the System Administrator as well. I went week by week without the gumption to actually configure this new router and dig through the pile of ethernet cables and power wires to replace the old one. I will have to note, however, that I did take a perverse glee from seeing people in my neighborhood connect to my new and powered on but not connected router and try to surf the web. More on that later….

Back to the old router. As you may have guessed, I waited just long enough for it to die while I was not in a position for an immediate fix, throwing my wife and daughter into the thralls of several hours of internet withdrawal. For some reason, at 3:30 in the morning, it dropped it’s connection to my cable modem and steadfastly refused to grab an address from it again. My internal network was working just fine and you could connect to the wireless here, but could not get out through the intertubes whatsoever.

The fix was lengthy, mostly because of poor planning and much haste to get things running again. I put the new router in place fast enough, but, of course, I had to configure it for my specific network needs. This is where the trouble was. I had to change the base addressing to reflect my normal subnet. That was easy. I also had to change the password. That was a snap. I added in my port forwarding information. I turned off the router’s dhcp (I run a dhcp server). I had to fight through several resets of the router and cable modem to get the cable modem to hand out an address to my new router. The real rub came with my dyndns though. You see, in order for me to get into my email, my mail config points to my dyndns address. Well, due to my piss poor planning, all my dyndns account information was (you guessed it) stored in my email. Can’t get into email because no dyndns, can’t set up dyndns because account info in email. Sheesh, what a pain. I spent maybe an hour trying different account names and a dozen old passwords until I found the right combo.

None of that tells you how the uptime was ruined though. That was just an absolutely stupid moment I had. I take great pride normally in pointing out to windows users that you almost never have to reboot a working Linux/unix system. It’s just not necessary unless you can’t get a shell somehow. Well, I must be working too close to the windows guys because before I figured out why I couldn’t get into my email, I spent a good 20 minutes or so troubleshooting and getting increasingly frustrated until, you guessed it, I played the old “lets just reboot the server and see if that fixes things” card. How humbling it was to lose my 195 day uptime and of course the reboot helped nothing. It really was one of those “I could have had a V8” moments.

So what are some things to be learned form this? Normally I keep a file tucked away that holds all my various logins and account information and passwords. Of course, my dyndns info was missing from this. You can rest assured it’s there now. Although it does not sound like good security practice to do that, there just is no other practical way I can think of to manage all that info than to keep a list somehow. The other thing is, by all means, when you start to get frustrated with a problem, step away for a moment and/or ask someone for advice before you make it worse. I guarantee that if I had stepped away and maybe called Dann or something, I would have realized what a dope was being before I finished dialing the number. Instead I just blundered my way through because I was tired and irritated causing myself even more downtime than was necessary.

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