January 16th, 2012

Eric 1stDiv, Triumphant

"Aha!" The Tech Support Indian said...

Friday, I searched the following keywords in Google

allow root telnet suse

The first ten hits were people before me asking the same question, and whole threads of people explaining why that was not a good idea. Ten full threads of no one answering the goddamn question. What a colossal waste of my time.

But the cake-taker this weekend was Netgear Support. I'd sat down at my son's computer the other day and pulled up my router's IP to check connectivity - I was surprised that it logged me in and immediately displayed not only my unbroadcast SSID, but also the wireless password! I was pretty sure I had not set my credentials on my son's computer, and even if I had, it should've prompted me to use them rather than just displaying the secured page. I ran a couple of tests at my own desk, and sure enough, ever since I upgraded my firmware, I've been running wide-open despite having locked down my router.

Back before I'd replaced the router I was having issues with the router intermittently not passing DNS to the connected devices, both wired and wireless, so I called COX, my provider. They sent a cable-tech out to check my signal. "Good strong decibel reading," he told me. I explained the issue was not with my signal. Apparently COX has no network techs on staff. "You sold me this router," I explained, so very gently, and now I need support."

Come to find out, the way the small print reads, I "agreed" to "purchase" a "third-party" networking device from them in such a way they would not have to provide support.


So I called Netgear this weekend. He was all ready to help until he asked where I bought the modem, followed by, "You're going to need to call COX Tech Support." I sighed cheerfully, and explained that COX does not have tech support for networking. He explained that I would need to contact them, and tell them I needed T-E-C-H S-U-P-P-O-R-T for the R-O-U-T-E-R.

I replied that I had called COX, and after explaining again about the "third-party" craziness and finding this out when I did call COX I asked him if he thought COX was tying to mislead me - to somehow shirk a responsibility they knew they held for purposes of entertainment. "Do you think they really do have a networking tech support group and were trying to trick me by telling me they didn't? Why do you think they would do that?"

He didn't know what to say to that. But that didn't stop him from repeating his request that I contact COX.

Somehow, I managed to convince him to assist me. First thing he did was have me rename my SSID. As I was doing this I asked, "Can you explain to me why we're doing this?" He told me that if I could try to connect to my wireless network with like an iPad or an iPhone, that if it prompted me for a password my problem was solved! He was very excited.

As this was not my problem however, I was not.

He had me open specifically IE, specifically on a laptop. The whole time I was asking him why? His explanations were insufficient and irrelevant, but to appease him I did. As a reminder, I run Ubutnu 10.10 on my laptop with a second screen containing a Windows 7 Enterprise VM and I also have a quad-core Windows 7 desktop with a second screen running both an openSUSE and Windows 7 VM, as well as an old PowerMAC running OSX 10.5 - all this on just my desktop environment:


Anyway, I was explaining to him why all his demands were unreasonable as I was nonetheless following them (to save time and arguments) and he had me go to the password change page to fix my access problem. Why didn't I think of that? So I run through the steps, explaining that I had done this 150 times already prior to calling him. Sure, everyone who calls tech support says that I suppose. Unsurprisingly, it didn't work.

And that's when he had his epiphany.

You see, I'd given the dumb sonofoabitch too much information in my desire to bypass his deficiency.

"Aha!" The tech support Indian said, "The problem with your router is that you're running Internet Explorer on a virtual machine!"

And that's when I lost it.

Me! Its embarrassing and unthinkable, and yet it happened. "And how do you explain it not working on the Windows Desktop with Opera or Chrome? I tried them both. And did you know Chrome runs on linux now too? I tired it with Chrome and Firefox on linux. And on Safari for Mac and Windows - on both my lapttop - which is wired by the way, not wireless, and my desktop. And I already told you I discovered it on my son's computer - is that caused by the virtual machine as well? You think my son's computer is virtual? How is that supposed to work?"

After a brief hold time, he returns to report an undocumented issue in their newest firmware, which I had already assumed was the case.

I told him I could install the earlier firmware myself without his help.

Only...I couldn't do it in IE.

I hate IE almost as much as I hate Tech Support and thread-responders who tell you why you should do something different than you ask instead of answering your question. I was able to get it done using Firefox.

I rolled it back (temporarily disconnecting my wife from Netflix), and once again locked down. This time, successfully.

1 - I plugged in a couple of OpenDNS numbers to override theirs and haven't had a problem since.