The joys of working remotely

I work remotely full time, which is pretty cool – the dress code is casual, my coworker is a cat, and nobody cares that I listen to The Dillinger Escape Plan all day. Unfortunately, it has its downsides – like when my coworker decides to sit on my keyboard, or when my home office (affectionately referred to as The Spider Hole) turns out to be an actual hole full of spiders, or when I need to get the IT department involved.

I was back at the office – the actual office, filled with real people and not just disembodied voices I talk to twice a week – for work last week, and I dropped my laptop off at the IT department for them to check out an issue. That laptop is still at the office, 1500 miles away.

A corrupted Windows Update was causing my computer to take about 90 minutes to boot. It can’t be backed out, because Windows doesn’t recognize it as a valid update. It can’t be pushed through or overwritten, because Windows doesn’t recognize it as a valid update. This was something the IT department hadn’t seen before, and they weren’t entirely sure how to fix it. Unfortunately, if an attempted fix fails… it takes 90 minutes before you can try again.

You can imagine how frustrating this is for someone trying to fix the issue.

After three days of unsuccessfully trying to get my laptop working (mostly staring at the “Staring Windows” screen), they gave me a temporary laptop to bring home while they tried to fix my old one.

This laptop’s great and all (it takes 60 seconds to boot!), but… it doesn’t have my stuff.

And I need my stuff to work.

/table_flip

INCIDENT REPORT – 14/15 JAN 2015

An incident has occurred and will be documented for yearly review.

Violation:
No Use of Windows OSs. See http://www.fridaynightlinux.com/2015/01/the-2015-challenges-and-their-exceptions/ for further details

Name:
NathantheFake

DOB:
09/xx/1982

Details:
NathantheFake spend hours in Windows 7 outside the allowable uses in the terms of agreement. The majority of this time was trying to play a game known of League of Legends hereby referred to as “LOL”. However the majority of the time was updating Windows 7 to Windows 7 Sp1, then IE to 11 to enable “LOL” login. Upon playing “LOL” nathanthefake’s shitty ass computer reached 100C within 8 minutes causing an immediate shutdown.

Reactions:
Linux was quite upset with this violation and responded accordingly.

downsized_0115052159

Penalty:
Due to only lasting 15 days for a yearly challenge, the punishment must be swift and firm. Nathanthefake’s windows partition has been DELETED.

Repercussions:
Nathanthefakes Linux partition gained a new mount of 249G:

Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on
/dev/sda5 21G 17G 2.8G 86% /
udev 2.9G 4.0K 2.9G 1% /dev
tmpfs 585M 940K 584M 1% /run
none 5.0M 0 5.0M 0% /run/lock
none 2.9G 27M 2.9G 1% /run/shm
/dev/sda2 268G 5.0G 249G 2% /disk1

Now Downloading:
Shadowrun Returns
Left 4 Dead 2
Dota 2
World of Goo
Shovel Knight
Portal

Setting Up A VPN (or: I’m an idiot)

Someone I know is going overseas and was looking for a way to secure his network connection – basically route his traffic to some US-based node that he knew was secure (well, more secure than some public AP).  And I thought, “I know! I’ll set up a VPN! It can’t be that hard!”

I’m not a network guy, nor am I a sysadmin. I’m just a software developer with enough working knowledge (and patience) to set up a JBoss server, make sure it works, and then start throwing .ear files on it. I don’t even use Linux like the rest of the FNL crew – all four of my home rigs run some form of Windows. This VPN was going on Win8.1, with the client being Win7.

So after trying and abandoning OpenVPN (read: I got tired of editing config files and ragequit), I ended up downloading the SoftEther VPN Server, which presents a nice GUI setup, easy certificate generation, a built-in dynamic DNS system if you’re hosting at home (like me), and some… other settings I don’t really understand (to be fair, the Virtual Layer 3 Switch Setting basically says “don’t touch this unless you know what you’re doing”, which sounds ominous). I got an L2TP/IPSec VPN running in 10 minutes or so, created a couple of test users, punched some holes in my firewall (ugh), and tried to test it. Which is where things went sideways.

Failure 1: I tried to test the DDNS… while on my own network. Doesn’t work like that. Took me like 20 minutes to figure that out.
Failure 2: Tried to get nathanthefake to connect to it to test. I don’t think I ever gave him the passkey. Probably why he got that “security error” message. (Sorry.)

Eventually, I realized I could set up a VPN connection on my phone, and that seemed to work. I also connected to the VPN through the built in Win7 VPN client (though connecting to your own LAN seems silly). The Win7 client doesn’t default to L2TP/IPSec, but SoftEther provides instructions.

And that’s how I spent my Sunday night.