[nSLUG] Troubleshooting LCP & PAP on a Telus dialup NAS

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri Dec 12 08:54:10 AST 2014

On Thu, Dec 11, 2014 at 8:43 PM, Oliver Doepner <odoepner at gmail.com> wrote:

> Hi guys,
> Sorry if this sounds non-constructive, but I wonder what the benefits are
> of using dial-up in 2014.
> Can you list a few points? Is it effectively cheaper than the typical
> "highspeed internet" deals from Bell Aliant or Eastlink?

There are many places where phone service is more reliable than "highspeed
internet", e.g.,
less likely to go down in prolonged power outages and more quickly restored
after an outage.

There is a real need for comms that can be used during severe weather
events.   There has been
work on mesh networks using cell phones to provide low-bandwidth comms when
the good stuff
is broken.  The problem is that few people use low-bandwicth comms on a
regular basis, and
things that are used only in "emergencies" tend to be broken when you want

Hams do maintain an emergency comms system that is used for fun on a
routine basis and tested on a yearly basis on "field day".

> I remember using dial-up via ISDN in the late 90s in Germany, using PPP.
> I think I had a fetchmai+postfix smtp-after-pop3 setup then .
> But I can't say I miss any of that. I don't even use any more local email
> client.
> Nowadays I use Gmail and many other online services.
> A lot more convenient.

Until it goes away -- do you have a backup comms system?

> On Tue, Dec 9, 2014 at 11:03 AM, Dop Ganger <nslug at fop.ns.ca> wrote:
>> On Tue, 9 Dec 2014, Mike Spencer wrote:
>>  Well, thanks, Dop, for your thoughtful reply.
>> No problem. It's been a long time since I worked on modem code but I can
>> just about recall enough odds and ends to hopefully be of some use.
>>  I finally got both "escalation specialists" on the phone at once. [1]
>>> They said that they (or someone) had installed the dialup software
>>> "out of the box" -- exactly what I had suspected -- and that it
>>> "worked for everyone else".  But they were unable to tell me exactly
>>> what the "OOtBox" configuration was.
>> Was there any mention of what the name of what the software they
>> installed is?
>>  That inability notwithstanding, they were firm that I had to
>>> authenticate using the prompted ASCII interface before starting
>>> LCP/PPP.  That doesn't work, either manually in Minicom or in a script
>>> called by pppd.
>> That should be enough to create a log entry on their end detailing what
>> the problem is. Do they have access to the logfiles on the back end? The
>> script based authentication requirement jibes with the log files from your
>> end - although I have a sneaking suspicion once (if) you manage to auth
>> with a script you will have to do auth again with PPP.
>>  They both opined that I knew more about this stuff than they did.
>>> There were adamant that I couldn't talk to the "engineer" with
>>> relevant responsibility.
>> I am starting to wonder why you don't change ISP!
>>  It gets worse. Originally, we had:
>> [Password shenanigans]
>>  But now the "escalation specialists" tell me that the login password
>>> is once again (or, according to them and erroneously, has always has
>>> been) the original foo.  Moreover, they say that my wife has been
>>> typing a '=' in foo where a '-' is correct.  Only she never types
>>> anything, just uses a Win-XP "thing" that hasn't changed in years.
>> Are they able to reset your password(s) to something completely new
>> across the board?
>> Are you able to authenticate for any services using a different internet
>> connection - eg using webmail or similar?
>>    + The "escalation specialists" don't actually know how *anything*
>>>     actually *works*.  They can query their RADIUS server and other
>>>     databases or logs but have no clue what any of it means.
>> I would agree with that.
>>    + Their relevant engineer is so busy rolling out cool new user
>>>     experiences, digital telephony, colo, cloud, big data, SaaS
>>>     etc. etc.  that he doesn't have time to troubleshoot old tech for
>>>     a customer of 20 years standing.
>> Cool new user experiences are more likely to bring in higher paying
>> customers. It sounds like they consider dialup to be legacy and not worth
>> spending time on.
>>    + Their authentication data is probably fragmented and has never
>>>     been correctly ported from Uniserve (previous owners of
>>>     ca.inter.net) servers to Fibernetics servers.
>> I think they have multiple back-end sources and may have ca.inter.net
>> customers (or at least, some group thereof) pointing off to la-la land.
>>  I think it may be time for a registered letter to their CEO asking to
>>> be employed to work from home at $300/hr as their dialup technology
>>> specialist, requiring I be sent all manuals for all relevant software
>>> and hardware.  I don't really want such a job but I could do it better
>>> than it's being done now and a few weeks at $6000/wk would be nice.
>> I wouldn't expect you to get very far with that. A better bet would be to
>> document all the failings and send it to the CEO asking him to look at ways
>> of doing it differently, since that appears to be his speciality (I think -
>> I was a little distracted by his use of mascara and flashy wristwatch).
>>  Thanks, again, for your thoughtful reply.  If you have any suggestions
>>> for social engineering, short of applying for a job, suitable for
>>> provoking meaningful support from Fibernetics, I'm all ears.
>> All I can suggest is bundling up records of everything going on and
>> escalating it up the chain, since it seems like there's a fairly integral
>> failure of the Fibernetics infrastructure. The technology officer and
>> operations officer should probably be aware as well. Present it as "I don't
>> know if you're aware of how your operation is failing but I thought you
>> should know how bad the service is" rather than "pay me to figure out
>> what's wrong" and you would probably get further.
>>> [1] http://www.fibernetics.ca/team/
>>>    Scroll down to Neil Clarke and Dave Majury.  I don't know which,
>>>    if any, of the folks pictured there is the relevant "engineer".
>> Sorry, still distracted by the excess of pocket squares. Good luck!
>> Cheers... Dop.
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> --
> Oliver Doepner
> Software Engineer
> http://oliver.doepner.net/
> _______________________________________________
> nSLUG mailing list
> nSLUG at nslug.ns.ca
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George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia
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