Re: [telecom] I'm still trying to reconnect with the Telecom Digest server

For the moment, I have found a way around the port blocking. One of the readers, who prefers to remain anonymous, told me that Panix has a "Shell In A Box" feature which allows for access to a Unix shell through Panix's web server. For the moment, that will have to do, and although it causes some confusion when I enter cntl commands to emacs, I'll learn to adapt. My thanks to the person who helped, and I've already told him that I owe him a beverage of his choice the next time he's in Burnsville, NC. THANKS DUDE!
I'm still looking for a longer-term solution, so this part is still important:
BIll Horne Phone 536-0264 in the west North Carolina area code.
Reply to
Bill Horne
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Status report:
1. The new owners of the ISP I use are still blocking ssh. They claim that they are not, and that I have to talk to a different department, and then they hang up on me. This has happened three times.
2. I've started a Panix shell account, which includes shell access through Panix's web site. It costs $10 per month. Although it gets the job done, and will work from any browser, the connection doesn't allow me to send certain control characters to the TD server in its default configuration, so I'll be working to see if that can be changed.
3. I upgraded my ProtonVPN service to the "Full" service, which also coss $10 per month. The new paid service handles ssh without trouble, and I'm using the Protonvpn connection to write this.
4. One of the readers recommended ExpressVPN. I looked at the web page for ExpressVPN, and it doesn't show a "Free" or "Trial" option, so I didn't try it: I'd already gone throgh the work of installing ProtonVPN, so I figured that since I'd have to pay either way, I'd just go with the one I already have installed.
5. Bottom line: I'll wait for a few months and see if the Protonvpn works reliably, while I try out Panix's "Shell In A Box" and see if it offers features I want to keep. I'll also start screeming to whatever agency (if any) regulates ISPs in North Carolina, and ask them to convince the new owners to change their policy.
FWIW.
Bill
Reply to
Bill Horne
For the most part, I'm back in business, or at least able to start getting back.
Recap: Last Monday, the Cable TV company here in Burnsville, North Carolina was taken over by new owners, and I found out that I couldn't use ssh to log in to the Telecom Digest's home machine, which is in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The new CableCo turned out to have very bad customer service, and even worse salesmen: I got hung (hanged?) up on four or five times, even while asking them to quote a price to remove the block.
I tried the free version of ProtonVPN, without success, and I'll get back to that.
A long-time reader told me that I could get an "Shell In A Box" account from Panix in New York, and I was able to log in to the Telecom Digest server by using one of Panix's web-based shell interfaces. There were some glitches, but nothing serious: the web browser wouldn't pass through the Cntl-N and Cntl-W commands I'm used to using for the-one-true-editor, but I got a digest out and started planning how I would avoid the situation I was in, going forward.
I got a call from Alexis Rosen, the owner of Panix, who told me that they verify every new account, since they'd had some users who signed up with stolen credit cards and sent spam until they were found out and kicked out.
It turns out that Panix will allow ssh on port 443, which is usually used for https traffic, and so Alexis said I could tunnel port 22 over to the TD server, using port 443 to get past the port blocking at the new Cableco.
So, with my Panix options available, I decided to back up the back up: along about Thursday, I paid ProtonVPN the $10 to get their "plus" service, which will allow port forwarding, and found that I could then log into TD central without needing to use a browser, which simplified operation a lot.
I got a call back from the office of the Governor or North Carolina, which is the place I had called on Monday to ask if the state regulates Internet Service Providers. I had left the message with the "Press" office, which I'm still amazed I'm entitled to use, but it took a while to get a call back. I was talking to a state employee about the problem with ssh blocking, and I realized, during the call, while I was trying to duplicate the original failure messages, that port 22 wasn't blocked anymore.
It's amazing how things just sort of happen during an election year, you know? I don't know if, or who made the call, or anything, but I left a message and ssh started working again.
Now, here's the backstory you haven't heard before:
The Telecom Digest was using a version of Ubuntu Linux which is no longer supported, so our benefactors at CSAIL, which is the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at M.I.T., had created a new virtual machine for us, with Ubuntu 22.04 loaded on it, and had just told me that machine was ready to use when CableCo cut my cord.
I had hoped that being able to log in to the new machine would allow for a smooth transition from the old server to the new one, but I fat-fingered something and put the old machine off-line. Sigh.
CSAIL is a busy place, and we're guests there, so I try to not bother them with small stuff. This, however, was flat-on serious: I had broken the old machine, and the solution that was decided on was to move the data over to the new server, and shut the old one down. Ergo, there I was, trying to remember how to install Apache2 and PHP and maybe even MySQL: in other words, I wanted a LAMP server, so that I could install WordPress and (hopefully) use it as a Content Management System and streamline some of the Digest's processes and backups and other stuff.
Well, the new server turned out to be really good at delivering error messages: I had found a LAMP HOWTO and was on the first step - updating the existing software - when the machine kicked out several pages of warning about things being defined in more than one place and lots of other stuff I had never - or at least, never remembered - seeing before.
I bit the bullet and put on the sackcloth and the ashes and the Dunce cap, and asked CSAIL to provide help. It's the weekend, of course, and I really do try to be a good guest, so there might be something in a day or two, but I can't push them.
So, we've moved, temporarily, to a virtual host in the server I rent from prgmr.com, and use for testing TD updates and ideas, for my blog, for a WordPress instance, and various other projects and volunteer activities: telecomdigest.net. I'm doing things manually that I had semi-automated on the "old" machine, and that's just the way it is for now, so I'll ask your help and your patience while I navigate my way back to being comfortable between my current rock and my waiting-for-Godot hard place.
My profound thanks to my long-time reader who recommended Panix and helped me to set it up, but who asked to remain anonymous, to Garrett Wollman of CSAIL, and to John Levine, who handles our email spam detection and other essential things at Taughannock Networks, and to Alexis Rosen at Panix: they all put up with a newly minted septuagenarian who knows too much about Mother Bell and too little about getting along with others.
Bill Horne
Reply to
Bill Horne
Am Montag, 08. August 2022, um 05:34:52 Uhr schrieb Bill Horne:
So your computer is in your home network that is provided by the cable company? You can't connect to a different machine in the internet on port 22?
This is a big fault, please tell that your ISP. If they refuse to fix it (I assume they block it), switch your ISP.
Reply to
Marco Moock
Sir, your comment makes it clear that the government departments responsible for regulating the Internet in the place where you live are much more expert than those we have in the United States. In the U.S., the Internet is largely unregulated, and Internet Service Providers can do almost anything they want: some of them justify "port blocking" as a "safety" feature, claiming that things like ssh are used to "carry viruses," or for "software piracy," or for "pirate music downloads."
IMNSHO, what American ISPs are trying to do is reform the Internet into a one-way-only content distribution system, which their users pay for and they get to profit from. Things like "ssh" or other methods of using computers to work from home are, in their view, done at their sufferance, and they obviously think that home users should pay a tithe to their ISP for the privilege of not having to pay for gasoline or gasoline taxes or mechanic's bills.
I envy you.
Bill Horne
Reply to
Bill Horne
I got an email from Garrett WOllman at csail: he did me a big favor, and installed the Apache2 web server and PHP software needed for our day-to-day operations on the new "telecom digest" server.
Thanks you, sir: you're a professional, and I'm not, so kudos to you and your team.
I've been using our "backup" server for the last few days, and in the process, I've realized that the Telecom Digest's internal work-flow and software are in need of a major overhaul: I've been doing things by hand that were automated on the old server, but thinking about the scripts and lisp that I've put together - and am now doing without - has made it obvious that I need to go back to the drawing board and redesign a process which grew willy-nilly over decades.
So, I'm going to stay on the backup machine for another few days, while I make notes and plans.
I've just turned 70, and although I still feel my mind is sharp, I must be realistic: the system has to be simplified and must have much better documentation if it's going to work when I'm much further along the road. I welcome help and suggestions, especially with the tasks shown in the following list:
1. I have to take the daily "Digest" email (the one most subscribers get) and turn it into a web page so that those with only web-based access can read the digest on the web. Currently, that is a semi-automated process, but I'm going to try to automate it completely: the rules and procedure steps can be defined, and the scripts written, by anyone experienced in awk or sed or (insert your favorite tool here).
2. The old server has procmail rules which detected posts that didn't have complete headers, and put them in separate mailboxes where I would work on them by hand. There needs to be an automatic process for those changes, too.
3. I'd like to learn how to either
a. Adapt the regular web page for better visibility on mobile devices with small screens, or ...
b. Learn how to detect a browser's screen resolution and/or size, and deliver the content specific to that device.
4. Construct, code, test, and implement a moderation process which doesn't require specialized knowlege, so that "Guest" moderators aren't left flailing around in Linux-land just to do me a favor. It would have to include:
a. Methods to modify posts before publication if needed.
b. Provision for moderation via email, without need for modifying the headers of a post that requires repair. That will mean an automated pre-moderation process which will benefit me as well as those whom help if I'm sick or on vacation.
5. Other improvements that I don't yet know I need. Suggestions welcome.
Bill Horne
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Telecom Digest Moderator

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