Switching from DSL to Cable

I’ve been on DSL forever. I started out on Bell, have been on NCF, and most recently TekSavvy. I’ve had my trials and tribulations with DSL, and have a collection of DSL modems (some are backup, some are bad, some were sensitive to line conditions).

Cable has always been a faster alternative, but it meant I needed to pay a cable install fee and switch technology in general. Also, a static IP wasn’t possible on cable – and having self hosted lowtek.ca for a long time, I’ve always felt a bit trapped to DSL to give me a static IP.

DSL can be fast, but not in my area which seems to have been left behind for faster connectivity. The highest speed I could get was 15 down, 1 up. Now, 15 down is great – I can stream HD Netflix without any real problems. The internet feels fast enough.

I have to say, I really appreciate that Google has built a good enough speed test that is easy to use.

One motivating factor was my desire to stop paying Bell for my land line. It’s nearly $50 a month and we barely use it. Sure I could switch to a VOIP provider but then I still have to pay for the dryloop cost and it sounded like I’d probably experience a service outage (of up to 5 days) when the line switched.

Moving to cable means losing the static IP. It also means that outgoing port 25 is going to be blocked and this means my self hosted email server will have problems.

I’ve sketched out a solution for static IP hosting. I’ll try to write that up in the future once I’ve done it. For now, because on cable your IP rarely changes – I’m just pretending that the IP I have is a static IP.

For sending email, I needed to route all my mail via Teksavvy, treating them as a smarthost. My email setup is postfix, thus there is literally a one line setup change to /etc/postfix/main.cf

This works because TekSavvy allows anonymous SMTP to this from inside of the network they control. What it does is force all outgoing email to be sent to their server, which in turn will send it out.

Now modern email servers do additional trust checks, one of these is Sender Policy Framework (SPF). Configuring your SPF is done via a TXT record in your DNS. While the relayhost was working, I was seeing a warning when checking email sent to gmail (but other email providers check SPF too).

It took a while for me to figure out how to get my SPF record setup correctly. I got a bit lucky, as I was reading https://support.google.com/a/answer/33786?hl=en which pointed at _spf.google.com as the Google SPF record holder. It turns out TekSavvy adopted the same naming: _spf.teksavvy.com. Your SPF record needs to point at other SPF records, so finding this meant it was an easy change to my DNS TXT record for SPF.

I will point at MXToolBox as a great web based tool for sorting out all sorts of email issues.

Now email was not only working via the smarthost, but my SPF record was setup correctly. I’m still experiencing delays when sending to gmail, but not apparently to other sites. From looking at the headers, it seems TekSavvy can at times (often) delay delivery to gmail. This is frustrating, but there are other paths to solution if it’s a big problem.

Now that email was sorted out, switching to cable was really easy. The cable box arrived and was “installed” by finding the live cable in my basement by the power panel and plugging the box in. It turns out that since the cable comes from a box at the end of my lawn and the buried cable to my house (which is 20yrs or more old) is in good shape, I get fantastic signal strength. The tech had to install an attenuator to reduce the signal to the happy range where the modem was going to work well.

Switching from DSL with static IP to Cable with rarely changing IP was a simple matter of swapping the WAN cable into my router from one box to the other. I had to reconfigure my router to use “Automatic” from “PPPoE”, and boom I was on the internet again. Visiting https://www.whatismyip.com/ and I had the new IP address, followed by a simple DNS change to use that as the address for lowtek.ca and I’m back.

At this point all I’ve lost is the reverse DNS check is failing, because the IP that lowtek.ca resolves to – does not answer lowtek.ca when you look up that IP. This is more important for sending email than receiving, and since I’m sending via Teksavvy it doesn’t matter as much. I still want a more ‘proper’ static IP to be assigned to lowtek.ca – more on that in a future post.

Boom – cable is just faster than DSL. With the added bonus that changing speeds is zero admin costs. If I want to move to 2x faster, it’s another $7 a month. On DSL I was at the fastest speed available to me at my location. Cable is costing me about $14 more a month, but the phone line savings will make up for that – once I get past the hump of buying a new cable modem and VOIP ATA box.


Installing custom firmware on Nexus 5

Until very recently the phone in my pocket was a Nexus 4 that I bought used 2+ years ago, it’s seen a couple of battery changes and a full brain transplant (motherboard) swap.  It’s running Android Marshmallow, but there is a Nougat version available – so it still feels current. Phones feel like they’ve hit the same plateau that computers have, sure there are newer and faster models — but for most needs models a couple of years old are just fine.

The Nexus 5 hit my magic price point of ~$160 on the used market, even for the 32Gb version – making it too tempting an upgrade for me to pass on. The stock firmware only offers 6.01 (Marshmallow) but the Nexus 5 is still a well supported device in the custom ROM space. I’m a big fan of CyanogenMod but that’s come to a fairly spectacular end recently. I’m eagerly waiting for it’s successor LineageOS to get their infrastructure in place and regular builds happening.

Installing custom firmware on the Nexus 5 is similar to any well supported Nexus device, Google really did a good thing allowing the hardware to be friendly to developers. Read on for the detailed steps.

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Bosch Error 43

It’s happened more than once, the over full pot of boiling water on the stove – you add whatever it is that you’re going to boil and splash. Boil over and water on the stove top. With a gas stove sometimes the burner will go out, others you’re lucky and you just get some really hot water on the hot top of your stove.

Not a big deal.. until you have too much water as we did the other day. It ran down the front of the stove a little, some even made it to the floor. Clean up the mess and forget about it.

Except this one time recently, the stove display started blinking the lock icon.

Searching found stuff like: remove the stove from power for 5 minutes, then plug it back in to reset.

When I tried that solution, you could hear the oven doing a reset cycle and trying to lock/unlock the door several times. Sometimes it would stay locked, and I’d do another power cycle and then it’d stay unlocked. Things did not improve. Still the flashy lock.

I found a service manual that was close, but the removal of the front panel was different than shown there. I needed to remove some obvious screws from just under the lip – then pull the stove out to get to a pair (on each side) of screws that held the front panel on.

After disassembling the panel, it was clear we had some water down there – but not much. I cleaned up the board verified things were dry and re-assembled. Still the lock problem.

Two days later, the oven light started to go on by itself. You could turn it off — and shortly after it’d turn itself back on. The following morning, a power cycle resolved the Error 43. I was able to cook some bacon in the oven. During this, the oven got a bit funky. The light wasn’t coming on when you opened the door — then it would intermittently come on and off when you opened the door.

My theory is that the heat of the oven was helping dry out the moisture from wherever it got to. After finishing with the bacon, the flashing lock was back.

One more power cycle the next day – and the oven seems to have started to work “like normal” again. I’m fairly confident at this point that the issue was some water got into one of the switches (probably the locking mechanism) and was shorting out a sensor there. However, as the door light was also affected, I suspect there was multiple sensors affected.

Thankfully it was ‘clean’ water (vs. a mucky sauce) and seems to have dried up removing any issues.

Lesson learned: don’t let water accumulate on the cook top of your Bosch stove/oven. If you do get Error 43 – be patient and dry it out. A power cycle will help once things are dry enough.