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February 10, 2015

I need to start out by saying that I've been a Netgear fan for a really long time, having purchased several of their products in the past. But while Netgear used to make really solid products that worked well, they've fallen into the trap of making terrible products that can't stand up to even the most basic of usage scenarios.

My love affair with Netgear began to fade shortly after purchasing several WNCE2001s and having them destroy my network. (You can read my review on those here.) I chalked that up to them being an old and discontinued product, but it started to chip at my confidence in Netgear's products. Then came this thing, the FVS318N firewall.

The firewall I had before this one was the FVS318G, and it was excellent - so much so that I immediately wanted something newer in the Netgear ProSafe line when it was time for me to replace it. And lo, I found the FVS318N and ordered it without hesitation.

My first mistake.

The firewall arrived, and I updated the firmware and re-entered my network configuration on the new device. (I should note here that I'm a full-time 15+ year IT security professional, so I know my way around firewalls and the like.) For the first day, the firewall worked great. The speeds were so much faster than I've been used to and it was a pleasure. But after the first 24 hours or so, the connection through the firewall became horribly unstable. 33% of connections began straight up failing due to random connection resets. I decided it was time to contact Netgear Support.

My second mistake.

I opened my support ticket on December 5, 2014. The first-level technician did some basic troubleshooting and had me downgrade the firewall's firmware to its factory state, then we upgraded to the penultimate firmware version to see if it was an issue with the latest firmware. Nothing helped, so the issue was "escalated" to engineering, who promptly came back and said that it was a DNS problem. A terrible diagnosis, as this kind of failure has nothing to do with DNS. (DNS doesn't interrupt existing connections, it serves to translate hostnames to IP addresses so that the initial connection can be made.) I followed their ridiculous recommendation and told them that wasn't the problem. They also asked me to spin up a syslog server and have the Firewall log to it, so I did that too.

That was on December 17, and that's pretty much where this issue stalled. I re-upgraded the firmware to more reliably reproduce the problem, and continued logging to the syslog server. On the 18th, I uploaded the logs to Netgear's support portal after reproducing the issue. On the 19th it was again "escalated to next level support" which is where everything died on their end. I requested an update on the 23rd and didn't get a response. I requested another update on January 5, and got no response until January 13, when Netgear requested access to a host on my network. Actually what they asked for was a host running Wireshark and PuTTY, at which point I told them I don't have any Windows machines but that I could give them access to a Linux machine with tcpdump and ssh available, and I asked if that was acceptable. On January 30 they agreed, so I immediately provisioned a brand new virtual machine and gave them access as of February 1.

That's where my ticket hit a brick wall. A week later (Feb 8) I updated the ticket saying that I hadn't gotten any response from Netgear and I needed an update because this firewall has crippled my network. I was told "Engineering is working on it" but the logs on the machine I gave them said otherwise. In fact, no one other than me had ever even logged into that box. Nobody in Netgear Engineering was paying attention to this issue at all.

So here we are today. I have a completely unusable firewall, and the company that makes it has absolutely no interest in fixing it. Additionally, I'm not the only one with this problem - I provided them several links to places on the Netgear forums from people who are having the same issue. Google yields even more people with the problem, and it's been an issue since the firewall was first released.

So yeah, no more Netgear for me. Ever. I would encourage you to stay away as well. They make terrible products and they have awful support standing behind their products. Don't waste your money or your time.



October 21, 2014

There are a lot of guides out there on how to install Mac OS X Yosemite under VirtualBox, but unfortunately most of them are A) for the developer preview, or B) for Windows. While most of the steps are pretty much what you need, there are a handful of missing things that will make the process "Just Not Work" for the final retail release of Yosemite.

Here's my complete step-by-step guide on how to install Yosemite under VirtualBox with a Yosemite host.

  1. First thing you'll need to do is download the Yosemite Installer from the App Store. It will save as "Install OS X Yosemite" in your /Applications folder.
  2. Once it's there, open a Terminal and run the following commands:
    sudo gem install iesd (If you've already previously installed iesd you can skip this step.)
    cd ~/Desktop (We move to the Desktop to make it easier to get rid of the files we don't need.)
    iesd -i /Applications/Install OS X -o yosemite.dmg -t BaseSystem
    hdiutil convert yosemite.dmg -format UDSP -o yosemite.sparseimage
    hdiutil mount /Applications/Install OS X
    hdiutil mount yosemite.sparseimage
    cp /Volumes/OS X Install ESD/BaseSystem.* /Volumes/OS X Base System/
    hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS X Install ESD/
    hdiutil detach /Volumes/OS X Base System/
    (Most guides get this wrong, and simply tell you to use "unmount" rather than "detach.")
    hdiutil convert yosemite.sparseimage -format UDZO -o yosemitefixed.dmg
  3. Now you need to open VirtualBox, but leave your Terminal open because we aren't done there just yet.
  4. In VirtualBox, create a new VM and name it. ("Mac OS X Yosemite" is probably a good choice.)
  5. If you can spare it, give the machine 4GB of RAM, otherwise the default 2048 should be fine.
  6. Go ahead and create a 20GB Virtual Hard Drive. Make it a Dynamically Allocated VDI.
  7. Once the machine has been created, highlight it in the main VirtualBox window and click "Settings."
  8. In the Settings window under "System > Motherboard" make sure "Chipset" has PIIX3 selected.
  9. Click over to "Display" and max out the Video Memory.
  10. Now move to "Storage" and choose the optical disc from the "Storage Tree" menu. (At this point it should be labeled "Empty.")
  11. Next to the dropdown by "CD/DVD Drive" you will see a small CD icon. Click it, and select "Choose a virtual CD/DVD disk file..." then navigate to yosemitefixed.dmg on your Desktop and select it.
  12. Check the "Live CD/DVD" checkbox, and then click "OK" to close the settings window.
  13. Start the VM. You won't see an Apple logo while the system boots, but rest assured the system is starting.
  14. IF YOUR MACHINE DOES NOT START FULLY, you will probably be stuck at an error that says "Missing Bluetooth Controller Transport." If so, power off the Virtual Machine, go back to your Terminal and type: VBoxManage modifyvm 'YOUR YOSEMITE VM NAME' --cpuidset 1 000206a7 02100800 1fbae3bf bfebfbff then close Terminal and restart the VM.
  15. You should now be at the Welcome screen for the Mac OS X Installer. At this point you will need to partition your virtual disk image, so you should click "Continue" which will open the menubar at the very top of the screen.
  16. From the top menubar, select "Utilities" and then choose "Disk Utility."
  17. Once Disk Utility opens, you will see your VBOX HARDDRIVE in the left side. Select it, then click the "Partition" tab.
  18. Under "Partition Layout" select "1 Partition." Name it "Macintosh HD" and use the "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" format. Click "Apply" and then "Partition" on the dialog that appears.
  19. Quit Disk Utility to return to the OS X Installer, and then install OS X to the drive partition you just created.

At this point, all you need to do is wait out the install and then once the VM reboots, you will be presented with the OS X Welcome Screen as if you've just booted a brand new Mac. Once you've gotten the initial setup finished and you've finally arrived at your Desktop, I recommend taking a snapshot of the VM, so you can revert back to your fresh install at any time.

Enjoy, and feel free to comment if you have any questions.



July 7, 2014

It's been a very long time since I've updated this website. In the age of things like Facebook and Google+ there's a lot less need for a dedicated web log such as this, though even before I became a member of the various Social Media sites that are out there, I've been toying with the idea of taking in a new direction - one that de-emphasizes the web log aspect and puts more focus on my creative endeavors. The archives will still be here and I expect that I'll probably yammer about something now and again, but I'm really looking toward modernizing the site and shifting its focus. It'll still be me and my bullshit, it'll just be a different kind of bullshit.

In the interim, I've added two long-overdue albums to the Photo Gallery: Hawaii, as well as last month's trip to Panama. Panama was an unexpected destination, chosen for its location, budget, and my desperate need for a proper vacation. Unfortunately neither my iPhone or my MacBook Pro fully survived the trip, but it was a nice time. (It was also pretty awesome to see the Canal.)



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