Using Munin to Monitor My Comcast Cable Modem

Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve had problems with my Comcast Internet service intermittently cutting out every so often.  As the end user, what I’ve noticed is packet loss,  sometimes it’s a small amount over a short amount of time (minutes), others a large amount over a long amount of time (hours).  Initially the issues were few and far between, so I didn’t give it much notice.  However in the last month or so, it’s become a lot worse (once or twice a week).

I had initially setup Smokeping to monitor when problems started happening.  I had it ping the inside IP of my router, the private IP of the cable modem and the next hop route my router is given in it’s DHCP lease.  It helped me make sure the cable modem was up when I started having packet loss.

While this was nice to know when it was happening, it doesn’t really give you any data that helps with the why.  When I would call Comcast Tech Support, they could confirm the levels on my cable modem weren’t in desirable parameters, but I didn’t get the feeling the knew what they were (or recording them).  Then last week I ran into Jeff Forman’s post about how he was monitoring the signal to noise ration with a custom Munin plugin he had written.

Since I had just started playing with Munin and was looking for a coding type project to work on, I decided to bust out my horribly rusty Perl skills and write my own plugin.  Now I have purdy graphs that look like:

In case this plugin might be useful to you, I’ve made it available here at Github.

Purple Notebook 74

Oh my dear Fall
Let us have a ball
You bring the chill nights
I’ll bring the warmth and delight
Together during the days of colors we shall dance
As the trees shed their leaves for their winter stance
Your gentle touch brings a new carpet to the forest floor
The scenery excites my mind as I walk from door to door
And while you are here, it is you I will most adore
Before winter comes and you are once again no more
Assail my senses with your sights, smells and breezes
Until I am overwhelmed with hurts and sneezes
So tell me my dear Fall, can I have this dance
And we can begin again our yearly romance

Purple Notebook 73

A ripple and a rumble
A flash and then a tumble
A jumble of displaced molecules
An afterimage measured in joules
A solo concerto of a tin roof tympani
A black and white photo of the heavens empty
A procession of used cotton balls
A church bell issues forth its calls
An illumination of yellow from stage left
A smattering of coloring by a hand most deft
A sonic scream from a fuel source unclean
An evening painted as a dream

Purple Notebook 72

The feel of the wind and the sound of the rain
Soothing sensations that please the brain
The smell in the air
The wetting of the hair
You don’t even need your eyes
To visualize
Endless progression of this wet grey haze
Few better ways to spend the days
A reminder of pleasures of simpler things
And the pure joy that it brings

Purple Notebook 71

It was dark and gray
A cold summer’s day
The rain drifted down
All over this town
And I want to be
Sitting by a tree
Not a thing in sight
Nature in it’s right
Watch the raindrops hit
Progression moves it
A ripple effect
Easy to detect
Feeling the moment
No conscious intent

Bike and Destroy!

Thanks to needing to take my mind off of something at the end of June, I’ve started biking again.  I bicycled a lot as a child (mostly as a means to get into town to spend money I shouldn’t have), but haven’t done much since recovering from my last knee surgery in 2002.  Mostly this was because my bike was in need of major work and wasn’t worth investing the money in.  However I didn’t want to spend money on a new bike if I wasn’t going to bike enough to warrant it.  But thanks to needing to take my mind off of something, I threw caution to the wind and got a new bike and I am loving it!

As I wasn’t sure if I would bike much, I went to the local bike shop and got a lower end hybrid (Trek 7000).  My last bike was a hybrid as well and I enjoyed it because it went a decent speed on concrete and also allowed me to play a little off the road.  I’m typically not gentle with things, so it seemed like a good combination again.  My usual romp is through Mine Falls Park, which is right near where I live.  A nice long set of paved and dirt trails without motorists and great for a hybrid.

Since I’ve gotten the bike however, I’ve ridden almost every day.  As an ADD person, I was wary of losing interest in riding but so far that hasn’t hit me.  Maybe it’s the variety of the paths I can take through Mine Falls Park or just the scenic beauty of it.  The time I spend biking is great, not only is it more outside time and fresh air, it really sets me at ease and lets the brain process stuffs.  And even if I get a flat tire, I don’t mind the walk home to fix it since it is such a nice area to ride in.

The exercise part has been very welcome too!  Biking is one of the better exercises for my bad knee so this is a great way to keep it stretched and happy.  Being a computer nerd, it’s easy to get into the zone and forget how many hours you sit in a chair.  However I find myself looking forward to biking every day.  I’ve put over 150 miles on the bike so far (averaging 6 miles a day) and it’s easy to feel almost daily how much stronger the leg muscles get from all of the work.  The only downside to all of this is it has cut into my shapely figure by 12 pounds so far.  :-P

Now to find something to do in the winter months when it’s too snowy to ride…

Purple Notebook 67

The wheels turn and take me there
The temporary alleviation of the weight of my cares
Nothing but the feeling of motion and the wind in my hair
And every day you take me there

Put the foot to the pedal and swing it around again
The creation of motion and then I’m back with my old friend
Wandering paths in ever-changing circles, hoping it will never end
But on the morrow I know we will be joined again

Thank you for showing me sights that by my eyes have yet to be seen
For a time it helps my soul almost know what it feels like to be clean
It’s almost surreal enough that I can’t help but wonder if it’s a dream
And I can’t wait to see what else has gone unseen

Purple Notebook 63

It was like 2 imposed onto 3
The blue, the green, the brown, the tree
The yellow comes tumbling down
And finds holes in the canopy

The brown snaked through the green
Which before the bipeds was previously unseen
Wandering edges defined by time
And the shuffle of dreamers in between

The green held itself aloft from the blue
Though periodically it’s been known to fall through
Together they dance away in a babbling song
Only to later begin again anew

Start of a Spiritual Revolution

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve been looking for something more to life.  It has always seemed that there is something inherently wrong with the way affairs are conducted in this world.  Rarely have there been any answers that make sense or feel like something I could put myself behind without feeling like I compromised a part of myself doing so.  Finally it seems I may have found something that makes sense to me, I can put myself behind and not feel compromised doing so.

Being raised in the U.S., I was brought up with the usual Christian beliefs that permeate the majority of the population here.  However I never really felt any connection with Christianity.  Some of the moral lessons made sense, but I never felt that there was a God there.  Plus it seemed if there was a higher life form that created us, this one was pretty petty.   If there is a deity, I’d surely expect a lot more out of it.  Not so much in the sense of the way we normally expect a lot more out of people but more that such a being would be beyond most if not all of the behavioral pitfalls that we mere humans experience.

I never encountered anything that made me feel like there was a creator or deity-type being, so it was hard to look to religions for a greater sense of purpose or meaning.  I also never really liked the whole idea of getting someone else to solve your problems, deity or otherwise.  It seems like we should be able to solve our own problems.  Outside assistance is a good thing, but looking to others for the answers and wanting them to come save you seemed wrong.  Not that it isn’t a nice idea when you’re down but it feels like an injustice to yourself and those you make yourself dependent on.  However this does get harder and harder as life goes on and you can’t find the answers to your problems or won’t act on the answers you do find.

Recently I have come to a point where I feel like I have to find this meaning in life or I essentially will self-destruct.  The American Dream isn’t enough.  I need something with more than material gain as an end goal.  I need something that lets me feel like I make a difference at the end of the day.  I want something akin to the zealotry of a righteous cause but without all of the downsides and polarized viewpoints.

In my soul searching and despairing, I remembered a book I had read a few years ago called Dharma Punx by Noah Levine.  It’s the auto-biographical story of a SoCal punk rocker from the ’80s who hit rock bottom and found his salvation in Buddhism.  I had a lot in common with this book and really related to it (though thankfully not the drugs and juvie).  Like Noah, I have a huge rebellious streak and take very little at face value.   In the telling of his story and the way he recounts his path out of his destructive youth, he opened me up to some possibilities I had not overly considered or been exposed to before.

I just recently found out that he had written another book called Against The Stream which is essentially a guide for those who want to take a path similar to his.  What I really like about his approach here is that it talks you through the steps without the overly religious connotations attached to it.  It shows how you can undertake your own personal spiritual rebellion and then make your own decisions about how to do things.  And it’s all based on love and kindness.  There’s no “do this or you’ll go to hell”, no deity involved,  it appears to be  just about better understanding your mind and training it to better handle what life throws at you.  And of course it involves rebellion so it knows how to speak to me! :-P

Reading both Dharma Punx and Against The Stream showed me something that appears to fit with the core parts of who I consider myself to be without sacrificing other parts.  I don’t know if it will actually fit in the long run but hard to know that before you try it.  And if nothing else, it’ll help alleviate the whole “meaning and purpose” problem that’s been like a stabbing pain in my brain.

Watch out breath, I’m focusing on you!

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Purple Notebook 62

I want to sample life outside the confines of space and time
A DJ abusing a hook like the cheap poet does the rhyme
Artfully re-sequencing the order of major events
Content to ignore or amplify meanings and portents
A deft hand making them play forward or back
Only using the skip pad for the staccato emotional attack
Mix the contra alto’s century-long cry for purpose
With the misery of the next thousand souls to surface
Underlie it all with the hopes from a million marching feet
And the sound of a lover’s heart as the beat

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