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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Hack the Gibson #89

Read the reason for these posts. Read Steve Gibson's response.

Related to the SpinRite story (which are present in every episode): again, I don't know WTF (pardon my language) people are doing with their computers, but in my 15 years of computer usage I never (knock on wood) had a hard-drive fail on me or known somebody personally who had a hard-drive failure! Anyway, the important thing I want to stress, that if your hard-drive failed and it wasn't a software failure, change your harddrive! If it was a software failure, or your unsure and don't want to spend the money just because of a hunch, start backing up! This is an advice which I hear too infrequently on SN, given how much they talk about hard drive failures (yes, they do mentioned from time to time, but very rarely!).

The first thing I would object to is the fact that nowhere is there a mention of the fact there is WPA2 or the fact that authentication with WPA/WPA2 can be done using certificates (also known as WPA-Enterprise), which are equivalent from a security standpoint to a very long and very complex key. I know that this podcast is aimed at the home user, however it would be nice to at least mention these options.

Steve says:

All Ethernet LAN endpoints, that is, all NICs, Network Interface Cards, they actually are addressable by their MAC address because the IP protocol is just one of many protocols that they could support. You could be Token Ring, you could be any of a number, for example, IPX, SPX, the old Novell protocol, all these things run on Ethernet. So the IP protocol needs a way to figure out which adapter card on the Ethernet we want to send our data to.

While generally correct, you need to mention that that IPX and SPX are part of the same protocol stack and rarely (if ever) are used alone (just as you don't see TCP over anything other than IP, although it is theoretically possible) and are written correctly as IPX/SPX which stands for Internetwork Packet Exchange/Sequenced Packet Exchange and it is the old Novell protocol, so the sentence would be correctly written as IPX/SPX (the old Novell protocol). While it is possible that this is a transcription error (as I work off the transcript), the confusion between Level 2 and Level 3 (as it relates to the OSI model) is clearly Steve's fault: Token Ring is a level 2 protocol while IPX/SPX is a level 3, so the analogy is erroneous and misleading.

PS. The percentage of the show which deals with technical content started to go down (for example in this show more than half of it was advertisement and-or chatter - not that there is anything wrong with that, for example this is the reason I listen to TWiT), this being one of the reasons why you see less content in these blog postings (the other being that I'm lazy :))


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