punkwalrus (punkwalrus) wrote,

The people that run my network

The people who run the network here love firewalls. They love them. They especially love firewalls that are Cisco firewalls. They have them everywhere. I have two on my desktop connection as we speak. Like little green bricks, they multiply at night, I think. One of the main reasons is the hippie-loving network guru and his crew-cut pal who love to program them. I think they would program firewalls even if we didn't pay them. They love them THAT much.

The head of our network, whom we'll call "Derek," is like a 6-foot-4-inch mutant who towers over everyone, toting FreeBSD wisdom like an unbridled fire of dragon-esque zealotry. He drives one of those VW mini-vans with bathtub flowers stuck over the rust spots. When I came here, I saw him abusing the former network minions of his with some of the most back-handed, passive aggressive comments imaginable, like:

"This is the work of a fool. You're not a fool... are you?"

He went through like... 4 admins and 3 networking guys before he found his current minion, a guy we'll call "Bard." Bard is one of those rabid gun nuts with American flags all over his desk. Clean shaven with a crew-cut, Bard often just starts spouting "America: Love it or Leave it." He thinks the Colbert Report is not a farce, and "Team America" was a documentary (shh, he doesn't know they were puppets).

Derek and Bard seem like an unlikely couple. But Derek's mean streak stems from a sense of loss coming of age during the disco era. In fact, while Derek shows a good face with his small round blue spectacles and hemp headband, behind those bloodshot eyes rages the fevered mind of someone with far too many father abandonment issues. He's one of those people who actually gets meaner and more violent on pot. Bard, on the other hand, is just plain mean. He once kicked a puppy just for snoring too loud. Remember "Chet" from "Weird Science?" Yeah, like that guy.

"So yeah, yeah, Punkie, we get it. They are right bastards. How are they as network admins?"

I'd tell you if I knew. What little I can gather from the cryptic maze of VPNs, SSL certs, and heavily segmented VLANs (and we're talking hundreds of /30 subnets)... I have peered into the abyss of a pair of incredible control freaks. Let me tell you what I have to do just to post this damn entry:

First off, they made DHCP a TCP-only protocol. I don't know why, they just did. Something about not allowing any UDP on their network (or, in their words, "UDP is for fags!"). This makes it impossible to get an IP at boot time, so I have to create an OSDN socket, bind it to localhost, take a "borrowed IP" and connect to the IP database. If someone else is borrowing this IP, I'll get rejected, so often I have to do this several times. Once I connect, an encypted 2048 byte key exchange goes back and forth for a few minutes between my local database and the remote one. This will assign me another IP which will work for about 35 minutes (less if Derek is running his Counterstrike LAN game), and also populates my host file with the latest entries (no DNS, "UDP is for fags," remember?). Then I have to do an ssh -x to connect my nxmachine client to an xorg session on a Sun sever running OpenSolaris that acts as a gateway to "Middle Earth," a network segmented backbone where everything has been named for "Lord of the Rings." Then I VNC from that box to a Windows NT 4.0 box, and rdesktop via 9600 baud modem ("compression is for fags" as well) to "an outer gateway" to a VMWare system where I can use elinks to open a browser to the Internet on an HP9000, assuming the line is not busy. Sometimes I lose my "DHCP lease," and have to start all over.

Derek has a cruel streak that is legendary. Apart from his normal sharp sarcasm and ego-scraping patronization, Derek gives other employees impossible tasks "based on the thing they said that angered me." When someone joked, "Derek can't net hack out of a wet paper sack," Derek actually forced the employee to hack a wet paper bag connected to a Linksys router via a 10baseT cable. The employee, of course, failed ("UDP is for fags," remember?). Derek beat him mercilessly with a cat-o-nine tails fashioned from broken fiber cable and aluminum shards from split conduit pipe. That employee would have been 29 last week, according to his lamenting two children, still locked in our networking cage until his widow pays Derek a bill for the fiber cable.
Disclaimer: I may have made all this up to irritate the guy who snoops our network. "Don't have time to monitor what our employees do," my ass...
Tags: cisco, farce, networking, security, work
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