Thursday, August 7, 2008

Helpless Desks

My old basic G router was starting to have some issues, so I decided to upgrade to a new Wireless N router. I installed it last Sunday night to be sure everything was working for Monday morning. I work at home full-time, so I didn't want to spend time doing router configuration during work hours. Fortunately, the configuration was fairly painless (even though I had to configure 3 laptops, 1 desktop, an XBox 360, and a PS3 to communicate with the new router). Security was turned on, of course, and I tested the internet connections on all the machines and everything worked fine... and I went to bed content.

When I got up the next morning the first thing I did was fire up my program to tunnel into my corporate intranet (which I run non-stop throughout the work day). And it didn't work. My internet connection was working fine. The tunneler was successfully communicating with something. But no access to the intranet. Dang. So I troubleshooted for awhile and got nowhere.

Finally I called the Help Desk for my company's intranet. The first thing they asked me to do was bypass the router and connect directly to the cable modem. The tunneler worked fine, which meant that it was definitely an issue with the router. But they don't provide support for routers, and as far as they were concerned the tunneler was working fine, so they closed the ticket and hung up, telling me to call the router Help Desk.

So I called the Router help desk. The first thing they asked me was whether my internet connection was working. I said it was, which meant it was a problem with the tunneler. They don't provide support for the tunneler, and as far as they were concerned the router was working fine, so they closed the ticker and hung up, telling me to call the tunneler Help Desk.

I'm not making this up.

2 hours later I fixed the problem on my own. Apparently the new router (unlike the previous router from the same manufacturer) didn't support IPSec, which was what I was using in my tunneler (by default, not via a configuration choice I had made), so I switched my tunneler config to use SSL and that worked.

So was it a tunneler problem or a router problem? Well, clearly it was both. The problem was that I needed to have the configurations in the two programs working correctly together. This is not an unusual situation. It's bizarre to me that in this day and age Help Desks still seem more interested in closing tickets than providing actual help.

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