[conspire] Breezy Badger /Netzero

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Fri Dec 16 15:55:39 PST 2005

John, I might be able to help you, but this is going to come along with 
what'll come across as a complaint (it's not!) about some of the quirks
of language in your posts.  I'm going to make some suggestions about 
your approach to seeking help in the future, solely with the aim of
helping you more efficiently get assistance in the future, OK?  Please 
don't take any of this as personal criticism.

Please don't get frustrated:  We'll help you on your problem!  I'd just
also like to help prospectively with debugging tips.

Quoting John Andrews (jla1200 at netzero.net):

> I did ln -s tty0 /dev/modem but that didn't work.

First and foremost, your problem may be as simple as specifying the
right device name.  /dev/tty0 is not a serial port; it's a _terminal_
device.  You probably meant "/dev/ttyS0", which is the machine's first 
serial port, the one that in MS-DOS is called COM1.

But I'm betting that you wrote your help request some while _after_ 
you did your efforts to make things work, rather than contemporaneously
with them, right?  Your descriptions have the rather fuzzy feeling about
them that is characteristic of a write-up someone created from vague
memory (which is bad, as the inevitably inaccuracies prevent effective
help) as opposed to using diligent notes or copying and pasting directly
from your diagnostic attempts.

That is, you might have actually done this:

$ su -
# cd /dev
# ln -s ttyS0 modem
# exit

...but then (maybe) you didn't accurately remember what you typed, after
the fact.  The _exact_ contents of what you did are important, which is 
why it wastes a lot of time when questioners get those details wrong.

Second, your phrase "didn't work" is one of a long series of common
phrases that are actively harmful to diagnosis, because they omit what
is really important.  (Others are "crashed", "bombed", "failed", etc.)
What's omitted, and what's really important, is _what actually happened_.

To clarify that point, I tend to tell querents "Techies are from Missouri." 
That is, you need to _show them_.  If you did something that is
important at the command line, _show_ the entire command-line sequence
to the people you want to help you, using cut-and-paste.  E.g.:

$ su -
# cd /dev
# ls -l modem
ls: modem: No such file or directory
# ln -s ttyS0 modem
# ls -l modem
lrwxrwxrwx    1 rute     root            5 Dec 17 07:03 modem -> ttyS0
# exit

Notice how I take a couple of extra steps to show that no symbolic link
exists when I started, and the exact nature of what was created when
I finished.  Given that information, a technician whom I've asked to
help me would know objectively exactly what I've done and where the
"modem" symlink points to.

Third (and as an extension of the "Show me" point), you're displaying
the very, very common, but problematic trait of telling us your
_interpretations_ rather than the raw data.  Technicians need raw data;
it's not good for them to have to rely on your interpretations.  E.g.:

> When I try to start Netzero client from the desktop, it does not recognize
> the modem.

Your phrase "does not recognize" is your _interpretation_.  You don't
state what sequence of events happened that lead you to that conclusion.  
The latter is the raw data, and is what technicians need.

Because technicians are not present in the room with you, your
description has to compensate for our inability to see what you're
seeing.  Except in the case of baseline tools that are on every Linux 
system, you shouldn't assume that we all have the software you're using,

If your case, I believe the "Netzero client" you speak of is a graphical 
proprietary application.  But you didn't say that -- and you really do
need to say it.  You said you "started" it "from the desktop".  Started
how?  What desktop?  Sometimes, for purposes of clarity in diagnostic
situations, it's best to run even graphical applications of interest
from a terminal session, e.g.:

$ netzero &

(The "&" detaches the started-up process from the terminal, starting it
in background, and giving you back your command prompt.

If you that, and copy and paste the command session, then technicians
will know precisely what you did to launch such programs, and will have
greater confidence that you didn't forget to mention something

Does the Netzero client have a screen for configuration (aka
"preferences")?  Does such a screen show a serial port that is to be
used?  Does it say /dev/modem?

>The kppp recognizes the modem fine.

Again, it's really hard for us to know what this means.  You could mean
that kppp dials, connects, negotiates your PPP login, and establishes 
full Internet connectivity that you confirmed by doing the following at
a command prompt:

$ ping www.apple.com
PING www.apple.com.akadns.net ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from www.apple.com ( icmp_seq=1 ttl=241 time=617 ms
64 bytes from www.apple.com ( icmp_seq=2 ttl=241 time=618 ms
64 bytes from www.apple.com ( icmp_seq=3 ttl=241 time=622 ms

--- www.apple.com.akadns.net ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 3 received, 25% packet loss, time 3697ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 617.394/619.272/622.122/2.147 ms

Doesn't kppp have a screen where the modem device can be specified?
What does it say?  Maybe "/dev/ttyS0"?

> I did ln -s tty0 /dev/modem but that didn't work.

Again, the biggest problem in the above, even worse than the fact that
it's unclear what directory you were in, and thus unclear where "tty0" 
is, and even worse than /dev/tty0 (as opposed to /dev/ttyS0) making no 
sense as a serial device, is that we have no way of knowing what you
mean when you say "didn't work".  

You were probably really clear in your mind about what you meant, but we
can't read your mind -- or your screen.  ;->

> I tried it from a terminal as root but that didn't
> matter except it said DM is off. What does that mean.

Insufficient data.

>     Any suggestions on getting the Netzero to work?

Yes.  What does the accompanying documentation state, about how to
specify the serial port?

More information about the conspire mailing list