The Boston Diaries

The ongoing saga of a programmer who doesn't live in Boston, nor does he even like Boston, but yet named his weblog/journal “The Boston Diaries.”

Go figure.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Unclear on the concept of public and private community strings

Okay, what prompted me to update the blog was an incident that happened at The Corporation.

Like I mentioned, we're working on “Project: Wolowizard,” which involves dealing with SS7, a telephony-based communications protocol. To handle SS7, The Corporation licensed The Protocol Stack From Hell™. Now, given the amount of money that exchanged hands, one would think we would get decent documentation, source code and even technical support, but no, no source code, documentation that is technically correct but completely useless and what can only be described as “obstinate technical support.”

So for the past two weeks Smirk has been tasked with setting up The Protocol Stack From Hell™ to respond to SNMP queries. The technically correct but completely useless documentation indicated that it was a simple matter to set up SNMP support; just configure the IP address, UDP port and community string (really a password) in a few files and it should “just work.”

I wouldn't be mentioning it here if it “just worked.” Not only did The Protocol Stack From Hell™ fail to reply to SNMP queries, but it wasn't even opening up the UDP port. For two weeks, Smirk, R (the office manager in the Ft. Lauderdale Office of The Corporation) and a few others from the Main Office of The Corporation (which is in Seattle, Washington—nice because they're three hours behind us) were going back and forth with the obstinate technical support. Things were going nowhere slowly.

Then R suggested that Smirk set the SNMP community string to “public”, which is a typical default setting for SNMP. Of course that worked. As an off-handed remark, I suggested that Smirk should try “private”—the other, “more secure” community string that is commonly used.

That worked too.

But not the community string we wanted to use.

Head. Meet desk.

(For the record, The Protocol Stack From Hell was selected way before R, who runs the Ft. Lauderdale Office of The Corporation, even worked for The Corporation)

I mean, yes, there certainly was some braindeath in the “Project: SocialSpace 2.0” but at least it worked even if you could measure its speed in bits per eon. This wonderous feature of The Protocol Stack From Hell™ is almost criminal in its action.


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