Spammers never learn. Every day in my blog comments here I get at least one spam comment for some facial serum sold on Amazon, sometimes two or three times. I also get at least once each week something telling me all about search engine optimization. Well, it’s too late for my ugly face and I get lots of people from search engine results, so I think I’ll skip the sales pitches.
Sometimes we think there is something in front of us that we simply cannot learn. Over the past two decades, I’ve read an awful lot about firewalling technology and it just never did sink in at the fundamental level. I was always so grateful for firewall software that come with instructions for dummies. “This is probably what you want, so click that and it will happen.” I love smart defaults. With the Red Hat gang (RHEL, CentOS, Scientific Linux, Stella/Nux and others) the default is okay. With anything based on Debian (Ubuntu, Mint, etc.) just install “ufw” and run two instructions with root credentials on the CLI:
ufw default deny
That covers most home and mobile device users. Even better is the massively complicated and brilliant “Firewall2” from SUSE, but I can’t stand running SUSE itself. However, if you want to learn about Linux networking, you really have to get the whole thing down starting with the fundamentals.
I won’t pretend to know all the ways the human mind learns something like that. Some folks pick it up on first exposure; most of us find it some kind of challenge. I suspect most of my readers are very challenged by it. So after two decades of fooling with Linux, I can no longer escape the task. It made a big difference that I first went back and read up on the basics of how computers communicate across the wires. Basic computer networking is pretty much learning to think in terms of packets of data. I never understood that very well, either. I found this tutorial and was amazed that I actually understood it for once. From there it wasn’t so hard to start understanding firewall technology.
I assure you there is some measure of divine assistance in learning something that I don’t find fascinating. Were it not for a sense of calling, I wouldn’t bother in the first place. However, there is a sense in which that drive to get it means I’ll persist. I’ll read some of it until it starts getting fuzzy. Then I’ll switch to another task or even walk away from the computer and perform some domestic chore. Then I’ll come back and reread and push ahead. I’ve been reading this chapter on firewalls off and on all morning. But for once, I think I’m getting it.
I do know from experience that this is the way it has been with computer technology stuff, particularly in Linux. If you are pretty sure you need it, and it doesn’t come easy, don’t get discouraged. Be patient with your own human weakness. You might need to do some research to find good teaching material, or at least tutorials that work for you, but most of it is within reach. Trust in the Lord and press ahead.