When All Else Fails – The Garmin InReach Mini 2 – Part 3: Pricing and Message Handling

Outgoing Message Indication

In this part, I’d like to muse a bit on Garmin’s pricing of the InReach service for my use-case and the general procedure of sending and receiving messages. While Garmin’s main application for InReach is outdoor communication and tracking in the wilderness, my use-case is to be able to communicate with far away family members when terrestrial networks fail, e.g. during a larger scale power outage. In practice, that means I want to be able to communicate between two InReach devices, or, if terrestrial networks still work at one side, I’d like to communicate between one InReach device and a mobile phone via SMS or email on the other side. In other words, I’m not interested in 2 minute periodic location information being sent or emergency center communication. However, getting the GPS coordinates from which a message is sent is a nice bonus.

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When All Else Fails – The Garmin InReach Mini 2 – Part 2: Activation

Let’s get back to the Garmin InReach Mini 2. In part 1, I’ve given a general overview of how satellite messaging services works with the device in general. In this part, I’ll have a closer look at how to get started and how long it takes to activate a device.

Once you have the device in your hand and Internet connectivity is available, it can be activated in just a few minutes and the device can then be used immediately. To work, the device needs to be tied to a subscription. Garmin has several types of subscriptions. The cheapest yearly subscription includes unlimited preset messages and 10 outgoing or incoming self composed messages with up to 160 characters and costs around 15 euros per month. In addition there’s a 30 to 40 euro initial activation charge. More about that in a follow-up post.

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When All Else Fails: The Garmin InReach Mini 2 – Part 1

The times are getting stranger and stranger. Only a few years ago, I didn’t worry too much about scenarios which would prevent me from communicating with members of the household while any of us were traveling. But the world has changed massively in the past few years, and at least from a European point of view, I can no longer ignore scenarios of prolonged power and network outages. Whether that’s likely or not is hard to say but I can’t just shrug it off anymore. So I was looking for a way how I could keep in touch ‘when all else fails’.

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Activating Comments Again

Earlier this year, I had to deactivate comments on this site, as there was just too much spam coming in and it became a daily pain to remove it. I hoped that this would only be a temporary measure, because even though there is relatively little feedback, I still value it very highly. However, when I switched comments back on some time ago, the avalanche simply resumed. So I disabled comments again and started to look for solutions. What I wanted to have is an anti-spam system that didn’t require external help. But I couldn’t come up with something that would fit the bill. So I decided to give Akistmet a try, an anti-spam tool from the creators of WordPress. It’s not a third party plugin but it does require data exchange with their servers. So I’m not entirely happy, but let’s see how that goes.

Venice Network Notes – Viva La Fibre!

From Vienna, I moved on to Venice and since I stayed for some days, I could also take some time to have a closer look at how the 4G/5G networks perform in this city. Venice is obviously quite a special place and the first thing I noticed from a network point of view is that there are very very few cellular antennas visible in the city. Cellmapper shows the locations of the cell sites it knows and from their distance one could assume that things should work quite well. But the reality on site was a rather mixed experience.

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Changing IPv6 Backhaul While Tethering

Recently, I’ve been traveling with a Dual-SIM smartphone, which I also use for Wi-Fi tethering my notebook. I can use both SIM cards from different network operators for Internet connectivity and can switch back and forth while Wi-Fi tethering remains active. This is particularly useful while roaming, as the SIM cards are usually connected to different local networks in the roaming country (VPLMNs in 3GPP parlance). If the signal of one network is weak at one location, there’s a good chance the other is better, so no manual network reselection is required. Both home network operators support IPv6, so I was wondering how the smartphone manufacturer has implemented the notification to the notebook that the IPv6 prefix and the IPv6 DNS server address have changed when I switch between the SIM cards!?

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Bind9 DNS: Follow the IPv6 Filter

Yes, I’m an IPv6 fan and I strive to reach a good balance between running my self-hosted services on an IPv4 / IPv6 dual-stack and simplicity of configuration and maintenance. One service that had some issues in the past with IPv6 was OpenVPN. Perhaps things have gotten better but when I first installed the service many years ago, getting IPv6 through the tunnel just didn’t work. So I have an IPv4-only OpenVPN server at home and I have to make sure there is no IPv6 ‘leakage’ outside the tunnel if the local connectivity offers IPv6.

The answer to the problem was to install the bind9 DNS server and send configuration information to client devices during the VPN tunnel establishment to only use this DNS server. To prevent IPv6 leakage, I configured that DNS server to send empty responses to AAAA DNS requests. The fun part: This seems to be an ‘unloved’ feature in bind9 and so the way this is configured has changed every time I made an Ubuntu OS upgrade. So here’s how to configure bind9 to send empty answers to IPv6 AAAA requests:

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This Weekend: The Vintage Computing Festival Berlin 2022

It’s the time of the year again before autumn sets full sail for another Vintage Computing Festival in Berlin. It’s taking place this weekend (8 + 9. Oct. 2022) and should you just happen to be in Berlin and interested in the topic, come by and enjoy!

I’ve been part of the ‘orga team’ for a few years know and I’m very happy that this year around, we’ve moved from a virtual event back into the real world! There’s both tons of exhibitions and talks again. While you obviously have to come on site to see the exhibits, the talks are streamed live on media.ccc.de, starting at 10:15 am today (Saturday) and Sunday. Note: Most talks are in German, and you can find an overview of the talks here.

Should you come by and want to have a chat, just ask where I am at the information desk at the entrance.

Vienna Network Notes

Recently, I’ve spent a week on vacation in Vienna, and I used a bit of that time while walking around and spending time in cafés to have a look at the performance of the LTE and 5G networks in the city. With the EU’s ‘roam like at home’ rules, I didn’t need a local SIM card for this, and as long as the backhaul between the visited network (in Austria) and the home network (in Germany) is properly dimensioned and configured. In effect, this home network detour only adds a few milliseconds of delay. And indeed, while I was in Vienna, I could easily exceed 1 Gbit/s downlink throughput. So while it is good to see that such high speeds are achievable even while roaming, it’s availability and capacity that are the main differentiators these days from my point of view.

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