My thoughts on nicotine product use, and how we can help those hooked on dangerous ones

I've recently taken a deep dive into researching various nicotine products, primarily vaping, since it seems to be quite popular in today's world, and look at how it stacks up to something like regular cigarettes, chewing tobacco, and other nicotine products.

Regulatory bodies around the world seem to be pretty stuck when it comes to figuring out how to move forward in regulating vape products, such as the FDA and it's slowness to act in creating meaningful regulations surrounding this ever growing industry.

Many people have different ideas for what meaningful regulations would look like for the vaping industry. Some would like to see these products outright banned completely, whilst still leaving tobacco nicotine products on the market, which makes no sense as these tend to be more harmful and carcinogenic. And some people would like to leave the industry as it is, with little to no regulation.

My stance on vaping is that, if you are not currently addicted to smoking cigarettes, chewing tobacco, or any other harmful form of nicotine intake, that you should not even think about touching vaping. Nicotine addiction is NOT fun, and is known to be one of the most addictive substances known to humankind due to the amount of dopamine that it can trigger to be released in your brain.

It also narrows your veins, forcing your heart to pump faster and harder to compensate for the smaller space in which blood can travel through, irritates your lungs, and puts you at an increased risk of cardiovascular issues, just to name a few. So, for these reasons, the best thing anyone that isn't already addicted to nicotine can do is to avoid these products at all costs, completely.

So called "nicotine-free" vape liquids are not safe either, as those have also been found to sometimes be outright lies, containing nicotine anyways despite the claims, and have been found to contain carcinogens and heavy metals, such as nickel and iron (sometimes due to it leaking in from the atomizers inside the vape devices, or it is already present in the liquid prior to heating).

So, with all of that in mind, what do we do about the current state of nicotine product consumption, and the ever growing teen vaping epidemic? For those teens already hooked on products like this, I think it's game over because of how impulsive teens are, and how easy it is to hijack young minds with substances such as these.

We can however, learn from these teens mistakes, and learn how they were influenced to start vaping in the first place. Here in the United States, there are no regulations on advertising vaping products, so companies are free to advertise through channels like TV adverts, social media ads, billboards, etc. This alone is a huge factor in influencing the youth to start vaping, and if we can get some solid regulations restricting vaping product advertisements, in the same way that we do traditional tobacco cigarettes, I think that would be a huge win.

In addition to advertising regulations, we need to regulate what can be used as ingredients to create these vaping liquids, as many popular ones on the market have been found to contain various carcinogens, vitamins such as vitamin E acetate, which is known to cause pneumonia like symptoms, and create microscopic cuts in your lungs when inhaled, and diacetyl, which causes a condition known as popcorn lung when inhaled, and causes COPD-like symptoms. If we can make it mandatory for vaping products to be FDA approved to be legally sold on the market, and can get vaping manufacturers involved in a screening pipeline, we can work towards creating safer, less harmful vaping products for people to use. This is the most important lacking part of regulation that we desperately need in my opinion.

We also need to stop glamorizing vaping/smoking in popular movies and shows, because statistics show that in the most popular entertainment watched by teens, smoking/vaping is often times normalized, or made to look like a cool thing, and if we want to stop another generation from getting addicted to nicotine, we need to stop with that as well.

Now with my youth ramble out of the way, what is my stance on using vaping to get off cigarettes? If you are addicted to cigarettes, in an ideal world, you would just drop it and never touch another nicotine product again. But, this isn't an ideal world, is it? So in this not-so-ideal world, I think vaping is the next best thing you can do. It isn't safe, but it is miles safer than cigarettes, and by using vapes as opposed to cigarettes, while they do carry some risks, the amount of garbage you are breathing in is significantly less than traditional combusted cigarette smoke.

I see vapes as a great harm reduction tool for people who already smoke, and I think it has the potential to save countless lives, despite it's issues in it's current state. I don't think we should be demonizing a tool such as vaping for existing smokers, when it has this potential, and we should instead work towards creating regulations that foster a safer, healthier vaping industry, whilst also reducing it's appeal to minors who are not addicted to nicotine, and should never be.



IPv6 ACLs on MikroTik RouterOS

So, I got a CRS326-24G-2S+RM MikroTik switch in January to replace my aging Cisco SG300-52 switch that was more than a decade old, and I quickly learned how to do a lot with it, and got things set up the way I liked.

Everything, except IPv6. IPv6 is basically treated like a second class citizen on RouterOS, and it's kind of disappointing to say the least. Despite that, you can enable it via a package, and get it working more or less the way you would expect, despite the lack of documentation on IPv6 in RouterOS.

My biggest issue with it however, was the fact that when I would add an IPv6 ACL to the rule list on the switch, it would completely lock up, and halt all traffic regardless of protocol. This left me quite confused, and after trying to solve it myself for two months, I decided to ask for help on Reddit (see this thread)

The fix ended up being simple. I just had to add mac-protocol="ipv6" to the ACL rule so that the switch would know to specifically target IPv6 traffic only (not sure why it didn't just do that without that argument, but yeah). Nowhere on the MikroTik RouterOS help page for ACLs does it mention that you must add this if you want IPv6 ACLs to work properly, which is incredibly stupid.

Anyway, just wanted to put this post out there for anyone scouring the internet for answers as to why their IPv6 ACLs won't work on RouterOS. Thanks to Reddit user u/krisdb2009 for helping me out on the Reddit thread I linked to above.

Edit (Unix Timestamp 1709851301):

After taking a closer look at the help page for ACLs, it does mention that the use of mac-protocol is recommended if filtering IP packets, but doesn't say that it is required, so there's that I guess. I just expected it to work the same as the IPv4 ACLs, since those worked fine without defining mac-protocol, but I was wrong.



I'm done with Microsoft Windows as my operating system

You may be reading the title of this blog post, and may remember what I wrote in a blog post about how I was going to run Windows because I just didn't care.

Well, I changed my mind. For good reason too. I absolutely HATE how bloated Windows is out of the box. A multitude of garbage Microsoft Store apps that no one asked for. Solitaire collection? Xbox Game Pass? The version of outlook? Tiktok? No thank you. I absolutely hate having all of this garbage preinstalled on what is supposed to be a fresh install of Windows. It is a shame that the first thing I do on any install of windows is run a debloat tool. That just shows you how screwed Windows has become in the past eight years, maybe even more if you count the disaster that was Windows 8.

Plus, there are also all of these extra garbage processes running in the background consuming my CPU power, and leave me at about 150 processes on a cold boot. Onedrive? I don't even use the damn thing. Work or School Account? I'm not even signed in with a Microsoft account, so why the hell are you running? Antimalware Service Executable? Stop running all the damn time and consuming my power.

Even after setting a lot of background services to manual, which only starts them if needed by another program, the performance on Windows is still horrendous. Tasks as simple as opening up LibreOffice Writer take 10 seconds, that's right, 10 freaking seconds. Meanwhile, on my Arch Linux install, it only takes a second at most. Even opening up PowerShell takes 5-8 seconds. It's absolutely ridiculous.

Sure, my hardware may be on the "older" side (ThinkPad T460 from 2016), but it's still got plenty of punch left in it, and Windows decides to be an absolute fool with resource management.

So yeah, I went back to my beloved Unix system. I went with the Linux distribution Arch Linux again, and it's nice and functional, with none of the bullshit. I love the "everything is a file", and "do one thing and do it right" philosophy of Unix too much. I can't ever leave it for too long, I just end up coming right back to it because it's so good. If anyone wants me to stop using Unix as my operating system of choice, they will have to pry my computer away from my cold dead hands before I allow that.



FreeBSD Power: Moving my reverse proxy to FreeBSD

So, today I decided to move my reverse proxy over from a Debian GNU/Linux VM over to a FreeBSD VM.

I don't really have much of a reason for it, other than trying to learn more about working with the BSDs, which I've been trying to do for a little while now.

It was really easy, and I only had a slight learning curve with getting things working on FreeBSD, which were really just small things like directories being in different places than I am used to. But overall, it is a familiar experience for me, and not much is different about FreeBSD, since it is a Unix system, and I am quite familiar with Unix and Unix-like systems. No one should notice any differences in page response times, since it's really just a minor under the hood change.

If anything starts acting weird that wasn't acting weird before, feel free to email me at primrose[at]primrose[dot]cafe.



Moving my VLANs over to a layer 3 switch

Earlier this week, I moved my VLANs off of my firewall, which had been handling them since I first set this network up, over to my Cisco SG300-52 switch, operating in layer 3 mode which I got earlier this year.

The process to get my VLANs moved over was not too difficult. Just to be sure of what I was doing, I set up some test VLANs on the switch beforehand just to play around with the layer 3 VLANs, and get a better understanding of how to set this up.

I spent the weekend doing this, and slowly throughout this week, I moved over my VLANs from my firewall to the switch, and I just moved the last one over on Wednesday.

You might be wondering why I would move my VLANs to my switch, instead of keeping them on my firewall, and my reasoning for this is because I wanted to achieve wirespeed transfers between my VLANs, because I do a lot of inter-VLAN communication.

The firewall was a bit of a bottleneck when it came to this communication, and I noticed that when the network was under load, I got around 80-90 megs a second between VLANs, which is still pretty good, but not wirespeed. This is because the firewall is not designed to handle VLANs, but rather route traffic in and out from the internet.

The switch on the other hand, has a specially designed switch chip which is designed for fast switching between VLANs on it, so if I wanted wirespeed transfers between VLANs, this was the way to go.

After I moved all my VLANs to my switch, I got a stable 110 megs a second to my NAS no matter what, so i'd call this a success.

The only downside to this in my opinion is the fact that I had to move away from stateful firewall rules between VLANs, and had to water down a lot of my rules for them to work out in an access control list on the switch. But, security between VLANs is still good enough, so I think I'll survive.

The Cisco SG300 series of switches can't do IPv6 routing unfortunately, so I had to drop IPv6 connectivity to make this happen, but I am planning to replace it with a Mikrotik switch that can, so you'll hear about that in about two months.