Archive for the 'sysadmin' Category

AggieCampusology.com fixed

So… from May of this year until just now, AggieCampusology was broken. I don’t know exactly how/why it broke, and clearly, I just didn’t have time to dig in until now… all I could figure out is that the cache was somehow corrupt. Glad I found the debug commands in the wp-config file. Need to remember to check there first next time 😉

Sorry about that.

70 Things Every Computer Geek Should Know.

Reposted from http://www.aagneyam.com/blog/?p=466 which never seems to have enough bandwidth:

The term ‘geek’, once used to label a circus freak, has morphed in meaning over the years. What was once an unusual profession transferred into a word indicating social awkwardness. As time has gone on, the word has yet again morphed to indicate a new type of individual: someone who is obsessive over one (or more) particular subjects, whether it be science, photography, electronics, computers, media, or any other field. A geek is one who isn’t satisfied knowing only the surface facts, but instead has a visceral desire to learn everything possible about a particular subject.

A techie geek is usually one who knows a little about everything, and is thus the person family and friends turn to whenever they have a question. If you’re that type of person and are looking for a few extra skills to pick up, or if you’re a newbie aiming to get a handhold on the honor that is geekhood, read on to find out what skills you need to know.

1. The Meaning of Technical Acronyms

  • USB – Universal Serial Bus
  • GPU – Graphics Processing Unit
  • CPU – Central Processing Unit
  • SATA – Serial ATA
  • HTML – Hyper-text Markup Language
  • HTTP – Hypertext Transfer Protocol
  • FTP – File Transfer Protocol
  • P2P – peer to peer
  • 2. How to Reset RAM

    If you rolled your eyes here, that is a good thing. If not, you have many things to learn, young padawan. It’s amazing how few people know how to do this. If you’re unsure, hit up the link below to find out how:

    **[Need more study on it]

    http://www.yousaytoo.com/sudjarwo/how-to-reset-ram-in-a-computer/29133

    3. Identify Keyloggers

    Internet cafes are the most likely place you’ll find them, followed by library, perhaps, and maybe even you own house if you’ve some unscrupulous friends/family. Identity theft groups warn about keyloggers and advocate checking out the keyboard yourself before continuing. Can you identify a keylogger, however, if one is plugged into the back of the system?

    Here’s what one looks like:

    Hit up this link for excellent info on keyloggers on public computers and how to protect yourself:

    , http://www.ghacks.net/2007/06/28/how-to-defeat-most-keyloggers-on-public-computers/

    4. Surf the Web Anonymously

    We won’t make any assumptions about why you may need this particular skill, but the fact remains that every geek should know how to traverse the Internet with the highest amount of security possible.

    Aside from the safest method–which is using a connection that is not yours–you will need the ultimate in proxies…Tor. Tor is an onion-routing system which makes it ‘impossible’ for someone to find out who you actually are.

    5. Bypass a Computer Password on All Major Operating Systems

    Obviously you shouldn’t use this to gain unlawful access to a computer. If you’re a geek, however, you’ll eventually end up in a situation where someone forgets their password, you acquire a machine with an operating system you cannot access, or similar situation.

    See this tutorial for info on how to bypass the password on the three major operating systems: Windows, Mac, and Linux.

    http://www.joetech.com/2009/01/29/how-to-crack-the-account-password-on-any-operating-system/

    6. Find a Users IP Address on AIM

    Knowing someones IP address is actually pretty useless in this case, but most people don’t realize that. If someone is harassing you via AIM and you can’t get them to stop, discovering their IP and sending it to them–with a nicely worded threat of law enforcement involvement should they not stop–is likely enough to send them scamping away with tail between legs.

    http://www.elitehackers.info/forums/archive/index.php/t-2827.html

    7. Hide a File Behind a JPEG

    So you need a nice spot to hide your blackmail personal files. You could, of course, bury them deeply within a series of random, useless folders, but there’s always the chance of them being discovered. A password protected RAR is the best choice, but it’s a bit obvious despite the most boring title you could give it.

    A sneaky person would hide the important file behind a completely random and boring family reunion photo, where no person in their right mind would shift through.

    http://www.online-tech-tips.com/computer-tips/hide-file-in-picture/

    8. Crack a Wifi Password

    This is one of those things you don’t need to do (hopefully), but that you still need to know just for the sake of knowledge. A strong WPA password is very secure, but most people don’t want to bother learning a convoluted series of letters, numbers, and symbols, instead opting for random everyday words.

    A good overall tutorial on wifi and cracking can be found here: http://docs.lucidinteractive.ca/index.php/Cracking_WEP_and_WPA_Wireless_Networks

    9. Monitor Network Traffic

    The Internet is a vast place with a bit of everything. Whether you’re curious about what your roommate is downloading, your kid is getting into, or any leeches living around you who’ve unscrupulously breached your wifi, knowing how to analyze network traffic is an invaluable skill.

    Here is a list of dozens of network analyzers, as well as some general info to get you started: http://www.slac.stanford.edu/xorg/nmtf/nmtf-tools.html

    10. Recover Master Boot Record

    A virus or other problem can lead to an MBR error, which will make it impossible to access install. Many users would simply become frustrated and reinstall, but not you! Every geek should know how to recover the master book record.

    Here is an excellent guide to get started: http://www.ntfs.com/mbr-damaged.htm

    11. Retrieve Data off Hard Drive

    There will come some point in your life when a hard drive craps out sans warning. It could be due to a number of reasons–physical damage, file corruption, etc. There are computer service centers that would be happy to extract the data for a (hefty) fee; a true geek would be the one working at center, not taking his or her drive there.

    To find out how to retrieve data off a damaged hard drive, read here: http://laptoplogic.com/resources/5-ways-to-retrieve-data-off-a-crashed-hard-drive

    12. Load Rockbox onto an MP3 Player

    The firmware that comes on your average mp3 player is intended for those who are scared of advanced features; often, the only audio settings available are a few prearranged EQs. If you’re an audiophile–or simply frustrated with the lack of control over your music settings–Rockbox is the firmware for you. Open source and free, it can be installed on several different types of players and enables full control over what you listen to.

    http://rockbox.org

    13. Unbrick a Smartphone

    No geek can resist the allure of flashing the newest beta firmware onto their shiny smartphone. The byproduct of that is sometimes a bricked phone, which would leave many sobbing into their pillow at night. To avoid rendering your $400 gadget into a door stopper, learn the fine art of unbricking and then flash away.

    As the method used to fix a phone will vary, this is the best place to start looking for answers: http://www.howardforums.com/

    14. Replace a Laptop Keyboard

    Keyboards get gummy after awhile. If you use yours a lot (aka: all day), then you probably eat over it at some point. Crumbs get into the keys and things are sticking, and before you know it, you need a new keyboard.

    http://www.refurbished-laptop-guide.com/how-to-remove-a-laptop-keyboard.html

    15. Rip Streaming Videos

    Streaming videos are officially in vogue. We’re not going to make any assumptions about what type of videos you are streaming and may want to keep, but no matter what it is, any geek could rip them while sipping a Red Bull and watching the latest episode of BSG.

    Here’s a hint to get you started: http://applian.com/download-videos/

    16. Strip Windows DRM

    DRM is incredibly annoying. With many online stores now offering DRM-free mp3 audio files, it would seem it’s not as big of an issue as it used to be. That is not not the case, however, with all videos bearing a DRM as well as music of a higher-quality than MP3.

    Stripping Windows DRM is not legal. If you’re a geek, your probably don’t care: http://undrm.info/remove-DRM-protection/FairUse4WM-freeware-DRM-removal-Windows-software-Strip-copy-protection-from-WMV-ASF-WMA-Windows-Media-Player.htm

    17. Homebrew Hack Game Systems

    Gaming consoles are notorious for having features you can’t use simply because the manufacturer decided to lock them down. As a geek, you can’t just be satisfied with the features they decided to give you. No, you have to crack that case open and take a peek inside. Every geek should know how to homebrew hack their system and unlock it’s full potential.

    18. Find a Website IP Address Without Web/Command Prompt Access

    Some school admins think they’re being sneaky when they lock down the command prompt and block all major IP search websites and block all the websites you actually want to visit. Of course, that is child’s play for any geek.

    First, to get a new command prompt, open Notepad and type: command.com. Then, save as “cmd.bat”. You now have a command prompt.

    Now, open the command prompt and type “ping http://www.website.com/” to find the IP address of that website.

    Enter the website into the browser and you will officially have impressed all your friends.

    19. Bypass School or Work Website Blocks

    What is a horrific situation for an average computer user is a simple irritation for an everyday geek. To bypass a website block/filter, simply enter that websites IP address in instead of the actual site address.

    20. Screw with Wifi Leeches

    Nobody likes a wifi leech. At best, they’re simply using up your valuable bandwidth. At the worst–and far more likely, they’re stealing your identity and watching your activities. After watching your network and identifying the leech, use this trick to flip their browser upside down and let them know you don’t appreciate the intrusion.

    http://tech.nocr.at/hacking-security/baffle-wifi-leeches-with-an-upside-down-ternet-2/

    21. Hexadecimal and Binary Number Systems

    Everyone knows the normal, everyday digit system used. It takes a special–possibly psychotic person–to also know hexadecimal and binary number systems.

    Here is an excellent interactive tutorial on learning the two systems: http://www.wisc-online.com/objects/index_tj.asp?objID=DIG1102

    22. How to Hot Wire a Car

    If your family always turns to you any time their computer hiccups, their DVD player needs fixed, or their home security system doesn’t activate, it’s only a matter of time before someone asks you how to hot wire a car. Wouldn’t it be great to be able to answer them?

    To learn this unique skill, read here: http://howto.wired.com/wiki/Hot_Wire_Your_Car

    23. Increase Wifi Range

    With so many small portable gadgets gaining more and more sophisticated web browsers, in addition to gaming systems like the PSP and DS, getting the most use out of your wifi is practically a geek necessity.

    Here is a good guide on extending your wifi’s range: http://www.mavromatic.com/archives/000451

    24. Carrying a Computer Cleaning Arsenal on Your USB Drive

    A good geek prepares for their friends stupidity. No matter how many times you tell them to stop downloading porn, they keep doing it until their machine is so infected it can’t drag itself into a grave. An arsenal of portable malware cleaners, a portable task manager, anti-virus, etc, will make those impromptu purging sessions all the easier.

    25. Running an Operating System from a USB Thumb Drive

    Most people don’t even understand what the magical operating system is. As a geek, you should transcend that basic knowledge and have a small operating system on your thumb drive handy for those times you need computer access but don’t know the password to a nearby computer.

    http://www.pendrivelinux.com/

    26. Understand What “There’s no Place Like 127.0.0.1″ Means

    A lot of geeks wear this shirt as a short hand code for their computer finesse–or maybe just to screw with other people who stare but cannot figure out what it means. No matter the reason, if you’d like an answer, check out the link below.

    http://www.tech-faq.com/127.0.0.1.shtml

    27. Read 1337 At Normal Speed

    Sure, everyone knows about it and it’s no longer cool, but if you’re going to proclaim yourself as a geek, you should be able to read it full speed. Who wants to choke in front of the wannabe that learned to read it full speed and flaunts it in your face?

    http://www.wikihow.com/Read-and-Write-in-1337

    28. At Least One Fictional Language

    And not only should you know a fictional language, but you should use it to say something about yourself. Do you choose Klingon or Quenya?

    Here’s a list of constructed languages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_constructed_languages

    29. How to Survive in a Linux Argument

    Linux is gaining an all around higher standing in the geeksphere, and it’s bound to enter a conversation at some point (which will invariably end up turning into an argument). If you want to keep up, you’ll need to understand the basic points of Linux, as well as the general info of all basic things.

    Here’s a good place to read and gain a foothold: http://www.linux.com/articles/feature/

    30. Identify Major Constellations

    For those times you venture from the air-conditioned, computer filled basement of your parents house (or something like that), look up at the stars and have yourself a Galileo moment. The stars may just be dots to many people, but with the handy website below, you’ll be stopping man-belts and lions in no time.

    http://www.sky-watch.com/astronomy-guide/major-constellations.html

    31. Use a Camera in Manual Mode

    Sure, you could just use auto mode like everyone else too afraid to learn what some letters and numbers mean, but then you wouldn’t be much of a geek, would you? The oft-ignored dial on a camera is the key that unleashes the best quality photos possible, and every geek should be a whiz at using one.

    http://digital-photography-school.com/digital-camera-modes

    32. Who Mulder and Scully Are

    It seems that in the plethora of geek websites, there always appears a joke about Mulder and Scully, the two main characters from the X-Files. If you don’t know who they are, you’ll be left in the dark, alone, contemplating what exactly it was you were doing in the 90′s that you wouldn’t understand the joke.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mulder_and_Scully_(song)

    33. Javascript

    HTML is running the world (not really). Everyone knows some HTML and it makes them feel empowered. As a geek, you want to transcend that basic knowledge others share and know a little more. JavaScript is the answer–it is easy to learn if you’re not actually interested in web programming, but simply curious, and it looks scary to anyone who doesn’t know it.

    http://www.yourhtmlsource.com/javascript/basicjavascript.html

    34. How to Unlock an iPhone

    Sure, most geeks wouldn’t be caught dead with an iPhone, but what about your friends? You’re the smart techie, they’ll expect your to know how to unlock it.

    http://www.pcworld.com/article/137223/how_to_unlock_an_iphone.html

    35. How to Install Mac OS X on a PC

    Just because you don’t want Mac on your PC doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know how to do it. Knowledge is power, right? Go ahead, use this to stump your friends and family.

    http://dailyapps.net/2007/10/hack-attack-install-leopard-on-your-pc-in-3-easy-steps/

    36. Build a PC

    If you purchase a ready-made PC, you can be sure of one thing–you’re paying more than you should. Assembling your own PC isn’t too hard, and is the first thing you should be aiming to accomplish as a geek.

    Here is a massive article on assembling your own PC: http://www.pcmech.com/byopc/

    37. Tethering a Smartphone

    Nothing like a little wifi on the move, eh? Tethering a smartphone means using the Internet on your laptop/netbook via your cell phone. Of course, the method to do this depends on your phone, but here’s an article to get your started:

    http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/2276/smartphones_bb_treo_tether_modem_usa_carriers/

    38. Wiring a Home Theater System

    Home theater systems used to consist of a TV and a chair. Gone are those days of simplicity, however, and setting up a modern system can be pure mind-boggling horror. Where does the modulator go, why does the DVD player have no video and the cable box no sound?

    Here’s a tutorial, including excellent diagrams, to show you how: http://www.prillaman.net/ht_info_8-wiring.html

    39. Replacing a Laptop LCD

    Laptop LCDs are vulnerable to many different mishaps: accidental pressure spots, shadows, airsoft pellets…. No matter, there will come a point when you need to swap your LCD for a new one. Now, as a geek, you probably don’t have an extended warranty. If that’s the case, here are some excellent pages and pictures on replacing the display:

    http://www.fonerbooks.com/laptop_4.htm

    40. Make a Laptop Cooling Pad

    Can you believe these cost $50?! A geek will need one, because data crunching/DVD ripping/videos playing/rendering at the same times tends to cause excess heat. Instead of shelling out your hard earned dollars, make your own like so: http://www.instructables.com/id/Lazy-mans-laptop-cooler/

    41. Unleash a Laser Pointer’s full potential

    A normal person uses a laser pointer to drive their dog crazy. A geek uses it to melt butter for their grilled cheese sandwich. To unless a laser pointer’s full strength, crack open the case, fry the resistor with a hot soldering iron, then snap it back together and keep it away from flesh/eyes/airplanes. The pointer will burn out after a few hours, but what a fun few hours they will be.

    Note: this is dangerous. Don’t do anything stupid.

    42. Keyboard Shortcuts

    This will depend on your operating system and the apps you use, so there’s no tutorial available. However, that is irrelevant–you’re a geek, you can find them yourself. Shortcuts are the difference between a slow computer user and a geek. The geek will always will out in a speed contest, because they do practically everything from their keyboard.

    43. Soldering Glasses Together

    Nerds use tape on broken glasses; geeks use solder. ‘Nuff said.

    44. How to Execute a Shell Script

    If you’re a true geek, you’ll need to do this at some point. Below are instructions on how to do so. Remember: always be cautious when running a script, you don’t want your computer to turn into a door stop, now do ya?

    http://www.mcsr.olemiss.edu/unixhelp/scrpt/scrpt1.2.html

    45. How to Hack a Pop Machine

    Okay, so stealing isn’t cool. Still, hacking is simply a misunderstood art, right? So hacking a pop machine isn’t really stealing, because it’s not about the pop, it about the pleasure of getting your way. Or something like that. (Newsflash, it is illegal, don’t do it.) If you want to try your fingers at getting a free Coke, check out this link:

    http://skattertech.com/soda-machine-hack/

    46. Turn a Laptop into a Digital Picture Frame

    So you want to show off pictures of your dog and that girl you once met, but you want to do it in an uber geeky way. Any schmuck can go to Walmart and buy a digital picture frame for a grossly inflated price. But you…oh, you’re too smart for that. No, instead you’ll find an old laptop on eBay for $5 and turn it into a true work of art.

    http://repair4laptop.org/notebook_picture_frame.html

    47. How to Mod a Flash Drive Case

    All the geeks are doing it…. Whatever. The case your flash drive came in is probably weak and most certainly plain. Why not jazz it up with your own unique style?

    Here’s one such case mod, and dozens of related projects: http://www.instructables.com/id/Metal-USB—Flash-drive-case-mod/

    48. Do Cool Things to Altoids Tins

    People are obsessed with these things. Altoids tins are durable, small, and just begging to be filled with LEDs, mp3 players, audio amps, and maybe some snuff. A good geek will find millions of uses for these little metal wonders. If you need a mental boost, however, here’s some interesting links:

    http://www.squidoo.com/altoids-tins

    49. Convert Cassette Tapes to Digital Audio Files

    If your geekhood started in the 90′s, then you probably have a least a few (dozen) cassette tapes still sitting around. Why not breathe digital life into them before they fall ill to mortal fate?

    http://lifehacker.com/software/mp3/alpha-geek-how-to-digitize-cassette-tapes-222394.php

    50. Lock Your Computer with a USB Drive

    You don’t want anyone getting into your files while you’re gone. A normal password would be enough to keep most people out, but what if you got super-secret X files on your computer? You can lock your machine down with a USB drive via these instructions:

    http://lionjkt.wordpress.com/2008/12/31/how-to-lock-your-computer-with-usb-drive/

    51. Run Your Own Ethernet Line

    Wifi has taken the place of a wired connection in many homes, and with good reasons–you can go anywhere, no cables necessary. What about those…sensitive…activities that you’d rather the neighborhood script kiddie didn’t see on your wifi? An Ethernet cable is your solution.

    To wire your own Ethernet, hit up this link: http://www.ertyu.org/steven_nikkel/ethernetcables.html

    52. Set Up a Streaming Media Server

    With digital files becoming the ultimate medium, many people have hundreds of gigabytes worth of music, videos, and pictures. You could keep them on a portable hard drive, but then you’re have to take it everywhere, and only one person could use it at a time. The solution is a streaming media server, something no geek can live without.

    http://www.n00tz.net/2008/07/vlc-media-server-ubuntu-hardy/

    53. Setting up a VPN

    If you’re like most geeks, you can’t live without your computers. They store your life in some poetic fashion, holding files you feel a personal connection with…. Anyway, if you are at work and suddenly realize you left an important picture at home (or you need blackmail material pronto), having a VPN ready to go will save you big time.

    http://www.computernetworkinghelp.com/content/view/41/1/

    54. Turn Webcams into Security Cameras

    Is someone stealing your Netflix DVDs? Do you suspect it is a fat hairy man in his boxers taking them each morning? If so, you can get your proof using a couple webcams and a bit of software.

    http://www.simplehelp.net/2006/09/27/how-to-use-your-pc-and-webcam-as-a-motion-detecting-and-recording-security-camera/

    55. Control Your House Lights with a Computer

    Controlling the lights in your house via computer is a great way to freak out the neighborhood kids ding-dong-ditching (assuming you wire up a Halloween scream motion sensor, also). If you reasons are less nefarious, you simply use it to turn on and off lights without having to life ye butt from thy seat, which is a good reason in itself.

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Control-lights-in-your-house-with-your-computer/

    56. Play Retro Games without Retro Consoles

    This applies to the geeks who enjoy gaming. Setting up an emulation PC on your TV is a great way to relive those games of old.

    57. Put LEDs Inside a Lightbulb

    The days of hot incandescent and mercury-laden fluorescent are gone, and in are the days of long lasting, low heat, low consumption LEDs. As any good geek, you want to be able to say “I was doing X long before it became mainstream.” Here’s your chance–the following link will show you how to put an LED inside a lightbulb, something sure to stump your friends the same way Grandpa’s ship-in-a-wine-bottle used to stump you.

    http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2006/06/make_a_led_bulb.html

    58. Create Music with Keyboard

    How awesome is KeyBored? This little app gives all of your QWERTY keys a piano note. When you type, it sounds like an infant monkey punching a keyboard. If you’ve got some musical chops, it won’t take you long to figure out the Star Wars theme or find a hidden musical message in Counter Strike control buttons.

    http://agdoa.net/ [edit:link updated]

    59. Make Your Office Ergonomic

    Face it–you spend a lot of time at your desk. You might even have a few extra pounds and pallid skin to show for it. While those things are temporary, far to common and more serious is the carpal tunnel, eye strain, and back problems you’ll develop from having a poor workspace.

    Hit up this link to create a body-friendly workspace that will keep you limber and flexible: http://www.ergotron.com/tabid/305/language/en-US/default.aspx

    60. Adding a Third Monitor

    Studies show that dual monitor increase work productivity by 30%. As a geek, you’ll need a third monitor to equal the dual setup of a layman (if that makes sense). While any hack with a VGA port can add a second monitor, it takes a true geek to add a third (or more). This will vary based on graphics/OS, so hit up Google for a tutorial or two.

    61. How to Convert a DVD to x264 (or XviD or DivX)

    It might seem like child’s play to you, but many individuals do not understand the fine art of converting a DVD into a digital file, let alone the careful skills it takes to achieve a happy balance between size and quality.

    Here is an excellent tutorial demonstrating how to rip a DVD with the multi-platform free software Handbrake: http://howto.diveintomark.org/ipod-dvd-ripping-guide/

    62. Flash System BIOS

    Ya gotta do it some time, so stop putting it off and man up. Flashing the BIOS on your laptop might seem scary (as it should–fear keeps you on your toes and prevents mistakes), but it’s not (actually, it is, but if you even understand why you need to do this, you’ve gotta have at least a few chops by now). Warning–you can seriously bork your computer doing this!

    http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1605

    63. How to Irrecoverably Protect Data

    TrueCrypt, my friends. Learn to use TrueCrypt. If you have ask why, you don’t need it.

    64. The Fastest way to Kill a Computer

    It’s said that you have to get into a killers mind to understand their weaknesses, right? Same goes for the unfortunate boobs who always kill their laptops. Here’s a list of all the different ways you can accidentally kill a computer–arm your family and friends, and save yourself grief (because it’s surely you they will call when something goes horribly, horribly wrong).

    http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1720

    65.GK for every drunken Geek

    Describing the advantages and disadvantages in various alcoholic drinks

    http://www.aagneyam.com/blog/?p=797

    66.Microsoft Network Monitor

    Microsoft Network Monitor is a network protocol analyzer that lets you capture, view, and analyze network traffic. Version 3.3 of Network Monitor is available in 32- and 64-bit versions

    67.Windows Sysinternals Suite

    The Windows Sysinternals Suite is a set of advanced tools for troubleshooting issues with Windows-based computers. These tools were originally developed by Winternals Software LP, which Microsoft acquired in 2006.

    http://download.sysinternals.com/Files/SysinternalsSuite.zip

    68.NTFS support for Mac OS.

    Mac OS X v10.3 and later include read-only support for NTFS-formatted partitions. The GPL-licensed NTFS-3G also works on Mac OS X through FUSE and allows reading and writing to NTFS partitions. A performance enhanced commercial version, called Tuxera NTFS for Mac, is also available from the NTFS-3G developers. NTFS write support has been discovered in Mac OS X 10.6, but has not been activated as of version 10.6.1, although hacks do exist to enable the functionality. However, user reports indicate the functionality is unstable and tends to cause kernel panics, probably the reason why write support has not been enabled or advertised.

    Download Tuxera NTFS for Mac 2010.9-RC

    69.15 Web Alternatives to Popular Desktop Software.

    Web applications have come a long way. They used to be amateur imitations of their desktop counterparts, with only one or two functions and not at all practical. But my, have these web apps grown. Web apps these days have become so powerful and useful that in some cases, they’ve begun to replace desktop software.

    http://web.appstorm.net/roundups/15-web-alternatives-to-popular-desktop-software/

    70.Top 6 Underground Search Engines You Never Knew About

    In many cases, these search engines are tapped into what is currently termed the “invisible web,” which is the information available on the Internet that standard search engines don’t have access to, because they are buried behind query forms or directory requests.

    http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/top-7-underground-search-engines-knew/

    Cheap Webhosting Comparisons

    A friend of mine called me the other day, and asked “where can I host a cheap website?” He knows I have 20 or 30 websites that I run personally, and another 100 or so for work, so I’m his “in the know” guy.

    I told him my personal websites were hosted at Dreamhost, but that I use one of the PS servers, due to load issues on my sites, so I wouldn’t qualify what I’m doing with Dreamhost as “cheap” even though it’s a fantastic value and that he should look at 4cheapwebhosting.com as I’ve heard that have a great list of the Best Cheap Web Hosting options available.

    They have a great list of good cheap hosts, on their front page, but the real power of their site is their search engine of cheap web hosting companies and plans. I found a few good free plans for him: some really good ones in the $5/month range, and a bunch of good options in the under $10/month range. But they don’t stop with just “cheap” web hosting plans. They also have lots of dedicated server plans in their database too, which while I wouldn’t consider “cheap” per se, I value the ability to find all of the options available to me in one place.

    I’ll definitely look at them if I ever need to find a cheap web host again.

    Why it sucks to outsource your technology sometimes

    Just a quick note for all of your Feedburner users (I’m talking to site owners here). For two days now, Feedburner has been sporadically throwing errors… not actually redirecting people to the sites they want to go to:


    Click for larger

    Sucks for the site owners, and for me. This kind of thing is why I just don’t rely on any outside party, other than my hosting company, to host anything for my sites anymore… There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking a link in my RSS reader and getting an error…

    Hoffman’s Rule

    Interesting quote:

    A common rule of thumb I tell people is to target their performance goals in application design and coding so that their infrastructure (not including people) is ≤10% of an application’s revenue.

    Does that mean if I’m spending 5% of revenues on application infrastructure, I’m way underspending, or making more money?

    Printing from a Windows XP PC to a printer attached to an Airport Extreme Base Station or Airport Express

    Printing from a Windows XP PC to a printer attached to an Airport Extreme Base Station or Airport Express – Now I can print to the Canon photo printer from my IBM thinkpad… too cool!

    (0)

    teh suck

    Unit testing is teh suck, Urr.

    (0)

    Mint

    Mint – php/mysql based analytics? gotta check this one out.

    (0)

    Dreamhost Rocks! New Sale

    I can’t say this enough. Dreamhost Rocks!

    If you’re looking for a new shared hosting plan, you really ought to check out Dreamhost.

    They just started a new sale this month:

    From: [email protected]
    Subject: [Announcement] New! All Shared Hosting Disk Space Doubled!
    Date: September 1, 2005 4:26:34 AM CDT
    To: John Engler

    Hey Happy DreamHost Disk Hogs!

    Starting Monday we began a new sale.. double (the starting) disk space on
    all shared hosting accounts. As we’ve been known to do, we’ve also
    applied this to all existing shared hosting customers as well!

    Keep in mind your overall disk quota total may not quite double, because
    of any additional weekly growth your plan may have undergone since you’ve
    signed on. BUT, we’ve also doubled the weekly growth rate on all active
    shared hosting plans to the following:

    Level 1: 40MB/week
    Level 2: 80MB/week
    Level 3: 120MB/week
    Level 4: 160MB/week

    There is no action for you to take to get this increase… everything’s
    already happened.

    I’m not going to detail all of the stuff they offer with each plan, but I’d highly encourage you to check their sale our. Their “one-click installs” of some super useful software alone make it a really great hosting package. I mean where else can you buy a hosting plan for $8 a month, and get up and running within about 15 minutes of starting your hosting plan?

    Their super easy to understand and use account control panel is also pretty damned spiffy.

    They also pay referral fees for anyone that says you referred them when they sign up (yes, if you follow these links you’ll credit me with the referral). But that’s not the only reason I’m singing their praises… my diskspace with them is going up by 200MBs/week (I have two plans with them). That’s reason enough to sing their praises. Thank you Dreamhost.

    Check ’em out and tell them I sent you ;).

    Slimstat

    Slimstat – Statistics software built using php and mysql.

    (0)

    HTTP Header Fun

    HTTP Header Fun – Ha!

    (0)

    Multiple Google AdSense ads on a page

    Anyone know how to get multiple Google ads on one page to display properly?

    update: Ok, nevermind, I figured it out. I had a problem with my PHP code that was causing more than 3 Adsense ads to be written to the page, so I fixed that, then waited a few minutes to see the code take hold… all is good now.

    Yes, I’ve added more Google Adsense ads to the pages, hopefully to drive a little more revenue.

    I used to earn around $150/month from this site, but since I moved servers and changed my url schema, that’s gone way down… like 1/3 of that or so, so in the mean-time (while Google recrawls the site I guess) I’ve added more ads to the pages… Shouldn’t affect regular readers too much, as the new ads are further down on the page, but new readers, or people coming in from search engines will have more ads presented to them… hopefully driving more revenue for me in the short-term.

    Finally Moving Servers

    I’m finally moving this site off of my dedicated server and onto the Dreamhost account… and it’s going to be an ugly move.

    This move is completely based on the idea of me saving money on my hosting (from $150/month ot $8/month thank you very mouch) bills… not on making the transition as smooth as possible. So, things will be broken for a short period of time (maybe a week) … for that I apologize.

    There are also some other things happening in the background that I love about WordPress, and will share with you all, as soon as I get everything back in order…

    70% Spam sucks

    This is ridiculous:

    70% spam this month. Sucks.

    Time to seriously consider installing a server-side spam filter.

    PHPNuke spam problems

    About a week ago, I got this email from my hosting provider (The Planet):

    We have recieved reports of spam originating from this server. Please investigate, address the issue, and update this ticket with your action(s).

    Due to the nature of this issue, failure to resolve the issue and update this ticket within 48 hours may result in service interruption for the server.

    So, I immediately emailed Apokalyptik, my trusty server admin.

    Apokalyptik quickly started poking around the server, and determined that the problem was most likely the exploit of a mail script that was accessible via apache… so, I told him that it was likely PHPnuke or MovableType, as those are really the only pieces of installed software on the box that include mail scripts. The MovableType install on this box is MT 2.64, and I’ve never seen any warnings or messages about MT being too easily hacked as a spam server, but the PHPNuke installs (englers.org and bellvillehighschool.com) on the box are pretty old (likely version 6.0 or so) and PHPNuke is known for its vulnerabiltiy to hacks.

    After a little more digging in my apache logfiles, I determined that the spammer was indeed hacking into the PHPNuke module that allows WebMail access to the server somehow, so I renamed those files, restarted Apache and QMail and sure enough, the spam is gone.

    The bad news: My box was acting like a spam-relay for a few days, maybe even a week there. Load on the machine was consistently high, and in general, the box was pretty sluggish.

    The good news: The problem is solved for now, and I’ll be migrating those PHPNuke sites to MovableType soon. And once again, Apokalyptik comes through as a savior of the server for me.

    I hate referrer spam

    These people/sites really piss me off because they’ve been spamming my referrers:

    xsonnerie.com
    riaa.com

    And… I won’t be voting for John Kerry

    blog.johnkerry.com

    Those three sites have been spamming my referrers for the past month or so

    They just got added to my referrer spam list in my referrer scripts… oh, I also don’t montior blogspot.com sites anymore thanks to the recent rash of weird blogspot.com referrer spammings that made the circle lately…

    Email Spam worse now that Can-Spam is Here

    Has anyone else noticed that now that the Can-Spam Act passed by the federal government has gone into effect, spam via email is actually worse than it was?

    This is ridiculous. In the past week I’ve received at least 4-5 times more spam than I did in a week last year…

    I’d like to install a server-side spam filtering system that’s compatible with qmail, but I don’t have the time or knowledge to actually get it installed… especially since I’ve been considering buying a Handspring Treo 600 to check my email more regularly…

    Although, I wonder if I’m getting more spam because of the social networks I’ve joined in the past couple of weeks? Hmmm… I’m going to change those email addresses now…

    Anyone want to install a server side spam filter system for me on the cheap?

    Microsoft Office 2003

    This morning, I was subjected to a rant against Microsoft Office 2003 by my wife. She hates it. I’ve never used it, so this is my recreation of her story to me.

    Setting: We’re both on the couch, about to watch some Saturday morning College Football, when a commercial for Office 2003 comes on the TV.

    She said something like:

    “You know the new Office 2003? It sucks. It sucks because when I open a new message, Outlook decides that it needs to display the fonts in like 18, or 20 point fonts, and I can’t figure out how to get it to not do that. I’ve played with the settings for at least 3 or 4 hours since our IT department installed it, and I can’t figure it out.”

    You have to realize my wife is a civil engineer, and very smart… great technical skills, and generally able to figure out on her own how to get a computer to do what she wants it to.

    Then she tells me more:

    “There’s this guy at the office that owns Macs at home, but is pretty supportive of Microsoft at the office because we use a lot of products that are Windows only, and he hates the new Office 2003. It just changed all the behaviors that we were used to. Why did Microsoft do that? Office 2003 Sucks™”

    At this point, I start laughing, because if my wife is saying this, I wonder what others are saying? I know my best friend is flirting with switching.

    She then says (totally un-prompted):

    “You know that commercial when the IT guy gets asked by the guy giving the new employees a tour of the building ‘Tell them about what your department does, but keep it short’? And the IT guy says ‘We just installed Active Directory, which will save the company a lot of money’?”

    I responded that I knew what she was referring to.

    “One of our IT guys showed us that commercial in a presentation about the ‘new network enhancements’ that they just made, trying to teach us all about the enhancements. We’d all been using the ‘enhanced network’ for a week at the time that he showed us that commercial and we just laughed. You see, the new ‘enhanced network’ is a piece of crap. We can’t check our email from outside the network reliably anymore. We can’t get to the servers in other buildings like we used to be able to. We can’t share files as easily as we used to, and Office 2003 Sucks™. Sometimes I think IT departments make upgrades to make their jobs easier, not to make the company more profitable, becasue they don’t take into account the time and effort that the profit makers will have to exert to learn and use the new technology with the efficiency that they use the old technology.”

    It’s clear that the wife’s not happy with Office 2003, and it has driven a wedge between the employees of her company and their IT department. I personally feel that change is good, but not when it’s so disturbing to the people that have to deal with it in the trenches that it disrupts their daily work. Some of this animosity by the workers that have to use the new tech could have been subdued by the IT department telling the workers about the enhancements and likely problems that might come during the ‘upgrades’ before they started rolling them out, instead of after.

    And supposedly, Microsoft cares.

    IT: Macs versus PCs and virii

    John Gruber takes issue with Microsoft, and Outlook, and the virus issues allowed by Microsoft, in his latest article “Good Times“:

    We, as a society, have decided that indoor plumbing should be held to high standards of reliability and maintenance. And somehow weve been convinced that indoor computing should not.

    And in the follow up “Dynomite!“:

    Complexity is not an excuse for low expectations. Weve strapped men into giant rockets loaded with jet fuel, propelled them into space, and landed them on the moon. That was complicated. And our expectation was that wed get them back.

    Why we dont expect our email to work is beyond me.

    In reading Gruber’s articles, I reflected on the few IT staffs I’ve had experience with in the past:

    US Army: At my level (I was a junior officer) we were completely Wintel centric, but relied very, very little on the PC. No one in our 140 man unit had email except the commander (Director level in most large organizations). Everyone else got their orders by memo, face to face meeting, or voice over the radio. Viruses never stopped our organization from running, though they did impede our operations for the first 12 hours or so until someone higher up the chain said “fuck the computers, we’ve got work to do” and we all just got back to work until the one or two IT-trained guys in the 600+ man unit got things working sufficiently again.

    MacNN: Small 3-5 man operation. No IT staff (just consultants every now and then). We all used Macs for our desktops and Linux or FreeBSD solutions for our servers. We talked to each other a lot, used email to schedule meetings, and operated pretty virtually (one person in San Fran., one in Iowa or somewhere close to Iowa, one in Texas and one in Washington State, with a few more contractors spread across the internet). We never had virus problems except for when the internet succumbed to a virus epedemic, at which point, we all took the day off anyways (ok, everyone but the owner who never really worked all that much anyways).

    Bestfares.com: Small entreprenurial company. Staff: 120 people. IT Staff: 1 Full time guy, sometimes 1.5 guys (depending on the second guys schedule). We survived with an Outlook/Exchange set-up because again, only 30 people or so in the company had email. Everyone else was a real worker. Those of us with email and calendaring got used to not having an internet connection for at least 2 days per quarter because our IT guy was really good at pulling the plug on the company internet connection if he so much as sniffed a virus coming in. That, and the company was too cheap to upgrade to a more full featured version of Exchange than version 4.x or 5.x, so that we really didn’t have all that much whiz-bang features to being with… And when email went down, I usually got to go home early, so I didn’t complain.

    Current job: Large media company. We’ve got two IT staffs: one Mac centric and one PC centric. The “CIO” is a Mac guy. Our internal servers are a mish-mash of Sun boxes, Netscape solutions, XServes, and Linux or FreeBSD solutions. Half the staff uses Netscape Mail and Calendaring. Some use Outlook on Wintel-based desktops. Some use Entrouage on Mac OS 9 or X. And a good amount never use computers in their daily work. We have in-house written spam and virus filters, and yet, our total IT staff investment is tiny… maybe 1% of the total staff in the company works in IT. It’s got a decent budget, but it’s all in hardware and software, not staff, and things work well. When Macintosh desktops break down (pretty infrequent) the Mac staff fixes them (if the operator can’t fix it first that is). When the PCs break down (pretty often) the IT staff tells the operator to reboot and see if that fixes the problem, and if that doesn’t work, they pull it off the desk, take it to a room where they ‘operate’ on the machine to diagnose the issues and then fix it, returning it to service after 24 or 48 hours… We don’t have Exchange installed, and instead use IMAP-based Netscape mail for everyone.

    That said, I use a PC at work, and hate it most of the time. Especially since I have Outlook, and not Exchange. And since not everyone uses Netscape Mail, we don’t have a common calendaring solution that we can use to invite people to email reliably… But you know what? I also find that I’m not glued to my computer as much as I used to be.

    Why MT over other blog tools?

    overheard at: via Chuq]

    Retooling the URL: The Steps

    In case you didn’t notice, I finally did a little housekeeping with my URL structure (after writing about it many, many times). Thanks in large part to a bunch of articles I’ve read recently about URLs, and an excellent conversion tutorial from Olivier Travers (which is where almost all of my tricks came from), I’m pleased to announce that my site now has a much better URL structure (in my mind), but it didn’t come without a lot of work.

    The premise was to create a cookie-crumb trail URL scheme so that anyone could read a story:

    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/2003/06/14/acuna/

    and by deleting the directory (or crawling up the directory structure), they could read all of the stories for that day:

    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/2003/06/14/

    or month:

    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/2003/06/

    or, that if they wanted to they could browse the category archives more easily:

    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/categories/leadership_management/
    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/categories/marketing_advertising/
    though I still need to build the master category page that should reside at http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/categories/

    After reading this article against file extensions on the web, I also didn’t want people to have to know that I was using PHP, though I don’t mind them knowing, so I really wanted everything to look like it was sitting in a directory (even if it’s really a file, or it’s really sitting in its own directory). It should be transparent to the user, and still Google friendly, and user friendly… so:

    Here are the steps I used to get my URLs straight, and not lose any traffic from old links, or search engines (GoogleJuice) that haven’t updated their links (stolen largely from Olivier and improved in a few places)

    1. With the individual entry path still set at <$MTEntryTitle dirify=”1″$>, replaced the individual entry template to:

    <?php
    $NewUrl = "<$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/"$><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>/";
    $NewUrl = "http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/" . $NewUrl;
    header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
    header("Location: $NewUrl");
    exit();
    ?>

    This is so that all of the old inbound links will get redirected to the proper place which will be created in a few steps.

    2. Rebuilt individual entries. (This took a bit of time, but not too long. As Olivier’s example states, at this point, old links aren’t working anymore, but we’ll fix that in a few steps)

    3. Changed the individual entry path (in MT’s archiving settings) to:
    <$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/"$><$MTEntryTitle dirify="1"$>.php

    Note: This is different than Olivier’s approach, as I didn’t want to have a whole lot of individual directories to maintain in the filesystem, but rather one directory per day in each month containing however many posts were created that day.

    Also changed the daily archive’s entry path:
    <$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/%d/index.php"$>

    the monthly archive’s path:
    <$MTArchiveDate format="%Y/%m/index.php"$>

    and the category archive’s path:
    categories/<$MTCategoryLabel dirify="1"$>.php

    4. Replaced the individual entry template with my old template.

    5. Rebuilt individual entries. (At this point, old links almost work again because the redirects set up in step 1 now point to directories much like the files created in step 5, but not quite… I’ll fix that in a minute with a mod_rewrite trick I learned… read on.)

    6. Added the following lines to my .htaccess file to redirect monthly and category archives pages which were easy to handle through regexp thanks to their previous structure.

    Options +FollowSymLinks
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteBase /
    RewriteRule weblog/archives/200([0-9])_([0-9])([0-9])_(.*)(\.php)$
    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/200$1/$2$3/$4 [R=301]
    RewriteRule weblog/archives/200([0-9])_(.*)(\.php)$
    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/200$1/$2/ [R=301]
    RewriteRule weblog/archives/cat_(.*)(\.php)$
    http://www.inluminent.com/weblog/archives/categories/$1/ [R=301,L]

    (formating note: each line in the .htaccess file starts with “RewriteRule”, ie. there aren’t any breaks in the code when it’s in the real file on the server)

    7. Added the following rule (taken from Keith’s “no extensions” entry) so that category pages (which are technically category_name.php) can be delivered as directories (among other page types)

    RewriteRule ^([^.]+[^/])$ $1/ [R=permanent,L]
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
    RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME}\.php -f
    RewriteRule ^(.+[^/]) $1.php

    8. Added some code to all of the internal links (depending on which type there were that replaced the ‘.php’ or ‘index.php’ with ‘/’ (as appropriate) so that all links on the site go to the correct place:

    <?php echo str_replace("index.php","","<$MTArchiveLink$>"); ?>
    <?php echo str_replace(".php","/","<$MTEntryLink$>"); ?>

    Oh, and if you’re looking for a decent mod_rewrite primer, here’s one at Kuro5hin.

    One last thing, Olivier, since you’re stuck on IIS as your dev platform of choice, you’re probably going to be looking ISAPI_rewrite which I pointed to back in November of ’02.

    Moving a web site

    I happened to have the occasion to move a web site today. We moved MarketingFix.com from one server to another, but we didn’t move the DNS yet (because we hadn’t set up email and all of the internal lists we’re still running @marketingfix.com) so, we had to figure out how to send traffic coming to http://www.marketingfix.com/* to http://www.up2speed.com/* (and keep the pages the same).

    One of the team members, Olivier, found this code:

    RewriteEngine On

    RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.up2speed.com/$1 [R=301,L]

    at WebMasterWorld. He then showed me how to test your redirects using this redirect tool.

    Geek Humor

    Jerermy’s had some fun with a guy that was stealing images from his website. Read all about it in Fun with mod_rewrite.

    TODO: Install SpamAssassin

    When I get back from my vacation, the top priority on my list is installing SpamAssassin, thanks to the mini-review that John Gruber just posted

    GD PhotoPal and Apokalyptik

    Thanks to Noel, I installed PhotoPal, which is a fantastic automatic photo album layout engine. I love it… the software package is still in the dev phase (it’s only at version .9x) as of my installation, but it rocks.

    One thing that’s lacking is the documentation, but Noel’s pretty responsive to email.

    I needed to install the GD Image Library tools, but had no idea where to start, so I asked Apokalyptik to upgrade PHP to version 4.3.1, and to make sure that the GD library worked.

    Took him about 20 minutes from when he said ‘yes, I’ve got time’ until he was done.

    Great sys-admin that guy… if you need something done, or someone to take care of your server, talk to him. (thanks again to Scott for turning me on to him).

    And without further ado, I give you the my photos.

    On Letting the IT Department Set Up My Machine

    A few months ago, I asked my SFA Manager to get me access to my email from outside the company firewall. He gave me a RSA keyfob and set up two dial-up connections in XP for me to use to connect to the company intranet, so I could check my email from outside the office.

    That wasn’t at all sufficient in my mind. I have broadband at home. I purchased a WiFi card with my own money for my laptop. I stay at a Wyndham on purpose (because the broadband connection is free if you’re a ByRequest member). I wanted to have access to the company intranet via broadband without any hassles.

    I asked many times if this was possible. Each time I got a slightly different answer, ranging from a ‘no’ at first to a ‘yes, but we have to come to your house to install a firewall’ as the latest answer.

    I finally got fed up with excuses and asked my boss for access to my email outside the office via a broadband connection, so that I could check my email while I was at the Wyndham in Atlanta yesterday and today. That was a week ago last Friday. It was still the SFA Manager’s job to get the request processed, but at least now he could do so with some authority.

    On Monday of this week, as of 10:00am I didn’t know how to access the company email servers from the Wyndham yet, so I asked the SFA Manager’s immediate supervisor why I didn’t have anything set up, or taught to me yet.

    Within 10 minutes, an IT person was in my office with a floppy disk with some VPN software on it, and a print out of instructions on how to login to the network via VPN.

    I let the IT person do their job: installing the software, setting up the basics of the VPN account, and walking me through the process… and when that IT person ran into an error, he said he thought the error was something with the VPN server that he was going to check.

    Now, I only had 30 minutes before I had to leave the office to catch a plane, so I didn’t follow up with that person before I left for Atlanta. I assumed everything would ‘just work’ when I got to my destination.

    After checking into the hotel later that night, I took a shower, ordered room-service, and enjoyed the season Finale of “The Practice” before trying to log into the network via VPN over the Wayport connection in my hotel room.

    Hmmm…. same error I was seeing at the office.

    I called the tech that set up the software on his cell phone (he told me to call anytime).

    The tech called his boss and they talked about what the problem might be, and his boss called me. He got my voicemail for some reason, and I didn’t ever touch base with him.

    After a few tries at logging in via the ‘default’ setup I was given before I pulled out the instructions and read them.

    The tech had set up the VPN access incorrectly. There was no way I was ever going to login using the default connection he’d set up, so I fixed it myself, and all was hunky dory.

    The lessons here:

    1. IT folks should check everything for the people they support. (If I’d been a less technical person, I doubt I could have figured out the problem). (If I’d have been a more senior manager, I’m sure I could have raised hell about the poor setup that the tech did).

    2. If someone had stolen my computer, they could have easily hacked into the company’s VPN after breaking my XP password (it’s pretty easy to do I’m told) and the instructions for logging into our VPN were in the side-pocket of my computer bag, because that’s where the tech told me to put them, and I’d placed my keys (with the RSA keyfob) into the computer bag for easier traveling through the airport security.

    3. XP has a built-in firewall option (or at least that what it looks like in the ‘Advanced’ tab of a LAN connection. (Not that I pretend to know a damned thing about XP).

    Can anyone shed any light on why a firewall is needed on a computer that has a VPN client running connected to a VPN server?

    collectrix

    Quick note: Collectrix looks like a great cost sensitive hosting company… must check them out later

    forgot to say thanks…

    Scott helped me out a bit a week ago or so, and I forgot to say thanks. He was in the middle of being pretty sick, and he still came to my rescue.

    Thanks Scott.

    Now, if you ever find yourself in the same stupid position that I was in (hard drive’s full on a server impacting the server’s ability to do its job) check out Scott’s neat little script that’ll tell you when the disks are full.

    Free Wifi on the Tradeshow floor

    So, here’s the funny thing:

    I’m sitting on the SXSW Tradeshow floor, setting up my company’s booth and the PowerMac G4 (DP 1.4GHz with a 23″ Cinema Display, btw) doesn’t have Office installed on it, so I pull out my trusty little iBook, and make a quick copy for the trade show (we’ve got the license, I just don’t have the disks with me) to install it on the PowerMac, and…

    “Eureka!”

    They’ve got a free Wifi Network set up on the Trade Show floor…

    So, now I’m wondering why we’re paying for a 10BaseT Ethernet connection at the booth when we’ve got two Airport compatible computers in the booth that would easily work on the free Wifi Network…

    Argh…

    Anyways, I’m now checking my email while I burn a copy of Office 😉

    Why Sysadmins Don’t Upgrade

    So, a worm hit the internet this weekend… and then…

    Michael Radwin (who I found through Jeremy) posts a great little diatribe on why server admins don’t upgrade. Read it. Great fun.

    MS SQL worm attacks… one more reason not to use Windows

    Gwyneth Paltrow's Face is PerfectAs seen on /., I received this email from my host this morning:

    At approximately 11:28 pm on 1/24/2003, NOC engineers observed significant inbound and outbound traffic across all backbone carriers and internal router/switching infrastructure. Our emergency network response team was immediately deployed and began troubleshooting the problem. Upon the first notification to our carriers, we were informed of a global internet problem by a fast spreading SQL worm targeted at Microsoft SQL. As a result, the entire internet continues to suffer from an extreme decrease in service. Please see the following links for international coverage of the breaking story.

    As seen on CNN

    As reported by ABC

    As seen on Yahoo!

    As reported by Symantec

    And MSNBC’s report

    The Planet is working continuously detecting, locating, and removing all infected SQL servers from our network along with blocking all inbound traffic directed to the specific SQL ports under attack. As we continue to assist those customers affected, The Planet seeks to inform all customers of this global rising problem and to assure you that service is available to the maximum extent possible. Planet engineers are working with Microsoft and Cisco to apply all patches available along with all protective measures as they will be released in the next few hours/days/weeks. The Planet is dedicated to ensuring maximum uptime and all NOC staff and network engineers will remain onsite under Level 1 alert until all network connectivity returns to normal. We appreciate your patience in this matter.

    If you have a Microsoft SQL product in our datacenters, please contact our NOC staff via Orbit ticket, email or phone for further assistance.

    https://orbit.theplanet.com/

    [email protected]

    1.800.854.7679

    Several Security companies have released the following information in reference to this problem.

    Symantec Advisory

    EEye Report

    Cert Advisory

    Service pack 3 is available for SQL 2000 at the following.

    SP3 for MS SQL 2000

    Stand alone patch for SQL 2000

    Patch for MS SQL 2000


    Another reason to not use Windows.

    [Added Later]

    More links:

    Scripting News

    News.Google.com

    Lawrence Lessig provides a chart from the Internet Traffic Report

    Ben Hammersley comments

    Jim Roepcke comments

    Scoble notes the news

    I’m sure more have commented, but those are the RSS feeds I read.

    There’s a new CMS on the horizon

    Wow.

    Text Pattern

    Brought to you by Dean Allen.

    Looks totally cool, very useful, and fun.

    I’ll definitely be looking into it for a client in the near future.

    Dean, if you’re reading, I’ll need to know what the pricing will be buddy.

    Oh yeah, one more time:

    WOW!

    Encoded Email Addresses

    veronicaIf you want to publish your email address on a website, you’re gonna get spam, but there are a few things you can do to cut down on the amount of spam you get.

    The easiest is to not publish your email address on a website. You’ll still get some spam, but your ISP should be able to install a spam filter that you can use to turn off some of it (Earthlink’s Spaminator is a good example of this). (Of course, this negates the whole idea of publishing your email address on your website).

    Secondly, you can publish your email address in unlinked graphical form. This means a human that isn’t blind can read your email address and type it in their email program. Scott does a good job of this on his Fuzzy Blog!.

    Thirdly, you can encode your email address so that it looks like plain text to a reader, but looks like gobldygook in the source code:

    Take my email address: john@inluminent.com. Anyone can email me there, but I don’t want to get a bunch of spam, so I’d like to encode it using character entities, but it’s a lot of work to do it manually, so I naturally turn to a web based email encoding form to turn my email address into this:

    &#106; &#111; &#104; &#110; &#064; &#105; &#110; &#108; &#117; &#109; &#105; &#110; &#101; &#110; &#116; &#046; &#099; &#111; &#109;

    Which then goes into my HTML to produce this:

    john@inluminent.com

    (Special thanks to Steve Hall, one mf my MarketingFix buddies, for reminding me about this tool and giving me the idea of blogging it).

    Loving the Blog idea

    So, us MarketingFix folks have decided that we needed a private weblog so that we could post things that others might need to see in a written + image form, in addition to our little email list that we’ve set up (thanks to EZMLM)… it’ll also help my colleagues learn more about MovableType I’m thinking (they’re all blogger types or other CMS types).

    The reason I really like the whole blog idea is because I couldn’t remember how to set up a .htaccess or .htpasswd file, but thanks to my dilligence in blogging how to do it, I found the answer quite quickly.

    Thanks to all those that have inspired me to blog.

    Quicklinks for Friday

    How to get Plucker, a decent AvantGo replacement, working on Mac OS X.

    Jeremy Zawodny will be playing with MySQL and Terrabytes of data

    .

    dns stuff

    Lots of good, fast, free utilities here:

    http://www.dnsstuff.com/

    …for those times when you don’t have your own machine with all your own tools installed on them.

    Cross Platform: Connecting a Mac and a Windows Box

    Only O’Reilly can publish an article like Connecting Mac OS X to Windows PCs and do it well.

    Perfect… just what I need to figure out how to get my email.pst file off my office PC and onto my office Macintosh, so that I can transfer it to my iPod, which’ll then let me transfer it to my iBook for burning to CD (so that I can have a copy of all my email from Outlook) for future recovery by me. I mean, that file is 778 MB and that’s just a little too big to put on our network file server and not have someone notice that I’m taking my email with me. It did compress to 480 MB or so using Drop Stuff for Windows surprisingly…

    Work in a cross platform environemt or have one at home? Read the article…

    ezmlm and configuration

    hurleyI spent the better part of the day trying to learn more about ezmlm which is the qmail companion software for mailing list management. I’ve got it installed and am running one list, but I have no real knowledge about how it works.

    We want to offer more lists and tie into it using php/mysql for some other projects I’m thinking of working on, and for marketingfix, which is the new internet marketing site, we launched a bit ago.

    I can’t find anything that really explains how to use ezmlm that’s written in plain english, but I have found the following:

    • Newbie’s Guide to Qmail – A guide to downloading, compiling and installing Qmail and related utils.
    • Ezmlm-Web – a web based administration set up for ezmlm, which I might just install.
    • Mailing Lists Overview @ Spry.com – where I learned how to modify the “Reply-To:” header for a particular list, adding a message footer, and add a list subject ‘prefix’.
    • Mail transport and dissemination: Qmail and Ezmlm – which offers links to further information that I’ll check out later.
    • Mode Flags – a page on threadnet.net that describes all of the command line flags for part of ezmlm, which is something I don’t want to have to use all the time, but might need to remember to check later.

    Thanks Google.

    I know that I could hop on AIM and ask a few people (namely Apokalyptik, the best sysadmin I know) to teach me all about ezmlm, but if I did that everytime I didn’t know something two things would happen: 1) he’d likely block me on AIM after about 3 days of constant harrassment and 2) I’d never learn anything for myself.

    So, I still don’t know much about ezmlm, but I do know how to modify a few things that were critical (namely the Reply-To header for a list) as well as how to find more information when I have time to learn more.

    WebLog Anaylsis – Recommendation for Summary

    Ms. TurinSo, our little marketingfix.com is getting a bit of traffic now, and the guys all (okay, really just Rick) are asking for more traffic data. I’ve looked around for good free open source solutions and have found things like Analog and Webalizer, which are great, but are a pain in the ass to set up and configure for a linux novive like myself. (I’ve been an enduser of both of these pieces of software, but never had to install or configure them.)

    As I was trying to determine if I had the GD library (whatever that is) installed on our server, I remember than Ryan over at MacDesktops told me about a program that he was using to process his log files. I asked him what it was and he responded “Summary” <http://www.summary.net>.

    I took a quick look and saw a few things I like while Ryan was AIMing me things like “stand-alone” and “super-easy” as well as “very powerweful for the dollar” in the back-ground. I downloaded it, uploaded it, untar’d it and made a few symlinks then typed the now infamous ‘./summary‘ command.

    After working through a few things like configuring virtual domains, getting Apokalyptik (my favorite sysadmin) to show me how to turn on Apache’s NCSA combined logging so we capture things like referrers and user agents, and other basic configs, we now have a plethora of data that all of us MFers (the term we’ve taken to call ourselves) can look at as well as inluminent.com data for myself, all from the same log analysis program. And it’s actually quite pretty (except for the big “30 day trial version” stamped at the top of the reports). We’ll see if we ever need/want to move up to something like WebSideStory or WebTrends, but honestly, I can say that I’m sated right now.

    So, there it is, my recommendation for Summary to anyone looking for something easier to set up than Webalizer and prettier than Analog, but just as powerful.

    .htaccess lessons for me

    I had to figure out some Apache stuff today, so that I could password protect a web directory for the new group weblog I’m working on with a few other collaborators (we’ll be covering marketing issues and the like) so I asked our sysadmin for some help, and read a few tutorials.

    [note: I realize most of you won’t need to read these quick tutorials, but I might need them again someday, so I’m ‘blogmarking’ them (sort of like bookmarking, but always available to me, no matter where I am physically).]

    · http://faq.clever.net/htaccess.htm
    · http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml
    · http://apache-server.com/tutorials/ATusing-htaccess.html

    Once I complete the first tutorial’s directions, it wasn’t working as I’d hoped (it’s never as easy as it seems). So Apokalytik helped me figure out that I needed to modify the “Directory” part of the httpd.conf file:

    <Directory>
        AllowOverride None
        Options None
    </Directory>

    became:

    <Directory>
        AllowOverride ALL
        Options ALL
    </Directory>

    Then I had to make a symlink for htpasswd in the /usr/bin directory, which Apokalytik showed me how to do.

    After I added the .htaccess and .htpasswd file and restarted apache, all was good, and the directories are now protected.

    I love Mac OS X because the built in terminal + airport let me do all of this from the comfort of my couch…

    [updated: 10/5/2003] FYI, the htpasswd manual page from the Apache documentation is a useful page to have bookmarked, if you forget how to set a password.

    Update on my hellacious day

    I talked to my techs today about our ad server platform, and believe it or not, they actually have plans to move it over to a Linux based solution (same software, new OS) sometime in the next 6 months or so…

    Which translates to “We hope to have it moved over in 6 months, but realistically, we we’ll get around to it next time it bites us in the ass, cause we’re so damned busy with other stuff right now it’s not funny.”

    But, I’ll take that over “nah, we actually like Windows – it’s much easier to administer” which was their story 6 months ago… heh. Funny guys those Windows administrators.

    Oh, and today was slightly better, but I’m still emotionally drained.

    Apokalyptik’s rant on DNS

    I was chatting with our sysadmin tonight about DNS, and pointed out a rant that he posted on DNS today. He also told me that I should learn more about DNS, as its fundamental knowledge that any one with an operational interest in the internet (or their own web services) should know. He recommended the O’Reilly Bind and DNS book (even though he’s never actually read it or any other book on DNS), so I ordered it. Thanks Apokalyptik.

    Absolute day from Hell

    hellacious dayToday was a rough day.

    I got up late, checked email, answered a few personal emails that had to be answered, and headed to work. I arrived about 20 minutes late, but my boss was out of the office all day, so while I was late, there will be no reprocussions…

    I’m the guy responsible for all advertising sales and trafficking at my day job, and I was already ‘behind’ on the days tasks at this point. As I started checking my office email (on the PC which takes about 10 minutes to fully boot up, vs. the Mac on my desk which takes like 5 seconds to start up since I can leave it on all night, and even then it only takes like 2 minutes to boot up from a fully powered down mode) I got a phone call from our tech team. One of our ad servers was crashing and restarting itself every five minutes, and had been since 9am. He wanted to know if we had changed anything, and if I knew what might be the problem.

    We hadn’t and I had no idea…

    We started talking about possible causes and the symptoms that he was seeing, and all I could think about was the clients that we were supposed to be serving ads for, as well as the visitors to our website that weren’t getting a good experience. We discussed possible causes like recursive DNS timeouts being too long, caches being too large, possible memory exceptions, buffer overruns, attacks, and more. I offered some possible solutions (just reboot the machine is my favorite, and had already been done with no solution) and nothing seemed an easy solution.
    Continue reading ‘Absolute day from Hell’