February 13, 2014
I recently had a computer repair for someone who needed me to downgrade Windows 8 to Windows 7, because Windows 8 was not compatible with their work software. For anyone that hasn’t done it, UFI can make this process a bit tricky, as access to the Bios can be limited and booting to removable media troublesome.
When I returned to their house, I did the basic setup and familiarization with them, to make sure they were comfortable with how everything worked, discuss anti-virus, some of the tools I pre-install when I do a Windows re-installation.
They wanted to run their work software while I was still there and I got a pleasant surprise when they booted up an Ubuntu based Live CD.
The company they work for is through Arise, which offers virtual call centers. They were in the process of training to work with Sprint, so I am not 100% sure how the process is after training. However, since they are training on a Linux Live environment, I would be surprised if they didn’t use that for actual work as well.
I didn’t do anything aside from making sure it would boot, but it looked like a very minimal Gnome Install, possibly Gnome 2 or at least classic shell. There were only icons for Firefox, a calculator, and an icon for some minimal settings. It utlized a bootable USB alongside a CD.
I thought this was really cool and a great idea. Linux runs great on most hardware and you can get awesome performance out of older hardware, where Windows would be slow once you started doing any real work.
Using a Live CD is also much more secure, like using a Live CD for your banking, as every-time you restart, it should be to a known-good operating system and programs. I would imagine this also gives the company a lot more control and monitoring capabilities, which they wouldn’t have if they let people run their personal computers. Since so many people’s personal computers have some form of Spyware or Malware, I see this as a no-brainer for companies that have these sorts of remote operations.
Not all companies do this though, I have worked on the computer of someone who worked for American Airlines before. He had worked for American for a while as a call center rep and took the opportunity to work from home when they offered it to him a few years ago. As far as I could tell, there wasn’t any sort of required anti-virus and very little over-site to what was running on the person’s computer, aside from running American’s call center software. Pretty scary when you think about how often their call center reps probably deal with credit card information and other confidential email during the day.
January 15, 2014
While viewing Softlayer’s Website today, I noticed something rather amusing…they are using Amazon’s Cloudfront to deliver at least one script on their homepage.
Of course, you should use what works, works well, and is easy, which in many cases is an offering by Amazon AWS. However, if your goal is to ‘to Accelerate Adoption of Cloud Computing in the Enterprise,’ you should probably keep your hosting in-house as much as possible and not showcase the reliability and reach of your competitor.
As an aside, this reminds of a similar situation a few years ago when Dreamhost was having some major downtime. I noticed that the Dreamhost status blog was always up, despite probably getting crazy traffic from all of their customers, while their shared hosting hosting infrastructure was seeming to crumble. I checked and saw they were using Linode to power their status blog, still do. That ended up being a good recommendation, as I switched to Linode shortly after that and have been overall happy with them ;)
December 7, 2013
See bottom of post, for the TLDR problem/solution:
I have been using XFCE for some time now and overall really enjoy it. I switched to XFCE after giving Gnome 3 a go when it first came out and have been using it since. It has gotten a lot better since then too.
For instance immediately after switching, one of the only things I missed from Gnome2 was tabbed file browsing. Thunar, the default file manager for XFCE, got that awhile ago and has generally been improving a lot.
Another change to XFCE is the way it remembers your desktop settings, windows, and programs when you logout. I admittedly have not researched this as much as I should, but anecdotally I noticed some changes to how this works when I upgraded to a newer version of XFCE recently. I also noticed that there seems to have been a change with the way that XFCE deals with multiple monitors, as after upgrading certain programs starting using the entire width of two monitors when initially drawing their windows, rather then using a single monitor as they had in the past.
Onto the problem: After getting new monitor that supported a higher resolution(1920×1080) and updating my xorg.conf, my resolution would get reset to my old resolution(1680×1050) as soon as I logged back in to XFCE.
I use Nvidia drivers, as I have found them to offer a bit better performance and support for a multi-monitor setup, not to mention generally quite easy to configure. Its been awhile since I tried using it, but the built-in display manager for XFCE has not been well suited to using multiple monitors in the past, while using nvidia-settings provides a nice easy to use GUI for arranging and setting up displays.
I tried several different things with my xorg.conf and nvidia-settings, including removing it all together, as well as a variety of different configurations. However, no matter what I had in my xorg.conf, as soon as I logged in the resolution was reset to the old resolution. It seemed like XFCE was ignoring my xorg.conf settings or overriding them.
I was fairly confident that the xorg.conf was correct, so I began looking elsewhere. I grepped my ~/.config folder for my old resolution and did in fact find it listed the old resolution in: xfce4/xfconf/xfce-perchannel-xml/displays.xml.
I tried changing it there to the new resolution, however it still reverted back to the old one. Finally, after being a bit fed up and fairly confident that the saved settings/sessions were to blame, I moved my config folder to a backup: mv ~/.config ~/.config_back
This unfortunately has the side effect of clearing all(or most) of your saved XFCE settings, but as soon as I did that, it started using the new resolution. I have in the past done some messing with xrandr settings in order to get multi-monitors working better, so it is possible this is my own doing, but there was definitely some xfce setting in my config that was reverting the resolution.
This is something that I should learn more about and rtfm a bit, but sometimes killing it with fire works and is the easiest/quickest solution…
Problem: After getting a new monitor, the resolution specified in Xorg.conf was ignored when logging in to XFCE. Instead, each time I logged in, it reverted to the old resolution.
Bad Solution: This is probably not the best way to address the problem. However, moving ~/.config to ~/.config_back cleared out whatever xfce setting was over-riding my xorg.conf and let me use the new resolution.
Caution: Again, this isn’t a good solution, but it worked. If you do the above, it WILL delete all of your XFCE settings, like panels! A better solution would be to learn why/where that setting that maintains old resolution is kept and changing it!
November 22, 2013
Recently, I ran into a weird issue with a 1G iPad and had to figure out a work-around to install apps on it.
One of my clients inherited an old first generation ipad from a friend. Before he gave it to him, it was wiped and factory restored.
After setting it up, when attempting to install certain apps, like Google Maps, Google Chrome, or Netflix, he got the following message: This application requires iOS 6.0 or later. You must update to iOS 6.0 in order to download and use this application.
Of course, the last version of iOS that was supported on this iPad was 5.1.1 and their suggestion is not possible.
After talking to a friend that has an old iPad and doing some reading, it seemed like most people would get a prompt to download the last compatible version of the app. However, even after wiping it again via itunes and making sure everything was setup, it still wouldn’t let us install old apps.
However, after a bit of playing around, I figured out a workaround that let us install both Netflix and Google Chrome on the app.
When installing an app on a first generation ipad, a warning stating ‘This application requires iOS 6.0 or later.’ is shown and installation is blocked.
- Install iTunes on a computer and Sync iPad
- Install desired apps via itunes onto the ipad
- Wait until the apps finish downloading, unplug the ipad
- The apps will attempt to install, but will hang on the ipad
- Delete the apps from the ipad
- On the ipad, go into the app store and re-install the app
- You will now be prompted to install the last compatabile version of the app
This worked for both Netflix and Chrome, however Google Maps, which we did NOT install via iTunes first still gave the upgrade needed error.
Why does this work?
I can only guess, but it seems like at some point Apple changed their policy on old devices and started allowing people to install older versions of software on their devices. I found a reddit thread from 2 months ago that discussed the change.
However, we were using a brand new iCloud/iTunes account, which had never installed any apps.
So, presumably, Apple only allows you to install compatible versions of Apps you already own. When I asked my friend, he had no issue installing any app, including Google Maps, which was not already on his 1G iPad. However, he had installed it before on other devices. By installing it first via iTunes, even though it doesn’t actually work, Apple will then allow you to install an older version…
October 24, 2013
Some time yesterday, Google’s Safe Browsing service detected malware on PHP’s main site, php.net. As a result, if you visit it right now in a browser that uses Google’s Safe Browsing list, like Chrome or Firefox, you will get a warning message and when viewing it in Google serps, you will see the ‘This site may harm your computer’ warning.
I use php a great deal and think that a lot of the dislike/feelings people have against the language are misplaced, but I do see the humor in the warning message showing up when you search for ‘php.’
Were PHP’s Server’s Compromised?
Ramsus, as well as a few others involved with PHP, have stated on Twitter and in a Google Groups thread that the file in question, ‘userprefs.js,’ was not compromised. In a Tweet from this morning, rasmus said ‘They[Google] point to a js code injection which was deliberate’
I checked a number of PHP mirrors and while I did find two different versions of userprefs.js, neither were the obfuscated version.
Will update this post with some more later, as it becomes available.
Update 2013-10-24 13:00: As of now, the warning message is no longer appearing when doing a google search and visiting the site doesn’t result in an warning, so it appears that the Php.net has been removed from the safe browsing list. Haven’t seen an update from Ramsus or others with any more details yet.
Update 2013-10-24 17:00: An update has been posted to PHP’s News Section and confirm that they were compromised. They state that an rsync job was reverting changes being made to userprefs.js, presumably because the local server was compromised. An initial code review has been preformed and they don’t think the PHP source was compromised, but are working on a more thorough review and post mortem.
July 6, 2013
I am, in many ways, rather frugal and I like to get as much use out of things that I buy as possible. To that end, I think it is safe to say I got my money’s worth out of this pair of New Balance 574s.
I am not sure exactly when I bought them, but I think they are at least 6 years old, probably older. I bought them on sale, 2 for one, with a similar pair of gray 574s, the M574N2. Now, these are described as retro and classics, but I think back then it was just the good old New Balance 574.
I still have the M574N2, it was the slicker all leather(?) style, without the cloth net on the toes.
The M574N2 regularly gave me blisters when I walked in them, primarily around the heel, so I let them get torn up, wearing them as outside/work shoes and retired them several years ago. I kept them for emergencies, as other then staining and a bit of damage under the heal, they aren’t in terrible shape. However, due to comfort issues I haven’t worn that pair of New Balances in years.
The other pair, the M574BGS, on the other hand, has been one of the best and most comfortable shoes I have owned. I can’t even begin to contemplate how many miles I have put on those, but it is a lot.
The picture at right shows the difference in tread between a replacement pair I bought a few months ago. The comparison shot really doesn’t do justice to the difference between the treads, but gives a pretty good idea.
Since that picture was taken, I ended up wearing the old pair as outside shoes for several more months and the heels have pretty much deteriorated to the point I can see through them. Due to the in-balance when I walk, which has finally gotten to be uncomfortable, I probably won’t wear them much for any extended period of time. I have since ordered a new pair.
To be fair, I did kind of baby this pair initially, only wearing it infrequently until the first gray pair was too dirty. However, they have been my main shoes for a number of years now and up until only a few months ago, my daily shoe.
So, it is with a bit of sadness, I officially retire this pair and anxiously await my new one!
Probably the only downside to the New Balance 574 is that they seem to attract burning ash from fires. Both the original pair of 574s and the new one I bought a few months ago ended up with a small burn spot from a bit of ash the first time I wore them at an outdoor fire. I suppose it is like denting your car the first time though, after that you can relax a bit. However, I plan on keeping the pair I just ordered well out of harms way for as long as possible.