Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

8/31/2010

iPhone as a Penetration Tool

Filed under: Apple,Linux,News and Current Events,Ooo, shiny...,PERL,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

No, this is not a post about sexual performance.
Pervs.

I use my iPhone for a surprising variety of things, even at the office.  For around $14, I threw together a suite of network scanning and testing tools that let me get a pretty good look at any network I manage.  But, that’s another post.
Today, I thought I’d bring to your attention a great blog post by Nicholas M. Petty tittled “iPen: Hacking with the iDevice“.  What he’s got is a set of instructions and tools for turning your iPhone, or, presumably, your iPad, into hand-held computer security penetration testing tool.  Yeah, I know, it still sounds dirty when you say “penetration”.  Grow up.

If you’re into security, whether you own an iPhone or not, it’s worth going to take a look at just to see the thought process and methodology.
Now, as much as I love this idea, I probably won’t actually do it myself because the first step is to “jailbreak” your phone and, frankly, as tight as money is and as important as my phone is to me, I can’t afford to have problems with it.  Still, it is an interesting idea, especially considering how many of these little devices are wandering loose out there and how many wifi access point exist out in the world.  I often wonder how secure any of them really are, especially in corporate environments.

Anyway, this should be something for network managers to think about the next time they see someone in the lobby of their building “playing a game” on their iPhone!

8/27/2010

GTD Organizer

Filed under: Fun,Life Goals,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Don’t know what “GTD” stands for?

Well, then you’re not one of the legions of followers of the “Getting Things Done” method of personal organization.  And this post probably won’t excite you.

But, for the rest of you, if you want to make your own, custom GTD organizer, checkout the, uh, Custom GTD Organizer and let it help you do your layout.
Of course, if you’re all high-tech, you could just use your iPhone as a “todo” list and be done with it.  And, actually, the second option is what I do, but, well, one link doesn’t seem like enough for a Friday, does it?

8/25/2010

WordPress Promotion

Filed under: Art,Fun,News and Current Events,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

It’s no secret that I love WordPress.

WPCertificate I mean, seriously, I really, really love WordPress as a blogging platform and as an easy-to-understand Content Management System.  But, did you know that I’m one of the three most important people in WordPress? No, for real! And, I have a certificate from Matt Mullenweg himself to prove it!

Okay, so, yeah, I know, I’m not really one of the most important people in WordPress, outside of being one of millions of users who do, in fact, make WordPress a force to be reckoned with. But, we only manage that as a group, as a community. No, that certificate is a joke. Literally. It’s a joke from Matt Mullenweg, founding developer of WordPress, regarding an incident some weeks back involving a theme developer who didn’t want to use the GPL, which is the software license that WordPress uses and all theme developers are required to use. I know people will disagree, but, based on my understanding of the GPL, any derivative works of a product that uses the GPL must also use the GPL.  So, really, for most of their code, theme developers are required to use the GPL.  Honestly, I’ve never worried about it.  I mean, mostly, it’s a bunch of legal speak that means very little to the average end-user.
One of the things that this theme developer claimed, erroneously, was that he was one of the “three most important people in WordPress” because he felt that so many people used his theme.  I think he may have been surprised at how many of those folks jumped ship when they found out there was something wrong with that theme and its license.

WPFreebies In any case, what does matter to us about all this is that Matt took that attention and made a marketing opportunity out of it.  For starters, he started buying people premium themes that didn’t violate the GPL as a kind of protest and a way to draw attention to how serious he is about supporting the GPL.  And lots of people took him up on the offer.  But, apparently, someone griped about not wanting a premium theme or something and so, instead, Matt made a second offer to those of us who didn’t want, or couldn’t decide on, a premium theme.  He offered us free t-shirts.

Well, I’m always up for a free t-shirt, especially one that advertises something I believe in and use, so I was on this offer like white on rice.  Now, I can only imagine how many people also took advantage of this, too, but I went to his website, and filled out the form and sent off my e-mail like a kid sending in his box-tops for his toy surprise.  And, then I forgot about it.  I try to do that, frankly, when I enter contests and such.  Like casting my bread upon the water, I do what I need to do to enter and then forget it.  That way, if something does arrive, I’m pleasantly surprised.  That’s just what I was this past Friday when I found the package from Matt in my mailbox; pleasantly surprised!

As you can see from the picture, the t-shirt came with a few other things.
First of all, there were all kinds of stickers, which I love.  It reminds me of the old days when you got swag at the conventions and covered your laptop in stickers.  But, there was also an iPhone skin and pencils and, of course, the certificate, which made me laugh out loud.
I’ve already worn the t-shirt, which, as you can see, says “Code is poetry” on the front.  What you can’t tell from the photograph is that the t-shirt reads “WordPress.org” and has the official WordPress logo on the back.  Frankly, that’s the part I love.

Now, all I need to do is actually read all those books I’ve gotten on WordPress theme design and get working on it…
Anyway, thanks for all the stuff, Matt!

8/20/2010

Dystopian Futures

Filed under: Calamity, Cataclysm, and Catastrophe,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:14 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Seems like I’ve been talking about increasingly grim things this month.

Well, I can promise you that I don’t feel as if the world was ending, even though that does seem to occupy my “fun” posts!  So, let’s see if we can lighten things up a bit this week with the Dystopian Future Quiz that helps you choose just which unbearable Dystopian future is for you!
Oh, I know it’s silly, but, what the heck, it’s Friday and you obviously don’t have anything better to do or you wouldn’t be reading this!  So, go ahead and take the quiz.  It’ll only take a few minutes and it really is sort of fun.

8/18/2010

Ten Server Tools for Over-Worked Admins

Filed under: Geek Work,GUI Center,Linux,MicroSoft — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:54 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Hey, I missed letting everyone know about System Admin Day this year, but, I think this will make up for it.

I’ll be honest, one of the reasons I missed that this year is because I’m so overworked and over-stressed it’s like I was married to the Queen of the Damned again!  Seriously!  I haven’t been this frazzled since my divorce!  In any case, I imagine there are a lot of other server administrators out there with less free time than they’d like, too.  So, I’m sharing a blog post from Tech Republic; 10 Must Have Windows Server Tools.  I don’t know about “must have”, but they are handy for Windows admins, anyway.   I’ll need to scout around and find something similar for Unix admins.  After all, I can’t forget my bearded brethren!

So, hope that helps free up some time for you all, but now I’ve got to get back to work!

8/15/2010

Review: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Movies,music,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:56 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent


ScottPilgrim

Originally uploaded by Network Geek

The movie so good it got me to blog a review after months of slacking.

Yeah, I loved it.
So, right, this movie is based on the award-winning and very popular independent comic series of the same name. The comic, and the movie, follow the love-life of the title character, Scott Pilgrim, played by Michael Cera as he tries to avoid his under-age Chinese stalker, Knives Chau, played by Ellen Wong, and date, instead, the girl, quite literally of his dreams, Ramona Flowers, played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. The only problem is, to date Ramona, Scott has to defeat her seven evil ex’s in a battle to the death. But, nothing is quite as easy as it seems, and each ex is more difficult to defeat than the last, much like a video game.

In fact, as Scott defeats each villain, he’s rewarded in video-game fashion with a glowing numeric display of points and then they burst into coins. Yes, coins. Oh, and there’s plenty of video-game themed music, too. But, don’t think you have to be either a gamer or a comic fan to “get” this movie! I mean, if you’ve participated in pop culture at all and are under the age of 60, you shouldn’t have any trouble keeping up.
But, speaking of music, the sound-track on this film rocks! Literally! For starters, a significant contributor to the soundtrack is Beck. Not only as a solo artist, but also as part of Sex Bob-Omb, the band to which Scott and his friends belong. And, that band participation is significant to the plot as they battle other local bands to get a recording contract and a big gig at a big club. Seriously, though, the music is all great and adds a lot to the film. At least, I enjoyed it. Mostly a rock soundtrack, but with the addition of video-game tunes, which enhance the movie.

The whole thing was fun.
Sure, it was sort of a chick-flick, but not in a bad way or as much as you might imagine. I mean, yes, it is about dating and romance and the trials and tribulations of ex’s, but it’s far more fun than it sounds. Because, it’s a comedy, in case Michael Cera being in the cast didn’t give it away. Frankly, the whole thing is just fun and, wow, I can’t remember the last time I saw that in a Summer movie! Seriously! I mean, that’s what Summer movies are supposed to be all about, right? Well, this one actually is! Honestly, I wish I were dating someone so I could have taken her to see it, because it was such a cute, fun film that I’m confident it would have gotten me laid. Seriously.

Mostly, I can’t go into the plot too much, because it would be 100% spoilers, but it’s all about Scott and Ramona, and dating, and love, and music, and the band, and defeating evil ex’s. But, the basic plot is, well, that last sentence pretty well sums it up. I mean, Scott trying to get Ramona and make music with his band and, well, again, defeat those evil ex’s, is pretty much everything that happens in the movie, but, somehow, that paltry description doesn’t capture the fun and adventure of this movie. Trust me, though, when I tell you that it was fast-paced, filled with action, and romance and even a life-lesson or two.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I rarely see movies more than once in the theater, so, they’ll get the impact of this statement; I would happily see this movie again, at full price. I loved this movie that much.
Seriously.
If you like pop music, or if you’ve ever been in love, or if you’ve ever fought against impossible odds to pursue the companion of your dreams, you will love Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Go see it.
Trust me.

Update: Want to see what I’m talking about with the music?  Check out some selections from the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Soundtrack.

8/13/2010

Surviving Unlucky Days

Filed under: By Bread Alone,Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:53 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Today is Friday the 13th.

In the past, I’ve posted some of the possible history of the negative superstitions around Friday the 13th.  So, today, instead of that, I thought I might give you all some links to helpful ideas to surviving some of the things that may go wrong.  Let’s start with how to Survive a Plane Crash on the Wired.com How-To Wiki.  I mean, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been flying on one of these unlucky Fridays, but, well, I suppose that on any one of them I could have found myself going down and in need of these tips.
Now, I tend to think longer term when it comes to bad luck, and I’m fairly sure that the Apocalypse is going to start on a Friday the 13th.  So, the best way to survive?  Hunker down and wait for civilization to start again.  In the mean time, contemplate the preparations suggested in a different Wired feature; Ask an Algorithm: Apocalypse 101.  After all, as unlucky as the Apocalypse is bound to be, being unprepared for it would be worse!

8/11/2010

No! We Can’t!

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is mid-morning or 10:23 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Good morning, Spammers, this quick note is just for you:

In response to your many SPAM comments and e-mails, no, we cannot exchange links.  I do not care to support your website that has nothing at all to do with anything I’m remotely interested in.  What’s more, I think you spammy, bottom-feeding, marketers of the lowest-common-denominator are the scourge of the internet and should be beaten.  Regularly.  When I link to a website, it’s either because I’ve used their product and liked it, it’s something I think is cool, or it’s run by a friend.  Anything else that is linked to from this website is part of one of the advertising programs that help pay for it.  It’s not free, and I found them.  They didn’t spam me with links and requests based on the fact that I rank well in Google.

So, no, I won’t participate in some random link-exchange with you, you parasites, and your anonymous, automated e-mails and comments will be deleted.

Thanks for asking!

8/6/2010

Fast is Slow

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Career Archive,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Monkey which is in the late afternoon or 5:38 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

But, slow is fast.

I’m not sure where I heard that first, but boy is it true.
I’ve never served in the military, but I used to hang out with a lot of guys who did and, frankly, were pretty intense about it, when I was younger.  And, yes, I do love me some action movies with big guns blazing, so there’s no telling where I picked up that little bit of military wisdom.  I tend to associate it with BUD/S training, which is better known to the general public as the SEAL program.  In essence, the idea is this; the faster you try to rush something along, the more mistakes you make and the longer it takes to actually achieve your goal.  But, it also has some other connotations.  The one that I forgot to take to heart this past week was to not let circumstances rush me into doing a sloppy job.

This past week I was supposed to get a new server installed and configured for a sister company.  It’s a startup, really, so there’s not an existing network, which means I’m basically setting everything up from scratch.  Now, in some ways, this makes things easier.  I don’t have to worry about conflicts as much, for instance.  I mean, however I configure the first equipment will determine the entire network configuration.  Whatever naming conventions I set will be carried forward.  I’m working with a blank slate.
But, that blank slate has its disadvantages, too.  As an example, there is NO infrastructure in place at all.  So, not only do I have to setup the server, but also the switches, the firewall, and even the rack and UPS that will hold it all!  Luckily, I didn’t have to run the actual cable, but, pretty much everything else will be something I install myself.  Not that it’s all bad to do it myself, either, because I don’t have to worry about someone else doing it the wrong way or undoing something I’ve already done.  But, it does all take time.

Again, I’ve done this before.  Not only have I been a “department of one”, as it were, but I’ve setup networks from scratch for years.  I’ve been doing this since 1992, so, for the past 18 years, I’ve networked all kinds of crazy things together.  And, some of that was back in the old days before Windows clients and GUI interfaces made it all work together right out of the box!  Still, I forget things sometimes.
I forget that I should get help racking servers, for instance.  Getting the weight up into the rack isn’t so difficult, but doing that and getting those damn little pins into the recessed slots on the rails at the same time can prove challenging.  I should know that.  But, this week, giving into the pressures from end-users at a startup, I tried to rush things.  What ended up happening was me losing my grip on a server and twisting a rail all out of shape.  Luckily, I never throw out spares and I had another set of rails that I could use as a replacement.  And, the second time around, I was smart enough to get help to rack that server.  And the APC SMART-UPS 5000VA UPS that weighs in at about 130 pounds and has sharp edges.  With that help, nothing else got out of hand and I didn’t have to replace any more rails.
Of course, when I went to set everything up, it turned out to have the wrong power adapters to plug my servers into.  Why?  Because I was in a hurry and didn’t double-check the specs and trusted that someone else would do their job right.  So, now, @Dellcares on Twitter, who heard my rage at having the wrong UPS, is helping me get things straight.

Did I get the server installed?  Well, yes, I plugged directly into the wall long enough to setup and configure the server to meet my deadline for next week, but, I struggled with one of my most basic character defects first; sometimes, I just need to ask for help.
Of course, I also lost sight of one of the most basic principles of IT, which seems so counter-intuitive in such a fast-paced industry:
Fast is slow; Slow is fast!


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"If it falls to your lot to be a dishwasher, wash like Michaelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music... wash so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, 'There lived a great dishwasher who did his job well.'"
   --Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Walking Through A Crowd

Filed under: Fun,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:40 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I generally don’t like crowds.

I hate the press of people and how everyone is in your way when you want to get somewhere.  I’m usually pretty good about getting through crowds with a minimum of delay, but, I have to admit, until I saw the article “Walk Through Crowds” on the Wired.com How-To Wiki, I hadn’t ever thought about describing the methods I use to someone.  And, since they’ve done such a good job of it there, I won’t try.  Besides, they’ve got some ideas there that hadn’t actually occurred to me.  Granted I may do some of them unconsciously, but, well, the entry describes a sort of “best practices” for getting from one side to the other of a crowd.

In any case, while it is actually useful information, it seemed just silly enough for a Friday Fun Post.
Enjoy!

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