Diary of a Network Geek

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

3/8/2019

Archive Data

Filed under: Better Living Through Technology,Fun — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

I don’t care what anyone says; you just can’t have enough data.

With storage being so relatively cheap, I don’t really get rid of any old data any more. It’s true. I have so much cheap storage around my house that I have literally hundreds upon hundreds of digital books, documents, photos and other files. I used to have a huge library in my house. Literally thousands of books. Books in virtually every room. The problem was, a lot of the books were horribly out of date. Or, I’d gotten them with the intention of reading them, but I was never honestly going to get around to reading many of them. Instead, they just took up space. So much space, in fact, that when my wife was getting ready to move in, I think she despaired of having room to fit! She really helped me realize that I didn’t need to keep all those physical books around. Though, I’m not sure she truly understands my personal obsession with data, or the brobdingnagian archive I have quietly lurking upstairs by the wifi router. I assure you, it’s epic. And, now I know that I’m not the only one, thanks to an article on Gizmodo this week.

My problem, though, is that I often remember some obscure bit of information that I read once on a website. Sometimes, I remember the site, but the page is missing. Or, the site is gone. Or, even worse, the site is still there, but it’s been taken over by domain squatters who are squeezing the Google pagerank to shill some internet snake oil of some kind. Then, I’m stuck trying to find that bit of data, that one reference that will take me to the promised land of information, often to no avail. Well, this week, while no doubt doing something totally unrelated, I stumbled across a Chrome plugin for the Wayback Machine. If you’re not familiar, the Wayback Machine is the search engine on The Internet Archive. And, it’s fantastic for guys like me, trying to dig up obscure and forgotten information. The plugin, according to its page, “[d]etects dead pages, 404s, DNS failures & a range of other web breakdowns, offering to show archived versions via the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. In addition you can archive web pages, and see their most recent & first archives.” And, I assure you, it’s glorious. It’s also free, so well worth installing. And, if you, like me, use Firefox as much as Google Chrome, there’s a Firefox version as well!

So, go ahead, fellow data hounds, install those plugins and relive the days of data past!

This post originally appeared on Use Your Words.

9/11/2015

WordPress Training

Filed under: Fun,Never trust a Network Admin with a screwdriver,Ooo, shiny...,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:30 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Free training, of course, for my favorite content management system; WordPress.

Not familiar with WordPress?  Well, you should be since it runs or manages a significant percentage of the web.  As of this writing, “significant” means about 25% of all websites.  Yeah.  That’s a lot.  And, there are a lot of reasons for that.  For one thing, it’s well supported and lots of developers work with it, so getting help and customization work done is relatively easy.  For another, it’s easily…
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10/15/2011

A Note To SEO Experts

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:51 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Dearest Search Engine Optimization Experts:

Please stop e-mailing me unsolicited requests to “help” me with my search engine placement.  You found me via a search engine, because I’m damn good at SEO, so I don’t really need your help.  Nor do I want your “help” cluttering up my blog with scripted, canned, generic posts written, no doubt, by starving college students and/or starving IT workers displaced by the economy.  Nothing against them, or your services, I’m sure both are brilliant, but this is kind of what I do.  Also?  It’s kind of how you found me in the first place.  So, you know, logic dictates that if you could find me to fill my inbox with unsolicited advertising, then people who actually matter to me can find me, too.

I understand that I’m not really your regular market, so maybe you were trying something new with me.  Well, please, stop.  It’s not working.  I don’t want to hear from you or know about you or have to delete your pitch for whatever internet snake oil you’re selling today.  Really.  I don’t need it and I’m not buying.

So, really, thanks for thinking of me, but, please, go away.
I don’t need advice about adding keywords to my titles or headers or what metatags I should include in my code.  I don’t really need someone to write articles designed to pump up my Google juice.  I can do that myself.  All of that.  (Also?  Metatags haven’t mattered for years now.  Honest.)
Anyway, your offer was very nice, and what little bit I read seemed well written enough, but, honestly, no thanks.  I’ll just stick to what works, what helped you and your snake-oil-selling brethren to find me in the first place: I’ll just write relevant articles and continue to produce the personalized content that only I can produce.

Thanks!

(P.S.  Also?  No, I don’t want to make extra money writing for you and your internet snake oil business!  Now, stop sending me the damn email!)

10/12/2011

Talker’s Block

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Art,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening or 6:29 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, you may notice a bit more output here.

Frankly, some of it may be of questionable quality.  That’s as planned, to be honest.
See, I’ve suffered from a kind of writer’s block.  Not only here, in what I think of as my public, non-fiction world, but in my creative world, too.  The photography has helped that, but, not in the way or quite as much as I had hoped.  But, recently, several things that I’ve been reading and paying attention to all sort of came together to send me a message:

JUST WRITE!

I tend to worship the written word, mainly because I love it so much.  But, as a result, I have all kinds of really terrible ideas about how those words get written, or at least, how I should write them.  The net effect, of course, is that nothing gets written, as long-time readers here have no doubt noticed.
Then, I read “Talker’s Block” on Seth Godin’s blog.
The idea, in brief, is that no one really gets up in the morning worrying so much about what they’re going to say that they voluntarily remove themselves from all conversation until they can think of the “right” thing to say.  (I suppose the case might be made that people who are autistic do that, but I don’t think they actually worry about it.  It’s just something they do.)  No, his argument was that we get up in the morning and go about our business and talk, mostly without considering it much, because that’s what we do all the time.

Now, apply that to writing and the answer to getting over writer’s block is to write.  All the time.  Even poorly.  Just write and keep writing.
So, that’s what I’m doing.  And, I hope the end result will be that you see more output here.
Don’t worry, though, I won’t send all my posts through Twitter and Facebook and all that.  Some will come through, just not all.  And, I suspect that, for a while, they’ll keep coming through, for search engine placement purposes and marketing and the like.  But, they’ll taper off eventually.

Thanks for your attention.
You can go back to whatever internet gewgaw was wasting your time before me.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"The only difference between saints and sinners is that every saint has a past and every sinner has a future."
   --Oscar Wilde

5/29/2011

DNS Redirect Attack

Filed under: Geek Work,News and Current Events,Rotten Apples,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:34 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I’m seeing traffic about this, so I thought I’d write up what I found.

I tweeted about a strange DNS-based network/malware attack that I saw on Friday, but, at the time, I didn’t see any interest, so I didn’t go into any real details.  Besides, I may be a hardcore geek, but I do have a life and was going out.  But, now, I’m seeing search engine traffic hitting my blog apparently looking for details, so I thought I’d describe the attack, as I saw it.

First of all, let me mention that I’ve seen a higher-than-usual occurrence of malware infections the past couple of weeks.  I mean, it’s a hazard of my business that, sooner or later, people are going to get infected, either through bad behavior or by accident, but the past three weeks or so I’ve seen way more problems like that than is even remotely normal.  So, bearing that in mind, I’ve been on a kind of high-alert status looking for any malware problems, but this was something new.

It started with someone from another location, who’s on a totally, physically separate network which uses a different internet service provider to connect to the Internet, calling me with a problem.  It was, apparently, a recurrence of a virus he had previously that we cleaned.  He described being taken to a webpage that featured a maroon graphic background with a white icon of a policeman holding up his hand to indicate “stop”.  The text on the page gave a message that said the user’s browser was not the correct version to access the page and that an upgrade was required.  Helpfully, it provided a button to press to receive the “upgrade”.  Obviously, the “upgrade” was an infection.  (You can see an example of the graphic here.)  Thankfully, I trained my users well enough to be suspicious of these kinds of things and no one who reported this actually clicked on it.

About the same time this happened, I noticed that my iPhone wasn’t connecting to the wifi hotspot I have setup in my office.  I checked the configuration and noticed that the DNS servers listed were wrong.  In fact, they’d all been replaced with a single DNS server; 188.229.88.7  Obviously, that seemed suspicious to me, so I opened a command prompt on my PC and did a tracert to see if I could figure out where this server was and, from that, why it had become the default DNS server on part of my network, despite my having very carefully configured totally different DNS servers that I knew were safe.  It looked like the tracert results showed me a network path that led out of the country somewhere, which was, to me, very suspicious.

Before I could really pursue that, though, I got another call from a user at my location reporting the exact same error message and graphic, but going to a totally different website! I went to his computer and checked the IP configuration and found that his DNS servers had been replaced by the rogue server as well.  I refreshed his network config, several times actually, and the DNS servers reset, but, when I thought to check some other people in the same area of the building, his configuration set itself back to the rogue DNS server!  So, I reset the local network equipment to clear the DNS cache, and whatever other caches may have gotten poisoned by this attack, and the problem seemed to go away.  Unfortunately, whatever had caused the compromise was still active and seemed to poison the DNS cache and the DNS configuration again.  It did seem sporadic, though, as if the ISP was trying to correct the issue at their end.

As far as I can tell, the attack actually seemed to be network-based in some way.
At least, I couldn’t find any computer on my network that was infected with anything that AVG, Norton Anti-virus, or Malware Bytes could find.  It is, I suppose, possible, that this attack was so new that no of those programs had an updated detection pattern for it, but, based on the lack of detection, and the fact that it happened on two physically separate networks almost simultaneously, leads me to believe that this was a network-based attack.  I suspect that an ARP cache or DNS cache or something similar was attacked and compromised on a major network router somewhere.  Possibly one of the edge routers at a trans-continental connection somewhere.  From the tracert results I had, it looked like it was the East Coast somewhere, leading to Europe via London to France, though I could be wrong.  It’s possible that was a blind alley meant to throw researchers off the trail in some way.
Also, as of this writing the rogue DNS server seems to be out of commission, though that might change, too.

The Internet is a wild and wooly place, ladies and gents, and you can’t always count on your friendly, neighborhood Network Geek to watch over you and keep you safe!  So, be careful out there!
(And, if you’re a fellow professional who’s seen this, too, leave me comments and tell me what you found!)
UPDATE: Looks like the server is still active, but my ISP has blocked DNS traffic to it, to fix the problem.
Also?  I hate the bastards that do these things.  I hate every last one of the little rat bastards!

UPDATE/FOLLOW-UP: So, it seems like a lot of people have been effected by this problem!
Check the comments for what other folks did and tools they might suggest to help with the problem.  Frankly, I wish I’d had known about those tools when I started my day!  Yes, I was *totally* wrong when I said it looked like it was coming in from outside the routers.  It was, in fact, *several* PCs that were infected with whatever it was.  I found it, much like at least one commenter, by checking the results of “ipconfig /all” in a command prompt.  I noticed that the DHCP server listed in the config was NOT my actual DHCP server!  So, as I went from machine to machine, I saw several PCs that kept coming up as DHCP servers.  I used Malware Bytes to scan the infected PCs and it seemed to clean them off.  At least, for now.  I’m not sure what I’ll find in the morning.
Apparently, Friday, when it looked like the problem was getting cleaned up, it was really just people shutting their workstations down early for the long weekend.
In any case, as at least one commenter has mentioned, it looks like updates for the various scanners should be coming out this week, so keep updating your antivirus and antispyware programs and scan your networks!  Well, scan them more completely and carefully than you already have.
And, as always, if you have any new information or suggestions for tools to clear up the issue, please, leave them in the comments!

6/3/2010

Finding Jobs with SEO

Filed under: Career Archive,Certification,Geek Work,News and Current Events,Novell — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:52 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

Search engine marketing for job search?

Sure, why not?
I mean, that is why I started this blog ten years ago.  I guess I’m a little ahead of the curve, though, because Channel Insider just recently ran a story listing 17 tips for using SEO and social media to get the IT job you really want.  Mostly, they’re good tips, too, though for anyone who’s internet savvy at all, they’re also mostly common sense.  In fact, I think most real, good search engine optimization is just plain common sense.  Granted, I may be biased because of what I do and how I spend my free time, but, still, it’s not rocket science, you know?

I’ll grant you, this blog has wandered away from my original purpose a bit, but I still talk about technology and some of the things I do at work.  Initially, I started do this so I could drop buzzwords on my page, like “networking” and Certified Novell Engineer”, with normal language to lure in the search engines.  It was easy, really, all I had to do was bore people with detailed descriptions of the IT stuff I did all week long.  Then, because that gets boring fast, I started to occasionally pepper those entries with more colorful personal anecdotes.  Not too colorful, though!

One of the best tips is, to me, one of the most obvious, too.
Be careful what you post.  People seem to quickly forget that the search engines find everything.  Every drunken picture you post or every off-color joke or skeevy thing you share on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else eventually will get traced back to you.  Count on it.  So, be careful to share only the important information and just the details that relate to the image you want to project to get that job.  Treat the whole exercise as an extended digital job interview and put your best foot forward.

Oh, also?  Be honest.  Don’t over-share, but don’t lie either.  The other thing you can count on is that every lie you tell on-line will eventually be found out.

Other than that, though, the real secret is to just provide good content that people want to read.  That, by its very nature, will include all the SEO keywords that you’ll need and give you all the right kinds of links, and, most importantly of all, the right kinds of readers.
Trust me.  I’m telling you this as a guy who once got a call from another city from someone looking for a Novell consultant and was hoping I could help.  Why?  Because I was the number one hit for CNE on Google and they could get to me, but they couldn’t find similar help from Novell themselves.  So, yeah, I do know what I’m talking about and it really does work.  Just do the foot-work, and be patient while the rest happens.  It will.
Trust me.

3/26/2010

Image Search Engine

Filed under: Fun,Geek Work,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

But, not the way you think.

Have you ever had an image that you downloaded from somewhere, but then forget where, but you’d like to find more like it?  Or, how about this scenario, say you downloaded a picture, but you’re sure the site where you found it isn’t the creator, and you want to find the creator.  Or, even better, say you’re a photographer and are looking for who’s taken your photos.  How do you go about finding those things?

Well, one way might be TinEye Reverse Image Search Engine.  You feed it the image and it searches for that image out on the Internet.
How cool is that!?

10/10/2007

Internet Marketing Services?

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,Red Herrings,The Dark Side — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:39 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

Hmm, maybe I could have a second job…

So, I saw a guy adverstising on the web for “Internet Marketing Services”, specifically, “Business Blog Services” and “Social Marketing Services”. Sounds simple enough to me. Frankly, I’ve done plenty of blog work for folks and I can’t imagine adding a business component to it would be that much extra work. But, this guy was asking for $600 to set up a blog! With WordPress, I’d be done in about 30 minutes, including upload time and configuration. $600 for less than an hour worth of work… Oh, and then, if you want his “daily blogging” service, wherein he will make a blog entry for you, seven days a week, that’s $500 per MONTH! And, if you want him to optimize your blog for the search engines, that’s another one-time fee of $500.
But, what got me was the ad copy for what he called “Social Media Optimization“. That service, his site claimed, includes “Search Engine Reputation Management, Social Marketing Team Launch & Management”. “Search engine reputation management”? Are you kidding me?! For not submitting your page to the search engines too often and making some minimal effort to make sure you don’t get black-balled by Google, he’s going to actually negotiate a fee? What’s more, it’s a variable fee, no doubt based on how much you know about search engines and the web. I have a feeling that the less a customer knows, the higher the fee.

Wow, I could make a bundle at this kind of thing. If only I didn’t have ethics and the last vestige of a conscience…

(And, if you haven’t voted yet, check out the pictures from two posts ago and vote!!)

8/3/2007

SeeqPod

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,News and Current Events,Red Herrings,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 9:09 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

I swear, I am not going to turn this into a music blog.

But, I’ve been doing a lot of music related searching lately and found this cool new music search engine called SeeqPod. It searches for music that’s available on the web and lets you play it, live. So, if you’ve ever wanted to hear that cool new band your friend has been telling you about, but don’t want to shell out for a CD, try this. It’s very cool.

6/8/2007

Webhost Reccomendations?

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Red Herrings,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Snake which is just before lunchtime or 11:36 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

So, I’m not entirely happy with my webhost.

After bouncing around from place to place, I finally found a great webhost who had competitive prices and super-responsive support. Even when I had issues with some particularly unruly scripts, they worked with me and got everything working just right.  Granted, the company was run by the cousin of a friend of mine, but, stll… Unfortunately, they also sold the business to someone else who’s not quite as good as the folks I was with for so long.
Normally, I wouldn’t just jump ship, but I have a little project that I’ve been toying with and it would be a perfect test case for a new web provider. Naturally, I thought I’d ask you all, my faithful readers, before just closing my eyes and picking someone, if any of you had any suggestions. So, do you? Are there any of you who have had particularly good, or bad, experiences with any web hosting companies?
Inquiring minds want to know!

And, yes, this little “project” is also why I’ve been thinking about blogging software and search engine optimization.  Funny how all these things seem to tie together with me these days.

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