Archive for category Web

Secure your site with SSL

I’ve been wanting to secure the back-end of this site with SSL for a while now. More so now that the attacks against the site have really ramped up. I don’t make any money from the site so I had a hard time swallowing the price for an SSL cert. StartCom to the rescue! They have level 1 certificates for free. You just need to install their intermediate certificate, which they provide a nice tutorial for. So yeah, if you want a free cert, check out Startcom at https://www.startssl.com/

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The site is getting hammered

No, I don’t mean it is getting drunk. (curse you english language with you double meanings for everything) Since I added the Better WP Security plugin I am geting site lock out notifications at about 2-3 a day now. Tracing the requesting IP’s all go back to one nefarious country…dun dun dahh…China. The performance of the over server is degraded as well with the number of requests coming in. I would love to say that I am really that popular, but it seems I am directly in the crosshairs of some individuals in China with a lot of bandwidth.

I should really just blacklist the whole country really. I used to run my web server out of my house but the bandwidth was pretty poor on a home DSL line. It didn’t help that I was getting attacked pretty regular as well. I ended up blacklisting most of Russia, China, and Korea. It cut down on the amount of serviced requests greatly and saved on my server wear and tear but it still ate up bandwidth.

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If you are running WordPress

Just read this article last week and I added a couple new plugins for security. Namely, I added Limit Login and Better WP Security. The very next day after adding these plugins it was already blacklisting IP’s coming from China that have been trying to brute force their way into my site.

If you run a WordPress site I can’t recommend enough that you beef up your password strength and add those plugins (if you haven’t already). AND MAKE SURE YOU KEEP YOUR WORDPRESS INSTALL UP TO DATE!!!! The amount of bogus traffic over the past couple of weeks has been scary. You have been warned.

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Why should you pay for a free service?

I am always asking myself this, why would I pay for a free service? Services like Pandora and Passpack to name two that I use A LOT. I choose to pay for both of these services since I utilize them on such a regular basis. Does the free plan fulfill my needs, yes. However, I have to look at it in the light of how much convenience and usefulness the service has provided me. If the usefulness is less than the minimum amount for a membership with the service, I don’t pay. If the usefulness is more than the minimum subscription then I really have no problem paying for it. Pandora is $36 per year and we listen to it constantly around the house. Passpack is $18 per year and I use it at least 10 times a week.

The small amount you pay for a service keeps the service going and supports the free memberships. I don’t resent the people that use a free service without paying for it. I think most people either: 1) Don’t find the service as useful as I do and thereby don’t feel a need to pay for it; 2) Too cheap to dish out for a free ride; 3) It never really occurred to them to pay for the free meal they get, everything on the internet is free right? (a lot like #2). There might be more reasons, but that’s all I can come up with right now 😀

I guess my reasoning to pay for free services is really just a personal preference. I enjoy these services and hope they continue to provide a quality product that fills a need/want in my life. If I can keep them going for $36 a year, then I really don’t see a downside to it.

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Is this some huge secret?

I work with the Cub scouts. I created them a Gmail address. I tried to create a Picasa web album to hold all the pictures from the various events. I couldn’t do this until I had an active profile in Google+. So I created a G+ account under the name ‘Scout Pack 349’. Ooops. Little did I know, Google suspends accounts that do not use real names. My bad. Now let change my name and I will be on my merry way. Well, low and behold I can’t just change it, my account is suspended. The G+ page says my account is suspended and I need to go to my profile page and change my name. While the profile page says my account is suspended and I can’t access this page. WTF!? So I start scouring the web for some means to appeal my suspension, buried deep in a Google group post I finally find an name appeal form. Wow.. thanks for making it easy Google, and by easy I mean a total PITA.

If your account is suspended go to this URL and appeal the validity of your name:

https://support.google.com/plus/bin/request.py?&contact_type=name_appeal

I am not sure why this isn’t just linked to on the suspension page, that would make sense.

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The Netflix debacle

I received an email list night that I found rather humorous. Below is an excerpt:

“It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.
This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.
While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.”

I have been a Netflix customer for the past 6 years and I have enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised when, 3 years ago, they unexpectedly lowered our monthly cost for a reason that escapes me now. I thought I was with a pretty cool company that would actually lower their customer costs as the company did better. When the price hikes came about I begrudgingly accepted them as the price of Netflix’s rising popularity. I knew the movie industry fat-cats would want a piece of the expanding Netflix pie, and licensing is a highly subjective pricing scheme so I knew there were going to be repercussions that would radiate down to us, the consumer.

When Netflix CEO Reed Hastings came out and said that DVD’s would be handled by a new company ‘Qwikster’, I had a major WTF moment. No really, there is nothing I want more than another website login, and an entirely separate queue for my movies. Really!? But then, they tantalized me the prospect of renting games with this new split. Hmm, I might be able to warm to this, maybe.

Now, the intrepid Netflix CEO made a blog post that says Quickster is dead before it ever started and game rentals are a possibility. Oh wow, so you are taking away something I didn’t like and something I did like. I guess the status quo is maintained, I love them but I don’t exactly hate them either.

At least there have been some positive rumblings for a native Linux Netflix client.

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Google+ for me

So I received an invite from a friend to join Google+ this week and I spared no time getting logged in and setup.

The first thing we tried as a hangout, basically a netmeeting, only with the ugly MS requirement. After installing the plugin (they actually have a Linux plugin!!) and a little snafu with my mic (which was totally my own fault) we were video chatting with each other and sharing YouTube videos. You can chat with a bunch of people all at once so I see this being a contender to all the WebEx and DimDim clones out there. [ BTW, if you miss DimDim, try BuddyMeeting, it is a fork of the open source DimDim code ] Actually on second thought, I am not sure if it will compete with those sort of products, its contingent on everyone having a Google+ account, so that right there is a big strike against its viability as a WebEx contender. But still, all in all, very cool.Google+ screenshot

Next are circles, or groups, for friends. A novel idea on groups, but nothing terrible new here. The act of adding friends to circles is sort of fun with the animation, but other than that I haven’t seen a lot of difference there. There is one thing worth pointing out about about how Google+ uses these circles however. When you post to your stream, or your microblog of sorts, you can choose which circles get to see the post. This is huge for me. One of the things that really turned me off to Facebook was the fact that when ever I posted anything, ALL my friends would see it. So all those stupid YouTube videos or slight NSFW links that I wanted to share with my friends, yeah, my parents could see them too. The only alternative would be to unfriend my parents, not really an options when I want to share pics and videos of the kids with the extended family.

Other than that there aren’t a ton of differences from Facebook. You can share your videos and photos, nothing new there, and having an android phone makes it even easier. Its intriguing enough to bring be back from a self-imposed exile on social media, but if it will keep me remains to be seen.

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Hollywood style code hacking

Hey kids! Have you ever wanted to pursue a career in programming? Checkout this site to see EXACTLY what its like! Just click the ‘Hack!’ button and start typing, you’ll be hacking Linux kernel code before you even realize what you are doing. Isn’t programming fun!

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To alias or not to alias, that is the question

I have a good number of servers I have to keep track of at work, and they all have rather long domain names, and I really haven’t gotten used to the subnetting at my job yet. So what is one to do? Well, I did what any concerned Linux user would do, I aliased all of then in my hosts file. Sort of like this:

192.168.125.133 dev1
192.168.125.137 dev2
10.6.8.201     uat1
10.6.8.202     uat2

I can hear you say already, “Jeff, just memorize them, there are only 4!”, yeah, ok, this is only about 1/16 of the aliases I have, so that becomes a bit more difficult. So here is my conundrum, do I continue with the aliases, or do I go cold-turkey and try to memorize them. The upside of aliasing is that I can fly when I am at my machine, its a no brainer to scp or ssh to a machine, but then I look like a total retard when I am at someone else’s computer, “What do you mean you don’t know the IP or domain name of your dev server!?”.

So therein lies the subject of my pondering..

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Google CSE article

I just finished the Google CSE article I started a couple of weeks back. It was an interesting project, mostly due to the fact that I have never worked with the Google search API before and it was enjoyable to learn something new.

Hopefully you find it useful. When I was putting the code together, I found there to be a distinct lack of articles or documentation on the Custom Search Engines. Hopefully this helps someone. Then again, Google will probably EOL the JS CSE API in the next few months and I will have written the article for my own benefit. Ah well..

Check it out here

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