Jun 26, 2017

Match Head Rocket Science Experiment with Brizzle Fo' Shizzle

The above video is from my son Brayden, aka Brizzle's new Youtube channel called, "The Adventures of Brizzle Fo' Shizzle!"

In this episode, Brizzle, his sister Kizzle, his Grandpa and I try a science experiment! A match head rocket experiment! Will it launch into outer space? Will it simply explode? Will it fizzle out in a puff of smoke? Watch and find out!

Jun 8, 2017

What is SNI?

I felt like writing this post because I deal with this question quite a bit at my company. What is SNI? Well, in short, SNI is an acronym that stands for Server Name Indicator, or Server Name Indication. Wikipedia describes it as:
Server Name Indication (SNI) is an extension to the TLS computer networking protocol by which a client indicates which hostname it is attempting to connect to at the start of the handshaking process. This allows a server to present multiple certificates on the same IP address and TCP port number and hence allows multiple secure (HTTPS) websites (or any other Service over TLS) to be served by the same IP address without requiring all those sites to use the same certificate. It is the conceptual equivalent to HTTP/1.1 name-based virtual hosting, but for HTTPS. The desired hostname is not encrypted, so an eavesdropper can see which site is being requested.
In a shorter, more concise explanation, SNI lets us bind multiple SSL certificates to one IP address. In the past, we used to have to bind an SSL certificate to a single IP address, and any additional SSL certificates would require their own IP address.

This is a real problem when you can see that IPv4 is running out of addresses! It also became a problem if you wanted to host multiple websites on a single web server. One web server might need eight or nine IP addresses to server up eight or nine different websites!

The reason I get asked about this a lot is we have several clients whose applications don't support SNI, and when they try to connect to our API that requires SNI, they get some sort of SSL error. We have a workaround for those clients, but I still find myself having to explain this to many of the people I work with (Often several times over).

The reason the clients that don't support SNI get SSL errors is that their application isn't smart enough to tell the web server which website they are trying to connect to by using the hostname at the start of the handshake process. Because they can't tell the web server which site they are trying to connect to, they are presented with whatever is the default certificate, which doesn't match the hostname, so they get a handshake error.

I see this a lot with Java based applications, but occasionally I see this with custom .Net applications as well. I guess this depends on if the developers have taken into account SNI or not.

I also see this a lot with DataPower/WebSphere clients, but DataPower can be configured for SNI. Check out this video:

All modern browsers support SNI, and in my opinion, all modern applications should too. If your application does not support it, then I would suggest lighting a fire under your development team's collective ass, and have them update your application to support it!

Jun 7, 2017

How To Get Rid of Boxelder Bugs... Seriously!

This isn't really technology, computer or software related, but I thought I'd share this with you anyway since it is something that has literally been "bugging" me for the last two years. That is that I've had a huge issue with Boxelder bugs all over the front of my house! They weren't there when I moved in three years ago, but they took up residence last year and never left apparently!

Looking on YouTube, I found this video that tells you to use liquid dish soap and water on your siding because the Boxelder don't like it apparently:

Well, this technique did get them off the siding, it did NOT get them off my sidewalks or bushes around the front of my house. It did not solve the problem!

Well, today I had enough and decided to get something that would solve the problem. I bought some Spectracide HG-95830 Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate, Ready-to-Spray and attached that sumbitch to my garden hose!

I let loose a torrent of water and death all over the front of my house, on my sidewalks and in the plants around the front of of my house. Hordes of Boxelder bugs were covered in the Triazicide spray and slowly met their inevitable doom!

The ready to spray version is the best in my opinion because it hooks to your garden hose and allows you to spray a large area quickly.

The Spectracide website even lists Triazicide as one of their solutions to kill Boxelder bugs! Boom! Suck on that you nasty bugs!

If you have Boxelder bugs all over the front of your house, ditch the dish soap, grab a hose and hook up a bottle of Triazicide to it and unleash hell! You can thank me later!

May 31, 2017

mdadm: /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf defines no arrays.

One of the most annoying things about Ubuntu 16.04 LTS server edition is that every time you go to run updates, you almost inevitably get hit with this message:
mdadm: /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf defines no arrays.
It turns out that this message is completely benign and you can ignore it, but that doesn't make it any less annoying right? Hopefully they get that worked out in Ubuntu 18.04 LTS next year. Until then, there is a quick way to fix it.

Just open /etc/mdadm/mdadm.conf with your favorite text editor and add the following lines at the bottom.
ARRAY devices=/dev/sda
Save the file, and that's it. No more stupid error.

If you didn't know, mdadm is the Linux software RAID software. If you are running Ubuntu in a VM though, chances are it is not going to have a software RAID to manage.
[H/T Ask Ubuntu]

May 28, 2017

Get into cryptocurrency mining the easy way with MinerGate!

You may be asking what is cryptocurrency. Well, Wikipedia describes it as:
A digital asset designed to work as a medium of exchange using cryptography to secure the transactions and to control the creation of additional units of the currency. Cryptocurrencies are a subset of alternative currencies, or specifically of digital currencies.
Bitcoin was the first one out, and if you didn't know, as of the time of this writing Coinbase is reporting that 1 Bitcoin is currently worth $2,277.22! That's a lot of money, and it's value has only gone up over the last few years.

If you are unfamiliar with Bitcoin, I made this Tech Chop video a few years ago to talk about it:

So now you get the idea right? Well, Bitcoin isn't the only name in the cryptocurrency game. There are tons of other ones like Monero, Litecoin, FantomCoin etc. Almost too many to count. The problem with Bitcoin, even though it's the most mainstream of them is that mining it has really lost it's profitability. In the early days it was fairly easy to mine Bitcoins, and therefore the guys that got in early have made a ton of money by now, but that ship has sailed. That being said, since there are other cryptocurrencies, those of us late to the game still have a chance!

Introducing MinerGate!

From their page:
MinerGate is a mining pool created by a group of cryptocoin enthusiasts.

It is the first pool which provides service for merged mining. This means that while mining on our pool you can mine different coins simultaniously without decrease of hashrate for major coin
With MinerGate, you can easily mine other types of cryptocurrencies and transfer them to a digital wallet that you can use to cash out to dollars, or exchange for other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

A great free online wallet, that supports many cryptocurrencies that I recommend is Cryptonator. Cryptonator also lets you easily trade between currencies. If you are in Europe, it's also good to cash out to fiat currency like Euros.

If you are in America, I recommend converting your alternative cryptocurrencies to Bitcoin or Litecoin with Cryptonator, then transfer that to your free Coinbase account when you are ready to withdraw your money to dollars. I say that because a lot of foreign Bitcoin exchanges don't play well with American banks, but Coinbase does!

If you are new to cryptocurrency/cryptocoin and want to try out mining and see if it's right for you, then in my opinion there is no easier way of doing it than with MinerGate.

For those of you that have been doing this for a while, what other mining tools or programs do you recommend? Do you use MinerGate yourself? Do you like it? Let us know in the comments.

[EDIT] I found that it's actually easier to transfer your mined currency from MinerGate directly to your Coinbase account using Changelly! With Changelly, you can transfer any type of supported crypto-coin directly to any other type of crypto-coin. For instance, I just transferred my XMR (Monero) to my Litecoin wallet on Coinbase! Boom! Easy!

May 26, 2017

A Zenoss error has occurred

I had a bit of a scare the other day after a simple reboot of my Zenoss 4.2.4 monitoring server. When the Zenoss server came back up, I went to login like usual and I received the dreaded "A Zenoss error has occurred" message! Below it was the following:
Type: <type 'exceptions.KeyError'>
Value: 1495826580
Traceback (most recent call last):
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/ZPublisher/Publish.py", line 126, in publish
request, bind=1)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/ZPublisher/mapply.py", line 77, in mapply
if debug is not None: return debug(object,args,context)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/ZPublisher/Publish.py", line 46, in call_object
result=apply(object,args) # Type s<cr> to step into published object.
File "/usr/local/zenoss/Products/ZenUtils/patches/pasmonkey.py", line 153, in login
pas_instance.updateCredentials(request, response, login, password)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/PluggableAuthService/PluggableAuthService.py", line 1100, in updateCredentials
updater.updateCredentials(request, response, login, new_password)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/PluggableAuthService/plugins/SessionAuthHelper.py", line 102, in updateCredentials
request.SESSION.set('__ac_name', login)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/ZPublisher/HTTPRequest.py", line 1379, in __getattr__
v = self.get(key, default, returnTaints=returnTaints)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/ZPublisher/HTTPRequest.py", line 1336, in get
v = v()
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/Sessions/SessionDataManager.py", line 101, in getSessionData
return self._getSessionDataObject(key)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/Sessions/SessionDataManager.py", line 188, in _getSessionDataObject
ob = container.new_or_existing(key)
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/Transience/Transience.py", line 842, in new_or_existing
self[key] = item
File "/usr/local/zenoss/lib/python/Products/Transience/Transience.py", line 454, in __setitem__
current_bucket = self._data[current_ts]
KeyError: 1495826580
Doesn't look pretty does it? Everything seemed to be working still, I was still getting alert emails, but I could not login to the user interface to save my life!

Well, I found a solution in an archived community support thread. To fix it I did the following to fix it by SSH'ing into the Zenoss server:
  • su zenoss
  • zendmd
  • from Products.ZenUtils.Security import activateCookieBasedAuthentication
  • activateCookieBasedAuthentication(zport)
  • activateCookieBasedAuthentication(app)
  • commit()
  • zport.acl_users._delObject('sessionAuthHelper')
  • app.acl_users._delObject('sessionAuthHelper')
  • commit()
  • exit()
  • zopectl restart
After that, I was able to login fine! Each of the above are one line commands in the terminal. 

I hope it helps you out!

May 19, 2017

Don't panic! New exploits and malware are released every day!

I work in an industry where security is kind of a big deal. Without getting into specifics, or naming company names, we'll just say that the companies I work with a lot are in the financial sector. Because of that, I've found that their security is pretty damned hard core, and their vendor risk assessment crews are even more hard core.

Knowing all that, you can probably assume that I get a lot of risk assessment questionnaires asking about the company I work for and our security practices. On top of their annual, or semi-annual risk assessments whenever news breaks out of some fancy new malware, their pucker factor goes up exponentially and I get bombarded with questions asking about what we're doing about it.

Although I completely understand where they are coming from, the truth is in the world of network security, threats like this are always out there. There are always viruses, Trojans, worms and other nasty things hackers are trying to do to cause chaos, damage systems, steal information or to steal money. The difference with these cases is that they are famous and they've made the news cycle.

This latest crazy threat that has everyone in a tizzy is WannaCry(Or WCry, or Wanna Decryptor). If you have been living under a rock, it's your typical ransomware that encrypts all your files and asks you to pay a ransom to have your files unlocked. In reality, it's no different than CryptoLocker that came out in 2013. One might argue that the difference is how it was spread using a vulnerability that the NSA had been using for years.

Guess what folks, I have news for you. Shit like this comes out every day. In fact, WikiLeaks has been leaking all of the CIA's exploits  for the past few months. The Hacker News reported yesterday that two of the CIA's tools affect all versions of Windows! WannaCry only affected Windows 2008 and below! Get ready for an epic shitstorm of hacks now that the United State's Government's secrets are all over the web!

Long story short, DON'T PANIC! Stuff like this happens every day. The best thing you can do is prepare for it. Keep your systems patched, make sure your antivirus/anti-malware is up to date, use firewalls, beware of phishing scams, and make sure you have reliable backups! You know, all the recommended security shit you are supposed to do, and not be lazy about! If you maintain a decent security posture, you can prevent a lot of this sort of thing, or be able to mitigate against it should you be affected.

Do you agree? Disagree? Let us know in the comments.

May 18, 2017

Goodbye ExtraTorrent! Hello Zooqle!

Yesterday I posted that ExtraTorrent was closing up shop. In that post I mentioned a possible mirror, but that turned out to not be real. None of the download links worked. ExtraTorrent really is gone apparently.

That being said, if you like to torrent stuff, there are some alternative sites out there. Not all of them have RSS capabilities though. Well, I found one that does offer RSS! It's called Zooqle!

My only gripe with Zooqle is that they make you register. It's not that big of deal, but I recommend that if you register with any Torrent site, you do so while connected to a VPN connection. I also recommend NOT using your personal email address, and use one dedicated to Torrenting that also uses encryption like ProtonMail!

One thing I certainly do love about Zooqle, besides its RSS support, is the lack of intrusive advertising. One of my biggest problems with ExtraTorrent were their annoying redirect ads and pop-under ads. I respect having ads on your website. For many sites, that's their only source of revenue. I just had intrusive ads!

Now that ExtraTorrent is gone, which site or sites do you use? What alternatives do you recommend? let us know in the comments!

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