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Dec 16, 2017

The FCC's regulations on the internet have been killed. Are we "feeballing" again? #NetNeutrality

I have been a pretty big proponent of actual Net Neutrality. By that I mean that I feel that governments and ISP's should leave the Internet the hell alone! The Internet is the ultimate experiment in human freedom, and the sharing of limitless information is incredibly valuable.

So like many people, I have fallen in with those on "the left" when it started to become apparent that the FCC was going to repeal Obama era regulations to "protect the Internet". However, the following from Reason TV has started making think that this reason action from the FCC might not be as bad as I had thought.

Via Reason TV:
Progressives are freaking out now that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is beginning the repeal of Net Neutrality regulations, which give the government the right to regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs). 
The main arguments in favor of Net Neutrality are really arguments guarding against hypotheticals: that ISPs could otherwise block and censor content (they never have) or that they'll run their operations like shakedowns, requiring content providers to pay up or slow their traffic to molasses. The main documented instance of an ISP favoring one content provider over others wasn't sinister collusion. Metro PCS offered unlimited YouTube in a budget data plan but not unlimited Hulu and Netflix, because YouTube had a compression system that could be adapted to the carrier's low-bandwidth network. In a different context, critics might have applauded Metro PCS, since bought by T-Mobile, for bringing more options to lower-income customers. 
Net Neutrality is a proxy battle over what type of internet we want to have—one characterized by technocratic regulations or one based on innovation and emergent order. Progessives are generally suspicious of complex systems existing without powerful regulators present and accounted for. Small-government folks are repulsed by bureaucrats in general, and think the internet will fair better in a state of benign neglect. The FCC has come down on the side of an organic internet, instead of treating the internet more like a public utility. 
We don't know how the internet is going to evolve over time, but neither do the government administrators trying to rein it in. But given the record of free-market innovation vs. government-regulated services, the odds are with market forces and entrepreneurs.
If the above isn't doing it for you, their video does the best job in my opinion:




After watching the video above, has it changed your mind about Net Neutrality? I mean, we really want to keep the creepy government's fingers out of it don't we?

Let us know what you think about this either way in the comments!

Dec 15, 2017

htaccess not working with https on Apache

I noticed an issue the other day on a Wordpress server I manage that runs on Ubuntu. We have several virtual directories on that server that use rewrite rules in an htaccess file to present content from a different website. If we use http, it works great! If we use https, we get a page cannot be found error.

What gives?

Well, it turns out that out of the box the /etc/apache2/sites-available/default-ssl has the following setting:

        <Directory />
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride None
        </Directory>
        <Directory /var/www/>
                Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
                AllowOverride None
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all
        </Directory>

The above setting makes it so that Apache ignores your htaccess file.

The highlighted items are what we need to change. You need to change AllowOveride None to AllowOveride All (or to whatever you have in your 000-default.conf file). See below:

        <Directory />
                Options FollowSymLinks
                AllowOverride All
        </Directory>
        <Directory /var/www/>
                Options Indexes FollowSymLinks MultiViews
                AllowOverride All
                Order allow,deny
                allow from all
        </Directory>

After making the change, you need to restart the Apache daemon:
#sudo service apache2 restart
Once Apache restarts, you your rewrite rules should now work over https!

Dec 14, 2017

How Secure Is Your Operating System?

Ever wonder how secure your information truly is? What security protocols do you practice? Maybe creating a password? Locking the computer so others cannot access your data? Bypassing windows passwords only takes a minute or less and the windows 10 installation disk. Thus far, I have been successful in using the Windows 10 disk to bypass account passwords and even activating deactivated accounts on Windows Server 2012, Windows 10, Windows 7, and Windows 8.1. I have yet to test the technique to bypass locked computer accounts in Windows XP and Vista, but I do not foresee any complications with those operating systems.

Before you think this makes you safer because you use Mac OS X. I have also been able to bypass root level account passwords on a MacBook Pro, running Mac OS X (10.10) Yosemite operating system, using built-in Apple commands. This method also took less than a minute to accomplish.

The security implemented in an operating system and accounts always has a level of vulnerability. Most security measures are feel good methods. Username and passwords, for example, represent single level authentication, identifying who you are, the username and proof that you are who you are, the password. It is said for modern security protocols to require the username to be unique and the password to have a minimum of 16 characters and a random combination of uppercase, lowercase, numbers and special characters to be utilized. 16 digits the extent of the average person to remember their own passwords. With the growing technological advancements of computer processing power, such passwords will eventually be capable of being broken in shorter amounts of time, eventually making them completely useless. Most operating systems store username and password combinations as hash algorithms in specific files that can be viewed as plain text, resulting in the need for passwords to be ultimately obsolete.

Stating those facts does not mean "So, why bother?" with username and passwords. Passwords do stop the average person from gaining access and some level of security is better than no level of security. There, of course, are other ways to better secure your operating systems, preventing the method mentioned here from being capable of being utilized. Data at rest encryption, for example, is an option at the operating system level. This means a decryption process must occur prior to the operating system boot.

2 factor and 3-factor authentication also increase the security level of your operating system. CAC (Common Access Cac) cards, commonly utilized by the DoD and other government agencies are a prime example of 2-factor authentication. The first factor, requiring the card itself that maintains encrypted certificates to identify who you are and who you say you are, plus the second factor of a pin as secondary proof. 3-factor authentication would include features such as biometrics. Keep in mind, even with all of these methods being utilized. There is no such thing as a 100% secure system.

Dec 13, 2017

10 Upcoming Gadgets and Technologies to Change the World

Digital technology has come a long way through all leaps and bounds over the past five years. Cloud computing, smartphones, and multi-touch tablets are the innovations which revolutionized our personal and work life. Well, it's just a beginning. Technology will get even better. In the near future, we could lead a life just like in sci-fi movies.

So, get ready to slice Ninja fruits through your gestures and control the desktop with eyes, print your own physical product, and enter into the virtual world and experience virtual reality. Here's is the rundown of top 10 real-life, upcoming gadgets and technologies which will change the world.

Google Glass

Augmented Reality is already here in the forms of simulated education and experiment app. But Google has taken multiple steps ahead by launching Google Glass. Theoretically, you can view your texts, social feeds, Google Maps and navigate through GPS. You can also get updates on the ground. Currently, it is offered only to some developers at $1500. But other tech companies are working and trying to build an affordable variant for commercial sales.

Form 1

3D printing could forge any digital design into a real-life product. It is nothing new for the mechanical industry but a 3D printer is surely a revolutionary idea. Everyone can create their own product with their unique design and you don't need any approval from any company. Even Aston Martin in a James Bond movie was a 3D printed product which was crashed for a scene.

Form 1 is a personal 3D printer you could buy at $2799. It seems a very hefty price but you can produce your own prototypes with it. Imagine a day when any professional can mass produce their own physical products without any limits.

Oculus Rift

Oculus Rift is a 3D headset which would bring virtual reality to life. It allows you feel that you are actually in a video game mentally. In its virtual world, you could view the world in HD display with very low latency by just turning the head around. Several premium products can do the same but Rift gives that experience at just $300. It is the beginning of next-gen gaming revolution.

The world is bombarded with VR gadgets. So, the timing is right to be immersed in the whole virtual world. Oculus Rift is the first step to reach such level of realism.

Leap Motion

The concept of a multi-touch desktop is miserably failed because hands could get too tired for long use. But Leap Motion could come with a more innovative idea. You can control your desktop with fingers, without having to touch the screen.

Unlike a usual motion sensor, Leap Motion enables the user to zoom in the photos and map, scroll a web page, sign documents and also play FPS game with just finger and hand movements. A smooth reaction is a very important part of it. This future tech could be yours at just $70. You could buy a PS3 premium game title for this price. If it could work with Oculus Rift, it could definitely give a great makeover to your real-time gaming.

Smart Things

In most devices, the existing problem is that they work standalone and it needs effort for tech leaders to partner with one another and build products that can connect to one another. With Smart Things, you can make every digital to connect together, whether digital or not. You can easily get your humidity, vibration and pressure sensors, and smoke alarms to detect things and alert you by using your smartphone.

You can also track who has been in your house, turn the lights on when entering the room, and shut the doors and windows while leaving the house, all with a gadget which could cost around $500.

Eye Tribe

Eye tracking has been discussed actively by tech lovers already but it is not that simple to implement. But it is not so for Eye Tribe. They created a technology successfully that can let you control the tablet, play flight simulator and even play Fruit Ninja with just eye movements.

Basically, it's just an eye-tracking technology which can be combined with a front camera and some serious computerized algorithm. In LeWeb, a live demo was done this year and we may see it in action in future. The company is still looking for partnership to bring this tech to the market.

Firefox OS

As we all know, there is no competition for Android and iOS. But both of them have their own policies and rules which inhibit the developers and their creative efforts. Since then, Mozilla decided to develop a new mobile OS from the very beginning, which will focus on freedom, true openness, and user's choice.

It's Firefox OS which is built on Gecko, Gonk, and Gaia software layers. It means it is completely open source and carries HTML5 and CSS3 technologies.

Developers can debut apps without blockade of needs set by stores. Hence, users could also personalize the OS as per their needs. Currently, it is available for Android-compatible devices. It can be used to do basic tasks that you do on Android or iOS devices, such as browsing the web, calling friends, playing games, etc.

Project Fiona

Razer's Project Fiona is supposed to be the first generation of gaming tablet. It is seriously built for hardcore gaming. Tech companies might also develop their tablets that are dedicated to gaming. It features Intel Core i7 CPU to play all the PC games you love at the palm of your hands. Razer has developed user experience just on the tablet, along with magnetometer, 3-axis gyro, accelerometer and multi-touch UI.

Parallella

It will clearly redefine the way computers are made. It is simply a supercomputer for all. It is a power-saving computer built to process complex program efficiently and simultaneously. It will make holographic heads-up display, real-time object tracking, and speech recognition even smarter and stronger.

Driverless Car by Google

We all have imagined driverless car to be real someday. Finally, Google has made it happen. It works on artificial intelligence which gets input from video cameras in it, a sensor on the top, and some position sensors and radar in various positions of the car. A lot of research and development has been done to imitate the human intelligence.

Dec 12, 2017

When I made this video, #Bitcoin was trading for $12.83



I made this video for my old Tech Chop video series back in October of 2012! When this video came out, nobody really had heard about Bitcoin at that time. It was trading for roughly $12.83 per Bitcoin then, and mining was still relatively profitable. Now mining has stopped being profitable, but since Bitcoin is now trading at around $18,000 people are still making money!


Bitcoin mining itself isn't profitable anymore, but you can still get into cryptocurrency mining, and transfer your earnings into something worthwhile like Bitcoin, Litecoin or Ethereum using MinerGate! Check them out!


Google Creates More Magic With Pixel 2

Google Pixel 2 XL
Google has raised the curtain on the newest edition of its Pixel phone line and Android fans will not be disappointed.

A worthy successor to the original Pixel, the Pixel 2 combines an outstanding camera with reliable software and an attractive design, all in an aluminum waterproof package.

The phone is available in two sizes the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Unlike Apple and other manufacturers the large and small versions both are identical in guts and performance.

Look under the hat and you'll find the same Snapdragon 835 processor, 4 gigs of RAM, and the same 64 or 128 gigs of storage. The camera is the same as well. Both run Android Oreo with no bloating or customizing to the operating system. Battery life is around 7 hours with only 15 minutes of charging. Since it is "pure Android" users will get security updates and more features faster than other phones.

Screen size is the big difference between the phones. The smaller version has a five inch 1920 x 1080 OLED screen. The larger version has a higher-res 6 inch screen with a 2880 x 1440 display. The larger phone also has a rounded bezel and bigger battery.

Google has added a few design elements to the Pixel for a better experience. The search bar has been moved down to the bottom of the home screen, so it can be reached more easily. A new widget will show you useful information like the weather or your next appointment. An always-on display lets you know the time and any new notifications.

Throw around some more magical dust and you get an app called "Now Playing". It automatically identifies whatever music is playing nearby whether you are in a bar, restaurant or other place. It downloads a list of similar songs to your phone. You can then select if you wish to listen to them.

For most, the camera is king when it comes to cell phones and Pixel 2 continues the excellent reputation of its predecessor. The photos are sharp with soft background portrait shots. The 12.2 rear megapixel camera, and 8 MP up front, are fast and extremely impressive in low light.

The Pixel's video capabilities will also turn heads. It can shoot slow-motion video at up to 240 frames per second. 4K shooting can be done at 30 frames per second. Google also touts the phone's ability to combine optical and electrical image stabilization so your video is smooth even in the roughest conditions.

Worried about storage? Google says no need. Pixel provides unlimited and free photo and video storage, even in 4k.

You can also search "what you see" with Google Lens. Do more searching by voice or with a squeeze of the device.

Since it is a Google phone it comes with all company accoutrements working in tandem between the phone's Google Assistant with Google Home and Chromecast. Like most phones there is no headphone jack but Pixel Bud wireless headphones are reportedly on the way soon.

Colors include "Just Black", "Clearly White", and "Kinda Blue" for the Pixel 2 with the "Just Black" and "Black and White" available in the XL model.

Pricing starts at $649 for the Pixel 2 and $849 for the XL.

Though perhaps lacking behind the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 in performance options, and in price, Google has waived its wand and created a worthy competitor in the cellphone marketplace. The Pixel 2 should certainly generate many "oohs and ahhs" among Android fans.


About the author:
George Rosenthal is a founder and partner with ThrottleNet Inc.. ThrottleNet offers an array of technology services and products to help business owners achieve their corporate goals and accelerate business growth. These include cloud computing, custom software and mobile application development, and outsourced Managed Network Services which helps companies improve their technology uptime and IT capabilities while, at the same time, reduces costs. To learn how to accelerate your IT visit ThrottleNet online at http://www.throttlenet.com.

Dec 11, 2017

If you have an HP laptop, you might have a keylogger installed

HP has done it again. They have screwed over their customers by leaving something nasty installed in over 460 of their laptop models. This nasty thing is a keylogger program that can be used by hackers to log your every keystroke allowing them to capture your most sensitive passwords!

This isn't the first time they've done this either! Back in May, security researchers discovered a keylogger hidden in HP's audio drivers. ZeroHedge recently reported about spyware being pre-installed on HP computers as well! How low will these guys stoop to snoop on their customers?

Well, this time the keylogger was found in the touchpad driver.



Via The Hacker News:
A security researcher who goes by the name of ZwClose discovered a keylogger in several Hewlett-Packard (HP) laptops that could allow hackers to record your every keystroke and steal sensitive data, including passwords, account information, and credit card details. 
The Keylogger was found embedded in the SynTP.sys file, a part of Synaptics touchpad driver that ships with HP notebook computers, leaving more than 460 HP Notebook models vulnerable to hackers. 
Although the keylogger component is disabled by default, hackers can make use of available open source tools for bypassing User Account Control (UAC) to enable built-in keylogger "by setting a registry value." 
Here’s the location of the registry key:
  • HKLM\Software\Synaptics\%ProductName%
  • HKLM\Software\Synaptics\%ProductName%\Default
The researcher reported the keylogger component to HP last month, and the company acknowledges the presence of keylogger, saying it was actually "a debug trace" which was left accidentally, but has now been removed.

Normally to combat bullshit bloatware that hardware manufacturers install by default, I recommend wiping out the OEM operating system and do a fresh install. The problem this time is that the keylogger is contained in the drivers! That means when you go to HP's website to get the correct drivers, the keylogger will still get installed! It's pretty messed up!

I guess you really have two options here:

  • Stop buying HP products
  • Stop using Windows and switch to Ubuntu or some other flavor of Linux
What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments!

Dec 8, 2017

Book Review: Security and Privacy in an IT World: Managing and Meeting Online Regulatory Compliance in the 21st Century

My good friend and mentor (Basically the guy who taught me everything I know about Linux) , Craig MacKinder, recently wrote a book! It is called Security and Privacy in an It World: Managing and Meeting Online Regulatory Compliance in the 21st Century.

MacKinder is the owner of Blueshift Information Systems Inc, has been in the IT industry for over twenty years, and he's probably forgotten more about the business than I may ever know. When he told me that he wrote a book, I was pretty excited about it!

Here is a description of the book from Amazon:
Regulatory compliance has historically been a concern of only a company's legal and finance departments. However, as e-commerce continues to dominate retail both in the United States and abroad, regulatory compliance is now a major area of concern for IT managers, everyone on executive teams, and entire boards of directors. 
Amid a recoiling global marketplace and bigger and more costly cyberattacks, the nexus of "what can our networks do" versus "what are our networks allowed to do" is ever more complex. New privacy regulations coming from some of the closest allies of the United States are increasing the need for all companies doing business online to understand and abide by regulations that are in constant flux. 
On top of these concerns, the U.S. government itself is in a rocky place with domestic politics threatening to stand in the way of business as usual for American companies. How will CEOs navigate this minefield centered around Internet freedom? It will require boardrooms and network managers to focus in partnership on meeting new privacy mandates while also keeping networks safe from cyberattacks and data theft.
MacKinder sent me a copy of the book shortly after it published, and I have to say that I really like it.

It's not a terribly big book, and you can easily read through it in a week or so. It's also written in a manner that is not super technical, and helps give you an easy to follow understanding of the security threats businesses face, as well as the regulatory requirements businesses must adhere to in order to protect client and business data.

It also discusses the politics of IT security and government regulations, and how it impacts global trade and e-commerce. There is also good information about dealing with complex and conflicting Internet regulations.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for IT managers, executives, and board members!

If you are having a hard time getting someone on the executive team to understand the security and regulatory compliance challenges you face as an IT professional, you might consider buying a few copies for them and hand them out as gifts!


Dec 7, 2017

Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Says Ajit Pai is Selling Out Consumers At Behest of ISP's

On Monday we reported that Ajit Pai would not delay their vote to overturn Obama era protections of net neutrality. This was in response to senators requesting that the FCC delay their vote.

One can only assume this is because Ajit Pai is an asshole that doesn't give a shit about consumers, and only the interests of ISP's. One might also speculate that he is probably taking bribes from ISP giants like Verizon and AT&T... I digress...

Anyway, yesterday Pai's predecessor, Tom Wheeler slammed Ajit Pai's plan to eliminate net neutrality. He basically called Pai out for selling out consumers and entrepreneurs at the hands of large ISP's.

Via Ars Technica:
"ISP monopoly carriers have been trying for four years to get to this point," Wheeler said, pointing to a 2013 story in The Washington Post about how telecoms were trying to "shift regulation of their broadband businesses to other agencies that don't have nearly as much power as the FCC." 
Pai's elimination of net neutrality rules, scheduled for a vote on December 14, will also shift consumer protection responsibility to the Federal Trade Commission and forbid state and local governments from writing their own net neutrality rules. 
"It is a classic example of regulatory capture, where the regulatory agency bends to the wishes of those they are supposed to oversee," Wheeler said today during a press conference with US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.).
If you don't think this whole thing stinks, you need to get your nose checked. We are all on the brink of losing the ultimate freedom humanity has ever created, and it's all about money.

What do you think of Ajit Pai, or his plans to kill net neutrality? Let us know in the comments!

Dec 6, 2017

Over 31 Million Ai.type user's info leaked in massive data breach

Researchers from Kromtech Security center have discovered that personal information from around 31 million users have been leaked online due to a security vulnerability in the popular smartphone keyboard app Ai.type. The data was found online and can be accessed by anyone without a password.

Via The Hacker News:
Founded in 2010, Ai.type is a customizable and personalizable on-screen keyboard for mobile phones and tablets, with more than 40 million users worldwide. 
Apparently, a misconfigured MongoDB database, owned by the Tel Aviv-based startup AI.type, exposed their entire 577 GB of the database online that includes a shocking amount of sensitive details on their users, which is not even necessary for the app to work. 
"...they appear to collect everything from contacts to keystrokes."
The leaked database of over 31 million users includes:
  • Full name, phone number, and email address
  • Device name, screen resolution and model details
  • Android version, IMSI number, and IMEI number
  • Mobile network name, country of residence and even user enabled languages
  • IP address (if available), along with GPS location (longitude/latitude).
  • Links and the information associated with the social media profiles, including birth date, emails, photos.
"When researchers installed Ai.Type they were shocked to discover that users must allow 'Full Access' to all of their data stored on the testing iPhone, including all keyboard data past and present," the researchers say.
If you are an Ai.type user, it's already too late, but I'd still uninstall it if I were you...

Dec 5, 2017

Mining Bitcoin on a 55 year old IBM mainframe works worse than expected

I ran into an interesting blog post today where a guy named Ken Shirriff decided to test what would happen if you mined Bitcoin on a 55 year old IBM 1401 mainframe! If you think he was able to really crank out hashes on that old giant monstrosity using punch cards and assembly language, well... you would be wrong.

Via www.righto.com:
The IBM 1401 can compute a double SHA-256 hash in 80 seconds. It requires about 3000 Watts of power, roughly the same as an oven or clothes dryer. A basic IBM 1401 system sold for $125,600, which is about a million dollars in 2015 dollars. On the other hand, today you can spend $50 and get a USB stick miner with a custom ASIC integrated circuit. This USB miner performs 3.6 billion hashes per second and uses about 4 watts. The enormous difference in performance is due to several factors: the huge increase in computer speed in the last 50 years demonstrated by Moore's law, the performance lost by using a decimal business computer for a binary-based hash, and the giant speed gain from custom Bitcoin mining hardware. 
To summarize, to mine a block at current difficulty, the IBM 1401 would take about 5x10^14 years (about 40,000 times the current age of the universe). The electricity would cost about 10^18 dollars. And you'd get 25 bitcoins worth about $6000. Obviously, mining Bitcoin on an IBM 1401 mainframe is not a profitable venture...
...Implementing SHA-256 in assembly language for an obsolete mainframe was a challenging but interesting project. Performance was worse than I expected (even compared to my 12 minute Mandelbrot). The decimal arithmetic of a business computer is a very poor match for a binary-optimized algorithm like SHA-256. But even a computer that predates integrated circuits can implement the Bitcoin mining algorithm. And, if I ever find myself back in 1960 due to some strange time warp, now I know how to set up a Bitcoin network.
Ken went on to say that he didn't actually mine real Bitcoin using this museum computer, but he did actually create and run the SHA-256 algorithm on the IBM 1401, showing that mining is possible in theory. He verified that he was able to find a successful hash by comparing it against one that had already been mined.

Line printer and IBM 1401 via righto.com
Even though it doesn't really make any sense to try and attempt mining on such old hardware, this little experiment is kind of fun an interesting in my opinion.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

Dec 4, 2017

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai basically tells net neutrality supporters they can eat a bag of dicks

FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai (Asshole)
OK, to be perfectly honest, the title of this blog post is not an exact quote. FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai did not actually tell net neutrality supporters that they can eat a bag of dicks, but he might as well have.

According to our last blog post, 28 senators were asking the FCC to delay their vote on repealing net neutrality regulations implemented by the Obama administration. Well, Ajit Pai said they will not be delaying the vote, and also said net neutrality supporters are "desperate".

Via Ars Technica:
The Federal Communications Commission will move ahead with its vote to kill net neutrality rules next week despite an unresolved court case that could strip away even more consumer protections. 
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says that net neutrality rules aren't needed because the Federal Trade Commission can protect consumers from broadband providers. But a pending court case involving AT&T could strip the FTC of its regulatory authority over AT&T and similar ISPs. 
A few dozen consumer advocacy groups and the City of New York urged Pai to delay the net neutrality-killing vote in a letter today. If the FCC eliminates its rules and the court case goes AT&T's way, there would be a "'regulatory gap' that would leave consumers utterly unprotected," the letter said.
Sorry folks, there will be no delay. Hopefully Pai is right and the FTC can protect consumers from broadband carriers without regulations, but I wouldn't hold my breath!

What do you think about this? Let us know in the comments!

Senators Asking FCC to Delay Net Neutrality Vote

Citing concerns over the possibility that fake comments will be used to file the agency's public comment, twenty-eight senators are calling on the FCC to delay it's vote on repealing net neutrality rules that were put in place during the Obama Administration.

Via The Hill:
The group, led by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), wants the FCC to conduct an investigation into whether the net neutrality docket’s public comment record was tampered with. 
“A free and open Internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding,” the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.” 
The group included Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). All of the senators who signed the letter are net neutrality supporters. 
The FCC will vote on Dec. 14 to scrap the Obama-era rules that prevent internet service providers from discriminating against certain content. The agency was flooded nearly 22 million comments, a record, when it sought public input on Pai’s plan to repeal the rules.
The letter cited New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into fake comments filed with the FCC on net neutrality. Schneiderman said last month that his office had found that “tens of thousands” of New York residents may have been impersonated by fake commenters. 
The senators also noted that 50,000 net neutrality consumer complaints may not have been included in the public record.
Hopefully the FCC will listen to the senators and delay the vote. Many people are rightfully up in arms over this. The idea of net neutrality is to keep the internet free, and not allow ISP's to charge you extra to view the content you want to see.

Here is a pretty funny infographic explaining it via Imgur from back in July:



What do you think about this? Are you for or against net neutrality? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments!

Cisco Finesse Cannot Authenticate With The Notification Service

I love waking up in the morning extra early, and hearing the lovely sound of my IM client at my computer (I work from home). It usually means that something is broken for someone. Well, this morning was no different. I got a message from one of my company's client support folks saying that she couldn't get into the Cisco Finesse phone queue, and that she was getting an error saying that it failed to load workflows.

When I tried logging in myself, I was greeted with a much different message. I got a message saying:

Cisco Finesse
Cannot authenticate with the notification service. There may be a configuration mismatch. Please contact your administrator.


Well shit... That's no good...

Anyway, I decided to try logging into Cisco Unified CCX Administration. When I logged in there I was greeted with a different message. This one said:

The Cisco JTAPI Client versions are inconsistent. Please go to Cisco JTAPI Resync in the Unified CM Telephony Subsystem to install the Cisco JTAPI Client.


Well shit... That's no good...

So I decided to follow instructions. From within Cisco Unified CCX Administration I went to Subsystem > Cisco Unified CM Telephony > Cisco JTAPI Resync. Then clicked OK when prompted.


After that I got another message saying:

For changes to take effect, please restart the Cisco Unified CCX Engine.

In order to do that, I had to go into Cisco Unified CCX Serviceability. Once in there I had to browse to Tools > Control Center - Network Services.


Once in there I had to find Cisco Unified CCX Engine service and restart it. Once that was done, I restarted the Cisco Finesse Tomcat service as well. After that users were able to login to the call queues again!

Did this post help you out? Let us know in the comments!

Dec 1, 2017

The end of an era. StartCom is packing up shop.

I was a big proponent of StartCom SSL certificates. I wrote about them in the past, and used them quite a bit over the years. I mean, the price was right. How can you beat free?

Well, last year around October Google announced that they were dropping support for StartCom and WoSign SSL certificates because they didn't maintain high enough standards. This was shortly after Apple and Mozilla did the same.

Via Google:
Certificate Authorities (CAs) play a key role in web security by issuing digital certificates to website operators. These certificates are trusted by browsers to authenticate secure connections to websites. CAs who issue certificates outside the policies required by browsers and industry bodies can put the security and privacy of every web user at risk. 
Google has determined that two CAs, WoSign and StartCom, have not maintained the high standards expected of CAs and will no longer be trusted by Google Chrome, in accordance with our Root Certificate Policy. This view is similar to the recent announcements by the root certificate programs of both Apple and Mozilla. The rest of this post provides background to that decision and how we plan to minimize disruption while still protecting users.
Apparently this struck a major blow to StartCom, and after trying to fix the issues laid out by these browser providers, they apparently still fell short. Because of this, StartCom has issued the following statement via email:
Dear customer, 
As you are surely aware, the browser makers distrusted StartCom around a year ago and therefore all the end entity certificates newly issued by StartCom are not trusted by default in browsers. 
The browsers imposed some conditions in order for the certificates to be re-accepted. While StartCom believes that these conditions have been met, it appears there are still certain difficulties forthcoming. Considering this situation, the owners of StartCom have decided to terminate the company as a Certification Authority as mentioned in Startcom´s website. 
StartCom will stop issuing new certificates starting from January 1st, 2018 and will provide only CRL and OCSP services for two more years. 
StartCom would like to thank you for your support during this difficult time.
StartCom is contacting some other CAs to provide you with the certificates needed. In case you don´t want us to provide you an alternative, please, contact us at certmaster@startcomca.com.
 
Please let us know if you need any further assistance with the transition process. We deeply apologize for any inconveniences that this may cause.

Best regards,
StartCom Certification Authority
This sucks to be sure, but truthfully, there are better providers out there. I mean you can get wildcard SSL certificates these days for as little as $38.00 per year (Click Here for that). Named certificates go for as little as $9.00 per year.

Anyway, I'll be on the lookout for another free SSL provider. They are super handy when you want to stand something up fast and cheap! I've heard good things about Let's Encrypt, but I haven't used them yet.

If you have any recommendations, let us know in the comments!



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