I received an invitation a while ago and I’ve had a play, invited some friends, sent some messages and even created a group to discuss a topic. I spent half an hour looking at the pictures for people I’ve chatted with on lists but never meet in person, that was almost a month ago; then I forgot about the account. I’ve just logged back in and pretty much everything is as I left it, the groups I joined (GLLUG, Lonix, London-PM) have had no posts made and have a subset of the people on the respective mailing lists present. Read on →

I’ve not had a good week as far as computers have gone, my trusty P2-350 with 512MB finally bit the bullet and died, it’s not even reaching the BIOS anymore so I’m looking to dump it. I’m currently using my backup machine, a P3-866 with 128MB running the evaluation version of Windows 2003 (which is quite nice but more to come on that) but its dog slow when I’ve got FireFox, SharpReader, winamp and half a dozen terms open. Read on →

The watch command is one of those little gems that often gets overlooked and has its functionality duplicated by a custom tool; just slower and more complicated. At its most basic watch runs the specified command every two seconds until interrupted, a simple example that shows the current directories content is given below, this will show any changes in either the size or timestamp of the contents. watch ls -ahl Watch excels in showing real-time differences, by supplying either ‘-d’ or the long option ‘–differences’ any changes will be marked on screen using inverse colours. Read on →

Leafing through the live source-code should be a pleasant, calming experience, instead it often becomes a game of cringe and seek. While digging through some custom bandwidth monitoring scripts i came across this gem. cat /proc/net/dev | grep eth0 | sed -e 's/:/ /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g; s/ / /g;' Working left to right we have the useless use of cat. Read on →

While rummaging around the grep man page i stumbled on something I’d never noticed before; GREP_OPTIONS. This environmental variable does pretty much what you’d expect, once set it passes the options you specified to each and every invocation of grep that runs with the variable still in scope. While I’m not aware of any real positive usages for this something slightly less wholesome crossed my mind. If you set ‘GREP_OPTIONS=-v’ then every run would return the lines NOT matching your criteria, -v is an absolute switch rather than a toggle one so its not possible to reverse it with another -v. Read on →

Just don’t copy MySQL data files while the tables are in use and expect the backup to work. The conversation was going to be a painful one, sysadmin, the hero of our story felt it in the stream of vindaloo sauce that passed as his blood. “I noticed that our MySQL backups are just raw copies of the data files. I also saw some errors from the tar command about the files being written to while the backup was being run.” “Yes, we know about that risk but if we ever need one of the backups we can probably repair the tables.” “But isn’t the worst possible time to try and repair tables when we have a broken system and need the actual data?” “We’ve never needed them so far. Read on →

One of the online services/applications that has wiggled its way in to my near daily usage is del.icio.us. The concept, like most good ideas, is pretty simple; you save your bookmarks to a remote server and so does everyone else. What makes del.icio.us special is that everyone else using the service does the same. Each user has their own page of links, each book-marked URL is assigned one or more ‘tags’. Read on →

I’ve just finished a cursory read of this months Java focused Dr Dobbs magazine (number 362, July 2004). Not being a Java person i wasn’t expecting to get too much out of it but what surprised me was the sheer number of adverts. This issue has a pull out poster (sponsored by Microsoft) and a total of 50 full pages of adverts. This doesn’t include the half-page or multiple quarter page adverts found on another couple of dozen or so pages. Read on →

Its the little touches that makes certain products stand out. If you click on the ‘trash’ folder and its empty you see: No conversations in the trash. Who needs to delete when you have 1000 MB of storage?! The first time you see it is amusing (or i need a life). When you think about it the message itself is actually positive reinforcement for the service. It implies careful thought has been given to the storage requirements. Read on →

Service banner grabbing is no longer the prominent issue it once was. Todays fire and forget worms probe large IP ranges so quickly that they just try to brute force compromise any servers they encounter and hope to get lucky without checking the product name or version of the target. While these are the most common attacks you will see on your Apache server its also worth noting that they are the easiest ones to defend against. Read on →