Archive for the ‘Computing’ Category

I looked all over for how other people might do this, and I think most of the answers weren’t very helpful.

In my opinion, if you need to force a user named “someuser” to logout of a stuck X session (no matter what display manager they are using) the fastest and most reliable way seems to be

pkill -KILL -u someuser init

References

http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/howto-linux-kill-and-logout-users.html

http://askubuntu.com/questions/1220/how-can-i-restart-x-server-from-the-command-line

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/392022/best-way-to-kill-all-child-processes

Recently I noticed that a site that uses Magento has not been cleaning up the session files.  I created a cron job to clean up the files

find [path to magento install]/var/session/ -name “sess*” -atime +0 -type f -delete

Which deletes all the files older than 0 days (e.g. > 24 hours).

After I put this change in, I found an article recommending something similar (though they would have the sessions be kept for a week).

For a discussion of the different “time” arguments (mtime, ctime, atime) go here.

A lot of people seem to have the misconception that because Windows 7 and Windows server 2008R2 come from the same code base there isn’t a significant difference.

They are wrong.

While Windows 2008R2 can run many of the programs (including games)  that Windows 7 can, Windows 2008R2 is more stable, and has some additional features, such as a web server, etc.

That said, in  my experience video performance, even using the “same” drivers, takes a big hit with Windows 2008R2 vs. Windows 7, I think this is to be expected, as video drivers seem to be the one of the most “unstable” things under Windows (and Linux has questionable video driver support as well).

I have nothing against Window 7 compared to Windows Server, and I would recommend that most people use that over Windows Server for their own use, but I find it amazing that so many professional computer experts claim that there is no real difference.  I have no idea why someone would go and tell people something that I have found to be totally wrong.

That said, my next “project” will probably be evaluating Windows Server 2012 (I already looked at Windows 8, and it wasn’t anything worth getting).

Alas, it seems that it will not be for much longer that I can pick on Facebook for it’s horrible, horrible, bad no security model.  Rather I noticed that my recent clicking on an app for Facebook link immediately pops up an SSL match invalid link, meaning that FINALLY Facebook is implementing some security.  There is now the option (which Facebook helps by making a one time button choice asking you if you want it attempt to force https for all future connections) to go to https://www.facebook.com/ and use that.

All in all, I think these are important and meaningful changes that will greatly improve everyone’s safety and security on Facebook, and I recommend that everyone go to https://www.facebook.com/ and login securely and CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.

If your account password has ever been hacked in the past or maybe the data got captured, now is the time to change your passwords on Facebook.

Sometime around the beginning of August my cable Internet connection though RCN Chicago started having intermittent problems.  Basically it started dropping connections.  Initially RCN tried to say it was the fault of bad equipment downstream of their modem, but they finally sent out a technician who removed an attenuator that was in the cable line.

However this didn’t really fix the problem, which has now gotten so bad that my two year old 3G phone is at least 7 times faster and more stable than the cable Internet, and I don’t even have that great coverage here.  RCN is sending out a technician on Tuesday, but it remains to be seen if they will actually “fix” anything, as they haven’t for a month, and things just are getting worse and worse.

Sadly RCN provides no real tools (like Megapath) to test their speed or connection probably because they don’t want people to find out the problems are with RCN.

*Update*

Well it seems that now that we are getting the line upgraded things are better already.  Guess we got moved from the “don’t really care about them” to the “hey we are getting more money from them” pile.

Often times I hear people talk about blocking Facebook at work or some other place.  Here’s the thing, the problem that business has with Facebook are the games, not the social networking portion (not that games aren’t a good way to build your social network).  What I have found is that all games that “Facebook” games seem to use domain apps.facebook.com so all you have to do is redirect that one domain name to a different ip address and you should get a “page not found” message.

You can also change the %systemroot%\System32\drivers\etc\hosts file by adding a line like

72.14.204.104 apps.facebook.com

You could point it somewhere else, but Google responds very fast to page not found errors, so I pick on them a little.  You could check the address of apps.facebook.com by pinging it and blocking that ip address (it will probably continue to be different from the normal facebook ip address).  I think that redirecting the dns for the address is easier and safer.  The nice thing about blocking the dns names is that it doesn’t affect any of the reasons why people might need to use Facebook at work or school, doesn’t require user settings and will probably save companies and families some money until Google starts offering their secure gaming system.

Let me explain.  If you compare Google’s security model to Facebook’s I think it’s like comparing a house with locks to a box on the curb.  And yes it’s really been that bad.   I am not saying that people don’t get their emails hacked on Google, but with Google it’s a lot easier to keep the door locked than with Facebook.  And I say that knowing the Google sells my information, but I expect that they have some clue about security, Facebook does not even support SSL login, and all the “normal” transactions between Facebook and your computer are not encrypted.  This is a choice by Facebook and is a huge problem.

Unless Facebook can fix it’s security problems it will only be a matter of time before some internet disaster happens on Facebook.  Facebook needs to show that it’s concerned about the safety of your information, not just about seeing how much money it can make as fast as it can.   That said, Google also needs to innovate in the area of security (which has so many unsung heros of the IT world).  Google’s open policy might have to make sure that every possible step is taken to prevent the types of hacks that Facebook users seem to constantly experience.

So because of that, I expect that Google will make it harder to just redirect the DNS entry for a domain to block all the games.   Good thing at the moment Google+ is not really worth dealing with, compared to Facebook.

Last night I installed “important” security updates from Microsoft (KB2478662, KB2518869, KB2478663 and KB2518870).  Sadly after I installed these my user settings were lost, and I couldn’t even use Google Chrome anymore.

Fortunately I was able to do a system restore and now can work again.  Looks like I have to install the updates one at a time, reboot between each, and see if that works.

Fun, fun, fun!

 

Over 14 years ago, I remember playing online games (there were several different versions), the games would store information in some database and keep track of where I was. About 8 years ago, someone got a patent on this idea, now a company is suing game companies, since no one has challenged the patent for 8 years.

Of course, the lawyers love that people are suing people for infringing on ideas that were in wide usage before someone got a patent, for the rest of us it raises costs, and stifles innovation.

An interesting thing I noticed is that over time, Firefox (at least 3.6.13 and earlier) has a bad habit of gradually increasing the use of some thing called GDI objects (Graphical Device Interface).  These are basically anything that you can see on the screen.  Now while I was able in the past to set the maximum handles to 16,384 (which seems to have worked okay) now that I am using Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, it seems that as soon as the “default” limit of 10,000 is hit, Firefox dies.

Now this isn’t a big deal, as the rest of the system is fine, and I can restart Firefox and all my tabs are where they were and the GDI usage is down to about 2000 with the SAME TABS open.  This is why I believe that there is a serious GDI leak in Firefox.   Unfortunately I doubt it will be fixed.  Of course the restarting Firefox option is available, but really shouldn’t Firefox be able to deal with this issue, since this seems to be serious instability point.  Now I thought it was because I used to have 100+ tabs open so I’ve been gradually scaling back on the number of tabs that I had open, and now it’s perfectly clear that Firefox has a GDI leak.

The challenge is figuring out how to fix it though.

While I am still working with IE 9, as the other versions of IE are being exploited (i.e. hacked) on a regular basis, I have to say that it’s performance on the standard JavaScript Benchmark is very poor (218) compared to Opera 11 (419) and Google Chrome (665) , it was better than Firefox 3.6 which for some reason scored a 165.

Also IE 9 seems to not work well with the WordPress editor, and the GPU rendering seems to be flaky.

But heck, it’s from Microsoft, so that makes it great :)

I recently downloaded Internet Explorer 9, unfortunately it doesn’t work for me, and it doesn’t uninstall.  So I have to roll back my system.

In other words, another Microsoft wonder.

It seems that Yahoo is down.  Since Yahoo didn’t want to provide people with alternative methods of getting email (like Google does) that means that people who use Yahoo email can’t get their email.  Of course, I never liked Yahoo’s email policies, and maybe now people will realize why the Yahoo email policies are just bad.

Probably not though.

Mentioning that Julian Assange (the head of Wikileaks) might have collaborated with Israeli government officials is tantamount to “Anti-Semitism”.  The fact that Israel only appears in 77 documents released by Wikileaks makes it seem like the United States doesn’t really care about Israel if you want to believe that Wikileaks did not cull the documents.  Because even hinting that Julian Assange might have filtered the documents to shape the discussion one way or another would be “Anti-Semitic”.

After that article about free software, here is some software that is allegedly free, however it has been based on code that the same company that is suing Google for using their free software.  It’s called LibreOffice, ans it looks pretty good for people who don’t want use Microsoft Office (remember to read all software licenses clearly, because if you breach any of the terms of the software license you can be sued at some random point in the future).

Now, I am sure many lawyers will say that you can’t be sued indefinitely, but it seems like that at times, and people can sue you multiple times for flimsy reasons.

In any case, for the struggling students I highly recommend LibreOffice as way to write papers, do some basic charting, etc.

What I recommend is that if you send your files to anyone else export it as a PDF, I wish the people who use Microsoft products would do the same thing, but Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to create pdfs in it’s products. PDF files are the prefered method of passing documents around that are readonly and retain their print characteristics.  Remember children, save your documents as PDF’s or your teacher will use you as an example of why LibreOffice is bad, in a grant request to get money for new software and hardware for the school, but leave the students having to buy copies of Microsoft Office.

I will admit it, I love “free” software.  After all there is so much software out there, you should be able to find some software that works reasonably well for a reasonable price.   Now with all software, you have to get some support from time to time, so it makes sense to get some software with a strong community of users behind it, so that if it doesn’t work well, you have some support.  Or if you are going to be a beta site, work with a company that answers it’s emails.

 So it is with some concern that I see that Oracle (a large computer company) is suing Google over copyrights regarding a programming language that was allegedly free and open software (Java).

That said, I was never a fan of Java (the programming language), because I didn’t understand the weird way that Sun (now wholly owned by Oracle, which makes database systems) licensed the source code, while it was “open source” under the gnu public license, Oracle claims that the code was improperly used by Google in the free and open source Android operating system.

Actually the Android operating system is really a Linux system with almost everything else running in highly optimized open source pseudo-Java virtual machine.  I say pseudo-Java because the code that was being run was not technically Java, but something else.  This was to avoid infringing on other vague patents that people had about the optimizations of code for use on various devices that could be construed to include all phones.

So the problem is, if Google can be sued for giving away software that it developed based on other open source and allegedly “free” software, can anyone use any “free” software? Because if Google loses Oracle’s lawsuit against Google, than everyone can be sued if they ever used any “free” software, because if Google can’t figure out how to use allegedly open source software to work against the API’s for to make a compatible alternative free system, than I don’t know who can.

And that is something we should all wonder, if Google can’t give away software for free, that it developed based on publicly published, free specifications, under a license that was allegedly free, because somewhere along the supply chain there is some piece of code that might be similar to other publicly published code, than who really owns the software you develop?

The funny part about this whole thing is the C++ programmers who had eschewed Java are  now justified, as Java is, a single company’s programming language that is not really unencumbered, as it has been from the beginning.

Recently the person who owns the building I live in hired someone to fix the falling down walls in a bathroom.  While the guy was there (which 3 day job took 10, but heck, that’s the guy who the owner likes), he fixed the water pipes by reducing the size of the pipes saying that it would increase the water pressure.

It amazes me that people who are professional “handy men” can be so profoundly stupid.  This fellow, who says he has been doing this for 30 years, doesn’t know much about water pressure, and apparently the people who hire him don’t care that he is a complete idiot.

Reducing the size of a pipe does not increase the downstream water pressure, it does increase what is known as headloss, which is best explained as the resistance of the system to flow.  You could increase the upstream water pressure by shutting off the water to everyone downstream even better than reducing the size of the pipes.

The problem for most people is that some so called “plumbers” misunderstand the steady flow system principle where assuming that the mass flow rate is constant, as the area decreases the VELOCITY (not pressure) increases.  The velocity has to increase to keep the pressure constant.

But don’t tell that to people who play at being water engineering experts.

Google has had some success with it’s Android operating system (which it gives away for free).  The Android operating system has been implemented in a variety of devices including cell phones, computers and televisions.

When Google developed Android, it choose to implement a method whereby code written using the programming language called “Java” would be able to run on the Android devices.  Since Google wanted a “free” operating system, they developed a java like implementation that used features from the Apache Harmony Project. Oracle (which actually bought the company that had developed Java) states:

the source code in Android’s “PolicyNodeImpl.java” class is nearly identical to “PolicyNodeImpl.java” in Oracle America’s Java, not just in name, but in the source code on a line-for-line basis

Carlo Daffara has compared the code himself, and his results are not as “cleaned up” as what Oracle presents to the court (and the public), and seem to show reasonable differences (some of the structures are actually standards that are to implemented by common agreement).

Google could have worked from the OpenJDK code base, but instead Google wanted to avoid using what is called the GPL license for some reason.  And this is really the problem.  Google wanted to let hardware manufactures write code and not have to release it with the phone (this is explained better at End Soft Patents), by avoiding the GPL license grant on OpenJDK, Google created a special problem for itself, that it could have avoided.

Another part of that problem might be due to Google having former Sun (which developed Java originally) engineers work on reinventing Java, and they basically wrote code the same way as when they worked for Sun (before Oracle bought Sun).

In any case, Google is a big company and should be able to sort this whole thing out with the courts and Oracle.  I think the patent claims are not going to stand up well under scrutiny, but Oracle might have some arguments for Google having infringed on some copyrights.

The other day I was thumbing through a copy of Reader’s Digest and saw an ad extolling the virtues of having young boys vaccinated for the human papillomavirus (HPV).  Sadly it seems that the pharmacutical industry is gaining ground with each passing day, as even though the American Journal of Clinical Nurtition says that vitamin D is 800% more effective that the flu vaccine, we are actually seeing efforts to restrict traditional health remedies.

I know, one vaccine doesn’t really reflect on another vaccine, but it’s sad that so called “Medicinal Herbs” are being outlawed throughout the worldwhen they have been safely used for hundreds of years, whereas the government, or agents of the government like the Centers for Disease Control, cover up side effects from vaccines, most recently the up to 3,587 premature infant deaths (labeled as miscarriages) that were related to the the dangerous and entirely unneccesary H1N1 vaccine.  And recently a family received 1.5M+ settlement for their child’s adverse health reactions to the government forced vaccination program.  China actually seems to take a stronger position with the arrests of 8 people for their latest vaccination scandal, but the United States is the place to be if you want to push vaccines on people.

And it’s not that whistleblowers don’t step forward to try and stop this government promoted drug abuse, but most of the time their lives are destroyed while the criminals are rewarded.  Instead of regulating the drug companies the government seems quite happy to destroy the constitution with the wonderful, freedom loving Obama administration demanding to put back doors into all communications systems, something that many people thought had been dismissed by the courts in the last century, but the wonderful leader Obama feels that he needs to be able to read and hear everything you say or write.

So much for freedom in America.  You can consume what they tell you to consume, but if you think for yourself and take steps to protect your family, you might be a terrorist.

It seems that Microsoft has paid Verizon $600 Million dollars (click here for more on that part) to screw over the people who buy new Android phones.  How do I mean screw over, well it seems that for the estimated $600 Million dollars Verizon will put the crappy Bing App on the Android phones (it already has it locked in on the Samsung Fascinate).  I’ve used the Bing app, and it sucks compared to the Google Maps/Search.  Now I admit it was great when I was running a Windows Mobile phone, and it had decent directions, but Google has passed it up, and now Bing is so last decade.  So Verizon’s new Android phones are going to be crippled, and that’s the way Microsoft likes it (remember Microsoft has it’s own Mobile Operating System).  And when I say crippled, it’s because there are rumors that you cannot replace the Bing app with something better.  Way to go Verizon.

Police love tasering people, if you don’t comply, even if your back is broken because you fell 30 feet, the police can legally taser you in America.  Welcome to the land of the Free, don’t expect the U.S. government to help unless you are a foreign national.