Category Archives: Geek

Security Alert – iThemes account breach

TLDR: If you have an iThemes account (for “Backup Buddy,” “SecurityPro,” or their other plugins or themes), change your password now. If you use those same credentials at other sites, change those passwords now as well.

iThemes, a WordPress theme and plugin development company,  announced a security breach on Tuesday, and followed up with more details about that breach yesterday.

Continue reading Security Alert – iThemes account breach

Google Passwords Stolen!

Five million Gmail (and therefore Google Account!) passwords were stolen and posted online yesterday.

Use the site haveibeenpwned.com to check your passwords against this and other major breeches.

Protect yourself

This is a great time to update your password and enable two-factor authentication.

Also, if you don’t already do it, start using a password management system. I like using Keepass with DropBox (aff. link), but the most important thing is to start using long (like more than 17 characters!) passwords.

Resuming a stalled scp operation

I’ve been digging around in the linux cli again lately, trying (with mixed success) to manage several boxes with ssh connections. Today I was moving a file from a server to my workstation via scp, and the connection slowed to a crawl, then crapped out completely. The ETA status changed to “stalled” even though there was still a little bit of activity on the link. After searching around, I found this article at the LinuxWave blog that explains how to use rsync to finish the transfer.

And whaddya know? It works! Though it didn’t literally *resume* the ssh transfer, it grabbed the two pieces (local and remote) of the file in question, joined them, and put the new file in the right spot. FTW!

Huge props, muchas gracias, and *thank you!*

I’ve been long overdue with this letter of thanks to my Elmers that I sent out this morning. I’m posting it here as a reminder to you to says “thanks!” to someone who’s made a difference in your life lately.

It occurred to me this morning that I’ve been a ham for almost a year
now, and I owe almost all of that to you guys. The three of you have
been mentors, trouble shooters, a cheering section, whip-crackers, and
equipment sources for me since even before I first got licensed, and
you’ve kept that up even when I’ve been absent from the airwaves for
weeks at a time, absorbed in the rest of my life.

I want to let you three know how much I appreciate all your help and
encouragement, and to tell you that I’m the ham that I am today in
large part because of your guidance. I just hope that when it’s my
turn to mentor someone, I can do half the job you all have done with
me.

My sincere thanks, and 73!

Trying to clarify myself…

It’s come to my attention that some of the local hams thought I was calling them out with my previous comments about the ham community. That’s not the case.

I’ve been taken to task by a couple seemingly old-school hams on 80m when I’ve tried to — always politely — get a signal report or add something to the conversation. That’s what I was alluding to in that post, albeit poorly. My apologies for the confusion, and 73 to *all* hams out there, no matter how grouchy or geeky. 😉

AJ’s new toy

I’ll give you some hints: it’s electronic (there’s a big surprise, right?), it’s sexy black, and could potentially fit perfectly in the entertainment center. And it’s not an XBox.

Give up?

Meet my new radio. I’ve been kind of dancing around it for about the last three months while I’ve been dancing around ham radio as a whole.

In the last month, though, every time I’ve talked with someone about my involvement in radio, I keep hearing myself say “I love the technology and the public service opportunities, but get frustrated by some of the people.” Finally, it clicked for me: If I give up, then the forces of darkness other people win. If every time someone new comes to ham radio, all they interact with are grouchy uber-geeks, then that’s they only kind of person that’ll be in ham radio. So I’m going to try to amplify the friendly, useful faces of ham radio around here. We’ll see how it goes.

And that brings me to the new radio. Another local ham* upgraded one of his radios, so he had one to sell. He gave me a great deal (yes, he made me an offer I couldn’t refuse ;-)), and the radio is in pristine condition. For those of you who speak ham, it’s an HF+50MHz rig. For those of you who don’t speak ham, think medium and short wave, plus a little. Once I get my antenna repaired (and no, honey, I’m not going on the roof until you get home), I’ll be able to talk regionally (100-500 miles), across the country (500-2,500 miles), and around the world (do the math), depending on conditions. I’m pretty stoked!

A Note on the Ham Community

The guy I bought my radio from is a super-friendly guy, just like almost all of the hams I’ve had the good fortune to meet. There are only a couple of “pain-in-the-ass apples” out there in the ham ranks, but they’re louder than most of us regular apples. Most of us are just geeky people playing with geeky toys, and that’s cool.

Just updated WordPress

I just made the leap into (semi) uncharted waters with a development version of WordPress. When I saw that the cool cats @ HappyCog did a reimagineering of the WP admin interface, naturally, I had to see what kind of candy was in the bag. There are some really nice bits and bobs: admin navigation, tool-tips, and some little ajaxy-features really make everything feel new again. I’d say “spring fresh,” but up here, spring means that when you slip on the ice, you fall in the mud. Fucking spring. :-/

My only real complaint is that the happycoggers picked an obnoxious color of light blue for the main boxes and bars. As far as complaints go, that’s not so bad. And besides, that’ll just give me a chance to dig into a little cog code to change things. And see how they did what they did. And learn something. So maybe I oughtta even be saying “thanks” for the blue.

Vast tracts of… monitors

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m a desktop slut. The more real estate I have in front of my keyboard, the better. Currently, I have dual 22″ flat panels with my laptop (17″ screen) to one side, and another 22″ flat panel (for ad hoc work) to the other.

Before you say WTF? though, check this out: I currently have 21 application windows and 18 browser tabs open. STFU!

Beer Here

Hooray! Hooray! There’s Beer in the house again.

Sure, there’s the normal micro/regional brews in the beer drawer in the bottom of the fridge (yet another benefit of living with a vegetarian: a used-to-be-empty cold-storage for brew), but as of my birthday, there’s also made-it-myself Beer in situ.

In the middle of the day on my birthday last week, while I was washing some dishes, I turned to The Wife and exclaimed, “I know what I want for my birthday: a homebrew kit!”

“That’s funny,” she replied with a grin, “that’s what I was thinking of getting you.”

A couple days later, we went over to the scummy, nasty little BPC* store that just happens to have an expansive selection of homebrew equipment, and I picked out a box full of equipment and a red ale kit.

Now for those of you who don’t know, I started brewing when I was 17, after a visit to UC-Boulder, during which I spent the night at a friend’s house and helped him and his roomie bottle a batch of brew. I also had one to drink, and I think it pretty much kicked my ass. Anyway, the next morning, I announced to my parents that I was going to start brewing, too. Like all good parents, they made appreciative noises, nodded their heads, and probably hoped I’d forget about it somewhere in the middle of Nebraska on the drive home.

No such luck. The first week back from that trip, I went to the closest brew store (a 45-minute drive away), dropped about $120 on equipment and a kit, came home and proceeded to make stout. Which tasted a lot like warm, flat soy sauce before it got bottle conditioned. A couple weeks later, it tasted like cold, barely-carbonated soy sauce. But I drank all 52 bottles. I mean, really, I had to; it was a matter of saving face.

I don’t remember making beer between then and when I left for college, but I certainly remember hauling all my brewing paraphernalia to school, and I made a “kitchen sink” batch in which I used up all my bits and bobs of ingrediants, plus a little crystal malt and a bunch of Cascades hops. I did my boil in the kitchen of another dorm so I’d stink up that rez hall, and I fermented the brew under my desk in my dorm room. After I bottled, I made a batch of root beer and cream soda so I had a good reason to get the RA to help me haul a bunch of cases of full beer bottles into the storage room. That was the best batch of beer I’ve made to-date, and of course, I have no records of what I did. *sigh*

After brewing a few more times in college, I figured that hauling around my brewing stuff was too much work, so I gave it all to a friend who put it to good use. That was 12 years ago.

Now I’m back! And oddly enough, the batch that I just racked into secondary fermentation seemed a whole lot easier to make than I remember. It was easier to do, easier to clean up from, and hopefully, it’ll be nice and easy to drink. So far, so good, but I’ll report back on it when it comes out of the bottle for the first time in about three or four weeks.

*Beer, Porn, and Chips

Ham Radio Update

I’ve been appointed the Amateur Radio Emergency Services Emergency Coordinator for Bayfield County. That’s neat, but it’s also a little daunting, what being the go-to guy to try to draw other ham radio operators out of the woodwork and get them trained, certified, and useful in an actual emergency response.

I’ve got a great opportunity for a little local net training/community service coming right up: the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race. I’m trying to get even one or two other guys to commit to doing communications for the Feb. 2-3 event with me, but so far, there’s a lot of “Well, that sounds neat; I’ll have to look at my calendar.”

And finally, I’m hoping that Santa will overlook that little toad-licking incident in June, and bring me a nice new soldering iron in my stocking. How ever else shall I maintain the head of nerdy geek steam that I seem to have built up?