Archive for category technology

Big Brother Google

1984 came and went, and it turned out that Orwell's version of the future didn't come to pass, at least on the date he foretold. Privacy is a huge issue on the internet and sometimes there's a grey line when it comes with gathering user data. Google recently announced that it will be consolidating all the data it tracks about you across all of its products. It does this with the best intentions, both for you and for itself, but this can be a dangerous power that I'm not sure I trust Google with.

It isn't that I have anything against Google or that I have anything to hide myself. However, Google having this amount of data can be very hazardous with our government in the state that it's in. There's way too many tyrannical laws being passed through Congress these days. The government has given itself way too much power and we're just waiting around for the executive to be elected that will make full use of this power.

Google's data collection may be great for their ad revenue plans, but the chance of the government deciding that it wants access to any or all of that data is what upsets me. Google should reconsider the amount of data it retains from it's users. This is essential to eliminating the "big brother" factor.

No Comments

Rosewill RK-9000 Review 1

Well, as promised, I will be reviewing the Rosewill RK-9000 mechanical keyboard. However, I will be doing the review in multiple parts. This is the initial review of the keyboard.

I just received it via UPS and I was too excited to video the unboxing. So, I'll not be doing that. Let's start with the pros of this keyboard.

Pros

This is perhaps the best keyboard I've ever typed on. If not the best, then it's right up there with my Unicomp Endurapro and my friend Lynn's WASD keyboard. The Cherry MX blue switches are very nice. This is the first keyboard I've owned with blue switches. They are responsive and loud. I wanted a quieter keyboard, but much of the loudness of this keyboard comes from bottoming out. It's actually relatively quiet if you learn to not bottom out. I find that the hardest key for me to not bottom out is the space bar, and it's very loud when bottoming out.

The keyboard is slightly smaller than my Unicomp, which places the keys closer together. This will be listed as a con as well, but I should point out that it will probably make the keyboard a bit faster to type on. It actually has a real good action for my hands. I find that I don't have to stretch my fingers nearly as far to type on it. So this is both a pro and a con. The con being that I have to get used to it.

The overall action of the keys is very pleasing. They are light compared to my Unicomp, and they require less of a keypress distance. I'm going to spend a lot of time practicing to not bottom out the keys. There's a very noticeable difference in the sound, when they aren't bottoming out. I'm usually a very powerful typer. My uncle commented that I sounded like I was going to push the keys through the bottom of his laptop, when I was working on it. If you are forceful with your typing, the blue switches will be a good switch on which to practice lighter typing.

The LED lock indicators on this keyboard are a nice blue color and are easy to see. The keyboard is 100% mechanical, unlike the Corsair Vengeance K90 which uses rubber dome keys for the F keys, the macro G keys, and the group of keys right above the arrow keys (insert, home, page up, etc).

The font used for the lettering on this keyboard is very pleasant. The letters are largish. The bracket keys are very distinct. For a programmer this is actually important. The square braces have a wider look than most keyboards. This makes it easy to distinguish them from the normal parenthesis keys. However, most programmers know where these keys are located, so it's not really a big deal. I just thought it was nice that you could tell what the keys are better.

The red metal base plate is a nice touch. It adds contrast to the keyboard and makes a rather dull keyboard actually look unique. The detachable mini USB cord is a nice touch as well. As an aside, I think that it would be awesome if this keyboard could function as a wireless bluetooth device and charge through the detachable USB cable, similar to a PS3 controller. I would love to see this as an option for a keyboard, but I've not seen one yet. The USB cable is very sturdy. Rosewill ships these keyboards with both a USB and a PS2 cable, both connect to the same mini USB port on the keyboard. I connected mine via PS2 because I wanted to try out the full NKRO (n-key rollover) of the keyboard. This means that every key on the keyboard can be pressed at once, and it will send to the OS. This keyboard does, in fact, have NKRO, and it works very well.

The normal keyboard height adjustment feet (or legs, can't remember the term) on the bottom are perfect. Some people have suggested that these are too short, but I find their height to be perfect for my typing. In fact, I've often found that most keyboards are too low when the feet are collapsed and too high when they are extended. This keyboard seems to have been built with the sweet spot in mind. I love it.

Typing on this keyboard is a dream. I've been coming up with new things to say in this post just so I can type on it more. It's giving me a nice chance to check it out. It's not all good though, as I'm about to point out.

Cons

There are at least two things about this keyboard that I didn't care for right away, but both of these issues may go away with time.

First of all, the keys are closer together than I'm used to, as I describe earlier. The ctrl, win, and alt keys are smaller than usual, especially the ctrl key. This places these keys in an abnormal position for me. I'm sure I'll soon get used to them, but this has presented a problem with alt + tab. I have a problem getting my left thumb over to the alt key without looking. Like I said, this keyboard is a little bit smaller than your normal keyboard.

Lastly, I've had a couple of incidents with stuck keys. The "A" key and the "T" both have stuck, once each. I was unable to replicate the issue, and I think that it's just a case of the switches getting broke in. I'll report more about this issue in a later review, but I don't think this is going to be an ongoing thing. I've been using the keyboard for about two hours now and that's only happened those two times. Plus, that only happened within the first 10 minutes of typing on it.

Conclusion

This is by far a better keyboard than many higher priced keyboards. I returned a Corsair Vengeance K90 to get this keyboard, and I'm glad I did. The K90 had a nice back light on the keys and some very well designed media keys, but the macro software was lacking which made the macro keys a terrible "feature", and there were other issues that I wrote about in my review of that keyboard. This keyboard is more like what I was looking for. It's a joy to type on and it just works. It doesn't have extras like a back light or media keys, but it makes up for that in build quality and performance. Since I'm going to be using this keyboard in Linux primarily later on anyway, I can say that the media keys aren't that big of a deal. I usually set up keyboard shortcuts in Linux that perform the volume, play, and pause functions. The main thing I wanted was a good quality keyboard, and this is definitely it. If you are coming from a rubber dome keyboard, this will feel completely different. It will take a day or two to get fully used to it, but after that, you won't turn back. These things are a dream to type on.

»crosslinked«

, ,

No Comments

Reset a WordPress password

I'll make this post short and sweet. Let's say you've forgotten your login for a WordPress site. To reset the password to something new, you can simply use a SQL query. If you have access to PHPMyadmin or the MySQL command line, this is really straight forward.

From PHPMyAdmin, open the database for the WordPress installation. If you don't know which database to use, check out your wp-config.php file inside your main WordPress installation folder. You'll find constants defined in that file for your database name and database user. Once you've found the database, you can execute a SQL statement by clicking the SQL button. In there, type:

 
UPDATE wp_user SET user_pass = MD5("yourpassword") WHERE user_login = "admin";

That's assuming that your username is "admin". Change it to whatever username you are using. Once you run that SQL statement, your password will be set to whatever you put in "yourpassword". Both the username and password need to be quoted in the SQL statement.

To do the same thing in the MySQL command line, connect to the database with:

mysql -u<username> -p

Substitute <username> with your actual username from the wp-config.php file.
You will be prompted for a password. Use the password from the wp-config.php file.
Once you are logged into the mysql command problem type:

USE <databaseName>

Substitute the actual database name from the wp-config.php file.
Finally, type the update statement above and hit enter.

After you've updated the table via SQL, you should be able to login to your WordPress installation.

, ,

No Comments

Don’t Save Your Password

It's common practice for software developers to put options in their programs to save password. Web browsers allow one to save passwords. This is terrible functionality to have built into any program. Passwords are there for a reason. They are there to keep others out and let you in. Saving passwords in your browser is a terrible habit to start. This is especially true with a laptop.

If your computer is stolen, the thief not only has a nice new toy, they also have access to anything you have saved on the laptop. All one has to do to access passwords on your browser is open up the browser options and manage stored passwords.

There's also the factor of forgetting your own passwords. Saving your password makes in much more likely that you'll forget the password.

There's no real good reason to store your password. Storing passwords is not only a lazy practice, it is also a terrible "feature" of any software.

No Comments

A Free “Net Nanny” Solution using OpenDNS

Many internet users understand that a large portion of the internet is pornographic in nature. Many parents want to restrict their children from being able to view pornographic sites, and with sites like Youporn and other "porn tubes" which do not require identification or a credit card, this is even harder to restrict. There are programs available to block such sites, but sometimes they aren't very effective, and there are easy ways around them.

There is a good alternative for parents in their search, however. OpenDNS, which is a free DNS service with many features, has built in site blocking capabilities. You simple sign up for an OpenDNS account at http://opendns.com and configure your router to use the OpenDNS servers. That last part isn't as hard as it sounds, but it's different on various routers. Typically the DNS settings are in the main router configuration settings. It will typically be set to automatically use the DNS servers provided by your ISP. You should be able to use manual DNS servers, however, and you can find the IPs for these servers at the bottom of your OpenDNS account page.

Once you have your router using OpenDNS's servers, you can configure your home network's settings on the OpenDNS accounts page. There are various levels of blocking, plus you can block individual domains if you want. They also have good stats available, if you enable it. This will track all domain name requests and show you what everyone on your home network has been looking at. I'd say a few wives just raised their eyebrows.

Of course, with enough know how, one can get around these types of blocks, just like any other block. Most children will not know how to do this, however. Tech savvy teenagers may have more ability to get around these blocks, but once they are at the point where they'll go to such great lengths to look at porn, just let them do it. They aren't going to listen to you anyway ­čśŤ

, ,

3 Comments

My Search for the Best Deal on a Dedicated Server

Searching for a dedicated server can be stressful, especially when you have a lot of sites that are running slow as a result of their current host. Recently, I switched about 600 sites over to a dedicated server I borrowed from my friend Lynn. It is a pretty decent server, with two dual core Xeons running at 3 GHz. It also has 8 GB of RAM. However, it's just not enough. After switching DNS over to this new server, its load went to 20 very quickly. For those who don't know, a load of 20 means that there are 20 processes waiting in line to be processed. I don't like my loads to go above 2 or 3. I can deal with them spiking to as high as 4, but with a multicore/multiprocessor I don't want it to get above the number of cores/processors you have available.

Suffice to say that the web sites were loading very slowly. So, I switched the NS back to the VPS server I've been running them on. I've seen its load spike to 10 quite often but it normally stays well below 4. So the VPS is holding up pretty well considering. This VPS has 4 cores assigned to it, each at 1.6 GHz. It also only has 3GB of RAM. So, my question is, "Is a dedicated server really the best option?".

There's more factors in this as well. For instance, my sites are all on a WHM/cPanel install, which means I have to pay a monthly license fee for that as well. On a VPS this license is about half the cost as it is on a dedicated server. I like saving money.

I currently have my hosting through a small hosting provided in Knoxville, TN called Knoxcolo/Smith & Hammaker. I have a colo server (not the one I used for my 600 sites, it's a single site), and I have the VPS. For the colo they charge $35 for the 1U of rack space, and it's an unmetered drop. The VPS is $40 per 1GB of RAM. That's their rate, they don't charge for extra HDD space or even CPU cores. They are also a good bunch of people to work with. I have full access to the colo facility through a high security system. I rarely use it since my colo has an iLo connection for remote console even when the servers main drop is offline.

I thought that a dedicated server would be a better choice for my 600 sites, but I've found that the VPS is really the better choice in the long run. The only thing I don't like about the VPS is that I don't have the ability to remotely reboot the virtual machine. I'd really like this ability.

So I've found that perhaps a dedicated server isn't what I really want. Some VPS providers give you a lot more bang for your buck. You can spend hundreds of dollars per month on a very powerful dedicated server, but you have two problems. You don't want to spend a lot of money for hardware that you may not use fully. Of course, secondly, you don't want to spend a lot of money on a server that can't fully handle the load if you have a lot of sites. With a VPS, you have more power to change the hardware specs to meet the demand of your site load. You pay for whatever you need. This is really the best option for anyone who wants to host any number of sites. If you don't need much power, because you only have a few sites, you can save money.

However, you should look for the best deal on a VPS. Smaller companies actually have the better deal when it comes to a VPS, because they typically don't have as much total load on their rack of CPUs. If you get a VPS from a larger provider, they may be pushing their rack to its limits already, and you'll get terrible physical processor speeds, even if you are paying for four cores.

Shop around and look into VPS servers. They are great alternatives to dedicated or colo servers if you look in the right place.

, , , ,

No Comments

So you forgot your router password?

A friend messaged me on Facebook yesterday, because she was trying to connect to her home router but had forgotten the password. She offered to pay me to fix it, but somehow I feel dishonest for taking money from people when their problem is so simple. So, in this blog entry I thought I'd take the time to tell everyone how to quickly fix a problem like this.

Generally speaking, all home routers have a reset in the back. It may be a small button or a recessed pin-hole button. Either way, to reset your router to factory defaults, simple press and hold this button for a few seconds. You can also Google search for your particular router model to find specific details about this. Some routers require the power to be plugged into the router while this is happening. Some require that you hold the button for ten seconds, while other models can be messed up by doing this. Simply search for your router model and find out how to reset it from the manufacturer.

After you have reset the router, you can either login to it using a default login (also available from a Google search of the router model) or you can use the supplied router software to set it back up for your home network.

I know there are plenty of people who make a living at fixing simple things like this for people, but these are really things that people should try to fix themselves. I sense a general fear of technology from a lot of people, and I want to eventually change this. When someone approaches me to fix something for them, I usually judge from experience how much knowledge is required to fix the problem. If it's something that can be fixed with very little knowledge and only the ability to read, I usually point them to another resource. Of course, most people want an expert to fix something so they know that it is done correctly, but most of the technology today isn't geared toward experts. It's geared toward normal users. Sometimes I wish this was not the case, for various reasons.

Such is the case with desktop computers in general. Windows is an OS that can be used by just about anyone, but it's also very easy for anyone to mess up their computer through their actions. The easy desktop is a double edged sword.

, ,

No Comments

Typing While Drunk Speedtest

I recently tested my typing speed on various different keyboards and thought it'd be a good idea to test that typing speed while drunk. I'm typing this while pretty tipsy, as a matter of fact. Disregard any typos.

This isn't a scientific test but after about 7 beers, my typing speed is around 58 WPM. I average around 74 WPM, depending upon which keyboard I'm using. I recently average around 81 WPM on this particular keyboard. So that is a 23 WPM (drunk math) decrease in typing speed due mainly to mistakes. My actual speed is probably about the same but there's a definite increase in mistakes.

I'd like to hear from others. What's your drunk typing speed?

,

No Comments

Removing Old eth devices from Debian

I have a Virtualbox VM which, over time, has been opened on 9 different host operating systems. I reinstall my main OS move than the average person without a doubt. Every time the guest VM is opened from a new host, it adds a new device. So I ended up with 9 ethernet devices. Every time I opened the VM on a new machine I'd also have to reconfigure my static IP. Removing these devices isn't as difficult as you may think. It's simply a matter of editing the /etc/udev/rules.d/??-persistent-net.rules file and committing out all the lines that begin with SUBSYSTEM. Then reboot and you should have a fresh eth0.

,

No Comments

The Best Linux Distribution

This subject will raise a few eyebrows from the geek community. Everyone has their favorite Linux distribution. However, this post will be rather unbiased. I have my picks, but I will try to refrain from pushing them. So I'm ranking Linux distributions based on experience but not on personal preference (to an extent).

Choosing a Linux distribution is like choosing a programming language. You should pick the right tool for the job. I see three main uses of Linux as an operating system.

First of all, if you are going to be using Linux in an enterprise/business setting, you should probably learn the industrial standard distribution for enterprises. Chances are, if you are going to be a Linux admin at some big company, you'll want to learn Red Hat (RHEL). It's a commercial operating system, so if you want to practice using it, you'll probably want on of its clones. They are usually free and are basically repackaged versions of RHEL. The forerunner of these clones is CentOS. Honorable mentions go to ClearOS and Scientific Linux as alternatives to Red Hat. These clones offer most of the same features as RHEL and give you a nearly exact replica of the Red Hat environment.

Secondly, if you are going to run Linux as a desktop operating system, there are a few good choices. Linux Mint, Debian, and Ubuntu make great desktop operating systems. Of those, I prefer granddaddy Debian. Debian is the basis for which many of the popular desktop Linuxes derive. Ubuntu is an "improved" version of Debian, though really I don't care for many of the "improvements" and tend to stick with Debian. Linux Mint has two versions. One is derived from Ubuntu and the other is derived straight from Debian. Fedora also provides a good desktop experience and is based on Red Hat. So for you enterprise admins out there, Fedora will feel closer.

Finally, if you want a development server to run in a VM or another machine, I suggest Debian again. It's one of the quickest and easiest to set up.

If you are a Linux guru, I suggest ArchLinux, as it gives you more control over more aspects of the OS.

One distribution that I've never tried (but I should) is Slackware. Many people like it. I personally don't like being without a package manger.

No matter what you want to use Linux for, there's a distribution for you. Check out DistroWatch for direct ratings of Linux distributions.

,

No Comments