Ifblog (ponderings 2.0)

Friday, December 6, 2013

News Digest

Filed under: Coding, Security, Sysadmin — ifireball @ 18:10

List of things I find interesting and think people should know about:

  • Caylon is a new programming language from RedHat that is meant for large system development and can run on both the Java virtual machine (JVM) and web browsers’ JavaScript engine. This makes it useful for programming both the client and server-side components of modern applications.
  • Bad Bios is the nickname given by Dragos Ruiu, an apparently well-known security researcher to a new type of malware found in the wild that seems to be able to infect computer BIOS components directly and then escalate the attack in infect all popular operating systems, Linux-based ones included. Not stopping there, it also seems this malware is capable of communicating with an infected computer even when all its communication components have been disconnected. It seems to do this by utilizing high-frequency sound-waves. This technique of using sound to facilitate communications with otherwise disconnected computers was also explored by scientists from Germany.
  • InfiniSQL seems to be one man’s projects to produce a very scalable multi-node database. It seems to be network-protocol-compatible with PostgreSQL and may have an interesting future.
  • Webminstats is a server performance statistics collection plug-in for Webmin. Used together those tools can provide a useful monitoring and management solution (although not very pleasant looking, though that can be somewhat  remedied) for small to medium sized networks.
  • ExplainShell is a new web-based tool for  breaking down complex Linux shell commands and explaining their components. It was recently open-sourced and seems to have a good potential of becoming a very useful tool for people trying to learn Linux shell usage and scripting. The developer was even kind enough to include a readme file listing instruction on how to run your own copy of the website.

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Android’s Dream sounds like another Scalzi masterpiece

Filed under: Reading, SciFy — ifireball @ 13:14

The Androind Dream by John ScalziI really wish I had the patience and time time to read, I haven’t quite managed to go through a full book in quite a few years now.

But that shouldn’t stop anyone else, go watch mark’s video and read his review (In that order!) and buy Scalzi’s book!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

I joind the PRSM social network

Filed under: EFF, Free Software, Security — ifireball @ 11:50

Please come and join too, its awesome.

On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs

Filed under: Sysadmin — ifireball @ 11:44

This article already made the rounds a couple of weeks ago, but I find myself compelled to post a link here since it seems so relevant to everyone I know.

As I think of this, it doesn’t seem to me that that are that many jobs that are 100% bullshit, I think all jobs have necessary components to them, but it does seem that the amount of time spent performing “bullshit tasks” in a given job keeps expanding.

I think I may be lucky, I do get to spend a considerable amount of time solving technical problems for my clients, but it seems I spend an equal, if not larger portion of my time attending meetings, writing and obtaining approval for documents and procedures, scheduling and coordinating. It also seems that new automation tools and techniques go a long way towards shrinking the time spend performing  the former set of tasks while contributing nothing to the efficiency of performing the latter.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Quick list of open-source webmail clients

Filed under: Free Software, Sysadmin — ifireball @ 16:19

Cory Doctorow recently wrote about Mailpile, an Indiegogo-based effort to fund development of a new open-source web-based E-Mail client.

I really have to wonder, does the world really need another such client? Here is a bunch of them:

  • Roundcube – Written in PHP with a moderm AJAX UI.
  • The Horde Project – Not only provides E-Mail, but a full groupware suit.
  • Zimbra – Not only provides a client but also a full server that can replace Microsoft Excange.
  • SquirrlMail – Includes a rather old style UI, but seems to be very popular. Most web hosting providers support installing it directly with their site management tools.
  • Mailr – Not very pretty, but written with Ruby On Rails, if you don’t want to run PHP.
  • And many, manymore.

I’ve been running my own mail sever for years. In my view, that is where the bigger  problems are, the constant flood of spam and other E-Mail attacks, seems to have led most internet service providers to block all E-Mail sent from anyone who doesn’t look like a large service provider. When running my own server I’d often find out that my mail get rejected unless I relay it through such a provider.

Ways to self-host your own website

Filed under: Free Software, IndieWeb, Sysadmin — ifireball @ 15:35

It seems that recent news have triggered a wave of distrust in cloud and hosted web service. The popularity of hosting your website on your own computer seems to be growing. Personally, I’ve been running my own mail server for years, but several concerns have prevented me from trying to host my own website:

  1. Asymmetric bandwidth – The existing broadband infrastructure was laid by large a powerful communications companies that are more interested in broadcasting video and other media to passive “consumers” then in allowing “users” to communicated. A typical 100Mbit broadband cable connection tends to provide only mere 1 or 2Mbit of upload bandwidth.
  2. Security – Hosting a website from your own internal network typically means potentially exposing your network directly to outside threats.
  3. Availability – If anything happens to your home network – it happens to your website. Power failures, computer crashes, bandwidth-eating games and peer-to-peer software, they will all affect your site.
  4. You are on your own – Support services can be very useful when your tile is limited. There is no one to turn to we you do your own hosting.

Having considered the above, recent disappointment with a hosting service I use, had led me to consider self-hosting once more, hare are some ways one can accomplish that:


Friday, June 14, 2013

Creating Gantt-Charts on Linux

Filed under: Linux — ifireball @ 14:19

Like many unfortunate office/productivity areas, project management, and especially Gantt-Chart production, seems to lean heavily on a single Microsoft product to the point where abstract-seeming work practices are actually derived from technical features and properties of that product.

A couple of years ago I tried to create a Gnatt-Chart on Ubuntu. I initially thought that would be a no-brainer, but it proved to be harder then anticipated.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

JavaScript is killing the borwser plug-in, are servers next?

Filed under: Coding — ifireball @ 13:24

Browser plug-ins were never very popular, for once, web developers could never count on users bothering to install them. It came as no surprise when most plug-ins were replaced by the one true plug-in. But Flash had the nasty side-effect of turning the web into Adobe’s playground. That effect was starkly clear on Linux, for example, where regardless of how good Firefox and Chrome get, Youtube still sucks because Flash on Linux isn’t getting the developer attention it should.

Attempts to finally put Flash out of its misery have concentrated around HTML5 video which brought along its own set of problems in the form of incompatible and patent encumbered implementations. Now, it seems, there is a new approach aiming to solve all those age old problems.  With browser JavaScript becoming strong enough to decode video, suddenly you don’t need to wait for plug-in or browser support to play that video from that website.

As JavaScript seems poised to do away with video plug-ins and codecs, its might also do away with webservers. Unhosted.org suggests a development approach where web applications would be implemented entirely in JavaScript with little-to-no need for an application server. This approach has interesting implications with regard end-user privacy and security as well as application robustness.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Lynis volunerability scanner

Filed under: Linux, Security, Sysadmin — ifireball @ 14:24

Lynis is a security vulnerability scanner similar to the Debian harden package or Bastille Linux.

The main advantages it provides over those tools is its support for multiple operating systems and a very clear and friendly reporting format.

Friday, April 5, 2013

16 ways to torture developers

Filed under: Uncategorized — ifireball @ 23:56

This article discusses various organizational problems in the context of a software development firm, but I find that most can apply to any organization. Some are unfortunately all too familiar…

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