My thoughts on Windows 8

Windows 8. I like it. I really truly do.

BUT! (There is always a but…)

I have some issues with it…

1. Windows 8 and tethering from smartphones does not work very well. I have given a good look around the internet and there have been no “fix” that works. (This applies to pretty much any smart phone, as I’m not the only one to have issues, which includes Windows Phone, iOS, and Android users alike)

2. In an effort to go back to Win7, I wanted to make a backup image of my current Windows 8 installation… they renamed the “backup and restore” in windows 7, to “Windows 7 File Recovery” … (but wait, I thought this was Windows 8??? I’m confused.) This meant that finding the “create a system image” tool was hidden, in plain sight, but obscure. I do not like things like this. Either way, it’s backing up… that’s all that matters.

3. I need a start menu. As silly as that might sound… I find the “Metro” (deprecated) interface to be cool, fluid, and useful if you have a tablet… Well… I don’t. I find that there is ALMOST 0 reason for me to use it. So, If I can have a start menu (even if it’s not entirely as “full featured” as Windows 7 start menu is), I need it still. It is so much easier to hit the windows key, start typing a program name, and it pops up… than go searching through a tile-based interface and still possibly never find the program/app that you are looking for.

I know that society is slowly moving to a more mobile design than I would like (I still prefer the beefiness of desktop systems, and arguably the strength and mobility of laptops). I like the whole tablet touch interface and all, but right now they are still a bit pricey for that average user. And even me.

So with all that said, the honest-to-God main reason for me going back to Windows 7… is because Windows 8 does not play well with smart phone tethering. And with as much as I tether, going from one place to another where there may not be a decent enough signal or some ports are blocked, I need to be able to tether to my computer. Maybe later on, if other users are able to find a way to make tethering better and more stable, I will probably restore the Windows 8 image that I’m making. But until then, I will continue rocking the trusty Windows 7. icon smile My thoughts on Windows 8

A Recent WordPress Issue…

Frequently, some friends come by asking for help on a number of things. Well, the latest turns out to be from a buddy who has his own WordPress website, but it had gotten attacked a couple of days before. He decided that he would move it to another server, revamp the security (as if it needed more) and tried all he could to get it to start back up again. And with over 1.5 million hits a month, it was quite a bit of traffic that he could have been monetizing.

Well, his issue came when he moved to a new server. He found that no matter what he did, it would always end up in a redirection loop. Now usually this can just be a quick fix because of the way URI’s are addressed… (with or without the WWW) … and he found out real quick what the issue truly was, his database was not in place. He thought he restored it, but sometimes using phpMyAdmin doesn’t do the job correctly, and thus requires some hands on effort. After we figured out that the database wasn’t in place, I told him the command to restore a DB, and had him go and make the user, and grant the required privileges and all that is required; and finally, the site was back online.

The curious part about all of this, is that without a database, it would create an infinite redirection loop. But why? Can anyone explain this? If so, I’d greatly appreciate it. I’ve looked numerous places, but can’t seem to find anything definitive about why it would do this.

Minecraft Server Script

I am currently creating a script to help manage the minecraft server. So far, everything is very server independent. Basically you can just go and add your own ideas to the script if you care to.

However, If there are any pieces of code that you think could use improvement, feel free to leave a comment with your suggestions.

The code can be found here: https://github.com/biggt/minecraftServer

Why You Should Convert From NTFS to exFAT

If you have a Windows PC and have ever formatted a drive (flash or disk) as NTFS and then tried to use that same drive on a Mac… then chances are, you have found that it is unlikely to be written to. My understanding is that while Mac understands how to read from the drives, they will not be able to write to the drives.

In an effort to find a work around, I resorted to Google, and came up with an answer pretty quickly… given by none other than Microsoft. MS has developed a new file system format that has fewer limitations than NTFS… it’s called “exFAT”. This new file system should theoretically be able to hold exabytes of data. It’s almost incomprehensible how much data that is, but I digress.

exFAT has since been implemented by Apple and is recognized by their newer OS’s, and they also recognize the ability to write to them. This, is the golden moment. This is exactly what I was looking for. I can now move from Windows to Mac seamlessly. But… remember to back up all data on the drives BEFORE you format any drive. If exFAT is supported on your drive, then when you open the format panel, you should have the option of exFAT under the file system preferences. If it isn’t there, I’d definitely look to see if it’s possible with your drive. I still have not understood how or why it isn’t always recognized as able to be formatted as exFAT.

NOTE: You won’t be able to format your “C” drive in windows to be an exFAT drive… I wouldn’t suggest trying to do that either. Plus, formatting it will erase your data… but you already knew that. BACKUP ALL THE THINGS!
UPDATE 11/25/2012:
NOTE: Windows XP sometimes does not recognize the exFAT filesystem if it does not have the patch from MSFT (link needed), and Linux also has trouble recognizing it, if at all.

Good luck. icon smile Why You Should Convert From NTFS to exFAT

SSH-Keys How-To and their silly issues

One of the most regarded security practices for securing ANY server is to setup password-less SSH logins, and disable logins by password. This can help save time because you aren’t typing all the time, however setting them up can be a pain in the butt.

I will be going through how to set them up, but I will not be showing how to disable password log in because I believe that it can be a fail-safe in case you ever lose your key, get hacked, or anything else.

Setup:
Client: Windows PC
Server: CentOS
All File Download Page: http://www.chiark.greenend.org.uk/~sgtatham/putty/download.html

Download PuTTY and PuTTYgen from the above link.
Start PuTTY and PuTTYgen
Create a profile in PuTTY

Enter the Host Name (and Port if other than 22)
Choose SSH as Connection Type
Enter a name for the "Saved Sessions" box, and click Save

On the left hand side, Under "Connection" dropdown, click "Data" 
and enter the corresponding username you are trying to setup 
keys for.

Now in PuTTYgen, click "Generate" and in the "Key Comment" box 
enter a description (usually an email)
[It is usually recommended that you also include a 
  "Key Passphrase" in case your keys are ever compromised]

Save the public key with a ".pub" extension, and then the private
key with a ".ppk" extension

Back in PuTTY, under Connection, and under "SSH" dropdown, choose 
"Auth" and browse for the private key you just created with 
PuTTYgen. 
Under "Session" click save for the corresponding profile.
Login to the server, under the users ".ssh" folder, create 
"authorized_keys" file, open it, and paste the key contents that 
is in the PuTTYgen box at the top. 
Save the "authorized_keys" file.

FTP the corresponding ".pub" key to the .ssh folder for that user.

Finally, chmod go-w ~/; chmod 700 ~/.ssh; chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys 
Now try another SSH session and it should work.

Issues I ran into:

Uploading the .pub key to the server with a root account will end up yielding the key as unrecognizable to the connecting user.

 FIX: With a root account, go into the /home/ directory
      and run "chown -R [username]:[usernameORuserGroup] [username]

 

Any other issues, feel free to contact me todd [at] dotelement.com

An awesome experiment: 31 Flavors of Linux in 31 days

UPDATE: You can find Days 1-14 here, and 15-30 here 

I have just read about an experiment by Todd Robinson of WebPath that for the month of August he will attempt to create and distribute 31 flavors (distributions) of Linux, 1 per day. I read this and was in awe. I have not personally had the chance (or the drive, sadly) to go about building my own distribution of Linux to customize it for my computers. However, I fully support this experiment and look forward to it happening.

31 flavors logo200x200 An awesome experiment: 31 Flavors of Linux in 31 days

I have emailed him with an offer to be a sponsor for 2 mirrors from the blog, and I hope he accepts. I do not mind the publicity, as much as I support the experiment and the open source community and background of Linux. While I am writing this post on my Windows powered laptop (dual booting with Ubuntu BackTrack 5) I will surely try out some of the distributions that Todd will be creating.

I look forward to his endeavor, and I wish him all the good luck in his experiment. You can read the full blog post about Todd’s experiment here.

Full blog post: http://webpath.net/31-flavors

Disclaimer: While my name is also Todd, we are not the same. I read this and fully support Todd Robinson and his experiment and only wish to help promote the experiment while being a free sponsor as a mirror for his distros.