Tag Archives: sysadmin

Server Maintenance

Well, it’s more like server removal. I’m switching from a self-hosted server to one at Inmotion Hosting. It was fun while it lasted. Ok, so it wasn’t really fun, because I hate system administration. And that’s why I’m switching it out. Some things get worse when they’re out of my hands, but other things like regular backups, security and bug fix patches, etc. get way better.

They’ll be handling mail as well, and as a result I will be getting rid of my CrackTeam.org email address. I technically have 6 email addresses and by far the Crack Team one gets the most spam. Not that I see any of it – I have excellent spam filtering. It’s 97% accurate and has protected me from over 69,000 spam messages to date. I don’t know that Inmotion will be nearly as accurate though, since they use SpamAssassin, and I use the BayesSpam plugin for SquirrelMail. Anyway, I was worried about getting rid of it until I realized that almost none of my friends use that email; it’s mainly used to register for web sites. I can use my Yahoo account for that, since their spam filtering is excellent as well. If you were using my Crack Team email, please switch to one of my 3 main personal email addresses.

Anyhoo, the point is that the site will be going down, perhaps tonight, so don’t be surprised. Hopefully the whole thing won’t take long, and we’ll be running on WordPress 2.3.1. There should be some nice new features.

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Cascades: Not Just a Pretty Mountain Range

Not being a network or IT professional I am sometimes forced to listen to people who supposedly know more than I do.� I’ve been wanting to add wireless capability to my existing wired home network.� Our current router had a lot of configuration data in it for servers operated by Agent Archangel so the plan would be to add another router to the system so we wouldn’t have to bring the crack team network offline.� The sales associate at Fry’s electronics informed me that the only way it would be possible to keep my current router would be if I purchased a wireless access point (WAP).� For those who don’t know, a WAP costs more than it’s wireless router counterpart and has much less functionality.� It’s basically a wireless router & switch only without the router & switch part.� Why anyone would pay that much for a device that does so little is beyond me.

Anyway, on a whim I decided to try it�(since I�was�pretty sure the concept should work)�and went and purchased a Linksys WRT350N Wireless-N Router.� I disabled the DHCP and gave the router a new IP address compatible with our network and then plugged one of it’s local LAN ports to one of the local LAN ports on the existing router.� Voila!� I now had a working wireless network connection.�

The magical networking term that describes what I did is “cascading routers” and you can cascade many routers together (this was all news to me).� For some reason I was only able to find this information on the Linksys support site after I knew what the term was.� I swear it wasn’t there before I knew it.

IOSS BIOS Savior

This post belongs in the “day late and a dollar short” category. I recently messed up my motherboard. Short version is that I noticed the clock speed was low for the processor I installed, so I updated the BIOS. That didn’t work, so I reset the BIOS settings via the jumper. And ever since then, I’ve gotten an “incorrect CPU speed” message, and it won’t boot. So now I gotta get a PLCC chip puller to remove the BIOS chip and mail it back to ASUS, so they can reflash it and mail it back to me. I figure this will take 2-3 weeks, and if it doesn’t work, I gotta buy a new system.

So apart from the kindness Agent Bladerunner has shown in loaning me his laptop, I could be without Internet access at home for a up to a month. Considering that most TV shows are dead for the summer1, this could be the best thing to happen to me in over a decade. More on that later.

So this life changing event never would have happened if I had known about the IOSS BIOS Savior. Basically, you pull out your BIOS chip with the included chip puller, pop in the tiny daughter card (RD1), and place the original chip in that. You also have a switch that allows you to switch from the original chip to the RD1.

After installing the RD1, you backup the current BIOS to it, then update the original chip to your hearts content. Mess up your system like me? No problem! Just flip the switch, and you’re back to the original BIOS (which, of course, you tested after backing up so you know it works).

It costs $20-30, versus $5 S&H to get your mobo mfr. to reflash your chip (or $25 to send you a new one). But without it you’re dangerously at risk of Internet lossage, which could lead to the following:

  • Learning new things offline, instead of online where you can take a 20 minute game break every 10 minutes.
  • Reading books
  • Watching the Netflix movies that arrived 4 months ago
  • Going to the *gasp* gym!

Sweet sassy molassey, man, get that damn BIOS savior now!

  1. Aside from the brilliant, Agent Mystery-produced So You Think You Can Dance. The chicks on this show are crazy hot. And dancers! And wearing skin-tight dental floss! And way too young for you! Geez, man, why aren’t you watching this??? []

Mmmm… PI

I’ve recently been building a new computer system and one of the things I have been trying to work out is the overclocking of the system.� In my search for benchmarks and stress tests I came across a popular benchmark in the overclocking community that I thought was pretty neat.� Ever wonder what the 21,865,285th digit of PI was?

Super PI is a program that will calculate PI to various numbers of digits (up to 32M).� The standard benchmark is to run it for 1M digits and compare your time to other computers.� My current CPU (Intel E6600�@ ~2.9GHz) did it in a little over 17 seconds, and my 64-bit workstation at work (Intel Xeon 5150 @ 2.66GHz)�does it in 19.781 seconds.� I’ll add a comment to this once with my final�1M time once I finish overclocking my system and�verify its stability.

There is also a wikipedia entry on the program here.

USB Cables Don’t Cost $30+

I know that not everybody (meaning practically nobody) comparison shops to the extent that I do. Therefore you might go into Staples or Office Depot and think that USB cables normally cost $25-35. This is at least a 100% markup. They are assuming you don’t know any better, or are buying it with a larger ticket item like a printer, and in contrast it seems less expensive. And you’re too lazy to buy it elsewhere. On top of that, I see they’re trying to carry only top of the line, gold plated cables (which might have a .000003% performance gain), so you don’t have any choices. At Staples, they go a step further and gouge you for their store brand! You’re not even getting a name brand like Belkin.

Just so you know, using pricegrabber.com you can find a longer cable for less than 1/2 the price. I just purchased a 16′ Belkin USB 2.0 cable for under $10 shipped at databazaar.com. This is 60% longer and over 65% cheaper than Office Depot and Staples. And I earned AAdvantage miles from databazaar.com in the process. Yes, I have to wait a few days for my cable, but I probably could have shipped it next day air and still have saved money.

IT Personality Test

If you’re not sure where you fit in the information technology circus, here’s a little quiz to help place you. It basically is a short career placement test based on your strengths (or perceived strengths). It didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know, but if you’re fairly new to IT, or are considering a change, it could be useful. Either way, it only takes a minute.

The Spyware That Shagged Me

A couple years ago I switched from NT to Win2k, because spyware bundled with BearShare hosed my system. For the record, Win2k doesn’t protect against spyware, but I’m loathe to upgrade a working system. For the other record, I paid $10 for LimeWire and it was well worth it.

Since then, I’ve found a couple good programs to fight this. The first was Ad Aware. It’s good, but didn’t detect a recent problem. I found out that Pest Patrol often finds spyware that other programs miss. They offer a free scan of your system, and offer detailed instructions on how to rid the menace. While the instructions are clear, they often have many steps, and you’ll probably buy the thing to make your life easier.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy for me. After many attempted removals (all requiring reboots), I was getting nowhere. The asshats who write spyware have it start up immediately, and the asshats who wrote Windows lock all running programs so they can’t be deleted (this is one of the reasons why it requires so many reboots). If you run into this problem, you have to find the offending file and remove read and execute permissions (through Properties->Security). Leave the write permission on, because you need it to delete it.

I told Pest Patrol of this problem, but never got a response. Granted, I can have a bit of a snarky attitude when frustrated, but if I followed Lincoln’s 24 hour rule for poison pen letters, I’d never send any.