PhillipBlanton.com

"Save me, oh God, from people who have no sense of humor."
— Ludlow Porch

GitHub gifts paid subscribers with unlimited private repositories!

I used to run my own Subversion server, but with my latest endeavors I am an advocate and evangelist for cloud computing. Focus on your business domain and let Amazon take care of the infrastructure. So a few years ago I moved my active projects to a paid subscription on GitHub. Only my active projects though, and not all of my source code, because at the time GitHub only allowed you five private repositories, and I didn't want to give all of my work away to the world for free.

Today GitHub announced that they are changing that policy and now allowing paid subscribers to create UNLIMITED private repositories! now I can finally take down my old SVN server, which is still running on an old server in my office, and move all of that to GitHub!

I also have some repositories on GitLabs that I will move over to GitHub. This was a long time coming and I'm glad that GitHub finally is moving in the right direction here.

For more information, read their official statement.

 

https://github.com/blog/2164-unlimited-private-repos

 

Let's Encrypt!

SSL has always been a good idea but has always been a hassle to configure, and can be expensive. If you run a number of websites like I do, then SSL is easily the most expensive piece of the puzzle, so most of us forego securing the pipe like we should.

Riding to the rescue is LetsEncrypt!

LetsEncrypt solves the issue of SSL certificates being expensive, but doesn't so much to solve the "hassle to configure" issue. Oh well.

To use LetsEncrypt, follow the instructions here...

https://letsencrypt.org/getting-started

There are rate limits to the service, as discussed here, but if you aren't developing a client for the service then you won't likely have any issues with limits. If you are developing a client, then use the staging service, which is unlimited.

I'll be exploring generating a new SSL certificate and deploying it to an Amazon S3 instance that I am developing located here. I'll cover that later in this series of articles.

Accessing Windows NTFS partitions from Linux on a dual-boot system

I dual boot Windows 10 and Kubuntu 16.04 Linux. Recently, after upgrading to Windows 10, I noticed that I was unable to mount my exFat and NTFS partitions from the Linux side.

The exFat problem is easy to resolve. Start up the terminal of your choice and type...

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse

That will install the exFat drivers for your Linux system. From now on you're good to go regarding exFat. If you don't know about exFat, it is the best format for flash drives. It is supported on Windows, Mac OSX and Linux (after you install it) unlike FAT32, and doesn't have the 4GB limitation that FAT does; which makes it perfect for using one drive across all of your operating systems.  

But this isn't the exFat issue. It is the problem of not being able to mount an NTFS partition from Linux, which has always been a no-brainer.If you get an error like this when you try to mount an NTFS partition, then you know what I'm talking about...

An error occurred while accessing 'Home', the system responded: The requested operation has failed: Error mounting /dev/sda1 at /media/9C9445DC9445BA12: Command-line `mount -t "ntfs" -o "uhelper=udisks2,nodev,nosuid,uid=500,gid=500,dmask=0077,fmask=0177" "/dev/sda1" "/media/9C9445DC9445BA12"' exited with non-zero exit status 14: Windows is hibernated, refused to mount. Failed to mount '/dev/sda1': Operation not permitted The NTFS partition is in an unsafe state. Please resume and shutdown Windows fully (no hibernation or fast restarting), or mount the volume read-only with the 'ro' mount option.

The problem is caused by new functionality in Windows 10 (and Windows 8, which I never used) that causes the default shutdown behavior to be to hibernate your PC rather than actually shutting it down. It is called "Fast Startup" and is supposed to make Windows 10 "feel" faster than it really is. In order to access these NTFS partitions on Linux, you need to disable Fast Startup and hibernation as follows...

  • Boot to Windows 10.
  • Click your start menu and type "Power Options" in the search box and select Power Options from the search results.
  • On the left side, click "Change what the power buttons do".
  • Scroll to the bottom (you may have to unlock the page - Look for a link to unlock options at the top), and de-select the "Turn on fast startup (recommended)" and "Hibernate" options.

This will probably fix the issue, but in case it doesn't, you can force the issue by executing the following command in a windows terminal window (command prompt) running as Administrator...

powercfg.exe -h off

Shut-down Windows normally now, and re-boot into Linux. You should then be able to access your Windows 10 NTFS partition normally.

Good luck!

Installing Startup Disk Creator on Kubuntu

I recently found myself needing to repair some Windows partitions and move files around from an old spinning disk to a new mSata SSD drive. The only Linux flash drive that I had provisioned already was Kubuntu 15.10 live. While I was using it, I needed to create a new bootable flash drive with Ubuntu 16.04 so I could install a new partition on this new SSD running Ubuntu 16.04. Unfortunately Kubuntu doesn't come with Startup Disk Creator already installed on it. If you click the "K" menu and type "Startup" you'll see its missing from the system. No worries...

  • Launch the Konsole terminal
  • Type "sudo apt-get usb-creator-gtk"
  • Let it install, and voila.

Now, clicking on the "K" menu and typing "Startup" will allow you to run the Startup Disk Creator.

Installing VMWare Tools on a Kali-Linux VMWare VM.

On a fresh Kali Linux install, you are going to need the kernel headers first. Go ahead and install them by following these directions...

  1. Open a command prompt in the Linux VM.
  2. Execute these commands...
apt-get update
apt-get install linux-headers-`uname -r`

If it fails and you typed it, realize that those aren't single quotes. They are "back-ticks". Use the key on the top-left of your keyboard that has the tilde on it "~". Otherwise, just copy-paste.

Now, it's time to install the VMWare tools...

  1. Open a command prompt in the Linux VM (Or use the one that is already open if you ran the above steps first).
  2. From the VMWare menu choose, "VM | Install VMWare Tools".
  3. The disk should mount.
  4. In the terminal window, execute the following commands...
    cd /tmp  
    tar zxf /media/cdrom/VMWareTools-9.9.2-2496486.tar.gz

    Note: Your version will likely be different than mine, so type "tar zxf /media/cdrom/VM" then press the [Tab] key to autocomplete the proper filename.

    cd vmware-tools-distrib
    ./vmware-install.pl

Disabling "Prompt for Password on Wakeup"

I got a new laptop at the end of the year. While configuring it (I'm a bit of a power-user and like my laptops configured in a specific way) I tried to remove the onerous "require password when the computer awakens". Unfortunately the domain of my company had enforced the policy. Drag.

I use a severely complex password in order to provide real security. It's not a sentence, or an array of sentence letters, or anything in any way related to me. It in fact is a generated password that looks something like this...  "g4JGmU{Y2xX". That one is NOT my password. It's just another generated one based on the same algorithm as the one that I generated before.

Anyway, as you can see, entering that password over and over again, is pure hell. It keeps my laptop secure, but is a bitch to enter. I have it on my phone, in an application called "1Password", and I have to enter yet a separate password in order to unlock my 1Password application so that I can see this hairy-chested password and enter it.

In an effort to keep my power usage down, I have my laptop set to sleep itself as quickly as possible when on battery, therefore I need to disable the "prompt for password on wakeup" in order to make my life easier. I am responsible enough to lock my computer when I leave it, so I don't need this corporate big-brotherism interfering with the way I work. I looked up a way around the domain restriction but unfortunately I was unable to find what I needed. Then I began to dig in the registry and came upon this...

make sure your registry is backed up before trying to edit it. You have been warned. 

  • Run RegEdit
  • Open the following key...

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\System\Power

  • Edit the value "PromptPasswordOnResume", changing the value from "1" to "0".
  • If the value "PromptPasswordOnResume" doesn't exist, then create a new 32-bit DWord value called "PromptPasswordOnResume" and set its value to "0" 
  • Save and exit the registry.

After you reboot (at least in my case) awakening the computer from sleep does NOT require a password, although the normal interface screens where you set this value still appear to have the setting that will require it to. In other words, it seems to be a simple hack that overrides the setting and makes life nicer.

Good luck! 

October Fresh Pumpkin Pie Soup

For those of you who don't know, October is THE month for pumpkin pie pumpkins.

If you like Pumpkin pies, then you most likely have been raised on pies made from canned pumpkin. While it's sad, it's also instructive. Pumpkin pie pumpkins are only a small sliver of the pumpkin growing industry. Most of the pumpkin growing industry is dedicated to the growing of the big pumpkins used for throwaway Jack-O-Lanterns.

Pumpkin pie pumpkins are very small and very sweet pumpkins that are only available for a very short period of time from early October until mid to late October.

BUY THEM WHEN YOU SEE THEM! The pie pumpkins should cost about $2 each and they will keep for about two months.

The best thing to do is buy them when they are ripe, gut and seed them and process them for puree. Save the puree in Food Saver freezer bags, or can it for future use. That way when Thanksgiving and Christmas comes up, you can make fresh pumpkin pies from your own fresh pumpkin puree. People who use commercially canned puree are losers. 

Here is a relatively good instruction set for fresh pumpkin pie (at this time).

Pumpkin Pie Puree

The only thing that I don't like about it is the many different ways to cook the pie pumpkin in order to make the puree. I ONLY subscribe to the baking method. Cut the top open like you are going to make a small jack-o-lantern, gut the pumpkin and inside the lid from all of its seeds and stringy stuff, rinse it well making sure you got all of the stringy stuff out. Dry it, slather it all outside with vegetable oil, and place it in a baking dish big enough to hold it. Put a tablesoon of butter and a quarter cup of heavy cream and quarter cup of water inside the pumpkin, drop the lid back on and bake it for one and a half to one and three quarter hours at 375. 

After you take the pumpkin out of the oven, carefully scrape the insides and underside of the lid out with a spoon and put it in a separate bowl. Once you get the pumpkin meat all removed, use a immersion blender to completely mix the meat into a puree.

Can or freeze the puree for later use in your pumpkin pie recipe. 

Update: October 19, 2012

I was at the local Albertson's last night, and saw that they had placed all of their pumpkins in the same pallet container with a "49 cents / pound" sign in front of it. I picked out four nice pie pumpkins but when I got to the checkout, the girl told me that the pie pumpkins were still $2.99 each. Even though they were piled in with the 49 cents per pound pumpkins. I was disappointed and left without any pie pumpkins.  

Acer Aspire 1420P Running Linux

Like those of you who are hitting this post, I received an Acer Aspire 1420P at the 2009 PDC in Los Angeles, California. I have searched and have not found any other posts about the Acer Aspire 1420P so I assume that the lappy wasn't ever released outside of the 2009 PDC in LA.

Suffice it to say, the Acer 1420P was a seriously nice touchscreen lappy/tablet with a; "meh" microsoft operating system running on a crappy touchy version of Win 7.

In fact I gave this lappy to my daughter as a 2009 Christmas present. She used it for a year, then handed it back to me when I gave her a 15" Macbook Pro for the next Christmas.

It sat in my (crappy computer) pile for a while until I recently realized that it is in fact quite a capable computer. This is the log of my trying different flavors of Linux on this laptop. My goal is to have a lappy/tab computer that I can hold while watching TV / drinking coffee / smoking barbecue / welding art / well, doing whatever I want.

I am particular to Suse linux, but will try Ubuntu first. The biggest hurdle will be enabling the touchscreen on the machine. I suspect that Ubuntu will fail... then I will try Suse, which I also expect will fail. I will let you all know what is the best Linux OS for the Acer Aspire 1420P. Bear with me.

Update Oct 10, 2012: 

I installed Ubuntu 12.04 LTS by creating a live-disk flash drive using the Windows version of LinuxLive USB Creator. I installed the Ubuntu iso onto the flash drive and booted up to the installer with no problems. The installation went very smoothly and I was running Ubuntu Linux in under an hour. After the installation, the touchscreen worked fine. I was impressed. Then, I noticed that there were some problems with Firefox (I could only use Ask.com as a search engine) and other niggling issues that were preventing me from having joy. Then I ran the updater and noticed that there was an upgrade available for the version of Ubuntu I had just downloaded. >:(

After running the upgrade, all of the problems disappeared, except the touchscreen no longer worked. I played with it for about an hour, trying to find a solution, but didn't have any luck. I was impressed that ALL of the hardware on the machine was supported out of the box, except for the touchscreen. Bluetooth worked, Wifi worked, all of the alternate functions of the 'F' keys worked! It was pretty cool. 

Next... Suse

Update Oct 10,2012... Later

Ok, Suse was a bust. I couldn't find an easy way to create a flash drive installer for Suse. All of the instructions I found were to burn the iso to a disk and boot to the live disk in order to create the USB flash drive. Um... Hello... I need a USB flash drive in order to boot Suse!

So I chose Kubuntu as my second install. I used the same tools to create the Kubuntu flash drive that I had used to create the Ubuntu flash drive. After running the install on the Aspire 1420P, everything looks great. The touchscreen works fine as does all of the built in hardware. I am running the updates now and hope they don't break the little bocks. 

After the update, the touchscreen still works, but upon closer examination, the taps by your finger and the stylus, seem to be something other than normal clicks. they are also not exactly right-clicks. For instance, tapping on the "K" menu icon shows a little window that says,

"Kickoff Application Launcher.
Favori tes, applications,
computer places,recently
used items and desktop
sessions."  

Not exactly useful. Using the mouse, I can't reproduce the same results, so I expect that the touchscreen is doing something completely different. 

Update Oct 11, 2014: 

Yesterday I installed Fedora 20 on it while watching television. The Fedora 20 flash drive instructions were great. In fact I did it on my 27" iMac. I have never had so much luck with Linux live flash drive creation before. Especially not on a Mac. Good job Fedora.

The installation was a breeze. I still haven't gotten the touch screen working, but the laptop works great under Fedora. After two years, I am looking forward to actually getting the touchscreen to work.

Changing your IP Address on Mac OSX Mountain Lion.

About three years ago I switched my whole family from Windows computers to Apple Macs. In fact, my eldest daughter got our first mac (a 15" Macbook Pro) as a gift for her sixteenth birthday. She is now nineteen and works behind the "Genuis Bar" at the local Apple store.

From time to time though, I get this notice on my iMac or Macbook Pro...

The solution (on OSX Mountain Lion) is as follows...

1. Close out of any applications that are connected to the Web.

2. Click on the Apple menu and choose System Preferences.

3. Select your active network interface from the pane on the left.

4. Click "Advanced" in the lower-right corner of the main pane.

5. Click the TCP/IP tab, and click the "Renew DHCP Lease" button.

The system will toss your existing IP Address and assign you a new one that doesn't conflict with others on your network.