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Sorry for the DNS glitch mid-afternoon folks. The good folks at Domainmonger with whom blakjak.net is registered, hid their 'glue' concept within their over-dumbed-down UI so well I didn't find it until necessity forced it, when the only one of my nameservers with current Glue records disappeared for planned downtime (hosted by a friend).

Sorted now. So sorry. #muttermutter

G'day folks.
Tomorrow my main blakjak.net server will be taking a small road-trip to a new home.
This involves an IP address change and some downtime as it moves between locations and is racked up and powered on, etc.
I expect the downtime to be approximately 1200-1330hrs tomorrow (Friday), perhaps shorter.

Sorry for any inconvenience; plenty of measures have been put in place to mitigate operational impacts.

(Quietly raging at the slip of the fingers that caused me to have to write this blog twice!!!)

Several weeks ago i received my (first ever) summons to attend Jury Service. I happen to relish the fact I live in a civil society where the right to trial-by-jury-of-peers is entrenched, and innocent-until-proven-guilty is the same. So I was actually quite excited by the prospect.

(My employer, slightly less so, but they're good enough to pay wages to staff who are on Jury Service. some don't!)

I didn't have a reasonable reason to seek to be excused from Jury service. Several people I observed when I turned up at court did, one for family (kid-related) reasons, and a few more due to being language-challenged (strong english is required). So I plowed on.

The night before - so, last Sunday - @vaughndavis tweeted a blog entry by @simonemccallum - about her recent Jury Service experience. Simone: Thanks heaps for your timely blog entry (and tweet) - it gave me some useful perspective on the eve of my service!

So after turning up at the appointed time - metal detector and x-ray machines ala airport-security part-in-parcel - I queued up with the other 100+ called jurors to get checked off and then sit in the Juror Assembly room.

Eventually (by the way, a good book and a smartphone are your best friend at these things!) a short DVD is played to introduce the court process, and the players (judge, registrar, clerk, lawyers, defendent, witnesses, jurors). After this the balloting begins; 35 panel-candidates at a time are drawn randomly for each selection.

If you're a Kiwi you'd have to have been hiding under a rock to have missed the fact that Xtra's email service has been under siege lately.

In February, a significant number of xtra.co.nz email addresses - hosted by Yahoo in Sydney - were compromised. It appears that an organised botnet was able to access the mailboxes of many thousand subscribers, and use those mailboxes to generate spam emails (pointing at malicious web content) to email addresses found in those mailboxes - pulled from address books, sent items or similar.

The root cause has not been publicly announced by Yahoo, as far as I know, but I recall reading about a Cross Site Scripting issue involving Wordpress that sounds plausible in some respects. That said, I know that several of the accounts compromised (including one of mine!) have not been used in a long time - or at least, hadn't been, until this issue came to light... which makes one wonder how long this has been parked, waiting - or whether there is some _other_ vulnerability at work.

Anycase, there was a public outcry, and lots of 'change your password' advice being given out to account holders, and the rest of us got to suffer under a deluge of spam originating from Yahoo's servers - let's make it clear, it's not just the account holders that've suffered here, it's the folks they've corresponded with! - and in the aftermath Telecom had to announce a review of their email arrangement with Yahoo (to whom xtra.co.nz email has been outsourced for some years). NBR has a good article with the background, and their public announcement to stay with Yahoo on the grounds of a promise from Yahoo to 'do better'.

So my 10GB Windows XP VM (that'll be big enough!) ... wasn't big enough.

After some googling and some help from a friend, here's how I enlarged my image.

1. Shut down the VM.

2. From a terminal, run the following:

VBoxManage modifyhd /path/to/diskimagefile.vdi --resize SIZE-IN-MB

3. Then install 'qemu-kvm' package:

$ sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm

4. Load the network-block-device kernel module:

$ sudo modprobe nbd

5. Load the VDI file as a network block device using qemu-nbd:

$ sudo qemu-nbd -c /dev/nbd0 /path/to/diskimagefile.vdi

6. Use your favourite partitioning tool (i like gparted) to open the disk:

$ sudo gparted /dev/nbd0

Adjust your active partition size (you will see the original disk size, and available space up to the new size you set (as SIZE-IN-MB above). Commit your change. Bobs your Uncle.

Havn't blogged in a while, but this one has me very motivated.

Solarwinds are a relatively well known IT Management & Monitoring Software company.
Amongst their commercial product suite(s) are free tools that they make available to people who simply have to provide their personal information (name, email address, some other information) so that they can collect information about who's using the tools. Supposedly.

I have personally used their TFTP Server and their Advanced Subnet Calculator at various stages over the last 7 years or so and been fairly happy with them; despite being bannerware they actually do what they advertise and the Subnet Calculator has been very helpful as recently as in the last 12 months. (I run Linux almost exclusively these days, but still flitter in Windows and when i'm there, these tools still feature).

Unfortunately for Solarwinds, they've ever compromised their standards and disclosed their user information publically, or... they've been compromised, and had their user information disclosed publically.

On 6 December 2012 I received a spam email to an address i'd only ever given to Solarwinds.com.

Noting this I engaged with Solarwinds via Twitter, who, to their credit, were prompt in responding and I forwarded a full-headers version to them at their request.

Unfortunately there's been nothing further from them, and today I received yet more Spam. Similar enough I believe it to be from the same crowd.

A quick look on their Facebook page shows i'm not the only one now receiving unsolicited email to an email address that was exclusively given to Solarwinds.com only. Noone else.

So it's time to put it 'out there'. Did you receive the above? To an address disclosed to solarwinds.com ? Surely a company such as Solarwinds must realise how scandalous this sort of thing can be - or is?

Yesterday I took the first of a few days of Annual Leave, looking to spend some time with the family after a fairly chaotic few months with work and brigade committments.

Mother-in-Law still in town from Wellington, we took the kids to Ambury Park - a great experience for urban kids! - and then decided to hit Ruby Red Cafe in Mangere Bridge for a coffee/fluffy break.

My mother picked up the tab, and ordered our usual collection of Soy Fluffies (for the kids) and coffees for the rest of us, Soy as required....

Unfortunately the person behind the counter heard 'two flat whites' when mum said 'two soy fluffies'.
So when two unwanted coffees (that our kids could hardly drink!) turned up and we refused them, there were apologies and the correct order did arrive fairly promptly.

Sadly though, no refund was coming. Although the waitress had offered one, by the time it came to it, the guy behind the counter refused, saying he made what we ordered.

Mum being mum, she wasn't interested in the conflict.... but for me it's simple; as a retailer you take the hit and offer the refund in the interests of return business. I know we won't be going to Ruby Red again - what's it cost them in loss of business?

(Mum learnt a lesson too; get a read-back of the order and question when the charge looks too high!)

BlakJak.net returns after being down since last evening. Looks like something ran amuck and used up all my memory. Will be monitoring the situation more closely... !

So today, in amongst other bits and pieces, I set about trying to figure out why my old Ubuntu 10.04 Desktop - now connected to the TV in my livingroom - was constantly failing to play DVDs. In one case the title would load up, but none of the chapters would play.

Googling the errors that came up (oh thanks VLC for the constant references to 'fake' error messages), I finally found a useful hit on the Ubuntu Forums.

The bottom line was indeed that I needed libdvdcss2 - this is after I installed 'ubuntu-restricted-extras' to ensure I had all the codecs I needed. Of course, throwing that into apt-get install gives you this:

Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Package libdvdcss2 is not available, but is referred to by another package.
This may mean that the package is missing, has been obsoleted, or
is only available from another source
E: Package libdvdcss2 has no installation candidate

The above link describes how to install it (on my Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installation.. which is definately not Medibuntu):

$ sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

And just like that, it worked.

So knowing that my Ubuntu 10.10 was about to go out of support, I took the plunge and made two calls:

1) Ubuntu's move to Unity was not to my liking, and

2) I'd like to move to the new LTS; 12.04.

So I went to Xubuntu; the Xfce based Ubuntu variant.

Unfortunately, as it's only March 2012, 12.04 is only just into Beta stage. So my installation is Xubuntu 12.04b1 64bit.

First impressions? I like it. However there's been a few odds and sods i've had to deal to manually, and eventually i'll tie them into this blog article.

Browsers
I operate with Firefox as my main browser, and Chrome/Chromium as my second browser, used for mainly work-related things or where i'm testing for browser incompatibilities. Unfortunately Chromium doesn't seem to play well with other browsers, and where Firefox is otherwise configured as the default, this isn't necessarily true...

Anycase this was my fix to make Firefox take all the stuff that Chromium was stealing, in this case links presented via Pidgin IM:

root@hawkeye:/etc/alternatives# rm gnome-www-browser 
root@hawkeye:/etc/alternatives# rm x-www-browser 
root@hawkeye:/etc/alternatives# ln -s /usr/bin/firefox gnome-www-browser
root@hawkeye:/etc/alternatives# ln -s /usr/bin/firefox x-www-browser

More coming soon as I work through the kinks. On the whole i'm pretty damn happy with it so far, including the fact that it's able to run Gnome apps.

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