Archive for July 2007

Techy: Find All Symlinks (Symbolic Links) on a Linux System

July 19th, 2007

I’ve just needed to try and find all symbolic links (symlinks) on a RedHat Enterprise Linux server so I can replicate the setup of the server (for some reason, the config files and other settings are in “non-standard” places and are symlinked from the original location).

To find all the sym links, just run this simple Linux command line option:
find / -type l -exec ls -l {} \;

(and, if you would prefer all the symlinks to be stored in a file – as there will be a very large number of them – use the command find / -type l -exec ls -l {} \; > /home/admin/symlinks.txt).

I hope this helps somebody else who has to work with undocumented strangely configured Linux machines.

News: Daily Mail: Queen fails to meet Queen

July 18th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from the 6th of May 2007 from “Treble R News” which was going to be a Register-esque general news site.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Dame Helen Mirren has “snubbed” an invite to a private dinner with the HM Queen Elizabeth II. » Read more: News: Daily Mail: Queen fails to meet Queen

Techy Fun: Attempted fraud

July 18th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Categories: Timewasters and Gee, I Wonder Why?. Author: Anonymous

Somebody recently placed an online order with us, but we thought it was a bit suspicious when the IP address (a “unique” number which helps identify your computer when on the internet) showed up as being in Nigeria, the credit card was in the USA, we are based in Ireland and the order value was over a hundred Euros.

We give them a call on the French number they supplied, but there’s no answer. We then refund the money to the credit card used as we suspect it’s fraud.

Two days later, the person emails us asking why we refunded the money and can we send the goods “now” (sent from a Hotmail account via an anonymous proxy). We replied saying the credit card company flagged the card and recommended we refuse the order. To process the order, he would have to send us a fax of the front of the credit card.

He says he can’t do that as he’s in Nigeria – but can he please pay with another credit card he’s got (this time registered to another third party name in Germany): if not, can we send the goods anyway and he’ll pay on delivery.

For some reason, we declined his order totally and just cut off communication with him after that point.

Techy Fun: Supporting the customer from hell

July 17th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from “Behind The Frontline” which was going to be a cross between I Work With Fools, Worse Than Failure and Dilbert.

Categories: Gee, I Wonder why? and Just Plain Dumb. Author: Anonymous

here I work, the sales department is available Monday to Friday 9am to 5.30pm (i.e. normal office hours) and technical support is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365.4 days a year (yep – Christmas day included).

I don’t see this as unreasonable – we promise 24/7 tech support after all, but we can’t afford for the sales office to be staffed 24/7 “just in case” there is an order or query. We also provide detailed welcome emails and online knowledgebase systems.

That’s the scenario….

On our website we have a contact page: At the top of the contact page in big bold writing it practically says “The Sales Department CAN NOT help with technical support queries – if you are an existing customer please contact _technical support_” (with the _technical support_ bit taking them to our helpdesk). After the contact form (headed, “SALES ENQUIRIES ONLY” – yep, in caps!), the “The Sales Department CAN NOT help” messages is again repeated in big bold writing.

5.45pm on a Friday night. Guess what happens. Yep, a customer opens a sales request saying they can’t login. Problem – they neglected to say who they were (no domain name, no username – nothing useful). On Saturday, when I check my email, I feel pity for them and respond asking them to open a technical support ticket on the helpdesk (and I provide the link) giving their domain name.

Saturday night. Guess what. They open another sales request with the comment “See previous message. Domain name is xyz.com”.

Sunday night: They manage to find the help desk and actual open a Complaint that nobody helped them “so how can we advertise 24/7 support”?

Monday – another member of staff replies to the complaint asking them to open a technical support ticket (giving the URL again) and a description of the problem and their domain name (it’s only when I was trawling through the emails did I tie up the “See previous message” message with their original one).

Tuesday: They finally open a ticket for technical support. This time providing their domain name – AND a description of the problem: yippee!

I take a look: password looks to be working for me. I request they send me the username and password they are trying to use as an update to the ticket (and our ticketing system provides a suitable link where it says “DO NOT REPLY TO THIS EMAIL – PLEASE _CLICK HERE_ to update this ticket”). Yep – you guessed it – they replied via email with the message “I’M USING THE ONE YOU GAVE ME” (all in caps).

I reply again asking again for the username and password they are trying to use and ask them to update the ticket using the link provided and not to reply via email.

They decide, instead, to open a brand new ticket and cut and pasted the welcome email we sent them.

I merge the tickets and double-check the username and password (and, as expected, they do work). It’s now 2am in the morning and I’m off to sleep (hoping either another tech will have sympathy or the user figures it out themselves).

Wednesday: We have an angry phone call saying they are going to cancel their account as they can’t log in. Call is passed to management whilst we look up the information. I double-check the log files. He’s been logging in using the wrong password (but logs won’t tell me what password he is using). I send the proper password to management and Management reads out the password nice and slowly (“lowercase L for lima, lowercase Y for yankee” etc etc). Customer says “That works – it wasn’t working before. Oh – I’ve been typing it in capitals” (despite the welcome email saying “Passwords are case sensitive” and the helpdesk automatically prompts with “Ensure you are typing in your login details in the correct case – upper and lower case letters are different” if it recognises a login problem).

5 days wasted. Practically two hours of management and tech time wasted.

Do you want to know how much this customer was paying us?

Absolutely nothing.

Once I realised this, my desk got a “head shaped hole” in it and Management said “If they call up again, just cancel their account”.

Why is it also the cheap people which cause so much hassle?

News: Reuters: Seven years from death

July 14th, 2007

As I’m in the process of slowing shutting down other sites I’ve worked on (due to time constraints), I’m reposting them here. Here’s an article from the 12th of May 2007 from “Treble R News” which was going to be a Register-esque general news site.

“The decomposed corpse of a German man was found alone in his bed after nearly seven years” Reuters News reports.
» Read more: News: Reuters: Seven years from death

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