Archive for the ‘Life: Work and Techy’ category

Techy: Server Downtime and Time

January 30th, 2003

[Server Room]Sorry if you were visiting my blog between 7:45pm and 8:05pm today – I was performing a small server upgrade (to be specific, applying a patch to the Apache webserver) when something went wrong. It took me around 10 minutes to notice that Apache hadn’t properly restarted (I was doing some other maintenance tasks at the time so I hadn’t got round to checking it had came back alive correctly), than around another ten minutes to find out why it wouldn’t restart.

The problem I was getting was [crit] (98)Address already in use: make_sock: could not bind to port 80 whenever I tried to restart Apache. I disabled the Tomcat Jakarta server (as that was what I was patching as the previous version I was running had a security hole) as I don’t do anything important with Java on my server at the moment and attempted to restart Apache. Still no joy and the same error message. I do a netstat -lpn to try and find out which process is running on port 80 so I can kill it…. Nothing is. Aaargh! I then have a brain wave and think that perhaps when Apache was restarted it failed to shutdown properly. So I go into the Apache config file and change the “Port” number from 80 to 81. Start the server and success! (this also proves there was nothing wrong with the Apache configuration file). Change the port number back to “80”, restart the server and the flibblepenguin is alive!
» Read more: Techy: Server Downtime and Time

Techy: MS-SQL Slammer

January 27th, 2003

[MS-SQL Slammer Worm]As you may have already heard, over the weekend the Internet was hit by one of the fastest spreading worms since the original Morris worm. The name of this nasty piece of code? “MS-SQL Slammer”- so called because it uses a 6-month old exploit in unpatched Microsoft SQL servers as its method of spreading- but spreads so quickly that it caused major problems across the ‘net.

Actually, to call it a nasty piece of work is doing a disservice to the author (who is, at this moment of time, still unknown). It’s a lovely piece of optimised assembly code which does “it’s job” in just 376 bytes in length (to put that in perspective – that is exactly the length, in letters, spaces and punctuation, of the first paragraph of this entry).

When the code infects an unpatched Microsoft SQL Server 2000 or Microsoft Desktop Engine (MSDE – which is included in Visual Studio.net, Asp.net Web Matrix Tool, Office XP Developer Edition, MSDN Universal and Enterprise, Microsoft Access and Microsoft Applicaiton 2000), it first loads the “modules” Kernel32.dll and WS2_32.dll. It then calls the routine “GetTickCount” to generate random IP (internet protocol) address which it then targets for propagation and exploitation over the UDP (User Datagram Protocol) protocol port 1434. It repeats the exploit code (using a method called a stack buffer overflow) until either the SQL server is shut down or the machine is rebooted.
» Read more: Techy: MS-SQL Slammer

Techy: Customers – Read The “Fine” Instructions

January 25th, 2003

[Read Instructions]Well, that’s been fun! It’s been a strange 72 hours in the techy land of Richy – and to enable me to look back and go what the f—k (WTF), here’s just one of the incidents I’ve had to deal with…

Last week we had a customer report that he was having problems sending email – basically the mail server was rejecting his mail. This is our most frequently asked question (and it’s now had a step by step guide published on our FAQ/Knowledge base about it) and the situation is always the same – the customer has put our mail server in the SMTP (outgoing mail) settings. They need to have their ISPs mail server in this field as our servers don’t permit remote relaying of mail (also known as ‘open relays’). So I sent this customer an email saying that he needs to change his outgoing mail server to be that of his ISPs and heresponds with details of which email package he is using and which ISP dialup/ADSL/ISDN or broadband connection he is using then we’ll provide a step by step walk thru. This was sent within 6 hours of his initial query.
» Read more: Techy: Customers – Read The “Fine” Instructions

Techy: How To Grab Screenshots

January 21st, 2003

No, this isn’t the latest picture in the “Guess That Movie” competition (nobody’s guessed the last one yet so I can’t even announce a surprise I have waiting), it’s more a techy entry (haven’t had one of those in a while) about how I actually get the screenshots. Sorry for all the Linux, Unix, Solaris, Mac, and RISC OS users reading this – this post is for the Windows audience only…

First of all – how to get a screen shot of your entire desktop. Simply press “Print Screen” (it’s usually on the top right hand corner of your keyboard – it might be labelled “Prnt Scrn” and/or “Sys Rq”), then load your image editor (for example, Paint – I tend to use Microsoft Photo Editor that comes with Microsoft Office [Order from Amazon.co.uk] or Adobe Photoshop [Order from Amazon.co.uk] , create a new image and then press CTRL+V (the keyboard shortcut for paste). And you’ve got a copy of your desktop. Woo!

But, let’s be honest – most the time you want a copy of a single window on your desktop and not the whole thing don’t you? Again, this is extremely simple – just ensure the window you are active is ‘active’ (which usually means it’s the topmost window and the bar at the top is lit-up), then just press ALT and Printscreen. Do the load image editor, create new image and paste – and Bob’s your Mother’s sisters husband.

But wait! There’s more! (I’ve wanted to say that for ages). Here’s how to take a screen capture of a movie that’s playing in Windows Media Player, Real Player or Winamp 3!
» Read more: Techy: How To Grab Screenshots

Techy: GeoURL and GeoTagging

January 19th, 2003

[Binoculars Earth]It seems that geographically tagging your website has really taken off. Around a month ago, I added a “meta tag” to this blog detailing where I am physically located – I mainly did this to try and enhance the details of my blog shown on Syndic8 (which, unfortunately, hasn’t picked up the tags yet). Syndic8 pointed me towards the Geotags site which helped inform me what format the values correctly.

Since then, GeoURL has really taken off and currently lists around 3,200 sites which have been correctly “ICBM tagged” – I guess the coverage by an extremely large number of people making blog entries about the geographical site database servicemost of whom seem to have heard of the service via this Slashdot article.

So, why am I posting about it now?

First of all, a little explanation of GeoTagging in general is necessary I think. Therefore, here is a nice description and instructions about GeoTagging:
» Read more: Techy: GeoURL and GeoTagging

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