Sep 28 2010

Premium-Rate Telephone Number Scam

Category: TelecomsTeknovis @ 20:09

I was doing some research on premium rate telephone numbers this afternoon, and I came across this description of an old scam:

Another now-uncommon premium-rate scam involves television programming that induces young children to dial the number, banking on the notion that they will be unaware of the charges that will be incurred. One variant, targeted at children too young to dial a number, enticed children to hold the phone up to the television set while the DTMF tones of the number were played. This type of scam was especially popular in the late ’80s to early ’90s in the United States before tougher regulations on the 900 number business forced many of these businesses to close.

I did not image that companies could be so unscrupulous!

The full article is Premium-rate telephone number.

Sep 25 2010

Verizon Offers Cloud Computing Services

Category: Cloud Computing,TelecomsTeknovis @ 08:20

Somebody told me during the week that Verizon was entering the Cloud Computing market place. I think that this is a very interesting development.

Computers can be thought of abstractly being composed of only three capabilities:

  • Processing capabilities
  • Storage capabilities
  • Networking capabilities

The existing Cloud Computing providers (such as Amazon Web Services (AWS)) have already successfully brought the first of those two capabilities into the Cloud Computing environment.

However, nobody has successfully brought network capabilities into the Cloud Computing environment (or alternatively, nobody has brought the cloud outside of the data centre).

I suspect the reason for this is two-fold:

  • The existing Cloud Computing providers do not own the infrastructure outside of the data centre.
  • The telecos, who own the infrastructure, do not really have the enabling technology.

Therefore, it will be very interesting to see if Verizon’s move into the Cloud Computing environment will be the start of true Cloud Computing!

For more details about this read Verizon Introduces New Pay-As-You-Go Cloud Computing for Small, Medium Business Markets.

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Sep 22 2010

Stupid Windows 7 File Explorer

Category: WindowsTeknovis @ 21:52

As I previous wrote, I am using Windows 7 as my main Windows operating system on my laptop.

To date, I dislike it intensely! I have not found a single useful feature that would really cause me to upgrade a Windows XP computer.

So today I am going to compain about the Windows Explorer! The following issues really annoy me, and I have been unable to find any solutions or workarounds online:

  • The Windows Ribbon drives me nuts! It occupies a lot of area, and it does not give me any useful options that are not already available in the toolbar! I want it to vanish!
  • Unfortunately, the entire toolbar area at the top of each window has grown very big :( I loved the way that I used to be able to put the address bar on the toolbar.
  • I find the favourites that insist on appearing at the top of the panel on the left hand side to be useless to me.
  • Why is there no button to allow me to “Go up one level” in the directory hierarchy?
  • The status bar no longer contains useful information, such as the total file size when more than one file is selected!

Great, now I feel better :)

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Sep 20 2010

Goodbye Windows 2000 Server

Category: Linux,WindowsTeknovis @ 18:12

I have been happily using Windows 2000 in my home network for many years. My setup was fairly simple – I had a Windows 2000 Server that acted as a domain controller with roaming profiles enabled, and as a file and printer server for approximately six computers and six mobile devices. It also doubled up as a workstation.

All of this worked very well in my home network, although it was starting to show its age and limitations. However, about two weeks ago the server refused to boot properly after it crashed :( Instead of getting the normal login screen, I got the following error message:

Security Accounts Manager initialization failed because of the following error: Directory Service cannot start. Error Status: 0xc00002e1. Please click OK to shutdown this system and reboot into Directory Services Restore Mode, check the event log for more detailed information.

It appears that the reason for this is that my Active Directory became corrupted due to the crash (see Directory Services cannot start” error message when you start your Windows-based or SBS-based domain controller and Err Msg: Security Accounts Manager Initialization Failed Because of the Following Error: Directory Service Cannot Start).

Unfortunately, I do not have a backup of my Active Directory. More importantly, I do have a complete backup of all my data :)

Rather than rebuilding everything in the same way I have decided to use the opportunity to do some upgrading :)

So now I am going to install Ubuntu Desktop on my server. I am then going to install VirtualBox. This will be my host server.

Next I will create two virtual machines to run on my host server:

  • The first virtual machine will be Ubuntu Server, and it will act as my domain controller (using Samba).
  • The second virtual machine will also be Ubuntu Server, and it will act as my file server (again using Samba).

My main motivation in doing this is that it will make backup trivial (just copy the entire virtual machine), and it removes my dependence on hardware!

Now all I need to do is start implementing this great plan :)

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Sep 16 2010

Amazon EC2 Micro Instances

Category: Cloud ComputingTeknovis @ 16:33

I saw today that Amazon Web Services (AWS) has released new, low-cost, entry level instances! Very cool! I am extremely happy with the service from Blacknight, but if circumstances changed then I would definitely consider moving some of my sites!

For more information about this see New Amazon EC2 Micro Instances – New, Low Cost Option for Low Throughput Applications.

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Sep 08 2010

Falling Irish University Rankings

Category: Fourth Level,Third LevelTeknovis @ 12:42

There is bad news for the Irish Universities in Trinity and UCD slip down world university rankings.

Unfortunately, this situation is only going to get worse given that the Irish Government is irrationally determined to put all of the nation’s resources into supporting failed banks :(

Sep 03 2010

Ikea Based Linux Cluster

Category: Hardware,LinuxTeknovis @ 19:31

I have a friend who is a huge fan of all things coming from the template of Ikea :) (I am slowly trying to get her to become an Ubuntu fan also :) )

Anyway, she knows of my interest in all things computer related, so she sent me a link to an article describing how to convert a piece of Ikea furniture into a Linux cluster: What’s with Helmer, the 24 core Linux cluster?.

Actually, the Ikea Hacker blog is pretty interesting :o


Sep 01 2010

OWASP Dublin Meeting

Category: SecurityTeknovis @ 16:30

OWASP (Open Web Application Security Project) is hosting a meeting in Dublin later this month. The talks seem very interesting, and the full details are available in OWASP AppSec 2010 Ireland.

Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend :(