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Fri, May 29, 2015 9:29 pm

Counting cells that aren't blank in Google Sheets

To count the number of cells containing content, i.e., those that aren't blank, in Google Sheets, which is part of Google Docs and is Google's online equivalent of Microsoft Excel you can use COUNTIF or COUNTA. E.g., suppose you wish to count the number of cells in column A from A2 to A64 which contain data, ignoring any cells that are blank. You could use COUNTIF(A2:A64,"<>"). The "<>", instructs Google Sheets to only count cells that don't have a null value, i.e., ones containing some data. Alternatively, you could use COUNTA(A2:A64). If you wanted the number that were blank, you could use COUNTBLANK(A2:A64).

[/network/web/services/google] permanent link

Thu, May 28, 2015 9:58 pm

Copying command output to the clipboard under Microsoft Windows

When you are using the Microsoft Windows command line interface, you may need to copy the output of commands somewhere else, such as notepad or some other text editor. You can copy and paste the output of commands by right-clicking on the Command Prompt title bar and selecting Edit, then Mark and then highlighting the text you wish to copy in the command prompt window and hitting Enter to copy it to the Windows clipboard. Or you can click within the Command Prompt window below the title bar which will give you the option to select Mark without selecting Edit first. Either method will then allow you to use Edit and Paste or Ctrl-V to paste the text into other applications.

Another alternative is to redirect the output of a command to a file using the redirect character, >. E.g., if you wished to put the output of the dir command in file example.txt, you could use dir > example.txt.

If you wish to see the output in the command window and also have it copied to the clipboard at the same time, another alternative is to use the "pipe" character, | followed by clip. E.g., if you wanted to see all the files in a directory with many files and also have the output of the command placed in the Windows clipboard, you could use dir | clip. You could then paste the contents of the clipboard into other applications.

[/os/windows/commands] permanent link

Tue, May 19, 2015 9:10 pm

Determining if a package is installed under Ubuntu

To determine if a package is installed on a Ubuntu Linux system, you can use the command dpkg -s packagename where packagename is the name of the package.

$ dpkg -s python-software-properties
Package: python-software-properties
Status: install ok installed
Priority: optional
Section: python
Installed-Size: 196
Maintainer: Michael Vogt <michael.vogt@ubuntu.com>
Architecture: all
Source: software-properties
Version: 0.82.7.5
Depends: python2.7, python (>= 2.7.1-0ubuntu2), python (<< 2.8), python-apt (>= 0.6.20ubuntu16), lsb-release, python-gnupginterface, unattended-upgrades, iso-codes, python-pycurl
Description: manage the repositories that you install software from
 This software provides an abstraction of the used apt repositories.
 It allows you to easily manage your distribution and independent software
 vendor software sources.

If a package isn't installed, you will see output similar to the following:

$ dpkg -s linssid
Package `linssid' is not installed and no info is available.
Use dpkg --info (= dpkg-deb --info) to examine archive files,
and dpkg --contents (= dpkg-deb --contents) to list their contents.

You can use the dpkg-query -l command with the wild card character, *, to see a list of packages that match a specified pattern. E.g., to see all packages that begin with python-py:

$ dpkg-query -l 'python-py*'
Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold
| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name           Version        Description
+++-==============-==============-============================================
un  python-pyatspi <none>         (no description available)
ii  python-pyatspi 2.4.0+dfsg-0ub Assistive Technology Service Provider Interf
ii  python-pycurl  7.19.0-4ubuntu Python bindings to libcurl
un  python-pycurl- <none>         (no description available)
un  python-pygment <none>         (no description available)
un  python-pyicu   <none>         (no description available)
ii  python-pyinoti 0.9.2-1        simple Linux inotify Python bindings
un  python-pyinoti <none>         (no description available)
un  python-pylons  <none>         (no description available)

An asterisk, "*", can represent one or more characters. You can also use a question mark, "?", to represent just one instance of any character. E.g.:

$ dpkg-query -l 'xin*'
Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold
| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name           Version        Description
+++-==============-==============-============================================
ii  xinit          1.3.1-1        X server initialisation tool
ii  xinput         1.5.99.1-0ubun Runtime configuration and test of XInput dev
jim@lancelot:~/Documents/blog$ dpkg-query -l 'xin??'
Desired=Unknown/Install/Remove/Purge/Hold
| Status=Not/Inst/Conf-files/Unpacked/halF-conf/Half-inst/trig-aWait/Trig-pend
|/ Err?=(none)/Reinst-required (Status,Err: uppercase=bad)
||/ Name           Version        Description
+++-==============-==============-============================================
ii  xinit          1.3.1-1        X server initialisation tool

To get a list of all packages on the system, use dpkg-query -l.

[/os/unix/linux/ubuntu] permanent link

Sun, May 17, 2015 10:51 pm

Tools for Cutting Craft Sticks

My wife asked me to help her cut a large number of Woodsies Craft Sticks for floorboards for a doll house project she has started. The wooden craft sticks, which look like large popsicle sticks or tongue depressers, have rounded ends, but she needed square ends for some and others with a 45-degree angle at the ends. I thought I could simply cut them with a pair of electrician's scissors, which worked well for the first couple of craft sticks I cut; it was easy to cut through them with the scissors and the scissors left fairly smooth edges, but I found after the first couple of sticks that subsequent cuts through other sticks tended to splinter the cut ends. My saws were too large, but she had a Revell Razor Saw designed for craft projects which worked well, but, since I had to go to the local True Value hardware store for some C-clamps anyway, I looked for something there that might help speed cutting through a large number of the craft sticks. I found a Master Mechanic Mult Cutter there, which uses blades similar to what you might find in a box cutter. I found it was easy to put a stick on its anvil and then cleanly and easily cut through the craft sticks by squeezing its handle, which pressed the blade through the stick and against the anvil. I thought I'd note the tools used here, so I'd know what to buy should I need to replace the blades in the tools in the future or should anyone else possibly be looking for tools to cut those craft sticks, since I've seen others noting problems cutting similar items without frayed/splintered ends, e.g., What is the best way to cut popsicle sticks?

[/info/tools] permanent link

Sat, May 16, 2015 10:31 pm

Configuring SNMP on a Windows 7 System

The Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) provides a mechanism for managing network-connected devices using a standard protocol for a wide variety of networked devices, such as routers, switches, servers, workstations, printers, etc. Microsoft Windows systems support SNMP, but they are not configured by default to support SNMP. But once you've installed and configured SNMP on a Windows system you can monitor a variety of system parameters on it from an SNMP network management system. Steps for configuring SNMP on a Microsoft Windows 7 system are detailed here.

Instructions for installing SNMP on systems running Windows XP are at Installing SNMP Under Windows XP.

[/os/windows/win7] permanent link

Fri, May 15, 2015 8:23 pm

Determining the Office 2013 Product Key

If Microsoft Office 2013 is installed on a PC and you need to know the product key, but there is no product key sticker on the system, you can obtain the product key from a command prompt using the command cscript “C:\Program Files (x86)\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus for the 32-bit version or cscript “C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS” /dstatus for the 64-bit version. If Microsoft Office is installed beneath Program Files (x86) that indicates you have the 32-bit version, since that is where 32-bit versions of applications are installed.

But you will only be shown the last 5 characters of the 25-character product key, because, unlike with prior versions of Microsoft Office, Microsoft is no longer storing the entire product key in the registry where it can be retrieved. So the product key you obtain is only likely useful to you if you have multiple Microsoft Office 2013 product keys and need to determine which one is used on which system. Or if you purchased the software online and received the product key by email, you could use those last 5 characters to search your email or your system for any message or file containing the full product key.

When you run the commands, you will see output similar to the following:

C:\>cscript "\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office15\OSPP.VBS" /dstatus
Microsoft (R) Windows Script Host Version 5.8
Copyright (C) Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

---Processing--------------------------
---------------------------------------
SKU ID: 064383fa-1538-491c-859b-0ecab169a0ab
LICENSE NAME: Office 15, OfficeProPlusR_Retail edition
LICENSE DESCRIPTION: Office 15, RETAIL channel
LICENSE STATUS:  ---LICENSED---
Last 5 characters of installed product key: B96XY
---------------------------------------
---------------------------------------
---Exiting-----------------------------

If the software was preinstalled on the system, there is likely a sticker with the full Microsoft Office 2013 product key. But, if it wasn't and you need the full product key, but can't find it via a search through email or files on the system, if you registered and activated the software, you may be able to log into a Microsoft account that you have via Microsoft Office: My Account. You should be able to see the product key there and redownload the software, also, if needed. A last resort might be to contact Microsoft support using contact information from Microsoft's Contact Us page. But you will likely need some way of proving that you purchased the software to have any chance of being issued another product key.

References:

  1. How to find your Office 2013 product key after installation
    Support - support.office.com

[/os/windows/office] permanent link

Thu, May 14, 2015 11:03 pm

Checking and setting the NTP server on a Mac OS X System

The systemsetup -getnetworktimeserver command can be used on a Mac OS X system to determine the time server with which the system's clock is being synchronized.. You need administrator access to utilize the command; you can use sudo to run it if your account has administrative privileges.

$ systemsetup -getnetworktimeserver
You need administrator access to run this tool... exiting!
$ sudo systemsetup -getnetworktimeserver
Password:
Network Time Server: ntp.example.com

You can set the Network Time Protocol (NTP) server with which the system will synchronize its clock by specifying -setnetworktimeserver, instead. E.g.:

$ systemsetup -setnetworktimeserver us.pool.ntp.org

You can query an NTP server with the sntp command.

$ sntp us.pool.ntp.org
2015 May 14 22:50:29.664176 +4.438430 +/- 0.099854 secs

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Wed, May 13, 2015 9:07 pm

Monitoring Interface Bandwidth Utilization on a NetScreen Firewall

While checking on a performance problem at a site using a NetScreen 5GT firewall, I found that when I accessed the Interface Bandwidth report from the web-based management interface that the report was showing zero Kbps for the utilized bandwidth on all interfaces, which was obviously wrong, since data was flowing through the firewall. I found that I needed to enable traffic shaping mode on the firewall to get that report to actually show the bandwidth being used for the interfaces on the firewall.

Traffic shaping is a mechanism to give certain types of data flows precedence over others with lower priority traffic being buffered. In this case I didn't actually "shape" the traffic, but just enabled traffic shaping mode so that I could see the current bandwidth being used on interfaces.

[ More Info ]

[/security/firewalls/netscreen] permanent link

Tue, May 12, 2015 11:22 pm

Checking and setting NTP information on a NetScreen firewall

While checking the configuration of a Juniper Networks netscreen-5gt firewall, I noticed that the time was incorrect and that it was not set up to query a Network Time Protocol (NTP) server to ensure its time was accurate. To check or set the NTP configuration on a Juniper Networks NetScreen firewall, From the web management interface, you can check and set the Network Time Protocol (NTP) information for a Juniper NetScreen firewall, such as the NetScreen-5GT firewall, by clicking on Date/Time beneath the Configuration option on the menu.

The NTP configuration can also be viewed and set from a command line interface accessible by SSH using get ntp and set ntp commands. Up to three NTP servers can be configured. The time interval for NTP queries can be specified.

[ More Info ]

[/security/firewalls/netscreen] permanent link

Mon, May 11, 2015 9:52 pm

Adding Plugins Folders to Corel PaintShop Pro X7

In Corel PaintShop Pro X7, select File, Preferences then File Locations. In the File Locations window, click on Plug-ins, which will show the current plug-in file folders. Click on the Add button and browse to the directory where plugins are located that you wish to add to PaintShop Pro. Click on OK once you've located the directory, then click on OK again to close the File Locations window.

Plug-ins File Locations

Make sure Enable is checked in the File Locations window and Use sub folders, if the plug-ins are within a subfolder of a selected folder.

To use an added plugin, click on Effects, then Plugins, then select the plugin you wish to use.

Select_Plugin.png

[/os/windows/software/graphics/corel/psp] permanent link

Sun, May 10, 2015 5:55 pm

Google Index Status and Crawl Errors

If you use Google Analytics to monitor your site, Google provides a number of reports that can be used to find issues related to Google's crawling of your site, such as Google Index Status and Crawl Errors.

For instance, I often use Google to find articles on my own site when I encounter a problem that I resolved previously while working on someone's computer when I can't remember exactly what I did previously or the cause of the same issue when I previously encountered it. I go to google.com and spcify some keywords I know would be on the page or blog posting I created and follow the keywords with site:support.moonpoint.com so Google returns only results from my site. But I've recently found that Google is reporting it has found no results for my site when I know it should be finding them since I know the Googlebot has crawled the site subsequent to my posting the entries on the site, some of which I posted quite some time ago, and since it has shown me results that indicate it has indexed material from the site only the day before. Checking the Index Status report for my site, I found that the number of pages indexed has declined considerably since this time last year, whereas I haven't deleted pages and have added over one hundred pages/blog entries since that time. Checking the Crawl Errors report, I see quite a few "Not found" entries I need to fix, but they don't explain the decline in the number of indexed entries, so I know I need to do further investigation.

[/network/web/services/google/analytics] permanent link

Sat, May 09, 2015 8:12 pm

Quicken 2015 Mortgage Balance Discrepancy

I use Quicken 2015 Home & Business to manage our finances. One annoyance I encountered recently was that when I viewed the details for the mortgage account, the balance was listed correctly, but on the left side of the screen where the balances are listed for all accounts, the balance shown for the mortgage account under the Property section was wrong. The amount that was displayed was the amount shown for the current balance when I looked at the transaction display for the account plus the original balance when we purchased the house. The two balances had matched previously; I think the incorrect amount under the Property section of Accounts started appearing with an incorrect amount after I reconciled all of the transactions in the mortgage account. But even after I unchecked entries to make them unreconciled to see if that would eliminate the discrepancy, the discrepancy remained. And that discrepancy resulted in an incorrect equity being shown when I clicked on Equity when viewing the mortgage account. The equity was being shown as a negative value, i.e., Quicken was claiming I owed more on the house than the house was worth.

I exited from the program then restarted it, but the discrepancy remained. So I decided to backup the Quicken data file and then perform a repair operation. So I backed up our data by going to File, Backup and Restore, then Backup Quicken File. Then, to run a repair operation, I clicked on File then File Operations. From that option I could select Validate and Repair, but before I selected it, I noticed that now the amount shown for the balance owed on the mortgage was correct under Property in the listing of accounts. It seems that just performing the backup resulted in the discrepancy being resolved. I certainly didn't expect that to resolve the problem, but I was glad just doing that apparently resolved the problem. Quicken was also now showing a correct positive equity value based on what I had estimated for our home's current value minus what we still owed on the mortgage.

[/financial] permanent link

Fri, May 08, 2015 10:11 pm

High Chrome memory utilization

Checking on the cause for slow performance on a Microsoft Windows system, I opened the Task Manager and saw that memory utiilization was high. Clicking on the Memory column header to order the list of processes by memory utilization, I saw that the Google Chrome web browser was consuming most of the memory; there were many Chrome tabs open in the browser.

Task Manager - Chrome Memory Utilization

I could see that the Chrome tab consuming the most memory was one consuming 937.2 MB of memory.

To determine what webpages associated with tabs open in Chrome are consuming excessive amounts of memory or CPU time, put chrome://memory in the address bar of the browser. That will provide information on the amount of memory consumed by each tab open in the browser as can be seen in this example. Since the entries aren't ordered by memory utilization, you will need to scroll through the list to find the tabs consuming the most memory.

In this case, when I scrolled through the list I saw the tab that was consuming 937.2 MB of memory had a CNN.com article open in it. When I went to that tab I saw a "Shockwave Flash has crashed" message at the top of the tab. When I clicked on "Reload", I saw that memory utilization for that tab inreased slightly. Moving back to a prior page in the tab with the back arrow resulted in the Task Manager then showing the highest memory utilization for a Chrome process to be about half the 937.2 MB shown previously. I closed the tab to free memory.

[/network/web/browser/chrome] permanent link

Thu, May 07, 2015 10:32 pm

Increasing disk space for a VM under VMWare Fusion 5.0.5

If you find that the disk drive space you originally allocated for a Virtual Machine (VM) under VMWare is now inadequate, the process for increasing the size of the drive allocated to the VM is fairly simple, but you will have to delete any existing snapshots before you can increase the size of the disk drive for the VM, which, though easily done, can take take some time - I found it took an hour on my MacBook Pro to delete a snapshot for a Windows XP VM. Once you've deleted existing snapshots, you can then expand the disk drive size to accomodate your needs. Files with a .vmdk extension are created to hold the VM's disk drive.

[ More Info ]

[/VM/vmware] permanent link

Wed, May 06, 2015 9:29 pm

Curl SSL certificate problem

When attempting to download a file via HTTPS from a website using curl, I saw the error message "SSL3_GET_SERVER_CERTIFICATE:certificate verify failed".

$ curl -o whitelist.txt https://example.com/BLUECOAT/whitelist.txt
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
  0     0    0     0    0     0      0      0 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:--     0c
url: (60) SSL certificate problem, verify that the CA cert is OK. Details:
error:14090086:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_SERVER_CERTIFICATE:certificate verify fail
ed
More details here: http://curl.haxx.se/docs/sslcerts.html

curl performs SSL certificate verification by default, using a "bundle"
 of Certificate Authority (CA) public keys (CA certs). If the default
 bundle file isn't adequate, you can specify an alternate file
 using the --cacert option.
If this HTTPS server uses a certificate signed by a CA represented in
 the bundle, the certificate verification probably failed due to a
 problem with the certificate (it might be expired, or the name might
 not match the domain name in the URL).
If you'd like to turn off curl's verification of the certificate, use
 the -k (or --insecure) option.

When I added the -k option, I was able to download the file successfully.

$ curl -o whitelist.txt -k https://example.com/BLUECOAT/whitelist.txt

But I wanted to know what the issue was with the public key certificate and I wanted to get that information from a Bash shell prompt. You can get the certificate from a website using the command openssl s_client -showcerts -connect fqdn:443, where fqdn is the fully qualified domain name for the website, e.g. example.com. Port 443 is the standard port used for HTTPS. The certificate should be stored as a .pem file. When I used openssl s_client -showcerts -connect example.com:443 >example.pem, I saw the message "verify error:num=19:self signed certificate in certificate chain" displayed, which revealed the source of the problem.

A self-signed certificate is one that has been signed by the same entity whose identity it certifies. For a site using a self-signed certificate, your traffic to and from that site is protected from eavesdroppers along the path of the traffic, but the certificate doesn't offer validation that the site belongs to the entity claiming to own it. But, if you have other reasons to trust the site or are only concerned about third parties eavesdropping on your communications with the site, then a self-signed certificate may be adequate. E.g., the site could be your own site or belong to someone or an entity you know is in control of the website. Some organizations use self-signed certificates for internal sites with the expectation that members/employees will ignore browser warnings for the internal websites, though if people become accustomed to ignoring such errors there is the danger that they will also be more prone to ignore such warnings for external sites where a site's true controlling entity isn't the one they expect.

$ openssl s_client -showcerts -connect example.com:443 >example.pem
depth=1 /C=US/ST=Maryland/L=Greenbelt/O=ACME/OU=EXAMPLE/CN=EXAMPLE CA
verify error:num=19:self signed certificate in certificate chain
verify return:0
read:errno=0

The s_client parameter uses a generic SSL/TLS client to establish the connection to the server.


       s_client  This implements a generic SSL/TLS client which can establish
                 a transparent connection to a remote server speaking SSL/TLS.
                 It's intended for testing purposes only and provides only
                 rudimentary interface functionality but internally uses
                 mostly all functionality of the OpenSSL ssl library.

The certificate is stored in example.pem in this case. You would need to edit the file to remove everything but the "BEGIN CERTIFICATE" and "END CERTIFICATE" lines below and the lines that lie between those two lines.

-----BEGIN CERTIFICATE-----
-----END CERTIFICATE-----

Or you can use a Bash script retrieve_certifcate to obtain the certificate; it will stip off the extraneous lines. The code for the script is shown below:

#!/bin/sh
#
# usage: retrieve-cert.sh remote.host.name [port]
#
REMHOST=$1
REMPORT=${2:-443}

echo |\
openssl s_client -connect ${REMHOST}:${REMPORT} 2>&1 |\
sed -ne '/-BEGIN CERTIFICATE-/,/-END CERTIFICATE-/p'

You can obtain information for the certificate from the PEM file using the command openssl x509 -text -in example.pem. If -issuer is appended, then only the issuer information will be displayed, so I could see that the cerificate was self-signed with the following command:

$ openssl x509 -noout -in example.pem -issuer
issuer= /C=US/ST=Maryland/L=Greenbelt/O=ACME/OU=EXAMPLE/CN=EXAMPLE CA

If you just want to verify the status of a certificate from the command line without storing the certificate locally, you can add the -verify 0 option.


       -verify depth - turn on peer certificate verification

E.g.:

$ openssl s_client -showcerts -verify 0 -connect example.com:443 
verify depth is 0
CONNECTED(00000003)
depth=1 /C=US/ST=Maryland/L=Greenbelt/O=ACME/OU=EXAMPLE/CN=EXAMPLE CA
verify error:num=19:self signed certificate in certificate chain
verify return:0
88361:error:14090086:SSL routines:SSL3_GET_SERVER_CERTIFICATE:certificate verify failed:/SourceCache/OpenSSL098/OpenSSL098-52.6.1/src/ssl/s3_clnt.c:998:

You can ignore all output from the command but the "verify error" line with commands like the following:

$ openssl s_client -showcerts -verify 0 -connect example.com:443 2>&1 | grep "verify error"
verify error:num=19:self signed certificate in certificate chain

For another internal website, when I accessed the site in Firefox with https://cmportal, Firefox reported the following:

This Connection Is Untrusted

You have asked Firefox to connect securely to cmportal, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure.

Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified.

What Should I Do?

If you usually connect to this site without problems, this error could mean that someone is trying to impersonate the site, and you shouldn't continue.

When I viewed the technical details for the certificate, Firefox informed me that:

code760cmportal uses an invalid security certificate. The certificate is only valid for the following names: 192.168.160.242, servera.example.com (Error code: ssl_error_bad_cert_domain)

When I tried downloading the home page for the site with curl, I saw the message below:

$ curl https://cmportal
curl: (51) SSL peer certificate or SSH remote key was not OK

I was able to get past that error with the -k or --insecure parameter to curl, though then the page returned reported I was being denied access to the requested web page due to invalid credentials.

I downloaded the certificate for that site with openssl; since openssl would wait for input after verify return:0, I used an echo "" | to get it to complete.

$ echo "" | openssl s_client -showcerts -connect cmportal:443 >example.pem
depth=2 /C=US/O=Acme/OU=Anvils/OU=Certification Authorities/OU=Anvils Root CA
verify error:num=20:unable to get local issuer certificate
verify return:0
DONE

I removed all the lines before "BEGIN CERTIFICATE" and all those after "END CERTIFICATE" and then checked the certificate for that .pem file with the openssl command. That showed me a reference to servera whereas I had accessed the site using cmportal..

$ openssl x509 -noout -in example.pem -subject
subject= /C=US/O=Acme/OU=Anvils/OU=Services/CN=servera.example.com

If you've accepted a self-signed certificate, or a certificate with other issues, in Firefox, you can view the certificate following the steps noted in Forgetting a certificate in Firefox.

References:

  1. Retrieving Password Protected Webpages Using HTTPS With Curl
    Date: September 8, 2011
    MoonPoint Support
  2. How To Verify SSL Certificate From A Shell Prompt
    Date: May 23, 2009
    nixCraft
  3. Example sites with broken security certs [closed]
    Asked: November 9, 2009
    Stack Overflow
  4. Command line tool for fetching and analyzing SSL certificate
    Asked: April 17, 2014
    Server Fault
  5. OpenSSL Command-Line HOWTO"
    Published: June 13, 2004
    Most recent revision: June 25, 2014
    By: Paul Heinlein
    madboa.com
  6. x509 - Certificate display and signing utility
    OpenSSL: The Open Source toolkit for SSL/TLS

[/network/web/tools/curl] permanent link

Tue, May 05, 2015 10:32 pm

Checking WiFi status on Mac OS X

To check the status of a WiFi connection on a Mac OS X system, you can click on the wireless networking icon, which is a series of curved lines one beneath the other, at the top of the screen while holding down the Option key. You will then see the currently connected WiFi network with a check mark next to it and details regarding the wireless connection.

WiFi status

The following parameters will be displayed for the wireless connection currently in use:

For information on checking signal stength and other wireless parameters from the command line on an OS X system, see Checking WiFi signal strength from the command line on OS X.

[/os/os-x/wireless] permanent link

Mon, May 04, 2015 10:24 pm

Outlook 0x800ccc0f error message

I had a user on a Windows 7 system contact me today to report that he was unable to check email from his system, but others at his location were not experiencing problems. He was able to get to websites with his browser, so there didn't appear to be an issue with Internet access. He told me that Outlook was displaying a 0x800ccc0f error message, but he didn't know what version of Outlook was present on his system, so I had him check in Outlook by going to Help then About Microsoft Office Outlook. He reported the version number was 14.0. I had to look up the version name corresponding to that number. The name to version number correlation is shown below:
Version NameVersion Number
Outlook 978.0
Outlook 988.5
Outlook 20009.0
Outlook XP/200210.0
Outlook 200311.0
Outlook 200712.0
Outlook 201014.0
Outlook 201315.0

So that version corresponded to Outlook 2013. With the version number, I was able to provide instructions on how to determine what POP3 server was handling his email. It was pop3.firespring.com, so I had him run a traceroute to it, i.e., tracert pop3.firespring.com. He told me that was not completing successfully and some of the lines had values of over 100 ms for the time for a response from the system at that particular hop, so I at first thought there might be a congestin issue with the network path to the mail server. If other systems on the same LAN weren't experiencing the problem, then perhaps his system was more sensitive to delays, perhaps with a lower timeout value. But when I tried a traceroute from a Mac system, I saw the same traceroute issue, but a telnet connection to the POP3 mail server on the POP3 port, port 110, i.e., telnet pop3.firespring.com 110 resulted in an immediate OK response from the server which seemed to rule out that hypothesis. So I suggested he contact his mail service provider which found that he had an unusually large message on the server. When that message was deleted from the server by the email server provider his problem went away; apparently Outlook on his system was timing out when it couldn't download that message in a reasonable amount of time and then displaying the 0x800ccc0f error message.

References:

  1. Outlook versions and trivia
    MSOutlook.info

[/os/windows/office/outlook] permanent link

Fri, May 01, 2015 10:16 pm

elemarketers spoofing calling numbers

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in conjuction with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estabilshed a Do Not Call List. U.S. residents who don't want to receive calls from telemarketers can add their phone numbers to the FCC's Do Not Call Registry. Once a number has been added to the registry, telemarketers are not supposed to call the number unless one of the following conditions applies:

I've had our phone numbers on the registry for years. I believe adding the numbers may have reduced the telemarketing calls, but many telemarketers ignore the Do Not Call Registry. I have been filing a complaint through the FTC National Do Not Call Registry website whenever I receive such calls. I fill out the Submit a Complaint form after receiving such calls in hopes that if many others are submitting complaints regarding the same calling number that the telemarketing company will be fined for its disregard of the regulations that apply to them.

Lately, though, I've been finding that a large number of such calls are from "spoofed" numbers. E.g., today I received a robocall with a spiel that began with "This is Rachel at Card Holder Services". The spiel ended with a note that this would be my final notice, but I've been receiving such telemarketing calls from "Rachel at Card Holder Services" for months, each ending with the reference to a "final notice". The only option at the end of the spiel was to hit 9 to speak to someone. The person remarked about my desire to reduce my credit card rate; I said "No, I want to be removed from the calling list". I asked very politely, but the person immediately disconnected. I called the number that appeared as the calling number on my cell phone. After several rings, I received a recorded message typical of what you would find on someone's personal voicemail. I figured the telemarketer had spoofed the calling number and didn't leave a message, but a short while later I received a call from the person who had that number who was wondering who had called him and why. I told him about the telemarketing call and said I suspected when I heard his voicemail that a telemaketer had spoofed his number. He understood and mentioned he finds telemarketing calls annoying as well. The area code and first 3 numbers of his number matched those for my cell phone, likely because the telemarketer by using a number that would seem to be local to me would be more likely to have someone answer the robocall. Some people may avoid the plague of telemarketing calls by only answering numbers they recognize, but I use my cell phone for work and can't tell by looking at an incoming number whether it is a work-related call or an annoying telemarketer, since I can't know the number for everyone who may call me on a work-related matter and those calling on work-related matters may be in other parts of the country. Nor can one even reliably assume today that an area code reveals the geographical area of the caller.

As long as a significant percentage of people buy whatever a telemarketer is selling, telemarketers won't stop calling no matter how annoying most people find such calls. But someone would be exceedingly foolish to provide a credit card number and other personal information to some unknown caller offering to reduce one's credit card rate in return for providing such information to the caller. Since I've been getting such calls for months, I can only assume that a significant number of people do so, though. When I know the caller is ignoring the Do Not Call Registry, I assume that the caller's business practices are dubious at best. And certainly when the calling number has been spoofed, it would be prudent to assume that the caller is a scammer who may use any credit card number you provide for his own nefarious ends or sell it to others.

According to the FCC Caller ID and Spoofing page a telemarketer must:

Under the Truth in Caller ID Act, violators can be subjected to a penalty of up to $10,000 for each violation of the rules.

So what can you do in such cases? I filed a complaint for the above mentioned call via the FTC Do Not Call Registry complaint form. You can also file a complaint through the FCC's consumercomplaints.fcc.gov site by submitting a Phone Complaint. For the "Phone Issues" field, you can select "Telemarketing (including do not call and spoofing". It only takes a few minutes to complete the complaint forms and I filed a complaint in this case there as well.

Will filing such complaints do any good? The Rachel With Cardholder Services’ Coughs Up Refunds article published on January 19, 2015 on the ABC News site notes:

The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer watchdog, has reached a settlement with a collection of companies it says used that ploy. And now a special administrator is preparing to mail out checks to victims.

The total amount available to repay consumers is $700,000. The FTC says it is mailing out 16,590 checks this week. Each check will be for $42.95 and must be cashed within 60 days.

But that article also notes:

In fact, after the FTC took its first action against “Rachel,” investigators were frustrated when the calls continued, likely placed by other sketchy companies.

I'm not looking for a remuneration for the disruption to my work and wasted time from such calls, but I would like to see companies that ignore the Do Not Call Registry and use spoofed numbers fined and, hopefully, put out of business. I hope that others will also file complaints and that an accumulation of such complaints will lead the FTC or FCC to track down at least some of these companies and take action against them.

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Fri, May 01, 2015 6:11 pm

How to fix a problem with Entourage 2008 not indexing all email

After an issue with my MacBook Pro a few weeks ago that resulted in Microsoft Entourage 2008 for Mac crashing, I found that searches for email would not return all pertinent messages. I could search on subject, "from" addresses, etc. and see results, but not all messages I knew were in the inbox or other folders. E.g., if I searched by subject for daily logs I receive, the search would not return any messages between December 31, 2014 and March 31, 2015, though I could see they were in the inbox if I ordered it by subject.

To correct the problem, I clicked on the Apple icon in the upper, left-hand corner of the screen, chose System Preferences and then Spotlight from the Personal group. I confirmed that Messages & Chats was checked (all entries were checked by default).

Spotlight Search Results

I then clicked on the Privacy button.

Spotlight Privacy

Within the Privacy window, I clicked on the plus sign, "+", and addeded my home directory, e.g., jdoe, to the list of directories that should not be searched. When you do so, a warning window will open with a message similar to the one below:

Are you sure you want to prevent Spotlight from searching in "jdoe"?

If you exclude this location from Spotlight searches, the search feature won't work in some applications.

Clicking on OK will add the directory and its subdirectories to the exclusion list. After adding the home directory, I clicked on it to highlight and select it, then clicked on the minus sign, "-" to remove the directory from the exclusion list and cause a reindexing of that directory. I then closed the Spotlight window.

I don't know how long the reindexing process took to complete. I didn't peform any further searches in Entourage until the following day; at that time searches did return all messages.

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