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Mon, Feb 29, 2016 11:07 pm

Using SSH Keys with PuTTY

PuTTY is a free and open source network utility that allows you to establish Telnet and Secure Shell (SSH) connections to servers. It is commonly used on Microsoft Windows systms, but is also available for Linux and Apple OS X systems. You can use it for interactive SSH logins where you provide a userid and password to authenticate with an SSH server, but you can also use it for public key-based logins where the server has a public key that is matched against a private key stored on the system from which you are connecting. By a mathematical calculation based on large prime numbers, the public key and private key can be matched with one another as a means of authenticating the login.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/network/ssh/putty] permanent link

Sun, Feb 28, 2016 4:48 pm

Synchronizing files and directories between two systems with rsync

The rsync utility, which is available for Unix, Linux, OS X, and Microsoft Windows systems, can be used to synchronize files and directories on two systems. Rsync is widely used for mirroring one system to another, for backups, and for copying files and directories. If files to be transferred already exist at the destination system, but are older versions, the tool contains a delta-transfer algorithm that reduces the amount of data that needs to be sent over a network when using it to transfer files to another system over a network; the algorithm allows rsync to send only the differences between source and destination files rather than entire files. By default, rsync determines if files need to be transferred by using a "quick check" algorithm that looks for files that have changed in size or in last-modified time. The utility will copy links and devices and will preserve owner and group permissions on files and directories. Rsync also has an option to exclude specified files and directories from the synchronization operation. It can can use any transparent remote shell, including Secure Shell (SSH) or remote shell (rsh).

[More Info ]

[/os/unix/commands] permanent link

Sat, Feb 27, 2016 10:20 pm

Altering sleep timeout for the display on a Windows 10 system

After a specified period of time Windows 10 will put the monitor to sleep, so the display will go black and you will need to re-enter your userid and password to get access to the system again. This behavior can be changed either via a graphical user interface (GUI) or by using the command line utility powercfg. For the GUI method, right-click on the desktop and select Display Settings then click on Power & Sleep and then change the value for "When plugged in, PC goes to sleep after". For the command line method, from a command prompt enter the command powercfg -change -monitor-timeout-ac x where x is the timeout value in minutes. E.g, for a timeout value of one hour, you could use powercfg -change -monitor-timeout-ac 60. If you use zero for x, that is the same as setting the value to "Never" via the GUI method.

[More Info]

[/os/windows/win10] permanent link

Fri, Feb 26, 2016 10:11 pm

Scammer pretending to be calling from the IRS

This morning at 8:12 AM my time I received a call from someone speaking with what sounded like an Indian accent who claimed to work for the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) asking me if I was aware that a warrant had been issued in the state of Maryland by the IRS for my arrest. Since I have not received any correspondence recently from the IRS by postal mail and it seemed unlikely an IRS employee would call me to notify me that a warrant was issued for my arrest, I was angered, but not worried by the call. I asked the caller where he was calling from and he said he was located in Washington D.C., which is, of coure, the location for the IRS. I asked for the calling phone number and he told me 1-800-829-1040. I was so irked by what seemed like an obvious scam attempt that I didn't let him go through his whole spiel to learn the details of how the scam was conducted. Instead, I simply told him that the call seemed like a scam and he seemed like a fraudster. He immediately responded with profanity and hung up; his knowledge of American profanity at least seemed good. Section 10 Taxpayer Contact of Chapter 1 of Part 5 of the Internal Revenue Manual states that it is a violation of IRS policy for an employee to use "obscene, profane, or abusive language", so that was only another indicator that the call was fraudulent.

After he hung up, I used *69 on my phone to see what calling number was reported. The calling number reported was 1-800-829-4933. That number and the one he gave are actual IRS numbers. The 1-800-829-4933 number is the IRS main taxpayer assistance line listed at How to Get Tax Help from the IRS and the 1-800-829-4933 one is the one listed on that same page for taxpayers to call with small business-related questions. However, it is common for telemarketers and scammers to spoof the calling number. Unfortunately, it seems that is fairly easy for them to do. E.g., often when I receive telemarketing calls to my mobile phone I notice that the first six digits of the calling number match those of my phone, but if I call the number back, the person who that phone number actually belongs to will answer and knows nothing about such calls. Telemarketers spoofing calling numbers is a common way to make it more difficult for people to identify the actual originating phone number when they file a complaint, but also telemarketers will spoof a calling number to make it more likely that the callee will think that he/she is receiving a local call and thus answer the phone. Con artists will spoof a calling number from a legitimate business, organization, or government agency to dupe a callee into thinking the call is legitimate.

After I hung up, I found the October 15, 2015 article on the IRS website, IRS Warns of Pervasive Telephone Scam, which notes:

The Internal Revenue Service today warned consumers about a sophisticated phone scam targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, throughout the country.

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim refuses to cooperate, they are then threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting.

The article notes "that the first IRS contact with taxpayers on a tax issue is likely to occur via mail", which is what I would expect and lists the following characteristics for the scam:

The article notes that you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a consumer protection agency, regarding such calls:

You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Impostor Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

Note: I found that I needed to select "Scams and Rip-offs" and then "Impostor Scams", which is for "Someone posing as a well-known business, a family/friend, or a government agency". After that I made the following selections (it didn't sem to be as obvious as I would have expected how one should file a complaint regarding someone pretending to represent a U.S. federal government agency):

  1. How were you contacted? Phone
  2. Are you contacting us to complain about the company’s telemarketing practices? No
  3. Did the person: Pretend to be a representative or employee of a local, state, or federal government?

You will then be taken to the "Information Collection" step where "In just a few moments you will be able to tell your story in your own words. But first we would like to collect some information." After I completed the complaint submission process, I saw the following information:

Thank you for submitting your complaint to the Federal Trade Commission. Based on the information you have given us, we believe the following links to our consumer website may be helpful to you:

Government Imposter Scams

If you have any questions or would like us to add additional information to your complaint, please call 877-382-4357 to speak with a counselor.

The webpages to which the FTC link pointed had a link to another IRS article on such phone scams titled IRS Warns of Phone Scam.

[/security/scams] permanent link

Thu, Feb 25, 2016 10:51 pm

Using AppleScript to record the Safari browser windows and tabs

Sometimes I'd like to be able to save a list of what web pages are open in the Safari browser's tabs. Using Apple's AppleScript scripting language it is possible to record that information to a text file. The following script will create a text file that lists each Safari browser window that is open and for each tab within a window, the title for the webpage and the URL. The script will prompt for the location and name for the file where you wish to store that information (example output file).

tell application "Safari"
	set myFile to open for access (choose file name) with write permission
	set windowNumber to 1
	repeat the number of windows times
		set myTabs to every tab of window windowNumber
		write "----- Window Number " & windowNumber & " -----

" to myFile
		set tabNumber to 0
		repeat with aTab in myTabs
			set tabTitle to name of aTab & "
			write tabTitle to myFile
			set tabURL to URL of aTab & "

			write tabURL to myFile
			set tabNumber to tabNumber + 1
		end repeat
		write "Window Number: " & windowNumber & " Number of tabs: " & tabNumber & "

" to myFile
		set windowNumber to windowNumber + 1
	end repeat
	close access myFile
end tell

[ More Info ]

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

Wed, Feb 24, 2016 11:05 pm

Using AppleScript to record the Chrome browser windows and tabs

I often have a number of browser windows open with many tabs open in the windows and wanted a way of producing a list of the open windows and the tabs within each with the title and URL for each tab. I had a simple AppleScript script that will display Firefox windows titles, but that just lists the active tab in each window whereas I wanted a list of every tab's title and URL, so I created a new script for Chrome that will create a text file containing that information.

[ More Info ]

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

Tue, Feb 23, 2016 9:22 pm

Volume control in menu bar

On my prior MacBook Pro laptop running OS X Mountain Lion (10.8.5), there was a speaker icon in the menu bar at the top of the system's screen which appeared between the battery status indicator and the day and time display.

OS X menu bar speaker icon

I could click on the icon and a slider bar would appear that would allow me to adjust the volume or mute the audio by moving the slider to the bottom position.

OS X menu bar speaker icon

With my new MacBook Pro laptop running OS X Yosemite (10.10.5), there was no speaker icon on the menubar that would allow me to adjust the volume. I could adjust the sound volume or mute the audio from a command line interface, i.e. a Terminal window using the AppleScript osascript utility - see Muting audio on OS X from a Terminal window. But sometimes it would be easier to adjust it the way I had before. The speaker icon representing a volume control can be put on the menu bar at the top of screen by clicking on the Apple icon at the top, left-hand corner of the screen then selecting System Preferences, then selecting Sound. At the Sound window, simply check the box next to "Show volume in menu bar".

Show volume in menu bar

Once I checked the check box, the speaker icon appeared between the icon for WiFi conenctivity and the battery status indicator.

Yosemite - speaker icon

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Mon, Feb 22, 2016 10:26 pm

Determining the groups to which a user belongs

If you have a Microsoft Windows domain and want to determine the groups to which an account belongs from a command line interface (CLI), aka a command prompt, you can do so using the DSQUERY and DSGET commands. The dsquery command allows you to query the Active Directory (AD) service according to specified criteria. E.g. the dsquery user command finds users in the directory. By adding a user name at the end of the command, you can view information for that user.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/domain] permanent link

Sun, Feb 21, 2016 10:50 pm

Testing email forwarding on a Linux system with mailx

I needed to have a password reset email for an online account sent to an email address other than the one designated for that account, so I set up forwarding on the server where the designated account resided by using a .forward file to forward the message on to the email address where I wanted it to go as I've done in the past when I needed to forward mail from a Linux system that uses Sendmail email program.. I wanted the email to go to the inbox for the account it would normally be delivered to, but also be forwarded to another account as well, but the email message wasn't forwarded.

I had created the .forward file in the home directory for the relevant account with a command similar to the following:

echo '\jdoe,' > /home/jdoe/.forward

I created the forward file while logged into the relevant user account, so the file was owned by that account. The \jdoe ensures that the email goes to the inbox for the account itself. Following it by a comma and another email address results in the email also going to that second address.

However, the email reset only went to the inbox on the system where I created the .forward file. So I used the mailx command to send some test messages. You can use the following syntax to send messages with mailx: mailx -s subject email_address where subject is the subject you want the message to have and email_address is the email address you wish to use for the recipient. When you hit Enter, you can enter text for the body of the message. Hit Ctrl-D to complete the message. You will then see "EOT" and the message will be sent. E.g., I used the following:

$ mailx -s 'Email forwarding test' jdoe
Just a test

You can also put whatever text you wish to put in the body of the message in a text file and include it with < file where file is a text file you wish to use for the body of the message. E.g.: mailx -s 'Forwarding Test' jdoe < mymessage.txt.

But the test messages I sent didn't reach the forwarding address. During testing, I realized that because I hadn't changed the default permissions for the .forward file, forwarding wasn't actually occurring. When I looked at the permissions on the file, I saw the following:

$ ls -l .forward
-rw-rw-r--. 1 jdoe jdoe 28 Feb 21 22:21 .forward

The file permissions should be 644 whereas they were 664. I.e., not only did the owner have read and write permissions, but so did the group. If group has write permission rather than just read permission, then email will not be forwarded by sendmail. When I changed the permissions with chmod 644 .forward, forwarding worked and I was able to receive test messages in the inbox for the account on the system, but also at the remote inbox.

[/network/email/sendmail] permanent link

Sat, Feb 20, 2016 10:43 pm

Listening to Jamendo artists through VLC

The VLC media player, which is a free and open-source media player available for the Windows, OS X, Linux, BSD, Solaris, Android, iOS, Chrome OS, Windows Phone, QNX, Haiku, Syllable, and OS/2 operating systems provides a convenient means to acces free music from Jamendo, a community of independent artists and music lovers that bills itself as "the world's largest digital service for free music". As of January 2015, Jamendo listed 460,000 tracks with more than 250 million downloads since the launch of the platform. Jamendo is a portmanteau of "jam session" and "crescendo".

The music provided through Jamendo is free for personal use, so you can download songs musicians have provided through the service legally. Jamendo's goal is to link artists who want to share their music and music lovers around the world. Jamendo provides an opportunity for the musicians that provide their music to Jamendo to obtain revenue from music synchronization licensing, i.e., the licensing of the right to synchronize the music with visual media, such as film, television shows, advertistements, video games, website music, movie trailers, etc., and through licensing the music to be used as background music for films, TV, Internet video, such as video logs, aka vlogs, etc.

[ More Info ]

[/software/audio_video/VLC] permanent link

Fri, Feb 19, 2016 10:19 pm

Using blosxom as a blog for a website

When I set up another website on a Linux host to use Blosxom, a Perl-based blogging system, I encountered a few problems initially. I've been using Blosxom for this site for twelve years now - I posted the first entry Identifying a Motherboard from the Award BIOS String to the site on February 22, 2004. It appealed to me because it was simple to set up and use. Posts are just text files you can create in any text editor. But it has been a long time since I set up a site using Blosxom and, though it is fairly straight-forward to set up and configure, I had a couple of issues to address after installing blosxom, one of which was just due to a misconfiguration I made in Apache's /httpd/conf/httpd.conf file.

[ More Info ]

[/network/web/blogging/blosxom] permanent link

Thu, Feb 18, 2016 10:58 pm

Centering a div and an image within it using CSS

For webpages on this site, I used the following HTML code to center a div on the pages:

<div id="header" align="center">

That didn't produce any error messages when I used the HTML 4.01 document type (doctype) declaration below as the first lines in the HTML file when I checked the page for errors using the W3C Markup Validation Service.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN"

However, when I wanted to convert the pages to make them valid for HTML 5 and put <!DOCTYPE html> as the first line in the file, instead, I saw the following error message reported by the validation service:

The align attribute on the div element is obsolete. Use CSS instead.
From line 20, column 1; to line 20, column 32
↩↩<body>↩↩<div id="header" align="center">↩↩<scr

[ More Info ]

[/network/web/html/css] permanent link

Wed, Feb 17, 2016 11:14 pm

Configuring an OS X system as an SSH server

If you have an Apple system running Apple's OS X operating system, e.g., a MacBook Pro laptop, etc., the operating system already includes the software needed to configure the system to function as an SSH server. You merely have to enable the Remote Login feature under System Preferences. Once you've accessed System Preferences, click on Sharing and then check the check box for Remote Login and decide which accounts should be granted SSH access to the system.

[ More Info ]

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Tue, Feb 16, 2016 11:48 pm

glibc getaddrinfo stack-based buffer overflow vulnerability on Linux systems

A serious vulnerability in the GNU C Library, commonly known as glibc, were widely reported today. The GNU C Library is widely used on Linux systems and is used within routers that rely on Linux for their firmware. The vulnerability is within the getaddrinfo function that converts domain names, hostnames, and IP addresses between human-readable text and the structured binary formats used by the operating system. The vulnerability permits a buffer overflow attack to potentially allow the execution of arbitrary code on an affected system by an attacker.

An attacker could take advantage of the vulnerability through a lookup on an attacker controlled domain name or through compromised Domain Name System (DNS) servers, or via a man-in-the-middle attack where an attacker has the capabililty to alter DNS data flowing to/from the vulnerable system and DNS servers.

The vulnerability has been given the Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVE) designation CVE-2015-7547. The issue was detected by Google researchers investigating a segmentation fault issue they encountered with a Secure Shell (SSH) application. The researches traced the issue to a buffer overflow inside glibc. When they reported the issue to the glibc maintainers, they found that the maintainers had been informed of the vulnerability in July and that individuals involved with the Red Hat distribution of Linux had also discovered the vulnerability and were working on a fix for it. The Google researchers disclosed the vulnerability today.

If you are responsible for a Linux system or other equipment that uses glibc, you should update the software as soon as feasible. If you have a system that uses the RPM Package Manager, you can see what version of glibc is installed and the build date for the package with rpm -qi glibc. On systems that use the open-source command-line package-management utility yum, you can issue the command yum update glibc from the root account. The currently available version for CentOS Linux systems is glibc 2.17. CentOS is functionally compatible with its upstream source, Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)


  1. Extremely severe bug leaves dizzying number of software and devices vulnerable
    By Dan Goodin
    Date: February 16, 2016 Ars Technica
  2. CVE-2015-7547: glibc getaddrinfo stack-based buffer overflow
    Posted By: Fermin J. Serna, Staff Security Engineer and Kevin Stadmeyer, Technical Program Manager for Google
    Date Posted: February 16, 2016
    Google Online Security Blog

[/security/vulnerabilities/linux] permanent link

Mon, Feb 15, 2016 10:22 pm

SMF - The package you are trying to install cannot be located

When I attempted to update a Simple Machines Forum (SMF) site from version 2.0.8 to 2.0.9 by choosing SMF 2.0.8 to SMF 2.0.9 upgrade, for the "Package to Upload" under Upload a Package on the Package Manager page for the forum, whch is reachable from the Admin menu, I saw the error message below:

An Error Has Occurred!
Package upload failed due to the following error:
"The package you are trying to install cannot be located. You may want to manually upload the package to your Packages directory."

[ More Info ]

[/network/web/forums/smf] permanent link

Sun, Feb 14, 2016 1:40 pm

Determining if a Windows system supports the 5 GHz Wifi band

The Wi-Fi network adapter in a Microsoft Windows system may support dual band wireless connections, i.e, both the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands for a wireless local area network (WLAN), or it may only only support the older 2.4 GHz standard. A radio frequency (RF) band is is a group of frequencies containing many channels. To determine if a wireless adapter can support both the 2.4 and 5 GhZ Wifi standards, you can obtain a command prompt and type the command netsh wlan show drivers. If you see 802.11a listed on the "Radio types supported line, then the adapter supports the 5 GHz as well as the 2.4 GHz bands.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/network] permanent link

Sat, Feb 13, 2016 10:30 pm

Updating MySQL or MariaDB table entries where a criterion is met

If you want to update all entries in a MySQL or MariaDB database table for entries that meet a specific criterion, you can use a Structured Query Language (SQL) command like the one below:

Update table_name
SET column_name = "new_value"
WHERE colum_name = "old_value";

E.g., suppose I have a table named "Students" in a database I'm currently using with a column in the table named "LastName". Suppose, there are students named Smith whose last name has changed to Lamb and I want to change all instances where an entry in the table has "Smith" in the LastName field to "Lamb". I could use the following SQL command:

Update Students
SET LastName = "Lamb"
WHERE LastName = "Smith";

If you want to change every entry in a table, simply leave off the WHERE clause.

If you want to change multiple fields/columns in a table at the same time, you can separate them with commas in the SET statement, i.e., SET column1=value1,column2=value2,.... E.g., suppose all of the students with a last name of Smith are also undergoing an address change as well as a change to their last name.

Update Students
SET LastName = "Lamb", Address="1234 Cherry Lane"
WHERE LastName = "Smith";

[/software/database/mysql] permanent link

Fri, Feb 12, 2016 10:53 pm

Outlook Web App (OWA) not wrapping text

When I attempted to forward an email message I received in the Microsoft Outlook Web App (OWA), which I had accessed in the Firefox browser on a MacBook Pro laptiop, I found that the text I was typing was not wrapping, but kept extending across the window where I was typing additional information I wanted to add to the message. I copied the text I was typing and closed the window and then attempted forward it again. When I pasted the text I had been typing into the message, the same problem occurred. Microsoft has an article titled Wordwrapping does not work in Outlook or in OWA email messages that describes the problem.


When you compose email messages in Microsoft Office Outlook or in Outlook Web Access (OWA), you notice that the wordwrapping functionality does not work as expected.

The Microsoft article states the problem can occur if there are extra space characters in the message, i.e., if you have two or more spaces right after one another, e.g., if you type fast and inadvertently type an extra space or more. The solution listed in the article is to compose the message as plain text rather than HTML or to remove the extra spaces. Since I was using an Apple OS X system, I hit command-F to search for "  ", i.e., two spaces. OWA reported that there were such instances in the message. In this case, I simply discarded the message I had been typing and opted to start fresh with the foward process for the message, retyping the text I had intended to add to the forwarded message and the problem didn't occur this time.

If, instead, you wished to opt for the alternative of composing the email as a plain text message, you can look to the right of "Options" in the window where you are composing the message. You will see "HTML" there; you can change the selection to "Plain text", instead.

OWA untitled message

Though, when I tried to recreate the problem by forwarding the message again and purposefully typing extra spaces at verious points in the text I was adding, the text wrapped as I expected. I.e., I could not recreate the problem.

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

Thu, Feb 11, 2016 11:08 pm

Obtaining BIOS information on a Linux system with dmidecode

You can obtain information on the Basic Input/Output (BIOS) in a system running the Linux operating system, e.g., CentOS Linux, Ubuntu or another Linux distribution, using the dmidecode command. E.g., you can use dmidecode --type bios to obtain such information:

[root@localhost ~]# dmidecode --type bios
# dmidecode 2.12
SMBIOS 2.3 present.

Handle 0x0000, DMI type 0, 24 bytes
BIOS Information
        Vendor: American Megatrends Inc.
        Version: 0601
        Release Date: 11/30/2006
        Address: 0xF0000
        Runtime Size: 64 kB
        ROM Size: 512 kB
                ISA is supported
                PCI is supported
                PNP is supported
                APM is supported
                BIOS is upgradeable
                BIOS shadowing is allowed
                ESCD support is available
                Boot from CD is supported
                Selectable boot is supported
                BIOS ROM is socketed
                EDD is supported
                5.25"/1.2 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                3.5"/720 kB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                3.5"/2.88 MB floppy services are supported (int 13h)
                Print screen service is supported (int 5h)
                8042 keyboard services are supported (int 9h)
                Serial services are supported (int 14h)
                Printer services are supported (int 17h)
                CGA/mono video services are supported (int 10h)
                ACPI is supported
                USB legacy is supported
                AGP is supported
                LS-120 boot is supported
                ATAPI Zip drive boot is supported
                BIOS boot specification is supported
                Targeted content distribution is supported
        BIOS Revision: 8.10

Handle 0x002D, DMI type 13, 22 bytes
BIOS Language Information
        Language Description Format: Abbreviated
        Installable Languages: 1
        Currently Installed Language: en|US|iso8859-1

[root@localhost ~]#

Alternatively, you can use the --sring parameter and specify a particular option, such as BIOS vendor, as shown below:

[root@localhost ~]# dmidecode --string bios-vendor
American Megatrends Inc.
[root@localhost ~]# dmidecode --string bios-version
[root@localhost ~]# dmidecode --string bios-release-date

Note: you need to run the commands as root. On a Ubuntu system, you can run the commands by prefixing the commands with sudo, e.g., sudo dmidecode --type bios or sudo dmidecode --string bios-version, and provide your password when prompted. Otherwise you will get a "Permission denied" message.

Dmidecode is known to work on the following systems:

If it isn't available on your system, you can download the source code at dmidecode.

[/os/unix/commands] permanent link

Wed, Feb 10, 2016 10:11 pm

Reducing image size with sips

On an Apple OS X system, you can reduce the size of an image by using the sips command with the -Z size parameter where size is the maximum value you want for either height or width. E.g., suppose I have a PNG file named system_preferences.png", which is 1,560 pixels wide by 1,604 high. The image height is greater than the image width and I want the maximum dimension to be 780 pixels. By opening a Teminal window - the Terminal utility is found in the Applications/Utilities directory - I can get a command line interface (CLI), aka a "shell prompt", that will allow me to enter the command sips -Z 780 system_preferences.png. The command will ensure that neither dimension will be greater than 780 pixels. In this case the height will be set to 780 pixels and the width will be adjusted to maintain the current aspect ratio, so the new dimensions will be 758 pixels wide and 780 pixels high.

[ More Info ]

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Tue, Feb 09, 2016 10:04 pm

Free 2 GB Google Drive storage increase on Safer Internet Day

Since today is the yearly Safer Internet Day, you can get a free, permanent additional 2 gigabytes (GB) of storage on Google Drive today just by checking the security settings for any Google account you may have, e.g., a Gmail account. If you are signed into your Google account in your browser, when you go to, you should see "It's #SaferInternetDay. Stay safe online with a 2-minute Security Checkup". If you click on the "Security Checkup" link you will be prompted to verify your security settings. If you are not signed in, you will see "It’s #SaferInternetDay. Explore tips to help you stay safe online", instead. You can also start the process by going to Security Checkup and signing in to your Google account from that page.

If you missed the storage upgrade opportunity on February 9, Valentina Palladino notes in Today you can get 2GB of Google Drive storage for free that "There's no word on when this 2GB offer will expire, but you have at least one week to complete the security check-up."

It should only take about a minute to complete the process. At the first step of the process you will be prompted to "Check your recovery information" for your account.

Help us get in touch with you if there’s unusual activity in your account or you accidentally get locked out. Don’t worry, we’ll only use this info if we need to reach you about your account.

You will be asked to verify that your recovery phone number, recovery email address, and security question are correct. At the next step you will be asked to "Check your connected devices"

Next, please review the devices connected to your Google Account. Let us know if any of these devices look unfamiliar to you, and we'll work together to ensure no one else has access to your account.

You will be shown a list of devices identified as "Windows", "Linux", etc. depending on what devices you use to access your account, and a city where that device was used to log into your Google account. If they look ok to you, you can click on "Looks good" and proceed to the next step, which is "Check your account permissions". E.g., if you use Google Drive, you may see it listed with "Has some account access, including Google Drive, Google Hangouts". You will see other services listed to which you've given permission to access some information associated with your Google account. You will see the date authorization was granted to a service and you have the opportunity to remove access to Google account information by that service. If they all look ok, you can click on "Done" to complete the process. If you click on "Continue to account settings", if you click on "Your Google Drive storage" under "Account preferences" on the left side of the browser window, you should see that you've been granted another 2 GB of storage on Google Drive.

The files that you store in Google Drive are always encrypted in transit between your systems and Google's servers and also while stored in Google’s data centers. By confirming the settings for your account, also, you help to ensure the security and privacy of the data that you store using Google's services.


  1. Today you can get 2GB of Google Drive storage for free
    Yet another annual promotion from Google, marking Safer Internet Day 2016.
    By Valentina Palladino
    Date: February 9, 2016
  2. Google Is Awarding 2GB Of Free Drive Space To Promote Safer Internet Day
    By: Amit Chowdhry
    Date: February 9, 2016

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

Mon, Feb 08, 2016 10:42 pm

Converting a man page to HTML, PDF, text

If you wish to view documentation for commands and utiilties on a system running Apple's OS X operating system, or Linux, you can use the man command to view the manual page, aka a "man page" for the command/utility. If you want to convert the man page to a HyperText Markup Language (HTML) document, you can use the groff text formatting utility. You can find man pages beneath the /user/share/man directory in subdirectores named manx where x is a number, e.g. man1, man2, etc. E.g. under OS X, if you wanted to view the documentation for Apple's AppleScript scripting language osascript utility, you can find the man page on an OS X system at /usr/share/man/man1/osascript.1. To format it as HTML, you can pipe the contents of the file into groff as shown below:

$ cat /usr/share/man/man1/osascript.1 | groff -mandoc -Thtml >man_osascript.html

[ More Info ]

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Sun, Feb 07, 2016 8:04 pm

Changing the appearance of a PuTTY session

If you wish to be able to easily distinguish Secure Shell (SSH) sessions to a particular server when using PuTTY, a free and open-source SSH and Telnet client application available for Microsoft Windows, OS X, and Linux systems, you can change the background color used for connections to a particular server through PuTTY's "Change Settings" option, which will allow you to change the background and foreground colors (the foreground color is used for text). Colors are specified by RGB value.

[ More Info ]

[/os/windows/network/ssh/putty] permanent link

Sat, Feb 06, 2016 5:20 pm

Accounts not synching to Quicken mobile app

If you use a desktop version of Intuit's Quicken 2015 for managing your personal and/or business finances and have also installed the mobile application, Quicken 2014/15/16 Companion, on your phone, but find that certain accounts that are present in the desktop version are not appearing on the mobile version, then check the "accounts to sync" settings within the "Intuit ID, Mobile & Alerts" preferences within Quicken on the desktop system to ensure that Quicken on the desktop is configured to syncrhonize those particular accounts with the Quicken app on a mobile device.

[ More Info ]

[/financial] permanent link

Fri, Feb 05, 2016 4:07 pm

Muting audio on OS X from a Terminal window

If you want to check or set audio settings, such as the volume level or whether sound is muted, from a command line interface (CLI), aka "shell prompt", on an Apple OS X system, you can do so by using Apple's AppleScript scripting language utility, osascript.

To check the current volume setting, you can use the following command:

$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'

To check whether audio is muted, use the following command:

$ osascript -e 'output muted of (get volume settings)'

To mute the audio so no sound will be heard:

$ osascript -e 'set volume output muted true'
$ osascript -e 'output muted of (get volume settings)'

The osascript -e 'set volume output volume x', where x is a number between 0 and 100, can be used to change the sound level, i.e., to make the sound softer or louder:

$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'
$ osascript -e 'set volume output volume 25'
$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'

You can provide a number less than zero or more than 100 when issuing the set command, but the volume setting will never be less than 0 nor more than 100.

$ osascript -e 'set volume output volume -1'
$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'
$ osascript -e 'set volume output volume -25'
$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'
$ osascript -e 'set volume output volume 105'
$ osascript -e 'output volume of (get volume settings)'

If sound is muted and you change the volume level, then it will be unmuted.

$ osascript -e 'output muted of (get volume settings)'
$ osascript -e 'set volume output muted true'
$ osascript -e 'output muted of (get volume settings)'
$ osascript -e 'set volume output volume 55'
$ osascript -e 'output muted of (get volume settings)'

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Thu, Feb 04, 2016 5:36 pm

No scroll bars under Yosemite

When I received a new MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) laptop running OS X Yosemite (10.10.5), I found that there were no scrollbars in Windows, e.g., within a Terminal or browser window. I could scroll through a page in a browser window using the up and down arrow keys; a scroll bar would appear on the right of the window as I was moving up and down with the arrow keys, but if I tried moving the mouse pointer over to where the scrollbar was appearing, it would disappear and I couldn't move up or down using the builtin by moving the mouse ponter to the right to a scroll bar using the touchpad on the laptop. I could scroll up and down in a web page or a Terminal window by putting two fingers down on the touchpad and then moving them up and down, but I liked having the scroll bar at the right side of a window to use for scrolling.

I was able to have a scroll bar appear by clicking on the Apple icon at the top left-hand corner of the screen, selecting System Preferences, View, then General and changing the option for "Show scroll bars" from "Automatically based on mouse or trackpad to "Always". The other option was "When scrolling".

OS X General preferences - 
scroll bar

The meaning for the settings is as follows:

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Wed, Feb 03, 2016 11:21 pm

eBay JavaScript block does not block all JavaScript

A number of sites that report on technology/computing issues carried reports today regarding the possibility of malware being distributed via eBay custom listings. E.g., TechWeek Europe UK has the article eBay 'Won't Fix' JavaScript Flaw That Exposes Users To Malware, Phishing and Ars Technica has the article eBay has no plans to fix “severe” bug that allows malware distribution. The articles state that eBay normally blocks sellers from using JavaScript code in listings, but that malefactors can circument eBay's block by building their JavaScript code with non- alphanumeric characters, specifically the six characters . (,),[,],! and +. According to the TechEurope UK article:

Security software firm CheckPoint says eBay usually filters out scripts and iFrames from item descriptions or online stores, but only strips alphanumeric characters from these HTML tags.

CheckPoint claims that by using those non-alphanumeric characters, malefactors could pull code from a remote server that would allow them to trick an unsuspecting eBay user visiting a eBay store listing where the nefarious JavaScript is posted into agreeing to install software that the user may incorrectly assume is being provided by eBay.

CheckPoint stated it informed eBay of the potential issue on December 15, but on January 16 was informed that eBay would not be providing a fix for the issue because active content is allowed on eBay's website.

eBay's HTML and JavaScript Policy page has the following guidelines on what sellers aren't allowed to do on their listing pages:

You can't use HTML or JavaScript that:

I.e., the above guidelines do not seem to preclude the use of any JavaScript on a listing page. And there are sites that provide scripts to be used in eBay listings, e.g., Script Snips at Auction Repair .

[/security/malware] permanent link

Tue, Feb 02, 2016 10:22 pm

Pmset rawlog option

On an Apple OS X system, such as a MacBook Pro laptop, the command pmset -g rawlog displays an ongoing log of battery state as read directly from the battery. When the system has external alternating current (AC) power, the value for external connected is "yes". If the battery is 100% charged, battery charging is "no".

$ pmset -g rawlog
pmset is in RAW logging mode now. Hit ctrl-c to exit.
 * Battery matched at registry = 12803
  external connected = yes
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 3839/3839
  time remaining = 1092:15
  current = 0
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

If I disconnect the power cable, pmset will periodically update its display showing me the current status for the battery, including the estimated time remaining on battery power.

$ pmset -g rawlog
pmset is in RAW logging mode now. Hit ctrl-c to exit.
 * Battery matched at registry = 12803
  external connected = yes
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 3839/3839
  time remaining = 1092:15
  current = 0
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

2/2/16 9:45:29 PM EST
  external connected = yes
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 3839/3839
  time remaining = 1092:15
  current = 0
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

2/2/16 9:46:24 PM EST
  external connected = no
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 3839/3839
  time remaining = 1092:15
  current = 0
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

2/2/16 9:46:54 PM EST
  external connected = no
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 4209/4209
  time remaining = 3:03
  current = -1377
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

2/2/16 9:47:25 PM EST
  external connected = no
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 4209/4209
  time remaining = 2:47
  current = -1509
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

2/2/16 9:47:55 PM EST
  external connected = no
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 4209/4209
  time remaining = 2:45
  current = -1528
  cycle count = 194/1000
  location = 0

In the above output I can see that the estimated time remaining for battery power doesn't necessarily match the amount of time that has elapsed since the last update was displayed. E.g. at 9:45:25 the time remaining value was 2 hours and 47 minutes, yet at 9:45:55, 30 seconds later, the estimated time remaining has been decreased by 2 minutes. The above readings where the "cap" value was x/x, e.g., 4209/4209, were displayed at times the battery capacity display at the top of the screen was reading 100% When the value displayed at the top of the screen for the OS X GUI dropped to 95%, I saw the following:

2/2/16 10:01:06 PM EST
  external connected = no
  battery present = yes
  battery charging = no
  cap = 4004/4209
  time remaining = 2:20
  current = -1716
  cycle count = 194/1000

I.e., the capacity reading was then x-y/x. Plugging the power cable back in changed the battery present and battery charging values to "yes".

[/os/os-x] permanent link

Mon, Feb 01, 2016 10:34 pm

Obtaining information for the AC adapter in use on a Mac laptop

The pmset command, which is used to manipulate power management settings, can be used on a Mac laptop running Apple's OS X operating system to obtain information regarding the alternating current (AC) adapter being used to power the laptop.

-g ac / adapter will display details about an attached AC power adapter. Only supported for MacBook and MacBook Pro.

E.g., the output below is from a MacBook Pro laptop with an Apple 85W MagSafe Power Adapter model number A1343 plugged into it.

$ pmset -g ac
 Wattage = 85W
 Revision = 0x0000
 AdapterID = 0x0100
 Family Code = 0x0085
 Serial Number = 0x00981dc6

[/os/os-x] permanent link

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