Category: Geeky Stuff Page 2 of 50

Getting Ready for BSides

BSides Rochester is tomorrow. The preparations are in their frantic final day.

Plus, today is a training day on CTF Basics, presented by The Hackerground.

Get a ticket to B-Sides if you don’t already have one, and be there tomorrow!

Free Stuff I Like

UptimeRobot is a free service for monitoring online properties: networks, websites, etc.  I use it for this blog and some others, and for my home network.  Tell it the website URL or network IP address / DNS name you want to monitor and it’s set up.  You can get notified by text message, email, RSS or a public web page that will be created for you.

A paid option is available that removes some limits (such as only 50 monitors) and adds features such as predefined maintenance windows or more frequent checking. For my use, the free option is fine so far: I have a grand total of six monitors active.

Speaking of monitoring your home network, there’s an important difference between most home networks and most commercial ones. Home networks typically have dynamic IP addresses, as opposed to the static IP addresses that are allocated to businesses. “Dynamic” means that the provider can change the IP address at their convenience, and with no notification. For many home uses it doesn’t matter because your IP address is not usually a destination, only a starting point. Netflix and Google can find you to provide the content you requested because they just send it back to where the request came from.

However, if you want to do something like monitoring your own home network, or hosting a web site from your own computer, now you have to be able to be a destination, just like That means you need to claim an entry in DNS, the Internet’s “phone book”. But if your IP address can change without notice, it’s a problem: DNS entries always need an immutable destination address.

Enter Dynamic DNS. The principle is, a DNS entry is created for a location that has a dynamic IP address, and the location updates the DNS server with a new address whenever it changes. Most home routers have built-in support for this, you just have to choose a provider that supports one of the common methods of keeping updated. I use because it’s easy to set up (step-by-step instructions for everything) and has proven 100% reliable. And the basic service is, of course, free. You select a domain from a long list (VERY long – see illustration), and then make up a new subdomain name for it. That subdomain becomes your very own DNS name, and you can give that out without worrying what happens when Comcast changes your IP address.

I’m going to do another post soon about some more free things I like: pfSense, Plex and Ubuntu. Meanwhile, check out Gizmo’s Freeware where you will find lots of free stuff for all your geekery needs.

Error Blast from the Past

I created the error message you see here at the Atom Smasher website, a fun site where you can exercise your own creativity and relive those cryptic and illogical error messages of yore.

This find is thanks to folks at Rochester B-Sides. Have I mentioned that yet this year?  Stay tuned!

Held for Ransom

He’s not a hacker, he’s a stock photo model

Today’s blog is at Safer Computing, about how your data can be held for ransom, and what you can do about it.


Technical Bleg

As you know, Google+ is going away.  This blog is not one of the several I have written / will yet write kvetching about that.

What I am looking for is some tools that must already exist, but have not come to my attention yet.  I think maybe a reader can help.

I am using the Google+ Exporter from FriendsPlusMe, and I really like it. It grabs everything with reasonable efficiency. Given that its performance is limited to what Google will allow it to do, it’s just fine.

So now I have a fistful of WordPress XML Import files and I’m still not happy. Because, a WordPress blog seems wrong for preserving the archive of my G+ activity. The site will be forever frozen after April 2, and really, a huge PHP application regenerating the same HTML over and over seems like a waste.

So what I want is a way to create static HTML from the XML or the JSON forms of my Google+ life. With some flexibility as to format, for which I will be happy to work.

But: most people I have asked about this so far respond, Oh that’s easy, just start writing Python. That’s not how I envisioned it, shall we say.

It seems inconceivable that there is no fairly general tool already written to transpose JSON data of a stream of social media postings to a static HTML page.

Yes. I know.

SO here’s my request for the reading community: can you point me to any tools you know that generate readable HTML pages from JSON (or XML) data? Even if they are some really good jq filters, I think I would rather deal with that than “Step 1 Learn Python / Step 2 Write an awesome Python filter to do what you want...”

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