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Monday, 16 December 2013

Carl Sagan's view on science and government

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Revolution!!!!!!! NEWSNIGHT: Paxman vs Brand - full interview

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Everyone Is Everyone (and Everything is Everything)

Continuum brought me here...

Saturday, 21 September 2013

How to create a bootable USB drive for pretty much any OS using Windows 7, Vista, and Windows 8

How to create a bootable USB drive for pretty much any OS using Windows 7, Vista, and Windows 8

Disclaimer: 

All advice is given to be used at your own risk. This worked for me and I hope it helps you - but take no responsibility for any undesired outcome that you may experience.
Additionally, this method only works using the following operating systems - Win Vista, Win 7, and Win 8.

Special thanks:

A special thanks goes to Michael Surtees for his contribution to this handy solution.

Introduction: 

The following process demonstrates how to create a bootable USB Drive which you can copy the contents of an OS installation disc to. The result is a portable installation USB drive which, IMO, is super handy and soooo much quicker than DVD (blerrrg)!
I found this useful and it should, in theory, work to create a bootable installer for pretty much any OS (Windows, Linux, etc.)

Pre-requisites:

  1. USB thumb/flash drive that is large enough to house the entire contents of your installation ISO plus a little extra.
  2. Said USB thumb/flash drive will be formatted with ALL data removed - as such you will need to backup any data on the drive before proceeding with this process.

The HOW:

First, we need to open a Command Prompt (CMD.EXE) as administrator (right-click on the CMD icon in your Start menu and select "Run as administrator".
It is imperative that you launch CMD.exe as administrator. I cannot vouch for the results if you do not.
right-click on "Command" and select "Run as administrator"

Next, enter the following command into CMD: 
diskpart
("Diskpart" is the disk management utility)

Next, enter the following commands:
list disk
("List disk" displays the connected disks. Your USB drive should be listed here as well. Make a note of the number next to your USB drive as you'll need to enter it into the next command. Note that in the screenshot below - Disk 0 is my primary HDD - this is NOT the disk number you want - be sure to choose the right number or you could wipe your data).

select disk # 
(Be sure to replace the "#" with the number you took note of in the previous step. This will then return a message saying "Disk 1 is now the selected disk." - if it doesn't then stop immediately and close the CMD window and try again.).

clean
(This command will verify the integrity of the USB drive and ERASE ALL OF THE DATA ON IT!!!)

create partition primary
(This creates a bootable partition. You will see a message saying that the operation was successful).

list partition
(Take note of the partition number - quite likely "1").

select partition 1

active
(To activate the partition).


format fs=fat32
(This is a slow format so you should go and do something else while you wait - such as extract your .ISO file into a folder ready to copy across later. You can also take this time to download any drivers you may need during your installations.)


assign
(This will automatically assign the USB drive a drive letter).


exit
(Exit out of DISKPART).


All that is left to do is to simply copy the files you extracted out of the .ISO file onto the USB, along with any drivers you might need during OS install, to make the whole process much smoother.
NOTE: Any archiving application worth their weight will easily allow you to extract the contents of an ISO file. Examples include 7Zip, WinZip, WinRAR, etc.

Once that's done...
Plug your USB thumb/flash drive into a USB2 or eSATA USB combo port in your PC/laptop.
Boot the PC up, enter into "Setup" mode or "Boot Options" and choose to boot from the USB.
You'll then be able to boot and launch the OS installation process via the USB stick.

NOTE: There has been some reports from people (with general USB drive based OS installations) that they are receiving an error when attempting to install Windows 7 via the USB thumb/flash drive stating "A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, cd dvd or usb flash drive please insert it now".
This has to do with USB3. For some reason it simply does not like USB3.
To overcome this - plug the USB thumb/flash drive into a USB2 port or if you have a eSATA USB combo port - use this port instead. I've seen first hand this issue resolved this way.

Happy installing and as always I HTH.

Cheers.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Ideas for making road intersection traffic lights / robots more efficient in order to aid in traffic flow

Idea for traffic lights to decrease the response times of drivers to get off at the lights.
Have warning lights like a countdown light to indicate that it's almost time for the driver to go.
I know, I know... people would object profusely to this idea because they will say "well, this will encourage street drag racing". Well, I mean for one, street drag racers are idiots and they're going to do it no matter what.
Yes it could potentially encourage street drag racers so in order to get around this - all of the lanes would be offset. They wouldn't be in a straight line.
Even if you didn't have the countdowns, having the offset lanes would help to discourage street drag racing as there would be an unfair advantage to one or more of the parties, therefore people wouldn't want a bar of it.
Additionally, you could place red light cameras at every set of lights which use digital cameras and are networked back to base - requiring minimal maintenance. As the red light camera road sensors would be placed according to the lane offset - if drag racers want to line up in the same line - they will be pinged by the red light camera.

On top of this, road management organisations should shorten the length of traffic light changes by a large degree - with particular emphasis on Perth's (Western Australia) traffic light changes which are seemingly up to 3 minutes in some places.
This works towards avoiding giving drivers a chance to get distracted and lose focus. With long changes, people start doing their makeup, brushing their hair, popping pimples, picking their noses, texting, day dreaming, reading, the list goes on.
I cannot go a day driving in Perth where a person waiting at lights has lost focus and is doing one of the above things - requiring a friendly honk of the horn to alert them that it's there turn to move on. Then by the time they finally pull away, the light changes as there's been no traffic flowing over the sensors and the lights believe there's nobody else coming. Very annoying at peak times to say the least.

I believe this idea would contribute to driver attention being maintained and increase efficiency of traffic flow.

I also believe that stacking up bumper to bumper at the lights causes take off times to be decreased as each driver has to wait for the driver in front to move a reasonable distance away, prior to starting to move themselves.
If drivers leave at least one car space between them and the driver in front, combined with the countdown idea above, drivers could take off at the same time. This would allow more traffic through the intersection before the next change - instead of the concertina slow take off effect from the typical driver bumper to bumper line up deal we see everyday.
To enforce this - you could mandate (via petty fines) that gaps of a minimum length are left while waiting at lights. You could also potentially have painted markers of metres going back from the traffic lights to assist drivers with abiding by this. Unfortunately that may negate the anti-street drag racing ideas above.
It could be possible for a government subsidised front sensor to be deployed on all vehicles. Heck - they made immobilizers mandatory, why not front sensors that are all set to the required distance. This sensor would beep when getting too close to the minimum distance and then go to a solid tone if you pass beyond the distance. This idea could also be used on highways to avoid tailgating - the source of many, many highway/freeway accidents and then mass delays for everyone else.

Another idea is to have road based sensors in all lanes on all roads coming into the intersection, a good distance away from the intersection - this could then determine if traffic is coming or not and allow for parties arriving to receive a green light immediately where there is no traffic coming from the other roads at that time. If traffic was coming from all roads, usual timers would take precedence.
I hope I'm making sense?

One day I'll put together some diagrams (famous last words).

If you want to ask any questions or point out any additional ideas or faults with my ideas, please post below - I would like to encourage discussions and ideas around this topic.

Monday, 22 April 2013

"Cisco Desktop Administrator is locked by another user" - version 8.0.2

As always - use this information at your own risk and follow standard change management policy.

When you are attempting to modify Agent's workflow groups in Cisco Desktop Administrator, navigating to "Personnel" > "Agents" and you're presented with an error message stating someone is already logged in:

"Cisco Desktop Administrator is locked by another user. You cannot save any changes at this time. Wait until the other user logs out or until that user's session times out (inactive for 15 mins)"

This could be the case, that someone already is logged in.
In which case, have them log off and try again.

If you know for sure that nobody else is logged in - then you can use the "Force-Release CDA Lock" option.
"Services Configuration" > "Force-Release CDA Lock"
You might get the pop-up about it being locked by another user - simply click OK to it and then on the screen that loads, simply click "Release Lock".
Worked for me.


NOTE: I've read elsewhere that restarting "Cisco Desktop License and Resource Manager Service" service in Serviceability fixes it. It did NOT fix it for me - even restarting said service on both Publisher and Subscriber made no difference - I had to use the Release Lock function.
I've also read that restarting the publisher service would resolve the issue - I have not tried this and don't recommend it as a first step to resolution.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Some Security and Password tips


NOTE: These are purely my opinions and should be investigated further by individuals prior to following any of them.

Also, where I have referenced a site - I've included links to said sites at the bottom of the post.

  • Use 2 factor authentication - such as Google Authenticator where available.
    Facebook, Google, and more already offer 2 factor authentication.
    Most banks should also offer 2 factor authentication via mobile phone or similar - if not, ditch them for another bank.
    NOTE: There is a fairly decent overhead that follows for initial setup of 2 factor authentication. You'll need to configure single use passwords for mobile devices, etc. and 'trust' certain devices...or not. The security benefits are worth the extra hassle up front IMO. 
  • Regularly check what devices are currently logged into your various sites that offer that facility - e.g. Facebook (at time of writing - "Account settings" -> "Security" -> "Active Sessions"). End any activity of old sessions - particularly work or shared PC's. If there's a session there you don't recognise - your account may possibly have been breached in which case you should reset your password and the password of any associated email addresses too.
  • Try to make sure that your passwords are MORE than 14 characters long. Site/service permitting, I tend to have passwords in excess of 25 characters.
  • Avoid starting your passwords with an upper case character and ending with numbers. Rather use the upper case, special characters, and numbers throughout the password.
  • Avoid using real words or phrases/quotes in your passwords as they are susceptible to dictionary attack.
  • You are better off to take the first or 2nd (or whichever) letter from a sentence and mix up the letters with upper/lower case, numbers, and special characters. 
  • By way of a small example (don't use this as it is one that is commonly and foolishly used, not to mention very short) -
    "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog"
    Could be converted to a password as follows:
    "tQbFj0t!D" ...the 1st letter of each word in the phrase mixed up with upper/lower case/some letters replaced with numbers = e.g. "o" with zero/some replaced with special characters - e.g. "l" with exclamation.
    or..
    "hUr0uVh@o" ... the second letter of each word in the phrase, mixed up with upper/lower case/numbers/special characters.
    Try avoid using famous phrases as your starting point - try come up with random stuff like "The weather impacts my desire to drink water. When it is hot, I drink more water. When it is cold, I drink less water" - yields a 24 letter password if you don't include punctuation (which can be included if a site allows special characters in the password).
  • Use a password manager such as Lastpass to manage your passwords and help discourage you from using 1 password for all sites. Password managers also generally offer random password generators (better than using the phrase letters). 
  • Don't use the same password across sites - particularly your most vital accounts. Anther reason to use a password manager.
  • When inputting answers for secret questions during an account setup - do NOT use real answers.
    A lot of this info finds its way into the public domain or can be socially engineered out of people/companies. Not to mention close friends/family/partners that you have a falling out with - they're likely to know this information.
    Use unique answers for all questions - keep them in a password manager like LastPass/Keepass for safe keeping.
    As an example... "What is the name of your first pet?" answer "t!RuU53T" - which is the third letter of each word in the sentence "To think for yourself you must question authority". This would be very tricky to guess or find out even if the person knows you intimately.
    Another note on this is that some sites will limit the type of characters used - in which case it would still be better to use Tiruuset (same answer as before without numbers or special characters) than to answer truthfully.
  • When prompted to enter credentials into a website - check the address bar and confirm that the website address is the website you believe you're entering your password into. E.g. If facebook - make sure it says facebook.com - not something like "facebook.com.dodgybrothers.net" - phishing sites will quite often be setup on similar names or use the website name as part of the name.
  • Always log out of sites when you're finished with them - simply closing the browser window is not always enough and can leave your accounts exposed.
  • Set a calendar reminder for a certain day every so often to set aside and change your passwords. With things like LastPass, this is quite simply done. This will help you to keep changing passwords for sites that you rarely visit and forget about. It is probably good practice to change your passwords at least every 3 months for regularly used or critical accounts.
  • Sign up with/check at regular intervals sites like PWNEDLIST which try to keep a copy of all publicly released hacked information and see if your email address/es appear on their list. NOTE: If you are using LastPass - they have a feature called Sentry which already checks PWNEDLIST lists.
    If have a particularly large amount of free time... also occasional visits to sites like DATABREACHES which advise of known breaches.
  • If you have any influence on the password storage mechanisms of your company services/sites - recommend they use bCrypt - it slows down the process of hashing passwords which makes them less susceptible to brute force attacks. This "slowing" process also caters for a future where hardware performance increases - allowing you to increase the delay in hashing.
  • With respect to privacy - regularly check your "Privacy" settings on social media websites such as Facebook. These sites regularly add new features and tend to lean towards the more open "social" setting of letting it all hang out as the default setting for these new features.
    Additionally - it is recommended that if the sites offer the opportunity to NOT allow search engines to find your information - activate it. You DON'T want your information searchable by search engines, it exposes you unnecessarily.
  • If you are concerned with privacy or live in a country where you are heavily monitored and are fairly new to the concepts of doing things privately online - check out CrytoParty. They also have a hand book/guide available. 
I hope to flesh out some of these points and add to this page as and when time permits.

LINKS

Lifehacker article about 2 factor authentication:


LastPass video:


PWNEDLIST:


LastPass Sentry details:

DATABREACHES:


bCrypt:


CryptoParty:




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Mandala el Ubby

Mandala el Ubby
Acrylic on canvas ~75cm x 75cm

Lateralus Vinyl Picture Disc

Lateralus Vinyl Picture Disc
Best album ever....ever.....ever....ehem

I procure heaps o fashizniz from Amazon, why don't you?