A Little Upgrade Here, and a Little There, There is So Much Going On!

From finally getting to my P.C., the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS Upgrade, and fixing a couple of issues with my personal network at home, and the upgrade from WordPress to 3.9, I think I will have a completely new computing environment by the end of this weekend! The WordPress upgrade just happened a few minutes ago, so that just added to stretch of labour that I put in already today on my machines. The OS upgrade was really only from the Ubuntu 12.04, up to the 14.04 because I am sticking to the long term releases for my home equipment. So this was the first upgrade in two years on my PC. I am tired of the bleeding edge OS, and SVN headaches, when I come home from a long day spent at someone else’s broken system. So far everything here seems to be working find.

Ubuntu 14 04 Screenshot from 2014-04-18 16:58:55 Weblog Image

I did a complete reinstall of my PC, as opposed to a initial upgrade. I wiped out my internal hard drive with a program called Gparted, and made sure that drive was completely clean before I installed back on to it. I had a couple of irritating bugs that were driving me up the wall, one of them was with FireFox, and Flash. For the last couple of weeks I could not run TweetDeck from off of that browser, due to flash and URL cache issues. The step up to 14.04 fixed all of that in one sweep. I am a much happier camper now. :)

There are still several programs and pieces of software that I still need to install, but I did the main ones to get me though for now. The installation was super fast this time around: in under 45 minutes–start to finish. I used a USB flash drive instead of installing from the web, or from a optical drive, and having a 6-core Pentium did not hurt either. Added all up, this was a huge time saver in performance, and caused far less headaches overall for a clean install.

20,000 Tweets Says Me

By the time I post this, my twitter feed will mark this post as my twenty thousandth tweet as @thomasso01. A mile stone, a social networking obsessed geek, whatever your opinion, Twitter has severed it purpose for the greater good above all other social networking services that I use. Expect more tweets, for a very long time! LOL

20 000 twitter tweets April 15 2014 thomasso com

I first jumped on Twitter way back in July, 2008 while attending a WordPress Boot Camp in Langley City, BC, back when I was at the peak of my blogging performance. At the time I had several websites that I was running, including three personal sites that I was trying to monetize. I was super busy back then, going to university, working full time, knee-deep in some of the greatest moments of my personal life–how did I manage it all? So Twitter was just one of those “hey you need to try this” fads. I had no idea how much it would eventually take hold of my life.

So, when I press the “Publish” button, it will mark 20,000 tweets! Here it goes….


Screenshot from 2014-04-15 - Weblog Image

A Screen Shot of my Twitter feed taken from the GUI  – TweetDeck, just as I tweeted this post.

The Mower of Dandelions

Overnight the green field by my home turned a sea of dotted yellow, marking the rein of the dandelion in, the last sure sign that spring has taken hold, and summer is closing in. I got the go-ahead from my landlord to level the playing field with the lawnmower before the rain sets in today. But I wanted to shoot a bunch of shots of the dandelions before the mow becuase they seem extra thick this year. They are growing everywhere, even in places no one wants them to, or least expects.

Dandelions - April 15 2014 Weblog Image

Back on Saturday, I found patched of dandelions growing on a roof of a barn that was in various stages of decay. There was this one section of roof that was flat, and had a tar-and-gravel layer on it, and the dandelions just seem to love this surface for growing on.

Dandelion - April 13 2014 Weblog Image

Soon they will change to white balls of seed pods, and sail away with the wind, spreading themselves to invade other far off lands. Bye-bye dandelions as I mow them over.

Has Your Server Been Fixed Yet?

Twelve hours sitting in knee-deep chaos, watching twenty progress bars slowly move across a tiny 38cm monitor, as patches are installed to correct the OpenSSL hole, a.k.a. as the HeartBleed Bug, I just want to go to sleep now. In general, most of the servers that I deal with are not affected by this bug, but the handful that are, replacing the software was not as easy as I hoped it would be. Taking the servers off-line, running the configuration routines, and then running security scans, it all adds up to a lot of time spent in one tiny room with stale air.

heartbleed bug graphic April 15 2014

How serious is this bug?

Well, I ran a bunch of hacks on my own server just to see if gaining access was as easy as the media said it was. After my results, I was left sitting with my jaw on the floor. If you know what to look for, snooping around emails, data file, logs, back-up files, it was all there, albeit I really had to dig around, but I did it. I was stunned! It did not matter what you were running, if you are running OpenSSL, then you have the hole.

As a favour to the online world, I am not going to go into any details. I know it will be months before all of the servers are updated around the world.

If you think that your server is affected by this, then there are couple of websites that can help you detected whether or not you are vulnerable to HeartBleed.  You can run the HearBleed test here: http://filippo.io/Heartbleed/ and http://heartbleed.com/ for more information about HeartBleed.

According to Hearbleed.com, they say this about the fixes:

As long as the vulnerable version of OpenSSL is in use it can be abused. Fixed OpenSSL has been released and now it has to be deployed. Operating system vendors and distribution, appliance vendors, independent software vendors have to adopt the fix and notify their users. Service providers and users have to install the fix as it becomes available for the operating systems, networked appliances and software they use.

As for the open source community, help was rapid and support was fast. I had the patches in less than a day of receiving the news. Most of the updates were up on the repositories when I first checked, so everyone should have this fixed within days–so do your regular updates!

Damn bugs.

It was a Good Weekend, but Not the One I Planned

When I took this shot, I was sitting on my lawn chair down by the lower section of the back field from my house. This was the very last spot where the Sun shines through the trees before the evening takes holds and darkness rule the rest of the day. The air was warm, and it was very quiet; almost the perfect end to a great weekend.

Red Flowers - April 13 2014 Weblog Image

The whole weekend was not all rest and relaxation. I was called in to visit an old client that I did a server installation about two years ago because they feared that they might have being victims to the Heartbleed Bug that has been plaguing servers around the world who use OpenSSL as part of their security. Sure enough, they were using it, but their system was so bug ridden, that I told them they might as well reinstall the OS, and work off of their back-up data once all of the fixes were done. When I opened the servers up, I was shocked/breath-taken at what I saw. They completely gutted everything that I stalled back then, and now everything was a disaster. Sadly, becuase they were now using the archaic MS WIN2003 Server Software (becuase they broke the newer version I installed), they were now looking at a bill of about three thousand bucks to do a minimum upgrade. So I packed up and left, leaving them in the lurch with a broken server–they did not have the cash on hand to buy the licences. I was looking at a whole day to fix everything, adn they were not prepared to hire me for that.

When I got back home, more calls from businesses asking for help, asking to see if I was available for emergency calls. I switched on my answering machine, and did yard work instead for the rest of the day. I wanted to go camping, but time had run out with all of the fiddling around on Saturday, so I decided to stay home. I was not going to waste a great weekend on being stuck in server rooms while the Sun was blasting outside, so yard work it was.

I bought a gas power lawn trimmer. Up until now, I was using an electric one. It was good, but it was useless with thick weeds, and my range was quite limited with my extension cored. Having the ability now to move freely around the yard was an instant boon with me, and even my back was better as compared to having to dragging the power cord with me. But having the torque and high RMPs was the ultimate advantage. My goal this year is to make sure that every blade of grass is kept cut so that NO mosquitoes have no were to live near my home.

Well anyway, there is a few more hours left for this weekend, so I am going to enjoy them!

It is Realy an Artesian Well!

I would not have believed it if it were not for seeing it. It is a gusher. My landlord is super happy about the results, and I am sure the rest of users are too; I know I am. The well was completed last night, but was not officially capped until this morning. When I got home around noon today, all there was sticking out from the ground was the metal pipe with water spewing out from it.

Artesian Well in Fort Langley BC April 11 2014 Weblog Image

According to my landlord, the rate of water is close to 90 Imperial Gallons, or 280 litres per minute.

I am not sure on the timetable of when the water will start flowing through our taps, but for now, I could fill up on water from here. I do not know if there is a time limit before you can start drinking this water, so I will wait and see. But for now, this is a sight to behold!

The Flower Bed to Rest

Well, I lost the flowerbed with all of the daffodils for the fence. It had to go, as my landlord decided that the fence should move several metres more towards the turn around section of the driveway to accommodate a gate. The result is the lost of all the daffodils that are on the property, and a number of other flowers that were also planted in that bed. The flowerbed was grown around a huge maple tree, so there were not to many options for the fence in relation to the field, to the edge of the property, and the driveway. The fence is part of a section that will be used to keep sheep in it, so I am sure they will eat the bushes when they grow again next year.

Farewell yellow daffodils!

daffodils - April 10 2014 Weblog Image

There were about sixty daffodil plants growing in this bed. Most of the workers picked them for their wives before they shovelled them up, but I managed to scavenged a handful for myself. I picked them from the pile of earth that they laid in after the fence line was made, and then I trimmed them up a bit at the stems. I put them in a glass, and shot a few photos. By tomorrow, I’m sure, all of them will have started to wilt.

Why Life at Home is Chaotic Right Now: Drill, Pound, Bang!

Humm, maybe chaotic is not the right word? Perhaps noisy and full of inconveniences, but it is for a great cause–right? There is a well drilling rig parked at the and of my driveway, and this is day two now that is has been drilling away, digging deeper, and deeper into the Earth in search for water. Then there is the new fence that my land lord is erecting around me. He has hired a couple of full-time guys, and a construction crew to build it, and improve a building nearby. Parking, noise, and privacy, all roll up into the next couple of days of sitting in my living room watching all of this unfold outside.

Well Drilling Rig April 9 2014 Weblog Image

The well drilling rig is incredibly nosy. The trucks that service it usually start arriving around quarter to eight in the morning and do not leave until well past four in the afternoon. I guess their goal of finishing off the well was two days, but that does not seem to be the case now. The rig itself is less than twenty metres from my home, so I might as well be parked right beside it. Even the ground shakes when they are pounding in the pipe. I keep saying to myself it is all for a good cause–to have fresh drinking water again.

The old well was tested back in December and it was found to have high concentration levels of E.coli. So when I my landlord got the results, he gave me a water cooler, with an 18 litre jug of water, and knocked a $100.00 off from my rent until the new well is completed. You cannot place a value on clean drinking water.

As for the fence, well, this is after all a farm, and on a farm, you have animals, and plants, and of course, the farmer. (I was going to say E.I., E.I., Owe, but thought that that was way too tacky.) They use a pile driver for the fence posts, and that makes a lot of noise when they pound away on each post. That should be done, hopefully by tomorrow–fingers crossed.

As for having strangers around my house during the day, well, that is un-nerving knowing people that they are working right beside my bedroom window. Yesterday I had three trucks parked in my driveway, so I had to park along the road until they left. Not a big deal, but first thing in the morning they grumble when I have to tell them that they must let me out. And on and on it goes.

Train and Dump truck Collision.

Also today, around lunch time, I seen the aftermath of a collision between a train and dump truck, right at Armstrong Road on 88 Ave by the Fort Langley Airport. They were still getting the driver out from the tuck when I first drove by. On my home, they had him out on the stretcher, awaiting a helicopter to take him to Vancouver. His truck was a mess! This is at least the sixth train accident that I know of since I have lived here in Fort Langley. So far the driver is still alive, but not in good shape.

Cherry Blossoms, Rhodo–watch-a-meh-call-its and Graffiti

It was just another stroll down the little board-walk in Fort Langley’s Marina Park, shooting whatever grabbed my attention. With some fresh new graffiti, and trees and bushes blossoming their flowers, that place was a treat to photograph today. And as a added bonus, there was no one around when I was shooting–it was awesome!

Out on the Boardwalk - Fort Langley BC April 8 2014 Weblog Image

The graffiti reads, “This is a place that makes you realize how tiny your problems are.”

I should confess that Fort Langley really does not have a board-walk, but just a bunch of wooden look-outs that people can stand in that over look the Fraser River. The section that I was on has a wheelchair ramp, and sort of resembles a board-walk.

Cherry Tree Blossoms April 8 2014 Fort Langley BC - Weblog Images

I just had to stop and shoot this cherry tree. With the clear blue sky, and incredibly bright sunshine, this was a magical moment for shooting with the wide angle lens. I was using my Sony DT 2.8/16-20 SSM lens along with my Sony A77. This is one my favourite street photography lenses.

Rhododendrons in Fort Langley BC April 8 2014 Weblog Image

And surprisingly, this rhododendron bush has its flowers in full bloom. The ones at my place are just starting to form their buds, probably due to being more in the shade than these ones at the park. They will bloom–soon. And I will be there, camera in hand ready to shoot them. Bwaahahahahahah :evil:

When People Wave Hello and Goodbye

A wise man once said that the only difference between waving hello, or goodbye, is the direction that each person is travelling from one another. I was around ten years old when I first started noticing that people, in and around where I grew up, greeted each other more or less the same way when they were meeting, or departing from each other. From first contact, there was this wave of the hand. And the same thing happened when people were leaving from the gathering. For example, people that I observed would wave back to each other, usually after they said their goodbyes, they would wave through the car window when gazing their final look before departure in their cars. When I was taking a second year Psych course in University, on human behaviour, this was explained to me through theories that tried to explain this behaviour’s origin.

The GOODBYE Girl Weblog Image April 8 2014

For us humans, acknowledging friends and familiar people are important. Whether a form of respect, or to the level of affection towards two people, waving is almost a universal greeting. This is a strong gesture, and one that has strong emotional ties.

Back in 2009, me and a bunch of undergraduates students were setting up our own Psych experiment as part of the course, copying an experiment done in 2005 where a researcher would sit on a bench, and would wave to random people across a busy street. We changed it up a bit by putting a Female researcher as the waver first, then switching to a Male researcher after a total of thirty waves were done. Two researchers would count the number of people who would wave back, and another would observe from the same side of the street that the subjects were on to record their reactions and facial expressions.

Sadly I do not have the results from my group’s assignment–they are lost somewhere. But I do remember that both the Male and Female wavers were almost identical in as far as receiving positive feedback from the subjects in the street experiment.

Still, to this day, I marvel at the complex behaviour of greetings through the gesture of waving we humans do. After nine years since taking that Psych course, I still remember lessons from forensic psychology, studying human behaviour. Waving is a powerful tool in first contact, so use it wisely.