BlakJak's blog

Yay for Google promptly finding me this link - clearly i'm not the only one who found it ridiculous that there was this new menu item at the top of every right-click in windows explorer, for a menu item id never use!

The gist:

Regedit
Navigate to
HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Directory\Background\shellex\ContextMenuHandlers\ACE
Edit the default value for that entry
insert several dashes (ala '----' into the front of the key value)

Change takes effect immediately.

Whew!

It's been a long time since I blogged. However this one seemed appropriate.

(For my facebook friends, this paraphases my recent status update)

Today marked my first day in my new job at ICONZ. Unfortunately, SMX had to disestablish my role there and I was in effect, made redundant.

Being made redundant when you're the sole breadwinner for a household is a very stressful event - not one I ever imagined i'd go through. We were faced with a very short period of time in which either I had to find work, or we had to completely turn our lives upside down. Liz (my wife) had the option to take a job offer but this was not our preference, as we have built our lives around Liz being at home with the kids, and me being out at work. Flipping that upside-down would not have been good for any of us for a whole raft of reasons I won't go into.

I was deliberately a little bit cagey in terms of 'announcing' my situation - a deliberate attempt to be considerate to SMX and to my friends and colleagues there, as my situation was in a state of flux for much of the time between the situation being explained, the final decision being made - and then my notice period (which was abbreviated).

I don't begrudge those still there, I recognise the reasons for the disestablishment of my role and to be honest, I was already considering my options as I had concluded that I wasn't happy with the way the position had evolved in my time there. Of course, having a bombshell dropped on me at relatively short notice isn't the same as being able to find a new opportunity and put in notice in the usual fashion!

The support offered by the family and friends who were fully aware of the situation, was immense and I must register my gratitude - in particular those who made useful suggestions, referred me to firms with vacancies, to useful recruiting agents and such.

(Quietly raging at the slip of the fingers that caused me to have to write this blog twice!!!)

Several weeks ago i received my (first ever) summons to attend Jury Service. I happen to relish the fact I live in a civil society where the right to trial-by-jury-of-peers is entrenched, and innocent-until-proven-guilty is the same. So I was actually quite excited by the prospect.

(My employer, slightly less so, but they're good enough to pay wages to staff who are on Jury Service. some don't!)

I didn't have a reasonable reason to seek to be excused from Jury service. Several people I observed when I turned up at court did, one for family (kid-related) reasons, and a few more due to being language-challenged (strong english is required). So I plowed on.

The night before - so, last Sunday - @vaughndavis tweeted a blog entry by @simonemccallum - about her recent Jury Service experience. Simone: Thanks heaps for your timely blog entry (and tweet) - it gave me some useful perspective on the eve of my service!

So after turning up at the appointed time - metal detector and x-ray machines ala airport-security part-in-parcel - I queued up with the other 100+ called jurors to get checked off and then sit in the Juror Assembly room.

Eventually (by the way, a good book and a smartphone are your best friend at these things!) a short DVD is played to introduce the court process, and the players (judge, registrar, clerk, lawyers, defendent, witnesses, jurors). After this the balloting begins; 35 panel-candidates at a time are drawn randomly for each selection.

If you're a Kiwi you'd have to have been hiding under a rock to have missed the fact that Xtra's email service has been under siege lately.

In February, a significant number of xtra.co.nz email addresses - hosted by Yahoo in Sydney - were compromised. It appears that an organised botnet was able to access the mailboxes of many thousand subscribers, and use those mailboxes to generate spam emails (pointing at malicious web content) to email addresses found in those mailboxes - pulled from address books, sent items or similar.

The root cause has not been publicly announced by Yahoo, as far as I know, but I recall reading about a Cross Site Scripting issue involving Wordpress that sounds plausible in some respects. That said, I know that several of the accounts compromised (including one of mine!) have not been used in a long time - or at least, hadn't been, until this issue came to light... which makes one wonder how long this has been parked, waiting - or whether there is some _other_ vulnerability at work.

Anycase, there was a public outcry, and lots of 'change your password' advice being given out to account holders, and the rest of us got to suffer under a deluge of spam originating from Yahoo's servers - let's make it clear, it's not just the account holders that've suffered here, it's the folks they've corresponded with! - and in the aftermath Telecom had to announce a review of their email arrangement with Yahoo (to whom xtra.co.nz email has been outsourced for some years). NBR has a good article with the background, and their public announcement to stay with Yahoo on the grounds of a promise from Yahoo to 'do better'.

A little note to advise that the server was down for a few hours this morning - actually wound up with a complete failure of either the PSU or mainboard. Hard disks were moved into a new chassis and the machine was brought back before midday. Sorry for any inconvenience!

So my 10GB Windows XP VM (that'll be big enough!) ... wasn't big enough.

After some googling and some help from a friend, here's how I enlarged my image.

1. Shut down the VM.

2. From a terminal, run the following:

VBoxManage modifyhd /path/to/diskimagefile.vdi --resize SIZE-IN-MB

3. Then install 'qemu-kvm' package:

$ sudo apt-get install qemu-kvm

4. Load the network-block-device kernel module:

$ sudo modprobe nbd

5. Load the VDI file as a network block device using qemu-nbd:

$ sudo qemu-nbd -c /dev/nbd0 /path/to/diskimagefile.vdi

6. Use your favourite partitioning tool (i like gparted) to open the disk:

$ sudo gparted /dev/nbd0

Adjust your active partition size (you will see the original disk size, and available space up to the new size you set (as SIZE-IN-MB above). Commit your change. Bobs your Uncle.

Havn't blogged in a while, but this one has me very motivated.

Solarwinds are a relatively well known IT Management & Monitoring Software company.
Amongst their commercial product suite(s) are free tools that they make available to people who simply have to provide their personal information (name, email address, some other information) so that they can collect information about who's using the tools. Supposedly.

I have personally used their TFTP Server and their Advanced Subnet Calculator at various stages over the last 7 years or so and been fairly happy with them; despite being bannerware they actually do what they advertise and the Subnet Calculator has been very helpful as recently as in the last 12 months. (I run Linux almost exclusively these days, but still flitter in Windows and when i'm there, these tools still feature).

Unfortunately for Solarwinds, they've ever compromised their standards and disclosed their user information publically, or... they've been compromised, and had their user information disclosed publically.

On 6 December 2012 I received a spam email to an address i'd only ever given to Solarwinds.com.

Noting this I engaged with Solarwinds via Twitter, who, to their credit, were prompt in responding and I forwarded a full-headers version to them at their request.

Unfortunately there's been nothing further from them, and today I received yet more Spam. Similar enough I believe it to be from the same crowd.

A quick look on their Facebook page shows i'm not the only one now receiving unsolicited email to an email address that was exclusively given to Solarwinds.com only. Noone else.

So it's time to put it 'out there'. Did you receive the above? To an address disclosed to solarwinds.com ? Surely a company such as Solarwinds must realise how scandalous this sort of thing can be - or is?

Yesterday I took the first of a few days of Annual Leave, looking to spend some time with the family after a fairly chaotic few months with work and brigade committments.

Mother-in-Law still in town from Wellington, we took the kids to Ambury Park - a great experience for urban kids! - and then decided to hit Ruby Red Cafe in Mangere Bridge for a coffee/fluffy break.

My mother picked up the tab, and ordered our usual collection of Soy Fluffies (for the kids) and coffees for the rest of us, Soy as required....

Unfortunately the person behind the counter heard 'two flat whites' when mum said 'two soy fluffies'.
So when two unwanted coffees (that our kids could hardly drink!) turned up and we refused them, there were apologies and the correct order did arrive fairly promptly.

Sadly though, no refund was coming. Although the waitress had offered one, by the time it came to it, the guy behind the counter refused, saying he made what we ordered.

Mum being mum, she wasn't interested in the conflict.... but for me it's simple; as a retailer you take the hit and offer the refund in the interests of return business. I know we won't be going to Ruby Red again - what's it cost them in loss of business?

(Mum learnt a lesson too; get a read-back of the order and question when the charge looks too high!)

Too much spam, not enough good stuff. Until I get around to updating my Captcha engine i've turned off anonymous comments. Sorry...

BlakJak.net returns after being down since last evening. Looks like something ran amuck and used up all my memory. Will be monitoring the situation more closely... !

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