2007-02-17

Cygwin rxvt copy & paste

With a 3-button mouse, Cygwin rxvt acts the way it would under X. Use mouse button 1 (usually the left mouse button) to mark text. Rxvt automatically puts the marked text in the copy/paste buffer. Click mouse button 2 (the middle mouse button) to paste text at the cursor position.

My laptop has only two mouse buttons. There is no middle button, so there is no obvious way to paste in rxvt. MikeyMcKay points out that you can use Shift Mouse 1 (Shift+LeftMouseButton) to paste into rxvt. Thanks, Mikey.

More authoritatively, from the rxvt man page:

TEXT SELECTION AND INSERTION
The behaviour of text selection and insertion mechanism is similar to
xterm(1).

Selection:
Left click at the beginning of the region, drag to the end of
the region and release; Right click to extend the marked region;
Left double-click to select a word; Left triple-click to select
the entire line.

Insertion:
Pressing and releasing the Middle mouse button (or Shift-Insert)
in an rxvt window causes the current text selection to be
inserted as if it had been typed on the keyboard.

As an added bonus, Shift-Insert works in Emacs, too.

2007-02-13

Carbonite

Off-site backups are important to me. Local back ups are nice, but how would you recover your files if a thief or a fire took both your source file system and your back up? Until recently, I used rsync-over-ssh to back up my PC's files to my server, which is hosted at a friend's ISP.

Automating the backup is difficult. It is technically easy to automate the backup, but exactly when should the backup take place? rsync takes too long to scan the file system, so it's something I want to schedule when I'm not using the PC. It's a laptop, though, so it's usually powered off at night. And what if I accidentally delete a file I just created, but hasn't been backed up yet?

A friend who recently started working for Carbonite (that's an affiliate link) turned me on to their new off-site backup service for Windows. The service monitors your file system, looking for file modifications. When a file changes, Carbonite enqueues the file on its list of files to back up. Within a reasonably short amount of time, it sends each file on the list to a remote storage site.

You are allowed to backup an unlimited amount of data on one PC, and Carbonite keeps exactly one backup of each file. It would be nice if Carbonite kept versioned backups, but the price—about $4 per month if you pay for 12 months in advance—makes Carbonite a bargain for what you get.

Update 2008-01-02: See Try Mozy, get a free beverage for my current thoughts on Carbonite.

2007-02-07

Skype for Conference Calls

I use Skype every day at work. As far as I can tell, it is the best way to hold daily stand-up meetings with my remote development teams. (Voice-only stand-up meetings work pretty well. They are not as good as face to face meetings, but they are far better than IM conferences.) Skype-to-Skype calls are free, and it is trivial to initiate a conference call.
My PC is a little dated, and it doesn't perform as well as it should. My rules of thumb for getting the good quality Skype conference include:
  • Exit all unnecessary applications.
  • Keep the Task Manager running so it's easy to identify and kill run-away processes.
  • Set the Power Scheme to High System Performance.
  • Disable Carbonite (that's an affiliate link).
  • Connect a truly excellent microphone, like the one that comes built into a cheap webcam.
  • Connect a powered external speaker so everyone on the local part of the team can hear the remote people.
  • Invite people to the conference!
For a while, I had a problem with the microphone and speaker on the PC. All input from the microphone went directly to the speaker. It was annoying to have to listen to myself in my own headphones, and really annoying to listen to feedback when I used an external speaker. gerhard33628's excellent advice on a Skype forum helped me solve the problem. In Windows Volume Control, make sure the microphone is muted, and in Windows Recording Control, make sure the microphone is selected. Voila, no more feedback.
All in all, Skype is a great tool for holding conference calls with people in other countries. Still, though, sometimes I feel like my phone is too big.

2007-02-05

chkrootkit

Concerned that your server might be infected by a rootkit? Install and run chkrootkit. It's easy.

On Fedora Core, I install chkrootkit via:

$ sudo yum install chkrootkit

Running it and viewing the results is just as easy:

$ sudo chkrootkit
ROOTDIR is `/'
Checking `amd'... not found
Checking `basename'... not infected
Checking `biff'... not found
Checking `chfn'... not infected
Checking `chsh'... not infected
Checking `cron'... not infected
Checking `crontab'... not infected
Checking `date'... not infected
Checking `du'... not infected
Checking `dirname'... not infected
Checking `echo'... not infected
Checking `egrep'... not infected
Checking `env'... not infected
Checking `find'... not infected
Checking `fingerd'... not found
Checking `gpm'... not infected
Checking `grep'... not infected
Checking `hdparm'... not infected
Checking `su'... not infected
Checking `ifconfig'... not infected
Checking `inetd'... not found
Checking `inetdconf'... not found
Checking `identd'... not found
Checking `init'... not infected
Checking `killall'... not infected
Checking `ldsopreload'... not infected
Checking `login'... not infected
Checking `ls'... not infected
Checking `lsof'... not infected
Checking `mail'... not infected
Checking `mingetty'... not infected
Checking `netstat'... not infected
Checking `named'... not infected
Checking `passwd'... not infected
Checking `pidof'... not infected
Checking `pop2'... not found
Checking `pop3'... not found
Checking `ps'... not infected
Checking `pstree'... not infected
Checking `rpcinfo'... not infected
Checking `rlogind'... not found
Checking `rshd'... not found
Checking `slogin'... not infected
Checking `sendmail'... not infected
Checking `sshd'... not infected
Checking `syslogd'... not infected
Checking `tar'... not infected
Checking `tcpd'... not infected
Checking `tcpdump'... not infected
Checking `top'... not infected
Checking `telnetd'... not found
Checking `timed'... not found
Checking `traceroute'... not infected
Checking `vdir'... not infected
Checking `w'... not infected
Checking `write'... not infected
Checking `aliens'... no suspect files
Searching for sniffer's logs, it may take a while... nothing found
Searching for HiDrootkit's default dir... nothing found
Searching for t0rn's default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for t0rn's v8 defaults... nothing found
Searching for Lion Worm default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for RSHA's default files and dir... nothing found
Searching for RH-Sharpe's default files... nothing found
Searching for Ambient's rootkit (ark) default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for suspicious files and dirs, it may take a while... nothing found
Searching for LPD Worm files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for Ramen Worm files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for Maniac files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for RK17 files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for Ducoci rootkit... nothing found
Searching for Adore Worm... nothing found
Searching for ShitC Worm... nothing found
Searching for Omega Worm... nothing found
Searching for Sadmind/IIS Worm... nothing found
Searching for MonKit... nothing found
Searching for Showtee... nothing found
Searching for OpticKit... nothing found
Searching for T.R.K... nothing found
Searching for Mithra... nothing found
Searching for OBSD rk v1... nothing found
Searching for LOC rootkit... nothing found
Searching for Romanian rootkit... nothing found
Searching for HKRK rootkit... nothing found
Searching for Suckit rootkit... nothing found
Searching for Volc rootkit... nothing found
Searching for Gold2 rootkit... nothing found
Searching for TC2 Worm default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for Anonoying rootkit default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for ZK rootkit default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for ShKit rootkit default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for AjaKit rootkit default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for zaRwT rootkit default files and dirs... nothing found
Searching for Madalin rootkit default files... nothing found
Searching for Fu rootkit default files... nothing found
Searching for ESRK rootkit default files... nothing found
Searching for rootedoor... nothing found
Searching for ENYELKM rootkit default files... nothing found
Searching for anomalies in shell history files... nothing found
Checking `asp'... not infected
Checking `bindshell'... not infected
Checking `lkm'... chkproc: nothing detected
Checking `rexedcs'... not found
Checking `sniffer'... eth0: not promisc and no PF_PACKET sockets
Checking `w55808'... not infected
Checking `wted'... chkwtmp: nothing deleted
Checking `scalper'... not infected
Checking `slapper'... not infected
Checking `z2'... chklastlog: nothing deleted
Checking `chkutmp'... chkutmp: nothing deleted

2007-02-03

Rubik's Cube

When I was about 12 years old, someone gave me a Rubik's Cube as a gift. I couldn't invent my own solution, but I had a how-to booklet. I was really good at memorizing the algorithms, recognizing the patterns to which to apply each algorithm, and applying the algorithms to the cube. I could solve any scrambled cube in about 25 seconds.

Jake received a cube for Christmas. I could solve the first layer easily, and the second layer eventually, but I couldn't solve the third layer. There are many sites offering how-to guides for solving Rubik's Cube. Jasmine Lee's Beginner Solution to the Rubik's Cube is very similar to the method I used to know. I haven't rememorized the patterns and algorithms, but, with her help, I can solve the Rubik's Cube again. I won't be breaking any records any time soon, but it's nice to have it solved again.

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