December 2011

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What a Year

2011 was an unusual year where I live in Christchurch with two strong earthquakes that followed the quake on Sep 4th 2010.
We were lucky that the Sep 4th quake happened early in the morning where Christchurch escaped any loss of life being so early in the morning.
Feb 22nd happened at the worst possible time, this time resulting in the loss of life, where some people I knew lost their lives which brought the reality closer to home.

My family live on the Eastern suburbs, near the heart of the quake, which for a time was a scary time as the phones were out and the roads were difficult to negotiate.
With no power, water, electricity where my family lived our household population increased rapidly for a period of 4 weeks until some sense of normality was restored for us and my family.

Life during those four weeks involved many trips to rescue items from my mothers house which was destroyed in the quake, which still remains in the 'white zone' as yet to be clasiified.

Power of the Quake
(as you can see from the photo above the house was thrown up then smashed down)

They say over 8000 quakes whatever the number for many people in Christchurch this created a stress factor we could all do without.

You know your from Christchurch when...

» Geonet or ChristchurchQuakeMap is your homepage.

»The rest of the country offers you a place to stay.

»Munted and buggered are official technical terms.

»You go "pfffff" when Wellington has a 4.5 earthquake that's 40km deep.

»You see a nice park in another city and think it would make a good evacuation point.

»You sleep in one suburb, shower in another and collect water from yet another.

»You drive on the right side of the road and no-one thinks it's wrong.

»You are happy two police officers came to visit.

»Your bike becomes your best friend.


Computers and Backups

I have many computers at home for the work I am involved with.
At first I thought I was lucky, but some months after the EQC claim period had ended I was faced with two hard disk failures on my development computers, then I lost two of my USB backup drives, all within a period of two weeks.
Backups like Earthquakes and the good old Kiwi Attitude 'She'll be right' doesn't cut the mustard when something goes wrong.
The cost of 1GB USB drives is so cheap that you can't afford to be without one.

Luckily I have three backup drives plus data synched to my laptop which meant no loss of data, except the pain of reinstalling my development servers, meant a lot of downtime.
Don't worry this has nothing to do with the live server only my local development equipment.
Earthquake related? could be, combined with many power failures, despite the fact of having a UPS or just bad luck.
This brings me to the point of backups - If you don't have a USB backup device go and shout yourself one for Christmas and for those critical files consider cloud storage using Free software like Sugar Synch.


For myself I use a paid app called Synch Back Pro (there is a Free Version) - you can check this out here.




Gadgets

My New IPAD

I now have an IPAD which I used to write this newsletter using a great utility called Evernote.



http://www.evernote.com/
The link above explains what this application does and why you need this.
Evernote is a 'Cloud Application' which stores data on remote server as well as your local hard disk drive.
Depending on your settings a synch is made to the cloud storage then all other computers running the application are updated.
So what you may think but if you are like me having multiple computers this utility is brilliant.
Evernote runs on a PC platform, Windows, Windows mobile, IPAD, MAC and with bit of fiddling a Linux platform under Nix or Nevernote.
This means whatever I type is automatically synced to my other computers, making this task of keeping notes so much easier.

Printing from an IPAD


Shock horror what is an Airprinter - well I don't have one.
Curiosity got the better of me and it wasn't long before I found a free utility that tricked my windows network printers to be seen by ny iPad as air printers.
http://ipadhelp.com/ipad-help/how-to-enable-airprint-for-windows-and-use-any-printer/

3G or Just WIFI
I don't have a 3G IPAD as I can connect to the WIFI, plus I didn't want yet another 3G plan, as I already have a Tstick (which doesn't work with the IPAD) plus a phone with 3G Data.
After a bit of sleuthing I found this app which runs on my Windows Mobile cellphone which allows my 3G cellphone to become a WIFI hotspot, which means if I have no WIFI access I can still connect to the web from most locations from my IPAD providing there is a 3G connection.
Link to the FREE APP

Technology is great for freeing us up to become more mobile.
Well for me that is the situation. No longer do I have to be tied to an office but I now have the freedom of being away from the office but still keep in touch with what is happening.

The Server Firewall

This may sound boring but worth a read as so many of you have been caught by the Firewall when suddenly your emails stop or your site vanishes.


We use a thrid part application called CSF which combined with a LFD and Mod Security is a brilliant way of keeping the server safe.
Link to information on the Firewall http://configserver.com/cp/csf.html
OK so I am talking Geek Speak

Mod Security - http://www.modsecurity.org/

LFD = Login Failure Daemon (Daemon - process that runs in the background)
For the curious this is what the LFD does:-

To complement the ConfigServer Firewall,  the LFD daemon process runs all the time and periodically (every X seconds) scans the latest log file entries for login attempts against your server that continually fail within a short period of time. Such attempts are often called "Brute-force attacks" and the daemon process responds very quickly to such patterns and blocks offending IP's quickly.

There are three methods of protection on the server.
The CSF firewall which works in with Mod Security and an LFD daemon which constantly monitors strange activity.
This has meant a few of you have been locked out because of the firewall especially when you forget your password for CPANEL or your email A/C.
The firewall LFD daemon logs these activities and if this happens too many times it will block the IP which has been assigned by your router.

If this happens to you you need to do the following

You need ti find out your routers IP address by using this link http://www.whatsmyip.org/ and sending us the IP address or your router.



You can also check if the server is running by using this utility http://www.downforeveryoneorjustme.com/ - if your web site is down just for you then it's likely you have been blocked by the server firewall.



This is what you need to do if this happens to you

  • You need to contact us by using your ISPs email address or a gmail AC or leave us a sykpe (nz50mw) message or text/ring us.
  • If you have a router with a dynamic IP address assigned simply unplug the router, wait 15 secs then plug the router back in, which will assign a new IP address and thenn email us.
  • If you have a cellphone which can send emails use that.
This may seem a pain but it does block so many hack attempts.

New Web Hosting Plans

People are gradually being upgraded to the new plans as the need arises

Scams






.....blah blah but wait I don't have an ANZ AC.

If it sounds suspicious then your gut instinct is probably right.
If some is asking you to confirm your A/C password - then the alarm bells should ring.
If you are unsure drop me an email.

Christmas Break

From the team here at NZservers we wish you a merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
We are taking beak for a period of two weeks starting from Christmas day.

If something breaks then send me an email as where I am going there is no cellphone coverage and I will try and help out.


Regards Mike Wilkinson