Posted by Brian @ 6:45 pm on January 22nd 2011

Unexpected sight on the road

Driving in heavy rain the other day I did a double take as I saw this emerge from the mist.

Posted by Brian @ 11:23 pm on January 6th 2011

How to make Firefox stop asking if you want to open a .zip file and always save

This message in Firefox used to pop up every time I clicked on a zip file.

You have chosen to open
foobarbaz.zip
Which is a: BIN file

Firefox 3.x, for whatever reason, greyed out the option for me to tell it not to keep asking me if I wanted to unzip the file, and I’d have to click the “save to file” option every time.

Tired of trying to figure out how to ungrey the greyed-out button, I looked for another solution. I found one in /etc/mime.types, which Firefox, among other things, uses to determine what to do with a file.

sudo vi /etc/mime.types
look for this line:
application/zip zip
change it to:
#application/zip zip

You don’t even need to restart Firefox. Firefox will now just prompt you to save the zip file /only/.

Posted by Brian @ 9:01 pm on December 31st 2010

Gamemastering book finally complete

Five years, untold drafts, and 330 pages later I finally pressed the publish button on Amazon today for Gamemastering. I was an inch away from publishing it in 2009 but decided to spend more time polishing it.

I’ve got the website for the book all built out and I’m just waiting on the Amazon page to go live before I release the PDF to Creative Commons. From here on out all my blogging for the book will be kept on the official book site.

I have to say this really puts the cherry on top of a great 2010 for me.

Posted by Brian @ 12:46 pm on December 21st 2010

Fix the “Using fallback suid method” error message on Busybox (NSLU2)

When you ssh into a fresh SlugOSBE install on an NSLU2 device (or maybe anything running Busybox), an annoying error keeps popping up: “Using fallback suid method”

The simple fix to this is, as root:
touch /etc/busybox.conf

That’s it.

Posted by Brian @ 11:50 pm on December 4th 2010

How to configure WordPress for automatic ftps updates using vsftp in Ubuntu

This is a complete guide for setting up WordPress to do secure ftps updates under Ubuntu, tested under Ubuntu 10.10. I assume you have a working WordPress installation and sudo access on the server. If you have any ideas for improving the security of this, please let me know and I’ll update the guide.

Install the vsftp server software:
sudo apt-get install vsftpd

Edit the configuration file for vsftpd to enable ftps:
sudo vi /etc/vsftpd.conf
The following is my entire vsftp.conf file; I shut down anonymous access and even changed the port that vsftpd listens on to throw off low-level script attacks. I stripped out all the nice comments in the file to make this howto a bit more readable. If you paste this in be sure to delete everything else or make sure there aren’t any duplications:
listen=YES
anonymous_enable=NO
local_enable=YES
write_enable=YES
local_umask=022
dirmessage_enable=YES
use_localtime=YES
xferlog_enable=YES
secure_chroot_dir=/var/run/vsftpd/empty
pam_service_name=vsftpd
rsa_cert_file=/etc/ssl/certs/ssl-cert-snakeoil.pem
rsa_private_key_file=/etc/ssl/private/ssl-cert-snakeoil.key
ssl_enable=YES
allow_anon_ssl=NO
force_local_data_ssl=YES
force_local_logins_ssl=YES
ssl_tlsv1=YES
ssl_sslv2=NO
ssl_sslv3=NO
anon_world_readable_only=NO
anon_upload_enable=NO
anon_mkdir_write_enable=NO
connect_from_port_20=NO
listen_port=2112

Now start the vsftp server:
sudo start vsftpd

Add a bit of code to the wp-config file to enable uploads:
sudo vi /var/www/wp-config.php
Add the following code to the end:
if(is_admin()) {
add_filter('filesystem_method', create_function('$a', 'return "direct";' ));
define( 'FS_CHMOD_DIR', 0751 );
}

Now create the ftps user, making their default directory our web directory:
sudo adduser ftps --home /var/www
NOTE: Don’t worry about the warning about the home directory and give the ftps user a good, solid password. Use nonsense words, spaces, and characters like %,$,#. Store the password somewhere safe as you’ll be using this user and password to update WordPress.

Add the ftps user to the www-data group:
sudo vi /etc/group
In that file look for this line:
www-data:x:33:
and add the ftps user to the group by adding ‘ftps’ to the end of that line:
www-data:x:33:ftps

Change the www directory and all files in it to be owned by the www-data group
sudo chgrp -R www-data /var/www

Make the www directory writable by the www-data group
sudo chmod -R g+w /var/www

You can now do updates automatically. Host is the name of your website, plus the following “:2112” – so if your website was foobar.com, you’d do this:
foobar.com:2112
Username is “ftps” and the password is what you chose earlier. Be sure to select “ftps” as the option. Enjoy!

Posted by Brian @ 2:44 pm on March 19th 2010

Fixing the Lyx document class unusable error in Ubuntu

I got this error in Lyx working on a book project:
The layout file requested by this document,
mwbk.layout,
is not usable. This is probably because a LaTeX
class or style file required by it is not
available. See the Customization documentation
for more information.
LyX will not be able to produce output.

If you get this, you’re missing a single package. Fix it with:
sudo apt-get install tetex-extra

Edited 11/12/2010
The above solution only works for Ubuntu 10.04 and older. For 10.10 (Maverick) do this:
sudo apt-get install texlive-lang-polish

I also had to go to Tools -> Reconfigure after the package installed.

Posted by Brian @ 11:51 pm on January 30th 2010

Sit-down Spy Hunter high score

According to this I just beat the 9th highest score ever officially recorded on Spy Hunter. I hadn’t played in months but I got this score on the first run on the sit down Spy Hunter we have in the office. One of these days I’ll hook up a video camera and make a legit attempt. Ryan’s the old owner and holder of the #7 spot.

Brian's spy hunter high score

Posted by Brian @ 8:55 am on December 10th 2009

Elevator art

Saw this great elevator art at the building Chime software is located in.

Posted by Brian @ 7:51 am on December 5th 2009

Warning sticker on flying toy

this toy is specifically built to crash – but if you do the sticker says the toy will break! Which is right? (seen@ Fry’s electronics)

Posted by Brian @ 11:10 pm on November 13th 2009

Jack-o-lantern with leaf for a tongue

A leaf fell from our walnut tree and stuck in this Jack-o-lantern’s mouth giving it the appearance of a tongue. Completely random and wonderful at the same time.

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