Entries Tagged as 'Tips and Tricks'

Tips and Tricks: Cisco ‘Type escape sequence to abort.’

In the Cisco routers, whenever you initialize a traceroute or some other command that does a repetitive task, you’ll be notified at the beginning of the sequence of events with: “Type escape sequence to abort.”

Unfortunately, Cisco actually fails to mention what this escape sequence is in their message. So, the sequence is:
CTRL-SHIFT-6, twice.

Push all three keys together simultaneously, twice in succession. Crazy isn’t it. Gotta love Cisco sometimes.

Error -18 Fix for Android

I’m not definite that this is the end all be all solution for this, but with the new Market push came some issues that happened on my Droid.

It didn’t happen all right at once, so I assume it was some new SDK updates.  In any case, several of my apps wouldn’t update and would give a “general error -18” whenever they did try to update.

Annoyed, I went to the web for an answer but couldn’t find one.  People ran into the issue but no one had a solution.  Which baffled me.   Then I woke up from a tiring night of work and it hit me.  All the apps that were having an issue were on my SD card.

Could it be as simple as that?  So I moved the apps back onto the phone, hit update and voila!  No error.

So the error happens when the app is partially on the SD card.  To work around it, you have to move it back onto the phone and update.

Definitely something that Google needs to fix on Android but it’s good to finally have all my apps updated.

Tips and Tricks: WordPress Fix For Directory Creation and Updates

So I ran into an issue with one of my sites not being able to upgrade WordPress except for via manual ssh. And that’s extremely annoying. It was the only one that was on a VPS, so I was curious why the VPS was set up so differently than most of the other shared accounts on the same host.

Here’s the reasoning. The difference is whether or not your Apache is running DSO, or SuPHP.

The Apache HTTP Server is a modular program where the administrator can choose the functionality to include in the server by selecting a set of modules. The modules can be statically compiled into the httpd binary when the server is built. Alternatively, modules can be compiled as Dynamic Shared Objects (DSOs) that exist separately from the main httpd binary file. DSO modules may be compiled at the time the server is built, or they may be compiled and added at a later time using the Apache Extension Tool (apxs).

suPHP is a tool for executing PHP scripts with the permissions of their owners. It consists of an Apache module (mod_suphp) and a setuid root binary (suphp) that is called by the Apache module to change the uid of the process executing the PHP interpreter.

So how do you fix it? Are you getting the WordPress error that refuses to create directories in plugins and upgrade? Having issues where the whole chmod 777 solution (which btw, is a completely stupid solution since it opens you up to all sorts of bad things) isn’t working?

I finally ran across this fix, where for SuPHP configurations, all you have to do is edit your wp-config.php and add:

putenv('TMPDIR=' . ini_get('upload_tmp_dir'));
define('FS_CHMOD_DIR', (0755 & ~ umask()));
define('FS_CHMOD_FILE', (0644 & ~ umask()));

This will fix the entire issue because it basically defines your environment and forces the masking to be correct. Ahhh.. phew. Another fix.

Ten Tips to Refinancing in North Carolina

low rates

I have to say that refinancing in North Carolina isn’t fun, nor is it a ball of awesome. I mean, in all honesty, we had to do all of the research ourselves because frankly no one wanted to tell you about the fees and hidden costs that you’ll probably pay if you don’t be careful. Here’s a few things to keep in mind of to take out of the closing costs of a refinance.

  1. Mortgage Insurance. You only need this if you’re getting a second mortgage and if you don’t have home owner’s insurance. This stuff stings because you have to remember to cancel it even if you’re done with the second mortgage. If you don’t need this, get rid of it.
  2. In North Carolina, there is a origination fee. This is usually 1% of whatever your loan is although there could be a little extra called an “underwriting” fee. This is normal, but it’s also pure profit for creating the loan for you. In other states, this actually goes away these days, especially on jumbo loans, but in this state, it does not (at least not to my knowledge).
  3. Put everything in writing. If they’re going to waive something, that should go into the good faith estimate. Also, from experience, attorneys fees range somewhere around $500USD mark.
  4. Title insurance is a re-issue of your previous title. Don’t buy a new one since that’s a waste of money. Titles are the same everywhere nationally and it usually costs you something like $2 per $1000 on loan. This is for the lender so if they’re trying to get you for a lot more, get your own title from any title insurance company. You could try Chicago Title Insurance Company, whom is one of the major three vendors nationally.
  5. Don’t get suckered into a prepayment penalty loan. These loans will basically mean that you have to pay the entire interest amount off regardless of how early you pay off your debt. You don’t want a penalty for prepayment which basically means that the moment you pay off your principal, you’re home free for interest payments.
  6. Did you know that you can get waivers for appraisal fees and such? This all depends on how much you’re shopping out your loan and how large it is. The more money that’s at stake, the more there are negotiations on closing costs. Everything is up for grabs since the banks want to do the loan, especially if you have a spectacular FICO score.
  7. Don’t roll your closing costs into the loan. That’s plain silly. It might seem like you’re not paying a dime, but in reality, you’re not only borrowing the money of the closing cost, but you’re also paying interest on it. More payment to seem hassle free? I don’t think so.
  8. Home owner’s insurance. You shouldn’t have to pay this if you already have a home owner’s policy. I don’t know for sure on this, but I’m pretty sure it can be thrown out of the closing costs.
  9. Regardless of whether or not your house is in a flood plain, you have to pay for the flood certification. Runs somewhere around $15-25 depending on the home.
  10. If you don’t know how much your house is worth before you start down this path for refinance, check a real estate site like ZIllow. While this isn’t an exact science and there’s not guarantee that the appraiser will value your house close to this price, it’s a number to work with and it seems that banks also use sites like these for their beginning estimations. This will give you an idea on whether or not it’s even worth pursuing the refinance in the first place. On top of this… sometimes it’s not worth getting into a refinance situation if you’ve already paid off a significant chunk of your principal since regardless of the rate, you’re basically getting into another loan from the beginning. The money spent and time has to be accounted for in a refinance.

In the real estate industry, many of these fees are termed as “junk fees”. They’re basically fees that are tagged onto loans to make it seem legitimate but are actual pure profit for the loan generation. Think of it like the certain types of regulatory fees that you sometimes see on utilities or cell phone bills where it’s not tied to any actual law but is made to sound official so that they can collect a little bit more money.

What’s interesting here is that a lot of people lower their rates without understanding what sort of savings you’ll need to save. If the closing fees are $3600, and you’re saving $100/month in mortgage payments by lowering the rate, then this means that each year, you’ll be saving $1200. This means that just to break even on getting the lower rate, you’ll have to hold onto that home for another three years. Is that in your plan? Perhaps. But you need to figure all of this out and believe me when I say that most real estate people that are involved in your loan will probably not go out of their way to tell you about those types of things. In their best interest of course.

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Tips and Tricks: Upgrading to Ubuntu 10.10 Wireless Fix

So I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.10 today on my HP Mini 210. What was interesting is that the fixes to the touchpad (like two finger scrolling) were wiped out and doesn’t work. Oh well. But initially, there was something else that annoyed the hell out of me.

The wireless didn’t work on the reboot. Everything boots up, and you find out that there is no wireless. Not that the driver doesn’t load, or anything, but your wireless is disabled.

If you go and look at /var/lib/NetworkManager/NetworkManager.state , you’ll find that the wireless was enabled = false.

So you figure, change it to true, reboot, and you’re golden, right?


You have to run this command as root: rfkill unblock all

This will actually get rid of any blocking on the wireless network. For whatever reason, in the update to Ubuntu 10.10, there is a rfkill block command that isn’t taken off after the upgrade. This is also a newer utility so you’d never actually realize it until you found that you couldn’t do anything to take that wireless block off. Now if only they’d fix those touchpad issues for Synaptic touchpads instead of toying with the driver for Apple’s Magic Trackpad.

Tips and Tricks: Hard Reset of your Motorola Droid

Unfortunately, this is something that sometimes needs to be done with a phone. Fortunately, outside of your applications, contact information can be synced from your Google account and such, so restoration isn’t as terrible as you may think.

For me, it was the official Twitter application that hosed my phone up. When you have a lot of contacts, my suggestion is that you do not sync your Twitter contact information. Since it doesn’t ask where to store the information, it stores it directly on the phone memory which will fill up and basically leave you with an always syncing phone.

To hard rest your Motorola Droid:

  1. Turn the Droid off.
  2. Open the keyboard.
  3. Hold the X key and hit the power button. Keep holding the X button down until a yellow triangle appears on the screen.
  4. Press the camera and volume up buttons at the same time to get to the menu.
  5. Use the directional pad to the right of the keyboard to select the Format option.

Once you format the phone, it’ll basically set it up like it was at the store. Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the entire process of letting the system know what your ESN is and what not, since that should already be in the system. The rest is just setting the phone back up to however you had it before.

Tips and Tricks: Booting Your Droid to Safe Mode

First off, I hope that you never have to read this, since if you are, that means that something crazy has happened to your Droid and I feel for you already.

Sometimes, there are applications out there that don’t have checks and balances that really should be done when looking at the Droid. Fortunately, there is a way to boot the device into safe mode:

  1. Turn off phone.
  2. Open the keyboard.
  3. Hold down the Menu and hit the power button. Continue to hold the menu button until splash screen.

If you do these steps, you should see it boot with “Safe Mode” in the lower left hand corner. Good luck!

Tips and Tricks: Making Your Netbook Touchpad Work with Ubuntu

I recently loaded my work netbook with Ubuntu 9.10, Karmic Koala. What’s interesting is that with the HP Mini 210, the touchpad is an integrated key/touchpad. Which means you can run into some really nastiness when it comes to trying to click or right click since the mouse will move to place where you’re “pressing” for the click.


Fortunately, someone had gone through the trouble of figuring out a patch for the touchpad so that the area where there’s supposed to be clicking buttons deactivates the sensors which makes it infinitely more useful. Just follow the directions there and patch the linux source and create yourself a new patched kernel module to run that actually makes the touchpad function as it should.

Brilliance of open source, eh? Now if only they figured out how to make multi-touch scrolling and such like the Mac… and believe me. Someone is probably already working on it.

Tips and Tricks: Auto-play Powerpoint Presentations in Email

Microsoft PowerPoint
Image via Wikipedia

Recently, a friend asked me how to automatically load a Powerpoint presentation when you open an email in Outlook. While I have never tried it with any other mail program, apparently in Microsoft Windows in Outlook, if you take your Powerpoint and save it as a pps file (Powerpoint Slideshow) and attach it in the email, then whenever the recipient opens the email, Powerpoint will magically load the file.

Well, okay. It’s not magic. But still. Also, another point of reference. If you do not embed the pictures, or audio files, or even some fonts, then the recipient’s system will not play them. Another reason why I tend to stay away from Powerpoint if at all possible.

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Tips and Tricks: How to Speed Up WordPress

If there’s one thing that I despise, it’s when sites move slowly. Like they drag. And when it comes to blogging software, these usually are hella draggers. But fortunately there are a few ways to speed things up without actually giving up as much. The biggest one that you can ever focus on is caching.

Caching basically means that instead of telling the server to dynamically process something, it has a statically saved copy somewhere that it basically reads off. That shaves ticks off the seconds when you don’t have to ask the CPU to figure out what some variable is saying. And with most database driven applications, there are two methods to do this.

DB Cache: This is less well known but is actually an entirely brilliant design. Basically, it makes the assumption that you’re going to be querying your database a lot, and thus it saves those queries statically and can shave off seconds for you if you have large queries to make. This basically means that it’ll be slow the first time around, but not so much the next if you happen to repeat things a lot. Very useful in that sense.

WP Super Cache: WP-Super Cache is one of the most well-known in the WordPress community. It allows you to cache the pages themselves after the first time they’re built into static calls. This means that instead of reading directly from the database and generating the page, it creates the page the first time and doesn’t change out that copy until there’s a new one to change with. This basically allows the first person to read it to have a bit of slowness, but after that the page is already kept around.

As you can see, there are at least two different caching methods that you can implement to improve the quality and decrease the time latency. And in the web world, time latency is everything.