Entries Tagged as 'Tips and Tricks'

Tips and Tricks: How to Turn Off Google Buzz

Google came out with their social network tool called Google Buzz just a day or so ago.

While it’s actually a fascinating tool and definitely could give Facebook and Twitter a run for their money, it really is a little too noisy for me. Mainly because of the integration with Gmail. When I logged in, I expect to see my emails since I have to respond to many of them and they’re usually something important even though they’re of personal nature. But with Buzz, it’s really just a noise floor to keep up with what’s going on in the world. I usually have another tab open for those types of things so I don’t have to pay attention to them unless I want to pay attention.

In any case, this isn’t a well-known thing so to turn off Google Buzz:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the Gmail screen
  • Click “turn off buzz” in the footer.

And that’s it. It’s pretty easy and straight forward, although you’d never think to do it in the footer since there’s a Settings tab for your account. In any case, there have been some other friends that have been seeking this information since it got too noisy in their lives too so obviously it’s not just a personal occurrence. Either way, if you’re looking to turn off Buzz, there ya go.

Tips and Tricks: Fixing Your Bank of America SafePass

If you do a lot of online banking and you happen to use Bank of America, you probably have SafePass activated.

Unfortunately for you, there isn’t a very published method on how to fix your SafePass and gain entry back into your online banking if you have recently switched cellular carriers but have kept the same number. If you’ve changed numbers completely, you’ll have to call customer service to deactivate your old number and sign up your new one. But with an existing number that has been ported from another carrier? Seems like you’re up a creek since the SafePass won’t send to the phone.

What you do is, you take the mobile, and text to: 73981. In the body of the text, just text “help” without the quotes and hit send.

Then you wait about 24 hours because their systems don’t update but once a day I suppose. In any case, if you come back and try your SafePass again, it seems to actually work. Now, there apparently has been this issue on and off with iPhones and the like, but with my Droid, that seemed to do the trick in changing out the carriers.

Tips and Tricks: Ninite Makes Installing Easy


As a system administrator, have you ever gone through the annoyance of having to fresh install every single application and have hell trying to download each and every latest versioning? With Ninite, you won’t have to do that anymore.

Free for personal use, this creates a special installer that grabs all of the latest and greatest versions of the applications that you check on their website, and it’ll create a special installer for those. Basically allowing you the freedom of one-stop-shopping for the applications. While this isn’t perfect since there are always things out there that you need that might be special case, this does provide a solution as an in-between to those that install everything from scratch, and those that just start fresh from a cloned image.

This works on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7, and installs all of the applications on default configurations without toolbars and other extraneous things. Definitely worthwhile to take a look at for your one click install needs.

Tips and Tricks: Testing SPF Record For Your Domain

If you have set up your SPF (Sender Policy Framework) record but you haven’t tested it, then here’s an easy method of checking if it works. Send off an email to:

[email protected]

If you get a response where it says that it has passed, then you’re good to go. Otherwise, you’ll have to do some more testing to see why it’s not working. OpenSPF is a great place to start as far as finding the right tools and how to do setups for SPF records.

Tips and Tricks: Google Apps SPF Record With GoDaddy

Annoyingly, email from Google Apps will fail to some recipients if you do not set up the SPF (Send Policy Framework) record for your domain. And while Google Apps tells you how to do it with a TXT record, the way GoDaddy does it is a little bit different:

  • Go to Total DNS Control Panel.
  • Under the TXT section: click Add SPF Record.
  • Select An ISP or other mail provider: click OK.
  • Select Outsourced tab: put “aspmx.googlemail.com” (no quotes) in the field and click OK.
  • Click OK again when GoDaddy sets up a SPF record.

And then you can wait a little bit for that to propagate to all of the DNS servers. Once that’s done? You’ll have your SPF Record set.

Tips and Tricks: TwitBlock

twitblock Ever wonder how to get rid of the spammers on Twitter? TwitBlock is a great way to find the ones that have followed you and whether or not they could be the same spammers.

Using a special algorithm, it calculates out whether or not a person is potentially a spammer and gives them a score. Based on whether or not TwitBlock users have marked the user as a spammer, the effect of the scoring goes up or down. It’s actually a pretty interesting method since most of the ways of detection are common sense things.

I would probably say that most people that have more than a thousand followers probably have quite a few bots and such on there, but at least there’s a way to somewhat detect these now instead of going through your followers one by one.

If you’re curious about it, definitely run this every so often on your account. It uses OAUTH so you actually never give it your password and such which is a great thing from a security standpoint of a third party application. Give it a whirl.

Tips and Tricks: How to Enable Mail on Dreamhost PS

If you have never signed up for a Dreamhost hosting account (use promo code: LUX00001), perhaps its time you tried their services out such as their Dreamhost PS. The Private Servers are a cost on top of your current shared hosting bill based on usage of cpu and memory. It’s still not bad when you consider it’s dedicated for your use only.

Here is one part of it that’s bad though. On the Dreamhost PS, if you have any sort of web services that you usually run, the mail doesn’t send. Ever.

Which is surprising when you’re coming off shared hosting that has everything configured for you to just go nuts with. Never fear though. There are several ways to get around it, and this is just one of them.

  1. Create a root user: you need one of these to use sudo to install packages on your PS.
  2. sudo apt-get install postfix postfix-pcre
  3. dpkg-reconfigure postfix

And that’s it. You could have a lot of mail there already and you can flush the queue and send it all by using the command postqueue -f. Otherwise, mail should start working and you’ll breath a sigh of relief knowing that it finally actually works. Again.

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Tips & Tricks: Adobe Air installation for Linux

air_icon_special If you’re going to install Adobe Air on linux, you have to really do 4 things to get it done. I performed this on Ubuntu 9.04, but these commands are basic for any distribution as long as you have wget and sudo. If you don’t have them, then you’ll have to add them first or get the binary via your browser and install it through your root user:

  1. Open a Terminal
  2. wget http://airdownload.adobe.com/air/lin/download/1.5/AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
  3. chmod +x AdobeAIRInstaller.bin
  4. sudo ./AdobeAIRInstaller.bin

That should actually get Adobe Air installed on any sort of linux distribution as long as you have wget and sudo installed. I haven’t really looked at the memory issue on the linux side, but Adobe Air does have some memory leaking issues on Windows and MacOSX so I assume that it’s not too different here. Regardless, there are a lot of social networking tools that are now using Adobe Air as their platform and it’s useful to know how to get it up in your favorite linux distribution.

Tips and Tricks: Dedicated Server Wipe Commands

Most of the time when you have a dedicated server, you could be colocation or you could have a managed server. Unfortunately, if you own the equipment or buy used equipment, there could a chance that there is proprietary data that could do damage to your company if you left it on there without properly disposing of it. One of the easiest ways to wipe a drive remotely on a *nix based system though is with the command shred.

If you have a console or terminal connection, then you can issue:

shred -f -z -v -u /dev/sda

This will basically wipe a drive instead of doing your normal deletions where the data could possibly be recovered. The shred command is covered more in depth but in essence it overwrites the deleted sectors with other data which essentially destroys the deleted sectors. Probably a good idea for any system administrator that is maintaining servers remotely with no way to access them the drives themselves physically.

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Bandwidth Monitoring If Time Warner Succeeds

Picture of my backlit G15 LCD Panal, taken at ...

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With the recent news from Time Warner Cable, Greensboro residents are up in arms about being a test site for tiered Internet services. Believe me when I say there’s a movement out there.
Don’t believe me? Take a look. Stop Time Warner Cable is already up garnering in over 1000+ diggs at the time of writing. It seems that the unfair practice has actually been sent in as complaints to the NY Attorney General as harboring anti-competitive means.
But just in case none of the complaints by these irate customers work and you’re one of the few people that just like to be bludgeoned by corporations that don’t care what you have to say? I recommend you implement this in your daily lives immediately.
I personally wouldn’t trust a corporation that tags you with a 40G high limit. Sorry, TWC, but you ruined any hope that you had any inkling of technical knowledge there by implementing something that some finance person probably put into place. And so if they tell you how much bandwidth you’re using, I would corroborate the story with something that runs on your system itself.
I recommend using some open source bandwidth monitoring like FreeMeter. This basically sits in your tray and you can monitor how much you use up and down and have something to show for it in case you have to go complain to customer service that their network is tracking something outside of what you use.
SurplusMeter is another open source goody that allows you to track your monthly usage by volume and can give you all sorts of useful statistics.
Do I really have to go over this, if you run a linux box? There are plenty of bandwidth monitors out there and most of them sit on the desktop along with monitoring your cpu/memory/etc.
In any case, good luck with this if you need to track it. Even with the three month grace period, you know that there will always be some issues that will stem from this tiered internet fiasco that grew from some bean counter’s mind (probably doesn’t use the Internet either to implement the 40G limit).

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