Check Out Linux Mint

Linux Mint Operating SystemI have to share something with everyone now. Anybody and everybody that knows me, knows that I am a die hard UNIX and Linux fan. I made the majority of my career managing UNIX and Linux boxes, with a server to admin ratio of sometimes 100 to 1. Everyone also knows that I am a die hard Debian fan, my distro of choice for my servers and my desktops is Debian, hands down. However, that doesn’t mean that I don’t use or like other distributions, I mean every one has it’s place and purpose. I really dig Ubuntu and SuSE and I cut my teeth on Red Hat and CentOS just as an example.

That being said, the purpose of this post is to tell you about another distro that I just recently checked out called Linux Mint. I know a lot of people have found it since it is in the number one slot over at distrowatch. On the recommendation of my friend Steve, I tried it out and I have to tell you that I was absolutely blown away by it. It’s based on Ubuntu which itself based on Debian so right there is a plus in my book, it has a solid core and foundation, but that’s not what blew me away.

Continue reading

Get Your Internet IP Address Fast And Free!

Network Connection InformationJust in case you need to know your Internet facing IP address, I have setup a new page just for the purpose of showing you that information and more, right down to your longitude and latitude just in case any of you are hiding some ICBM’s in your backyard and want to reach out and touch someone! So check it out, go to http://yerip.com and see what it has to say about you, and before you say it, I know this has already been done. There are other sights on the net that show you what your IP address is, but I wanted one that wasn’t going to display ads or have any ulterior motives, just quickly and cleanly providing a good service!

Use PowerShell To Find Resource Hogs

Tools IconHere’s a quick tidbit for any and all Windows jockeys out there. Need to figure out what is chewing up all of your system resources? Need to do it quickly and easily? Have no fear, Laz and the PowerShell are here. Some of you may know this already, so let those who don’t have some air!

OK, bring up the PowerShell (*note, this is different from the DOS “like” Command Prompt and can usually be installed through Windows Update). Once the PowerShell is open, you can use the ‘ps’ command to get a list of the currently running pr0cesses, but believe you me there are a lot of them and they scroll by all unformatted and hard to read and stuff. All in all you get a bunch of info that is hard to understand!

“So, what are we doing here?” you ask. Well, this is where just like with the ‘ps’ command (and the PowerShell in and of itself too), Windows takes some inspiration from UNIX and not only adds some nifty commands to help wrangle all that information that goes scrolling by, but also the idea of “piping” commands or a more simpler analogy, a way to link commands together. Making them talk to each other, work together and share information like never before. You pipe commands together with the ‘|’ character, and it allows you to run a command and take that output and send it to the next command. You will see this in the final command we will use, take a look:

ps | sort -desc cpu | select -f 20 | ft -a;

So, let’s take a look at what this command or set of commands really, does. First off the ps command gets the current list of processes running on the machine along with certain information about each and every one of them like the ‘Process ID’, the ‘ProcessName’ and the amount of ‘CPU’ time it’s using to name just a few. We then take all of that ‘ps’ data and “pipe” or feed it into the ‘sort’ command, telling sort to … well, sort that information by the ‘CPU’ column in “Descending” order. We then take all that sorted data and use the ‘select’ command to only grab or select the top ’20’ items in the list. Last but not least, we use the ‘ft’ command to “format” the list that we have now, which has been cut down to just the top 20 processes sorted by how much of your CPU they are using starting with the most at the top of the list and then listing the top 20 going down from there.

Ultimately, you run this command just like you see it above and you will get a list of the top processes that looks like this:

PS C:\temp> ps | sort -desc cpu | select -f 20 | ft -a;

Handles NPM(K)   PM(K)   WS(K) VM(M)   CPU(s)   Id ProcessName
------- ------   -----   ----- -----   ------   -- -----------
    197     14    6700   11456    92 1,008.66 2744 AODAssist
    422     15    6272   11572    53   886.27 1112 svchost
   2398   1032  115224   10804   420   863.37 2020 AvastSvc
    827     48  253744  247248   371   641.55 1388 svchost
   1132    106   86252  118472   421   575.07 3596 explorer
    140     69   45028   49456   173   572.51 5012 Everything
    485     47   46612   69228   284   565.83 9608 explorer
   1535     90   33912   49260   433   453.93 1460 svchost
    717     52   29416   27460   124   451.45 1352 svchost
    363     43   41048   11472   176   370.32 4436 svchost
    909     63   94836  129776   726   366.38 6388 dopus
    596     54   24476   26196   248   364.06 5136 avastui
    684     44   22172   23564   241   352.66 1048 svchost
    140     13  119472  113980   183   328.48 6972 vmware-usbarbitrator64
    300     13    9940   14796    64   306.90 6516 WmiPrvSE
    346     31   35176   29280   203   302.42 4688 tlbHost
    225     24 1431016 1339160  1460   263.47 1500 stacsv64
    865     81   27488   36708   149   216.86 1420 svchost
    202     16    7300   15020    96   215.45 1744 WHSTrayApp
    110     10    7144   10368    58   200.74 3252 BitMeterCaptureService

There you go, a nice handy little list of your top offenders! If you keep a PowerShell handy, it can be a very fast way to take a quick look at what’s going on under the hood of your PC. Enjoy!

Cool Tools: Trello – Organize Anything

Trello LogoI have found one of the coolest apps ever for making lists, using a virtual whiteboard, taking and re-arranging notes, outlining and even more stuff I haven’t even figure out yet. It’s an app called ‘Trello‘ and I originally found it on my iPhone for iOS. A few days later I was sitting here at my computer wishing I had it to use on my computer too. Low and behold I went to their website and it’s a web app as well that you can use on any PC/Maz/UNIX/Linux box that has a web browser and an Internet connection! Imagine my surprise!

So, finding that I could use it on my PC and my iPhone (you can use it on Android too, BTW), I just had to share this so everyone could get the benefits of this amazing application too. Now, before you get started, just one thing to share because this irks me when I run into it most of the time, and that is that you will be asked to create an account or log in with Google. Normally, I don’t like this because I figure why do I need to create an account just to use an app, right? Then when I realized I could use it in a browser on my PC the reason became clear. That’s how I can have all of my data in both places. So, YES you can indeed work on the same set of lists, the same data, all the same stuff between your mobile device and your PC at home. Cool, huh?

I highly recommend this app and service, it’s really cool and very productive, it really does a great job of organizing my data. You can create these lists and then move the data elements around by clicking and dragging, and etc. Plus you can drill down to and within each individual element and add more data to each one. It is just amazing what it can do, and therefore what you can do with it. So go try it out … NOW!!

Check out Trello today, you will thank me!

A funny thing happened on the way to the insurance office …

Progressive Insurance DudeI am sure that everyone has seen the Progressive insurance commercials that feature the sort of grungy looking dude with a mustache and almost unkempt hair. He is the one that is always out there throwing money at people or buying gas and paying tolls or what not. It is supposedly from all of the money he has saved with GEICO err, I mean Progressive, and he is giving back. OK, you are thinking, yeah I have seen him, but what the heck does that have to do on a blog that provides technical information? Good question, let us get to that. Have you all noticed the way cool GTO from the mid to late ’60s that he is driving around? I know I have, I am a huge fan of old GTO’s but there is another reason. There is a commercial out there touting the Progressive Snap-In service, where you plug the little device you get from Progressing into your data port on your car in order for it to record statistics about your driving habits. Supposedly this is so they can lower your insurance rates. The point is that here is Mr. Progressive insurance dude, standing there with the little Snap-In device, talking about how good the service is, right next to his GTO. I am not an auto mechanic any more, but I really don’t think that GTO has a data port in it, so I want to know where the heck he plugs that thing in at?? Then again, maybe I don’t want to know! LOL

Review: Ghost In The Wires

This post is a little bit different than normal, but still applies overall to the scope that I am going for here I think.  I just finished reading a really cool book called Ghost in the Wires written by Kevin Mitnick and William L. Simon with the foreword by Steve Wozniak.  Sounds like a thrill ride already, doesn’t it?

I am sure I don’t have to tell anyone reading this blog who Kevin Mitnick is, but just in case, he’s a well known (in geek circles at least) hacker/social engineer who spent years breaking into corporate systems all over the U.S.  Some of the systems he gained access to belonged to Motorola, Sun Microsystems, Novell, and more.  By the time he was caught and arrested the final time in Raleigh, N.C., in 1995, he was the most wanted computer criminal in the United States.

This book basically tells his story from early in life up to when he got arrested in 1995.  He talks about his exploits, his hacks, the people he hacked with and what is the most entertaining, how he managed to pull off all this crazy stuff.

So, if you are looking for an informative book, as well as one that is funny and entertaining as heck as well, look no further.  The audio book is good, with a great reader, and the hard cover and kindle editions are great too.  I advise you to check one of them out, this book was great!

Check it out at Amazon now: Ghost in the Wires: My Adventures as the World’s Most Wanted Hacker … Or if you’d rather get it for your Kindle, click HERE for the Kindle version!