The Heartbleed Bug – Start Patching Now!

heartbleedThere is a new vulnerability out there in OpenSSL called The Heartbleed Bug, and it’s a doozy. Imagine someone compromising your network, or SSL protected website or service, stealing your private and thought secure information – all without leaving a trace that they had even been there! This is one vulnerability that is really bad, and if you have any systems that might be affected you should start updating them right away! Read more about The Heartbleed Bug here.

Blizzard Hearthstone Blank Screen Not Responding FIX

If you are trying to play Hearthstone, now in open BETA, and are having a problem where as soon as you hit the Play button the screen or window goes dark and the process in the task manager says it’s “Not Responding”, I may have a fix for you.

I had this very same problem and after no help from the forums or tech support, I figured it out myself. Really it was just basic troubleshooting. Getting to the part that helped me with the problem, I disabled my firewall and associated agents (I am running Avast Internet Security, one of the best), the game suddenly ran fine! Imagine that. That meant that the problem was with my firewall. Sure enough, I re-enabled everything and the game stopped working, went right back to the blank screen.

So, here is where the fix comes in. Even if you aren’t running Avast, this could be your problem regardless of what brand of firewall you are running. Check out what I found and see if you have the same problem with your firewall.

I went into the settings and in the application specific rules section, where firewall rules are associated with specific executable programs, I found rules for the Blizzard Agent, the Updater and many more, even the Hearthstone Setup executable. What I did not find was any rule for the Hearthstone game app at all! They had rules for everything but the game itself! So, I simply added a rule for the Hearthstone executable itself

C:\Program Files(x86)\Heartstone\Hearthstone.exe on my system

and then all went well after that, the game ran fine. The whole problem was that the game executable could not talk through the firewall. Once that was enabled, everyone was happy, including me! I hope that helps you with your problem.

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

Command Line Encryption And Decryption Of Files Made Easy!

Encryption iconHey folks, here’s a fun little tidbit for you. Did you know that you can easily and quickly encrypt and decrypt files using one tiny little command on your super cool Linux or UNIX (Yes, OSX counts) and even Windows command line? For those that haven’t yet heard of it, it’s a command called ‘ccrypt‘. Check it out …

First we need to install ccrypt on on your system. For Debian and Ubuntu (which is based on Debian), you can simply use the apt package manager to do this. Remember that you can use the -s flag to test or simulate the install before you actually go through with it in order to make sure there are no surprises waiting for you. Logged in as your un-privileged account, the command would look like this:

sudo apt-get -s install ccrypt

Assuming everything went off as planned, you could then run the real thing:

sudo apt-get install ccrypt

For Redhat (CentOS, and others based on Redhat), they have RPM packages available for download. Along with those they have Debian, Solaris (SPARC and i386), OS/2, SuSE, OpenBSD, and FreeBSD packages as well as pre-compiled binaries for lots of platforms and OS’s, so go crazy people!!

OK, now that you have the package installed, you can have some fun whiling away the afternoon encrypting and decrypting files like mad!

To encrypt a file, run this command:

ccrypt file_name

It’s just that easy.

Naturally, you would replace ‘file_name’ with your real file information. You will be asked to enter a key or password two times. Once complete, the encrypted file will have an extension of ‘.cpt’, and the original un-encrypted file will be replaced by the encrypted file.

To decrypt the file, run the same command the same way and simply add the -d flag.

ccrypt -d file_name

You will be asked for the encryption key or password that you gave it when you encrypted it in the first place, so don’t lose it! As always you can use the ‘–help’ flag or hit up the man pages for more detailed information. Hope you enjoy it!

**ALERT**
**Danger, Will Robinson!**
Cheesy I know, but I hope it’s working. One more time – please note that when you run the command to encrypt a file, the original source file, the un-encrypted file gets replaced by the newly encrypted file. So if you are simply making an encrypted copy for example, the original is gone. If you lose or forget the encryption key or password you will be out of luck. I’m sure it can be cracked by someone, but boy that would be a pain in the arse! So, keep that in mind when you encrypt a file, the file you are encrypting goes bye, bye! It works the same way when un-encrypting, but that’s not as potentially dangerous.

Cool Tools – Take Command: The Best Tool For Command Line Warriors

TCC_screenshot2-bigOK gang, this is a nice one that I have to share with you. If you are a command line junkie like me and are stuck not only in a Windows GUI infested world, but in a world where the Linux distro’s seems to be more and more inclined to head that way too, you might just love this tool. Now, this is Windows only but may run on WINE as well, I haven’t tried it yet but I will do that and report back later.

Anyway, the software is called Take Command, and the beauty of it is that it allows you to run a very sweet console window that is built in, with all kinds of built in variable and functions that makes this thing seem kinda like bash for Windows on crack or something. However, even better is that you can run other console windows of your choosing, right along side the original one all in a nice tabbed interface! What does that mean exactly? You may be asking. Well, check this out: all in one interface I myself have the standard Windows Command Prompt, a BASH shell from Git, a Windows Powershell window, a CYGWIN window, and the customized TCC prompt!!! And I can add more, up to 25 console windows! You just point to the executable to run in that console and away you go, it’s awesome. Now I don’t have to have a bunch of separate windows open, I just have one, that re-sizable, adds copy and paste, and more! One more thing, the way that this software hosts the command console executables (think cmd.exe), it runs it way faster than when running natively! The I/O is awesome! I’m not sure what kind of voodoo the author came up with to make Windows faster but I don’t care, I dig it!

Take Command Screenshot

Click to watch the video

For even more goodness, I mentioned earlier that the app adds more commands (140) and more functions and variables (450) and literally thousands of additional features to the Windows Command Prompt. So, if you are a Windows admin, this tool will really shine for you with their advanced bath file and scripting capabilities, additional features, speed and more. I highly encourage you to watch this video here on the left, it’s short but gives you a quick rundown of the high points of this software. It can do so much and has so much in it, I cannot possible talk about it all.

Now for the bad side, and that is that the tool is expensive, it’s not cheap. We are talking about $99.95 for a license, which isn’t the end of the world but it can be a lot for a sysadmin’s budget. However, it is worth it, and further more, if you are patient, you can find a good deal on it at Bits du Jour. If my memory serves me correctly, I think got my copy for about half price. All in all though, like I said, if you are a command like junkie or warrior, this tool will not only save you time and effort, it will look way cool in your kit too! I use this tool every day and I love it.

One last this, this little gem of a tool will be listed along with all of the other Cool Tools in the list, so when you are done checking this tool out, why don’t you go see the list and check out the rest of the Cool Tools!

*As usual, I want to remind everyone that I am not affiliated with jpsoftware in any way and I get nothing from recommending this or if you buy it, I am telling you about this because I like it, and I think it will be beneficial to other IT warriors out there like me!

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!