Monday, September 29, 2014

Presenting ideas with Mind Map

Was on the internet today and saw a long time software, Freemind. How I miss working with Mind Map.

Mind mapping was traditionally used on sheets of paper or mahjong paper to present ideas and later it was also used for teams to work together to build an idea together. The mind mapping technique I learnt was something made popular by Tony Buzan, UK. Looks like branches from a tree, but from what I have also learnt, mind mapping was around long before Buzan and appears in many forms to pictorially describe an idea. Officially, I learnt a great deal of mind mapping during the courses at SMR.

Many of the mind mapping software subscribes to Buzan way of doing things. There are 2 software that is open source software; (1) Freemind is a Java Technology based mind mapping tool that allowed users to use data interchangeably on Linux and MS Windows. (2) XMind is considered one of the more popular tool in the Internet, but it didn't really stick with me. Note taking tools such as Evernote provided even more flexibility for mind mappers as it is integrated with XMind.

Saw good reviews on Mindomo, why not try it, as its advantage is that it is available on MS Windows, Mac and Android. That is if you don't mind installing Adobe Air.

Today, there is even a mind mapping tool built into Chrome web browser.

See https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/mindmap/gdaeohpmcenmffofpikllphdhlkkocfa?utm_source=gmail

It saves the mindmap in Google Drive and I can access it pretty much any where.

Serious exploits in August and Sept 2014

These recent months have shown how the open source software model could handle (or is still handling) bugs that could be turned into an exploit of Linux servers. These are;

Shellshock (Sept 2014) - remotely take over a server.
BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29361794

Heartbleed (April 2014) - OpenSSL data could be intercepted.
BBC http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-28867113

The sheer number of Linux servers affected means that it is a serious threat and is wide spread. In Heartbleed, its patched but Shellshock is yet to have a patch to fully resolve the bug.

Interesting technical discussion on Shellshock is found at stackexchange.
https://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/157329/what-does-env-x-command-bash-do-and-why-is-it-insecure

How do you know if your shell is vulnerable? Hackernews recommends to run the following command in all the shell being used;

env X="() { :;} ; echo shellshock" /bin/sh -c "echo completed"
env X="() { :;} ; echo shellshock" `which bash` -c "echo completed"

If you see the text output "shellshock", please find a patch.

Chris, a contributor at Buzzfeed News, provided a good material on how 2 persons maintained the OpenSSL package, Steve Marquess and Stephen Henson. The commercial entity for this is known as OpenSSL Software Foundation.

Now doesn't it make you wonder who is responsible of bash shell and is it the same package for every Linux distro?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

What is FTP?

FTP or File Transfer Protocol
"... is a standard network protocol used to transfer computer files from one host to another host over a TCP-based network, such as the Internet. FTP is built on a client-server architecture and uses separate control and data connections between the client and the server."
wikipedia.org

One reason why this is being replaced by other network protocol is in its exposure of the user password in plain text for a traditional FTP server. SSH and encrypted FTP sessions have replaced almost all new implementations these days.

Which ports are used by this service?
Standard ports used are port 20 (data) and 21 (command) but this may change depending on the server's settings. On the client FTP site, free standard ports higher than number 1023  is used.



This service by the FTP Server can provide active or passive connection and sometimes both. A simplified explanation in Slacksite.org entitled "Active FTP vs. Passive FTP, a Definitive Explanation" is a good read.

Typically, on the FTP server in Passive mode will require connection to several higher standard ports and this allows larger number of connections. In Active mode, limitation on the server is to how many connections can be done over that one port 20.

How to determine if its in Passive more?
After login to FTP server, type
quote PASV

How to establish connection to an FTP server?
Use an FTP client and enter the FTP server's URL. E.g. on Linux, to connect to the FTP server ftp.myserver.com

ftp ftp.myserver.com

-end-


Friday, September 5, 2014

Microsoft's Windows Defender

It was time to uninstall the McAfee antivirus that came pre-installed with the Windows 8 laptop. Just by doing that I noticed that the bubble appear to say that I am no longer protected and to click it. This is when Windows Defender application started, which makes me wonder if its good enough to replace the previous antivirus.

Doing an update to virus and spyware definition version 1.183.1668.0 on 5th Sept 2014. Will continue to run this with Basic membership setting where this means almost anything could be sent to Microsoft.




Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Quick start to Mozilla Firefox OS 1.x

For those of you who were looking for a new smart phone, it might be good to also look at Firefox OS. This is being developed by Mozilla and will be a game changer.

Quick notes:

  1. Initially known as B2G (Boot to Gecko) in the Mozilla Project and initially demonstrated in 2012
  2. Has a Linux based operating system
  3. Target for smart phones, tablets and smart TV.
  4. Among the first adopter was ZTE Open phone
  5. Its has 4 software layers. I.e. Gonk (Linux kernel), Gecko (application services), XUL Runner (Application run-time) and Gaia (User interface system)
  6. Supports HTML5
  7. Website at https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Firefox_OS
  8. Apps can be found at the Firefox marketplace.
Current development is at Firefox OS 1.3 (Stable) and Firefox OS 2.1 (Unstable)  and you can try it out via a simulator.

Following are steps to install and run a simulator:
Requirements: Firefox version 30+

Step 1. Install the simulator.

Open Mozilla Firefox web browser and access "App Manager add-ons" by typing in the URL
https://ftp.mozilla.org/pub/mozilla.org/labs/fxos-simulator/

Click "Install Firefox OS 1.3 Simulator (Stable)" or which ever version pleases you.

When the Pop-up appears, Click "Allow" then wait till the download starts (There isn't any indicator onscreen) and when the Software Installation box appears, click "Install Now".

Click "Firefox OS 1.3 Simulator has been installed successfully."

Step 2:  Check installation

To determine if its installed, open Mozilla Firefox web browser and enter URL as
about:addon

You should see "Firefox OS 1.3 Simulator ...."

Step 3: Start up the App Manager

In Mozilla Firefox web browser enter URL as
about:app-manager

At bottom of the  App Manager click "Start Simulator"
The Firefox OS Simulator will appear as a new Firefox Window.


Congratulations...you now have access to the latest Smartphone OS.





Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Howto Turn On Menu and Back Button Lights on Samsung S3

The Samsung S3 is a clever device to conserve energy, but to some users who keep forgetting where is the frequently invisible "Menu" and "Back" buttons, they should have it lit all the time (and off when screen is off).

These buttons are on the left (Menu) and right (Back) of the Home button. By default, each time either keys are pressed, the lights will stay lit for about 1.5 seconds only.


Here are step to have "Menu" and "Back" buttons lit all the time (and off when screen is off).

Step 1. At the Home screen, go to settings.
Simple? For the unacquainted, just touch the Apps button (usually the centre circle at bottom of the screen) and choose settings.

Step 2. Choose "My device", scroll down and touch "Display". 

Step 3. Scroll down to touch "Touch key light duration".

 Step 4. Choose "Always on".

Press "Home" and you will notice the lights are lit next to the "Home" key. If the screen if off, these lights will also go off.

Howto Turn Off Samsung S3 keyboard sound

For some reason, the keyboard on Samsung S3 (GT-I9300) started to beep with each press and this gets annoying after having to type lots. Instructions can be applied for most Android 4, but here the screenshot are for Android 4.3 kernel version 3.0.31-2429075 dpi@HP20 #1.

To turn off/on the sound in 3 simple steps;

Step 1. At the Home screen, go to settings.
Simple? For the unacquainted, just touch the Apps button (usually the centre circle at bottom of the screen) and choose settings.

Step 2. Choose "My device", scroll down and touch "Language and input"





Step 3. Scroll down and find Key-tap feedback "Sound". To turn keyboard sounds off, uncheck the "Sound" box.


Press the "Home" key and you can test out keyboard sound, off or on as you have  selected.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Writing Equations in Moodle - Part 2

This is a follow up post on enabling users to write equations in Moodle. In the previous post, the required tools were installed on Linux (Centos Linux) and we resume from there.

Step 1:

Login as administrator in Moodle. In the Administration menu, click on Plugins-> Filters-> Manage filters
Choose Filter for Tex notation and change Active? to On. If you click Settings it will bring you to the same screen as in the next step below.

In the Administration menu, click on Plugins-> Filters-> Tex notation
Verify that Path of Latex, dvips and convert binary all contain the linux tools that was created in Part 1 of this tutorial.

Latex = /usr/bin/latex
dvips = /usr/bin/dvips
convert = /usr/bin/convert

Change the convert output format to PNG.

Step 2:

Within a course, create a content and notice that the Insert equation button is visible in TinyMCE editor.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

OSS Meetup in Kuala Lumpur

Those who are keen to meet fellow OSS in Kuala Lumpur should register for the Malaysia Open Source Community Meetup Q2 2014.

Date: 31 May 2014
Time: 9Am to 2PM
Registration: Required

Please go to the above link for further details.

Writing Equations in Moodle - Part 1

Moodle leverages on MathML for users to enter Math equations. Moodle 2 comes with DragMath and this reduces the need for complicated installation of libraries. On Linux, equations can be displayed with Latex through the use of MimeTex (http://www.ctan.org/tex-archive/support/mimetex) and the newer MathTex.

Examples on the use of MathText can be found at http://www.forkosh.com/mimetex.html#examples

Inserting math equation on a Moodle require certain filters to be enabled but before doing this, the related linux tools need to be installed. End users will need to ensure Java's JRE is installed and enabled in their web browser.

The required Linux (Referring to Centos Linux) tools to be installed include packages mimetex, texlive, texlive-dvips, texlive-latex, ImageMagick and their dependencies. The important tools that should be working and that is needed by Moodle later includes;
/usr/bin/latex
/usr/bin/dvips
/usr/bin/convert

A good tip on enabling Java in web browsers can be found at the Java site. (https://www.java.com/en/download/help/java_blocked.xml)