How I found and removed a WordPress hack

Yesterday, a WordPress server that I look after for a friend had been broken into. Instead of trashing the site, the script-kiddy hooked the server into a spam bot-net, and proceeded to send thousands of emails from the host. In addition, the script-kiddy added in some extra ‘hidden’ content onto the server, and then got … Read more

Simulate your network

Whether you are trying to learn or improve your networking skills, trying to troubleshoot a complex issue, or wanting to simulate your network to test new functionality, there is no better tool than GNS3. Yesterday, it was announced that the latest version, v1.0, was now officially available for download. I’ve just downloaded this version of … Read more

Diagnose slow connections with Wireshark

Last week, I was working with a customer for a large Internet site (over 20 million users) who was having some performance problems with some of their internal infrastructure. The issue: slow connections to a HTTPS service. After buying some new super-duper big-iron servers, this customer (using SteelApp Traffic Manager) started to move services off … Read more

Beauty and the Beast – Looking back

It’s almost one month since the closing night of Packemin Productions “Beauty and the Beast“. Just over 3 months went into the actual rehearsal and production phases of “Beauty and the Beast”, and it’s been one of most memorable experiences of my life. I’m no stranger to large scale productions, having been part of Hillsong … Read more

Beauty and the Beast – three weeks to go

Packemin Productions Beauty and the Beast - Rouse Hill TimesA few months ago I posted that I had been accepted into the Ensemble cast for the Packemin Productions “Beauty and the Beast”. Since the beginning of March, each week has consisted of rehearsals on Monday and Wednesday (with the occasional cancellation due to scheduling conflicts and the like). After meeting so many new people, learning lines and choreography, it’s a little startling to find that the production is just over three weeks away to opening night.

Being involved in a professional production has opened my eyes to a lot of things. Ways to improve rehearsals and retention/practice of songs and choreography, promotions and the mechanics of getting ticket sales, the differences between “building and creating a show” as opposed to crafting and tweaking an “existing show”. As you can see from the thumbnail image, I was invited to be part of the promotional shots for the Rouse Hill area, with the article appearing in the Rouse Hill Times on the 4th June, and even that process was an interesting insight into how all of that “front of stage” process works as well.

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Be a better SysAdmin – know your applications

how to be a better sysadmin

It is a source of constant amazement to me that most SysAdmins (shorthand for System Administrators) have so little understanding of the applications running on their iron, apart from a passing “that’s the mail server”. Knowing exactly what your server is doing in normal operation makes it easier to troubleshoot when things aren’t “normal”.

Baselining

Everyone hates documenting system builds. It’s as much a truism as “the sky is blue”, “politicians always lie” and “whatever can go wrong will go wrong in the most spectacular way at the most inopportune moment”. Something as simple as a capture of what a server is doing just prior to deployment can make fire fighting much easier later on. There’s a bare minimum of information that I like to have on DropBox/Google Drive/Evernote for each server that I manage.

  • Hostnamenetstat-windows
  • DNS and LDAP/Active Directory domain names
  • DNS server
  • Authentication server (LDAP / Kerberos / Local)
  • Local administration username/password
  • Edited output of “netstat -ao” (Windows) or “netstat -ap” (Linux)
  • Edited output of “tasklist” (Windows) or “ps -ef” (Linux)

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A Day in Support – The King had a dream

IT Support Frustration

Frustration

There are certain times in my work life when I feel like I am beating my head against a wall in frustration. This is the story of one such time.

Many times, in the IT Support arena, you get to see products used in ways that defy logic. In ways that make you want to find the sales droid involved in making the sale and shake his hand for the barefaced audacity they have shown in getting that sale over the line. In ways that make you want to find the architect and slap them sideways for being ridiculous.

To be fair, I understand that sometimes these deployments are “thin edge of wedge” deployments – just get the product in the door, get it used in production, and then Sales can go back and sell more product, or expand the use of the product’s existing feature set. I get that.

But there are certain types of customers that make me want to (in no particular order of preference:

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