g4u and Virtualization

A quick note about g4u – g4u (Ghost for you) is a hard disk imaging tool similar to Norton Ghost, but without the cost. g4u allows you to image hard disks to both files and physical media. This can be accomplished within a physical machine, a virtual machine, or by using an FTP server on either of the two.

Swik stole my content!

Update 2: After contacting one of the Swik developpers, I was able to have them clear the site of my content. Though they still appear to be syndicating my content, at least the older entries are gone, and I have since edited the RSS feed properties so that only 100 characters are fed. Lesson learned, the hard way.
Update:This article has now been republished on the Swik website. I’m speechless.

Swik Update

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. One could suppose that blatant content stealing would make you quite flattered indeed. Once would be OK, but having half of your websites content mirrored elsewhere is something else altogether.

It seems there’s a new splog (spam blog) on the block, and it’s being funded by none other than SourceLabs.

I found out about Swik while doing a vanity search for blandname.com, and was flabbergasted.

It seems the kind folks at SourceLabs now think it’s OK to republish full websites on their Swik websites, without so much as asking. Have a look at the evidence – blandname has half of it’s content republished at Swik, sometimes 3 times over.

I’m assuming that they simply are grabbing del.icio.us links and RSS feeds that contain the keywords “open source” – but they could at least limit what they republish to 50 words or so. But no, they take it one step further and hotlink to your images, videos, and audio files as well. Way to go you bumbling fools.
I’ve sent them a kind but stern email letting them know this isn’t so cool, and I’d recommend that anyone else affected look into this as well.

Here’s a recent example that was republished at Swik 3 whole times:

blandname swik

I truly appreciate what they are trying to do, but lack of testing, and not asking people if it was OK to republish their content is not very nice. But I digress.

The real issue at hand is that Swik claim that all content on their website is Copyleft, which this site clearly is not. In case they missed it, I have modified my RSS feed leaving them a note expressly stating the fact…

blandname launches prefoc.us beta

We finally launched our online RSS reader today, and are looking for testers. The site is called prefoc.us

prefoc.us (prefocus) will eventually allows (!) for more interactivity (!!) but since it’s still in beta these functions aren’t available yet. You can also add feeds to be parsed, and view pictures, listen to audio, and even watch videos!

Stay tuned to blandname as the site develops.

Oh, and more tech tips coming soon!

Copy Files From a Mac to Windows Using SCP

Whenever you start adding funny-flavored operating systems to a network, you eventually run into filesharing problems. Even if you only have a few machines, coming to a consensus on how to get files from point A to B can be quite taxing – especially if there’s work to be done.

Over the years I’ve tried FTP, Samba, NFS and a host of others. When configured well they work like a charm. However, when a new node joins the network (that shiny new Mac Pro of yours), things need to be reconfigured and can generally be a royal pain that´s why i always chose the best web hosting.

That has changed, though. We now have an acceptable solution that is free, easy to use and above all, secure. Introducing… SCP.

SCP has been around for a while now, and is gaining quite a bit of traction in the hosting world where it is (albeit slowly) starting to replace FTP for upload and download tasks. SCP stand for Secure Copy (CP being Copy on *nix variants). SCP works a lot like FTP in that you require an address to connect to, a username (login) and a password (we won’t get into stored keys today).

Now that we’ve decided what to try in our ad hoc network, how do we set it up? If you’re blessed with any variant of Linux or Unix, the work has been done for you already – the tools come with the operating system, and are generally found under the network tools in your fancy menus.

Fugu on OS X Server

It’s a different story on Apple Macs and PCs, though. For example, Tiger comes with an SCP server, but no client. Right, about the Mac server. In order to activate it in Panther, Tiger and even Leopard, head on over to the System Preferences pane, and choose the Sharing applet (the folder with the caution sign on it). Once it has opened, check the Remote Login checkbox. This will enable SSH, and in turn, SCP. We’re halfway there. You can connect to an SCP server by using the Terminal on a Mac, but from what I can tell most Mac users are frightfully scared of it. But that gives me the oppurtunity to tell you about one of my favorite applications – Fugu (japanese for blowfish – and sporting a suitably cute icon to boot). Fugu allows you to connect to an SCP server to both download and upload files. Fugu is quite easy to use, so we won’t get into that, but will save it for another time if need be (just like stored keys). Oh, and as the screenshot shows you, it works with Mac OS X Server 10.4.7 too! (as well as Leopard)

WinSCP Screenshot

In the PC world, WinSCP is Fugu’s sibling. You get an extremly easy to use interface, complete with drag and drop. Installation is a breeze, and best of all it’s free as in both beer and speech. Just like those soapbox ramblers. Getting a Windows SCP server is a bit more difficult, but currently exists in the form of BitVise WinSSHD. WinSSHD is slightly complicated, but most of the configuration is done during the installation procedure. They supply you with the needed variables, and one you have finished you will have set up an account you can use to test from your other workstations. The screenshot above was taken with the wonderful WinSnap – it comes highly recommended.
Let the cross-platform filesharing begin!

If you have any questions, or would like to suggest a topic for a future article, head on over to the blandname contact page and we’ll see what we can do!

Oh, and by the way, since you’ve noticed I always talk about virtualization, this certainly applies to getting files to and fro from your virtual machines in VMWare Server, Virtual Server (Virtual PC if need be) and Parallels – I have even found it to be faster than any other technique!

Access Your Computer’s BIOS

UPDATE – Many people have asked me to write an article about accessing a Macintosh BIOS, so here it is!

I helped a friend out today who wanted to reinstall Windows on his Dell laptop. When he inserted the CD into the drive and rebooted, the computer still booted into Windows and would not boot from the CDROM drive for him. Having seen this many times before, I told him to change the boot order so that he could boot from the Windows installation CD. Since he was unsure of how to do this, I have a feeling that most people would be stuck were they in the same situation. Here are the most common keystrokes that will get you into your BIOS. Once you are there, change the “boot order” or “boot sequence”, so that the CDROM is the first item. Once that has completed, save the changes and exit. Presto! you can now start the installation and proceed with glee.

Phoenix BIOS (older)

  • Ctrl+Alt+Esc
  • Ctrl+Alt+F1
  • Ctrl+Alt+S
  • Ctrl+Alt+Enter
  • Ctrl+Alt+F11
  • Ctrl+Alt+Ins

Award BIOS

  • Ctrl+Alt+Esc
  • Esc
  • Del

AMI BIOS (most common)

  • Del

IBM BIOS

  • Ctrl+Alt+Ins F1

Compaq BIOS

  • F10

Dell BIOS

  • F2