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frugal technology, simple living and guerrilla large-appliance repair
Sun, 13 Apr 2014

Hiding directories in Apache with .htaccess

In my Ode system running on an Apache web server, I'm "exposing" the existence of the /documents directory by stashing HTML there for my site archive.

Normally only text files and images live in that directory, and Ode uses them to produce the HTML pages it serves out of another directory.

I'm not crazy about exposing the contents of directories that don't, for the most part, serve HTML. So I decided to disallow directory listings on my Ode site with this line in .htaccess:

Options -Indexes

Now my readers can see http://stevenrosenberg.net/documents/archive.html but not http://stevenrosenberg.net/documents and the entire structure under that.

Even if I do decide to move my archive file to another directory (and I am seriously thinking about doing that), it still seems like a good idea to block access to the "raw" directories in Apache.

Thu, 10 Apr 2014

After a year or so, back to Thunderbird

I stopped using stand-alone mail clients about a year ago.

This week I decided to give Thunderbird another try. I'm keeping it simple this time around.

I'm using Thunderbird for a single e-mail account via IMAP. No Gmail. No shared Google Calendar. No newsgroups (yeah, I said newsgroups, which I had running in Thunderbird my last go-round)

What pushed me back to a mail client was the lack of speed in my webmail client of choice, RoundCube, with my mail provider.

So I'm keeping it simple and enjoying the speed and ease of a traditional desktop mail client.

Thunderbird has seen quite an update in its UI since the last time I used it, and that's enough progress for an app that has seemingly been abandoned by its parent company/foundation Mozilla.

As long as they keep it patched from a security standpoint, I don't need any new features.

Wed, 09 Apr 2014

Fedora patches the OpenSSL 'Heartbleed' bug

It happened a day later than it should have, meaning Fedora got spanked by Debian, but the Fedora 20 patch for the OpenSSL 'Heartbleed' bug did roll onto my system today.

I would have liked Fedora to be ahead of Debian rather than behind it, but a day's delay isn't a deal-breaker. And I could have installed the OpenSSL update from Koji early if this were a server installation.

Overall, the free-software community's response to the 'Heartbleed' bug shows the power of open development and how these projects and products are stronger through transparency and sharing.

Tue, 08 Apr 2014

You might want to pay for an e-mail service like the OpenBSD-running Neomailbox

I don't look on the OpenBSD Misc mailing list very often, but today a message from that list introduced me to Neomailbox, which offers services that include secure, encrypted e-mail and anonymous web surfing for prices that are very reasonable.

So why would you want to pay for e-mail? Well, you do get what you pay for, and while services like Gmail have a lot to offer, one of those things is Google's servers crawling the text of your mail and serving you ads based on what's in there.

And while Google is continually boosting its use of encryption, there are plenty of reasons why you might want an offshore, encrypted mail service that you actually pay for.

Did I forget to mention that Neomailbox uses OpenBSD?

Neomailbox also offers an anonymous web surfing service that uses encrypted tunneling and anonymous IP to add a whole lot of privacy and security to your daily comings and goings on the Internet.

And they do offer discounts if you get both e-mail and anonymous web, plus additional "family" discounts.

If your paranoid (or have reason to be) and don't want to run these services yourself on either home or colocated servers, Neomailbox is definitely worth a look.

Wed, 02 Apr 2014

Hashover: A free-software alternative to Disqus and other hosted-commenting services

I’ve been waiting for this: Hashover is a free-software project that aims to replace hosted-comments services like Disqus and those offered by Facebook and others that keep your comments in their database.

Many, many blogging systems like Ode, which I use, and others like Pelican, Ghost and Octopress do not manage their own comments and most defer to Disqus to add a commenting platform.

But the problem is that Disqus is a third-party service that seeks to make money off of you. And you don’t control the comments.

So if you have a self-hosted blog, having comments that are not self-hosted seems like cheating.

I don’t know anything else about Hashover beyond what’s at their web site, but I am very excited at the prospect of an add-to-anything commenting solution like Disqus that you can host yourself.

It’s something we really, really need. And I’m glad it’s here.

More on Hashover:

Other free-software commenting systems?

I found:

Sun, 30 Mar 2014

Printing with the HP LaserJet 1020 works again with Fedora 20, and I don't know why

I was ready to give up. But what's great about Fedora is if something's broken, sometimes waiting is all you need to do.

Your problem will be resolved somewhere upstream. And Fedora gets newness from upstream faster than almost anyone (Arch notwithstanding).

So I was able to print to the HP LaserJet 1020 from Fedora 18 and 19 but not Fedora 20.

It has much, much more to do with the HP LaserJet 1020 printer than it does with any part of the Linux operating system.

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Fri, 28 Mar 2014

Coming to Fedora's Xfce spin: the Whisker Menu and xfdashboard

This is a screenshot of the xfdashboardThis is a screenshot of the xfdashboard, which is billed as a GNOME Shell-like interface for Xfce

I saw on the Fedora Xfce mailing list today that it looks like xfdashboardand xfce4-whiskermenu-plugin are coming to the Fedora Xfce spin's ISO, if not as default choices at least as things you can add to your desktop after the fact.

I'm a fan of the Whisker Menu, which I already have installed, but I've never heard of xfdashboard, which brings a GNOME Shell-like desktop experience to the world of Xfce. I don't particularly want that, but it's an interesting idea.

I support bringing both of these packages, which are already in the Fedora repositories, to the Fedora Xfce Spin ISO (and therefore the default install), and I encourage you to try them out.

Xfce Theme Manager is kind of a train wreck, but I ended up with borders on the sides of my windows (and that ain't bad)

I was looking through the Fedora packages for Xfce applications I hadn't yet installed, and the Xfce Theme Manager came up.

I installed it. Then I ran it.

It screwed up my desktop. Not all the themes in my system were in the Theme Manager, and I was switched over to one of the few themes that were in there. My icons all grew larger in size. (Thank you very much. I'll be here all week. Please be sure to tip your waitress.)

So I had to re-select the Adiwata theme and manually shrink my icons.

But something good came out of it. For some reason Xfce themes have been "losing" the borders on the left and right sides of windows, and I have no idea now to restore them.

The Xfce Theme Manager has managed to do this for me, and I wouldn't want to reverse this change even if I knew how.

But otherwise the Xfce Theme Manager is trouble. I already removed it.

However, it did get me borders on the left and right sides of windows. And for that it was worth it.

Rhythmbox remains under active development, gets updated to version 3.0.2

You've heard the "Rhythmbox is dead" rumors. At various times over the past few years, the GNOME-centric music player, which I favor even in non-GNOME environments, has been called out for a lack of development, and replacements have queued up to take its place.

Well today a new Rhythmbox flowed onto my Fedora 20 system, and I took the opportunity to look at all of the fixes that went into the March 23, 2014 release of version 3.0.2.

Wed, 26 Mar 2014

Google Starbucks WiFi is strong in Granada Hills

So I'm at the Starbucks at Devonshire Street and Balboa Avenue in Granada Hills, CA, which happens to have Google (i.e. no longer AT&T) Internet service.

I'm getting 8.5 Mbps down, 1.3 Mbps up.

And there are a lot of people with laptops and tablets in here.

That's pretty solid.

If only my local Starbucks would dump AT&T for Google.

I'm not ignoring the fact that Google is able to collect a whole lot of data when you use this public WiFi. A lot of people use Google DNS (8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4, which is a genius move because I always remember it), but with Google WiFi they control the whole connection.

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