Server update (done)

Update: I took a bit longer to implement the updates and network upgrade as well.

The website (and all other services) will be not be accessible for few days (from Friday morning, 28th of November to Monday night, 1st of December, 2014) due to server updates. Only this blog will be available in read-only mode.

Note: an earlier version mentioned the maintenance using the wrong dates (it was a week early).

Network updates (done)

The website will be down over the next weekend starting from Friday, 19 September 2014 to Sunday evening, 21 September 2014 done. The work will include some work on my network setup and would also allow me to perform some upgrades. I will try to minimize this outage and limit it to one day. (side note: I’m still working on the Apache to nginx switch tutorial)

Update: pushed the network maintenance to next week instead.

Update 2: I have managed to perform the updates needed without any downtime.

Upgrading PHP and switching to MariaDB

On my blog (and other websites) run on my main server, here in Italy. It is running Ubuntu 12.04 which had Apache httpd 2.2, MySQL 5.5, and PHP 5.4. Many of these software have become outdated, and for Apache it was using more resources than it should after I start gradually using my server for other services (like GitLab for my personal projects). In early 2014, I realized that I need to upgrade them, but I didn’t want upgrade to 14.04 as soon as it was released. Instead I settled for upgrading these packages using some PPAs, until I finally upgrade to 14.04 (or switch to another operating system).

The main reason I started to become even more interested in upgrading all of my software was after the Heartbleed bug. I wanted to try to increase the security of connections to my server by using perfect forward secrecy for some parts of my websites that could have critical data, such as files and code. Perfect forward secrecy is the method of protecting access to session data in the long-term, if any of my keys have been compromised by a future Heartbleed-like bug. However, Apache 2.2 does not offer the ability to use perfect forward secrecy in all cases, so I would need to upgrade to 2.4. Unfortunately, the upgrade from 2.2 to 2.4 comes with a small configuration syntax update, which means I would have to update all of my configurations.

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Introduction to Smart Notifications

Have you ever forgotten something from too many notifications about everything? You are not the first to have that issue. Many people face the problem of being flooded with notifications that are sometimes useless and unimportant, that mix up with the very important ones, thus making the latter less noticeable; and since notifications only appear as soon as they are sent, if they go unchecked at that time they will probably be missed. Wouldn’t it be great if say, you could only get notified during a certain time of the day instead of throughout the day? Isn’t it better to just get the notifications you care about rather than all of them mixed? My friends and I are working on a project for our Ambient Intelligence course to solve and address these issues: Smart Notifications.

Smart Notifications are the notifications that are important and relevant at the time. For example, we don’t care if a cold caller leaves a missed call on our home phone, but if a close relative calls, it is usually important to know when they called so that we can call them back. Similarly, when it’s someone’s birthday soon it is usually only relevant to know that information the same day, unless they are a close friend or relative. There are many ways a Smart Notifications system can remind or inform us of a new important message; through the user’s TV screen, smart phone, computer, tablet and light alarms, to name a few.

You can head to the main website to get more information about it from smart-notifications.com. We hope you like it.

This post is cross-posted here as well.

Recovering a Hacked Facebook Account (Part 3 of 3)

Introduction

This post is part three of three (1 and 2) that describes how to recover and secure a Facebook account after being hacked. There are several ways for a Facebook account to get hacked, the most common one is when one your friends sends a link to you. Another way is through Facebook apps that seem to use some features for the functionality of the app, but requesting much more that what it actually needs. This is less common as Facebook tends to block apps that do these things, yet it is not automatically done, and usually it takes several days, even weeks. The picture below shows a sample tag-all-of-your-friends-with-a-malware-link type of post.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 08.41.50

The blog is divided into three steps: recovery, removing, and securing your Facebook account. This part of the post focuses on trying to secure and insure that you Facebook account doesn’t get hacked again. For steps 1 and 2 see part 1 and part 2, respectively.

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Recovering a Hacked Facebook Account (Part 2 of 3)

Introduction

This post is part two of three (1 and 3) that describes how to recover and secure a Facebook account after being hacked. There are several ways for a Facebook account to get hacked, the most common one is when one your friends sends a link to you. Another way is through Facebook apps that seem to use some features for the functionality of the app, but requesting much more that what it actually needs. This is less common as Facebook tends to block apps that do these things, yet it is not automatically done, and usually it takes several days, even weeks. The picture below shows a sample tag-all-of-your-friends-with-a-malware-link type of post.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 08.41.50

The blog is divided into three steps: recovery, removing, and securing your Facebook account. This part of the post focuses on trying to remove unnecessary apps and logins from your Facebook account. For steps 1 and 3 see part 1 and part 3, respectively.

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Recovering a Hacked Facebook Account (Part 1 of 3)

Recently many people on Facebook have been sending out spam posts. In the posts, about 6 friends get tagged in a link, then  the same link is reposted with other friends of the person’s Facebook that has been hacked, until all of his friends have been tagged. This insures that everyone will see the links. Usually people tend to then click on the links from their friends, which in turn get their Facebook accounts hacked. For most people, recovering a hacked account is a mess that no one wants to deal with. And since Facebook accounts, nowadays, have become a sort of virtual ID online, everyone should make sure it is as secure as possible. Otherwise, it would be like creating infinite copies of your passport without your picture and leaving them in the street. You can see how damaging that would be; people will be able to impersonate you and take full control of your life. They will be able to travel under your name, for example, for smuggling drugs. Now imagine what people can do with your Facebook account (and your data). You get the idea: it is very bad to have an insecure online ID. Thus, I have written this comprehensive tutorial to recover a “hacked” Facebook account and securing it so that it doesn’t happen again.

 

Introduction

This post is part one of three (2 and 3) that describes how to recover and secure a Facebook account after being hacked. There are several ways for a Facebook account to get hacked, the most common one is when one your friends sends a link to you. Another way is through Facebook apps that seem to use some features for the functionality of the app, but requesting much more that what it actually needs. This is less common as Facebook tends to block apps that do these things, yet it is not automatically done, and usually it takes several days, even weeks. The picture below shows a sample tag-all-of-your-friends-with-a-malware-link type of post.

Screen Shot 2013-04-05 at 08.41.50

The blog is divided into three steps: recovery, removing, and securing your Facebook account. This part of the post focuses on trying to regain access to your Facebook account after it’s been hacked. For steps 2 and 3 see part 2 and part 3, respectively.

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Ubuntu Precise 12.04 Released!

Ubuntu Precise 12.04 Released!

Ubuntu is an open source operating system that utilizes the GNU/Linux kernel and is based on Debian. However, Debian’s window manager is Gnome Panel (Gnome Shell, if you use unstable versions), while Ubuntu started using their own shell based on Gnome 3, called Unity. Unity provides many improvements to Ubuntu over the dated Gnome 2 looks. Even though it might be hard to get used to a completely new interface, Unity provides adds more productivity on both smaller screens, like netbooks, and full-sized desktop computers.

Ubuntu Precise, 12.04, will be released on 26th of April. Ubuntu has come a great way since the last long-term support (LTS) was released in April 2010. LTS means this version of Ubuntu will come with 5 years of bug and security fixes for both the desktop and server editions. This move will encourage companies and governments with large-scale deployments to adopt Ubuntu.

Update: Ubuntu Precise has been released today (26th of April 2012). See the links below to download.

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