Fauie Technology

eclectic blogging, technology and hobby farming

Category: simple tips (page 2 of 2)

Ship it!

Every time I forget the mantra “F(orget) It, Ship It”, things don’t go well.  Analysis Paralysis.  Develop towards a stale goal.

Historically, projects get bogged down for ages making sure it’s “perfect”.

Face it, it’s never perfect.  Ever.

This applies to software, companies, features, church activities and anything else that might be new and untried before.  Analysis and rework is the killer of new ideas.

I build products for people to use.  I know the data that my products use.  I know some of the pain points I’m trying to solve for customers (current and future!).  It’s SO easy to say “oh dang, let’s just add this one more XYZ widget before we call MVP”.  It’s easier to add new features than it is to declare a product “good enough”.

OMG! HE SAID GOOD ENOUGH!

Yes, I did, and will again.  Nothing is ever perfect, and “good enough” is not a declaration on the quality/reliability/security of a new piece of software code.  It’s ‘good enough’ for someone to use.  This is why we strive for a minimally viable product, or MVP.

Counter that with the bad attitude: “good enough”.  That’s a statement on being lazy, not having professional quality standards and not giving a crap about what happens once something leaves your desk.  This is NOT what I’m advocating for.

Draw a line in the sand

Before you build, define your target. Define your MVP.  Define what is ‘good enough’ to your customer.   It can’t suck.  It has to add value.  It has to be easy (enough) to use.  It can’t be ugly, but it doesn’t have to be a work of art.  Ever see the first Google home page or the first version of Splunk?   Compare them to the current interfaces.  Good enough at work.

 

 

Top 5 Threats to Small Businesses

Your company is unique.

The threats against you are real.

Your company is a target.

Consider this.   If you’re a small concrete company that does a few million dollars a year in revenue (or less..  ), then you can easily become the target of some bad actors out there who think you might have just enough money to mess with you.  The target on your back may not be the same size as  Target (see what I did there?), but you’re probably a much easier target than Target..  ok, I’ll stop saying target/Target.

You are small enough that won’t have full time IT people, you absolutely don’t have security people.  You will not see an attacker probing your wifi, your email system, your public IP addresses, etc.  Here are the top 5 ways they’re going to get in:

  1. Phishing  / Spear Phishing –  Sending malicious files or web links to your email
  2. Social Engineering – Someone will gain the trust or deceive one of your employees, who will leak information
  3. Physical Security – Smash and Grab!  Say goodbye to your laptops
  4. Bad Passwords – Old, tried and true, don’t use “password” or “password123” as your password
  5. Mobile Devices – No passcode? No thumb print?  Problem!

None of those are necessarily solved by technology problems.   That’s hard for me to say, since I’m a technologist through and through.  I think code can do all and fix all.   The solution to all those things above is good employee education.

Teach your staff that there IS something to be concerned about.  Come up with secret code words when you call in and authorize a transfer of a few thousand dollars.   Be paranoid.   Think like the bad guy.  

Phishing – Don’t click links. Ever.   If the link looks like “bankofamerica[.]com”, then just type it… never click it.   The last thing you want is some ransomware infecting your network and blocking your Quickbooks file.  That would suck.

Social Engineering – Don’t give out anything. Ever.  Over the phone or in person.   The tidbit you’re sharing today, can be put together with other information over time to get access to a bank account.

Lock your doors!  Put away laptops after hours.  Look into security camera, motion sensors, etc.  Your office has a sweet window, but remember they can see in from the outside.  Got a new shiny iMac?   New target for the dude walking by who wants to steal it from you.

Passwords – Use a password manager already.   Enforce password length and don’t allow dictionary words.   Look into Dashlane, LastPass, etc.   No two systems should share a password.

Mobile – Put a passcode on it.  Make it lock automatically.  Depending on your level of paranoia, don’t allow corporate/work emails on a personal phone.  Whether that’s by policy or technology, just don’t allow it.

 

Need help with any of this?    Start a conversation.  Heck, reach out to me.   Talk to your IT contractor/help desk person.   Take it seriously.  

SELinux: Causing a pain, time and time again

Once again, SELinux bit me.. what a pain.  It’s good, I’m sure for something.  but dang, it’s always to blame.

Trying to set up an Apache reverse proxy.   Kept getting a 503 error,

Permission denied: AH00957: HTTP: attempt to connect to 127.0.0.1:3000 (127.0.0.1) failed

Did some googling, and thanks to Justin Ellison @ sysadminsjourney.com, he saved the day.

Simple command to allow the reverse proxy:

/usr/sbin/setsebool -P httpd_can_network_connect 1

Found the assist here:

http://sysadminsjourney.com/content/2010/02/01/apache-modproxy-error-13permission-denied-error-rhel/

 

 

Kafka as a source for Spring XD

This is a little note bucket for me today. I’m using Spring XD to help process some huge amounts of data that needs to be processed. Source software is writing to kafka, but I kept getting ASCII/byte arrays as my result.

Documentation here:
http://docs.spring.io/spring-xd/docs/current/reference/html/#kafka

Key part:
stream create myKafkaSource1 --definition "kafka --zkconnect=localhost:2181 --topic=mytopic | log" --deploy

What ISN’T in there, is to tell it to use a string value, not a byte value. I guess you can send any data through Kafka, but for me, I needed to get to my JSON. After a bunch of searching, I found this:

--outputType=text/plain

DOH. That would have been helpful.

stream create myKafkaSource1 --definition "kafka --zkconnect=localhost:2181 --topic=mytopic | log" --deploy --outputType=text/plain

Simple Tips: Email Services

One of the ministries I like to get involved in is assisting the church and community with technical topics.  Through the church, I’m actively collecting, recycling and redistributing older, but completely functional computers to people who are in need of something for either a short period of time, or they can’t afford a new computer after theirs died.

Through these processes, I get to see what people are doing with their technical life.  This series of Simple Tips can act as a scratch pad for me to log information that I touch on regularly.

Email

Everyone has an email account.  You have a work address, or an old AOL account, or some other email account that someone help you set up.   That majority of non-technically savvy people have an @comcast.net, @verizon.com, @aol.com email address.  These are the domain names associated with your home internet connection.

Don’t use it!  

One common piece of advice that I give  out is to avoid using your Internet Service Provider (ISP)’s email services.   There’s nothing wrong with the actual service, I’m sure they’re providing a robust, secure and spam-filtered service for you.  Heck, you’re paying for it, so why WOULDN’T you use it?

The biggest reason to avoid using their service is portability.  You’re tied to them.  If you are a bargain shopper, and switch ISPs every year or two like I do, you’d have to change your email regularly.  That’s a huge pain!  My last switch, from a Yahoo account to a Gmail account took a full year until I was confident that I was receiving all the emails that I thought I wanted.

The second, and more recent reason, is PRISM. If you’ve read the news recently, you’ve read about the PRISM program, and how Verizon and others are sharing call information with the NSA.  If you don’t like that idea, then you may not want to use a major telecommunications company’s email service either. Who knows what their doing with it.   (This is a weaker argument, because it really applies to any hosted service, we just KNOW there has been information sharing between the NSA and these companies.)

The third, and most snooty reason for me, is that using a generic email domain like that gives the impression of being non-technical.  Sure, gmail is also a huge service, but it has better footings in the technical world, so there’s no stigma around using gmail, but, for good or bad, if I get a resume with an @aol.com email address, it always gives me a little chuckle.

What to do

Regardless of whether you’re snooty like I am, use an online service.  Use  @outlook.com, @yahoo.com, @gmail.com, anything like that is free, easy to set up, easy to use, and backed by big names so the potential for those services being turned off, is little to none.

I’ve been on Gmail for a while, and while some people do not like the service, I do.  Although there are doubts about their advertising programs, since the ads are based on the contents of your email.   You can be assured they’re reading every email you get….. but, do you care..

Host your own.  It’s pretty easy to register a domain and get a free hosting of some emails.  For instance, I’m a dreamhost ( http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?161083 , yes that’s a referral link, shoot me)… subscriber, and have been for about 8 years.  They provide a simple way of registering a domain name (8 dollars or so), and hosting email with them as part of your annual subscription. That way, you can set up @yourlastname.com , or @liveyourcode.com in my case.

The biggest  motivator to me, is not being tied to your ISP.  It’s like life insurance. It’s great to get life insurance at work, it’s cheap as dirt usually, but you need it from someone else too, for when you leave your job.  You will leave your job (you will change ISPs), don’t lose your life insurance (email account, and email history), too.

 

links
http://www.dreamhost.com/r.cgi?161083

mail.google.com

mail.yahoo.com

outlook.com

 

 

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