Monthly Archives: June 2013

My 30 Day Product/App Challenge

A few years ago, there was a passing fad of a “30 day challenge.”  You would publically announcing you intend to do something within a compressed time line, then start publishing your daily exploits.  The potential embarrassment of failure and artificial deadline was reason enough to keep you on track.

The idea is that without a deadline, the project meanders endlessly and never gets done.  Worse yet, enthusiasm wanes and the project never actually gets done.  The solution: give yourself an artificial deadline.

Most failed, but a few were entertaining to read.

So today, I’m declaring that I am building my first iPhone AND BlackBerry 10 applications, from scratch, within 30 days.

How to Delete ALL WordPress Comments

WordPress can be a sewer of pain if not secured properly.  I decided to give it a shot anyway and threw together a corporate website on WordPress. After configuring the theme, I posted and noticed that the comments were turned on.

I turned them off, and then made another post and verified that the new post had the comments off.

Before I knew what happened, I had over 4,200 spam comments on the first post. 

At first I thought I was hacked and I was diligent in securing the box.  I couldn’t find anything that even remotely suggest that I had been hacked.  I did however see that the spammers were hammering away at wp-comments-post.php.

Even though I disabled comments globally, commenting was still enabled on the single post and the spammer’s scripts found that comments were enabled and the rest is history.

The only sure-fired way to disable comments is to delete or rename wp-comments-post.php.

That leaves the 4000+ comments hawking porn sites, get-rich-quick schemes and viagra.  How in the hell was I going to clean that up?  You can only delete maybe 50 or so comments from the dashboard.  No way.

Most online help was all about deleting comments that were not yet approved or marked as spam.  I wanted to delete them ALL.

Here is the magic command:

mysql > DELETE FROM wp_comments ;

Google: GPAs are Worthless and So are Stupid Interview Questions

As a nomadic technical mercenary, I’ve been the victim of a lot of job interviews. I’ve been subjected to all manner of technical interviews, employment screens, and tests. Behavioral, group interviews, competency based interviews, panel interviews, phone interviews, unstructured interviews; I’ve been through them all.

This has given me some unique perspectives on the subject.

Luckily, as a consultant, the employer has had such a hard time hiring people within their process that I get to bypass much of the asinine processes. I get hired, and more often than not, I get offered a job later.

For a long time, I had some very strong opinions about how some of the major tech companies were interviewing, so much so that I would have never even consider applying to work for any of them.

This week, it seems Google came to the same conclusions, but from an employer’s perspective (Google: GPA’s are Worthless) after applying analytics to interviews and hiring outcomes.

I have to agree with Google’s conclusions.

I can’t tell you how many bad interviews I’ve had. Most people are naturally bad at interviewing, but some are truly terrible, especially when they want to be like Microsoft or Google.

For a while the fad was to ask questions that the interviewer didn’t know the answers to or inane brain teasers. Microsoft pioneered the interview puzzle, and the fad quickly spread to other tech companies.

Unfortunately, when you use puzzles as a litmus test in an interview, you end up basically hiring people who are good at puzzles. The world is full of PhDs who are intensely smart, but are completely impractical, and would rather mull over an academic problem than actually crank out working code and ship a product.

I’ve worked with these kind of people.

They are smart, but it takes the months to produce code. They end up researching linguistic constructs of a language to deeply understand things like why JavaScript in Internet Explorer 6 doesn’t work like Internet Explorer 8.

Some of my favorite interview questions:

My personal favorite interview question is, “where do you see yourself in five years?” I don’t get this one much anymore, but considering I have a lot of years of consulting experience, but I usually answer, “Well since this is a six month contract, probably working somewhere else.”

This year I interviewed for a large company that does security software and was asked, “how many sockets can a process have open at one time?” My answer was it depends on the OS, and then gave my best answer for Linux. The interviewer replied, “oh, I didn’t mean Linux, I meant OS/2,” and then told me about a customer support issue that occurred two decades ago.

I’ve only had two puzzles pitched at me during interviews, and it does nothing but frustrate the interviewer.

Sometimes it went like this:

“How many golf balls can you stuff into a 747?” The interviewer smirks.

“Is that a big problem here at XYZ Corp?” I ask, perplexed.

“It’s one of our standard interview questions. It gives us a way to see your problem solving methods.”

I sigh. “Well what is the galley configuration?”

“I don’t know, what do you mean?” he asks annoyed.

I explain, I’m a pilot and Boeing made several configurations, a cargo configuration, four-engine double decker…”

“oh the standard configuration.” I nod.

“Do you want the aircraft to fly?” Interviewers head tilts 30 degrees. “There are weight limitations and you have to be cognizant of the center of gravity. How much do your golf balls weigh? Are they standard golf balls? Do you want it to take off with full fuel? Fuel weighs…”

This goes on until the interviewer gives up and changes the subject.

Once I was asked “How many dimes stacked on top of each other would it take to reach the top of the Empire State building?” It was at the end of an all day gauntlet interview.

My response: “That is a stupid question. The dimes would never be able to be stacked anywhere high enough to reach to desired height. A slight breeze would topple the stack. And I think dimes aren’t uniform in thickness, so they won’t stack very well, unless you glued them together. If you glued them together, the easy answer is it would be the desired height divided by the thickness of the dimes, provided you could secure them properly to keep them from toppling. However, you would probably have to have enough stuck down in the ground, and made sure the glue was strong enough so it didn’t sheer off, because if it wasn’t perfectly vertical the dime-pole would topple and probably kill someone.”

They decided to go with another candidate.

Can you use the ASA 5505 as a CCNA Lab Router?

The short answer is, it depends. The long answer is, it is a bad idea.

The ASA 5505 is a great firewall appliance, and they can be purchased under several hundred dollars NEW. Unlike consumer router “firewalls” that rely on NAT, the ASA 5505 does deep packet inspection and is infinitely more configurable.

While the ASA 5505 has 8 switch ports, the basic license only supports 2 VLANs. If you want more than 2 VLANs you have to upgrade to the “Security Plus” license.

Furthermore, the base device only supports 10 “users.” And by “users,” Cisco mean connections. Printer connects to an NTP server outside your network? That will use a user slot. Other connections will drop randomly without warning when all of the user “licenses” are used up, causing you a lot of grief if you aren’t aware of that fact in the beginning.

When this happens, you have no choice but to junk the device or get out your wallet and purchase a 50 user license. Worse yet, it took me several weeks to find a vendor willing to sell me the license, because a lot of vendors won’t even sell you a license if you didn’t purchase it from them. (but I digress…)

If you have setup 2 networks on the ASA to the same security zone, you can permit traffic to pass between them with the same-security-traffic permit inter-interface command, and then use static NAT.

While ASA does support OSPF, but it cannot participate in BGP routing.

The ASA is a solid firewall, and although you can wrestle it into routing packets, I wouldn’t consider it a real router.

Power line networking goes to 1.5Gbps thanks to Broadcom

I recently upgraded my older power line Ethernet bridges to the Netgear XAVB5101, which promises a maximum throughput of 500 Mbps.  Conversely, Cisco’s power line transceivers top out at a theoretical 200 Mbps.

I say theoretical because the maximum link speeds touted by manufacturers bears little resemblance to real life speeds, or even reality.  Even so, the newer power line Ethernet transceivers can theoretically peak past fast Ethernet speeds, making it perfect to pair with my 54Mbps Wi-Fi connection.

So I was a little surprised when Broadcom announced on Monday that it is releasing the first HomePlug AV2 power line chips that break the Gigabit Ethernet speed barrier.  The system-on-a-chip (SOC) will deliver up to 1.5Gbps data speed.

Most of the current 500Mpbs power line products tend to use the Qualcom Atheros AR1500/AR7400 chipsets.

The new SOCs, BCM60500 and BCM60333 are currently being sent out as samples to networking vendors.

That means we should have some Gigabit capable Ethernet power line transceivers on the market towards the end of the year.

How to Reset a HP 1810-24G to Factory Defaults

The steps to reset an HP 1810-24G smart managed gigabit switch are as follows:

1. Using a paperclip, simultaneously press the Reset and Clear buttons.

2. Release the reset button, while continuing to press the Clear button.

3. When all three mode LEDs (Act, FDx, and Spd) begin to blink, release the Clear button.

Once the switch completes the self-test, the switch will be reset to factory defaults.  The default IP address will be 192.168.2.10 and there will be no password.