Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Back in 2003 I bought my first Mac, a PowerBook G4. I’ve been very satisfied with the laptop, but it’s starting to get a bit old. Even though I don’t find an upgrade urgent since the computer still runs fine, it’s always nice to get some change once in a while. The only problem though is that I don’t find they new MacBooks improved enough for me to upgrade (sure, they’re faster, but that’s basically it).

In order for me to upgrade I’d need a better reason than just an increased CPU speed, because the speed of my laptop is currently not something that bothers me. However, there are some features that I miss on the MacBook.

Battery Life
Come on Apple, the battery life on the PowerBook and MacBook is pretty sad. When Sony can get their Vaios to run about 6-8 hours on the same CPU, I fail to see why this wouldn’t be possible on Apple’s laptops. Even the old Sonys (3 years old or so) has at least 4 hours of battery life.

I certainly see a big market for this. Sure, the Windows Tablets might not been as successful as the PC vendors hoped, but I believe in the idea. Right now I often end up taking notes on a plain sheet of paper, since certain type of data (graphs etc) is too time-consuming to record with only a keyboard and mouse.

There is certainly a demand for a Mac Tablet, since a company named Axiotron actually developed a modified MacBook (named ModBook), which was modified into a tablet. However, it would be nice if Apple could release this themselves.

Biometric reader
There are plenty of different standards available, but I guess finger-print is the more widely used technology. Wouldn’t it be convenient to log into the computer without having to type a long (secure) password every time? I don’t know how well the BSD-kernel supports these kind of devices, and how it would be solved, but I’d sure love that feature.

If Apple can implement these features in the next generation MacBook, I’d be the first one to sign up on the waiting list (assuming it’s not too much more expensive than the current MacBook).

Author: Tags:
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

System76 is far from the first company to offer pre-installed Linux computers to the public, but they’re probably the one who’s most serious about it.
Ubuntu Logo
On their homepage one can find a series of fairly stylish looking laptops and desktops powered by Ubuntu Linux. Even though I haven’t had my hands on any of these computers, just by judging by the specs and prices they seem to be a good alternative to other vendors. In contrast to other companies providing similar solutions, this company have really invested time and money into providing a nice and professional website, with features such as computer customization (much like

The question remains though; Is Linux ready to power the desktop of an average user? Two years ago, I’d definitely say no, but things have changed since then. With the recent desktop focus and improvements of both Fedora and Ubuntu, I’d say Linux is now ready for the desktop. In particular for the ‘average office/student user,’ where the tasks are limited to e-mail, web-browsing, word-processing and spreadsheet-editing.

Even though I have no intention of replacing my OS X-running laptop at this point, if I were to switch it away for something else, I would probably consider buying a Darter Ultra from System76.

Verdict: I agree with System76, Linux is now ready for the desktop, and I wish them the very best. Hopefully this is a company we will see more of in the future. When we need to buy more computers, System76 is likely be the supplier.

Author: Tags: ,
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

That title sure caught your attention, right? It’s not as bad as it sounds. I’m not a Black Hat hacker, I just enjoy reading security related books.

Back in 2003 the famous/notorious hacker Kevin D. Mitnick released his first book called The Art of Deception which discussed different elements of security that relate to social engineering. When I read the book back then I was really both chocked and amazed how easily a well-skilled social engineer can gain access to the most sensitive type of information.

In his latest book The Art of Intrusion, Mr. Mitnick moves on from social engineering to discuss digital security. Since I personally have much more experience with digital security than with social engineering, the techniques used in the stories were not that exciting. The Art of IntrusionHowever, the plots of the stories were quite interesting. In a couple of the stories in the book the reader gets to follow security consults who work on penetrating various companies (the company names are not mentioned). Even though the techniques used by these consults were maybe not shocking in any way, the way thought was. The guys in these stories really know how IT-administrators at midsize and large corporation think, and where they’re likely to cut corners and be lazy.

- Did you disable all network ports that are not in use?
– Did you change the default password on all your network-equipped devices?
– Is your internal voice-mail system using the default password?
– Did you install the latest patches on all you servers? Even the internal ones?
– Did you disable all services that are not in use?

Even though the book brings little new technical knowledge to a tech-savvy person, it shows you how a skilled hacker can obtain important information about your system with, what you think is, trivial information.

Verdict: I would recommend this book to anyone who works with technology or security in a corporate environment. Also, if you haven’t read The Art of Deception, I’d also recommend you to read it.

Author: Tags: ,
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Today we finally received our PO Box. I know many of you desperately been searching our site for an address to where you can send us fan-letters, high-tech gifts and regular checks. Look no further, here it is:

WireLoad, LLC
Re: PlayingWithWire
PO Box 390026
Mountain View,
CA 94039-0026

Now, don’t send too many gifts to us, because we have limited space in our post box.

Author: Tags:
Introducing YippieMove '09. Easy email transfers. Now open for all destinations.

Once in a while it happens. You know what I’m talking about, that ‘wow’-experience when you try out some new software.

This happened to us a couple of weeks ago. We were looking for a way to keep track of the server utilization. We needed to find out the usage during peak hours, to determine if it was time to upgrade to new hardware or buy another server soon or not.

After a bunch of hours googling and searching the Gentoo forum (guys, we’re still friends, right?), I found a thread that discussed this exact problem. After looking through a couple of the applications listed, I found it. The answer to all my problems was spelled Cacti.

Cacti is simply a web-based SNMP-client that uses RRDTool to generate nice graphs. Sounds quite simple, right? Why am I so impressed and excited? Because Cacti is really SNMP made easy.

I’ve been looking at similar solutions before, but everything I found felt very Beta / “Hack it to make it work on your system.” Cacti on the other hand was really easy to install and configure. It probably took me about 10 minutes to configure it for my needs, and then another 10 minutes to get a local SNMP daemon to run (even though this is not necessary).

Cacti requires the following:
– Apache (might work with other webservers)
– RRDTool
– A crontab-job

After configuring the database-settings for Cacti, you just add a crontab to execute a given PHP-page (poller.php) on a given interval (5 minutes), and you’re set. Now you can start adding your other SNMP-enabled devices to your Cacti page.

Screnshot of a site running Cacti
One of the demo-sites listed on

So let’s say you have this cool device that supports SNMP, but you don’t really feel like writing a custom template for the device. Well, just head over to the Cacti forum and search for the device. Chances are you’ll find that someone already wrote a template for the device. Take a look at the forum and you’ll find that people have written templates for all kinds of random stuff.

Things that we use Cacti to monitor:
– CPU usage
– Memory usage
– Network usage (both servers, routers and APs)
– Individual daemons (Apache, MySQL etc.)
– Laser printers (to monitor toner level)
– UPSes (with a plugin to get info from NUT)

Some of our graphs:

CPU usage in Cacti
CPU Usage when got Slashdotted

Traffic usage in Cacti
Bandwidth status on one of our routers

Toner status in Cacti
The status of my HP Color LaserJet

It’s very convenient to just browse into Cacti to get a quick overview of your network/server utilization. In addition to that you can also select what specific time-span (daily, weekly, monthly etc.) you want to see. I love it.

If those things listed aren’t enough, just head over to the additional script-page where you find tons of other script for other purposes. By default, Cacti comes with templates for the most common SNMP-setups.

So did we need to upgrade our server? Nope, as it turned out, we were doing fine.

By the way, due to security reasons you might want to disable the guest account in cacti.

Update 1: As the Cacti Developer Tony Roman points out, regardless if you use Cactid or not, you will still need a crontab job. The article previously stated that if you use cactid, you won’t need a crontab job, which was wrong.

Author: Tags: ,

© 2006-2009 WireLoad, LLC.
Logo photo by William Picard. Theme based on BlueMod © 2005 - 2009, based on blueblog_DE by Oliver Wunder.