Linux From Scratch

September 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I’ve been working with some new students on learning *NIX. To facilitate this I’m having each of them create a Linux From Scratch build. At the same time I plan to create my own LFS build (I just realized its been a decade since I’ve last done this). As this progresses I’ll post more here to help people with this process in areas they may experience problems.

Categories: UNIX Tags: , ,

FBI ALERT/IRS email is a scam

June 21, 2011 11 comments

Since I work in an accounting office a few people forwarded an email to me before clicking anything to see if it was harmful. The message title reads : “FBI ALERT/IRS” and here is the body:

—–Original Message—–
From: Seattle Washington []
Sent: Monday, June 20, 2011 2:14 AM
To: undisclosed-recipients:

View attached file to read important Email from FBI/IRS. You are to contact
the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in Seattle, Washington 98174 for your Tax
Fee Clearance. find below their contact details:

Contact Person: Mr. Jake Potter


Contact Email :

Seattle Washington Department.

245K   View   Download

As you can see the email includes an attachment to be clicked, a PDF in this case.  This email is definitely a scam. I tested the PDF on a test system and it appears to be clean.  However you can see the text of this PDF below and see that it most definitely is a scam:

I thought it was a nice touch having the CC include the Supreme Court of the United States.

No matter what do no send an email or call the number in the announcement. It’s definitely a scam!!  For one this is not how government agencies communicate!!!  If you find any letters like this you are unsure of its best to find someone who can make the determination for you!

Categories: Scams, Security

Arrow keys not working in Excel, it scrolls instead

April 7, 2011 8 comments

Been a while since I posted, but here is a quick easy answer to a problem I’ve seen quite often. When you are working in MS Excel it is quite easy to move between fields using the arrow key. Every once in a while I’ll have a client call and as if I can fix their Excel because the arrow makes “everything move”.

The fix for this is simple: The scroll lock key has been pushed on the keyboard. Hit the scroll lock key again and your arrows will work normally. If that doesn’t fix it I would check to make sure you don’t have a macro that is causing issues.

Categories: Networking Tags: ,

New Small Business Tip: Shoestring!

March 17, 2011 1 comment

This was originally posted on the TN Tax Accounting blog.

Starting a new business can be expensive. If this is your first business there will be an urge to spend money everywhere. It’s only natural because you’ve heard many times “it takes money to earn money”. Well I’m here to say that doesn’t mean you keep spending for no reason, especially when starting out. This is time when you need to keep on a shoestring budget.

It is far more wise and economic to start your business “on the cheap”. If the business can be started from your home that is a great way to save money. If not maybe someone you know has an office or retail space where they are willing to give you some space. Even if you pay rent to that person, it will likely be cheaper than leasing a space of your own.

Some other possible ways to save money up front:

  • Don’t hire employees until you have enough work for them to keep busy! Until that time you can hire temps or other contractor types.
  • Don’t over-buy office and other supplies! The urge will be there to get fully stocked. But remember every dollar you spend on supplies takes away from money you can spend elsewhere!
  • Don’t over-spend on marketing. Targeted marketing will get a better return on investment than placing ads in every medium possible. Look at what your competitors are doing and start from there.
  • Give out business cards! Business cards are cheap and they work. Give them out to everyone.
  • Pass costs on to your customers. If you are just starting to get customers this is important. The urge will be there to eat a lot of costs to get/retain customers. Unfortunately this will also set a false expectation and may cost you a lot of money later on when you are stuck under-priced.
  • Which leads to my final tip: DON”T UNDER-PRICE!! Setting a price for your goods or services is always hard. Do some research and see what your competitors are charging. If you believe your product is of superior quality then you can charge above the average rate. If you feel you have a competitive advantage and can provide cheaper prices then go below the average.

There are other ways to bootstrap your finances when starting a small business. The main key however is to make sure you only spend money when necessary.


Categories: Business Tips Tags:

MS Forecaster locked for maintenance

January 11, 2011 Leave a comment

This is kind of a weird one, so thought I would post in case I have to Google it again.

Today I had a user posting budget periods in MS Forecaster 7. While doing that the computer had locked up and he had to reboot. After rebooting nobody could get write access because the following message came up:

The system is currently locked for maintenance. Contact the Microsoft Forecaster Administrator for further information.

I found some references to this in MS KB962792 and a few other articles, but nothing that actually helped. The actual fix to the issue was easy:

  • Go into Forecaster client (not the web interface) as an administrator.
  • Click OK to the Maintenance message.
  • Go to “Tools” > “Recovery”
  • You will get a nasty message saying you better mean to do this or it may cause inconsistencies. Click “Yes”.
  • Click to re-index.
  • Wait and hope it fixed the problem.

After doing this users were once again able to log into forecaster.

Categories: Microsoft Tags:

Tool Spotlight: HashCalc

January 10, 2011 3 comments

When downloading files such as ISO’s and network gear firmware it is essential to ensure the file is not corrupted. To help with this, download sites will often provide an algorithm hash that was completed against the original file. After downloading the file you will use the same hash method and hopefully have and identical solution.

MD5 and SHA-1 have been the de facto hash methods available where I normally get files (MD5 shouldn’t be used anymore, but that’s another discussion). CRC32 is another one you may see.

If you use Microsoft Windows operating systems there is no build-in way to verify the hash of a downloaded file. I use a utility called HashCalc to perform this simple function. Here is the description off the HashCalc website:

A fast and easy-to-use calculator that allows to compute message digests, checksums and HMACs for files, as well as for text and hex strings. It offers a choice of 13 of the most popular hash and checksum algorithms for calculations.

Since it supports MD5 and SHA1 it covers 95% of what I need. For the few places that use other hash algorithms this program has still worked for me.

Use of the program is simple enough. Here are the steps:

  1. Choose your data file by browsing to it.
  2. Place a check in front of the algorithm to be used.
  3. Click Calculate.
  4. The output will be shown.

A few things to remember when using HashCalc:

  • Don’t choose all possible algorithms. This will work, but may lock up your computer! Performing hash checks is very CPU intensive!
  • While Windows XP is the last supported OS on their website. I can confirm the program works on Win7 64-bit.
  • I have a colleague who uses HashTab. He says this is a great way to add functionality to Windows Explorer. I have not verified that however.

It may seem unnecessary to do this for network gear such as Cisco and Juniper devices (because you can check the hash right on the device). However, you may be in a situation where you download the file and then bring it to a client site with a thumb drive. It would sure be nice to know before you leave the file is good.


Categories: Tools Tags:

Use PSCP from Windows to copy files to network devices and Linux servers

January 6, 2011 8 comments

PuTTYI just had a question asking how I get files to/from network devices and Linux servers originating from a Windows machine. For this I use PSCP, which is a part of the PuTTY set of utilities. I use PSCP for two reasons:

  1. FTP is dead, stop using it!!! SCP, SFTP or other similar protocols should be used for transferring files! If your network devices are only setup for FTP or TFTP then get them configured correctly!! (The same goes for telnet, start using SSH!)
  2. Its command line driven. This makes it quick/easy to use and script with.

That said I would recommend downloading and installing the Windows installer version of PuTTY from the download page. This will insure you have all of the binaries and help file available in your start menu, this is not required for operation however. The PuTTY installer does not update the path environment so PSCP can be run from anywhere.  To use PSCP from anywhere in the command line you will either need to use the full path for the executable every time or add the correct path statement.

Here are the steps for adding the path with Win7 (pretty much the same for other versions of Windows):

  1. Go to the Start Menu and right-click on computer.
  2. Choose Properties.
  3. Click “Advanced System Settings”
  4. Click on the “Environmental Variables” button.
  5. In the “System Variables” section double-click on “Path”.
  6. Go to the end of the “Variable Value” blank and semi-colon and the path to where the PuTTY binaries are located. Here is the path statement I added for my 64-bit Win7 machine:
    ;C:\Program Files (x86)\PuTTY
    For a 32-bit Windows OS it would be:
    ;C:\Program Files\PuTTY
  7. Click OK out of all these screens and reboot.

You will now be able to use any of the PuTTY binaries (including PSCP) from the command line without using the full path.

Using PSCP is pretty easy. Just type PSCP without any options to see the usage.

Here is a sample upload via PSCP:

pscp test.file root@testhost:/tmp/

Here is a sample download via PSCP:

pscp root@testhost:/tmp/test.file .

If you’re not comfortable using the command line in Windows for file transfer then I would recommend WinSCP. But then if your working in network devices or Linux I would image you are OK with the command line.

Categories: Tools Tags: