Radial Blur
  1. Why I Hate Apps

    November 8, 2012 by Mike

    I absolutely loathe and detest the word "App". Whenever anybody says it I die a little bit inside. It's very similar to how I used to feel about the term "Web 2.0". Apps are just the current fad. I'm constantly bombarded by articles about some asshole or other who made a million dollars by publishing some bullshit "App" in the "App Store".

    App is just short for Application, which has been in the computer lexicon for decades. It's pretty much just another way of saying "Program", or "Piece of Software". Whenever someone approaches me by saying "I had a great idea for an App..." I scream in my head at them and fight back the impulse for murder. Now, if someone approached me and said "I had a great idea for a program..." I'd actually take them seriously.

    I think my issue with App is that it's this bullshit yuppie slang invented by "App"le. I mean seriously, I understand that the word Application is pretty long and could be shortened. But Apple's created this whole concept. Not only have they shortened the word Application, but they've shortened the whole program. Now it's just a fancy little icon that you pay $0.99 for that does fuck all once you've put it on the phone. They're mostly good for wasting time while you're taking a dump.

    Now every prick in line for a latte at Starbucks thinks they can make a million dollars by spending $3000 hiring Indians to write code and then unleash their horseshit on everybody who has a smart phone, which is everyone.

    And just like that, Apple commoditized, yuppified, and took all of the remaining dignity out of programming as a profession.

  2. How To Handle A Server Hacking

    November 6, 2012 by Mike

    I had an issue with one of my servers going down repeatedly. This is very bad news for someone like me who makes a living as a web developer. Hosting websites and keeping my pages up and my clients happy is something that is very important to me, and when a server goes down, my clients are not happy and I am not happy.

    I took a look at the server and the issue was that all of the available hard drive space had been used up. I deleted a bunch of files and cleared up several gigabytes of space. A couple of days later the server went down again. Same issue.

    I also got an email regarding spam emails being sent from one of my IP addresses. I went looking for the largest files and directories on my server and discovered that my mail logs had been going crazy. I discovered then that my server had been compromised to send spam email.

    Even worse.

    I set about looking to discover what I could. I searched google because I know that sometimes hackers like to post about their accomplishments, sometimes hackers work in teams with other hackers and leave their chat logs open and searchable to the internet. I took a look through google and discovered a conversation showing how they had gotten into my server. I discovered that I had stupidly left an old account on that I had created for a customer that had the same username and password based on a dictionary word. I realized that I was an idiot.

    I searched around and did what I could. Deleted the mail queues. Deleted the logs. Deleted extra users. Deleted the insecure user. Yet still my server continued sending email. I looked through the crontabs for all users and couldn't find any processes or scripts. I then asked for help.

    I found a very skilled programmer on twitter named @wh1zzz0 and approached him for help. He helped me go through and secure my server and then also showed me how to search for rootkits. A rootkit is something that a hacker can leave on a server for him to gain access later even if you've changed your passwords.

    He told me about rkhunter (short for rootkit hunter), which is a piece of software that allows you to search your server for rootkits.

    I downloaded and installed rootkit hunter from sourceforge:

    Installing and running this searched for hundreds of commonly used rootkits and helped me discover the source of my problems.

    I hope that my mistakes may help someone else learn and protect their server in the future.