23 October 2009 - 10:15pmThe Big 2-2

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Today I turned 22. I have neglected this blog for quite some time and figured today would be as good a day as any to post.

There are two main reasons for today’s post.  The first is that I have been trying to come up with an idea for a new project to work on. I’d like to do something web-related but can’t think of any good ideas that I see a need for. After our wedding I thought perhaps a universal gift registry site would be neat.  A place where items from any store/website could be added with some sort of system for keeping track of what has/hasn’t been purchased.  That idea didn’t last long since a quick Google search revealed several similar websites (none of which I particularly liked, but that’s beside the point).  So I decided I’d post my desire for a project here, perhaps one of the 5 people that reads this blog has a good idea for a web application that I could work on.  On a side note, I was recently taking a look at the Yii Framework for PHP development and I thought it might be interesting to try employing it in whatever project I take on.

The second reason is that I’ve been thinking of trying to take this blog in a more technical direction and possibly trying to post on a more regular basis.  It seems that the technical problems I run into and solve on a weekly basis at work would be good content for blog posts and may possibly draw others here who are facing similar issues.  Some of the topics I’ve considered include kernel compilation, ethernet interface bonding using the bonding kernel module (including an overview of the different bonding modes offered), hardware watchdog, diskless booting over a network, creating an automated install procedure using a Linux-based boot CD, and probably some others that are escaping me at the moment.  Some of those are less advanced than others, but each represent a different task/problem I’ve run into at work over the last few months.  If you are reading this and you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments.

The third reason (did I say two?) is to promote the COSI IRC server.  If you’re a COSI member, past member, wannabe member or otherwise you should definitely check out comm.cslabs.clarkson.edu.  Take a look at the wiki page for information on how to connect and say hello.

The fourth reason is to say you should check out openinternet.gov.  There are several Internet Service Providers in existence that are experimenting with internet plans that restrict access to certain lists of websites, charging customers more for further or unrestricted internet access.  Take a look at the website and educate yourself on Net Neutrality and how it may impact you.

That’s all I have to say about that.

1 Comment | Categories: COSI, General, Programming, Technology

7 August 2009 - 9:29pmFacebook Settings

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Following is a (only slightly edited) note that I just sent to my sister on Facebook.  The settings available on Facebook are a mystery to many users, so I tried to give her a quick overview of what’s there along with some recommendations.  My sister isn’t super computer-savvy, so I figured she might like some help.  If you know someone like her who could use some Facebook help, feel free to pass them this same note.

Hey Jess, you’re on Facebook!

(This turned out to be really long, if you read through it, you might want to print it out so you can follow along with it while you read and get all your settings straightened out. you can print it by highlighting the text, right clicking and choosing copy and then opening word and right clicking and choosing paste, then print)

I was just looking at your page and saw that you have a lot of leftover stuff on your “boxes” tab from when you used to use Facebook. I thought you might want to get rid of a bunch of it, since it’s the reason you stopped using Facebook before.

Hover over Settings at the top of your page and choose “Application Settings”. From there, use the drop down menu to show different categories of applications (“recently used”, etc.). You have three options:

  1. if the application is something you don’t want to have at all, just click the “x” to the right of its name.
  2. If you want it, but don’t want it to show up on your page, click “edit settings”… a popup box comes up and you can click “remove” next to “Box” to get rid of it from your “boxes” tab.
  3. If you want it and want it to show, you may want to edit the “privacy” settings on the edit settings box. Making it so that only your friends can see your stuff is probably a good idea.

Also, you might want to look through the overall privacy settings for your account. Go to “Settings” at the top of the page and this time choose “Privacy Settings”. There are 4 categories here, they’re all important.

  1. Go to Profile and you’ll see that you can control who can see each of the things on your page. It might be a good idea to limit most things to just your friends plus perhaps your college network (certainly don’t let everyone in the world or the whole binghamton network see all your stuff). Also go to the “Contact Information” tab on this page and make sure you aren’t showing everyone in the world your screenname and email address. Make sure you click save changes on each page.
  2. Now go to the “Search” category. I’d recommend setting the dropdown to “My networks and friends” and then checking which boxes you think people that searched for you should see. Save your changes and then
  3. go to the “News Feed and Wall” category. Here you can set what types of things you do will show up in other people’s news feeds. Uncheck anything you don’t want to be broadcasted on everyone’s News Feed. Save your changes and then
  4. go to the “Applications” category. Click the “Settings” tab and you’ll see that here you can specify what parts of your information you’d like Facebook to make available to other applications (applications are all the annoying things that put boxes on your page). Uncheck stuff you don’t think you want an application to be able to use (you may want to uncheck things like pictures at least). Be sure to save your changes.

Now, if you go to Settings again and click on Account Settings, you can go to the Networks tab. Here, you should be able to join your college’s network so you can start meeting some people from your school. You’ll definitely want to be part of that network when you get to school. I think you just need your college email address. You can also go to the Notifications tab (after you saved your changes) and choose when you want Facebook to send you emails about crap. I have almost everything unchecked because I hate 12341209725 Facebook emails all the time.

Just trying to get you started on the right foot with this online stuff. I want you to be safe and not be exposing too much information about yourself to the wrong people. Also, always be careful what you post online. Chances are, someone can see it that you didn’t think about.

Hopefully it helps her at least a little bit.  I also offered to log in to her account and go through some settings for her, but I encouraged her to try it herself so that she can learn what types of things she has control over.

1 Comment | Categories: COSI, General

21 July 2009 - 9:48pmWedding and Honeymoon

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Joelle and I got married last weekend!  Those that were there know that the ceremony and reception went really well and that everything turned out great.  The day went by so fast that we don’t even remember it all that well.

On Sunday morning after the wedding, we flew to Colorado for our honeymoon.  We spent the week hiking and rafting in Rocky Mountain National Park.  The weather was perfect and we had a lot of fun.  We took a lot of pictures and posted them all online at http://picasaweb.google.com/bennettj1087. When we get them, the wedding pictures will probably get posted there too.  Eventually, maybe we’ll get ourselves a decent camera and start taking more pictures and posting them there as well.

We opened our wedding gifts and cards this past Sunday with our parents, sisters, a cousin, an aunt and a friend.  We got a lot of good things and a lot of money and are very thankful to everyone for the nice stuff they got us.

At this point, I’d like to take a moment to mention one particular gift that holds a special place in my heart.  Ryan and Pat purchased for Joelle and I a Blendtec Total Blender. This is one of the coolest things that I would never have thought I’d ever get as a gift. We bought some ingredients when we were out shopping last night and made S’more milkshakes.  The blender is pretty awesome and works really well.  I’m looking forward to making more things with it.

7 Comments | Categories: COSI, General, Life

22 June 2009 - 6:41pmStuff

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I haven’t posted in an eternity, I know. It’s been over a month since I graduated from Clarkson and just about a month since I started my job in Liverpool, NY. Things are going well so far and I’m trying to learn as much as I can about my job each day. Joelle and I are getting married in just under 3 weeks! We’re really excited about it, though we still have a lot of little things to figure out.  If you got you’re invitation in the mail, please fill out the RSVP card and get it back to us ASAP.  We need them by the 27th of June so we can let our reception location know how much of each meal we need and such.

On another note, I went for a bike ride around the neighborhood today.  I thought I’d be able to last an hour, but I was wrong.  I rode for about a half hour before I was basically dead, which amounted to about 3.2 miles of riding, according to Google:

View Larger Map

I mapped out the following route after I got back (comes out to about 5.8 miles) and I’d like to be able to work up to it over the next week or so. We’ll see how that goes.

View Larger Map

1 Comment | Categories: COSI, General, Life

15 April 2009 - 7:26pmSetting up a Subversion Server

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Ryan and I recently did a project detailing the process of setting up a Subversion server. The procedure is really simple and only takes about 15 minutes or so.  If you try it out for yourself and find any problems, please let me know.

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7 April 2009 - 10:44amUpdate: Google Calendar Feed Parser

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I was just looking through some old posts and came across this one that was a follow up to my release of the Google Calendar Feed Parser plugin for WordPress.  At that point (about 2 weeks after the release), I’d had my plugin downloaded 50 times.  I thought that was amazing and it felt pretty neat to know that people were actually using something I made.

Inspired by reading that just now, I decided to check and see the status of my plugin as of today… about 10 months since the release.  I’m really excited to report that it has been downloaded 1,315 times.  Maybe this summer I’ll have some free time to do some more work on the plugin (add a few missing features and fix some bugs).

5 Comments | Categories: COSI, General

24 February 2009 - 2:40pmPacking up and moving out

I recently discovered that it is possible for me to cancel my account on Bluehost and be refunded the balance of what I’ve paid in advance. This is pretty sweet because I’d like to be able to take advantage of the features that Dreamhost has to offer (SVN, WebSVN, etc.).

So, today I started backing everything up and I think I’ll be making the move soon. During that time this site and the few others I have on this account will be offline, though hopefully not for too long.

I’m not 100% sure on the process quite yet. I need to make sure all my domain names get transferred properly, which may involve having both accounts active for the transition. Once I have everything transferred, I should be okay to cancel the old account. First, I plan to talk to someone at Bluehost to verify that I will be refunded the appropriate money upon cancelling my account.

So, over the next couple days, if this site is unavailable for a little bit, you’ll know why.

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11 February 2009 - 4:46pmSSH Port Forwarding


For some reason, Clarkson has recently found it necessary to block incoming requests to dorm subnets, making it impossible to directly access your campus-connected computer from somewhere else in the world.  This is very frustrating, especially if you host services on your computer, such as Subversion, a web server or other things.

To remedy this situation, I’ve done a little reading on using SSH to forward ports from your computer to a remote computer, thus providing a pathway (encrypted, I might add) from your off campus computer to some location on campus.  This is quite beneficial for a number of reasons and I’ll list some examples to help me explain.

First, I used the following SSH command the other day to download a file from the web server running on Ryan‘s computer:

ssh -D 8080 -Nf <username>@<ssh server on campus>

This accomplishes a few things.  First, it creates an encrypted connection between your computer and some server on campus (obviously one that’s accessible from the world).  Secondly, the -D 8080 portion creates a SOCKS v5 proxy on your local machine that forwards all requests it receives across the ssh connection.  This means that if you open Firefox’s connection settings and set your SOCKS v5 proxy to localhost:8080, you can access webpages as if you were directly connected to the Clarkson network.

Second, I used this command just today to access my computer’s Subversion repositories (over http):

ssh -Nf -L8080:<remote server>:80 <username>@<ssh server on campus>

I was then able to check out code from Subversion on my campus-connected computer using svn co http://localhost:8080/svn/.  Everything requested from localhost:8080 is sent over the SSH connection to the port on the remote server specified.  This same idea can be applied to any ports you might need… 3389 for remote desktop, 22 for SSH, 20/21 for ftp, etc.

I should also mention the -Nf portion of each command.  -N tells ssh not to execute remote commands, aka, don’t give a command prompt after connecting.  The -f piece simply sends the ssh session to the background once connected.  Both of these are particularly useful when using SSH to forward ports for other services.

I’m sure this is just touching on the surface of what’s possible when using the port forwarding features of SSH.  These two ways of doing it have proven very useful for me and at least now they’re documented here for me to reference.  Hopefully you find them helpful too.

P.S. For a limited time only, please enjoy the improperly nested blinking marquee at the top of the page!  No telling when this feature will vanish, so soak it up while you still can!

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6 November 2008 - 11:51pmClasses


So my schedule for this coming semester (my last one!) is all set.  It goes as follows:

  • COMM 444 (Unix Web Administration) – MW 4:00-5:15
  • CS 444 (Operating Systems) – MWF 2:00-2:50
  • CS 445 (Compilers) – TTh 9:30-10:45
  • CS 452 (Computer Graphics) – TTh 1:00-2:15
  • CS 464 (Game Development) – TTh 8:00-9:15

I think it looks pretty good (aside from the 8am class on Tuesdays and Thursdays).

1 Comment | Categories: Clarkson, COSI, General

1 October 2008 - 11:05pmMainframes

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So today I completed parts 1 and 2 of the IBM Master the Mainframe Competition.  All total it took me about 4 hours to complete.  I’m hoping I got all of the part 2 answers right and that I finished within the first 60 (the prize is $100).  Some of the content was completely different than last year’s, but about half of it was pretty much the same as it was last year (too bad I didn’t take time to document the exact procedures from last year).

Since I’m not at school this semester while I do my co-op, I’m thinking I may take time to work on part 3.  The five people to have accumulated the most points in part 3 tasks by December 29 win an MSI Wind Laptop running Linux (the top two of those five get a trip to the Mainframe lab in Poughkeepsie, NY).  A laptop would be a sweet prize so I figure it might be worth the effort to work on part 3 (not to mention the fact that I’ll probably learn a lot from it).

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