Category: Linux/GNU

Securing your Load Balanced WordPress Site with Rackspace Cloud Networks

A few months back I wrote an article about getting your load balanced WordPress site up and running with the Rackspace Cloud, an article that was picked up on the Rackspace blog. The focus of that article was getting everything running correctly rather than securing the data, mainly because it was a massive pain in the neck with first generation cloud servers. But since the launch of the Next Generation cloud servers and Rackspace’s Cloud Networks it has become amazingly simple to isolate your vulnerable traffic from prying eyes. I’ve been using the Rackspace Cloud Networks service since it was in beta testing, and given my experience I thought it would be a good idea to revisit this topic and add some pointers on how to quickly and efficiently secure your inter-server data in the Rackspace cloud.

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Doing cool stuff day

Once in a while, I like to have a binge-like session where I take care of some of the projects I’ve been putting off. Here’s what my workbench looked like this afetrnoon:

Doing cool stuff

Doing cool stuff

So from left to right, installing madwifi drivers on my new Eee PC to get the wifi working, installing Ubuntu on my old X 30 to get it ready for new users, getting ready to recover data from a dead hard drive, and checking someone else’s install on an Eee. All told, it took about 3 hours to finish everything off, but I did everything I set out to (except recovering the data from the hard drive, which was clicking something awful despite liberal application of the refrigerator trick).

HOPE wrap-up

HOPE, the Hackers on Planet Earth conference, was this weekend, and it was amazing.

Cat and I started out from New Rochelle about 7:30 AM, and took a cab to the Hotel Pennsylvania. We dropped our bags off at the baggage storage place in the basement, and headed off to the conference. At registration, I mentioned I was a speaker, and the people promptly handed me a pretty blue lanyard for my badge, instead of the regular black one Cat recieved.

Badge from HOPE

Badge from HOPE

We headed upstairs and hung around in the hammocks for a while, setting up the RFID badges and talking to a group of HAM radio operators that we were talking to on the conference’s simplex frequency (147.525 FM). It was pretty fun to talk to the 20 or so HAMs that attended, seeing what they were up to and checking out the stuff they were building.

For most of the conference, we were bouncing from one talk to another. Here’s a list of all the talks I attended:

  • The Attendee Meta-Data Project
  • Bagcam – How Did TSA and/or the Airlines Manage to Do That to Your Luggage?
  • Citizen Engineer – Consumer Electronics Hacking and Open Source Hardware
  • Featured Speaker – Kevin Mitnick
  • Featured Speaker – Adam Savage
  • Featured Speaker – Jello Biafra
  • From a Black Hat to a Black Suit – How to Climb the Corporate Security Ladder Without Losing Your Soul
  • A Hacker’s View of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
  • Hacking the Mind, Hacking the Body: Pleasure
  • The Last HOPE Closing Ceremonies
  • Maintaining a Locksporting Organization and Breakthroughs in the Community
  • “Off the Grid” Voice/Data Communications
  • Packing and the Friendly Skies – Why Transporting Firearms May Be the Best Way to Safeguard Your Tech When You Fly
  • Social Engineering
  • Technical Surveillance Countermeasures (TSCM) – A Brief Primer on the Arcane Art and Science of electronics Surveillance and “Bug” Detection

We also spent a fair bit of time bouncing between the lockpicking village (Cat was determined to figure out how to pick locks) and sitting around in the hammocks. There was a chatroom-like app running the whole conference where attendees could type short messages and they would appear on the bottom of the big screen on the 2nd floor. It was pretty entertaining, especially late at night.

Me speaking at HOPE

Me speaking at HOPE

My talk went off fairly well. At first I couldn’t get the notes to display on my laptop, but I decided it was better to get started and do it off the top of my head than to worry about getting the notes in the right format. According to the RFID badges, there were at least 75 people in the room, but taking into account for the percentage with RFID enabled, I’d put the estimate closer to 100. Everyone in the audience seemed interested, and asked some really good questions. And despite not having my notes handy, on later reflection, I hit every point I wanted to make.

On Sunday, I went and took the General class upgrade exam for my amateur radio license, and to my surprise, I passed! So I am now (for the time being) KC2QCY/AG, at least until I get the license in the mail.

Cat soldering together a TV-B-Gone

Cat soldering together a TV-B-Gone

Me and Cat also built our own TV-B-Gones, those adorable little contraptions that turn off TVs from across the room. Cat had fun with hers in the TGIFriday’s in Penn Station, turning off the TVs around the bar and pissing off some pretty inebriated folks. No one suspected the cute, innocent girl in the corner, though. Wonder why…

One last link, this time from the closing ceremonies. Trust me, it’s worth the click.

In short, it was one of the greatest weekends of my life, and I can’t wait to do it again in 2010 at The Next HOPE. And this time, I’m dragging more friends along. I can see it now, the Penn State posse…


A few years back, I wrote a quick little PHP program that displays the relative activity of a phpBB forum both numerically and graphically. It’s quite simple, but so effective that it’s used by the administrators of multiple forums to see what’s going on.

After working with Chris this afternoon to update the code, I just wanted to post it here so that anyone who wants it can find it. Thanks to Sell and Dobbs for the troubleshooting help they gave me with this.

RepubliStats v. 1.1.2

[EDIT] Here’s a link to a working version: