Tales of the New Texas Universe

January 2017
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Off Target



This site may experience some serious outages on Saturday Dec 18th (Sometime later this week).  I will be installing a hardware firewall for the entire Data Center that is Fort OldDog and the programming could take some big hunks of time!  As in turn my brain to Mush!

May the Devil take the Spammers and Virus spreaders who are causing them.  If you read our books, I would love to sic Andy Webb and Team 1 on their asses!

I do have the programming figured out, it is just going to take more time than I have to devote to it Today the 19th!

The Hack (Part One)

The whole incident started very calmly on a Thursday evening. I was talking with Wes on Yahoo and he mentioned moving a rather large file around on the server. Normally I will do this while on line and talking as within the house I run 100 MB data streams on hard wiring and network switching thus I do not even bother the 20 KB needed for the audio associated with Yahoo.

My first hint was when I could not log in a root user either on SSH or FTP. As that was passing strange I made note to check on that on Friday night as I had to hit the sack looking at a rough day at the PCP on Friday. Friday was every bit what I feared. Let us say the Work Order read “Drain the Swamp” and I spent the whole damn day shooting alligators. I did at one time in the Day try to hit the site and could not get to it from work!

Once I arrived home I found that I could only get to the site from inside the house on the Internal Network that connects to a second Ethernet card in the machine. I could not connect to the External facing Network Interface Card (NIC) nor do a ping on it!

So I hiked my behind into the living room to the Monitor and Keyboard connected to the Keyboard, Visual and Mouse (KVM) switch which connects to the Server Farm here at Fort Old Dog! Don’t ask about how much is connected to that KVM. Trust me you do not want to know, just understand that this is my Wife’s Business and the Hobby that produces the Old Dog and Never So Few; it is also host to the Test Bed I use to support my efforts at the PCP. One of my Customers does not get anything that I have not tried here FIRST! There is crap here Wes does not even know about like a working version of my companies Support Desk that I use to support the PCP! So I get on the Server that Hosts these two sites on the native console (known to Linux/Unix pukes as tty0). I cannot login as root! WTF?

So I login as as a non root user and attempt to do an su command. For the unclear the su or sudo commands invoke temporary root privileges for the user, both however require that you enter the root password to do this. Both attempts failed on a password failure!

Screw This! I call up my Web Browser (Firefox for those who care) and invoke an HTML Management Program that stores it’s own passwords separate from Linux core programs. No I am not going to tell a potential Hacker what that Program is! Once in as root via that route I find that the root password has been changed! Now no panel will ever show you the Real Password., only the Security Hash of the password! I not being a dumb ass have the security hash of my password memorized (read that as written down) and the sucker has changed I used this program to change it back and login as root!

WOW the external facing NIC was no longer programmed to a Static IP, it was going out and requesting a DHCP address! WTF! I tried to put it back to a Static IP and the damn thing would not let me!

Using the existing link I went and loaded some heavy duty anti-intrusion software and the reports were ambiguous at best! The reports told me what files had been changed but, not what the cause was! They could only tell the family of attacks that this one had come from. Mucho time was spent on the Fedora-list mail list until I decided the only way out was a bare-metal rebuild!

Second surprise, when I fished a reinstall the damn thing came back! It was buried in the boot sector where not even GRUB (Grand ReUnified Boot Installer) could not touch it! Screw this!

There happens to exist a Utility called Disk Wiper that will do a NSA / DOD level scrub of a Disk or Disk system! I happen to own a copy (anyone surprised?) and sicced that Bad Boy on the Terabyte of storage on olddog, 16 hours later I had a clean disk system. It was so squeaky clean that the drives showed as Factory Fresh to GRUB!

I then installed a fresh copy of Fedora 13 and proceeded to rebuild our world. I had been able to save the databases for both sites and popped those back up, by Sunday night I was able to see the reconstituted sites on the Internal Network from the Outside, not so much!

The damn thing works but it will not talk to the World.

Stay tuned for Part 2 where you will learn more about the Internet than you wanted to know.

Terragen 2 – First Images

A New Planet

A New Planet

This is my first high resolution Terragen 2 rendering. It is an 800 x 600 pixel done in bitmap, a one meg file, converted to a smaller jpg. The Terragen 1 program I used for the video below is maxed out at 640 x 480. The original file here took 16 minutes to render but I spent about twelve hours figuring out how to do it. I still have not got to the part about adding vegetation except for a few samples.

This next image is the same basic terrain but from a different point of view.

A New Planet - A New View

A New Planet - A New View

This program is going to take a long time to learn.

Just How Do You Make a Doc Science Video?

At the Old Dog Network’s main studios up on the shores of Lake Superior, through the magic of blue screen and the liberal use of digital imagery, we shoot and edit the features we present for your enjoyment.

This is a pre-production view a project we are working on now. After you have seen enough hit the pause button to end the show.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.


The fish the Outlaw Don is showing off we call a “Hammer Handle,” for obvious reasons. We will work on this a little more before finishing it off. Take a look when it comes to a Theater or TV Screen near you!

Time for some Kipling

In the Neolithic Age
— Rudyard Kipling

IN THE Neolithic Age savage warfare did I wage
For food and fame and woolly horses’ pelt.
Was singer to my clan in that dim, red Dawn of Man,
And I sang of all we fought and feared and felt.

Yea, I sang as now I sing, when the Prehistoric spring
Made the piled Biscayan ice-pack split and shove;
And the troll and gnome and dwerg, and the Gods of Cliff and Berg
Were about me and beneath me and above.

But a rival, of Solutre, told the tribe my style was outre-
‘Neath a tomahawk, of diorite, he fell
And I left my views on Art, barbed and tanged, below the heart
Of a mammothistic etcher at Grenelle.

Then I stripped them, scalp from skull, and my hunting-dogs fed full,
And their teeth I threaded neatly on a thong;
And I wiped my mouth and said, “It is well that they are dead,
For I know my work is right and theirs was wrong.”

But my Totem saw the shame; from his ridgepole-shrine he came,
And he told me in a vision of the night: –
“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,
“And every single one of them is right!”

Then the silence closed upon me till They put new clothing on me
Of whiter, weaker flesh and bone more frail;
And I stepped beneath Time’s finger, once again a tribal singer,
And a minor poet certified by Traill!

Still they skirmish to and fro, men my messmates on the snow
When we headed off the aurochs turn for turn;
When the rich Allobrogenses never kept amanuenses,
And our only plots were piled in lakes at Berne.

Still a cultured Christian age sees us scuffle, squeak, and rage,
Still we pinch and slap and jabber, scratch and dirk;
Still we let our business slide-as we dropped the half-dressed hide-
To show a fellow-savage how to work.

Still the world is wondrous large,-seven seas from marge to marge-
And it holds a vast of various kinds of man;
And the wildest dreams of Kew are the facts of Khatmandhu
And the crimes of Clapham chaste in Martaban.

Here’s my wisdom for your use, as I learned it when the moose
And the reindeer roamed where Paris roars to-night:-
“There are nine and sixty ways of constructing tribal lays,

Doc Science Returns

I had been looking to talk to Electron Don for a few days but never found him on the net. When I caught up with him yesterday he sent me this little clip showing what he was up to.

Electron Don is Back with a Small video

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Later today there will be a new Superman episode at The Old Dog Barks, might as well go on over and take a look.

WordPress Updates

This was going to be a comment to the post below but it got too long for it to remain a comment.

Actually you probably won’t see any changes due to the newest version of WordPress at The FutureVerse unless I make a change to the theme. What I can see or the Old One can see are the changes going on behind the scene. The way posts are entered and the various ways the sidebar and other pieces of the blog fit together.

The FutureVerse is on a WordPress hosted site. There are pluses and minuses to that situation. I like it a lot because as the Dog says the WordPress Geeks take care of all the overhead. Things like backups and new features being compatible with what has gone on before. And they back everything up before they do change things which is very nice. The blog dashboard over there shows how the next version here is going to look over here.

The basic WordPress.com site is free of charge and there are some optional services that one can pay for. I think it supports about 80 different looks and many of these can be modified to certain extent. Easy and simple but a bit limited.

WordPress.org is the setup for those hosting on their own or purchasing hosting services. That is the platform for the various Old Dog Sites.

At Never So Few we can do pretty much what ever we can get away with. By that I mean what we can make work. So changing around the theme code and adding features are what makes this interesting. But that also means that when WordPress makes a change to the underlying code something that worked in the past may stop. That’s what happened to the first inline music player we had on the site.

I think we were running WP version 2.6 when we installed that plug-in. Between the Oldiwan going to Fedora 12 on the server side and then updating to WP V 2.9.2 it stopped playing any music. There are still many blogs running older versions of WP and I still get an occasional e-mail telling me the fix I provided back then is working on other sites. At NSF and at Old Dog Barks I had to change the player to get things working again. That spurred me into putting a video player on as well so it was for the best, but very frustrating for a time.

Another interesting difference between NSF and ODB is in the comment preview. At one time they were the same. Now with the AJAX plug-in running on this site the original comment preview is over ridden by the AJAX version and no longer works. At ODB without AJAX it still works just fine. I can hardly wait to see what things WP Version 3.x breaks.

What really is nice about NSF is that I get to play with the blog code and artwork and the Old Dog gets to play with the server. And sometimes we write stories.

Doc Science Live

Electron Don makes a guest appearance.

Get the Flash Player to see this content.

Electron Don and the Doc go way back so this little clip is a good one to lead off the Doc Science Show on the Old Dog Network.

As we work out the technical details of this major upgrade to our broadcasting software if you do not see the control bar for the viewer or player click on the title of the post and it should load. If not leave a message telling me what browser and version you are using. Thanks – Wes.

Adding Video

After spending the last couple of days working on adding a Video Player to the site I am making progress. I can handle You Tube files but I want to do a little more. What I need to do is play original video.

I downloaded a pluging from the Word Press Library it was a struggle at first but that was not the plugin’s fault. You Tube worked great first time I tried it. It was reading creating and reading Mp4 files that was so difficult.

I have video files in all kinds of formats. Most things I play using Video Player Classic. A while back I down loaded VLC. It tried to take over my system as the primary player for all video but I tamed it eventually and I do like it for some things. I have a number of full scale movie makers, Pinnacle Studio and Nero amongst them. The first Mpegs I converted with the high end programs did not fit the Mp4 specs for the new WordPress Plugin. VLC did convert though not perfectly. There are many options when converting video.

I am testing this stuff on another of the Old Dog sites, and I am on dialup, so every failed attempt takes a lot of time. While I am typing this post I am downloading another converter – Any Video Converter Free Version - this one was recommended to me by the Outlaw Don who says it is very good. It’s a 16 mb download so it will take me about an hour.

As I said I have the pluging working on another site and it may not translate here due to the theme template. Gonna have to see about that. The Inline Music Player I was using at Never So Few broke with the last server and WordPress Version Update. I have a new one working on the other site as well. Had it going a couple of months ago but decided to wait to try it out here because maybe the next WordPress version change will fix the problem with the old one.

One way or another in a few days I expect NSF to be Video Ready.

A Celebration

There is much going on at The Old Dog Barks because of today’s Earth Day holiday. You might take a look and I hope you all are enjoying the day off as much as I am.