Playgirl / Playboy Cupcake Disc Toppers Print

Chantelle’s client needed some pink and black Playgirl / Playboy themed cupcakes for an upcoming birthday party, meaning of course that I was asked to fire up Photoshop in order to oblige.

Included in the downloadable zip file is a 300 dpi print quality PNG file plus the .PSD for further alterations. The print sheet contains 30 disc toppers, half pink, half black.

Although you could print these out on a edible icing sheet, Chantelle instead chose to print them out on cardboard, stick them to a fondant disc, which then topped the cupcakes in question. Quite funky actually…

playboy-bunnies-cake-topper-sheet-webview

Anyway, you can grab the zip file here: Download Cupcake Topper Print File

How to Determine Windows Disk Usage

My work laptop kept pointing out to me that the free space on the primary C:\ drive was getting ridiculously low, meaning of course that I needed to step in and delete some files. However, in order to do this effectively, one of course needs a better picture – enter the art of windows disk usage analysis.

There are of course a myriad of solutions out there designed to do the job, but seeing as this was something that I only do once in a blue moon, I would of course prefer a free application. Enter Uderzo Software’s SpaceSniffer:

“SpaceSniffer is a freeWare (donations are welcome) and portable tool application that lets you understand how folders and files are structured on your disks. By using a Treemap visualization layout, you have immediate perception of where big folders and files are placed on your devices.”

Treemap is a great way of quickly spotting the largest folders (they are literally visually the largest panes in the view), and because you have the Windows Context menu available to you, you can simply hover over the largest pane, and jump straight into them to start lopping away.

I played around with a few others alternatives, including Scanner which uses a sunburst chart to display the usage of your hard disk, but I have to say, SpaceSniffer was by far the least hassle, smallest footprint and quickest to achieve what I needed done option.

Definitely worth noting here on the blog for future reference then in other words!

windows disk usage spacesniffer 1.1.4 screenshot

Related Link: http://www.uderzo.it/main_products/space_sniffer/

Apache: Simple way to Force a Domain Redirect

I was decommissioning an old server the other day, and in the process of moving the system to a new server I learned that the old domain was in fact one that we didn’t directly control. In other words, time to enforce a new domain on our clients! Of course, getting anyone to change URLs or domains on their personal machines is never an easy thing, so of course there has to be a small period of playing nice, in which you need to seamlessly redirect from one domain to the other. In other words, if an old URL is oldserver.com/about/ then I want anyone hitting that URL to be redirected to the new URL at newserver.com/about/.

To do this on your LAMP server is pretty easy thanks to the powerful mod_rewrite Apache module. Simply open up your relevant vhost declaration file in /etc/apache2/sites-available and add the following to the bottom of it (obviously using your own domains in place of the sample ones):

<IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
rewriteEngine on
rewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^oldserver.com$
rewriteRule ^(.*) http://newserver.com$1 [L,R=301]
</IfModule>

Reload your apache configuration with

sudo service apache2 reload

and try to hit “oldserver.com/about” now.

Works well, doesn’t it? (And it wasn’t even difficult to do!)

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How to Add a Line Break to a ToolTip

I sometimes use the fantastic jQuery qTip plugin for some more intelligent HTML tooltips in my web systems, and the other day I came across a need to insert a line break into my tooltip text. It turns out, to achieve this is relatively simple, but the solution is a little harder to find on the web than what it should be.

Translated, I’m saving it here for future reference for myself.

Ignoring the various other ways involving CSS manipulation, etc., one of the easiest ways of adding a line break to your tooltip text is to simply make use of a bog standard HTML entity:

&#013;

Seriously, that was all I needed to force a linebreak in my HTML tooltip. Problem solved, see?

html banner strip

Related Link: jQuery qTip plugin

How to Reboot a Frozen Huawei Ascend P6 Android Phone

Annoyingly, my Huawei Ascend P6 android phone (a really good phone just by the way), froze the other night whilst browsing digg.com, remaining in its locked, unresponsive state for far longer than what I was comfortable to wait.

Of course, this smart phone has a built in battery, so unlike what I used to do with the Samsung Galaxy Ace, I couldn’t just pop off the back cover and remove the battery in order to force a reboot, meaning that I needed to locate the appropriate soft reset option for my Huawei device.

huawei-ascend-p6-take-screenshotAs it turns out, the same key press combination used to take a screenshot on the phone, as well as force a hard reset/factory reboot of the device, is also employed if you need to do a simple device reboot: To summarize, in order to reset your frozen Huawei Ascend P6 android phone, simply press and hold both the power and volume down buttons simulataneously, for about ten seconds, until the screen goes black, the phone rumbles, and then reboots (you can let go of the buttons when the screen goes black).

Note that key combination will work regardless of whether or not the phone is frozen – if it is frozen, then the phone will reboot, if the phone isn’t frozen, it will first take and save a screenshot, before eventually triggering the reboot operation (don’t let go of the key combination during the screenshot process).

(As a bonus, if you do actually want to do a full wipe, in other words factory reset of your device, first turn off the phone, and then simultaneously press the power and volume down rocker. This will power up the device and allow you to select the factory reset option from a boot menu.)

Problem solved.

huawei-ascend-p6-android-smartphones

How to Reset Your Telkom IP Address

I sat with an interesting problem the other day. Essentially all of a sudden I couldn’t access this site (craiglotter.co.za) from my home connection, which of course meant that I immediately hopped on to Afrihost’s support page to log an issue (they currently host this site for me). They quickly responded saying that the site was loading just fine for them, and indeed, when accessing the site through an anonymous proxy like Anonymouse.org, I too could see that the site was up and running. So the next problem had to be my home Internet connection itself, and after running a couple of tracert requests to craiglotter.co.za, I could see that for some or other reason, one of the servers in the chain hop was simply refusing to respond to my machine’s requests.

Based on the support guy from Afrihost’s screenshot, I could see that the US-based address that was denying my traffic was allowing through his, so next on my steps to resolve was mucking about with different DNS services. Needless to say, this didn’t solve the issue either.

I rebooted the router once or twice, but that didn’t solve anything either, and then I twigged that perhaps I’m being rejected based on IP address – which in that case could be resolved by forcing a change of my Telkom line’s external IP address.

Grabbing my current external IP address via http://www.whatismyip.com/, I switched off my router for 25 minutes. No such luck. Neither did a sleep of 30 minutes do it either. Too late to call up Telkom support to request a line port reset, I located a note on the Internet that in order to manually reset your Telkom IP address in the manner least likely to raise flags (like cloning or changing your MAC address for example), you need to turn off your router for an extended time period – around 8 hours is a safe bet.

So I duly turned off the router (or rather, instructed Chantelle to turn it off before she came to bed in the evening), and the next morning as I settled in to start work, I flicked it on and checked my external IP address – success! To force a reset of your Telkom IP address, just turn off your modem for a super long period of time (+- 8 hours)!

Of course, if you are trying to do this during the day, you could just phone up Telkom and ask them to do a port reset which might solve the issue, or if you can access your router, switch the WAN connection to say the Telkom Guest Account and then back again, as this should also force an IP reassign according to Afrihost support guy (I received this last tip after having solved the issue, but it is worth mentioning here).

Anyway, problem solved!

blue network cable

Related Link: http://www.whatismyip.com/

Victoria Falls Safari Experiences

Needless to say, a trip to the majestic Victoria Falls, or Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Smoke that Thunders) as it is know to the locals, should be right near the top of anyone’s African sights bucket list. Of course, being in the area would also unlock the opportunity to experience the spectacular African wildlife through the endless number of available safari options – be it something on the Zambezi River, a trip into the heart of the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park, or even a full-day visit to the world-renowned Chobe National Park in Botswana!

victoria falls - zambezi

Sun International’s world renowned, opulent The Royal Livingstone Hotel lies on the banks of this mighty African river, and features a total of 173 en-suite guestrooms offering splendid accommodation in 17 riverbank residences. Infused with Africa’s tribal warmth, The Royal Livingstone is a hotel that exudes Victorian elegance and splendour, down to the finest detail of the lamps, the magnificent paintings, and the black and white photographs of early pioneers – indeed, it is the perfect sanctuary to reflect and rejuvenate.

royal livingstone hotel victoria falls 1

From this splendid base, a number of awe inspiring safari nature experiences are available:

  • Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park – Game drives into the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park will take you close to herds of buffalo or wild elephants. And don’t forget to ask your guide about the famous Bob Marley Tree.
  • Chobe National Park – The Chobe National Park was Botswana’s first national park and boasts one of the greatest concentrations of wildlife to be found anywhere in Africa, guaranteeing a thrilling full-day African safari.
  • Boat Cruises – The African Queen and African Princess Boat Cruises offer daily morning, lunch and sunset cruises, with game viewing from the comfort of an expansive river boat, complete with snacks and drinks.
  • Canoe Safari – Enjoy a Canoe Safari and experience the Zambezi River as David Livingstone would have in a makora or dugout canoe. This is a serene and natural way to be on the water without the sounds of engines as you gently glide past elephant, buffalo, antelope, giraffe, and zebra.
  • Cheetah Interaction – Interact with the fastest land animal on the planet in a safe environment where you can touch this magnifcent cat, walk with it, and witness its awesome speed and power in a simulated hunt.
  • Elephant-Back Safaris – Take a leisurely ride through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park with the chance of meeting wild animals along the way, and stopping alongside the Zambezi River. Then enjoy a unique interaction with your elephant after the ride.​
  • Game Drives – A game drive in the Chobe National Park takes you into one of the most famous game parks in the world featuring Africa’s Big Five and the world’s largest elephant population.
  • Horse Riding – A Horse Adventure allows you to get closer to the animals than ever before. The Victoria Carriage Company provides a variety of horse riding adventures including guided, leisurely trails through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park.
  • River Safari – A Zambezi River safari is the best way to experience the magic of the river and its animals, and takes you close to the elephants, hippos and crocodiles of this great river.
  • Walking Safaris – Livingstone Walking Safaris will get you really close to the African wild with a 3-hour walking safari with a professional guide and park scout through the Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Wildlife Park.

the royal livingstone hotel safari option 1

the royal livingstone hotel safari option 2

Whew. With all that available, no wonder it’s such a great idea to be able to put your feet up back at the Royal Livingstone!

the royal livingstone hotel safari option 3

(Please note that this is a Sponsored Post, placed via the MyScoop blog advertising network.)

Related Link: Victoria Falls | The Royal Livingstone

Ubuntu Server: How to Manually Start VMware Tools

I keep having to install VMware Tools on some of our Ubuntu Server installs (12.04) for a variety of reasons, and sometimes I notice that VMware Tools fails to start on reboot, meaning that one needs to manually start it up. So this is a quick reference on just how to do it.

Actually, it’s just a reminder of the command, but nevertheless:

sudo /etc/vmware-tools/services.sh restart

Valid switches do obviously include “start” and “stop” as well.

And needless to say, if you didn’t install vmware-tools to the default directory, then you’ll need to adjust the above accordingly.

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Ubuntu Server: Start Halted Process

My Linux knowledge is rather rusty, so needless to say, I managed to frustrate myself by accidentally halting a running program (VMware Tools installer) by pressing CTRL+Z whilst working on one of our Ubuntu Server installs (12.04) the other day.

So as a quick reminder to myself more than anything else, here is how to get back control, or start if you will, a halted program (job in this particular parlance).

First, to see a list of all jobs, run:

jobs

You’ll see a list of all available jobs, with their ID on the left hand side of the listing. If you want to continue the halted program in the background (let it do its business and then switch back to it later), enter:

bg %[number]

where [number] is the number identifier of the job the run in the background. Of course, you’ll probably actually want to have the program back in the foreground (like I needed to), which in that case meant I had to run:

fg %[number]

Easy as that. For quick reference, here is a list of general job control commands available to you:

  • jobs – list the current jobs
  • fg – resume the job that’s next in the queue
  • fg %[number] – resume job [number]
  • bg – Push the next job in the queue into the background
  • bg %[number] – Push the job [number] into the background
  • kill %[number] – Kill the job numbered [number]
  • kill -[signal] %[number] – Send the signal [signal] to job number [number]
  • disown %[number] – disown the process(no more terminal will be owner), so command will be alive even after closing the terminal.

Useful to know.

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Ubuntu Server: How to Generate a Certificate Signing Request (CSR)

Every now and then I need a new SSL certificate for a server, and of course therefore need to produce the relevant certificate signing request (CSR) for processing. So this little note sums up the Ubuntu Server (12.04 LTS) process in a nutshell, i.e. so that I don’t keep having to head out to Google to look it up! (Most of this is taken pretty much directly from the Ubuntu Server Guide just by the way)

Whether you are getting a certificate from a CA or generating your own self-signed certificate, the first step is to generate a key. You have two options when it comes to keys in terms of either running them with a passphrase or without. With a passphrase is obviously more secure because it becomes harder to compromise the key, but without is a heck of a lot more convenient because you don’t need to enter a passphrase every time you start up a secure service – in other words exactly what your Apache, Postfix, Dovecot service daemons require!

To generate the keys for the Certificate Signing Request (CSR) run the following command:

openssl genrsa -des3 -out my.server.co.za.key 2048

During this process you will be asked to enter a passphrase containing at least 8 characters. Also, you’ll notice that I like to name my SSL-related files using the domain that I am securing, so in this example the end result would a SSL certificate issued for my.server.co.za. (Of course, this is completely personal preference when it comes to a file naming scheme).

Now that we have a secure key, the idea is to generate an insecure version of it, essentially a key without a passphrase. To do this, run:

openssl rsa -in my.server.co.za.key -out my.server.co.za.key.insecure
mv my.server.co.za.key my.server.co.za.key.secure
mv my.server.co.za.key.insecure my.server.co.za.key

As you can see, we shuffled the file names so that the insecure CSR is now the .key file, whilst we’ve save the secure version for safekeeping as .key.secure.

Finally, to generate the actual Certficiate Signing Request (CSR), we run the following command:

openssl req -new -key my.server.co.za.key -out my.server.co.za.csr

You’ll be asked to fill in a whole lot of information (after being challenged to provide the passphrase that you entered when creating the original key), and once the .csr file has been generated, you can now safely submit it either to a CA for processing, or for use to create your own self-signed certificate from it.

Useful hint, one of the questions asked during CSR generation will be “Common Name”. The input here MUST be the fully-qualified domain name (FQDN) for the website you will be using the certificate for (e.g., “www.myserver.co.za”). Do not include the “http://” or “https://” prefixes in your common name. Do NOT enter your personal name in this field. If you are requesting a wildcard certificate, add an asterisk (*) on the left side of the common name (e.g., “*.domainnamegoeshere.com”). This will secure all subdomains of the common name. Finally, if you enter www.myserver.co.za as the common name, then the certificate will secure both “www.myserver.co.za” and “myserver.co.za”.

Useful to know.

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Related Link: Ubuntu Certificates and Security