Virtualbox and Ubuntu (MATE)

I might be bailing from Windows, but I still need it for work.  Luckily I’ve been using Virtualbox for my work machine (for a variety of reasons I won’t get into here).  However, I installed Vbox 5.02 on my Ubuntu MATE laptop, imported my virtual machine, and upon first run was greeted with:

Kernel driver not installed (rc=-1908)

The VirtualBox Linux kernel driver (vboxdrv) is either not loaded or there is a permission problem with /dev/vboxdrv. Please reinstall the kernel module by executing

‘/etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup’

as root. Users of Ubuntu, Fedora or Mandriva should install the DKMS package first. This package keeps track of Linux kernel changes and recompiles the vboxdrv kernel module if necessary.

I tried what the error said, but no dice.  It could not recompile the vboxdrv kernel module.  After a bit of searching around I found the following solution:

sudo apt-get install dkms build-essential linux-headers-generic; sudo /etc/init.d/vboxdrv setup

Removing AVG from Ubuntu

I’m using Ubuntu Mate 1.8.2 and for some unknown reason installed, or tried to install, the AVG deb package (avg2013flx).  Well, the install failed. I did some research to attempt to rectify this and instead came to the conclusion that I didn’t need AVG in the first place.  So I tried uninstalling it… and that failed:

Turns out part of the install failure involved the installers inability to fire up the AVG service, avgd.service, and that’s where the uninstaller was choking – trying to turn off that service that wasn’t on in the first place.  What a stupid ass uninstallation script.  Thankfully the fix was pretty easy:

  1. Open an elevated (sudo) text editor of your choosing and navigate to /var/lib/dpkg/info and open the file avg2013flx.prerm
  2.  Locate all instances of the following lines (my prerm had two sets) and comment them out by placing a pound sign (or a number sign or hashtag depending on your age, geographic location or level of nerdiness) at the beginning of each line.
  3. Save the file, and then attempt to uninstall the app again:
    sudo apt-get remove --purge avg2013flx

If you were having the same problem I was, that should do the trick.

Microsoft slips it to you on Windows 7 and 8

Microsoft is slipping into Windows 7 and 8 the same data mining and privacy violating tracking that has made news for being a part of Windows 10.  I’m in the midst of absorbing it all, but for now further info, including updates to block, can be found here.

Also, instructions on how to opt-out of their CEIP (Customer Experience Improvement Program) which if you’ve installed Office you’ve surely inadvertently joined, can be found here.

This is getting to be a bit much.

CMS dangers: Plugins. This episode – Sweet Captcha

First, an apology for anyone who recently visited this site and found themselves bombarded with pop up ads or alarmist claims that they’d contracted viruses.  I’m incredibly sorry.  A plugin that I use(d), SweetCAPTCHA, is now injecting pop ups in what appears to be an attempt to monetize their plugin.

Now, whether SweetCAPTCHA’s been compromised (I don’t think so) or has turned to nefarious means to try to fill their coffers (ding ding!), the ease at which this happened should set off alarm bells for CMS users everywhere (after all, SweetCAPTCHA’s not WordPress specific).  I’ve been absolutely guilty of thoughtlessly hitting the “upgrade” link on plugins, especially on sites of my own.  I’m a bit more cautious with client sites after having been bit more than once by an upgrade that rendered inoperable an important plugin, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes I don’t do sufficient research before and adequate QA after some upgrades.   And that leads to a night like tonight, logging into all my personal and client sites in a panic to see who had SweetCAPTCHA installed and activated (thankfully no clients – only this site and one other personal site).

Plugins are third party.  They’re dangerous.  We’re trusting them to do what they say they do and nothing more.  And we placing that trust in them again and again each time we agree to an upgrade.  We need to be careful.

So again, I sincerely apologize.  This site doesn’t get a whole lot of traffic, but the traffic it does get are mostly people looking for help.  Every time I receive an email or comment from someone telling me this little site of mine has helped them it makes me a bit warm inside.  That SweetCAPTCHA hijacked my little warmth generating site to take advantage of its visitors pisses me right the fuck off.

Read more about SweetCAPTCHA’s shitty new business model here and here.

Go Away Windows 10

I ran Windows 10 on one of my laptops for awhile.  It looks nice.  It also has major problems, including privacy concerns and the inability to truly stop/delay update delivery and installation.  That laptop is now running Ubuntu Mate again.  And for those of us on pre Windows 10 machines, it’s pushy.  I get daily prods to upgrade on machines that I know good and well will either run dog slow or not at all on 10.  My goal now is to make that nag go away.  Here’s my current method. This seems to work on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.  Your mileage may vary and, as with everything I post, this is all at your own risk.  The screenshots that follow are from Windows 8.1.

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Tracking Protection in Firefox – let it help you

By turning on tracking protection in Firefox you’ll not only get some help in blocking sites known to track their visitors, but you’ll reduce your page load time.  Win win!

  1. In the URL/Location bar in Firefox, enter about:config and hit enter.
  2. You’ll get a friendly warning that you’re poking around under the hood.  Promise to be careful to continue.
  3. Search for privacy.trackingprotection.enabled and set it to True.

That’s it!

App Pools Gone Mad!

IIS.  I’m not a fan.  But it’s a requirement where I work, so there you go.  Occasionally one of our IIS servers will slow to a crawl or stop responding altogether.  Often it’s a application pool run amok.  An app pool is essentially a container that holds the processes of a web application.  And if your web application isn’t written well, and doesn’t have decent controls in it, it can go nuts.  If someone can, say run an open ended database query with the potential to return a bajillion records because your app doesn’t disallow this sort of irresponsible behavior, the app pool containing that process is going to fill. And fill. And fill, eventually gobbling all  your processor cycles. An easy way to discern this is if the process w3wp.exe is pegging your CPU at 99%.  Find this in Task Manager.

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Active Directory Account Lockout – Creation – Deletion – Disable monitoring

We’ve used a variety of third party tools to monitor Active Directory domain account changes.  They’ve all either been expensive or kind of sucked (or, unfortunately, both).  But if you’re running a relatively new OS on your controller you can use the magick of Powershell to ship you alerts on account changes!  Powershell can monitor the local Security Event Log on your controller and ship you an email when events matching your description are entered.  Here’s an example Powershell script:

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USB Game Controllers and Windows 8

Once upon a time, long ago, I had an Unreal Tournament problem. The problem was that I was playing too much Unreal Tournament. So I gave it up and, since then, haven’t played games much at all.  Recently, however, I found myself pet sitting a puppy that needed to be kept in a confined space, eg: my office, and needed company, eg: me, so I grabbed a game I’d read about: Guacamelee.  And I had some Nintendo style knockoff controllers laying around from having built a Raspberry PI MAME machine for fun.  I installed the game, plugged in the controllers, confirmed Windows saw them, and fired up the game.  It couldn’t see the controller at all.

I did two things to fix this problem.  First, I installed DirectX.  Secondly, I downloaded x360ce, unpacked it into the root directory of the game, renamed the xinput1_3.dll to xinput9_1_0.dll (which is already done for you in the download above), fired up x360ce.exe to confirm it could see the controller, killed it, and fired up the game.  Voila – controller.

Complications Of a Small Town, Pt 1


I’m a naturalized ATLien.  I wasn’t born there, or in the south at all, but I lived there from early high school on.  Nearly 30 years, all told.  From there I moved temporarily to Phoenix, another large city.  And from there I moved to my current hometown of Bend, Oregon, population roughly 90,000.  Prior to moving here I anticipated what “small town” life would be, including its difficulties. Limited restaurants, limited stores, limited entertainment possibilities etc.  Among the things a wise person doesn’t do in Bend are purchasing a car. Cars old and new are easily 30% more here.  I’ve debated having a buddy back east flatbed me cars sought after here to resell.  Even with the cost of ‘bedding them I think a decent profit could be turned. Thrift stores here will surprise you as well.  Continue reading