Data loss & backups survey

I'm taking a small business course at my local college and one of my assignments is to write a business plan for a business which would be offering the product or service of my choice.

Since I'm interested in data recovery and backups, I've written a short online survey  about data loss and backups which will help me collect information for the project. It should only take two minutes to fill out and I would really appreciate it if you could take the time to complete it. The more results I have the better... Thanks! (btw, if you'd like to see the results, then visit this page).

Update: The survey is now closed. Thank you to all who participated!



I went to see NiN's Lights in the Sky tour at the Bell Center last week, it was one amazing (light) show! If they're coming by your city and you're a fan of NiN, you should definitely consider going.


You're a pirate!

While the poll is on the topic of DRM.... I really enjoyed this xkcd Tongue out


The magic SSH command

I love SSH's port mapping features. They're a bit complex to figure out, but they can prove to be very handy.

Once, I was updating a friends Fedora installation but I had to head home... He was behind a firewall and so I wouldn't be able to do remote access, even though sshd was running. Port mapping to the rescue! I logged in via SSH to my home machine and mapped his port 22 to a port on my local machine, so when I got home I was able to ssh to localhost and thereby get into his machine.

I've come up with my favourite SSH command that combines a few tricks - it goes as follows:

ssh -p port -l username hostname.or.ip -L lport:localhost:rport -D proxyport

I'll run through it step-by-step:

  • ssh -p port -l username hostname.or.ip

    This instructs SSH to connect to hostname.or.ip on port as username.

  • -L lport:localhost:rport

    This maps rport on the remote machine to lport on localhost (aka the machine you're currently using). Essentially, connection to port lport on localhost is the same as connecting to the remote host on port rport. It's very useful for mapping services running on the remote machine (such as VNC) to the local machine over a secure channel.

  • -D proxyport

    This makes SSH act as a SOCKS 4 proxy on localhost using port proxyport, which is needed for allowing traffic on ports which would otherwise be blocked (ie BitTorrent, FTP, POP, SMTP, etc in places that only allow traffic on port 80)

For example:

ssh -p 22 -l me -L 5905:localhost:5900 -D 5678

This maps the VNC screen :0 on (port 22, username "me") to the local VNC screen :6, and makes a SOCKS proxy on port 5678. If I connect to localhost:5906, it's the same as connecting to except thanks to SSH everything passes through an encrypted channel!


The MacBook Pro Latch

If you've been following my blog (I don't post often do I don't blame you if you don't Wink) you know that I've become a pretty big fan of Apple. Even though you do end up paying a slight premium for Apple hardware compared to a Dell let's say, the peace of mind from using OS X and the bundled software is well worth the extra cost.

I only have three complains about my MacBook Pro 4,1 (early 2008 model): A small and very bright white dot on the screen that only appears when displaying white pixels, small amounts of corrosion on the hand rest area near the trackpad (aluminum pitting), and finally the latch button to pop up the display has been stuck pressed in for the past two days and so the screen won't stay close properly.

Turns out that there isn't much I can do about the first problem; many other owners of MacBook models with LED-backlit screens also seem to have the same problem. The second is slightly annoying, but rather harmless... I doubt my sweat will be able to react all the way through the aluminum casing. However, the last one also seems to be a relatively common problem, and fortunately it's easy to fix! After two hours of fidgeting with a paperclip and protractor trying to push the latch forward, I finally decided to shine a flashlight into the small holes near the trackpad and latch mechanism. Sure enough, there was a small piece of plastic that had fallen into the hole and was blocking the latch from springing forward. I used a small metal hook to carefully move the piece of plastic upwards and not slide it ;across ;(where it would eventually just obstruct the latch again) and then removed it. Voila, the latch was working again!