erbmicha

the random braindump of a supergeek

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Steve Jobs 1955-2011

October 5th, 2011 · Text

The Crazy One

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How To: Cisco VPN with Snow Leopard & Lion & Mountain Lion via .pcf File

September 7th, 2009 · Tutorial

Snow Leopard excitedly came out-of-the-box with support for Cisco IPsec VPN which is what a lot of companies use.

The problem came when I tried to connect to the VPN at work. We were using the Cisco VPN client before but it was a nightmare to keep working all the time and the lack of any good error messages made debugging the connection near impossible.

So I took some time to figure out how to use the .pcf file that was given to me by the Network Admin to work with Snow Leopard.

You’d think that you could just add the .pcf file to your Keychain Access application and have it pull the information from there, but you’d be wrong. It couldn’t possibly be that easy. So we have to do the following instead.

  1. Make a VPN connection in your Network Preferences pane. Be sure to choose “Cisco IPsec” for the VPN Type.
  2. Enter your VPN server and credentials into the VPN Network Preferences. This will be your VPN username and password that your Network Admin gave you.
  3. Open the .pcf file in a text editor. Copy the text from the ‘enc_GroupPwd’ field, paste it into the form on this web site: http://www.unix-ag.uni-kl.de/~massar/bin/cisco-decode and click ‘decode!’. Select and copy the text next to ‘clear:’ and go to the next step.
    (Note: if there isn’t anything in ‘enc_GroupPwd’ but there is something in ‘GroupPwd’ they you can skip this step. Just copy the text from ‘GroupPwd’)
  4. Go back to the Network Preferences panel and click on the “Authentication Settings…” button. You’ll get a dialog that looks like this:
  5. Paste the text you copied from the decoding web site (or the ‘GroupPwd’ field of the .pcf file if you had that instead) into the ‘Shared Secret’ text box.
  6. Copy+Paste the text from the ‘GroupName’ field of the .pcf file into the ‘Group Name’ text box and click ‘OK’.
  7. Now you can try it out by clicking the ‘Connect’ button (and click ‘Apply’ if it asks which it probably will.)

Hopefully it all worked out. If not, there’s quite a few things that could go wrong. You could be entering in some other login credentials other than your VPN ones (typically, they are different than your workstation login credentials.) The .pcf file could be old. Etc, etc.

The best way to clear up any errors is to have a chat with your Network Admin and verify that you are using the right credentials and the .pcf file is the latest.

Anyway, hope that helped someone. Let me know if there were any problems.

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Phusion Passenger + nginx + SSL

April 21st, 2009 · Rails, Tutorial

How to get Passenger to install nginx with SSL support:

1. change to the /tmp directory
cd /tmp
2. download the nginx source
wget http://sysoev.ru/nginx/nginx-0.6.36.tar.gz
3. unpack it
tar zxf nginx-0.6.36.tar.gz
4. install the passenger gem
sudo gem install passenger
5. run the passenger nginx module install
passenger-install-nginx-module
6. When asked: ‘Do you want this installer to download, compile and install Nginx for you?’, answer
2
7. When asked: ‘Where is your Nginx source code located?’, answer
/tmp/nginx-0.6.36
8. When asked: ‘Where do you want to install Nginx to?’, answer
/opt/nginx
9. When asked about: ‘Extra arguments to pass to configure script:’, answer
--with-http_ssl_module
10. When asked to ‘Confirm configure flags’, answer
yes

That’s it. Good luck!

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Uninstall GrowlMail on Leopard or Snow Leopard or Lion or Mountain Lion

February 27th, 2009 · Tutorial

I had GrowlMail installed and after I switched to Safari4 Beta my Mail.app started bombing out complaining that the problem was GrowlMail. Whether it was or not doesn’t matter to me since I need my mail.

So since looking around the web didn’t help, I decided to poke around and see if I could find it myself. Turns out that it’s very simple to remove. So go remove the following folder(s):

  • /Users/<username>/Library/Mail/Bundles/GrowlMail.mailbundle
  • /Library/Mail/Bundles/GrowlMail.mailbundle (thanks to Hildgrim for pointing this out)

1. run the following in Terminal:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail EnableBundles -bool NO

2. and start Mail.app and then quit it.
3. now run the following in Terminal:

defaults write /Library/Preferences/com.apple.mail EnableBundles -bool YES

4. and this time you can start Mail.app and leave it running.

I have no idea why I had to disable and then re-enable bundles in the preferences but just removing the GrowlMail bundle folder didn’t seem to fix the problem, but this did.

Anyway, hope it helped someone. Let me know if something went awry…

-erb

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The Fall of Wall Street

December 17th, 2008 · Text

A few weeks ago, a buddy of mine asked me to explain what exactly happened on Wall Street. Not a lot of people know that in a former life, I was a bond trader. It was only for a couple of years and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t take it. The environment was so shockingly void of morality and integrity that one day I came home from work, sat down in front of my computer to catch up on some email and immediately had a breakdown. My body had finally manifested all the awful feelings that were swirling around in my head and it scared the shit out of me. There’s nothing more terrifying than not being in control of a bad situation and when it’s your own body you can’t control, it’s just that much worse. Needless to say, I never went back.
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