Changelog https://changelog.trisect.eu A technical manual (of sorts) Fri, 01 Jun 2018 18:05:34 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.6 When consumer technology breaks https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/consumer-infrastructure/when-consumer-technology-breaks/ https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/consumer-infrastructure/when-consumer-technology-breaks/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 18:05:34 +0000 https://changelog.trisect.eu/?p=82 Today in the U.K. and across Europe, people have been experiencing what some have described as ‘the apocalypse’.  Small shops as well as larger traders have been unable to process debit and credit card transactions.  This has come as a huge problem for customers who’s only means of paying for...

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Today in the U.K. and across Europe, people have been experiencing what some have described as ‘the apocalypse’.  Small shops as well as larger traders have been unable to process debit and credit card transactions.  This has come as a huge problem for customers who’s only means of paying for goods have been their collection of cards.

The first credit card in the U.K. was issued by Barclay’s Bank in 1966.  At the time of writing, around 164 million cards from different vendors are in circulation.  With so much reliance on this form of payment, any sort of failure can be catastrophic.  People can end up being stranded away from home because they don’t have any other means of paying for services such as rail fares.

Supermarkets have been hit particularly badly.  Customers have described scenes around checkouts as ‘bedlam’ with shopping trolleys being left where they stand.  Meanwhile, their ‘keepers’ try to find some other means of paying for their purchases.

I wrote a post a while back (why you need a backup plan).  It stressed the importance of keeping your data safe in the event of hardware failure.  It seems to me that considering the large number of transactions processed each day, banks and other financial services should provide backup infrastructure to prevent these single points of failure causing so much chaos.

I’m not certain if Visa and all other agencies involved in payment processing will learn anything from this, I hope they do.

References

http://www.theukcardsassociation.org.uk/history_of_cards/index.asp
http://uk.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/uk-britain-credit-debit-card-statistics-international.php

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Stress and the art of walking away https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/dns/stress-art-walking-away/ https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/dns/stress-art-walking-away/#respond Thu, 17 May 2018 07:00:54 +0000 https://changelog.trisect.eu/?p=75 Today has seen me going through a few hours of hell trying to solve a DNS resolution problem. On reflection, this was of my own making. This blog resides on a self hosted WordPress setup. What this means is, I’ve rented a server and installed WordPress myself and maintain it...

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Today has seen me going through a few hours of hell trying to solve a DNS resolution problem. On reflection, this was of my own making. This blog resides on a self hosted WordPress setup. What this means is, I’ve rented a server and installed WordPress myself and maintain it myself.

I also (up until today) hosted my own DNS servers. This is where the cause of all my stress came from. Due to issues with my current host, I decided to move the management of these back to my domain registrar. This was easier than expected since as I’d used them before all setting were still intact and didn’t need any modification.

The next move however, was my biggest mistake. Thinking my registrar’s DNS servers were now taking the strain, I shut down and removed my self hosted ones. It took me a few stressful hours figuring out that this was the fatal error. Log files can be a bit cryptic at times and don’t always point you at the root of the problem. This was that many external DNS servers were still looking for my own servers to resolve my hostnames.

Thanks to some specific settings within DNS, I came to realise that this problem was unsolvable, by me at least. Time was the only solution. I’d set up a default TTL of 24 hours. This meant that after that time all known DNS data about my domain would be forgotten. The problem that provided me with so much stress should fix itself by mid afternoon the following day.

With that knowledge in hand, the only sensible thing to do was to walk away, it’s a hard thing to do, parts of your empire are broken and you want to fix them, but when the solution isn’t under your control you have no choice.

Epilogue

As it turned out walking away didn’t fix the problem, in fact I was in totally the wrong area when I spoke of TTL’s. When I hosted my own DNS I DNSSEC’d the trisect.uk domain which involved uploading DS records to the root DNS servers. When I started using my domain registrar’s DNS servers I lost the DNSSEC, and didn’t realise I needed also to remove the DS records I’d uploaded, once that was done all was well in the world. The global DNS machine could find my blog again.

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Why you need a backup plan https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/data-management/why-you-need-a-backup-plan/ https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/data-management/why-you-need-a-backup-plan/#comments Wed, 16 May 2018 12:28:53 +0000 https://changelog.trisect.eu/?p=68 Data is everywhere We all use data, whether we realise it or not, we’re creating data all the time. That data may be something as simple as a shopping list. It might be a reading list you’ve compiled from some of your favourite authors. It could also be something far...

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Data is everywhere

We all use data, whether we realise it or not, we’re creating data all the time. That data may be something as simple as a shopping list. It might be a reading list you’ve compiled from some of your favourite authors. It could also be something far more important such as a list of prescription drugs you need to take on a scheduled basis. What if you were to lose that data? We need a backup plan.

Data security

If you’ve decided your data is worth backing up, there’s some things to consider –

  • Where you’ll store it
  • The security of that store
  • Ease of access to the data in that store
  • Remembering where you stored it (sounds obvious but…..)

Where you store it depends on what form the data takes. If it’s on paper you might consider keeping photocopies in a filing cabinet or a portable filing case. For safe keeping it should be lockable, and preferably fire proof.

Digital media such as word processed documents or digital artwork gives more choice in how and where it is stored. The simplest of these will probably be a USB memory stick. Some support encryption for stored data (though please remember the access password!!).

Another option for digital media is cloud storage. This is where cloud storage providers on the internet come in. For a fee, they can provide you with a given amount of secure storage space on their servers. You can then use this storage to backup your data. I use the term ‘secure’ carefully here. The data is only as secure as the expertise of the cloud service technicians deem suitable, or as far as their knowledge allows.

Some of the larger providers, namely Google and Microsoft, have a reputation to maintain. They are therefore more likely to invest in rock solid security for client data stored on their systems. They have also created apps which allows for the automation of backups. This allows you to tell the app on initial setup which directories to back up so you don’t have to.

Accessing your backup

Ok, so after reading this you’ve decided that your data is worthy of some sort of backup, and you’ve decided on a method of storage. If your data is on paper it will hopefully be in a portable filing case. The reasoning behind this is that if the building is on fire, you probably won’t have the time to unlock a filing cabinet and search for your most important files.

If they were kept in a portable case, preferably near an exit, the task of retrieving your data would be a much simpler one.

For digital media, a USB memory stick is small enough to be kept with you at all times, and it should be kept with you, it’s no good hiding it somewhere and then forgetting where you put it when you need it most.

Cloud storage is a different animal, when you regain access to a PC or laptop you’re going to need to know where your data is (easy to forget if backups have been automated for the past few years), and what software, and login credentials will allow you to access it.

Epilogue

This post was prompted by the authors own lack of a backup plan after his PC refused to run for more than minutes at a time. The option was always there, a USB drive was already set up as remote storage, and was easily accessible.

A laptop was available for use, but as this hadn’t been used much in the past few months it didn’t have the software needed to carry out the author’s day to day tasks. Not a big problem, the internet was available and the software could be downloaded and installed.

Data needed for this software was a problem, the only hope was that the PC would run for long enough to allow it to be copied to the remote storage, luckily it did. This author is breathing a sigh of relief, and is putting in steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

 

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Upgrading Fedora Server to new release https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/fedora-server/upgrading-fedora-server-new-release/ https://changelog.trisect.eu/dannyh/fedora-server/upgrading-fedora-server-new-release/#respond Thu, 10 May 2018 11:23:49 +0000 https://changelog.trisect.eu/?p=47 If you’re currently running Fedora 27 Server, you may be aware that a new version was released on May 1st.  If you’re running Workstation, you should have already been alerted to this through the software updater, though if you haven’t for any reason, it should be fine to use the...

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If you’re currently running Fedora 27 Server, you may be aware that a new version was released on May 1st.  If you’re running Workstation, you should have already been alerted to this through the software updater, though if you haven’t for any reason, it should be fine to use the following instructions on Workstation.  To upgrade just follow these few simple steps via the shell, the upgrade shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes to complete (including reboot).

Note:  It’s assumed you’re logged in as the root user to perform this upgrade

dnf upgrade –refresh
dnf install dnf-plugin-system-upgrade << Only needed on new builds
dnf system-upgrade download –refresh –releasever=28
dnf system-upgrade reboot

When your system is back online you can complete the process by performing a standard software upgrade (there shouldn’t actually be any).

dnf upgrade –refresh

That’s all there is to it.

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