Google’s April Fools Day Pranks 2015

Every year Google pretends to put out various products that sometimes sounds legit yet unbelievable. If it sounds too good to be true, and its announced April 1st, its probably not true. Below is all of the Google April Fools day pranks!

 elgooG

com.google
Google in reverse

The first one, is elooG. With elooG, you visit the page by going to https://com.google. You will see all of Google in reverse – images, logos, text, even the text you type will be in reverse!

Google Actual Cloud

With all the different types of cloud hosting, available these days there is one type that was never created until today. Google Actual Cloud Platform. According to Google, they use actual clouds in the sky for this type of hosting. See the video below and visit https://cloud.google.com/actual-cloud/.

Google Fiber dial-up mode

If 100mbs of a network connection is too fast for you, then consider using dial-up mode to enjoy the slow life for a while.

  Google Panda

Google Smartbox

If you thought you could not get your world connected any more, then look at Google’s latest product – Google Smartbox. With Google Smartbox, even you snailmail will be connected!

Google keyless keyboard

If your hands are tied up, Google Japan has got you covered with the Keyless Keyboard. See the below video:

 

From what I can tell, that rounds up all of the Google April fool pranks of 2015. Let me know if there are more that I am not aware of!

Your own IPSEC VPN in about 3 minutes

I have been wanting to setup my own IPSEC VPN for a while now to have a little bit of encryption from my network to the internet.  I found a good hosting provider for the VPN because it is so cheap ($5.00 a month) – Digital Ocean, then I realized that they only charge by the hour as long as you destroy the VPS. The VPN took about 30 minutes to setup. After a few times, I realized that I could turn this into a quick script. So now I can setup a VPS with a secure VPN in about two minutes, destroy it when I am done and only get charged a few pennies for having it. Here is how I do it.

First, sign up for an account at DigitalOcean.com (Using the link will get you $10 for free and it will also help me out!).

https://www.digitalocean.com/?refcode=8cbf13691bb3

Then create a Ubuntu 14.04 x64 droplet and wait for the 55 seconds for the VPS to spin up. While you are waiting, download my script from Bitbucket.org.

https://bitbucket.org/alexander7567/ipsec-vpn-installer

when you are in your VPN, run the following commands:

copy and paste the text from the script to the SSH terminal. Press [CTRL+x] then [Y], then [Enter] to save the new script.

Then you must add the users by editing the file /etc/ppp/chap-secrets. After editing the file, use the following command to make the changes:

And you now have your very own VPN server!

 

Links:

  • Digital Ocean – VPN cloud hosting with my referal link. (The link will you get you $10 free and will support me too!)
  • BitBucket – This is where the script is housed. Feel free to fork me if you have any improvements.
  • Raymii.org – the original install instructions (I just made it into a script)

Project Spartan released

Like many features promised in the new Windows 10, Project Spartan has finally debuted in the newest build of Windows 10 – build 10049.  In using Project Spartan in writing this very post, I so far have found it very useful. I have used strictly Chrome for the last few years, and I do find that Project Spartan is missing a few important features that I will be waiting on before making the switch official.

Some of the features available is reading lists (which I will no doubt use heavily), Cortana integration (which I have yet to find), and a completely new interface.

I personally have found a few quirk and things that I miss from Chrome.. I have used an ad blocker for the past couple years called Adblock for Chrome. I haven’t had any annoying popups and garbage all over my screen. Now that I no longer have that add-on, I am seeing ads every where!  A feature that I also miss since I utilize dual (actually triple) screens, is that I cannot drag tabs around anymore. You can right click on the tab and click “Open in new Window”, but that actually closes the tab and opens the URL in a new window (Like pressing F5).

But as with any Technical Preview product, all we can do is give our feedback and hope the Redmond giant listens.

I’m sure I will find more bugs, let me know if you find any!

BitLocker using all of your hard drive space?

Today, I set up a new laptop for a user. As a standard practice, we always BitLock the laptops that we issue out. I was in the middle of copying the user’s data over and it kindly hung while I was BitLocking at the same time. The files finally copied over, and I went to My Computer and seen there was only 6GB left of a 500GB hard drive, and I only copied 3GB of data over! I jsut knew there was something wrong with the file system of the hard drive since it hung.

After doing some digging, I found that BitLocker uses up all but 6BG of your hard drive space UNTIL its done bitlocking. After it is done, all the free space will be shown as free again.

But why does it do this?

Because it is also encrypting the free space for security reasons! Since when you delete a file, it is not really removed from the hard drive, BitLocker encrypts the free space so that none of these files can be recovered. You can read a more technical description here!

http://blogs.technet.com/b/bitlocker/archive/2006/07/08/unallocated.aspx

Where have you been? Google knows!

Do you have Google anything installed on your phone? Computer? Tablet? If so, chances are Google knows – and records – everywhere you have been!

Google will save this data if you have these two settings turned on:

  1. Location Reporting
  2. Location history

Now your thinking, if I have the option to turn this on or off why would it even be on? There are many things Google uses (and collects) this data for. Ever searched for a pizza place like “Papa Johns” and Google somehow magically showed the results for your location rather than some random place in the world? Google uses your location data to narrow down the results.

Maybe you use Google Now. Google now HIGHLY integrates with your location data. In fact, every so many minutes, it scans for your location and reports it so you can get interesting cards on your Google Now interface.

 

Google offers step by step instructions on how to remove all your location history and how to turn it off. You can find the instructions to turn off Location History by clicking HERE.

Now comes the fun part – you can actually see where all Google knows you have been by ensureing you  are logged in to your main Google account, and clicking the following address:

https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/b/0

Here are a couple example screenshots (click to enlarge):

Google Location History 1
Google Location History 1
Google Location History 2
Google Location History 2

So you decide, is it worth leaving this on for the cool features that Google offers? I love the features of Google Now, but it is a little scary to see just how often Google tracks your location for this feature.

Change the default attachment link to setting

When setting up my blog, I was deciding on how to setup links in the attachment settings. I really don’t like pointing directly to the jpg file (which is the default) for a couple reasons. One, I cannot get an accurate reading of the analytics. Two, it does not get the pretty header and footer and links of my site. So I found the option to link to “Attachment Page”. I got to digging around, and there was no option to set the default link to! I found this:

There is a secret settings page in wordpress that allows you to change many settings that are not found in the regular wordpress setup. Point your browser to this address (of course replacing yourcooldomain.com with yours):

http://yourcooldomain.com/wp-admin/options.php

Once you are there, look for the option “image_default_link_type”. There are three possible values for this field (notice they are all lower case).

  • blank – leaving the field blank will default to the “none” setting
  • file – this links directly to the file. I do not like this because you are not able to perform any analytics or visual styling of the view.
  • post – I use this one. This shows a page with the usual header and footer with the image only in the center.

As you can guess, some of these options mis-configured can cause your site to crash, so be sure to use caution when editing these settings!

MySQL – Too many files open

I run my servers on CentOS using cPanel/WHM. When I first started running my own server, it did not take long for me to see how little I know about Linux. I had a funky problem with my MySQL dropping out after so much time. It seemed like the more people I had on my sites, the faster it would go down. But after I rebooted the server, it all started working fine again… For a while anyway.

I got to looking around to see if there is a error log for MySQL. And sure enough there is. By default, the error log is located at:

The **HOSTNAME** would be your server’s hostname, (if you do not know your hostname, simply use the command “hostname” and it will output your hostname)

To view the last 500 lines of your error log, simply use:

In my error log, I began to see this:

 

Did a little bit of googling, and discovered that by default, centOS has a hard limit of the amount of files that can be opened at a time, which causes MySQL to error out until you reboot the server. However, this can be fixed by running the doing the following:

Add this line at the bottom of the config file:

 

Save and close the file, then reboot the server.

After you rebbot your server, you will want to run the following command to verify that your settings was saved and correct:

If it reads 10000, then your server is now ready to handle MySQL!

Convert From FAT32 To NTFS Without Losing Data

I have had a 1TB external HDD that I bought a while back that I formatted the other day. After I started copying all of my data to it, I realized that I accidentally formatted it over to FAT32 and it only had 430GB of the 1TB that I could use because of FAT32 restrictions. But I already started copying the data over and didn’t want to have to restart it. I found out there is a way to change the format of a HDD without loosing data!

 

NOTE: Although this method worked perfect for me, I would suggest you backing up your data first just in case!

  1. Go to Computer, and note the name of the drive whose file system you wish to convert.
  2.  Click on Start.
  3.  Type cmd in the search bar if you use Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 or Windows Vista. If you use Windows XP, click on Run and then execute cmd.
  4. Execute “chkdsk h: /f ” (without quotes) where H is the letter of the drive to undergo conversion. This checks the drive for errors and fixes them automatically.
  5. Execute “Convert H: /FS:NTFS” (without quotes). H is again the letter of the drive to be converted.
  6. The command prompt will start the conversion process and after a few minutes, CMD will say that conversion was successful.
  7. You can check it in the properties of the drive through right click<Properties.

A viola! You know have a drive that is NTFS with all your data still on it!

Printer Status Notification

The other day, I hooked up a printer to USB that had the option for network. The client wanted it USB rather than network. So I hooked it up and before I left, I got the following text printed out a couple times:

GET /DevMgmt/DiscoveryTree.xml HTTP/1.1
Host: 127.0.0.1:8080

I figured it was just a one time thing so I left. A couple hours later, I got a call from her saying that she got the same message every time she printed a page. I went and looked at it and found this to be a fix:

Go to devices and Printers and right click the culprit printer.  Click printing preferences and click the advanced tab, you should see a similar window:

 

Printer Status Notification

 

Disable “Printer Status Notification” and the issue should be instantly resolved!

Creating cron jobs in Windows 8 and Server 2012 (or any version of Windows)

I recently made the switch from a Linux LAMP server to a Windows Server 2012.  It didn’t take me too long to figure out I forgot to transfer my cron jobs. I went to start the transfer and I soon realized that Windows does not support cron jobs. However, I did find the Windows version of Cron jobs. Below is what I done to create these cron jobs. This trick will really work in all versions of Windows, but you must get to it different methods.

Open the Windows start menu and type in “Schedule Tasks”. This will open the Task Scheduler.  After that click Create Task (I would not suggest using basic task, as it is too basic for cron jobs).

Click Create Task..
Task Scheduler

This will open a window that allows you to create a new “Cron Job” in Windows Server 2012 or Windows 8.1.

Name: This is a easy way for you to remember what that tasks does. You can enter anything.

Description: Just a more in depth description for you to remember what it is.

User Account: I would suggest using a full privileged account so that your cron jobs can create and modify files if it needs to. But I would also suggest using a account dedicated to Cron jobs so that you can revoke permissions any time you need to!

Due to the nature of a website, I would definitely check “Run when user is logged in or not” and leave do not store password (This can throw an XML invalid error if you leave this unchecked and a password is required)

And I would also check “Run with Highest Privileges”

General Tab for Task Scheduler for my website MafiaStreetWars.com
General Tab for Task Scheduler for my website MafiaStreetWars.com

 

After that, Click “Trigger” and “Add new”:

Add New Trigger
Add New Trigger

To run a “Cron Job” task that runs more than once a day, Click Daily task. Recure daily, and repeat task every (How often you want the task to run. You can type in other options in this field than what is given) and be sure to click enabled. After that click Okay and click the tab “Actions” and New…

New action - Task Scheduler
New action – Task Scheduler

Set program/Script to the PHP.exe (default is seen in picture) and arguments as the php file you want to run. Be sure to use “” if you have spaces in the path. I would suggest using them either way as a rule of thumb.

Now you can create “Cron Jobs” in Windows! Comment if you have any questions or suggestions!