walking right

Fixing a broken pfSense config

To fix a pfSense router where it denies root / admin login due to a bad / missing / broken config.xml file:

1. If there is a boot loader installed, choose the pfSense partition (by default, the FreeBSD boot loader is installed - press F1 to boot pfSense).

2. At the "Welcome to FreeBSD" screen with the BSD beastie, very quickly press 4 to boot into single user mode. You will not be prompted for a password.

3. Issue the following commands to remount the root file system in read-write mode:
# /sbin/mount -u /
# /sbin/mount -a
4. Set the TERM and TERMCAP environment variables so your editor, etc. will work correctly:
# export TERM=cons25
# export TERMCAP=/etc/termcap
5. If necessary, find the appropriate configuration backup using more, cat, vi or some other tool. Config file sizes may also give you a hint. Configuration backup files are located in the /conf/backup directory.

6. Restore the appropriate backup file:
# cp /conf/backup/config-1234567890.xml /conf/config.xml
7. Tell FreeBSD to boot into multi-user mode by issue the exit command or by pressing Ctrl+D:
# exit
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Public Service Announcement: Internet Explorer 6

For the love of Tim, if you are still using Internet Explorer 6 please, please, please upgrade to Internet Explorer 7. Half of you who still use Internet Explorer are using IE6 and it's making everybody's life as a web developer miserable. The bugs are horrendous and it takes up hours of our time to look them up and then find the corresponding workarounds. This is time we could be better spending creating actual content for you. The sooner this abomination dies, the happier every sane web developer on earth will be.
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Dynamic Disks

The single most overused feature of Windows disk management is the ability to create dynamic disks.

Before you create a dynamic disk, think twice. Then think again. If you're still convinced a dynamic disk is the answer, bash your head against the desk until you pass out or you change your mind.

If you are running Windows XP, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. No, really. You might think there is but there isn't. If Windows blows up and it's on a dynamic disk, you're pretty much hosed. Reinstalling Windows on a dynamic disk will destroy ALL of the partitions on that disk. Yes, that means your data partition as well. (You did create a data partition, didn't you?)

If you have hardware RAID, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. If your dynamic disk fails (and they do - frequently!) you're hosed, hardware RAID or no hardware RAID. Your data is probably gone. MS will help you try to get it back for $250 per incident if you call during regular business hours and even then there's no guarantee so good luck with that. Also, learn to use your RAID controller. If you can see more than one disk in Windows, you're doing it wrong.

If you are running a massive direct-attach disk array or a SAN, there is no reason to ever create a dynamic disk, ever. What, are you crazy? You definitely have hardware level redundancy on this beast. USE IT. If you're creating massive partitions on your disks, think about what you're doing. You lose a lot of disk space to overhead if you're creating massive partitions. You would probably be better served by making a bunch of smaller partitions. As an added bonus, you will never, ever need to create a dynamic disk to make use of your full storage capability. If you insist on creating massive partitions, use GPT disks and you will never, ever need to create a dynamic disk.

At least three times a week we get calls from people who have had a dynamic disk blow up in their face. Save your data. Save your money. Save your sanity. Don't use dynamic disks.

Stay tuned for my next rant on why RAID is not a backup strategy!
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Today on the subway...

Today I took my friend laradwyer out for dinner. I promised her a dinner if she didn't get the job she interviewed for and - sadly for the company - they didn't offer her the job. It was good to chat with Lara through dinner. Amongst the things we talked about was the shirt I happened to be wearing. I was telling Lara that normally nobody will admit to reading it since it says, in slightly manic white letters on a plain black shirt, "By reading this, you have given me brief control of your mind."

The conversation continued through dinner and afterwards, all the way down the streetcar line to the Spadina subway station. Since we go in opposite directions when we reach the subway, we said our goodbyes and headed down to the platforms, her heading East and myself heading West.

When the subway arrived, I took a seat across from two girls who subsequently burst out laughing. Having been made fun of in my youth, I'm a little sensitive to that sort of thing so I only realized they were laughing at my shirt when the girl on the left broke the ice by telling me that she liked it.

When each of them left the subway train, we wished each other goodnight with a smile.

It's these kinds of tiny, personal experiences that make me realize that Toronto really is my home. The longer I stay, the more I love this city.
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+1 Website of Kickassitude

Several months ago, I registered the domain name "rocketsurgeons.net" more or less on a whim. One of my friends from school made frequent references to not being a Rocket Surgeon and the name stuck to our little group, so I decided we needed a website.

I paid for cheap web hosting at Dreamhost (and have never been happier with a web host, I might add - they upgraded everybody's storage from 20GB to 200GB this past month, for example). The site stayed idle with nothing but a basic PHPbb forum for the entire Summer. As September neared, I thought about what I was going to do with it for the school year, eventually deciding to run an unofficial community site for my school program. The first week of September, I sat down to get to work.

I am very pleased with how well the site has turned out. It's not as spectacular as a professional site but it's easily the best work I've ever done. There's still some polish to be applied, rounded corners to be added, etc. but I'm quite happy with it. It might also seem more impressive if I mention that I hand-coded the entire thing using Notepad2. I'm especially proud of the rogues gallery. Although you might not find much of interest to you personally, please do feel free to wander over and take a look around.
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Google Talk

So Google has a new toy - Google Talk. It's an IM client and a voice client. I've been tinkering with it and I like it so far. It doesn't seem to be aimed at power users. It does support text messaging with any Jabber client (Adium for MacOS X, GAIM, Miranda IM, Trillian, et al.) but no voice chat except with the official client. There's no offline messaging right now but I'm sure if enough people ask, they'll enable it.

You need a GMail address to use Google Talk. If anybody doesn't have one and would like one, I have scores of invites and know other people who do as well.
  • Current Mood
    geeky geeky
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Pure Silliness

Proof of F! = 1307674368000

= (1111)b!
= (8 + 4 + 2 + 1)!
= 15!
= 15 * 14 * 13 * 12 * 11 * 10 * 9 * 8 * 7 * 6 * 5 * 4 * 3 * 2 * 1
= 1307674368000

I saw a posting on a message board titled "F!" and I couldn't resist.

  • Current Mood
    silly silly