Two-factor authentication – do it now.

The online world has become too dangerous for us to keep protecting ourselves with no more than a username and a password. Especially when most of us choose stupidly simple passwords. Even if you choose a good one – upper and lower case, special characters, letters and numbers – you now need such a long one that no human can remember it. Tools like LastPass are great, but only if you also use ridiculously long passwords. Pretty much the best protection you can give yourself is a simple thing called two factor authentication. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s very effective.

Continue reading

The cure for darkness is light. Not more darkness.

The matter of data centre security was raised recently on a network mailing list I subscribe to. Someone was wondering if data centres checked incoming equipment for “bad stuff” – explosives and what-not.

The reaction from some was “don’t talk about that, we don’t want to give people ideas”. What a muddle-headed response!

Continue reading

Good error messages

I recall our little team getting into trouble many moons ago. We were writing a creditor system, and one of the requirements was for comments to be attachable to individual invoice lines. In COBOL every data structure has to be predefined. One of us thought that surely, surely, 400 comment lines would be enough for any one invoice line. This turned out not to be the case. Continue reading

APC BR900GI UPS tips

As the proud owner of a Synology DS415+ NAS (network attached storage) device, I thought I had better protect the large amount of data accumulating on it by also becoming the proud owner of a suitable UPS (uninterruptible power supply). That way, when the power fluctuates or goes off unexpectedly (as is quite common in rural Australia, where I live) the NAS is protected and will have time to shut itself down in an orderly fashion. So I purchased a Schneider (APC) BR900GI UPS. This article is about how I set things up.

Continue reading

A voice for heterogeneity

In a recent email conversation, the relative virtues of Hyper-V and VMWare were being discussed. I stuck my hand up to suggest going with both. Why? Because heterogeneity is a good thing. In this post the topic is two competing hypervisors, but the arguments are the same for almost any technology. And they mostly apply to open technologies as well as to closed, proprietary technologies. Continue reading