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April 2015
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Artificial Selection

This is a rather interesting. Basically people have been hunting and killing elephants for their tusks since ages. Ivory is then carved from the tusks and sold. Elephants with larger tusks are hunted first and therefore have less chance to survive and breed. The ones that do remain have smaller tusks and according to ENN, the average African elephant’s tusk size has gone down by half in the last century and a half.
I would guess we will eventually end up with mostly tusk-less elephants since there is (hopefully) no use for hunting them. Fascinating simulation of evolution.

Ain Mreisseh, Beirut

I took two pictures this afternoon in Ain Mreisseh, Beirut. The angle is bad but it is easy to see where the mountains meet the ocean shore on the other side of the bay and some snow left on the mountain top in the first picture (Click on the images for large versions).

Ain Mreisseh, Beirut

Ain Mreisseh, Beirut

Suggestions for Mystery Comedies

I am trying to find recommendations for mystery style films. They don’t need to be comedies although that is always a plus.
Some of my favorites are old Hitchcock movies, and things like Clue and Death by Murder. I prefer pre-2000s thriller or mystery movies because they had better emphasis on acting and effects.
Any suggestions are very welcome. Thank you!

Happy New Year, 2015!

Happy New Year to everyone who is reading this post :) . I hope everyone gets to spend the holidays with their families and have a wonderful year!

Happy New Year!

Lamborghini set to release a 6000 dollar phone

Lamborghini is set to launch an android mobile phone called the 88 Tauri. The phone is rumoured to run Android KitKat 4.4.4 on a quad core processor with 3GB ram and will cost 6000 US dollars.
For that price, they really need to support it with updates for at least 4 to 5 years.
The specs are nice and it should be able to handle the next few Android versions. I was surprised to hear it won’t ship with Lollipop.
I also wonder how many they will actually sell. Not many are going to buy a 6000 dollar phone that doesn’t even run the latest Android release. Manufacturing them will be tricky since I assume they will outsource the production similar to what Nokia will do with the N1 tablet.

There is a video and pictures on Lamborghini mobile website. The phone is elegant and nice looking but a bit bulky.
It looks more like a collector’s item to me :) .

Family Guy and The Simpsons crossover

I finally got around to watching the first five episodes of the 13th season of Family Guy. The first episode was a double length special feature where the Griffins ended up in Springfield while looking for their stolen car.

The episode was generally very funny but I could tell they went out of their way to show every cliche Simpsons joke such as “eat my shorts”. The fight scene between Peter and Homer was epic!

There was even a scene during that fight were we saw Homer as a Family guy character and Peter as a Simpsons character :) .

Peter Griffin and Homer Simpson

Bernie Ecclestone and today’s Formula1

Bernie Ecclestone, chief executive of Formula One, feels that Formula One doesn’t need the young fans because they don’t have the money to buy products that the sport’s sponsors try to sell.

The ironic thing about alienating young people in today’s Formula One is that the latest changes actually attract younger people at the expense of what older generation would have liked to see. Older people will always compare today’s Formula1 One with how it was yesterday and are less likely to accept changes. Someone who is watching his or her first every Formula One race this year is likely to enjoy it a lot more than the older generation.

Formula One switched this year from naturally aspirated v8 engines to turbo charged v6 engines. Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) and drag reduction system (DRS) were added before that. All those changes reduce the fuel needed and add more modern technology to Formula One. Such changes attracted younger viewers but some of the older fans complained about the lower engine sounds during the races. This is where Mr. Bernie is very short-sighted. He is admitting he wants one thing and one thing only and that is money. Greed makes people blind.

Website is now fully HTTPS!

Big thanks to cloudflare for this. They are slowly switching all plans, including the free plan, to https by giving away free SSL certificates. I am now on Full SSL. That means connections between my website and visitors, and between cloudflare and my webhost are fully encrypted.
This is wonderful news because it means over two million websites will now be more secure.
All links on my website should now redirect from http:// to https:// :) .

WordPress websites under attack…again

Last year, it was the wp-login.php brute force attack where bots kept trying to log on to websites by guessing the user name and password.
A basic step in protecting a WordPress website is not to have a user called ‘admin’.
For the last two weeks, there has been a wave of new attacks.
The new brute force attack tries to exploit XMLRPC in WordPress.
I was seeing thousands of requests to /xmlrpc.php per minute today.
I immediately went to cloudflare control panel and changed the Basic protection level to “I am under attack”. This gave me some breathing space while I figured out how to deal with this.
My first guess was to simply deny http access to that file.

<Files "xmlrpc.php">
Order Allow,Deny
deny from all
</Files>

However, this isn’t very effective as it will generate a mass amount of 404 pages which WordPress still has to process. It is no better than deleting the file itself.
As a final resort, I used a htaccess rule to redirect access away from the file.
The advantage of this is no high CPU or memory usage.
I added the following code to my .htaccess file

RewriteRule ^xmlrpc\.php$ "http\:\/\/0\.0\.0\.0\/" [R=301,L]

This is not an optimal permanent solution but it will have to do for now unless someone has a better suggestion :) . The attack itself lasted over 8 hours.

Update: The vulnerability that caused this denial of service has been fixed in WordPress 3.9.2 and the above workaround should no longer be needed.

System Administrator Appreciation Day

It’s on the 25th of July this year which is today and there is even a website for it.
A day to appreciate the people who keep our websites, databases, applications and internet connections running.

But…umm…this doesn’t look quite right.
SysAdminDay.com