Sandra Henry-Stocker

About the Author Sandra Henry-Stocker


What the jot command can do for you

The jot command has been around for ages, but remains one of those interesting commands that a lot of Linux users never get around to using. It can be very handy in scripts as well as on the command line by generating number or character sequences, even pseudo-randomly.

In its simplest form, the jot command generates a simple sequence of numbers from 1 to your selected maximum.

$ jot 5
1
2
3
4
5

You can stick the jot command output into simply by redirecting it.

$ jot 5 > five
$ cat five
1
2
3
4
5

If you want to start with some number other than 1, you just use a slightly different syntax. The command “jot 5 11”, for example, would create a list of five numbers starting with 11.

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IDG Contributor Network: Dealing with NIST’s about-face on password complexity

In the last few years, we’ve been seeing some significant changes in the suggestions that security experts are making for password security. While previous guidance increasingly pushed complexity in terms of password length, the mix of characters used, controls over password reuse, and forced periodic changes, specialists have been questioning whether making passwords complex wasn’t actually working against security concerns rather than promoting them.

Security specialists have also argued that forcing complexity down users’ throats has led to them writing passwords down or forgetting them and having to get them reset. They argued that replacing a password character with a digit or an uppercase character might make a password look complicated, but does not actually make it any less vulnerable to compromise. In fact, when users are forced to include a variety of characters in their passwords, they generally do so in very predictable ways. Instead of “password”, they might use “Passw0rd” or even “P4ssw0rd!”, but the variations don’t make the passwords significantly less guessable. People are just not very good at generating anything that’s truly random.

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IDG Contributor Network: Eight steps to the GDPR countdown

One year from today, the recently passed regulation known as “GDPR” (General Data Protection Regulation) goes into effect. While EU-specific, it can still dramatically affect how businesses that work with personal data of citizens and residents of the EU. GDPR was approved a year ago and will be going into effect in another year. It applies directly to organizations within the EU, but also applies to organizations outside the EU if they 1) offer goods and services to the EU, 2) monitor the behavior EU subjects, or 3) process or retain personal data of EU citizens and residents. And the regulation can place very serious fines and sanctions for non-compliance.

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IDG Contributor Network: Humble Bundle lassos Python

In another of its big digital book bundles, Humble Bundle has just partnered with no starch press and come into the ring with a round of digital books focused on Python. Whether you jump in for four books for $1 or grab all ten for $15 or more, this is a good deal. And this offer will be available for nearly two weeks. Check it out here.

 

The set of books includes for $1 or more …

 

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python

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IDG Contributor Network: Unix tip: Using bash on Windows

The fairly recent appearance of bash on Windows, more properly known as “bash on Ubuntu on Windows” gives Windows some special appeal to those of us who love living on the command line. And it’s not just bash, but bash along with all the tools you’re likely to be looking for to get your work done.

Jumping in

I have to admit that, during my first few hours, it felt a little strange to be typing Unix commands while running Windows 10. Even so, the command line was obviously so much more powerful and familiar than using PowerShell, that it was also quite exciting. These hours reminded me what it felt like when I first started working from home on the desktop of a system that sat in a data center at work (several hours away) or when I discovered that I could enjoy a glass of my favorite beer while watching a movie at a local movie theater — all good things, but sufficiently disconcerting to make me do a quick double take. Wow, it actually works. Using bash on a Windows desktop feels more than a little strange.

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IDG Contributor Network: Highlights from Mobile World Congress 2017

You might not realize it, but you just missed Mobile World Congress 2017 – the largest annual gathering of the world’s mobile industry. It’s held every year in Barcelona, Spain and this year’s conference ran last week (February 27th to March 2nd). While the conference primarily attracts professionals from the mobile industry, the technologies on display and discussed in conference sessions will soon be changing how all of us live.

While I wasn’t able to attend the conference in person, I did have some “feet on the ground”. Representatives from Codal – an application development and UX (user experience) design company – promised to look into some of the emerging technologies and send me notes and photos so that I could have something of a virtual experience of the show. And, from what they reported to me, the conference was extremely exciting with some very highly innovative technologies on display.

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IDG Contributor Network: UNIX: Computers and art meet face-to-face

It was almost by accident that I discovered that Unix has a very interesting counterpart in the world of art –- an art gallery in New York City that is called, of all things, the UNIX Gallery. And, while the gallery has no historical, business, or other connection to the operating system that we all have come to appreciate, it does have some very important characteristics in common with the Unix OS –- most notably innovation, creativity and uniqueness.

When I say “by accident”, I mean that a friend emailed a brochure to me because it contained the word “UNIX” and he knew that Unix was the focus of my career. I promptly devoured the brochure, but didn’t have a clue as to how the pieces of art related to the Unix that I’ve worked with for 30+ years. So, I sent email to the info@ address that I found on the gallery’s web site and waited. Soon I had an answer.

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IDG Contributor Network: The many faces of grep

The grep command – likely one of the first ten commands that every Unix user comes to know and love – is not just a nice tool for finding a word or phrase in a file or command output. It can take on some vastly different personalities that allow you to more cleverly find the data that you are looking for and has more flexibility than many of its users have discovered.

Historically provided as separate binaries, the different “flavors” of grep are now provided through a number of key command options that change how grep interprets the pattern that you provide for your search. To easily switch from one mode of searching to another, the different grep commands could be set up as aliases such as these:

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IDG Contributor Network: The look of a Facebook imposter

While I don’t usually write about hoaxes and scams, a little encounter that I had over the weekend with a con artist brought this issue into clear focus for me. So, I thought I would share some thoughts about what to watch out for when dealing with Facebook friends and how to respond if one of those “friends” turns out to be someone else entirely.

You’ve probably already heard about facebook imposters – individuals who pretend to be someone you know. After you accept them as a friend, they might ask for money, claiming to be stranded in some foreign country or complaining that their wallet was stolen while on vacation and now they need your help getting back home, or they might just try to learn more about you for some nefarious reason or another. In my case, my “friend” — after a quick “hello” — started telling me that I’d won some an award amounting $150,000 in cash and that it should be on its way to me. She suggested that I call a number that she provided to be sure that I was still on the list. She claimed that she had noticed my name on the list when she got hers. Why shouldn’t I believe that?

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IDG Contributor Network: Rapid7 demystifies penetration testing

In a surprisingly detailed 20+ page report titled “UNDER THE HOODIE: Actionable Research from Penetration Testing Engagements“, Rapid7 – provider of tools such as Metasploit and Nexpose – is sharing some very interesting insights into the choices being made by companies in their penetration testing and what the testers are uncovering. Released just moments ago, this research report provides details on:

  • how much organizations budget for pen testing engagements;
  • what information organizations are most interested in protecting, despite the recent uptick in online industrial espionage;
  • what percentage of sites are free of exploitable vulnerabilities;
  • the easiest ways for attackers to execute their attacks; and
  • how often pen tests successfully identify and exploit software vulnerabilities.

The statistics provided will likely help many companies refine or initiate their own penetration testing. The findings are based on 128 penetration tests that the company conducted in Q4 of 2016. They reveal many interesting details and some surprising details on testing choices such as:

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IDG Contributor Network: Book review: Invent Your Own Computer Games with Python

Already in its 4th edition, Invent Your Own Games with Python is pretty close to the ultimate how-to-learn python book. First, it combines an easy ramp up from expecting you to know virtually nothing to having you try out – and understand – Python. Second, it provides the code, the tools, and the explanations required for you build a number of increasingly sophisticated games and the know-how to branch out to creating games completely on your own.

 

If you’re not convinced, take it from me — just making it to the 4th edition is a sign of a seriously good book.

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IDG Contributor Network: 14 ways to keep your data safe on Data Privacy Day

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IDG Contributor Network: Ransomware takes a nasty turn

Another open source database has been targeted for attack. Only this time, paying the ransom isn’t even an option. Instead, the perpetrators just destroy the database, sometimes leaving a nasty message before moving on. This makes these attacks a very odd subcategory of “ransomware”.

 

Only weeks after the attacks began on BongoDB, the new attacks were reported by Fidelis Cybersecurity just last week. Fidelis is estimating that 8,000-10,000 installations worldwide might be affected.

What is Hadoop?

Hadoop is a framework managed by the Apache Software Foundation that allows for the distributed processing of large data sets across clusters of computers using simple programming models. It cab scale up to thousands of systems – providing an extreme level of availability. But, like MongoDB, its default security configuration leaves much responsibility to those implementing it.

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IDG Contributor Network: Merry Linux to you!

Get ready to start caroling around the office with these Linux-centric lyrics to popular Christmas carols.

Running Merrily on Open Source

To the tune of: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire

 

Running merrily on open source
With users happy as can be
We’re using Linux and getting lots done
And happy everything is free

Everybody knows that Linux installs easily
And helps ensure our apps run right
Systems running smooth, no problems in sight
We’ll easily fall sleep tonight

We know the Linux community is there
With lots of wisdom, tools, and goodies
They will share
And even sysadmins
Will want to try
To see how fast Linux distros can fly

And so, I’m offering this
Simple phrase to geeks from
One to 92
Altho’ it’s been said many times
Many ways
Merry Linux to you!

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IDG Contributor Network: Aiming for resilience

It’s not just your disks, file systems, backups, and redundant servers that you need to worry about these days. The infrastructure that powers, cools, and makes them accessible is at risk. While this isn’t something you’re likely to find yourself thinking about or even reading about very often, the risk is very real and worth considering. The danger that I’m referring to is called “EMP” and it just happens to be one of the greatest threats to data centers today — and that’s just a start.

EMP stands for “electromagnetic pulse”. What it entails is a short burst of electromagnetic energy that can be damaging to — if not destructive of — electronic equipment. In fact, the quick and intense nature of an electromagnetic pulse is what makes it particularly powerful and dangerous. Not all forms of EMP will take down electronic equipment. Some are mild and relatively inconsequential — like lightning and electrostatic discharge — while others can have devastating consequences. Some are natural. Some are man-made. And some pose threats to the electrical grid that could leave large portions of the country experiencing lengthy electrical shutdowns if an EMP strike of sufficient magnitude were launched.

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