Have you been compromised?

If you ever wanted check if your login email/username credentials have ever been hacked or breached, you might be in luck! (or unluck in some cases…)

haveibeenpwned.com is a website that will check against known data-breaches from many major websites, or “pastes” from hackers who have compromised data and pasted the credentials publicly.
It will also notify you about the type of data that has been leaked, which is important to know.

By now, people should be using the approach of using a strong, unique password for every different account / service that they sign up for, but more often then not, this is not the case.

If you don’t follow these practices, it might be time to start thinking about it; otherwise 1 databreach can quickly lead to many.

Unemployment is initially strange

This is not another self pity article about redundancy, but more of an elightening one (even though I speak from Day #2)

After almost 11 years in a dead-end job, I see this as a rebirth of myself. Just under 2 years ago, the wheels of the redundancy process started to turn and with this came as no surprise to me. Since then, I have spent some time in re-evaluating and investing in myself, which leans heavily towards my ambitions and importantly, self-interests.

The last 3 months of work went by quick mainly due to the monotimous routine of the job and the commute. I have various reasons for being there so long; financial commitments, financial stability and being well versed in the role, to name a few. (I would be here all day to name them all)
I initially started work during a recession, and infact felt lucky that I had a job at all. As time went on, I can look back and see a 6 year hole in which I felt trapped primarily due to some bad investment descisions (all of which involved cars, but that’s for another day).

During the notice period, as the day became nearer, the anticipation became ever stronger, like an unearthly will that was edging me towards a cliff. The gloomy greyscale cliff isn’t hiding jagged rocks below, but is actually a platform overlooking a sea of colourful opportunity.
The more I studied the situation, the faster I wanted to run off the edge and grasp every colour that I could. This is exciting, not a downfall.

Back to reality… and time has really slowed down for me. I feel like this day has lasted a week. I am not overexaggerating. My mind is becoming less foggy, and as I try to mentally delete everything that I have learned specifically to my old job role, the colours are becoming brighter. This is exactly what I thought would happen and for this I am grateful.

Next

All this said, there are many things that I wish to accomplish with this new-founded clarity and time. I am going to complete courses in these areas:

  • Linux
  • Word and Excel
  • CS50X web
  • Data analysis and presentation
  • AI: machine learning

As well as these, have a few interesting projects that I feel are worth persuing, and I will endeavor to complete those that are unfinished.
I also want to take the time to do things that I’ve never done before, such as going to some auctions (which is part of a future project) and maybe even a seminar or talk relating to programming.

This journey isn’t primarily about programming. It is about experiencing and learning new things, meeting different people and growing as a person. Perhaps this is the jump start I

Adding desktop shortcuts in Ubuntu 18.04

I like having my desktop filled with shortcuts to programs that I regularly use. In Ubuntu 18.04, there is a lack of a “right click > add shortcut to desktop” option. If you are missing this option too, don’t fret! There is another way to do just that.

In the Terminal, navigate to:

/usr/share/applications/

If you list all files with ls, you will see many different .desktop files each of which houses the information for executing a program. It also tells the UI where to find the icon that it should display.

Find the program that you wish to add to the desktop (you should find it here if it is installed through apt and it is a GUI application)

Copy the .desktop file to your own Desktop folder:

cp /usr/share/applications/<app>.desktop /home/<user_name>/Desktop/<app>.desktop

Next we need to make the desktop file executable:

chmod +x /home/<user_name>/Desktop/<app>.desktop

Now looking at the desktop, you should see your copied .desktop file.

ubuntu 18.04 desktop shortcut
ubuntu 18.04 desktop shortcut

Double clicking on the file will bring up a prompt, warning that the program is untrusted. Click “Trust and Launch”

ubuntu desktop 18.04 launch application
Ubuntu 18.04 desktop launch application

Once accepted, the application should launch as normal. Close it down, and you should now see the once .desktop file changed into an icon launcher as intended!

ubuntu 18.04 desktop shortcut 2
ubuntu 18.04 desktop shortcut

Changing Pagefile (Virtual Memory) settings in Windows 10

The Pagefile is a file used by Windows that is kept on the hard-drive. Pagefile is also known as Virtual Memory. It acts as an additional cache for things that might be kept in RAM, but stored this way because either RAM is too full or the data might be needed to made persistent.

If you frequently run out of RAM, increasing the pagefile will help to keep your programs running properly could stop crashes caused by low memory.

Some things you need to know

  • Data stored in the in the Pagefile is not optimal as hard-drives are much slower to access then in physical RAM.
  • Important: Pagefile/Virtual Memory is not recomended on SSDs as the file can be written to and read from fairly frequently and can cause premature wear on the drive. If you’re not worried about wear, you may still set a page file.
    You may also move the pagefile to a mechanical drive or set the file to a static amount.
    Also to note: as SSD tech matures, the agility of flash increases thus lowering potential wear.

Changing the settings

Use Cortana to search for “Advanced system settings“:

Search Cortana: advanced system settings
Search Cortana: advanced system settings

Clicking into Advanced system settings will bring up the “System Properties” view. In the “Advanced” tab, click “Settings…” under the “Performance” section:

System Properties: Advanced
System Properties: Advanced

This will bring up the “Performance Options” view. Continue to the pagefile settings by clicking “Change…” under “Virtual Memory” in the “Advanced” tab:

Performance Options: Virtual Memory
Performance Options: Virtual Memory

Lastly, you should be presented with the “Virtual Memory” view where you will be able to control your pagefile settings:

Virtual Memory view
Virtual Memory view

You can set a static size, move the pagefile to another drive or simply let Windows take control of the virtual memory with dynamic allocation.

Overcoming a resource famine

This may seem as another moan about how bad my AMD FX6350 is, however it isn’t. Much. I have arrived at the point where another Virtual Machine wouldn’t only be handy, but critically important for various reasons.

My current usage is as follows:

  1. Windows 10 host – SSD1
  2. Ubuntu 16.04 guest – HDD 1 – 2 VCore / 3 (allocatable)
  3. Ubuntu 18.04 Server guest – HDD1 – 1 VCore / 3 (allocatable)

VirtualBox allows 3 out of 6 cores to be allocated to VM’s. It seems the FX6350 isn’t a “true” 6 core processor and instead sees 3 physical as 6 logical processors.

The current configuration worked well, until I decided I wanted to test my 18.04 server (hosting my web app) against some attacks via Kali. This would mean that I would need another VM as 4, to test against 3. This would mean the CPUs are being pushed to the point where they (the host and guests) would not operate correctly.

I immediately decided to throw more power at the problem as I was lacking at least a few cores to accomplish this. I had 2 solutions:

  1. Set up a spare PC to play role as 18.04 server or Kali
  2. Buy a new PC altogether with enough cores to cater for the downfalls

Problem with solution 1: Another PC will be running and I do not have another monitor/mouse/keyboard/space/power socket(s) to  accommodate for something that could be done a lot easier on a single machine

Problem with solution 2: Not sure if my Windows 8.1 license will still apply an upgrade to Windows 10. Also, the obvious monitory cost involved.

Wielding my credit card, I was very close to ordering a spanking new Ryzen 7 2700x bundle from Overclockers.co.uk for a princely sum. At that moment, I instantly thought of a lesser (cheaper) solution.

Whilst (in theory) all 3 guests where happily working with/against each-other, the host will be nothing more then a host. Doing nothing, other then sharing resources, whilst using them. Removing the Windows 10 host lead me to the penultimate conclusion.

  1. Ubuntu 18.04 host – SSD 2
  2. Ubuntu 18.04 server guest – HDD1 – 1 VCore / 3 (allocatable)
  3. Kali guest – HDD1 – 2 VCore / 3 (allocatable)

Instantly I can start to see bottlenecks here, hence the “lesser”. I could extend a guest to HDD2, If I need to.  However, I have dodged a large sum of credit whilst achieving what I wanted. (in theory at least)

It seems that for the time being, the 2013 processor popular with gamers-on-a-budget still fits its purpose (barely). Being coy about the situation, I have averted a cost and will keep me warm through winter (although dreadful in the current heatwave). Eventually, I will have to let it go but until then I await for DDR5 and future processors to add to the mounting upgrade-ability from this long dead platform.