About Beckman

I'm a big geek, serial entrepreneur and idea guy. I've been called names, such as PHP Guru, MySQL DBA, BOFH, Security God, etc. That and Peter-Peter-Pumpkin-Eater.

The image in the header is © Peter Beckman.

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How to log cron jobs in OS X El Capitan 10.11

Wednesday 09 December 2015 at 10:05 am

Last night I wrote a quick PHP script to scan the OVH, SoYouStart and Kimsufi dedicated server inventory to alert me via email when certain types of servers in specific datacenters became available.

After decoding the server type ID and building SASL and TLS authentication into Postfix, I added the script to cron. But I wasn’t sure it was running, and while on most servers there’s a cron log, there wasn’t one on my Mac Pro. How to get it there…

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Quicksilver and OTP: Together At Last

Monday 15 December 2014 at 11:57 pm

I’ve been using Two-Factor Authentication on most every site that supports it for a while now: Google, Evernote, Facebook and Dropbox to name a few. But I’ve always grumbled when I’m on my laptop and I need to log into one of these accounts and they are asking for my TFA token.

Now I’ve got it working where I can get the latest token for any of these services on my Mac in Quicksilver and copied to my clipboard in no time flat. You can have it working for yourself in just a few minutes.

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Renaming your OSX Home Dir and Breaking Dropbox

Wednesday 16 July 2014 at 4:47 pm

I just got a shiny new MacBook Pro from work, but they set it up with the username “peterbeckman” even though everything else here is “pbeckman.” Being lazy and not wanting to type “ssh pbeckman@host” every time, and not also wanting to need to set up each host in .ssh/config I set off on renaming my account in OSX Mavericks.

Luckily some kind soul had already figured out how to rename your OSX Mavericks short username and posted it on the web. I followed “The full monty” instructions with great success.

But after reboot and subsequent login, Dropbox failed, complaining about permissions on my old Home directory. I didn’t save the error message, but it looked like it didn’t have permissions to the directory (because it no longer existed). I tried re-installing Dropbox, but that didn’t reset things.

After creating a symlink from /Users/peterbeckman to /Users/pbeckman (ln -s pbeckman peterbeckman) I was able to get Dropbox to start, but it annoyed me that it was still looking at my old $HOME. So I tried under Dropbox > Preferences > Account to change the parented home dir, but it complained that the Dropbox folder already existed. Well duh.

So finally I unlinked the account, removed the symlink, re-linked the account, and Dropbox found the existing files that had already been copied onto my host and all was seemingly well again.

Short version:

  1. Change OSX Mavericks short username and rename Home Directory to match
  2. Symlink your previous home directory to the new one
  3. Restart Dropbox
  4. Dropbox > Preferences > Account
  5. Unlink account
  6. Quit Dropbox
  7. Delete the Symlink
  8. Start Dropbox, Re-Link Account
  9. ...
  10. Profit!

3 Reasons to Distrust Amazon Reviews

Thursday 03 April 2014 at 10:40 am

Being an ex-Amazonian I like to keep up with the innovation that Amazon keeps delivering. Recently the Amazon Fire TV was announced, and I decided to take a look.

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How to fix your Dropbox Two-Factor Authentication After Google Authenticator Broke It

Thursday 05 September 2013 at 3:59 pm

So you upgraded to Google Authenticator 2.0 on your iPhone or iPad and Google destroyed your Two-Factor auth settings. Well Crap.

Google Authenticator 2.0 Fail


I use Google on the web often enough that my computer was trusted, so I could reset my Two-Factor auth without any trouble.

But with Dropbox, I rarely use the web interface, and the computer I had set as “trusted” got wiped after I left AWS. So I emailed Dropbox Customer Service this morning and they got back to me just now.

Another easy way is through the Dropbox desktop application. If the application is running and linked to your account, just click on the Dropbox icon in your system tray (Windows) or menu bar (Mac) and then click Dropbox.com (or in
older versions of the application, click Launch Dropbox Website). This will take you straight to the website, where you’ll be signed in automatically and can disable or update two-step authentication from here.

Ah ha! Logged me right in and I was able to edit and re-enter my authentication information for Two-Factor Auth!

I’m still ticked off at Google for screwing this up. There are a bunch of other TOTP (Time-based One Time Password) protocol-supporting iOS Apps, such as DuoMobile but I don’t yet have a level of trust for any of them. If you do, post in the comments!

Centrum Silver Ad and Buckets of Bullshit

Monday 02 September 2013 at 10:07 pm

I was watching the news tonight and a Centrum Silver ad comes on, similar but longer than this one:

The copy is as follows:

“Man: I’ve been taking a multivitamin for years, Centrum Silver. Woman: Both of us actually. Our pharmacist recommended it. Man: Yeah, that makes me feel pretty good about it. And i heard about a study looking at multivitamins and the long-term health benefits, and what do you know, they used Centrum Silver in the study. Makes me feel even better. That’s what I take. Sorry, we take. Voiceover: Centrum. The most recommended, most preferred, most studied. Centrum. Always your most complete.”

I take issue with this ad. First off, I have my doubts that my pharmacist has more or better information about the health benefits of multivitamins than my 8-year-old daughter. OK, maybe a little bit more, but my General Practitioner is way more likely to understand the impacts of a multivitamin on my health than my pharmacist. From what I’ve read, pharmacists know more about drugs and medicine than my GP might, but I’m not sure they study multivitamins. And I don’t really even trust my GP much anymore either. Nor do I trust the Internet, yet here I write.

Anyway, I call bullshit that the pharmacist is a trustworthy source for the healthfulness of taking a daily multivitamin. The impact or dosage of a drug or medicine? Absolutely, but not vitamins. Which leads me to that nagging study.

Second, the guy mentions a study on long-term health benefits where they used Centrum Silver. But he doesn’t mention the outcome of the study, only that they used Centrum Silver in the study. Why? Because it wasn’t a good outcome.

“New findings from a long-term study published Monday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, for example, suggest that multivitamins do not protect against heart disease in men. The study, which included nearly 15,000 male physicians over age 50, found that those who took a daily multivitamin for more than 10 years did not reduce their risk for heart attack, stroke or death.” — ABC News: Mixed Results on the Benefits of Multivitamins

So the study that shows that Centrum Silver has no positive impact on our lives, and yet this guy “feels good about it” because they used Centrum Silver in the study.

I used to be in the ad business, and I used to like ads. But ads really are piles of crap being sold as The Emperors New Clothes. I’m not taking any stupid multivitamins.

Half-Life mod "Sven-Coop" Coming to Steam

Wednesday 17 July 2013 at 11:22 am

Sven-Coop Coming Soon to Steam

I’ve loved Half-Life since I first played HL2 in the Orange Box a long, long time ago. They came out with a few new episodes which were fun, but I had hoped they would do more.

At least now some mod I’ve never heard of but seems to be popular is coming to Steam, with the team getting access to the original game engine code to make it co-op friendly. Sounds like fun!

Save the Environment: Stop Biking!

Tuesday 20 May 2008 at 1:26 pm

The Aptera Typ-1h Typ-1e Typ-1I was reading a post over at AutoBlog Green and started to think about why Biking across America would help us save money on gas. And in my calculations, biking actually is significantly less green than driving a pure electric vehicle.

Most companies say you pay about 2c/mile for an electric vehicle to run. Power that from solar or wind sources, and you have ZERO emissions. For our estimates, lets assume DOUBLE that estimate, or 4c/mile for an EV.

Take a gasoline car. Average fuel economy is about 22mpg. Though US average for regular was put at $3.69 yesterday, I’m going to use $4, because that’s what it will be in a month. Assuming you have an average car, you are paying 18c/mile for your petrol sucking car. Plus you are spewing CO2 emissions in the air; not as much as your parents were, but there are emissions.

Save the environment - stop biking!Now look at biking, cycling or generally using a bicycle. Using a few different sites on the web, they average about 1000 calories for biking 15mph for 1 hour. I don’t know if this assumes hilly or flat terrain, but I don’t care — the number seems reasonable. For healthy food, not power bars but actual food with health value, I’m guessing you pay about $4 for 1000 calories. The calories have got to be sustainable over 8 hours of biking, and I’m guessing 32 power bars (at 230 cals per bar) isn’t the ideal consumption for long term performance. Food Ain't Green!At $4/1kcal, you are paying an astonishing 26c/mile. And you’d like to think that biking is emissions-free, but it isn’t. All of your food is shipped and carted around this great country on diesel trains, trucks and boats, spewing more CO2 into the , just to process your healthy food for you to burn 26c/mile, forcing you to breathe all that pollution along the way, stupid bike.

But for skeptics, let us say $2 for 1000 calories. you are still at 13c/mile, 3+ times more expensive than our DOUBLED estimate per mile for an EV.
And on top of that, YOU are spewing CO2 into the environment!!! At a much greater rate than if you were sitting in a nice, quiet, efficient and ZERO EMISSIONS EV.

Bottom Line: Stop biking, you pollution loving hippies, and get yourself an EV.

Where to get an EV? The Aptera does 85mph for 40-60 miles on pure electric, and you can get up to 120mpg for longer drives, all for $29,900 (or the pure EV for $26,900 with 120 mile range). Or consider the Triac that does 80mph for 100 miles, and only costs $19,995. Or my favorite and future vehicle, the Venture One that does 0-60 in 7 seconds, goes 100mph, with all three types (1 EV, 2 gas-hybrids) doing better than 100mpg, and does it all while you feel like you are flying a fighter jet. Pricing between $18,000 and $23,000. Excellent.

PS — I guess you could almost say that food these days isn’t really green. So stop eating America! Save the environment!
PPS — Just kidding.

This computer cannot use this update.

Monday 31 March 2008 at 2:30 pm

Apple. © Wired 2008What a friggin’ cryptic error message, . Your website on the WWAN Support Update page states all I need is 10.4.8 and an Intel-based Macintosh Portable. Well, I sort of meet those criteria. Granted, I’ve got OS X 10.4.11, and I think the Intel-based I have meets that Macintosh abstract inconsistent naming convention. So why oh why can’t I install you, my pretty WWAN Support? All I want to do is connect my via (hell, I’ll even do it via USB if I must) to gain access to all the EVDO goodness I’m paying for. I even am paying for the PAM (Phone As Modem) plan with Sprint to make this work. I thought you were supposed to make things easy, Apple?

Apple Logo surrounded by razor wire used without permission; From the cover of Wired 16|04. © 2008 Wired Magazine.

OSX, ssh, FreeBSD, login delays and a glass of red wine

Thursday 13 September 2007 at 12:28 am

I won’t bore the lot of you that could give two cents for what information I am about to offer. It’s extremely geeky, but it sucked up my entire evening of what could have been a productive night. To allow the rest of you having this problem to enjoy a productive and happy evening without banging your head against a wall, I’m sharing my solution to this annoying problem.

Don’t wanna read my blatherings? Add this to your ~/.ssh/config:

GSSAPIKeyExchange no

Voila, no more delays. No server config changes either. Hope you don’t have to use Kerberos! :-)

Read on to see how I got to this solution.

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