Saturday, April 20, 2013

How to Save Time by Using Snapshots in VirtualBox


Snapshots are a massive time saver when you are testing settings and configuration for your Geek School testing. Read on to see how you can take advantage of them while following along with our articles.
The basic idea of a snapshot is that you setup your virtual machine exactly how you want it, take a snapshot, and then you can make any changes you want. You could even install something awful, because it doesn’t matter – all you have to do is roll back the snapshot, and your virtual machine will be exactly how it was before.
It’s the perfect way to do a bunch of testing and figure things out, without breaking your setup. Plus, it’s a virtual machine, so you could always reload it anyway. If you haven’t already read our article about setting up a test lab, you should do that first.

Taking a Snapshot

Taking a snapshot in VirtualBox is actually very easy, and when done can save massive amounts of time. To get started open up your Virtual Machine and click on the Machine menu item, then select Take Snapshot…
Since we will be snapshotting a clean install you will need to give your snapshot an intuitive name and description to remember this.
The virtual machine will then dim out periodically while a point in time snapshot is taken.

Reverting To a Snapshot

The purpose of reverting to a snapshot is so that you can go back in time to a particular state, in our case a clean state just after we installed the OS. Since we can only do this when the virtual machine is not on, go ahead and shut it down.
Then select your virtual machine from the list and switch over to the snapshots view. Here you will see a list of the various snapshots you may have taken. To restore to a snapshot simply right click on it and choose Restore Snapshot From the Context Menu.
For most situations you are going to want to uncheck the option to create a snapshot of the virtual machine current state. The reason being is that you will normally want to restore when you have broken something, there’s no point in taking a snapshot of a broken configuration.
You will then see that the “Current State” will become the same as the snapshot you selected to restore to.
Now when you power on the virtual machine you will see the virtual machine quickly reverting itself.
Always remember that without snapshots, recording the Geek School would be nearly impossible, so remember to use them and save yourself countless hours. That’s all there is to it.

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Extend Your Office 2013/365 Trial to 180 Days

In recent years it has become common for Microsoft to release trial or preview versions of its big-name products. This has been the case with Windows 8 as well as Office 2013 giving consumer the chance to try before they buy. If you downloaded the trial version of the suite, you can gain some extra try-out time with this handy hack.
The trial version of Office 365 is only meant to be used for 30 days. After this time you are expected to by a license or stop using the software. In practice, Office does not become unusable, but instead enters a ‘reduced functionality’ mode.
But if you are not sure about committing to the purchase, you can extend you trial period so you can test drive the office suite for a little longer.
It is possible to ‘rearm’ the trial version of the software five times – essentially giving you six 30-day trial periods, or 180 days in total.
While there are various tools that can be downloaded that can do this job for you, there’s no need – everything you require is already available to you. The only thing you need to remember is to run through the rearming process before you trial periods run out; make sure you do it on the thirtieth day of the trial.
Open up an Explorer window and navigate to one of the following folders. If you are using a 32-bit version of Windows, head to:
C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\
If you are working with the 64-bit release, you should go to:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\
Hold down the Shift key, right click the folder called OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform and select the ‘Open command window here’ option.
Press Enter, and you’re done.
You can also navigate direct to C:\Program Files\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform or C:\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Microsoft Shared\OfficeSoftwareProtectionPlatform and type OSPPREARM.EXE into Explorer’s address bar before hitting Enter.
That’s all there is to it. It’s not quite a free copy of Office, but you do get to use it for a little longer.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Fix For Recent WordPress Brute Force Attack Is Easier Than You Think

Fix For Recent WordPress Brute Force Attack Is Easier Than You Think
Over the past couple of days it has been widely reported that WordPress based sites are being targeted by a massive brute force attack, one that is supposedly backed by a botnet with over 90,000 IP addresses. The nature of this attack has been described as being much larger than usual, with CloudFlar alone blocking over 60 million requests in under one hour. The attack is believed to be on a global scale, affecting almost every web host out there. So naturally WordPress users have been looking for a fix, which is surprisingly easy, this coming from the man himself who made WordPress.
What has puzzled site owners and hosts alike, is that there seems to be no clear reason for this global attack. The attacks seem to be sourced from PCs, which are capable of installing a backdoor that would allow hackers to control the site from anywhere in the world. Matt Mullenweg, the creator of WordPress, released a statement and detailed a very easy fix, one that would keep sites almost 99% ahead of those who are not on the same track.
Almost 3 years ago we released a version of WordPress (3.0) that allowed you to pick a custom username on installation, which largely ended people using “admin” as their default username. Right now there’s a botnet going around all of the WordPresses it can find trying to login with the “admin” username and a bunch of common passwords, and it has turned into a news story (especially from companies that sell “solutions” to the problem).
Here’s what I would recommend: If you still use “admin” as a username on your blog, change it, use a strong password, if you’re on turn on two-factor authentication, and of course make sure you’re up-to-date on the latest version of WordPress. Do this and you’ll be ahead of 99% of sites out there and probably never have a problem. Most other advice isn’t great — supposedly this botnet has over 90,000 IP addresses, so an IP limiting or login throttling plugin isn’t going to be great (they could try from a different IP a second for 24 hours).
You heard the man! Implementing this easy fix would ensure a relatively high level of safety for a WordPress based site. Hopefully security researchers will be able to dig deeper and find out what really is the reason behind this global WordPress brute force attack.