Facebook Blocking Searches for Google

Date December 9, 2007

A friend tipped me off today to this. Facebook appears to be blocking searches for ‘Google’. It throws the following error, purporting to be a temporary problem.

Facebook / Google

Perhaps more interestingly, is that a search for Microsoft or Yahoo goes through fine. I also attempted to user their ‘Advanced Search’, entering Google in the Company field. The search returns the same result. We can only conclude that Facebook is filtering for the keyword Google and refusing to return results.

This comes in the wake of Facebook’s recent Microsoft deal. I don’t know how long searching for Google has been disabled, but one has to at least allow fo the possibility that it is somehow related.

Don your tinfoil hats, and come up with your own theories. Has anyone noticed other keywords that elicit a similar response from Facebook’s search?

New Comcast Setup Diagram Released

Date November 30, 2007

I don’t know where this came from, but if anyone can take credit, please let me know!

Comcast Setup

Connect to Windows VPN server (PPTP) with Ubuntu Gutsy

Date November 28, 2007

UPDATE – for VPN on Hardy Heron, see my new post here

Ubuntu makes it simple to connect to a Microsoft Windows VPN server at your workplace with NetworkManager and the pptp plugin. Luckily for us Ubuntu users, the right tools are just a couple of clicks or commands away. The first step is to install the network-manager-pptp package. I’ve broken this down into two sections: GUI and CLI installation methods, and Configuration.

Install PPTP with GUI (requires reboot)

Go to the Applications menu, then select Add/Remove… and enter pptp in the search bar.

Add/Remove Programs - pptp plugin

There it is! Add a checkmark, and hit apply changes. Once the install has completed, reboot your machine and move on to the configuration portion of this guide.

Install PPTP CLI (no reboot required)>

Execute the following commands to:

  • install network-manager-pptp
  • restart NetworkManager daemon
  • restart nm-applet and begin configuring

sudo apt-get install network-manager-pptp
killall nm-applet
sudo /etc/init.d/dbus restart
nm-applet --sm-disable &

Configure Your VPN

After rebooting or restarting NetworkManager and nm-applet, a single click on the nm-applet should reveal a new option, VPN Connections.

New VPN Connections Option

Follow the menu, and select Configure VPN then Add a new connection.

Click Forward to begin the configuration. Go ahead and name your connection, then enter the IP address or DNS hostname of the VPN gateway under the Connection tab.

Next, move to the Authentication tab and activate Refuse CHAP.

At this point, the basic configuration is complete. I like to add one more step, however, to ensure that not all of my traffic is routed over the VPN. This can be detrimental for performance. If you’d rather limit your VPN traffic to a specific subnet, go ahead and execute the following:

Under the Routing tab, disable Peer DNS through tunnel (if desired) and enable the option to only use VPN connection for these addresses and enter your network subnet. If the machines on your network use addresses like 192.168.100.X, use something like the following:


That’s it! You’re done. To connect to the VPN, click the NetworkManager applet, and follow the menus to your newly configured connection. Enter your username, password, and domain, and you should be in business.

Leave comments below if the procedure was any different for you. I’ve tested this on Ubuntu Gutsy 7.10 32 bit and 64 bit.

7 Linux Resources you Can’t Live Without

Date November 23, 2007


The Linux Documentation Project — This site is the product of years and years of combined knowledge. From HOWTOs on how to set up a software RAID, to Linux Clustering, this is the place to start when you’re not sure how to accomplish something.

LinuxQuestions.org — LQ has a huge community with distro and purpose-specific forums. This is a great place to turn to when you get stuck after reading one of the HOWTOs from TLDP above. With more than 2.9 million posts and more than 300k members, you’re likely to find what you’re looking for here.

SourceForge.net – Sourceforge is where programs go to grow. If yum or apt-get don’t have what you’re looking for, chances are that someone is working on it – at Sourceforge. Also see freshmeat.net.

Freebsd handbook
— When it comes to just knowing your *nix, this is one of the best places to go. Wrap your head around things like pipes, configuring X11, and how to set up a chroot jail for security.

HowtoForge — Sometimes, you need a step by step guide. Maybe you need to get a mail server with virtual domains and webmail going in a hurry. Or, maybe you want to build a nice Time Machine-like backup solution with rsync. Howtoforge gives you simple to understand instructions from start to finish for many projects.

man / info – Linux comes with a surprising amount of documentation at your fingertips. If you’re already familiar with a command, sometimes all you need is a little hint. The built in man pages can give you that elusive option you were looking for — or remind you of the correct syntax.

Linux on Laptops and Tuxmobil — Can’t get that memory stick reader going on your laptop? Trying to decide which models have the best support before you buy? These sites list out by model what needs to be done to get your machine fully functioning. Tuxmobil even provides information on how to get Linux on your PDA and cell phone!

Bonus: IRC and Freenode — IRC is the place to go if you need to bounce a few questions of a live person. And it’s easier than calling tech support ;)

Aye, I live on Eye St. NW!

Date November 15, 2007

A friend pointed out to me Google’s odd, but sensible, convention of alternating street names.  I street is also spelled on Google Maps as “Eye St.”

Eye Street

Eye chuckled.  Oh, man that was bad…

Craigslist 404 hints at Debian / Apt-Get

Date November 15, 2007

ASCII screenshot:

(  return to  )
(  craigslist )
(  homepage?  )
        O   ^__^
         o  (oo)_______
            (__)       )/
                ||----w |
                ||     ||

When specifying a non-existent URL, craigslist.org throws this as an error page. Brilliant!

Reference here for the uninitiated.

Offtopic: What could be better?

Date November 5, 2007

obligatory Big Lebowski quote…
The Dude: Fuckin’ Quintana… that creep can roll, man.
Walter Sobchak: Yeah, but he’s a pervert, Dude.

Yeah, he’s a pervert. But at least he can go to church where he bowls. I was in West Virginia when I saw this a couple of weekends ago and couldn’t believe my eyes. They attached a bowling alley to a church!


Just when you think you’ve figured them out…

Date October 24, 2007

Thanks to reader Marc S. for the early heads up on this. It seems you really never can judge a book by its cover! I blogged a few weeks ago on why Google would never do IMAP. Well, it’s time to eat my hat.

Getting started with IMAP for Gmail

Here’s a capture of the option to enable the feature under Settings:

Gmail IMAP options

Why Bittorrent Matters

Date October 18, 2007

Ubuntu Gutsy came out today, which you should know unless you’ve had your head in the sand for the last week. Digg’s front page has been plastered with stories in anticipation of the big day, and I’m guilty of the hype, too, by writing a silly post earlier this week that made it to the front page without much merit.

It’s time to get a little more serious though, and examine the main reason that Bittorrent, net neutrality, and an unfiltered internet matter. Ubuntu’s Gutsy Gibbon, presumably the most anticipated release yet, is the perfect opportunity to illustrate the problem.

Ubuntu has lots of mirrors. Lots. But it has even more users, most with a big fat broadband pipe. That’s more than enough to bring those mirrors to their knees, even the universities with backbone connections. Here’s an example of what I found tonight, trying to get an image of Gutsy:

421: Too Many Connections

Every mirror I tried displayed a similar error. One redirected to a page with a link to the torrents (University of Minnesota, at http://mirror.cs.umn.edu/ubuntu-torrents/torrents.html).

While the big beefy mirrors struggle to deal with the deluge of traffic, bittorrent picks up the slack. This is where the protocol shines! Here’s an example of the speeds I accrued while downloading both the i386 and AMD64 iso files:

BT Zoomed
[click for full shot]

That’s pretty much all I have to say. There are some ISPs out there who believe that Bittorrent has no legitimate uses and ISPs that throttle our bandwidth when BT is detected; there are those that want to create a tiered network where this method of file transfer is inaccessible to those without abundant means. Stand up, be counted, use BitTorrent, and be part of the solution instead of the problem.


Ubuntu Gutsy: Lookin’ better than ever!

Date October 15, 2007

The day draws near for Gutsy’s release (Ubuntu 7.10), and after running the betas and release candidate for a while, I’m quite impressed.

Gutsy feels snappier than previous releases; the whole thing is put together very nicely. Updates have been coming in a steady stream, and Firefox and MPlayer are up to their current versions — two crucial pieces of software for me.

The nVidia drivers installed without a problem for me, and turning on desktop effects was simple — System > Preferences > Appearance > Visual Effects. I have mine set to enable ‘extra’. The look is very subtle and doesn’t get in the way of every day operation. I wish the desktop cube was turned on by default, but hey — you can’t have it all.

Connecting to my company’s VPN was quick and easy. I installed the package “network-manager-pptp” and set up the profile for our Microsoft PPTP VPN server. I was in business in minutes, browsing our corporate file shares from Nautilus.

What are your impressions so far?

[see the Ubuntu Names Repository to suggest codenames for Ubuntu]

[see my rundown of the available versions of Ubuntu and which is best for you]

Switching desktops Switching desktops, and the earthy background