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Macs | kaos.theory: fractal blog

Archive for the ‘macs’ Category

Collaborative Editing


From The Kevin Experiment:

I WANT FREE SOFTWARE… if you do toooo… copy this to your blog

1. SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys
2. BLOGZOT 2.0 on
3. MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys will award $105,000 in Mac software
4. any comments you have about the software, the web site, or the promotion

So basically SubEthaEdit…. think textedit on steroids and networkable.


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Happy with Windows?


Joy of Tech 652

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Hey, your SSH is showing


Saw an interesting submission by Chuck Talk at RootPrompt the other day about DenyHosts, a tool to prevent repeated attacks against public SSH services running on your servers.

Apparently someone had plenty of time to try to login, and was not deterred by repeated login failure. That set me on a course to find a solution that was simple, effective and enough of a barrier to the attacker that they would move on out of frustration, or simply be denied enough that they would find easier targets.

That search led me to find DenyHosts, a simple and elegant solution that works with a minimal configuration effort and is small, quick and clean. The ease of installation and operation make this an effective solution to annoying SSH attackers, and one that you should consider if you are using SSH services.

In essence, DenyHosts is a simple python script, watching logs for entries that might indicate obviously malicious and/or suspicious login attempts. From the FAQ:

DenyHosts then processes the sshd server log (typically, this is /var/log/secure, /var/log/auth.log, etc) and determines which hosts have unsuccessfully attempted to gain access to the ssh server. Additionally, it notes the user and whether or not that user is valid (eg. has a system account) or invalid (eg. does not have a system account).

When DenyHosts determines that a given host has attempted a configurable number of attempts (this is known as the deny_threshold), DenyHosts will add that host to the /etc/hosts.deny file. This will prevent that host from contacting your sshd server again.

Also, DenyHosts will note any successful logins that occurred by a host that has exceeded the deny_threshold. These are known as suspicious logins and should be investigated further by the system admin.

More on Quicksilver


In an earlier post, I made brief mention of a tool that I’ve come to depend on now that I’m using a Mac, but I spent no real time describing it, which does not do this extraordinary program justice. The tool of which I speak is Quicksilver, a tool that has brought me closer to my keyboard and virtually eliminated my dependence on a mouse in and of itself.

The program itself is sheer brilliance. It is, to put it simply, the most powerful search tool, application launcher, bookmark manager, addressbook assistant, file transfer application, folder browser, music player and email manager… all hidden behind a single-panel interface into which I type that which I desire. Not only does it find what I’m looking for, but it learns along the way, identifying those things that I request most often and delivering them to me with fewer keystrokes on each subsequent request.

The developers describe it as “An evolving framework for accessing and manipulating many forms of personal data,” and though I think the description is accurate, to someone who’s never experienced Quicksilver it’s probably inadequate.


It’s all about the shortcuts


Ok, so I use a Mac virtually all of the time now, and possibly because of (or despite?) its BSD underpinnings, OS X provides one of the smoothest and most logical interfaces I’ve used in 21 years of working with computers. In the end, though, I’m still drawn to the keyboard. Unfortunately, my typing has degenerated over the years, most probably because of my reliance on various and sundry GUIs. I can still bang away at probably something like 70 - 90 wpm if I try hard enough, but my errors are way up.

In order to simplify my life and improve my productivity, I’ve been trying to move back to the keyboard by way of shortcuts for virtually everything I do. It’s an often challenging process, especially when you’ve come to rely on the mouse as much as modern operating systems have inspired me to.

Nonetheless, I’ve found a few very useful tools that have made this process either transparent, or at the very least, significantly easier. Below is a list of those I use and love, with a couple at the bottom that I’ve yet to try but believe will further my efforts…