A Bad Boss Can Ruin Your Job

We've all, almost certainly, had a boss we didn't necessarily get on with at some point, but that doesn't necessarily make them a bad boss.

People are different, and sometimes view points collide, it's an inavoidable risk of putting distinct personalities into a group and asking them to spend their days together.

What makes a true bad boss is when the power/influence they exert is mis-used. 

In my career, I've had one particularly bad boss (I hasten to add - I'm not working there anymore!), not only did their behaviour ruin my enjoyment of my role, but they (in my opinion) deliberately went out of their way in an (ultimately unsuccessful) attempt to severely tarnish my reputation and my name. Their attempt could also have had a devastating effect upon my quality of life.

In this post, I'll be taking a broad overview of what happened, and examining what I learnt from the experience, and (with the benefit of hindsight) what the early warning signs were.

The events I'm going to discuss occurred a number of years ago and I always planned to write about it, but wanted to leave it long enough that I could be truly objective. As a result, I never quite got around to writing about my experiences.

Being a denizen of a number of internet forums, I've seen others post about experiences they're currently going through, and some of them really ring alarm bells for me - so it seems like the right time to get around to writing about it.

I'm not going to name names, as that isn't the point in this piece. I've tried to keep it as brief as possible, but being quite complex it's not as short as I had originally hoped.



The full background is quite long and complex (if you want to skip the background, go straight to what I've learned), but the full details would take forever to type out, and even longer to read. Some of the finer details have been skipped for brevity.


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Allowing your Internal Search Engine to Index JIRA Issues

I use a number of tools on my network, including a private JIRA install (i.e. you need to log in to view anything) and the Sphider PHP search engine (I've generated a lot of documentation over the years).

Unfortunately the two aren't exactly compatible, as Sphider has no way to log into JIRA, but I wanted my JIRA issues and comments to be indexed so that relevant items can be included in my search results. One option would be to set JIRA to public mode, but I'd rather maintain the need to log in.

So instead I created a simple PHP script - JIRA Issue Listing - to generate a list that Sphider could index, but would redirect 'real' users to the relevant issue on JIRA.

This post is the documentation for that script



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My Own Little HeartBleed Headache

When the HeartBleed bug was unveiled, I checked all of my servers to see whether they were running vulnerable versions. They weren't, but once the patched versions were released it seemed a good juncture to test and roll out the update to one server.

What followed was something of a headache, initially with all the markings of a serious compromise.

Having now identified and resolved the root cause, I thought I'd write a post about it so that others seeing similar behaviour can get something of a headstart.

In response to threats such as CDorked, I run PHP Changed Binaries on all my servers, so any file in PATH is checked (daily) for changes, based on a cryptographic checksum. If any changes are detected, an alert is raised so that I can investigate the cause of the change.

The day after I updated OpenSSL, I started receiving alerts for a wide variety of files (I'd updated hashes following the update of OpenSSL)

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Falling Out Of Love With Siteground

In the past, I've really rated Siteground Hosting very highly, and recommended them to anyone asking about US Based dedicated servers (Heart would be my first choice for UK Based Dedicated Servers or VPS). Unfortunately experience has worn me down.

To be clear, I'm not, and never have been, a Siteground customer. However, some of the people I do some work for are, so I occasionally have to escalate things to Siteground, or step in when Siteground have asked their customer to take some action.

I've been quietly sitting on some of these frustrations for a little while, but in the last week some have been added, tipping the balance in my mind.


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Usurping the BTHomeHub with a Raspberry Pi: Part 6 - Conclusion

Throughout this series of articles, we've been aiming to usurp the role of the BTHomeHub on our home network, leaving it to do nothing but act as an Internet Gateway and provide a basic NAT firewall. As we've seen, it can be stubborn and insist on trying to ignore 'off' settings.

In the previous five parts, we've configured our Raspberry Pi to perform many of the functions of the HomeHub, as well as a few extras that BT never saw fit to provide. So, now we're going to step back and look at the functionality we've got.


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Usurping the BTHomeHub with a Raspberry Pi: Part 5 - Inbound OpenVPN

In Part 4 we configured our Raspberry Pi router to maintain a number of OpenVPN tunnels and to route through them selectively. Now we'll look at the steps needed to allow connection to our LAN via OpenVPN. Although helpful, as the HomeHub doesn't provide VPN connectivity, this stage doesn't really count as Usurping the BTHomeHub.

The steps are almost completely identical to those performed when Installing Open VPN on Debian. We're going to have to NAT connections though, as the HomeHub is a little stupid and we can't add static routes to it (so if we're connected to the VPN and accessing the Internet, it won't know where to route the response packets).

What we'll do, though, is only NAT if the connection isn't to something on the LAN.


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Removing index.php from SEF URLs

So you set up your Joomla! site, made it live, and later realised that you'd forgotten to enable the HTAccess file for SEF URL's.

The end result being that all your URLs contain /index.php/ What to do?

You could just enable the HTAccess file, but all the old URL's will then return a 404. Not great if your site has already been indexed by search engines, even worse if others have linked to you too.

In fact, on newer sites, it might even be worse - the old link will still be valid, but there'll be a 'new' link too, so you'll end up with two URLs for the same content.

It's actually incredibly simple to resolve, and this documentation details the two steps you need to take to resolve it, without breaking the old URLs.


The first step is simple, we need to enable the HTAccess file (assuming you haven't already). In the root of your Joomla! site is a file called htaccess.txt, rename it to .htaccess

The second step is to add a mod_Rewrite rule to catch and redirect the old-style links.

Open .htaccess in a text editor and find the line "RewriteEngine On". Immediately below add the following (lines with a hash are comments, you can skip these if needed)

# Make sure the requested URL isn't a directory (unlikely to be)
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d

# Use a regular expression to find URL's where index.php is followed by something.
RewriteRule ^index.php/(.*)$ /$1 [R=301,L]

Save the file!

Now if you visit http://yoursite/index.php/category/Blogs/aPost/ you should be redirected to http//yoursite/category/Blogs/aPost/.

Because you're sending a 301 (Permanently moved), the search engines should update their indexes as well, and users browsers will cache the redirect (so if they visit again whilst the redirect is in cache, they'll immediately request the new URL).

So, for example http://www.bentasker.co.uk/index.php/documentation/joomla/266-removing-index-php-from-sef-urls should redirect you back to the correct URL for this article

Audi A6: Front Brake Pad Replacement

Changing the front brake pads on the Audi A6 Savant is a relatively straight forward task to complete. The brakes are one of the areas where Audi appear to have taken the wise decision not to over-complicate things too much.

This documentation applies to the 2000 model, but the steps should be similar for others too

Work on one side at a time (but always replace brake pads as an axle set!), and check your work carefully as you go - a brake failure is a serious and unpleasant event to experience!


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