Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

Using GeoIP.dat and Apache on cPanel / WHM to block 75,000+ attacks on wp-login.php in one day Jun 4 2014

Client denied by server configuration - protect wp-login.php

After yet another brute-force attack on our servers hosting WordPress sites today I finally decided it was time to take some drastic action.  There are a number of different approaches you can take, this is what I did to block literally over 75,000 attacks against wp-login.php today.

Step 1: Install the GeoIP database and Apache module

Step 2: Add this to /usr/local/apache/conf/includes/post_virtualhost_global.conf

# Whitelist countries allowed to access wp-login.php or wp-comments-post.php
<FilesMatch "(wp-login|wp-comments-post)\.php$">
SetEnvIf GEOIP_COUNTRY_CODE US AllowCountry
SetEnvIf GEOIP_COUNTRY_CODE CN AllowCountry
order deny,allow
Deny from all
Allow from env=AllowCountry
ErrorDocument 403 "Forbidden."
</FilesMatch>

(We have some clients in China who need to legitimately login to WordPress, so we included them in the whitelist). Adjust your whitelist / allowed country list appropriately.

Restart apache service httpd restart and start watching the attacks get served up “Forbidden.” messages instead of hitting WordPress and database. Server load way down, yay! Sorry rest of the world, you can’t have our wp-login.php anymore.

Value and Valor – Bringing your A Game Dec 14 2012

Hand-painted sign - A

It’s the end of 2012, and I’ve been thinking about the idea of creating value lately. What makes something valuable, what makes it good, what makes anything worth having? What makes a person valuable and worth having as a friend?

If someone behaves in a way that is considered valuable, especially in the context of a larger community, we say that they’ve acted with valor. There is honor in acting this way. The opposite of this is cowardice.

We measure value in terms of money — it is how we’ve standardized the exchange of value. If I do something of value for one of my clients, there is usually a transfer of money to recognize that. More important than the money, however, are the feelings, emotions, and communications that happen. Gratitude, fulfillment.

Why are the richest people rich? I think that most people who become rich arrive at that state of being because they have found a way to deliver or realize an extraordinary amount of value that they’ve been able to transfer to other people, which those other people then exchange their own value-units (money) for. Some folks do this in ways that I have no desire to emulate, and some are worth studying and learning from.

What should I be doing with my life? I’ve seen advice from people that we should follow what we love. Why? Because when we focus our time, attention, money, energy and soul into an activity, we get better at doing it. When we get better at doing it, we are able to communicate or transfer more value outwards.

My focus for 2013 is to try to deliver the maximum amount of value I possibly can to as many people as possible. — to try to give the most I can. Not for money, but because that is the person I want to be.

People who act unselfishly on the behalf of others are considered to be valorous — they are recognized as being valuable people, because of what they do. That is the person I want to be, not for glory, but for the true happiness that comes from being a help to others.

Please call me on this if you see me acting like a jerk, or if I can do better. And consider for yourself, are you prepared to commit to being the best version of yourself that you can imagine?

Webelos Scout Dropout Oct 5 2011

Webelos Scout colorsWhen I was in 4th or 5th grade, I joined the Boy Scouts. Except it wasn’t Boy Scouts for me, no, it was Webelos Scouts, since that was the appropriate group for my age at the time. I hadn’t been a Cub Scout, but did like the idea very much of camping, friendship, outdoor activities, and all of the other things that I envisioned Boy Scouts doing.

We didn’t have a lot of money in our family at the time. I remember purchasing the Webelos Scout uniform (shirt, some patches maybe) was a significant purchase. But my parents were willing to support me in joining this fine organization if that was what I wanted to do.

My expectations were high when I joined. The reality turned out to be a little bit different. As I recall, having not been a Cub Scout in the Den I joined, I felt like an outsider. I also had pretty terrible social skills at the time, and didn’t really adapt well. At first I gave it my best shot to fit in and participate, but eventually felt like something wasn’t quite working for me there.

We never went camping. The most exciting part of being a Webelos Scout seemed to be the silver or gold candle we would burn at each meeting. That was our fire — maybe it symbolized a campfire, or burning stuff, or some kind of eternal flame of awesomeness. All I know is that we did some glue-gun projects, and burnt that candle at each meeting. During my short stint as a Webelos Scout we never even discussed going on a camping trip. That being my primary motivation for trying to break into this tight-knit group of young boys, I got discouraged. I gave up.

Ever since I’ve considered myself to be a Webelos Scout Dropout. Someone unfit to participate in that system of rules, achievements, honor, glory, companionship, excellence.

Recently I’ve had an opportunity to revisit this mental image in my head about who I am. I’ve thought of many fine men I know who are Eagle Scouts — they completed the Boy Scout journey, graduated basically with the highest honors. Now I know that not every Eagle Scout is a shining example of awesomeness, but that is basically what they aspire to be.  And the people I know who are Eagle Scouts I’ve developed a tremendous amount of respect for.  They seem to be able to get worthwhile things done in a way that is worth emulating.

I will never be an actual Eagle Scout. You have to graduate from that program before you turn 18. I’m 35 years old. Not gonna happen without time travel, and I don’t know if I would have turned out that different had I stuck to it at the time.

I got to thinking though, what am I holding on to by seeing myself as a broken Webelos Scout who could never have been an Eagle Scout. Not a productive way to see myself.

What makes an Eagle Scout a good person is their drive to be a good person, and their capable practice of good qualities that gradually tell people — yes, this is a good person. This is someone who is interested in helping the world.

Eagle Scout PatchHere is the Scout Oath:

On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

And the Scout Law:

A Scout is:
Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful,
Friendly, Courteous, Kind,
Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty,
Brave, Clean, Reverent

It’s interesting to me that even though I haven’t thought about the Oath and the Law in many years, I realize that those are really important qualities to me. Those really do help define what it is to be an honorable, good, helpful person in this world.

I may still be a Webelos Scout Dropout, but I realize today that I do strive to fulfill those ideals every day.  I don’t have to accept for myself non-Eagle Scout qualities.

The motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared”. That starts in our thinking and our practice.  Every day we have an opportunity to act like an Eagle Scout.

I’m really grateful to have been able to directly assist the following non-profit organizations in my lifetime by working on their websites, training individuals how to use the tools to say what they want to say, and generally try to help them do their jobs better. Most of these folks are active clients. I love the opportunity to serve in this way and plan to continue doing so as long as I’m able.

I may be missing an organization or two but I am very grateful to have been able to serve in this way.

Be Prepared.

Last minute Mother’s Day present – donate to Mother’s Grove in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest May 8 2009

If you haven’t gotten your mom something yet, consider donating to the new Mother’s Grove in the Children’s Eternal Rainforest…

Mother's Grove in the Children's Eternal Rainforest

Click here to donate now

Vogon Poetry is now available in the App Store! Apr 11 2009

Click here to get Vogon Poetry

I’m proud to announce the immediate availability of our Vogon Poetry application for iPhone and iPod Touch. You can get it in the App Store for $2.99.

Click here to check it out!

How to: Get rid of widows in your WordPress posts with Widon’t plugin Feb 20 2009

I was just working on making some updates to the backend WordPress code for the Principia Pilot website (http://principiapilot.org/) and noticed widows in some of the stories.

Widows are the typographic term for a single word on a line at the end of a paragraph. I thought about the solution to this problem (basically add a non-breaking space before the last word of a paragraph) and then realized probably someone had written a plugin to do exactly this.

I tried two different plugins and like this one the best because it doesn’t overwrite the rest of the excellent WordPress typographic niceties like converting straight quotes to curly quotes:

Widon’t Download latest version here

How to file a DBA (Doing Business As / Registration of Fictitious Name) in Missouri for $7.00 Oct 23 2008

Grilling
Now we’re cookin! 🙂

It’s surprisingly simple to get a Fictitious Name registered in Missouri, and it only happens to cost $7.00.

Simply click here: Missouri Registration of Fictitious Name and then fill out two simple online forms (takes about 1 minute), submit your credit card info for $7.00 and you’ll get an immediate confirmation of your name and PDF invoice and registration documents to download.

Very handy if you’re applying to something like the iPhone Developer Program and they need to see documentation… 🙂

Formula Sensei - iPhone formula calculator

Formula Sensei - iPhone formula calculator

New site design is live (also upgraded to the latest version of WordPress – 2.5) Apr 1 2008

New site design is finally live!

In preparation for upgrading a whole mess of sites to using the latest version of WordPress I decided it was time to finally upgrade my own site and to implement the new design I’d been working on for a while (for over a year now).

Check it out: www.gabrielserafini.com

RSS2.com “Down for Maintenance” screen Mar 17 2008

RSS2.com "Down for Maintenance" screen on Flickr.
Today, as we were working on speeding up RSS2.com SQL queries and also repairing the database, I had the opportunity to make a quick little "down for maintenance" screen.

The boy is Jackson, my friend Damon’s kid.

Thankfully the server wasn’t down for too long, and it’s running well now.

How to help the Children’s Eternal Rainforest in Costa Rica get $1,000 for $10 right now. Jan 4 2008

Monteverde Conservation League, U.S.

It’s super simple: Click this link, then join the Facebook Causes group for Monteverde Conservation League and donate any amount.

Right now, if we can get another 7 donors in the next 22 hours the Children’s Eternal Rainforest will get $1,000 for free. So your tax-deductible $10 donation could help save another $1,000 worth of rainforest in Costa Rica.

Check it out, and give a little if you can:
Join the Children’s Eternal Rainforest cause on Facebook



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