Make money in your free time with ChaCha


Most of us text message other people and most of us usually have an unlimited text message plan if you do any texting at all. A new way of searching is here. Enter ChaCha. The name came from the Chinese meaning of Search (Cha). 


What does it do?

ChaCha allows you to call in or text in a question, any question and receive a useful and helpful text message back (160 characters or less).


How does it work?

A real person is sitting on the other side answering your questions. The beauty of ChaCha is that the question answerers, called guides, get to pick which categories and specify keywords to allow the guide to get questions they enjoy answering. For instance, I can specify that I want to answer questions primarily based around the Internet and computers. Now, most of the questions I receive are primarily about computers and the Internet.

ChaCha pays a guide $0.20/answer. I did the math and you can equate this to around $10-$15 dollars per hour. It’s no job replacement but it really gives you something to do with your free time.


How do I start?

Just text message “242242” (ChaCha spelled out) and you’re set. Start asking questions immediately after receiving the welcome message. You can also call 1-800-2ChaCha and someone will transcribe your voice question to text. You will then receive the answer via SMS.

Ask any question like this: “What’s the cheapest gas between Minot, ND and Kansas City, MO?”

An answer will look like this: “The cheapest gas is $3.55 at XYZ Gas station at 000 S. 110th street in Souix City, SD”


Will it remain free?

I’m not sure about this point. I even asked ChaCha directly and it seems to be free since January, 2008 but may be a subscription service in the future. Any way this is a very useful tool.

Visit for more information.

VMware ESX/ESXi: Guests will not start BUG in 2.5u2!

imageAs some of you already pleasantly found out today, VMware ESX/ESXi 3.5 Update 2 has a very large bug which prevents guest systems (VM’s) from powering on, restarting or vmotioning. VMware has identified this bug and is working to fix it. A release is to be posted on their download site by noon (PST) on August 13, 2008.


Here is what the error looks like:



This may seriously harm VMware’s reputation as they just recently released their enterprise hypervisor, ESXi, to the public for free use. Some free users may download the software and think that it simply does not work and could move on to other virtualization options such as Xen or Microsoft’s new HyperV.


The fix is to simply turn off time syncing between your ESX host and guests and then set the date back on the host to 8/10/08. This allows all normal VM functionality.

“ROOT Filesystem is Currently Mounted Read Only”

This error can be a bit unnerving if your Linux system doesn’t reboot cleanly. To remount your root filesystem as read/write (rw) issue this command:


# mount -n -o remount rw /

Backup GMAIL with FetchMail

If you’re anything like me you really enjoy GMail but you really enjoy the peace of mind and comfort in having a local imagecopy of your email available at all times. I tend to not rely heavily on services provided by third party providers, even Google. What if I am offline? What if they have a long outage and I need access to my mail? As a society, we rely heavily on mail… probably more than we really know. Think about it: When was the last time your companies mail server went down? Global anarchy, chaos and fires result.


In this tutorial I will install, configure and run fetchmail to retrieve my messages over POP on a CentOS server.


Backing up GMail

Here we go 🙂


1. Check to make sure fetchmail is installed on your system.

     # rpm -aq | grep fetchmail

If fetchmail is installed you will see the package returned. If not, issue this command in CentOS:
    # yum -y install fetchmail

2. Good, now we have fetchmail installed. Let’s verify by using this command:

     # fetchmail -V | grep release
        This is fetchmail release 6.2.5+IMAP-GSS+RPA+NTLM+SDPS+SSL+INET6+NLS

3. Let’s create a user which will keep our gmail backup.

     # adduser gmailbackup

4. Let’s create a fetchmail configuration file called ".fetchmailrc" in your current users home directory.

     # vi ~/.fetchmailrc

5. In this file enter the following substituting your credentials where necessary:

     poll with proto POP3 and options no dns
     user ‘[email protected]’ there with password ‘yourpassword’ is ‘gmailbackup’ here  options ssl

6. Now let’s set the permissions on the new .fetcmailrc file otherwise fetchmail will complain like this:
        File /root/.fetchmailrc must have no more than -rwx–x— (0710) permissions.

To set these permissions use this command:

      # chmod 710 ~/.fetchmailrc

7. Let’s fetch the mail with verbosity on.

      # fetchmail -vk

8. Let’s verify the mail we downloaded
      # mail -u gmailbackup

9. After this transfer let’s set up a cron entry to run a fetch every hour for safe keeping of our GMail.

      # crontab -e

    Add this to the bottom of your users cron:
          0 * * * * root fetchmail -k &> /dev/null

    The above redirects all output from fetchmail to /dev/null so we don’t get chatter in our local users mail box.


That’s it! You’re all done and being backed up. For easier viewing, assign a password to your local gmailbackup user with "passwd gmailbackup" and use a web client like RoundCube or SquirrelMail to view your GMail backup.

Using SFDISK to backup your partition table

Many times we perform full backups of the root partition (/), including all mount points under root. How often do we back up our partition tables? What if we have total disk failure and our only restore option is a file-level restore? Will we know what our partition sizes were? Enter sfdisk.



The most common usage of sfdisk is to dump the partition sizes and count to a file for later import. This partition table dump can be included in your gzipped tarball.

Use this command to dump /dev/sda’s partition table:

# sfdisk -d /dev/sda > /backup/sda.part


The dump file will look like this:
# partition table of /dev/sda
unit: sectors

/dev/sda1 : start=       63, size=479990007, Id=83, bootable
/dev/sda2 : start=479990070, size=  8385930, Id=82
/dev/sda3 : start=        0, size=        0, Id= 0
/dev/sda4 : start=        0, size=        0, Id= 0

Restoring Partitions from SFDISK Dump

To restore your partition table from a dump file use this command:

# sfdisk /dev/sda < sda.part

Linux: The Sticky, SUID and SGID Bits

I’m sure anyone who has used Linux has heard of the Sticky, SUID or SGID bits. The most common (and easiest to explain) is the infamous "Sticky Bit".



The Sticky Bit

Back when systems had kilobytes of RAM (instead of gigabytes), this bit was used to mark a file (program) to run, and remain, primarily in memory. This was a great benefit back in "the day". Now the most common use for the sticky bit is to maintain the integrity of publicly accessible directories.

Setting the Sticky Bit

To set the sticky bit use this command:
# chmod +t <file/directory>


Looking for the Sticky Bit

To identify the sticky bit use the standard "ls" command to show all files. Look for a (t) in the listing.

For example:
-rw-r–r-T  1 root root 0 Jul 14 21:14 foo


The SUID Bit

SUID stands for "Set User ID". The SUID makes the program run as the user who owns the program (instead of the current user). I have an application called "test" which is owned by "dale" and the user "al" runs "test" the program will still run as "dale" if the SUID bit is set.


Setting the SUID Bit

To set the SUID bit use this command:
# chmod +s <file/directory>


Looking for the SUID Bit

To identify the SUID bit use the standard "ls" command to show all files. Look for an (S) in the listing.

For example:
-rwSr-Sr–  1 root root 0 Jul 14 21:14 foo


The SGID Bit

The SGID bit is much like the SUID bit but runs a program only as the set group ID group.




Setting SUID for user and not group
# chmod u+s <file/directory>

Setting sticky bit for group only
# chmod g+t <file/directory>

Green: China’s New Landmark Structure

Photo Courtsey WikipediaIt looks like China has erected a new landmark structure that is composed of over 2,200 LED lights over 24,000 square feet. It uses photovoltaic technology to convert sunlight directly into electricity.  The picture on the right is a photovoltaic tree in Sydney, Australia.

imageThe structure was created by a New York based architect who says it functions like an organic system. The system takes all the power it can get during the day and stores it for displays at night. 



[ Read more at ]

Top 10 Worst Case Mods of All Time

Well I was browsing around a bit on the Internet today and I noticed that there are some really, really horrid case modifications that made their way to the ‘net. I tend to lead toward case modifications that add some functional value and maybe the occasional aesthetic tweak. These cases are just absurd.

Here is a list of the Top 10 Worst Case Mods of All Time.


10. The "Pulling open a hole in the side of my computer" mod

Ok. What is this all about? I get it, you’re pulling open a hole in the side of your case with what looks like hands. There must be something really powerful inside to deserve a red light. Seriously?


9. The "Tortise Beetle"

I think I’m stuck in the middle of a rave. What is this? Is this a computer or the geekiest glow stick ever created. Two thumbs down. Wayyyy down. []


8. The "Magna Doll" Mini-ITX Computer

image image

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I found a case that some poor old chap converted into a doll. Perhaps he thinks his computer is a real woman? This just creeps me out.


7. The "Put all my computer parts in a cardboard box" mod


This is by far a horrible case mod. This is no new trick but yet people still seem to stuff their parts in a piece of cardboard and think it’s cool. I think this is a bad idea. What if you need to take your computer out of the house when its raining? Sure, use an umbrella, but if any water gets on the "case" your hard drive might fall out. Oh and also, I’ve seen power supplies catch on fire…. if it were a real case it wouldn’t be used as kindling to start a house-destructing fire.


6. The "I just crapped out something, plugged it in and it’s now my computer" mod


No further comment needed.


5. The "Let my gerbil run through my PC" mod


Well.. this case mod is pretty cool if you’re a gerbil lover. I’m not sure that the heat or the noise would really be a good thing for your animal. This person spent over forty hours on this case. I really don’t see this as time well spent 🙁


4. The "I have too much free time" mod

This case mod is almost as creepy as the girl above. The difference betweent his one and the one above is that this one looks like it took longer to make. I’m not sure why people spend their time making things like this but maybe it’s their real passion. Weird.


3. The "I ran out of ideas so I just sprayed foam-sealant all over my computer parts" mod


This modification baffles me. Why would someone spray foam all over their parts? I’m not quite sure how the video card or other add-on cards breathe for that matter. I bet this was a good idea at first. When the video card dies… might as well spray a whole new "case" on. [More here]


2. The "almost cooler than a regular cardboard box" mod


Why must people insist on stuffing their parts into a cardboard box? /facepalm


1. The "Hang all my parts from cat5/6 strands because I don’t want a case" mod


Wow. Well… This is the crappiest case mod of all time because it really isn’t a case mod at all. This is … lazy and a bit amusing at the same time.


Please be sensible when modding your cases. Sure its all about fun but really functionality should be considered. Also, making your computer into a woman is a little scary 🙂