The Latest

Wild Assumptions About Entropy

I recently conducted a brief audit of two factor auth recovery codes patterns employed by major tech companies. One of the factors I considered was how “complex” their patterns were. In other words, how hard it would be for someone (or some machine) to guess the recovery code. As these codes are generated randomly, brute forcing would be the only way to break them.

In computer science, this type of complexity is represented as “bits of entropy”, and the formula for calculating it is pretty straightforward. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too complex for me to do in my head, so I created some JavaScript functions to help.


Desk Hacks

My wife and I have, between us, four laptops, two phones, and a number of other USB accessories. It’s hard to keep them all charged, and traditional power strips located on the floor are inconvenient. There was definitely room for improvement. Here’s what I came up with! More…

Onboarding New Hires

Words every onboarder (and team member) should live by:

Treat every question as an opportunity for a conversation.

Cheers to for the delightful discussion that produced this bit of wisdom.

Automating MySQL Backups with Bash

I’ve been putting more effort lately on disaster-planning, and a big part of that is having backups. Linode automatically backs up my entire system, but I noticed something troubling in their documentation:

This method is very reliable, but can fail to properly back up the data files for database services like MySQL. If the snapshot occurs during a transaction, the database’s files may be backed up in an unclean state.

Yikes! So while my system and files may be backed up, my databases- which mean everything to the various WordPress sites I host- could potentially be unrecoverable. That is no solution at all.

Following their advice, I decided to write a script I could use to automate this. mysqldump is the obvious tool for this job, and the output can be compressed with gzip to conserve space. The resulting bash script could then be added as a cron job to automate it.


Automotive Stock Search Menus

If you’ve visited a website that uses car data, like Kelley Blue Book or any number of parts sites, you’ll notice that they tend to rely on a series of menus to help you find the car you’re looking for. At the very least they’ll have menus for the year, make, and model of the car.

I wondered if it would be possible to create something like this on a manually customized PhotoShelter site. There are some PhotoShelter members that focus on automotive stock photography, and it seems like it would be a handy way for clients to find images of a specific car- as opposed to using the traditional search bar.