Sshhhhh! Surf using SSH Tunnels. :)

Update: Forget all the crap masquerading as a tutorial that I just wrote. πŸ˜€ Please visit this website (“Secure Linux/Unix access with PuTTY and OpenSSH“) which told me everything I needed to know. From learning how to add Putty directly to Windows PATH (which allows me to run Putty.exe directly from the “Run” command), to setting up my authorized_keys file, to configuring Putty & Windows to automagically log me into my SSH server, this tutorial and article does it all!

Okay, the first time I heard of Secure Shell (SSH) tunneling was probably last year when I re-started my blog. What are SSH tunnels? Well, the most common usage for SSH tunnels is to ensure a secure passage way for your packets of information to reach their destination. In this scenario, you would use an SSH tunnel when connecting over an insecure or monitored WiFi connection. This sounds simple enough except that all the “tutorials” I stumbled upon were written by users who were running Linux or Mac. Without too much preamble, I’ll just write up what I did to get connected. As you may or may not know, my web host is Dreamhost. One of the first things I did was check out their DreamHost Wiki which is rather detailed. The easiest and simplest solution that has worked for me is the password authentication set-up. You can automate your SSH tunnel, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet even though there are scores of how-tos. So, first things first, I’m using 2 tools:

  1. Firefox browser with SwitchProxy extension installed
  2. Putty (installed or portable) or any SSH client: I had to scour the web for a 64 bit version of Putty although the x86 or 32 bit version would have worked on my computer.

Some quick pre-requisites for SSH tunneling that I didn’t know before:

  1. you have to have a server that supports it. Luckily for me, DreamHost allows me to make the decision to have or not have SSH. For others, you may have to dig into your control panel or contact your web hosting providers to request SSH access.
  2. you need to have a soft and padded table nearby for the amounts of head-banging that will happen because searching takes a while to find the hidden gems. πŸ™‚

If you are familiar with regular FTP clients like I am, it’s a snap to set up your server’s address with the default port number of 22. In the picture, all I did was create my server address (blahblah.clom) with the port number. Then, I typed in the name of the session “blach” and hit “save” and as you can see, it saved my entry as “blach” under “Saved Sessions”.

Your next task will then be to edit “blach” session. You will do this by clicking on your saved session (in this case, blach) and hit “load”. Then, you click on the SSH entry in the left hand pane which is under “Connection”. This is the screen you should be on:

According to Dreamhost‘s instructions (which I followed), all you need to do here is write the “Source port” number in the allowed section and leave the “Destination” blank. Then, you select “Dynamic” and leave it on “Auto”. I know this is esoteric and really not doing a good job of explaining, but I’m trying to understand this myself.

Anyhow, once you have done this, scroll back up (see the first picture) and click on “Session”. Then, highlight your session (in this case, blach) and hit save to save your changes. This was the easy part. What I didn’t know was that in order to activate the SSH tunnel, you need to first open up the connection by logging into the SSH server you are using. So, you do that by opening up Putty (see the first picture again) and highlighting the session you want to open. Then, you simply click “Open”. It should ask you for a username and password in my case. There are ways to make this automated i.e. via keys, but I haven’t figured out how to get that working. Anyhow, once you are logged in, make sure you change the connection options in your browser of choice and in my case, that’s Firefox. Now, since I only intend on using the SSH tunnel on insecure WiFi networks, I needed an extension that would make it easy for to toggle between Firefox not using the SSH tunnel and using the SSH tunnel and all sites I read recommended SwitchProxy. Configure SwitchProxy as I’ve shown in the picture above and you’re all set to go!

That wasn’t so painful, was it? I kid, but seriously, if you want to know more about this stuff, Google is probably your best, yet worst friend. πŸ™‚ Happy hacking away at your computer!!

Medical wonders and unethical behavior

Yesterday, Matt and I watched two shows on the TLC: Discovery Channel. The first concerned the John/Joan case where a psychologist, driven by his mad ambition, took advantage of a family and caused untold harm. Basically, Dr. John Money thought the first 2 years of a baby’s life were gender neutral and that if you essentially determine the baby’s gender identity from how you raised it i.e. raised as a boy or as a girl. In my humble and uninformed opinion, I thought the entire premise of nurture determining gender identity was futile. I digress. The story ended tragically for both the boy, who was raised as a girl, and his brother. They both committed suicide resulting from their psychological trauma. I won’t go into too much detail. Just google “David Reimer” to read all about the tragic tale of how scientists sometimes get it wrong and refuse to admit defeat. The next story was a little more uplifting and really miraculous. It concerns conjoined twin (Abigail and Brittany Hansel) who are simply amazing. I can’t do justice to this article because there are hundreds of other articles that dissect their fascinating lives. The astonishing part of the whole thing is how separate they seem. It’s really like 2 people who happen to share a body! However, they are extraordinarily cooperative and it just blows the mind. They seemed really well adjusted with healthy self-esteem and totally into things that teenage girls would like. I’m really happy for them and I hope they live long & healthy lives! Here’s to Abby and Brittany!

In tech-y news, I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of plugins on my WordPress-powered site. I’ve got close to 30 plugins powering Fading Whispers and I anticipate turning on or off a couple more. πŸ™‚ You could say I’ve gone plugin-bananas. Another thing I’ve over-dosed on recently is the portable applications provided by Portable Apps. Right now, it is fair to say I’ve installed over 80% of the software they have listed on their sites onto my 8GB thumbdrive and there is still room to spare! I figured I might as well use up the space on my thumbdrive because I hadn’t come close to even using up 2GBs until I started installing the applications. Several applications like Filezilla Portable and 7-Zip Portable have become indispensable to me. So, I highly recommend visiting to see what apps could come in handy for you especially when you are leery of installing software on, say, a company-issued computer. Right now, I’ve got a setup on my usb thumbdrive to where I can write my documents, transfer files via ftp, encrypt documents, erase documents, chat all from the comfort of my thumbdrive! It doesn’t get better than that. The obvious downside to working out of a thumbdrive is the slowness of the applications. It hasn’t been too much of a problem using the portable versions of Filezilla or 7-Zip, but with applications like Gimp Portable or even instant messaging, it will be a big undertaking for my poor flash drive.

Here’s counting down to the arrival of my laptop! I’ve been having dreams about it already. lol. My latest dream that was of me playing with the cool blue light that depicts bluetooth being on the laptop. πŸ™‚ I’m very thankful to have gotten my laptop during the tax-free weekend because I’ve been configuring and re-configuring other laptops similar to my specifications and coming up with a figure that’s typically ~ $100 or higher due to taxes! That definitely eased my buyer’s remorse, but I found out that earlier in the year, HP and some other retailers had a $500 off coupon so that a reviewer online purchased his dv9700t for less than $1000 with similar specifications to mine!!! lol. Well, now that I’ve scratched my itch, we will definitely keep an eye out for deals while we are hunting for Matt’s laptop. There’s no hurry now. πŸ˜€

A Good Feeling

Things have been moving along even more smoothly than I hoped for. All I can say is God works in mysterious ways.  I had the chance to visit and I got along fabulously (in my humble opinion) so I hope, as M said, they make the right decision. πŸ™‚ Now, it’s just a waiting game. In other news, I might just get my wish to rollover my current 401(k) account. My first choice is Fidelity because it seems they have a good customer service base and generally better at providing guidance for first time investors. I’ll need all the help I can get, preferably for free.

I’ve been getting progressively better on the bike. I finally learned how to stand properly in order to power up hills. Apparently, I had been doing the stand wrongly so I was putting too much stress on my knees which will need to recover from the abuse. πŸ™‚ He’s taking his tutoring seriously and has gone as far as ordering the Mountain Biker’s bible in order to put me on a training regimen. lol. I don’t mind one bit because biking is a great way to stay in shape! My legs and arms are proof of this and all for going out for at least 30mins daily! M’s class is going along well although I’m a bit of a nagging wife in that respect. He’s got his learning style and I’ve got mine. They don’t overlap and I need to respect that.

With respect to financial stuff, nothing has gone towards the SunTrust credit card debt yet. Thankfully, nothing is being spent using the card so it’s stagnant. I’ll be sure to see some movement before the month ends i.e. sending some snowflakes towards that. Savings are also growing slowly, but surely. Even if it’s $10 a week, that’s still something. The point is that I am actively making the changes which will come in handy for when a larger source of income comes my way.

In yet other news, I find that I get bored online once I’m away from my feed reader (FeedDemon which I paid for, but turned around to become free!). I would use the online Newsgator service which has my feeds, but it’s painfully slow. I’ve resorted to constantly refreshing the pages of Google News in order to get my news fix or hunt for information. It doesn’t help that my science reading material is not at my apartment. πŸ™ When I get the new job, it should hopefully allow me to indulge in purchasing more books to increase my knowledge. Continue reading A Good Feeling

Beautiful in this skin. :)

Man, I feel good. πŸ™‚

Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good, I got you

Whoa! I feel nice, like sugar and spice
I feel nice, like sugar and spice
So nice, so nice, I got you

That is how I feel this morning. I had an awesome breakfast of brown rice with steamed broccoli and I snuck some handfuls of Kashi GoLean Crunch to go with me. The simple pleasures. Yesterday was a hard day for a few reasons and it was a test that I flunked. However, I feel like a winner today. I learnt some hard lessons (this is not work related), but I am going to put my new information to some good use. I am disgustingly healthy, I’ve got an even healthier husband with a penchant, healthy family … I never thought I would say it, but I am content. I am 23 years old and that’s an eternity in comparison to peers from my motherland. However, to each his own. As I pray and bless my peers, I am praying and blessing myself too. Praying and striving for clarity and direction. Speaking of which, I had been toying with the idea of getting certified in one of the clinical laboratory sciences. Then, I sat down and thought of what those jobs involved and as much as I like the idea, I decided that I would be better off pursuing a different line of education. Taking this alternate route does not entirely close the door to any of the clinical laboratory sciences, but at this moment, it’s off the table. Which actually opens up a bunch of options to me seeing as Georgia does not have a good variety of the clinical laboratory sciences anyway.

Going back to school is very much on the mind although it will be for a shorter program like a Masters degree program or something. I’m just considering my options at this point and will need to make up my mind before the year is out if I am going to be a competitive applicant for the 2009/2010 school year. My general GRE scores were decent, but I am toying with taking the subject GRE test which will be a major undertaking, but I think I could do it if I started studying like right now. πŸ™‚ Anyhow, I’m not looking forward to the application fees and such so I will need to do some research and apply to a select handful. Just thinking out loud.

When the cat is away…

Feel free to complete that old adage. Those words were ne’er truer on Friday. The boss was gone and several interesting things happened. Generally, I don’t care and probably would have been bad except that I did have things to do that kept my hands busy. All I’m gonna say is I hope to hell that certain someone (CS) didn’t screw anything up from having so much “fun”. It’s past 6pm and I’m still at the lab. My life can be so fun sometimes. πŸ™‚

Mea culpa, friends and family

It’s day 4 of my spanking new job. I love the environment. It’s a fast paced place to be in, but it’ll be perfect for honing my skills. I’m sad that I can’t blog as frequently as I used to, but I’ll try to make each post count as much as I can. Life is going on as well as can be in our household. I’m dreading this month’s utility bills but all told, it’s not as bad as some of the horror stories I’ve heard. I can’t wait to get paid although the money has already been budgeted out. πŸ™‚ First things first, people. I’m getting rid of my Bank of America credit card. I’ve been a customer of theirs for over a year. I was approved for one of those secured credit cards where a down payment had to be made (along with a $29 annual fee). Naturally, my credit limit was low, but perfect at the time for my needs. I tried to get removed from the “secured” status to a regular card, but a snotty CSR informed me that I had to be upgraded from their end and that it wasn’t something that I could initiate proceedings on. Well, I kept my mouth shut and kept making my monthly payments. Come the end of September, my intent is to close my eyes and pony up however much I’ve got left to pay off the card. Then, get my $99 deposit back and tell them that it sucked being a customer of theirs. I will still hang on to my other credit card and gradually get back up to a level that I feel comfortable with. Here’s saying prayers for a certain aunt who’s been battling a debilitating illness for awhile.