SysAdmin – Quick & Dirty File Encryption For Online Storage

It’s tax season and I like to backup my tax files to Dropbox. That way I’ve got offsite storage. To mitigate the fear of putting sensitive information on the cloud I encrypt it using the OpenSSL software available on all OS X Macs via Terminal.

Archive All The Files

I’m old school and use tar to create an archive of all my files.

> tar -cvf taxes-2014.tar taxes-2014-dir/.

this creates a file named taxes-2014.tar that contains all files in the directory taxes-2014-dir

Use OpenSSL to Encrypt and Decrypt

> openssl des3 -salt -in taxes-2014.tar -out taxes-2014.tar.des3.pwh

> openssl des3 -d -salt -in taxes-2014.tar.des3.pwh -out taxes-2014.tar

I like to append a Password Hint (pwh) to these filenames. They only get accessed once a year so I add a 1 to 2 character suffix as a memory jogger.


OSX daily has a brief discussion of OpenSSL file encryption/decryption.


Sexy iPhone Apps – Byword Text Editor

I find it ironic that my first iPhone app purchase was Byword. It’s a text editor. How un-sexy is that. In the old days I’d go to the stationary cabinet and get a new pen. Today it seems that I’m getting a new text editor.

My main motivation was to get away from iPhone Notes. I wanted to be able to edit text docs on iPhone and on my Mac. Byword does that very nicely via Dropbox, or iCloud. Byword also supports some very handy features: like “undo” and “arrow keys”.

The extra cool thing is that Byword supports Markdown. This means that I can easily format documents. In the end I also bought the Mac app too. But you don’t need to. MacVim supports Markdown syntax and there are lots of Markdown to html/rtf/pdf/Latex converters. Here is a Markdown Primer from TUAW if you’re interested.

Again I have to thank Rui over at Tao of Mac for his review of iPad/iPhone text editors.

Back to School – Loading Bootcamp

Loading Bootcamp onto my daughter’s Mac was a pain 😦 Overall the process is straight forward, but there were a few major gotchas for us .

I found a really good “howto” to get me going.

The gotcha’s for us were

  1. that our disk wouldn’t partition via Bootcamp Assistant. Google searching on this was not very useful. The solution was to run disc utility to repair our drive. Note that you must run disc utility from an install disc.
  2. Missing the load Bootcamp step 😦
    It seems obvious that one has to actually load Bootcamp. But after partitioning the drive and then loading windows 7 a lot of time has passed. It is difficult to focus on the loading of Bootcamp in the windows 7 partition. We got too excited that windows 7 was finally installed. Then we were mad that there was no networking capability and the screen looked like crap. This is the time to keep focussed and do the last step —> “Load the Bootcamp software” et voila everything magically works.
  3. Overall this was the process for me
    1) Repair Drive via disc utility
    2) Partition Drive via Bootcamp Assistant
    3) Start Windows 7 Installation via Bootcamp Assistant
    4) Create Bootcamp install CD via Bootcamp Assistant
    5) Install Windows 7
    6) Install Bootcamp using install CD created in step 4
    7) done 🙂
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Adam Pash’s Hackintosh Series is “Sooooo Tempting”

It would be great to get a Core 2 Quad 3.0GHz OS X system for around $1,200 CDN ❗

I’ve had very good success with Adam’s past hacker stuff like DD-WRT home routers. So I’ve been following his Hackintosh series with serious interest. Last year it seemed like too much maintenance required. But this weeks last few posts are very tantalizing ’cause there is “Very limited hacking and the amazing “no hacking” on OS upgrade”



Learnin’ Python on Mac & Cygwin

I bit the bullet and started scripting in Python instead of Perl this spring. There is plenty of Python help on the web, but I find that I still need a book. I found these 2 books very handy.

Python standard on Mac and on PC with Cygwin

My primary environment is OS X, but I mix Mac and PC a lot. I find that Python in Cygwin is great for my needs.


Don’t Enable “FTP Access” on your Mac (or PC) Unless You Really Need It

If you’ve enabled “FTP Access” on your Mac (or PC) you may have an ftp.log full of messages telling you that “people” you don’t know are trying to log in. There will be lots of them, every couple seconds. Some even rotate username’s, and passwords. Open your console and look in ftp.log or secure.log.

Here are some that I found

Mar 20 18:45:36 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:37 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:39 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:44 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:48 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:54 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Mar 20 18:45:54 MyComputer ftpd[4666]: repeated login failures from


Apr 8 21:20:48 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:20:49 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:20:52 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:20:55 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:20:59 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:21:04 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: FTP LOGIN FAILED FROM
Apr 8 21:21:04 MyComputer ftpd[5710]: repeated login failures from

I’ve been enabling “FTP Access” on my Mac and using Filezilla on my PC as a way of moving files back and forth. It works just fine, but this means that “FTP Access” is available to all the Internet :scary: I turned it off. I couldn’t live with this in my ftp.log files.


unix — moving/copying files by date

On the computer nerd front. I’ve been struggling with “How to copy, or move, files in a directory modified within the last day”. Voila I found it. Use the find command.

find . -mtime -1 -exec mv ‘{}’ new_dir \;

find . -mtime -1 -exec cp ‘{}’ new_dir \;

Translation find files in current directory that have been modified within the last day, and then move/copy them to new_dir. Note that you’ve got to create new_dir with “mkdir new_dir” before running this command. And no you can’t just pipe this into xargs.

This A Unix/Linux find Command Tutorial on was helpful. It explains why you can’t use xargs and other arcane moves.