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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Inside the mind of Julian Assange of Wikileaks!

In case you are wondering what's the make up of the mindset of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, wonder no more! This infographic from Visual News gives a vivid detail of it.

Inside the Mind of Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange (Infographic)
Infographic by Visual News

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By Seraaj Muneer with No comments

Why do I Support Wikileaks? Because I live in Africa!

It'd be very naive on the part of anybody to wholeheartedly believe in Wikileaks. I personally have a small voice in my head that keeps asking if I'm sure the organization is not some CIA or Mossad game. That notwithstanding however, I am a full supporter of the organisation and its activities.

Living on a continent with such a chequered history of very repressive governments, I am fully aware of the importance of access to information by the everyday people. What Wikileaks has set out to do is simply be the bridge between those who cannot stand evil and want the information out and those who need to know. 

In any civilised society, access to information is necessarily a prerequisite for demanding accountability from elected officials. Then too the actions and words of people in their capacity as elected officers or public servants should be no secret whatsoever. For society to thrive, the people should not be left in darkness by their employees.

For some of us, the web has been the biggest blessing to have befallen us as Africans. Without access to mainstream media, it remains the only way via which we can make our voices heard and demand accountability from our governments. It remains the last neutral ground that has escaped the tentacles of censorship that seems to be second nature to some African leaders

What I've seen in the last few days in the reactions to Wikileaks however, does not bode well for the future of young Africans like myself who turn to the web as our amplifiers. With the precedent of persecutions against the organization being set by the USA and its boot-licking allies in repression, it's not difficult to see the path being blazed for future repression of people by their leaders both here in Africa and other parts of the world.

If the government can coerce private businesses to not do business with an organization that it disagrees with, and actually go as far as publicly call for the assassination of its leader, then I wonder what the future of the concept of free speech will be like. The internet under no circumstance, should be allowed to be monopolized by any single entity, be it the US government or the Chinese government.

The world cannot on the one hand be doling out awards like biscuits to so called Chinese dissidents because they openly criticise or say things that their government disagrees with and on the other hand persecute the Wikileaks organisation and its founder. This is an absurd hypocrisy at its zenith.

I don't support Wikileaks for what information they are releasing per se as I do them because the silence of we the masses will mean our agreement with governments' desire to censor the web. The tentacle of censorship that the USA has become so accustomed to should be condemned in no uncertain terms.The web as a medium of access to information and free speech, should not be hijacked by any one party. 

What the USA and its allies in repression are doing in the wake of this Wikileaks brouhaha is only strengthening the resolve of dictators on this continent who have basically taken out any form of opposition mainstream media to start persecuting big mouthed young Africans like myself who demand accountability from our governments. Stop the persecution of Wikileaks! Keep the internet open and free for all!!

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By Seraaj Muneer with 3 comments

How to Setup a FTP Home Server - Part2

Continued from part 1

We will need an FTP server program. I chose ProFTPD FTP server on Linux because it's robust . And, easily configurable.
To speedup  the process, I decided to use a graphical front end for ProFTPD, the GADMIN-PROFTPD.

Steps to configure the FTP Home Server :

   1. Install Gadmin-proftpd.
   2. Setup the NAT in Modem / Router 
   3. Configure gadmin-proftpd.
   4. Start exchanging files.

1a. Download the package gadmin-proftpd for your distro here
1b. Install dpkg-i or rpm-i package (depending on your distro. Or if it's already in the repos of your distro, even better)

The gadmin-proftpd installs Proftpd automatically.

2a. Access your modem / router and configure Advanced Port Forwarding Rules.
2b. You must set the rules for nat modem / router so the external FTP requests can reach the FTP server on the internal network.
2c. In the example below, I configured as external port of the FTP in 2121, because the ISPs block low ports (less than 1024).
2d. And, I made requests to the server data ports (65524-65534) to reach the FTP server. These data ports are set in the FTP server ProFTPD, in passive mode, and will be passed to the client.
2e. Note that the item described in red is the internal IP address where the FTP server will be.

Configuring the ProFTPD server.3b. See the figure below, you should:

  • Inform the external IP of your modem / router (which is indicated in red external IP here)
  • Mark configure NAT routing: ON
  • Now comes the configuration of the range of ports for passive FTP. I put on 65524-65534
  • Other options may be equal to the figure.
  • Set to binary mode file transfer.
  • Now, continue configuring proftpd.
  • Default home directory might be / var / ftp / click_here
  • Now, an important item: Download speed and upload speed. These two values are what will determine the speed of your downloads / uploads. I recommend leaving at 1 / 3 the value of the nominal bandwidth, to provide room for other traffic.
  • Allow resume of broken downloads and uploads mark ON
  • Now click the Users tab
  • Add a user (or more than one if you want to exchange files with more than one friend at the same time)
  • Please mark the shell as  / bin / null, on the creation of the ftp user, so the user can not access the bin/bash shell, just FTP commands.
  • Create a password for this FTP user .
  • Check the permissions that the user will have: I Mark: list, upload, download, append, make dir. And do not let the user exit your FTP directory (no up dir)
  • Pass the password to your friend
  • Click Activate to start The service
  • Click on the Transfers tab to monitor the FTP transfers.

The files that you are receiving and the files you are sending should be in / var / ftp / click_here

Remember that FTP transmissions are not encrypted. So  logins passwords can be intercepted over the network. A good policy is to change users and passwords for each new FTP session, change the control port on the modem / router, and only enable the FTP service when you transfer your files (upload / download).

Good transfers!

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By Alessandro Ebersol with No comments

How to Setup a Home FTP Server - Part1

The growing interest in file sharing leads me to address the subject of a home FTP server.
Currently, with all the restrictions that file sharing is having, with RIAA lawsuits, MPAA lawsuits and internet service providers  canceling accounts and blocking access, set up a home FTP server to exchange files with friends is almost a necessity. The advantage? It is a connection not promiscuous and  has a high degree of confidence, since only known peers are connected. But first a little theory.

FTP (File Transfer Protocol)
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to copy a file from one host to another through a network based on TCP / IP, such as the Internet. FTP is built on a client-server connections and uses separate ports to control  data between the client and server. The control connection is on port 21 and the data connection is on port 20, both on the server side. On the client side things change a little.
FTP users can authenticate via username and password, but can also log in anonymously, if the server is configured to allow this.

FTP passive and active
There are two modes of FTP: Active and Passive. The explanation on how they work is as follows.

Active FTP
In active mode FTP the client connects from a random unprivileged port (N > 1023) to the FTP server's command port, port 21. Then, the client starts listening to port N+1 and sends the FTP command PORT N+1 to the FTP server. The server will then connect back to the client's specified data port from its local data port, which is port 20.
From the server-side firewall's standpoint, to support active mode FTP the following communication channels need to be opened:
  • FTP server's port 21 from anywhere (Client initiates connection)
  • FTP server's port 21 to ports > 1023 (Server responds to client's control port)
  • FTP server's port 20 to ports > 1023 (Server initiates data connection to client's data port)
  • FTP server's port 20 from ports > 1023 (Client sends ACKs to server's data port)
When drawn out, the connection appears as follows:

Passive FTP
In passive mode FTP the client initiates both connections to the server, solving the problem of firewalls filtering the incoming data port connection to the client from the server. When opening an FTP connection, the client opens two random unprivileged ports locally (N > 1023 and N+1). The first port contacts the server on port 21, but instead of then issuing a PORT command and allowing the server to connect back to its data port, the client will issue the PASV command. The result of this is that the server then opens a random unprivileged port (P > 1023) and sends the PORT P command back to the client. The client then initiates the connection from port N+1 to port P on the server to transfer data.
From the server-side firewall's standpoint, to support passive mode FTP the following communication channels need to be opened:
  • FTP server's port 21 from anywhere (Client initiates connection)
  • FTP server's port 21 to ports > 1023 (Server responds to client's control port)
  • FTP server's ports > 1023 from anywhere (Client initiates data connection to random port specified by server)
  • FTP server's ports > 1023 to remote ports > 1023 (Server sends ACKs (and data) to client's data port)
When drawn, a passive mode FTP connection looks like this:
Then, in passive mode, who determines which ports are used for the data to be transferred is the server, not the client, as in active mode.

Disadvantages of Active Mode
The main problem with active mode is: Since the request of ports is made on the client side, it becomes problematic for the firewall / NAT / Router to handle client requests.
In passive mode, since it is the server that determines which ports it will use, it is easier to set up the whole structure of firewall / NAT / Router.

Home FTP Server - Considerations
To successfully implement a home FTP server  we need to consider what is the structure that we have.
Our server will be located on a machine behind a modem / router, in an internal LAN and communicating with the world through this modem / router.
As internet service providers block lower ports , <1024, we have to configure a NAT on the modem / router so that computers can access the external FTP control port (21) and the data ports.
The active mode is good enough for local networks, mainly behind a firewall / router, as the use of random ports will not harm the client connection.
But for connections through the Internet, you must use passive mode, which is much more configurable.
Of course, we also need an FTP server program, so we can perform the file transfer actions.
Well, after this brief introduction, the theory of what is FTP, we will cover how to set up the server and all the settings required for its proper functioning.

Continues here

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By Alessandro Ebersol with No comments

Monday, December 6, 2010

Is Facebook the new Apple?

The 'fanaticism' with which Apple loyalists follow the company has always boggled my mind and I'm sure that of those who live outside most of the company's reality distortion field. Nowadays however, Apple seems to have a competitor for unrelenting loyalists: Facebook.

The coverage of the recent announcement by the company (Facebook) of its new messaging system was a typical example of the Apple fanboyism in overdrive. Suddenly there were headlines screaming how the Facebook all in one messaging was going to be a Gmail killer and all sorts of hyperboles. 

Honestly, nothing Facebook has announced recently deserves all the media headlines it's been getting especially from the North American giant tech blogs. But a service with a supposed more than half a billion *registered* users, every word from them is news. 

This brings me to the question, is Facebook the new Apple? With unrelenting press coverage and a desire by some bloggers to see everything get killed by Facebook, are we witnessing a new 'cult of Facebook' in the making?

Then too with a desire on the part of both companies to control every facet of your interaction with their respective platforms such that you only take what they think is right for you, I see a growing resemblance between the two companies.

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By Seraaj Muneer with 1 comment
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