Poor man’s VPN using SSH and SOCKS proxy for MacOS

Add the following aliases to your .bash_profile:

alias socks_on="ssh -D 8666 -C -N -f -M -S ~/.socks.socket $USER@<your_office_gateway>; networksetup -setsocksfirewallproxystate Wi-Fi on;"
alias socks_off="networksetup -setsocksfirewallproxystate Wi-Fi off; ssh -S ~/.socks.socket -O exit $USER@<your_office_gateway>;"

Later you can start your tunnel with command

socks_on

and stop it with

socks_off

 

😉

ssh-copy-id key to other user than yourself?

There’s a good tool for copying ssh keys to remote host under your account: ssh-copy-id. This lets you copy your public key under your account on the remote server.

But what about other accounts? Let’s say you want to log in as root (with key-only auth method, of course)? How to copy key to root user’s .ssh/authorised_keys? One way to do it is to log as your ordinary user, make yourself root with sudo su -, open authorized_keys with editor, paste, save etc… Tedious? Yes.

That’s why there’s a good oneliner:

 

cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub | ssh your_user@remote.server.com “sudo tee -a /root/.ssh/authorized_keys”

 

 

 

SailsJS and Waterline: native MongoDB queries and Waterline models

Here’s my experience with SailsJS, Waterline and MongoDB native queries. I like SailsJS and Waterline very much but there’s also room for improvement when things get serious.

There’s limitation in current Waterline that one cannot limit the fields in the output when MongoDB is used. Also the aggregation options are limited with Waterline. MongoDB on the other hand is very-very powerful database engine and once you learn how to aggregate then the possibilities seem endless.

My usecase is that I have to use native queries instead of Waterline’s but I also want the retrieved models have all those nice “instance methods” of Waterline model instances like “model.save()”. This example also gives you overview how to use native queries, aggregation.

So here’s very short guide to this. I hope it helps to save a couple of hours for other guys like me (who spent that time to figure it out:)).

Note! It uses another excellent, wonderful, genius etc pattern called Promises.

Custom headers from SailsJS API ignored by AngularJS app

Have you ever tried to return custom HTTP headers from your SailsJS backend REST API to your frontend AngularJS application and wondered why they don’t show up in AngularJS?

I had pretty standard case where I wanted to implement server side pagination for my data sets returned by the API. For that you need to return the total number of records in order to implement pagination properly in the frontend. I decided to return the total number of records in a custom header called “X-TotalRecords”. It is returned together with the response but it didn’t show up in AngularJS response:

.....    
.then(function(response){
    $log.debug(response.headers()) //does not show my custom header
}) 
..... 

After some googling around I found a solution. You need to create a custom SailsJS policy and send a special header “Access-Control-Expose-Headers” there. Let’s call the policy sendCorsHeaders.

Create a file sendCorsHeaders.js in policies/ folder:

    
module.exports = function (req, res, next) {
    res.header('Access-Control-Expose-Headers', sails.config.cors.headers);
    next();
};

As you can see it re-uses headers defined in your cors.js under config/ folder.

From now on you can retrieve your custom header in AngularJS $http service.

Accepting BDOC container upload from PUT method in SailsJS app

I just struggled with a complex problem of uploading application/bdoc (digital signature container) files to a SailsJS app and I want to share my story. I hope it will make the life easier for those who are working with digidoc and Signwise.

We at Prototypely are creating a solution that heavily uses digital signatures. Signwise is the preferred partner for handling containers and signing process. Signwise process states that they create the container and their system makes a HTTP PUT request to target system to put the newly created container back.

Standard file uploads are handled very nicely in SailsJS by great Skipper library.

However when it comes to uploading quite rare mime types like application/bdoc or application/x-bdoc then it needs some tweaking.

Open config/http.js and add custom body parser there and you’ll be able to accept BDOC files:

bodyParser: function (options) {
  return function (req, res, next) {
    if (req.get('content-type') != 'application/bdoc') {
      return next();
    }
    var bodyParser = require('body-parser').raw({type: 'application/bdoc'});
    return bodyParser(req, res, next);
  }
}

After that you’ll be able to save the file in your controller. Mind the req.body – this is the buffer that will be written down.

acceptBdocFile: function(req, res){
    var fileId = req.param('fileId');
    var tmpFile = process.cwd() + '/.tmp/' + fileId;
    fs.writeFileSync(tmpFile, req.body);
    return res.status(201).json();
} 

How to delete Magento maintenance.flag without FTP?

Sometimes Magento gets stuck in “Maintenance mode”. It means that there is maintenance.flag file in Magento’s root folder.
The standard maintenance mode of Magento is a bit “too universal” – it sets Magento backend (admin) to maintenance mode also. Once you’re in maintenance mode, it’s hard to get out of this if you don’t have access server’s shell.
Anyway – there is one option if you have not removed Magento Connect Manager (a.k.a /downloader). This program is be impacted by the maintenance.flag file. Log in to Connect Manager at /downloader and check/uncheck checkbox ““.

That’s it.

Setting node.js app default timezone

Timezones are … difficult. I can say that based on my >20 years programming experience. They pop up here and there and cause a good amount of headache. I won’t spend too much time here for timezones but I just give a quick tip how to set your SailsJS (or any NodeJS) app to use UTC (GMT) timezone by default.
During the years I’ve learn that it’s best to have everything in UTC in the business and DB layers as a rule of thumb (there are exceptions, of course).

It’s really simple to make your NodeJS app to have UTC as default timezone. Just export an environment variable before you run your app:

export TZ="UTC"
forever --watchDirectory ./ -l logs/log.log --watch app.js

How to ignore or include files by wildcards in a Magento tgz package

When you’re packing Magento extensions in Magento admin and want to ignore (or include) a file or directory then there’s a special syntax for it. Let’s say you want to exclude folder “tests” from the tgz package. Number signs (#) are used as wildcard placeholders. Add following line to “Ignore” field:

#tests/#
Your tests folder will be excluded from the tgz package.

PHPStorm and OSX Yosemite Java problem

Problem

I just upgraded to OSX Yosemite. It looks pretty cool and works fine. In addition to Java, CSS, Javascript we are writing a lot of PHP while develop data management solution MageFlow for Magento.

I noticed a problem when I tried to start my everyday IDE PhpStorm:

phpstorm_java

 

Stop! I just upgraded to a fresh, new OSX and I’m forced to install an almost 10 year old Java? Nope…

I have Java 8 installed to my Mac and I thought it would be cool to run PhpStorm on top of that one.

So I looked around and the solution is surprisingly simple.

Solution 1 (deprecated – see the update)

Open file /Applications/PhpStorm.app/Contents/Info.plist with your favorite editor (mine is vim)

Find the following tag:

<key>JMVVersion</key>

Below that one there should be

<string>1.6*</string>

or similar.

Replace 1.6* with

<string>1.8*</string>

Start PhpStorm.

😉

 

Important update

It’s important to know that changing the Info.plist file would break the application’s digital signature. There are consequences like the app asking for firewall permissions on each start and not the patches not being applied properly. See more info on JetBrains Support page.

In short you need to add the wanted Java version to a preference file instead of hacking application’s Info.plist.

In my case I created file ~/Library/Preferences/WebStorm9/idea.properties with contents:

JVMVersion=1.8*

This applies for WebStorm but it’s done the same way for all JetBrains IDE-s. Just change the app name in the path.

For PhpStorm put the file to:

~/Library/Preferences/WebIde80/idea.properties

Thoughts on digital garbage

This article was first published in LinkedIn.

Foreword

We all know what garbage and littering is. We know it, we feel it, we see it, we – people with good kinderstube –  despise it and fight it. We clean it up.

I feel the same way about digital garbage. Do you – a fellow e-citizen with good manners in digital environment – feel it, too?

I feel there is too much digital garbage. It’s everywhere, it suffocates me. I feel really bad if I see people creating more and more useless, excessive data every day.

Painful experience

I used to work at a big corporation for many years. As in every big company this company hosts some morons, too, who make themselves useful by creating Powerpoint slideshows of tens and tens megabytes and then spread these files by e-mail to present often outdated and useless information to colleagues or customers. Nobody raises an eyebrow because it’s normal there. I’m absolutely sure that this big corporation is not an exception. It’s the rule. It happens everywhere, in almost every company.

It does not happen in my company. Otherwise I’m pretty open minded and tolerant but I do not tolerate digital littering at MageFlow. It’s a clearly stated policy and it’s repeated over and over again.

For me it comes down to three things: skills, ethics and energy.

Please continue reading if you care about cleaner e-nvironment.

Skills

Most people don’t have the skills to behave correctly in digital environment. They’re like young calves in the spring. Nobody has told them how to handle data properly without creating another and another and another useless copy of it.

I’ve brought this example before but I guess it’s good enough to repeat it here. Please do a little math for me now and tell me how many copies and megabytes of one file with size of 1 megabytes there will be if you send this file to 2 of your friends by e-mail? 1? 2? 3? 5?

Correct answer is at least 4 assuming your friends don’t save it to their harddisk and not including all the possible e-mail servers that may or may not keep an additional copy for whatever reason.

How’s that possible then? Here’s how:

1 – original file on your computer’s hard disk

2 – a new copy attached to the e-mail in your sent mail folder

3 – a new copy in your friend #1’s inbox

4 – a new copy in your friend #2’s inbox

Is that enough copies for you? For me it’s 3 too many. The files are stored somewhere, the files will be stored somewhere. Forever – I tend to think nowadays. There’s also question about file versions, integrity, consistency. I mean – can you tell me now which version of those 4 files is THE correct one, the master version? Can you? I can’t!

Ethics

Actually I think it’s unethical, unfair to litter other people’s digital space the same way it’s unethical and even criminal to litter other people’s physical property. It’s not right to make other people to buy more and more storage because you cannot send links instead files or you cannot use streaming instead of downloading.

It’s like littering someone’s backyard. You don’t do that IRL. Why should you do it in the Internet? However, it’s not that simple always.

Sometimes I send images of my kid to my mom as attachments because I know she would call me otherwise and ask if she should open that (whateverish*box or *drive) link in that e-mail or is it a virus or … Moooommmm!!! Oehhh…

Eventually it’s about skills. It’s about education. It’s about experience.

We – the responsible and aware e-citizens – should teach the less knowledgeable. Be it our parents, our brothers and sisters – we need to teach them behave in the modern digital environment – the e-nvironment. There are do’s and don’ts exactly like in the real world. This is our responsibility to spread the world and behave as role models. It takes a lot of patience, though.

Energy

There are also energetical issues. Maybe those more at home at physics or information technology know the answer already but I don’t. Feel free to comment if I’m wrong here.

Anyway – we spend energy, a lot of energy on storing data, the bits and bytes, on different types of storage. What happens to that energy once we delete a file? Is it being freed? Where does it go? How to catch it, how to reuse it? I mean – almost metaphysically – what happens to that information that was just there – ␡ – and it’s gone. Where did it go? What did it become now?

¯\(º_o)/¯

Solution

The wrong way to handle data is to create more copies of it that are possibly false and outdated. The right way to handle data is to maintain an original and enable others to access it. Thank to all gods – Odin and fellows included – that there are tons of sharing solutions nowadays. It hasn’t been the case always. And it’s not the case in the corporate networks because these big corporations are still shitting their pants when they hear words like “cloud”, “sharing”, “openness” and so on. They have their reasons but it doesn’t change the fact.

The right way to act in movement towards a better world with less digital garbage is to lead by example. Act as a role model. Refuse to send a file by e-mail if someone asks you to do so. Politely explain your reasons and offer an alternative – sharing. Secure sharing if necessary.

Become an ambassador of clean e-nvironment and establish a policy of handling data at your workplace. Start small but start smart. Spread the word and explain the reasons. Be patient.

Final word

Huge amount data is downloaded from the Internet every day for entertainment or other reasons. Be it movies as torrents (legal or illegal – doesn’t change the fact or amount of data) or MP3-s or e-books. Don’t be part of that madness! Avoid unnecessary copies. Use streaming and sharing instead.

Can you imagine that everyone who consumes electricity from their wall outlets is forced to store that energy somewhere at their home? I can! This is exactly what downloading reminds me. Lots and lots of energy downloaded and wasted instead of just letting it flow thru and just catch your part from the flow.

Imagine a wind turbine working in and because of the flow of air versus a very big bag that is kept against the wind until it’s full and taken somewhere indoors where the wrong turbine is located. There the bag is pushed empty against that turbine to make it work and again and again and again … Sounds stupid, right?