I’ve already used the title ‘Recent Happenings’ before, so this time I’ve used a new name.
Just so that you know, this is going to be a post that will include a lot of different stuff; some of which I may have already covered here, some of which I have never even thought of before. This is just a post to keep my blog alive, to make sure that I’m still a presence here.
So first I want to talk about my last article. When I started writing it I had big plans for it, I was going to talk about [specifically] Chinese hackers, referencing a article from awhile back and compare them to American hackers, then talk about economics and maybe even throw in some politics. That didn’t happen, instead I got anxious and posted it too early. Oh well, what’s done is done.
First, I want to talk about a website called Lockerz.com. Some of you may have heard of it, and then gain, some not. For those of you who don’t know what it is, Lockerz.com is a place where you can get free electronics. This is a very, very general description. To get the electronics you must earn points. To earn points you must loging every day (which earns you 2 points) and then you can answer a simple question to get 2 more points. It’s slow, tedius work, but it’s worth it. Once you get a certain amount of points you can exchange them for something of you choice. The choices range from hamburger-shaped flash drives to MacBook Air computers. How ’bout that?
Next, I would like to make a correction on a previous article where I talked about Pandora versus Grooveshark Radio. In that article if I didn’t declare Grooveshark the victor, I certainly implied it. I would like to change my opinion. I don’t view Grooveshark as a superior service, on the contrary I believe Pandora to be much more sophisticated. For one, Grooveshark’s recommendations are based of what other people recommend, not a program. This, at first glance, would seem great. Once you’ve tried it out for yourself, it’s not so great. I like the music Pandora recommends to me much more than what I got through Grooveshark. Much, much better. Although, Grooveshark does have it’s place. Grooveshark does stream it’s songs in the .mp3 format, which is important for what I am going to talk about next. Whereas Pandora streams it’s music in the .mov format.
Orbit Downloader. Orbit Downloader is a program that lets you download streaming media quickly and easily. If you’ve remembered anything from the last paragraph, you would not realize why it was important that Grooveshark streamed its music in the .mp3 format, versus the .mov format. ‘Nuff said there.
And just so you know, this isn’t necessarily in chronological order, so the order of the events in which I’ve learned about this is seriously misconstrued.
I’d like to make a ‘plug’ for Revo Uninstaller now that I’ve made it clear that I am going to go off topic. Revo is a great uninstallation program that makes sure all traces of the program you wish to install are gone, all the way up to the registry entries.
Okay, moving on.
The next program I would like to point out is called WebScarab. WebScarab is a really cool program with a lot of great features which I can’t really go into in great depth, but this tutorial and the main website will give very in depth usage of this program. The tutorial here. So let’s suppose you’ve downloaded WebScarab, as per my recommendation. Great. Now set Firefox to use it as it’s proxy. No idea how to do that? Fine, I’ll go through that here.
1. Open Firefox and click Tools >> Options.
2. Under the Advanced section click Network.
3. Under the Connection section click the ‘Settings’ button.
4. Check the ‘Manual proxy configuration’ radio button, then fill out the following forms as follows:
HTTP Proxy: localhost
No Proxy for: localhost
Now click OK, then click the next OK button and get outta there. Close Firefox and WebScarab, and then re-open Firefox. What? Firefox can’t display the page? Why might that be? Think about it before reading on.
Cheater. It’s because WebScarab is set as the proxy server, so if WebScarab isn’t running, Firefox has nothing to route it’s content through, so it fails. This can be an annoying problem. What I did to overcome this was to create another Firefox profile which used WebScarab as a proxy, and reset my default Firefox profile to the normal settings.
So you know, you can create a new profile by clicking Start >> Run and typing in ‘firefox -p’ . Now click ‘Create Profile…’ and follow the prompts. Whenever you want to open the profile manager Firefox must not be running, then go back to Run and type in ‘firefox -p’.
So now that you’ve configed your browser to use WebScarab as a proxy, what now? Oh, this is just the beginning 😉
One of the great things you can do is mess with GET and POST requests. I wont go into too much detail here, just enough so that you understand. When a form is submitted with the POST method (method=”post”), using WebScarab you can change this input in the phase between data entry, the submit click and the submition to the server. To do this, open WebScarab. Click Tools >>’Use Full Interface’ or something similar. Restart WebScarab and click the Proxy >> ‘Manual Edit’ tabs. Make sure Intercept Requests is checked, and make sure that both GET and POST are selected (using Ctrl – Click on both). Restart your Firefox profile that uses WebScarab as a proxy. Navigate to a website that you know has either a GET or POST method somewhere, and see what happens.
You should see a window pop up that says Edit Request. Now you can edit the response to the form before it is actually submitted to the server. Why might this be important? Suppose that some web developer was thinking that he (or she) was being really smart and security conscious. Suppose that they limited the input for a field to only alpha-numeric chars. That would limit, say, an SQL injection. Or what about for more benign reason. Suppose someone limits the input to a form field to 4 chars. You want to input 5, so all you have to do is put the allowed 4 chars in there, then submit the form. WebScarab will ask you if you want to edit the request, you do, changing your 4 char input to a 5, 6, or whatever you would like.
So now you know of one of WebScarab’s features. There are other things you can do with WebScarab, like spider a website, but that’s not exactly easy, and I haven’t quite perfected it yet. The farthest I’ve gotten so far is this:
Open a website that you would like to spider in your Firefox profile that is having WebScarab as the proxy. Once you’re at the website, open WebScarab and go to the ‘Spider’ tab. Find the URL of the website you would like to spider in the pane, click on it once and expand it by clicking the small key at the left side of the URL, and click the ‘Fetch Tree’ button at the bottom of the window to spider the website. Spidering the website will make a list of all the pages and files related to that website. This will make a list of images, html files, videos, even music, that this website contains. Supposedly, you would be able to save any one of these files, or all of them, but that’s the part I haven’t perfected yet. So enjoy WebScarab.
Next I would like to talk about the ‘wget’ command. The ‘wget’ command will allow you to download any website. That description doesn’t give this powerful command justice, but it’s basically what it does. To use this, you will have to download cygwin, unless you’re using a Linux OS. So supposing that you have cygwin on your computer, all you have to do is follow these next steps. For this example, I would not reccomend using Google.com, as it could get way out of hand once we start downloading recursively.
1. open cygwin, and go to the directory where you would like to download the website.
Before I go on, I would like to give a few command line tips. To change your directory to a folder with spaces in it, or just to encase long strings without having to use the escape char (\) you can encase the directory change in double-quotes. So if I wanted to change from the cygdrive directory to C:/Program files/Mozilla Firefox, instead of typing in ‘cd C:/Program\ Files/Mozilla\ Firefox’, I could just do cd “C:/Program Files/Mozilla Firefox”. This is especially useful because it’s quick, and it’s what the Windows Command line uses.
My next tip is creating and removing directories with the command line. To create a directory, type in ‘mkdir directory_name‘ Remember, NO SPACES! To remove a directory, type in ‘rmdir directory_name‘. To remove a file, all you have to do is type in ‘rm file_name‘.
So now that we’ve done that, navigate to the directoy you would like to download the website into, and create a new directory. Now change into that directory with the ‘cd’ command. Type in ‘wget http://www.myipc.wordpress.com’ You will now download my homepage. If will appear in a folder named ‘www.myipc.wordpress.com’. It will contain index.html. What? you’re saying that that’s not the whole website? you’re correct! To get the whole website you will have to use the recursive command, along with the wget command. Ready? Type in ‘wget -r http://www.myipc.wordpress.com’ Now cygwin will download all of http://www.myipc.wordpress.com to a file. Cool, huh? There are more advanced commands for wget, but those are the basic ones and the only ones I ever need to use.
I would like to make a mention of Google Chrome, which is not, for the most part, my default browser. I do use Firefox for proxy stuff with WebScarab, and for web developing, but for everyday use it’s Chrome. Chrome is fast and reliable, for the most part. As good or better than Firefox in most respects. When I need a fast browser, Chrome is it.
The last program I would like to talk about it Primo PDF. Primo PDF allows me to ‘print’ a document to a PDF file. I can print web pages, documents, really anything, to a PDF file now. That makes it very convenient when sending documents to collaborators, and it’s just more fun to send .pdf files.
So more than 1700 words later, I’m done for the night.