Calendar 1.3.4 Released

After over two years of no updates to my calendar plugin for WordPress I’ve pushed out a change tonight. Even two years ago fixes had, for some time, been purely tweaks based on bug reports. While this latest change is not to be described as a significant update, it does more to the code than just playing around at the sidelines.

As with most code that is released to the community and then largely forgotten about save for the odd tweak, times change and what is accepted practice moves on. This is exactly what has happened with Calendar and it was high time to look at how it performed with the latest version of WordPress, review the latest best practice of the plugin repository and push out fixes to a few bugs that had been rumbling along in the support forums without fixes for too long.

I hope this release will be welcome for long term users of the plugin and for those who’ve never used it, a release after so long will push it back into the visible sections of the plugin repository so why not check it out?

Comments (5)    

Hiking in Finland


During a trip to Finland to celebrate Chris and Elina’s pending wedding, Shweta and I took the opportunity to take in the sights and do a spot of hiking in one the national parks

Comments off    

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

Quand il y a du vin et du fromage, je suis toujours contente


Comments off    



Driving over 3000 kilometres on bone rattling roads, traversing vast national parks on foot, strolling on wind swept beaches and scaling dizzyingly high bird cliffs to get a glimpse of nesting puffins – Iceland really gave us her all

Comments off    

Ducks in St Albans

Ducks in St Albans

Shweta and I stayed with my parents for the weekend and headed into Verulamium park with the zoon lens to capture some shots of the new births on the lake

Comments off    

Export Public Key From pkcs12 Container

Everytime I renew my S/MIME certificate I always seem to wind having to consult the OpenSSL man pages to ascertain the approrpiate command to use in order to extract the certificate from the PKCS12 file I get from my certificate authority so I can share said certificate on my contact page. As I’m sure I’m not the only one who winds up having to look this up, I’m sharing it here.

openssl pkcs12 -in container.p12 -clcerts -nokeys -out public.pem

If you then investigate the contents of the PEM file inside a text editor you’ll find your certificate between the BEGIN and END lines – you should share this content on your website or directly with contacts so that your signed e-mails can be verified as to their origin and also so that contacts can encrypt mail such that it can only be read by you if required.

Comments off    

Handling the Heartbleed Bug

So when news of the Heartbleed Bug hit the tech news sites and security bulletins I decided to read up on it when I got home from work and go from there. While it’s true that some news sites aimed at the general public have gone rather over the top about this and in many cases got their facts and recommendations plain wrong, my evening reading was not that enjoyable – this is indeed a very serious bug and is likely to affect everyone in some way shape or form. Note that I said affect, and not compromise – this is important – there was and still is no evidence that the bug was being exploited in the wild.

For those with a technical inclination, the register has done a nice little round up of how the bug works. The non technical among you may find this heartbleed cartoon illustration over on XKCD more useful.

Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the steps I have taken and will be taking going forward to help mitigate the effects of the bug. I’ve laid out the steps in order, note that I’ve focused on external services first – this was deliberate – no sense in using external services to help me fix my own infrastructure if they were not patched yet.

External Infrastructure

  • Verified with my hosting company that their servers were not affected. Xilo confirmed to all customers that their OpenSSL version was prior to the appearance of the bug. This ensured all keys stored in their infrastructure and used by me are secure
  • Ensured that my cloud based password management system was unaffected. LastPass were very open and detailed with their customers in explaining that despite their servers having been affected and subsequently patched and their certificates re-issued, a combination of passwords never being sent to their systems without an additional layer of encryption to which they never see the key and Perfect Forward Secrecy, customer data was and remains secure.
  • Verified that my certificate provider’s online portal is currently patched and protected. StartSSL have confirmed that their infrastructure was never vulnerable to the attack.

Own Infrastructure

  • Patched all servers I administer that were vulnerable – check yours here

    apt-get update
    apt-get upgrade

  • Re-generated all SSH host keys on vulnerable hosts (remember to leave the pass phrase blank)

    ssh-keygen -t dsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key
    ssh-keygen -t rsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key

  • Revoked certificates that were in use on previously vulnerable hosts. Some providers may charge for this but you’re not fully secure without it!
  • Re-issued certificates that had been revoked using new keys. Generate these and CSR as follows

    openssl genrsa -out server.key 4096
    openssl req -new -key server.key -out server.csr

  • Restarted all services using OpenSSL. In many cases this will be done by the package manager during the upgrade process but if you’ve changed keys etc. a restart will be needed to pick this up

    /etc/init.d/ssh restart
    /etc/init.d/apache2 restart


  • Given that changing a password prior to a site admin both patching the server and revoking/re-issuing their certificate is a pointless exercise, I plan on relying on a combination of the LastPass checker and conversations with web masters directly about if I should change passwords or not. I’m expecting a large number to need changing but hopefully it can be done at a relaxed pace over the next few weeks as and when news becomes available regarding the vulnerability or otherwise of a site.


  • Confirmed, via the LastPass checker, that PayPal have never been vulnerable due to the software they use for SSL
  • While it’s possible that credit card numbers, bank details and indeed other personal details may have been leaked via the bug, I deemed that replacing bank cards etc. was overkill. After all most banks offer fraud cover and my subscription to credit report monitoring includes tools to help manage any increased risk of identity theft. In any case, many personal details sent in this way are not easily changed, in fact only a credit card number can really be replaced – bank details, national insurance number, address etc. are all set in stone.

Hopefully this overview is helpful to those who are confused!

Comments (2)    

Cannot update WordPress post

I came across an old post on my blog the other day that was getting a lot of hits. When I viewed the page I decided that the code snippet in the article could do with an increase in text size to make it more readable.

I went into the admin panel and added an in-line style attribute to the code tag in question. When I saved the page WordPress reported that the post had been updated, however the text in the editor screen reverted back to what it had been prior to my change. I tried numerous times to save and tried different browsers but try as I might, the change just wouldn’t “stick”.

I usually consider myself pretty adept at solving WordPress related issues but this one was stumping me so I did what all developers do when they are in a tight spot and I googled it. Most posts turned up were completely unrelated, but one article suggested that the issue may be symptomatic of a corrupted table.

A quick command as the MySQL root user had my answer and effected the fix into the bargain

[kieran@www:~/public_html]$ mysqlcheck --check --databases wordpress --tables wp_posts -u root -p
Enter password:
warning : Table is marked as crashed
error : Key in wrong position at page 132096
error : Corrupt

I re-ran the same command to make sure it had effected a fix (it isn’t clear from the output)

[kieran@www:~/public_html]$ mysqlcheck --check --databases wordpress --tables wp_posts -u root -p
Enter password:
wordpress.wp_posts OK

Now updating the offending post works first time without issue. I suspect, although can’t be sure, that the corruption occurred during a recent upgrade of the server when not all the services, MySQL included, got shut down gracefully.

Comments (1)    

SecurityException in Application

When carrying out a recent upgrade of suPHP I encountered the following error in my apache error logs and PHP pages were not being served.

SecurityException in Application.cpp:511: Unknown Interpreter: php

Turns out the fix is a simple one; the syntax of the config file has change between versions and it’s simple a case of replacing the following lines:

;Handler for php-scripts

;Handler for CGI-scripts

With the following (note the addition of double quotes)

;Handler for php-scripts

;Handler for CGI-scripts

A quick bounce of apache and you should be back and kicking

Comments off    

Removing kernel from OpenVZ Container

When I recently upgraded an OpenVZ container in-situ over SSH, I had a few issues with the upgrade path. One of these was that the upgrade process called for the installation of a new kernel, however a container doesn’t need one and in my case couldn’t handle installing one either and thus caused the upgrade process to error out.

The fix was to force remove the kernel, both from the dpkg directory structure (in this case I copied the files to /tmp/ just in case) and using dpkg it’s self. The following commands as root:

mv /var/lib/dpkg/info/linux-image-3.2.0-58-generic.* /tmp/
dpkg --remove --force-remove-reinstreq linux-image-3.2.0-58-generic

Resuming the dist-upgrade after this process was a success

Comments off    

Next entries » | « Previous entries