Secure that coffee shop wi-fi!

We have all browsed the internet over an unsecured wi-fi network at some point in time. Obviously, this presents numerous security and privacy implications. Fortunately, there is a relatively simple solution that will allow you to securely “tunnel” back to your home broadband network and browse as though you were at your house. The key peice of equipment is the Lynksys NSLU2 device. Read on for more details…

The crippling of PHP’s file_get_contents()

If you have been around the PHP scene for a while now, you are probably aware of the file_get_contents() function. This function has been used in many web applications for years, but has been under increasing attack from nefarious evil doers. Due to the security issues when using this function to download URL content, many web hosts have disabled the URL functionality. Take a look at the PHP HTTP socket Client article for the TinyHttpClient, a simple yet very functional alternative which supports HTTP 1.0 GET, POST and Basic Authentication…

Chicken in a bag

Ever wondered how to transport a chicken in your car when you don’t have a cage or a box? While traveling in East Africa several years ago, my wife and I faced just such a quandary. We had traveled about 4 hours by very rough roads to a small town where we were the lunch guests at the home of the local public school headmaster. After lunch was over, the headmaster presented my wife with two chickens to take home with us. This was an honor that the headmaster was showing us and we could not refuse them without causing offense due to local customs. Not knowing what to do, my father in law came up with a great idea for safely transporting the chickens home. He went around to the back of the truck and rummaged through the “junk” that all work trucks have. Out came two blue, plastic “shopping bags”, like the ones you get at the grocery store. He then proceeded to poke a hole in the bottom corner of each bag and placed the bag over the chicken and poked the chickens head out the little hole. We gently put the legs and tail of the bird into the bag and then tied it up using the bag handles. The bird was content and rode all the way back home over very rough roads at my feet. It never squirmed or even appeared agitated. We drove along the dirt roads for about 4 more hours and when we arrived at our destination, the chicken was relaxed and unharmed.  Best of all, there was no mess.

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It’s just two acres

Two acres.  Before moving out of the city, we thought that two acres was a lot of land.  From the perspective of a suburban dweller, two acres is a lot of space.  After living here for the last five years, our perspective has changed.  Two acres is just about enough for a large garden, a pond and a couple of cows.  It is enough land to eat up your time and but not enough to qualify for agricultural property tax status. The move from a suburban neighborhood to a rural piece of land was a good one.  While we are not ranchers, nor farmers, we do live a more rural lifestyle.  We feel more connected to the land and our food.  Our commute has increased by about 5 miles each way, but we now get to watch the corn, wheat and alfalfa fields mature throughout the season.  Occasionally, we see a calf born on the way to the office. It’s a good life and two acres is about right for now.  There is a richness and a depth in rural life that soothes the soul and calms the mind.  Watching the cows is often more enjoyable than prime time  television… The weird part is that you just don’t get it until you take the plunge and move out of the subdivision.