Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New and Improved

After 3 months of work, there is a new and improved site available.
This site is targeted towards the triathlete or endurance athlete who want to plan and track their training sessions from any available internet enabled device (PC, iphone, blackberry, etc).
If you have friends who do endurance sports like Triathlons, bike races, road races, or swim races refer them to ( a triathlon training log site )
On a technical note, is now using substantial more hardware, and is now using several new redundancy strategies to handle large loads, maximize performance, and deal with hardware disaster scenarios. It uses redundant web servers, and redundant database servers.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Host Names in Linux

Configure the Hostname

On the shoulders of giants, this an excerpt from very detailed post on postfix (smtp software) at

The computer that these examples are taken from is "", and it exists on IP address The short name is just squeezel. Another computer, on IP address "" is "".


# Do not remove the following line, or various programs
# that require network functionality will fail. localhost.localdomain localhost squeezel tape

You may also want to edit "/etc/sysconfig/network" and add or check the following.

Finally, to put all changes into effect now, run the following command with root privileges.

   $ hostname

Some of the settings in the postfix "" file depend upon the hostname.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Amazon Flexible Payments Service (FPS) Part I, An Overview

Amazon Flexible Payments Service (FPS) is a set of web services that allow developers create applications to move money from one entity to another. Payment can be in the form of credit cards, bank account , or Amazon Payments balance.
Requests can be made either via SOAP or REST. In my case I had to use REST because Mono (.Net on Linux) has not implemented WSE 2 or WSE 3.
Another important feature to be aware of is Instant Payment Notification (IPN). This frees up a developer from having to implement a scheduled job that queries Amazon FPS for completion of payments. Because IPN will push (publish) a response to your listening website/webservice for you.

Getting Started Guide:
Developers Guide:

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Configuring SSL on a Web Server using Apache

Here is a link to an article on setting up SSL on an Apache web server.

These are the steps that I followed from the article:

I am setting up a qa web server , so I did this :

1) " For testing purposes, or for small LANs, you can create a self-signed certificate. This can be done by issuing this command: "

openssl req -new -x509 -days 365 -sha1 -newkey rsa:1024 \
-nodes -keyout server.key -out server.crt \
-subj '/O=Company/OU=Department/'

Note: You will need to have setup a self-signing Certificate
Authority on your server.
This enables you to create your own temporary
certificates for testing purposes.
See my blog post on setting up
Email/SMTP on Amazon EC2 for how this is done.

2) Next, I installed mod_ssl on Apache:
For Fedora, command line: yum install mod_ssl

3) Update /etc/httpd/conf.d/ssl.conf,
add a reference to your certificate (server.crt) and your key (server.key),
For example:
# Server Certificate:
# Point SSLCertificateFile at a PEM encoded certificate. If
# the certificate is encrypted, then you will be prompted for a
# pass phrase. Note that a kill -HUP will prompt again. A new
# certificate can be generated using the genkey(1) command.

SSLCertificateFile /etc/httpd/certs/server.crt

# Server Private Key:
# If the key is not combined with the certificate, use this
# directive to point at the key file. Keep in mind that if
# you've both a RSA and a DSA private key you can configure
# both in parallel (to also allow the use of DSA ciphers, etc.)

SSLCertificateKeyFile /etc/httpd/certs/server.key

4) Enable Port 443 on your server and firewall
(Amazon EC2 command line:

ec2-authorize default -p 443 )

Conclusion: You now have a QA Web server with a temporary certificate that can run web sites
using SSL ( https ). For production Web servers , you will need to purchase a permanent certificate
from a trusted certificate authority like Verisign.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Updated Email Setup on Amazon EC2

SMTP/Email Setup on Amazon EC2

Create an Smtp server installation on Amazon EC2 that relays email to
your gmail email account. Gmail has a nice email client so this allows us to leverage gmail’s rich features. Our smtp software package is postfix.


Familiar with create and launching instances using Amazon EC2, and familiar with editing config files in linux.

Links to
documentation on Amazon EC2 and how to create and launch instances:

1. Install Postfix

For Fedora 8: yum install

2. Setup/Install Certificate Authority for Self Signing

yum install openssl-perl

3. Create Server Certificate

cd /et/pki/tls/misc

./ -newca

4. Copy cert file to postfix folder

cp /etc/pki/CA/cacert.pem

5. Create Certificates (self signed certificates for testing

genrsa -out enduro.key 1024

req -new -key enduro.key -out enduro.csr

req -new -x509 -key enduro.key
-out enduro.pem
-days 1095

  1. Authorize Port 587

    At desktop/client command line: ec2-authorize default –p 587

7. Update Postfix Config file,

This file is located in /etc/postfix/
You need to specify port so that service runs on port 587

Sample entry:

service type private unpriv chroot wakeup
maxproc command + args
(yes) (yes) (yes) (never) (100)
inet n -
n -
- smtpd

  1. Edit 2nd
    Postfix config file,

This file is located in /etc/postfix/

I will not detail this entire config file because the configuration
details will depend on your environment. But, in a nutshell you want
to do the following: update the relevant hostname and ips in
and add something like this to end of

## TLS
= hash:/etc/postfix/sasl_passwd

smtp_use_tls =
smtp_sasl_security_options =
smtp_sasl_tls_security_options =
smtp_tls_note_starttls_offer = yes
= dev:/dev/urandom
smtp_tls_scert_verifydepth =
= yes
smtpd_tls_req_ccert =no
smtp_tls_enforce_peername = no

9. Also make sure you have this entry in

relayhost = []:587

10. Using vi or your favorite editor, create the follwing file,

and using this format below for its content, add your email
address and password:

Contents of sasl_passwd

11. Now test
this file
by running this simple "hash" key test.

postmap -q []:587 sasl_passwd

12. You'll
need to protect your password so that only the postfix group and root
can read it by changing the access rights as follows:

chown root.postfix sasl_passwd*
$ chmod 0640 sasl_passwd*

( PostFix binary location: /usr/sbin/postfix )


command line:
postfix start

14. Use sendmail
from command line to test:

Cmd line:
sendmail this is test

Next: Hit Enter ,
then type a dot, then Hit Enter

(Note: make sure
Sendmail is started (cmd line: service sendmail restart)

(Note: logs errors
to /var/log/maillog)

Alternatively Test
Sendmail using this by creating a text file (mail.txt) in the below


Body of
message goes here

Then call sendmail with
that file as an input:

line: /usr/sbin/sendmail email-address < mail.txt

Or you can use the -t
option to to tell sendmail to read the header of the message to
figure out who to send it to.

line: /usr/sbin/sendmail -t < mail.txt

This will process the
To: and CC: lines for you and send the mail to the
correct addresses.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Blogspot Tip of the Day, You can use Google Docs to Publish directly to your blog

Blogging Tip of The Day, You can use Google Docs to Publish directly to your blog.

For example so you are writing a long article (in my case long technical thing), it is much easier
to write something using a word processor like Word or Google Docs.
If you write something in Google Docs, you have the option to "Publish as Web Page"
within this option you can then choose to publish it to your Blog.
If it is to blogspot, you click configure your blogspot settings, enter your info then click Publish to Blog.

Mono on Fedora 9 - Installation/Setup/Configuration

Previously, I have setup Mono on Fedora 8 using a prebuilt image.

See blog post:


Install and configure Mono (.net framework) on Fedora 9.

Notes: Yum did not seem to detect the dependencies of between xsp and mod_mono
if you follow the order of the steps at :
You end up with fc9 version of mod_mono, but a fc10 version of xsp which is bad.
You want all your libraries to be a fc10 version.
Your web server, Apache can be the fc9 version.


1) Install Apache fc9: yum install httpd
2) Disable SELinux, from UI , click System -> Administration -> SELinux Management ( from linked article above mentions that from command line: setenforce 0 , but I could not get this to work)
3) Install fc10 mod_mono from rawhide repository ( which depends on mono-core, mono-web, and xsp, so this will can installed all at the same time in this step):
yum install --enablerepo=rawhide mod_mono
4) Grant permissions to apache user to execute and create directories under var/run ( apache runs under user: apache by default), command line: chmod 777 /var/run -R

5) After the successful install we need to configure Apache to allow it to run Mono applications (typical usage web pages, and .asmx web services).
In this test case , we are using the test pages that got installed under /usr/lib/xsp/test when we installed xsp above in the install mod_mono step.
On completion of this step, we can open our browser and go to http://localhost/test to see our Mono Test Page in action.

Edit /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Add these entries to the end of the file:
#Test Mono Setup
MonoAutoApplication enabled
MonoServerPath test /usr/bin/mod-mono-server2
Alias test "/usr/lib/xsp/test"
MonoApplications test "/test:/usr/lib/xsp/test"

MonoSetServerAlias test
SetHandler mono

MonoSetEnv MONO_IOMAP=all
6) Done! Go to go to http://localhost/test to test your setup.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Amazon Flexible Payment Service , A Series of Blog Posts

I am planning to write a series of blog posts detailing my experience
with Amazon's Flexible Payment Service.( Amazon's offering competes with PayPal, Google Checkout,, and other payment api's.

I am creating a series of blogs because Amazon's FPS API is a large offering and a single blog post would only skim the surface.
Series topics will include:

Overview of Amazon FPS,
Setting up your Environment/Creating your FPS account,
Creating Payment Instructions,
Creating a database to store submitted transactions,
Using Co-Branded UI,
Creating Pay Request,
Pull Method - Create a Job to Polling Amazon's FPS Service for successful Pay Request,
Push Method - Use Amazon Notifications to get Status of Pay Requests

Sunday, September 28, 2008

JQuery and MonoRail

Over the weekend, I made the move from RC3 of Monorail ( to the Trunk of Monorail targeting .Net 2.0.

I took this opportunity because, Ayende ( released some code on the Castle project mailing list as well as being added to the Trunk that helps people who prefer JQuery as one of their Javascript library. Ayende shared a JQueryGenerator class and a JQueryElementGenerator class.

Side Note to avoid conflicts with other javascript libraries add this to you layout template wrapped in the script tag:
<script type="text/javascript">
var jQuery = jQuery.noConflict();

I starting using them and created a few personal Unit test classes to test them. These test classes at the moment do not have full coverage, but they are a start.
When targeting the .Net 2.0 framework I ran into an issue with JSGeneratorDispatcher when it called a the hide method on JSQueryGenerator class. The resolution ended up being to add a params attribute to the method signature of methods that have an array in the signature. (Important: This is now patched in the trunk)
For example changing:
public override void Hide(string[] ids)
public override void Hide(params string[] ids)

Steps to use JQuery in MonoRail

I recommend:

1) Either commenting out the other javascript libraries referenced in your layout view, or adding an alias for JQuery and wrap this in script tag.
<script type="text/javascript">
var jQuery = jQuery.noConflict();

2) Add JQuery to you layout:
<script type="text/javascript" src="$siteroot/content/js/jquery-1.2.6.js"> </script>

3) Use the latest Monorail source code from the Trunk, to take advantage of Javascript Generation using JQuery as you default.
Update global.asax.cs , add :
using Castle.MonoRail.Framework.JSGeneration;
using Castle.MonoRail.Framework.JSGeneration.jQuery;

also add method To Your Global.asax:
public void Configure(IMonoRailConfiguration config)

config.JSGeneratorConfiguration.AddLibrary("jquery-1.2.6", typeof(JQueryGenerator))


3) Create yourself a helper class for JQuery to make it easier to create Ajax calls, etc. via JQuery.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cloud Computing: Setup Postgresql to use Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)

Cloud Computing: Setup Postgresql to use Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS)

Prerequisites: Familiar with creating and launching instances using Amazon EC2, and familiar with editing config files in linux. Also make sure that Postgresql is installed on your instance, see installation steps at .


We will follow the same initial steps as outlined on Amazon’s developer website ( ). The latter steps will be specific to Postgresql.

1) Creating an Amazon EBS Volume

In this example, the user calls the CreateVolume API, specifying an 10 GB volume.

$ ec2-create-volume --size 10 --availability-zone us-east-1a

VOLUME vol-4d826724 858993459200 creating 2008-02-14T00:00:00+0000

$ ec2-describe-volumes vol-4d826724

VOLUME vol-4d826724 858993459200 available 2008-02-14T00:00:00+0000

2) Attach the Amazon EBS Volume to an Instance

In this example, the user calls the AttachVolume API to attach the volume vol-4d826724 to the instance i-6058a509 and expose it as the device /dev/sdh.

$ ec2-attach-volume vol-4d826724 -i i-6058a509 -d /dev/sdh

ATTACHMENT vol-4d826724 i-6058a509 /dev/sdh attaching 2008-02-14T00:15:00+0000

3) Describing Volumes and Instances

After creating Amazon EBS volumes and attaching them to instances, you can list them using the DescribeVolumes and the DescribeInstances functions.

To list all volumes owned by the user, including their status, the user invokes the DescribeVolumes function.

$ ec2-describe-volumes

VOLUME vol-4d826724 858993459200 in-use 2008-02-14T00:00:00+0000

ATTACHMENT vol-4d826724 i-6058a509 /dev/sdh attached 2008-02-14T00:00:17+0000

VOLUME vol-50957039 13958643712 available 2008-02-091T00:00:00+0000

VOLUME vol-6682670f 1073741824 in-use 2008-02-11T12:00:00+0000

ATTACHMENT vol-6682670f i-69a54000 /dev/sdh attached 2008-02-11T13:56:00+0000

The function returns the volume ID, capacity, status (in-use or available) and creation time of each volume. If the volume is attached, an attachment line shows the volume ID, the instance ID to which the volume is attached, the device name exposed to the instance, its status (attaching, attached, detaching, detached) and when it was attached.

The user can also view volumes that are attached to running instances by using the DescribeInstances function.

$ ec2-describe-instances

RESERVATION r-e112fc88 416161254515 default

INSTANCE i-3b887c52 ami-3fd13456 domU-12-31-38-00-35-94.compute-1.internalrunning gsg-keypair 0 m1.small 2007-11-26T13:20:35+0000 vol-4d826724

RESERVATION r-e612fc8f 416161254515 default

INSTANCE i-21b63c22 ami-3fd13456 domU-12-31-38-00-39-28.compute-1.internalrunning gsg-keypair 0 m1.small 2007-11-26T13:21:51+0000 vol-6682670f,vol-50957039

4) Create ext3 filesystem on persistence volume (Amazon EBS) and mount the volume

Command line: yes | mkfs -t ext3 /dev/sdh

Command line: mkdir /mnt/pgsql

Command Line: mount /dev/sdh /mnt/pgsql

5) Stop Postgresql if it is already running on your instance

Cmd line: service postgresql stop

6) Copy postgresql folders to /mnt/pgsql

On Fedora 8, the folder is /var/lib/pgsql, copy the contents of the folder to /mnt/pgsql.

7) Change the owner of /mnt/pgsql to postgres user, and initial db cluster

Command line: chown –R postgres /mnt/pgsql

su –postgres

initdb –D /mnt/pgsql/data

8) Edit postgresql startup script and change all entries from /var/lib/pgsql to /mnt/pgsql

command line: vi /etc/rc.d/init.d/postgresql

9) Configure postgres for local access (see previous postgres setup post) (you will need to edit /mnt/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf and /mnt/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf)

10) Start postgresql

command line: service postgresql start

10) Enjoy !

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

DB Cloud Computing: Postgresql Setup on Amazon EC2 using Fedora 8

Postgresql Setup on Amazon EC2 using Fedora 8

Prerequisites: Familiar with creating and launching instances using Amazon EC2, and familiar with editing config files in linux.

Links to documentation on Amazon EC2 and how to create and launch instances:

click on Technical documentation link.

Thanks goes to this article:

There are some things missing from that article that I have addressed here.

1) Create Ami instance from pre-existing instance and launch instance.

Use ami-0abe5a63 for example, see url:


2) Logon to your instance using an SSH client (in windows you can use Putty)

3) Login as root

4) Edit /etc/yum/pluginconf.d/fastestmirror.conf and add to the end: exclude=postgresql*

(differs from the instructions at to prevent your YUM update from getting postgresql from other sources)

5) Select the appropriate repository config file for your OS and choose 8.3 from here and navigating thru:

Note the install file - should look something like

6) Do a wget of the appropriate one: e.g.

7) Next install the rpm config file with:
rpm -ivh pgdg-fedora-8.4-1.noarch.rpm

8) Install the things that you want. These are the ones we tend to install

yum install postgresql
yum install postgresql-server
yum install postgis
yum install pgadmin3

Note:On Fedora 8, postgresql default location is /var/lib/pgsql/data

9) Create a user postgres

Add command prompt : useradd postgres

10) Set new user’s password

Add command prompt: passwd postgres

11) Initialize postgreSql

At command prompt:

chown postgres /var/lib/pgsql/data

su postgres

initdb –D /var/lib/pgsql/data

12) Configure postgresql for local access

From command line ( start up vi and add the 2 entries):

vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf
- add:local all all trust
host all all trust
host all all reject

13) To configure remote access, from command line, pass in range of external ips to allow access to:

vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/postgresql.conf

listen_addresses = ‘*’

vi /var/lib/pgsql/data/pg_hba.conf

host all all [start ip range] [end ip range] trust
14) Assuming you have the AMI tools installed on your desktop, from the command line authorize the default port of 5432, by doing the following:

c:\amitools\ec2-authorize default –p 5432

Note: Now you can use the Postgres Admin UI Tools (pgAdmin III) from the machines that you granted remote access to. PgAdmin III allows you to administer Postgresql via a GUI. You can get this tool by installing Postgresql on your Windows desktop(s). I recommend this since it makes administration much easier.

15) Restart Postgresql, from command line (logged in as root):

service postgresql restart

16) Create a db if you like, from command line:

su – postgres

createdb db_name

17) Create a postgresql username with password for new db.

From command line: (-U postgres , means username postgres)

createuser –P –U postgres

18) Restart postgresql

19) Test your connection

login as root, then from command line:

psql –U db_username db_name

Cloud Computing: Mono Setup on Amazon EC2

Mono Setup on Amazon EC2 with optional config for MonoRail

Prerequisites: Familiar with create and launching instances using Amazon EC2, and familiar with editing config files in linux.

Links to documentation on Amazon EC2 and how to create and launch instances:

click on Technical documentation link.

For porting application to Mono see article:

1) Create Ami instance from pre-existing instance and launch instance.

Use ami-0abe5a63, see url:


2) Update Apache on this instance. This instance is a Fedora 8 image with Apache

Edit /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf

Add these entries to the end to use test app from mono:

MonoServerPath default /opt/mono-1.9.1/bin/mod-mono-server2

Alias / “/opt/mono-1.9.1/lib/xsp/test”

AddMonoApplications default “/:/opt/mono-1.9.1/lib/xsp/test”

<Location />

MonoSetServerAlias default

SetHandler mono

<Location />

Here is other entry example (notice using MonoApplications instead of AddMonoApplications)

(not sure why examples differ), but both syntax work:

Alias hellomonoweb “/opt/mono-1.9.1/lib/xsp/hellomonoweb”

MonoApplications “/hellomonoweb:/opt/mono-1.9.1/lib/xsp/hellomonoweb”

<Location />

SetHandler mono


Important to disable case sensitivity for files and file paths add this entry. This prevents issues like file not found due to differences between Linux and Windows handling of case sensitivity for files and file paths:

MonoSetEnv MONO_IOMAP=all

3) Optionally, if you are using MonoRail, a .Net implementation of Ruby on Rails ( see, add the following entry to /etc/httpd/conf.d/mod_mono.conf:

AddType applications/x-asp-net .rails