Monthly Archives: June 2009

Bayside House For Sale

My father-in-law is experimenting with selling his home privately. I’m not sure how it will go, but it will be interesting to see how the internet helps make it all happen. He’s started with an early launch of the website, before sending it out to some of the relevant Real Estate sites soon.

If you are interested in having a look at the site he put together, or if you are interested in buying a house in the coastal suburb of Wynnum, in Brisbane, Australia, take a look at Bayside House For Sale.

Phishing Spam Fail

 

I always find the latest incarnations of phishing spam entertaining.  I almost clicked on one of the fake facebook links a while ago, but really wasn't at all tempted to click on the links in the one that came in today..

outlook_update

Yes, I am looking at that message in Mail.app, and viewing the source did show that the link didn't go to where it said it would go.

Making the Home and End Keys work in Eclipse 3.4 on Apple Mac OSX

Hidden in the comments of the article of Starry Hope – Mac Home and End Keys are some instructions for how to make the home and end keys work well as begin and end line in eclipse.  I've done all the other tricks to make this work on my Mac, so was getting really frustrated with Eclipse.  double home and double end are common key combinations for me in IntelliJ and Eclipse on Windows, so the current behaviour of going to the beginning or end of the file drives me crazy.  The details of doing this differ slightly in Eclipse 3.4.1, so I'll list the steps I followed below.

  1. open the eclipse preferences pane
  2. general->keys
  3. in the filter type line start and note that there will be existing bindings when editing text.
  4. select line start type home, and ensure that the "when" field stays with Editing Text
  5. apply
  6. follow this process for select line start, line end, and select line end.

After doing this, expect your anger at eclipse on Mac to decrease to much more manageable levels.

 

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion – Book Review

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion is a good little book. It provides a readable interesting introduction to the lifework of Robert Cialdini PhD. Robert's research is an interesting mix of Psychology and Marketing, and while I know that it isn't normal for an Engineer to read something like this, but I like to be atypical (I also am an Aussie who doesn't drink ;)). 

Robert presents the findings of his research, and what he has discovered about persuasion, distilled into the form of six principles . What makes this particularly interesting is the active way he did the research.  He studied the results of experiments, performed his own studies, and worked hard to understand the results (which he presented well).  Also Robert tells of his excitement in trying to analyse situations in which someone persuaded him to do something, and his adventures in trying to understand some of the persuasive people out there.  The wide range of examples in the book includes:

  • Boy scouts selling chocolates
  • How the Krishna work
  • Used car salespeople
  • Celebrity endorsements
  • Limited time specials
  • Some very interesting scientific studies

If nothing else reading through each of the examples of the persuasion and the discussion of what happened was brilliant.  My perspective of free gifts has completely changed. I'd argue that there is much more value in the book.  Getting an idea of why people say yes, and some of the principles behind this is very valuable. The principles are:

  • Reciprocation
  • Commitment and Consistency
  • Social Proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

The following provide a very brief note of each area. They are not complete, instead opening up some of the things that most impressed me, and that are worth noting.  Read the book if you want to get the real sense of what's being talked about.  (Failing reading the book you can visit the website).

Reciprocation

After someone does something nice we are likely to reciprocate and do something nice for them. What we do in return may be much greater in value.  Also if we say no to what feels like a big request, we are likely to reciprocate by saying yes to a smaller request.

In sales. Try and start big. Then be nice and sell smaller.

Commitment and Consistency

Once we have made a commitment to something we are likely to act in a way that is consistent with that action.

If we say that we start doing something small we are likely to continue.  This provides an interesting trade-off between this principle and reciprocation.  The way I would reconcile things is the start with a big request, then graciously let someone turn it down and go with a small request in the initial meeting.  The later use the principle of consistency to continue with additional requests.

Social proof

We will often look to others when deciding how to act in a situation. This mostly works well, but can be the cause of problems in situations like if someone has had an accident in a crowd.  People in the crowd will look to how others respond, which can lead to inactivity.

Liking

We will often behave differently if we like someone, or if they like us.  The best example of using this principle comes from Tupperware.  Women will often buy Tupperware when at a party to help their friends, even when they only went to the party because of the friendship.  Blokes aren't immune to this either.

Authority

We treat authority figures differently.  Even young college students (who we expect to have a healthy disrespect for authority) treat authority figures differently.  What is particulary interesting is that experimental results show that we have a poor self perception of how much we do value authority.

Scarcity

A cookie tastes better if there aren't many, and even better again if the limited supply is caused by lots of other people wanting it.  Tech manufactures use this principles.  There is an art form to ensuring that you run out of stock on release day.

Being aware of these principles is a valuable skill to have. We all are in situations where we need to communicate important information.  Being able to persuade people is important. We are all in situations where others are trying to persuade us.  Robert does a good job in helping us think through strategies of how to avoid being manipulated. 

Go Read the book and learn about persuasion, and use your powers for good.

 

Port forwarding with iptables and debain

 

Subtitle: 

Avoid Remembering that VMWare Server Listens on Port 8333 

Alternate subtitle:

Make Tomcat Listen on Port 80

It's increasingly common for applications to have web front ends.  These all tend to run on their own port, which is nice in that it stops services from running into each other (and means that they can run as non-root), but is somewhat painful in that there are always a whole heap of different ports to remember.  Exposing a service over port 80 makes it much easier to use (especially on ie which is dumb, and doesn't know to make requests to non standard ports default to port 80, generating much rsi, and many hours logged into the IE Waste Recorder).  Making services listen on port 80 on Debian is pretty straight forward.  Follow the process below (which I pinched from someone somewhere in the blogosphere a while ago, put on a server as a part of some work with SSH Tunnelling, and only remembered recently when we were getting some VMWare servers setup). So here is the script. In your /etc/network/if-up.d add a script with the following:

#!/bin/sh

PATH=/sbin:/bin:/usr/sbin:/usr/bin

# Flush any existing firewall rules we might have
iptables -F
iptables -t nat -F
iptables -t mangle -F
iptables -X

# Perform the rewriting magic.
iptables -t nat -A PREROUTING -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to 8222
iptables -t nat -A OUTPUT -o lo -p tcp --dport 80 -j REDIRECT --to-port 8222

This forwards requests from port 80 to port 8222, and will work for local and remote requests.  I keep this in a script called /etc/network/if-up.d/firewall, because iptables is firewallish, and I believe this is the standard place for this to live.  Remember to chmod +x the script. 8222 is the http port for vmware, and will redirect to 8333 using https. By putting the script in the /etc/network/if-up.d it will automatically be run when the networking layer of your debian installation is brought up.

As per the NewInstance post, this will work for Tomcat as well (Luigi put the iptables rules in a different spot, but that was in 2005, and /etc/network/if-up.d is the right place for this).

So with the above iptables rules, it will be easy to make any service available on port 80.