Tuesday, April 30, 2013

KdenLive error: Unsupported audio codec: libmp3lame

I wanted to do some video editing on Ubuntu with some of the awesome open source tools out there. I thought I would give the video editing software, "KdenLive" and see how it performs.

Video editing was really easy and I was impressed with some of the powerful video editing utilities that come with KdenLive but for some reason when I wanted to render the project as a MP4 I got the following error:
Unsupported audio codec: libmp3lame 
That was very perplexing because I was sure I had all the right packages to render my project. It seemed like there was a configuration error with KdenLive. So after much googling I came across the following two simple steps to resolve this issue:

1) Browse to: /home/USERNAME/.kde/share/config
2) Delete the file called : kdenliverc

That is it. Fire up KdenLive and you can render away.

EDIT: This fix also fixes the following error:  Video codec libx264 is not supported 

Saturday, April 27, 2013


Infowars is a far right wing crackpot conspiracy theory website  run by Alex Jones. They believe crazy stuff like Obama organized the Boston Bombings.... and Michelle Obama is hiding the real killer and that the Newtown Murders are a hoax. It is just sad right wing anti-government propaganda.

A hilarious hashtag sprung into existence on Twitter recently that I thought was funny and worth sharing This Rachel Maddow video explains Infowars and the people behind it very well.

An example of some of the funnier tweets

Check out the  #infowarspickuplines

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Lets Talk Gun Control: Australia vs Switzerland

So with all the major shootings and firearm attacks happening in America the gun control debate is at the forefront of many online and offline discussions. I thought it would be apt to share some of my findings and some of the opinions I have come across on the issue of gun control.

The first thing I need to make clear. Is that no one is calling for all firearms to be banned. You need to understand this clearly before we can proceed. The Gun Lobby (people who sell firearms), have spent a heck of a lot of cash into convincing low information voters that their right to own firearms is being taken away.

This is not true at all. This is FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) that the Gun Lobby are sowing to muddy the waters. Its actually important for you to understand FUD and MTW tactics, but to stay on topic in this article I will just link to the relevant information).

What liberals do want to see is progressive gun reform. Meaning that should someone want to purchase a gun... that there is a paper trail. That the person who purchased the firearm has proved they are mentally and technically qualified to own a firearm

So let me make it clear. All you hunters, armed security guards and responsible citizens have NOTHING to worry about. If you are not bat shit crazy, you will still be able to purchase a firearm once you have shown that you are responsible enough to be in possession of such a dangerous object.

Right now you can walk into Walmart (state specific) and buy an Assault Rifle over the counter. You can have a criminal record (say rape or attempted murder) and purchase firearms at a gun show or online with absolutely NO background checks! You cant buy a Kinders Toy at Walmart but you can buy an assault rifle there!

To the South Africans reading this. I want you to imagine how it would be in South Africa, if criminals were able to purchase firearms at Checkers (with no background checks). How would it be in South Africa if I could buy assault rifles online (with no paper work or background checks)? We have a tough time here in SA. Will selling weapons like that make it better or worse for us?

So now that I have clearly dealt with some of the misinformation that the Gun Lobby is spreading  we can now get onto the empirical evidence and the comparison between Australia and Switzerland that I wanted to show you. I will also be throwing in some information from the United States of America.

Switzerland is often toted by the Gun Lobby as an IdealOrg Gun country. A country where everyone owns a gun and gun related crimes are pretty low. The Gun Lobby do kinda have a point. In so far that yes, Switzerland is a country with a very high percentage of firearms and yes, gun deaths are not as high in Switzerland as they are in America.

However, that's only part of the story. Yeah there are less gun related homicides. There are also less homicides over all. Switzerland does not suffer badly from the instability of social inequality that countries like the USA have. It makes sense that they would have less crime and ergo less gun homicides than most countries.

However, here is the kicker. Even with everyone and the kitchen sink owning a firearm. Mass murders with firearms still happen. In 2001 a mass murderer took his firearm and shot up the Swiss parliament (one of the most secure and gun protected places in Switzerland). He ended up killing 14 people and injuring another 14.

 So even in a country, where everyone has a firearm , mass murders with firearms still happen.

Now I hope you can see where I am going with this. The Gun Lobby tells us that the solution to end gun violence is more guns. It didn't help those massacred in Switzerland.

 Let me bring America into this quickly to reinforce the point I am trying to make. In 2009 a mass murderer with a gun went on a killing rampage in Fort Hood, Texas. Let that sink in. A guy with a rifle attacked an entire base of people with rifles. 13 people were killed and 30 injured.

So what I can (and I hope you can) deduct from this is that more guns does NOT mean less violent mass murder gun shootings. An entire army base of guys with rifles did not stop the Texas psychopath from going full crazy and shooting up people.

Now lets get back to the Switzerland vs Australia debate. In Australia, they were faced with similar problems that America is now facing. There were regular mass murders with firearms. I believe that there were 13 mass killings in 18 years. A massive amount!

So what did Australia do? Did they go the American way and give everyone a gun? No. The conservative government brought in some very very strict gun regulations. These regulations are so effective that since John Howard (a conservative) introduced them, there has not been a single mass killing in the whole of Australia.

So far as mass killings are going. Australia is doing better than Switzerland. The empirical evidence has spoken.

I think the person who made this point the best was John Oliver from The Daily Show (the most trusted name in new.... no really!) says it best:

Please watch the following video.

So what the conclusion to all of this? Well, I have given you some interesting and relevant information to work with. I have shown you how different countries with different gun laws handle this issue. 

I guess it comes down to what do YOU think is more important. A safer society (with progressive gun regulations) or a society where gun profits are more important (with no gun regulations). 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

What is it like to have a Linux Gnome3 Desktop?

I often get asked what it is like to have a Linux desktop instead of a Microsoft desktop. This quick video shows you what it is like to navigate around my Gnome3 desktop running on Ubuntu (12.04) Linux.

As you can see by the video, running a Linux Gnome 3 desktop is awesome! Download your copy of Ubuntu with the Gnome 3 desktop (called Ubuntu Gnome Remix)  here:  https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuGNOME/ReleaseNotes/12.10

South African Artoo Website gets hacked

Well it looks like the incompetence in our ANC run government is not just limited to the ruling NEC. Recently the government implemented the new Artoo system. This is a computerized system that South Africans use to register their cars and to pay their traffic fines through.

It seems that despite all the money thrown at it, competent security specialists were not hired and the Artoo website has being hacked by a Bangladeshi hacker. By the looks of things the hacker is also a young child.

The incompetence and lack of skilled professionals securing the Artoo website, means that its very easily possible that your private data is now in the hands of criminal gangs.

Anyone who visited the Artoo website (http://www.aarto.gov.za/) on the 24th of April 2013 was greeted by the following defacement:

When you visit the Artoo website you greeted with the image above and the following cute South Korean song playing.

While this is not the most sophisticated hack we have ever seen, it made a couple of us around the office grin.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How to make a redstone trap in Minecraft

This is a quick guide to teach you how to make a redstone trap in Minecraft. This will only make sense to people who enjoy Minecraft.

This trap is great for taking out greifers who are looking to steal your stuff.

Safe online banking advice

I decided to write this for my family but thought I would share it out to a broader audience  Recently my sister called me on my mobile to ask why some people claiming to be from Microsoft had phoned her about problems she had on her laptop.

Shocked at the phone call she did the right thing and gave me a call where I informed her it was a scam and they were trying to infect her computer more. I also learnt at the time that my dad had used her laptop to purchase flight tickets to France and that my dad had gotten a phone call from the banking warning him of attempted illegal transactions.

Luckily in this case the bank (and my sister) were on the ball and no one lost money. My family literally dodged a bullet that has cost many others their entire savings.

One thing that stuck to me in all of this was my sister saying, "but why do they not warn out about this?". She is right, there is often very limited information. So this article will hopefully tell you what is happening and how to protect yourself.

The Scam

The scams are pretty simple. Hackers (through various means I will go into more detail later) get hold of your banking login details. They have criminal cartels throughout the world and South Africa is no exception.

Once they have identified their victim and have harvested enough information about that victim (cellphone details, address, telephone number, ID and banking credentials)... they will have on of their local operatives phone a local cell phone company and by using a little social engineering and pretending to be you, they will get you sim swap done on your cellphone without you knowing.

They will then login to your bank account. Intercept all your OTP`s (one time passwords normally sent via SMS) because of the sim swap and transfer all your money into a temporary account. This temporary account is normally another victim who has being conned into providing them an account to use. It is then transferred out the country and you can basically kiss that money good bye.

The banks will always blame you and tell you is your fault. Your money is gone and there is almost no legal recourse available to you.

How do they get your banking details?

There are several popular ways to do this. First I need to tell you about the mindset of these hackers. These hackers are poor, 3rd world, mostly of Eastern European decent. They live in such poverty that the average bank account of the average middle class South African is a gold mine. They will dedicate a large part of their time totally to you if they feel they can score a paycheck off you.

The two most common forms are getting the banking details are through phishing and java drive-by.

Phishing emails most of you are familiar. It is that email claiming to be from your bank that says something or other has happened and you need to login to confirm or update your details. Or they may look like they come from SARS or another respected institution. This is an example of one of the scammers emails:
A payment of R4,067.14 has been made into your account from SARS eFilingIn other to process and confirm this payment,Please click here
Note: This email was sent from a secure server,please SIGNON to email us as mails sent to this address cannot be answered.

What happens when you click on the link (link removed for safety reasons) is that it takes you to a fake bank or SARS website that looks like the real deal. People input their login details and that information is sent directly to criminal cartels.

The next most common form of attack is the Java drive-by. In most cases there is very little you can do to protect yourself from these attacks. While keeping the most up to date version of Java running on your PC, and having a really powerful antivirus can help to some regards. It is almost impossible to fully protect your system from these type of attacks.

Basically all the hacker needs to do is get you to visit a website. That is it. The second you visit the website a java payload is installed on your computer (you do not need to interact with the payload for it to install, just visiting the website is enough). Once the payload is installed the hacker has full control over your computer and what they normally do is install a keylogger to record all your usernames and passwords for everything.

The scary thing about these type of attacks is that even visiting trusted websites only is not good enough. Hackers often target trusted websites that have weak security to upload their Java attacks onto it. So you the unsuspecting victim comes along to a website that is normally safe and bam. You are infected.

As long as you run Microsoft Windows there is basically little you can do to stop these type of hacks. It is one of the reasons Google banned Microsoft Windows from its network.

My bank has One Time Passwords. I am safe!

No you are not. Criminal cartels around the world are working closely together. A hacker will simply apply for a sim swap and steal your number to be able to accept the One Time Passwords. There is no cellular network that is safe from this. Just recently a lady lost almost R160 000 to such a scam:

The scourge of SIM swap fraud in South Africa is continuing unabated, with an MTN subscriber complaining that scammers stole R159,000 out of four of her ABSA accounts.
Small business owner Susan De Klerk recently said that she purchased an iPhone 5, and the requirement for a nano SIM meant that a SIM swap was needed.
According to De Klerk, she visited an MTN outlet at the “Mall @ Reds” shopping centre for her SIM swap, and the process was completed without incident. However, her new SIM stopped working after around three weeks.
She discovered shortly afterwards that fraudsters had stolen R159,000 from four of her ABSA accounts, and transferred the money to an account at Capitec bank.

What can I do protect myself?

So far the best protected banks are Nedbank and Capitec. They use those little authentication electronic keys instead of One Time Passwords.  I assume the other banks are going to go down this road shortly as more and more of their clients have their life savings stolen from them.

If you can afford it. Rather buy a dedicated Linux computer to do your online banking on. Linux uses its own version of Java that is more secure and seldom targeted by hackers. Linux desktops offer the most resilient protection against Java attacks.

If you can not afford a dedicated Linux desktop or just could not be bothered. There are a few things you can do to reduce the chances of your Windows desktop being compromised.
  • Make sure your antivirus is ALWAYS up to date. 
  • Make sure your operating system is ALWAYS up to date.
  • Run a spyware remove (Malware-Bytes) regularly. 
  • Make sure Java is at its latest version
  • Make sure Flash it as its latest version
  • Try not visit dodgy websites
  • Never run cracked software on your computer (over 80% of it is infected with a payload)
  • Do NOT do your banking or even use Internet Explorer. Yes, it is that bad. Stay with Chrome or Firefox.
  • Do not trust the default Microsoft antivirus.

Please note that even if you follow all my advice your Windows desktop will almost never ever be fully secure. I would recommend that you migrate to a Linux desktop as soon as you are able to. I hope you find this article a little useful. Ignore it at your own risk.

Some recommended tools for Windows users:

  • Avast AntiVirus. My personal preference. I personally think it is the best of the free solutions and for those of you lucky enough to own an Android phone, Avast has a great free security solution. 
  • Malwayre-Bytes. As their tag line states. An antivirus by itself is not good enough. You should do deep scans for spyware at least once a month. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Blue is the new Black

I guess some people might be wondering why I have such a provocative title to this article. Just give me a chance and I will explain my reasoning to choosing it for my subject.

To get context on the title we have to go back to the Democratic Alliance`s early roots. Before the Democratic Alliance was called the Democratic Party.. the Democratic Alliance was known as the Progressive Party.

The Progressive Party was a liberal party started by Helen Suzman on the 11th of August 1959. It was one of the first (if not the first) political parties in South Africa calling for multiracial elections.  

The Progressive Party being a liberal party quickly found itself at loggerhead with the ruling conservative National Party. The PP opposed the dompass, the PP opposed detention without trial, the PP opposed forced removals... the PP opposed just about every single racist policy the Apartheid-loving National Party could think of.

Because the Progressive Party was a constant thorn in the side of the Apartheid government, the National Party did everything in their power to stifle and oppress the Progressive Party and its members.

It was a small joke in the Progressive Party to welcome members of the Secret Service Branch to their political gatherings as there were always Apartheid Secret Service members in the groups.

The National Party spent a lot of time and resources demonizing the Progressive Party and its supporters. For instance, it was no secret that the Progressive Party was slightly left of center (actually by today's measurements they would be considered classical liberals and very centrist).

However because the Progressive Party was supporting multiculturalism and multiracial elections, the National Party painted the Progressive Party as "Pink-footed commies". You must remember that at the time communism was a major threat to civilization and being labeled a communist back then was akin to social character assassination.

It was very hard being a member of the Progressive Party in the early days.  Not only were you called a communist by the ruling party but the National Party also polarized the white population against the Progressive Party. They labeled supporters of the party as, "race traitors".  The Apartheid government did everything in its power to demonize members of the the Progressive Party.

The National Party painted the Progressive Party as an anti-white, black/communist-supporting party that wanted to destroy the fabric of society with their alien multicultural plans.

It was hard to wear a Progressive Party shirt. You would walk down the street and because of the nature of Apartheid government you would have members of your own culture and racial group spitting at you and hating on you.

The brave men and women that stood by their liberal principles did not back down. And it is thanks to them that the Democratic Alliance is as strong as it is today.

This brings me to the the subject of my article, "Blue is the new Black". I work with a lot of Democratic Alliance Youth and I am currently working my way through various political party platforms with them. Most of the black youth I work with are smart, intelligent, determined people who believe in creating an Open Society for All.  They are awesome liberal people who just want to improve the lives of ordinary South Africans.

However, our black members find themselves in a similar situation to what liberal whites experienced during Apartheid.

The corrupt African National Congress is doing everything in its power to paint the Democratic Alliance as an Apartheid-supporting right-wing conservative party. The ANC is telling its voting base that if you vote or support the Democratic Alliance you are a "race traitor" and are working to bring back an Apartheid state.  Obviously nothing could be further from the truth.

The ANC are actively working against DA members all the time. There is not a conference or workshop that I attend that does not have one or another type of horror story.

In the Eastern Cape where I live, our Democratic Alliances (almost all of them) get constant death threats. The ANC are moving through rural communities trying to polarize the population against DA members. In more than a few cases we have had to organize bodyguards or members have had to move houses because ANC supporters are threatening to burn down their houses.

In my part of the world, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, the black Democratic Alliance members I work with are true heroes. They are out there with their blue shirts on, fighting for your rights against an ocean of animosity and they are making a difference.

They are out there, doing what is right instead of what is popular. From me, they get a standing ovation.

This was  a short article to acknowledge all the hard work being done out there by our DA Youth. Viva DA, VIVA!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Download Makulu Linux

Primary HTTP Mirror 1: DOWNLOAD

Backup HTTP mirror 2
: Download

There is a new kid on the Linux block and its looks like it could be a pretty good distribution for newer members to the Linux Ecosystem.  Above is the link to the HTTP for makululinux.iso.

Below is the description from their website:

MakuluLinux ( Pronounced "Ma-Cool-Loo" )
Makululinux incorporates multiple desktop environments into a single operating system running on 3.5.x Kernel, provides a Sleek, Smooth and Stable user experience that is able to run on virtually any computer from old to new, from netbooks to notebooks, desktops to server stations.
Offering a Variety of Desktop Environments ( Cinnamon, KDE, Mate, Unity ) allows a user to easily switch between desktops, allowing the user to have 4 desktop Environments at his finger tips, Tired of one desktop, simply switch to another...
Makulu provides software and codec's pre installed on the OS, to provide an out of the box experience for the end user and his day to day tasks.
Steam is pre installed on Makulu, you can simply log into steam and start playing your favorite game titles.
Wine is pre installed on Makulu, installing windows software has never been easier, simply double click your installer or exe files and they will operate in linux much the same way they do in windows. 
The browser of choice on Makulu is Opera, the fastest and most configurable browser on the planet, It is configured with Adblock to block adverts on any website as well as flash videos, Web Caching to allow a user to not just browse with speed but also conserve bandwidth at the same time, Flareget offers multi-threaded downloads and catches links from inside Opera.
Makululinux utilizes a stable 3.5.x Generic PAE enabled kernel. This means that Makululinux will detect ALL of the system memory and put it to use, there is no need to worry if you have more than 4GB system ram.
We hope you Enjoy our very First release of MakuluLinux and that it lives up to expectations, please feel free to give us feedback so we may only get better with each release. 

Headless Debian Bitcoin CPU mining

So I have decided to give this bitcoin mining an attempt. I am a server admin and I have access to many servers (that I am paying for) that often have CPU`s just sitting around doing nothing. So I decided to take that spare CPU time and turn it into bitcoins.

I should point out that CPU mining is pretty pathetic when compared to GPU mining, but sometimes when spare CPU`s are all you have... you may as well use them.

Most of the servers I have are either Ubuntu or Debian so you should be able to use this guide for either of those two operating systems.

The idea of this post is to setup a headless bitcoin cpu miner on bored, underutilized servers.

First things first, lets install all the requirements (Ubuntu users, do not forget the sudo command):
apt-get install libcurl4-openssl-dev automake git
 Once that is installed go to your favorite place to do your installs from. In my case its /root and type the following to download cpuminer using Git:
git clone https://github.com/jgarzik/cpuminer
Once CPUminer is downloaded you can cd (move) into the directory it creates
cd /root/cpuminer
Once in the directory you type the following command:
And the you can configure and compile cpuminer with the following commands:

make install
Now you are pretty much done. All you need to is run it with the right credentials. To get your credentials go sign up at a pooled mining site like this one:
You will be given a worker username and password during the sign up process (this is different from your site login information you supply when you register).

To run CPUminer with your credentials, the command will look something like this:

minerd --url http://api.bitcoin.cz:8332 --userpass coolname.worker1:pass34534

I have highlighted in a different color the username and password you need to change. You will need to change these to the details given to you by Bitcoin.cz

If everything went successfully you should see something like this:

[2013-04-09 10:07:43] Binding thread 0 to cpu 0
[2013-04-09 10:07:43] Long-polling activated for http://api.bitcoin.cz:8403
[2013-04-09 10:07:44] Binding thread 1 to cpu 1
[2013-04-09 10:07:45] Binding thread 2 to cpu 2
[2013-04-09 10:07:46] Binding thread 3 to cpu 3
[2013-04-09 10:07:47] 4 miner threads started, using SHA256 'c' algorithm.
[2013-04-09 10:08:01] thread 0: 16777215 hashes, 942.40 khash/sec
[2013-04-09 10:08:02] thread 1: 16777215 hashes, 942.32 khash/sec
[2013-04-09 10:08:03] thread 2: 16777215 hashes, 942.88 khash/sec
[2013-04-09 10:08:04] thread 3: 16777215 hashes, 942.05 khash/sec

That is that. Everything should be running fine. You should run this in the screen command so you can detach and reattach at will.

If you found this useful, please click on one of the sponsor or advertising links on this page!