Re-use, re-cycle, re-purpose and … hack it?

Your College Gets a Supercomputer! And Yours, and Yours!
Chronicle of Higher Education (08/10/09) Young, Jeffrey R.

There may soon be a supercomputer for every college thanks to the declining assembly costs and growing power of these systems. Monmouth College, for instance, built a homemade supercomputer out of dozens of old high-end computers purchased on eBay for about $200 per unit.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government has constructed a series of shared supercomputers that any college can access online. Supercomputers are critical tools for the modeling of complex phenomena, and also are instrumental in many projects that display high-resolution images of data.

A 2006 report from the National Science Foundation (NSF) contends that increasing supercomputer access is vital to the maintenance of U.S. research’s competitiveness, and says that “problems of national need” will not be addressed unless more schools and more professors can use supercomputers to tackle their biggest challenges.

Last year several colleges initiated a program to spread awareness about supercomputing by designating a professor at each participating campus as a proselytizer and tech-support contact for the NSF-supported TeraGrid supercomputer network.

Monmouth professor Christopher G. Fasano, who put together the institution’s supercomputer, is concerned that “a new kind of digital divide” could manifest itself if small colleges do not make appropriate supercomputing investments, and thus fail to draw the best students and researchers. He says that exposure to supercomputing is becoming an essential need for students, especially if they are to go to graduate school in technical disciplines.

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In other news, one of my work websites got hacked tonight [at 10:14, to be precise.  TMI, I know].  Didn’t matter, because I’d completely hosed it the night before which also didn’t matter, because it’s one of the WP blogs that someone begged me to set up and then never used at all.  Grrr. That’s way more annoying than the hack job, just for the record.

It sat for a year, with me updating it periodically with the WP updates but nothing else ever happening to it, and then I updated to 2.8.3 on the 11th which was IMMEDIATELY prior to WP coming out with the news of the bad wp-login file.  Sheesh.  Anyway, I tried something different when I updated it and ended up hosing it all but did NOT get the wp-login file up to the safe version, just had a generic 2.8.3 install there …  and lo and behold I started getting password change emails to the admin account tonight.  Bastards.  The 22 blogs that we DO use were all updated* again* today so they were fine.

Man, those hackers/spammers/scriptkiddies were right on top of this.   I haven’t really read about it (perhaps I should?) but I imagine the idea is to take over the blog and use it for spamming purposes.  The blog’s on a hardened Linux box so they won’t be able to do anything else but it I guess it was instructive.

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Later, that same week:  I am full of shit, as usual.  Wasn’t any hack, just an annoying hacker attempt to change a password with that vulnerability in the wp-login file.  No breach.  I cleaned all the bad install up, anyway, and took the thing down.  If the user wants a new one she will have to buy me something pretty or drinkable.    Ciroc would be just right.

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