Reverse IP lookup

Reverse IP lookup

Reverse IP LookupI love finding new and creative websites, especially stuff that isn’t quite finished or hasn’t been released yet. One way I’ve found to do this is to do a reverse IP lookup. When I find a website I like, I punch it into a reverse IP lookup tool, and the tool tells me what else is hosted on the same server. It isn’t perfect: it doesn’t always return every domain hosted at a server and won’t work if the domain is using a CDN. Okay, so now that I’ve explained what it does, maybe an example would help show its usefulness.

For the example, I’ll use yougetsignal.com, the domain that hosts the reverse IP lookup tool that I use the most. Here are the results:

69.163.149.200. www.audi.edmunds.com
alpinemanager.com www.elmsapartments.com
assetproperty.net www.graphicalnetworkmonitor.com
atlasds.com www.increasemyvocabulary.com
bodyanalytics.com www.irvineteaparty.com
irvineteaparty.com www.jformer.com
jformer.com www.kirkouimet.com
kirkouimet.com www.mycontactmap.com
mlephoto.net www.notesfromclass.com
mycontactmap.com www.ots-ent.com
notesfromclass.com www.pagemass.com
ots-ent.com www.pageresponse.com
pagemass.com www.phramewrk.com
pageresponse.com www.project.fm
ps12861 www.qrcodecity.com
ps12861.dreamhost.com www.rentscore.com
qrcodecity.com www.sethjdesign.com
rentscore.com www.settingprice.com
sethjdesign.com www.sitedigester.com
settingprice.com www.sportsinmyarea.com
sportsinmyarea.com www.stackoverfloe.com
trainntrack.com www.trainntrack.com
www.adhoc-labs.com www.wallspotting.com
www.assetproperty.net www.yougetsignal.com
www.atlasds.com yougetsignal.com

Wow, that is a lot of results! This guy has been busy! Some of these are obvious junk, like ps12861, but some look very interesting, like Increase My Vocabulary (a modern take on a dictionary site) and RentScore (a seemingly incomplete apartment search site). Even more interesting are some of the ones that don’t have anything up yet, like pagemass.com and bodyanalytics.com. I wonder what the developer had/has in mind for these?

From a developer’s perspective, this tool is a bit scary. Setting your domains up on your server while you are working on them makes it possible for competitors to get a jump start on you. They’ll know what you are working on before you are finished.

Anyways, just another neat tool you can use to come up with good ideas and to find new stuff.

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Getting life insurance

Getting life insurance

Now that we have a kid and Becca is out of school, my wife and I decided it’d be wise for me to get a life insurance policy. Our goal is to provide enough money for Becca and Anna to maintain their lifestyle if I die prematurely. For us, we decided that meant Becca would need enough money (combined with our current savings): to bury me, to buy a house (or to pay off an existing mortgage to reduce monthly expenses), and to have enough to live off of while she completes any additional education required to get a job (probably teaching).

My initial research made it pretty clear that a term life policy would best meet our needs. This type of policy gives you a guaranteed rate for a set number of years as long as the premiums are paid. For example, I could get a 20 year policy at $335/year. At any time I could just stop paying and lose my coverage. Or if I keep paying and get cancer in 10 years, there isn’t anything they can do to raise my annual premium, reduce my payout, or cancel my policy. If I pay $335/year for 20 years and never die, then my policy ends and the insurance company gets to keep the $6,700 that they’ve collected over the years.

We decided 20 years was plenty of time for us. By then our kids should be well on their way out of our house. We will hopefully have a completely paid for home. Becca will understand more about our business (and hopefully have some projects of her own) so she won’t be as pressed to get a job.

The next step was to look for quotes. Term4Sale is a great site that lets you punch in your birthday, age, general health, and other details to get a pretty accurate quote. They can also hook you up with an insurance agent once you are ready to apply. I had just had a physical, so I was able to punch in my actual data (such as blood pressure) to determine that I’d likely qualify for a “Preferred Plus” rate (i.e., the best rate offered). I filled in my contact info, clicked submit, and waited to hear back from an agent.

The next day I got a call from an agent. He went over my options, I told him what I wanted, and within a few hours I had an application in my inbox. It was pretty straightforward: contact info, beneficiary info, standard health questions, payment method, etc etc. The agent scheduled to have a guy come to my house to draw blood, take a urine sample, and weigh me. This only took a few minutes and they were kind enough to send me the results of the tests for my records.

The next step was the worst: wait. And wait. And wait. Just when I thought they forgot about me, over a month later, I got a call saying I was approved but had to wait a few more days because the insurance company messed up my last name on the policy. I went on vacation before the paperwork came for me to sign, so I had to wait even longer. But finally, a few months after I started the whole process, I signed the paperwork, they cashed my check, and my policy was in force. Yay! I’m insured!

What I learned from the whole process is that it isn’t an overnight sort of thing. It takes time to get a policy of this type put into place (over 2 months in this case). I also learned that it is surprisingly affordable. For less than a dollar a day I’m able to give my wife (and myself) the peace of mind that comes with knowing that my family will be financially secure even if I die prematurely. That means a lot to me, especially now that I’m a dad.

Photo courtesy of Alan Cleaver under the CC BY 2.0 license.

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Belt tensioner for my Toyota Yaris

Belt tensioner for my Toyota Yaris

I have a 2007 Toyota Yaris sedan. I love it. The thing is ridiculously reliable, nearly maintenance free, and gets great mileage. The one thing that drives me crazy is the serpentine belt. The dumb thing is next to impossible to set to the proper tension because Toyota decided not to include any sort of belt tensioning hardware. Instead, they expect you to take a crowbar to your alternator, stretch the belt to the proper tension, then somehow hold that position while tightening two bolts. Yeah. Right. I can totally do that all by myself.

I did some searching and found a post at Yaris World that gives instructions for modifying a Scion xD tensioner to work in a Yaris. I also found a post that uses angle iron, but I decided to go with the purpose-built OEM parts. The basic idea is to buy a few Toyota parts (16385-37010, 90105-08433, and 16381-37010 from a Toyota dealer or online from somewhere like Toyota Parts Zone) and then saw off a few bits of 16381-37010 so it will fit in a Yaris. The OEM part has a bolt on the wrong side (saw it off) and a lip that gets in the way (saw it off, too). This took me a few hours because I didn’t have the appropriate tools. Probably could have been done in just a few minutes if I had an angle grinder. Once the part is modified, it is easy to replace the Yaris bracket with the new one, tighten it up, and BAM! Belt tensioner for the Yaris. No more squealing belt. No more trying in vain to get the belt tight enough using whatever lever I can find. Just quick and easy belt tensioning.

See below for the before and after shots in my Yaris:

Original hardware

Original hardware

New hardware

New hardware

If you notice, the original nut and both original bolts are being used. The only original part that I removed was the sliding bracket. This means that, once I use the long bolt to get the belt to the appropriate tension, I can retighten all the original bolts and nut so they hold everything in place instead of the long bolt and little tensioner bracket. In other words, the new parts are as safe and reliable as, if not more safe and reliable than, the original parts.

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WordPress post slugs plugin

WordPress post slugs plugin

CW Post SlugsMy wife and I use WordPress for our blogs. We also both have a habit of changing our post titles a few times before settling on what we actually want, which causes WordPress to set the post slug to our original post title instead of the latest post title. To fix this, I wrote a small plugin that automatically updates your slug to match your latest title whenever you publish a post or update a post. Maybe there is already something out there that does this, but I couldn’t find something.

Download it here or by searching for “CW Post Slugs” from your WordPress dashboard.

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Backups

Backups

Hard driveI received some paperwork from my stockbroker so I decided to take a moment to update my taxes-in-progress for the 2012 tax year. I keep all my 1099’s, TurboTax files, notes, donation records, and that sort of thing in a folder on my external USB drive. I sat down at my desk, opened up the drive, and… my tax folder for 2012 was empty. I checked the 2013 folder (which had several important documents that I’ll need next year) and it was empty, too. My heart sank. It would take hours and hours to replace that lost data. I wasn’t even sure if all of it could be replaced. But then I remembered: I have backups!

I opened up CrashPlan, picked my empty folders out of the list, and clicked “Restore”. About 10 seconds later I had my data back. Yay! I wanted to be sure I didn’t lose anything else, so I did a scan of my external drive and found that things were not so good. The drive was badly damaged and I had lost almost 15 GB of data. Thanks to CrashPlan and a local backup, I had all that missing data back in just a few hours. I am so thankful that I had backups.

So why use something like CrashPlan instead of something like Dropbox? Here are my reasons:

  1. Dropbox is too small. I have a lot of data, and I add more almost every day. I’d have to spend $499/year to get enough space on Dropbox. I paid $149 for a 4 year subscription to CrashPlan that gives me unlimited online backup space.
  2. Dropbox isn’t secure enough. With CrashPlan, all my data is encrypted using a custom 448-bit key. With Dropbox, you have no idea who has access to your data.
  3. Dropbox is too slow. It can take hours for a few gigs to upload to Dropbox then download to my other computers. With CrashPlan, it does an almost immediate backup to my local computer (fast), and then to the internet (slow). If something bad happens, I have to wait for all my files to download from Dropbox (days, if not weeks). With CrashPlan, I can pay to have them send my data to me on a hard drive.
  4. Dropbox isn’t meant for backups. I think the most important reason is the simple fact that Dropbox wasn’t meant to be used for backups. I see lots of people using Dropbox for backups, but that just isn’t its purpose. It works great for accessing documents and music while on the go, but it sucks for backing up hundreds of gigs of data.

One or more of the above reasons applies to all the mainstream online storage solutions. Nothing beats backup software at doing backups. I like CrashPlan, but anything is better than nothing so take a few minutes and make sure you are backing up the files you care about most.

Photo courtesy of pmsyyz under the CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

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