Web Software Architecture and Engineering – Life on the Bleeding Edge

Archive for the ‘Adobe’ Category

Adobe Flash 12 Download Debacle


Adobe is shooting itself in the foot. Because of Flash’s history, with security concerns and performance issues, downloading the latest and greatest Flash player should be as simple as humanly possible. But that is not the case.

To download Flash Player 12, I had to go through the Adobe’s website. Updating from with Flash Player 11 didn’t seem to be an option.

That isn’t too bad a problem, except for 2 days I tried to download from Adobe’s website, and wasn’t able to.

All I saw was this:


Every time I clicked on “Install Now”, it linked me back to adobe.com.

Until I realized that my Ghostery add-on for Firefox was blocking Omniture. I paused Ghostery, reloaded the page, and saw this:


So McAfee, while it is “optional”, is really required in the sense that it must show. The same cookie is required for the “Install Now” download option to work, otherwise it links back to Adobe.com.

So basically this tells me that to download Flash Player, I have to allow advertising and cookie tracking, and if you running any secure blocking of those cookies, you can’t upgrade your Flash Player, it doesn’t even fail properly to the correct download link.

I also tried the “Are you an IT manager or OEM?” link hoping it would provide an executable I could download, but that required a separate registration process.

Dear Adobe – stop penalizing people who are trying to make their browsing experience as safe and secure as possible. Your desire to track things with Omniture shouldn’t trump basic common sense.

ColdFusion 10 – Security Change – Be Aware!

I know what you are thinking. Not another ColdFusion 10 security post!

This one is serious. You need to be aware as it will, most likely, impact your application.

The issue is simple, and logically CF 10′s fix makes sense, except that is breaks backward compatibility and make some things harder on us.

Let’s work through the use case.

In an ideal world, your application would allow UserA with UsernameA to login to your application. If UserB used the same UsernameA, it should either give an error saying that UsernameA is in use, or kick UserA off and allow UserB in. This second scenario, kicking the user off, is what is the default in CF10.

Normally, you would think this is a good thing. Users shouldn’t share usernames anyways, right? Well, kinda.

Adobe’s assumption that this is the ONLY use case is incorrect. There are valid scenarios where users share usernames. But beyond that, let’s say you do a lot of server-side functional testing using Selenium or JMeter, and you have a single login for the script to use, as soon as user2 logs in, user1 is kicked out. This is what happened to us – all our server side tests started failing in CF10.

And lastly, what if you are developer, and need to login on two different browsers, say IE and FF, to compare how the screen looks and are doing your standard browser compatibility testing, suddenly you can’t – because one will log out the other.

The impact of this change is great in the way we do business as developers. You now have to support multiple logins, and in the case of JMeter test where the script ramps up to 20 concurrent users, provide twenty different logins. And then imaging deleting all that test data. The list of additional work goes on.

Some ideas that have been floated and I support, is to make this functionality optional. I would love to set this up to make it optional for my test accounts. The way I see that is a conditional setting in onSessionStart. Obviously there are other ways to skin this cat.

The downside to this is that it halts all sorts of testing for our app and our migration to CF10 is seriously tainted.

You can do a couple things. Vote here: https://bugbase.adobe.com/index.cfm?event=bug&id=3339008. And contact Shilpi Khariwal https://twitter.com/shilpikm – ColdFusion Security Czar.

ColdFusion 10 – Known Security Bug

Well, this didn’t take long!

I installed CF10 locally, and forgot the password over the weekend. So I did what every other developer does: play with ‘neo-security.xml’ and set ‘admin.security.enabled’ to false. Once I restarted the ColdFusion service, I was able to get into my CF Admin just fine.

But, here is where it gets interesting. Under Security->Administrator, the “No authentication needed (not recommended)” option was selected. Naturally, I changed that to “Use a single password only (default)”. Below that under “Root Administrator Password”, I entered the new passwords and hit ‘Submit Changes’ and CF Admin rejected me saying: “Password could not be changed as the old password is incorrect.”

Below where I set the new password is an input box for “Old Password”. Well – I don’t know the old password! So this means, the old password field is required, regardless of whether you forgot it or not.

So I’m stuck. To close the big security hole of people being able to log into my CF Admin, I set the option to “Use a single password only (default)” without setting a new password, and suddenly my CF Admin requires a password. Hackers can’t get in, but neither can I.

Basically, I’m stuck until Adobe fixes this. After some searching I found a bug logged in May for this. PLEASE VOTE: https://bugbase.adobe.com/index.cfm?event=bug&id=3187494.

All I can do now is set the xml to false, restart CF, make my changes, and set the option to require a password. Not fun.

Does anyone have a workaround? Make sure to vote!

ColdFusion 10 – Windows IIS & WSConfig Woes

Usually, when I add a new website under IIS, I create a new instance in CF9, and use WSConfig to map the instance to the website. Its a straight-forward process.

CF9 wsconfig

CF9 wsconfig

With CF10, I can’t seem to find any documentation on how to do that. Running WSConfig no longer has an option with a drop-down of instances, so I was left scratching my head.

CF10 wsconfig

CF10 wsconfig

Adobe’s notes @ http://help.adobe.com/en_US/ColdFusion/10.0/Installing/WSc3ff6d0ea77859461172e0811cdec18a15-7ffb.html have no mention of instances.

After much digging, I figured out that you cannot use the Web Server Configuration Tool in the Windows menu, rather you have to go to \*cf dir*\*instance dir*\runtime\bin, and run wsconfig.exe and select the right website from the drop down.

Essentially, every time you create a new instance, you have a new wsconfig.exe that you will use to connect that instance to a website. The one in the Windows menu is only for the cfusion instance, which makes it useless if you are used to a more advanced setup, nor is this documented very well.

Why in the world, when you had the flexibility before, was that taken away and not documented well? Adobe!!!

Lessons Learned: Moving from Verity to Solr (Part 8)

I’m a bit behind, but it seems a couple weeks ago Ray Camden finally approved my two CFLib entries for working with Solr.

As I mentioned in my previous posts, this is critical if you are moving from Verity to Solr, or you happen to come up against many of Solr little quirks.

I’m going to take a moment, and go through the UDFs here for your benefit.

First, grab them here: http://cflib.org/udf/solrClean, and http://cflib.org/udf/uCaseWordsForSolr.

Second, you’ll note that SolrClean sounds like the venerable VerityClean UDF. Its basically meant to do something similar: take your input and sanitize it for Solr. Also, SolrClean relies on uCaseWordsForSolr.

SolrClean essentially takes your text and does the following:

  • replaces any commas with OR – so happy,sad => happy OR sad.
  • strips any double spaces
  • strips bad characters
  • cleans up sequences of space characters
  • upper cases reserved words

The last one is especially critical since Solr can treat reserved words differently based on the case used. So we change and to AND, or to OR, and that is what the uCaseWordsForSolr is all about.

As a caveat – I am seeing some issues with the code, and it may or may not have to do with the UDFs. If there are any updates, I’ll let you know. My plans is to put everything up on GitHub anyways. I am also planning to work with a vendor who will take our Solr install to a whole new level implementing, among others: synonyms, field weighting, master/slave setup with replication, upgrading to the latest Solr version, “More Like This” functionality, caching/performance tweaks, paging search!, and so much more – so stay tuned.

Lessons Learned: Moving from Verity to Solr (Part 7)

In our Verity days, we used a UDF called VerityClean (still available at CFLib), that did a lot of grunt work of cleaning keywords for Verity. In fact, if you read the description of the UDF, it says: “strips all invalid characters and word combinations from a search strign
to prevent verity from crashing.” Awesome, right?
Well, in moving to Solr, there was no equivalent. Solr can be very picky, it rocks when you have a UDF that:

  • Replaces comma with OR
  • Strips double spaces
  • Strips bad characters
  • Cleans up sequences of space characters
  • Uppercases Solr terms like AND, OR, etc.

I just submitted SolrClean and a sister UDF uCaseWordsForSolr to CFLib. Enjoy!

UPDATE: The submissions to CFLib were never approved or simply disappeared. I’ll bring it to GitHub.

UPDATE 2: The submissions are now available on CFLib. I am preparing a separate post on them.


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