Thunderbird/Outlook/Google Calendar Integration

Finally I can have events from my Outlook calendar in work sync with my Thunderbird calendar (enabled using the Lightning plugin) automatically. It’s wonderful… or at least it nearly is.

How It Works

I read some time back of a plugin that allows you to sync your Thunderbird/Lightning calendar (or Sunbird if you prefer to use Mozilla’s calendar in a standalone application) with your Google calendar, which I’m sure is useful for some people, but not me. I’ve never used a Google calendar really. However that memory proved useful when I heard that a Google have released a utility to allow you to sync your Google calendar with your Outlook calendar. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this…

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Ubuntu Boot Error: “differences between boot sector and its backup”

I have my Acer Aspire laptop dual booting Ubuntu Linux with Windows XP but, despite being sympathetic to Linux and interested in learning more about it, I don’t use Ubuntu very often.  One major reason for this was the amount of time it takes to boot up.  Over time I noticed an error message and looking at it began to suspect that this error was partially responsible for the long load times.

There are differences between boot sector and its backup
… [sequences of numbers]…
Not automatically fixing this

According to this forum thread, it seems like this error may have been let loose when I changed the grub configuration to make the OS names a bit more user-friendly and have the system stop booting into Ubuntu by default (the girlfriend isn’t converted yet and even I preferred Windows for regular use). This seems to affect the MBR, which doesn’t overwrite the backup and therefore causes the above problem.

SimonU at UbuntuForums had the same problem on his Ubuntu laptop and posted a solution which I decided to borrow.

sudo cp /etc/init.d/ /etc/init.d/
sudo rm /etc/init.d/

I had already hit the button to restart my PC when I thought to myself “I really should have looked at what it was doing  and made sure it was doing it to the right hard drive for my system” and started worrying that I may have just made my machine unbootable. Luckily all was ok and my laptop now boots into Ubuntu in a fraction of the time it had taken before. If I could only figure out how to stop Ubuntu overheating the laptop so much and causing the fan to run at full pelt, I’d maybe use it on a regular basis.

If that doesn’t work for you another thread talks about skipping the file system check (fsck) on FAT32 drives as an alternative solution.

Solved: b2Evolution – Sidebar 2 [NOT INCLUDED IN SELECTED SKIN!]

I’ve just upgraded another blog from b2Evolution 1.10 to 2.4, which means reworking the skin I developed to work with the new “Skins 2.0” framework. It also means that instead of hacking html into my _main.php file, I’m going to use the customisable ‘widgets’ to create my sidebars. This is in the Blog Settings -> Widgets panel.

It seems to work pretty well. I copied a default skin (the asevo one) to a directory called proto, installed the copied skin and began changing it. I decided I wanted to keep the 3-column layout from my old 1.10 skin and luckily there is already a default container called Sidebar and another called Sidebar 2. The problem was my skin didn’t use Sidebar 2.

It was easily fixed, I created a new <div> and used the same skin_container function which the skin used to call the Sidebar widget. I just replaced skin_container( NT_(‘Sidebar’) with skin_container( NT_(‘Sidebar 2’) and it fitted in. Despite the fact the skin now used Sidebar 2, the admin interface kept telling me it didn’t. The container in the admin site said Sidebar 2 [NOT INCLUDED IN SELECTED SKIN!] and every time I tried to add a new widget I got a message saying “WARNING: you are adding to a container that does not seem to be part of the current skin” (I Googled the former error message and, to my shock, got zero results. Hopefully this post will fix that).


It still worked ok, but I don’t like things that are out of place. To solve this, it turns out all you have to do is go to Global Settings -> Skins install panel and there’s an icon beside each skin to “Reload containers”. Do that and it’ll pick up your call to Sidebar 2 and rid you of that irksome error message.

Solved: Comments Disappeared / Error after WordPress Upgrade

I’ve just upgraded a WordPress blog to the latest version 2.3.2 and when I went to write a new post I realised all my categories had disappeared. They were still in the database but the list to the right of where you type your posts was empty. As well as this, I noticed that adding new comments was giving a 404 error in the middle of the page. This second issue was reminiscent of another one I had (and solved) upgrading to 2.2 – the errors were actually 403 errors, but redirecting to 404 error pages because there was no 403 error page defined (i.e. the 404 was happening when the server looked for the 403 page).

I noticed a file called error_log (no extension) in the wp-admin directory and had a look. Apparently some database tables (‘wp_term_taxonomy’ and ‘.wp_terms’) were missing. After reading this support thread I investigated the possibility that my database was out of date. I followed MichaelH’s suggestion of navigating to /wp-admin/upgrade.php, which informed me that my database was up to date. I didn’t believe this to be true though; certainly not after learning that tables were missing. At a hunch, I guessed that when I’d been upgrading through Fantastico, I must have run out of space (a semi-regular occurrence) so the database upgrade was probably left half finished. Assuming that WordPress would determine whether or not I needed to upgrade based on a single configuration or database field I soon found the wp_option.db_version field, which was set 6124.

The Solution

As I suspected, 6124 is the db_version value for WordPress 2.3. I changed this field’s value back from 6124 to 5183 (the db_version value in WordPress 2.2) and hit the upgrade.php page again. This time it told me to upgrade, I did, and the categories are back.  Adding new categories still caused 403 and 404 errors, but that was because I’d deleted the .htaccess file created previously when trying to fix the first problem! Recreate that and we’re cooking with gas again.

Urgent Warning for Shareaza Users – Hijacked

Shareaza, a popular file-sharing application that allows users to access Gnutella, Gnutella 2, ED2K (eDonkey) and BitTorrent networks has been hijacked by a company aiming to spread malware throughout the internet. The site had been down since 22nd October 2007, however since 20th December, the domain has been hosting a scam site. Straight away you can tell something fishy is going on by the copyright notice on

© 1999-2008 Discordia Ltd. All rights reserved. See our Privacy Policy & License Agreement.

Users should be aware that Shareaza was always an open-source community project and so no company should have copyright to the web site and certainly “all rights reserved” looks out of place. Worst of all, the bastards changed the flag on the English language icon from a Union Jack to an American flag!

Shareaza Client Compromised – ShareazaV4.exe

It’s not just the web site that’s been compromised though. Somehow this Discordia crowd, who may (or may not) be a front for the French equivalent of the RIAA, have managed to use their ownership of the domain to manipulate the update notification feature of Shareaza so that on opening the client users of Shareaza and below are advised that a new version has been released and given the option to upgrade to version 4. Cleverly the message advises users to check the hijacked site for further information. This version 4 (ShareazaV4.exe) is not a new version of Shareaza and should not be downloaded under any circumstances. Instead, users should upgrade to from the real Shareaza site on Sourceforge (the filename is Shareaza_2.3.1.0_Win32.exe, though a x64 version is also available on the project site). This new version eliminates the aforementioned upgrade notice.

the software on offer from the hijacked site although labeled “ShareazaV4.exe”, is not Shareaza at all but likely a clone of the new malware infested iMesh/Bearshare client and should not be downloaded under any circumstances. Once installed, the software wants to install a search bar and make contact with a central server.

Breaking the Law

It turns out the owner of the domain sold it to New York-based Discordia ltd who are using it to promote a file-sharing application that installs all sorts of other applications (including third-party ones) on an infected system. There have been claims that the Discordia software hosted at is illegal and breaks the terms of the GPL, the licence under which genuine versions of Shareaza are released, as well as violating the United States’ Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Hopefully the Shareaza community can win their legal challenge, however they are loose-knit and may find it difficult to organise. Initially I wondered if they should give up and rebrand altogether, possibly the path of least resistance. Doing that, however, would not only be allowing the vermin at Discordia to walk all over them, but it could also leave them open to the same action again. Incidentally, Discordia is the Roman goddess of strife. I’m sure that’s not a coincidence.

I just hope this post helps spread the word. See also the forum discussions by Shareaza users on the Takeover over at

nerd. links – Make Thunderbird Quote Headers in Replies

Inspired by Tech Chick (aka Gabrielle Atticus), I’ve decided to start listing some interesting if well-hidden sites on the internet so this will be the first in a series of nerd. links.

This one resolves a long-standing issue with Mozilla’s Thunderbird email client, ie the way it forwards messages.  Whereas Outlook, Outlook Express etc. forward some headers (to, from, subject, date etc) all you ever get in Thunderbird is “Sendername said:”.  It’s pretty pathetic really, especially the fact that there’s no date.

Luckily someone has made an add-on with the descriptive but not exactly ‘roll-off-the-tongue’ name “Change quote and reply format” to fix this problem. Now the quote header is much more useful:

—- Original message —–
Subject: something
Date: 01/01/2005

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be listed at Mozilla’s plugin site, so I only stumbled on it after googling a bit and reading a few forum pages.  The home page (linked above) isn’t very well designed, but there’s a more user-friendly description of the plugin at The Extensions Mirror.

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