I Can Has Vista Sidebar Gadget?

O hai!

I hart lolcatz.

I hart lolcatz so much dat wun dai I thoughted “I can has lolcatz wen I makes teh pooter turn on?” So I maded a Vista gadjit an now I has new lolcatz every dai.

If u hart lolcatz liek mee an wants lolcatz in ur pooter makin u laff, downlodes mah gadjit. I has tested it 4 liek rly long time. It rly works, srsly. An evry1 needses moar lolcatz.


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Solved: WordPress Admin Images Missing

I upgraded this blog to WordPress 2.5 today, and installed a new copy of WordPress on a subdomain too. Both these actions were carried out using cPanel & Fantastico.

When I logged into the backend of the new subdomain there were no images – including no buttons on the rich-text editor (TinyMCE) and no WordPress logo on the login screen.  I later noticed there were also background images missing on the public part of the new blog.  When I right clicked “View background image” on the missing image, it took me to an HTTP 403 (Forbidden) meaning there was a permissions problem. The strange thing was the problem didn’t occur in the nerd. backend.

And the solution…? In this instance it was because I’d enabled hotlink protection in my server to stop other people using images stored at steveferson.com on their sites, because this eats up precious bandwidth.  When I created this new subdomain, I had forgotten about the hotlink protection and so hadn’t added it to the list of sites allowed to link to images at SteveFerson.com.  When I added it everything went back to working as expected.

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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24 Jack Bauer Facts

I’ve just added a list of 24 Jack Bauer Facts to the jokes section of my web site (the first update in a while). Highlights include:

  • When Kim Bauer lost her virginity, Jack found it and put it back.
  • Once, someone tried to tell Jack Bauer a knock-knock joke.  Jack Bauer found out who was there, who they worked for, and where the god damned bomb was.
  • The city of Los Angeles once named a street after Jack Bauer in gratitude for his saving the city several times, but they had to rename it after people kept dying when they tried to cross the street.  No one crosses Jack Bauer and lives.

If you like them check out the full list. If not, I don’t know what to tell you. Go watch 24.

Plus.net Top Broadband Customer Satisfaction Poll

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with my ISP. Their speeds are pretty good (I think, anyway) and their culture (if you like) or their philosophy, is great. I like the wee touches like their community forum and blog and I love their geographic (01) phone numbers for support. I’ve never had to use them so I don’t know how good they are once you’re actually on the phone, but at least you don’t have to worry about the cost. 0p a minute works fine for me.

I know I always mention it, largely because it’s my only real complaint, but I do hate the peak-time usage limit of 8GB per month*. I understand bandwidth costs them money and I know I can get more for a relatively low cost either through additional bandwidth bundles, pay-as-you-go or a £5 package upgrade, but I don’t really fancy any of those options. It would seem I’m just expecting too much, but it does leave me feeling content or happy with the product, rather than delighted. I’ve suggested extending the unmetered/unlimited usage ‘off-peak’ period (currently midnight to 8am) through to 10am or midday, but it doesn’t seem likely (cost reasons, apparently).

I blame the big providers for spreading the myth of unlimited usage (while growing ever tighter in their so-called “fair use” policies). They’ve clearly set my expectations too high because Plus.net have come out top in a customer satisfaction survey of the UK’s top 10 ISPs; it’s always nice to have your choices reaffirmed. Bigger names like AOL, Orange, Tesco and BT didn’t come off quite so well.

I have also sent a strongly worded complaint to Broadband Choices regarding their unforgivable (they’re supposedly a consumer site after all) use of the headline figures provided by these companies (like BT’s infernal £8.95/month bullshit) instead of the actual charges. I find that behaviour scummy, but unsurprising, when the companies trying to sell you their own product do it (caveat emptor and all that) but for a self-proclaimed consumer site to take them at face value (possibly something to do with their affiliate/referral fees?) is a disgrace.

* Since the time of writing the peak time usage limit has increased to 15GB – which is much better. I still do the majority of downloading at night, but don’t need to worry if I decide to lie in at the weekend and let it run til noon or have to download the odd large file during the day.

Solved: Override Default HTML Title in b2Evolution 2.x

I’d set up my 1.x installation of b2Evolution to use a custom HTML title in the format:

<title>[Post/Page name – ] Blog name</title>

On installing 2.4, however, I noticed that the default title is just the post/page name if it exists and the blog name if it doesn’t (i.e. for the posts list). This was based on a function call to a function called request_title. Google didn’t tell me much about this function (not the 2.x version anyway) so I went hunting and found the function in the file: \inc\_core\_template.funcs.php

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Another 640KB moment?

OK, so Gates denies ever saying the infamous line “640K software is all the memory anybody would ever need on a computer,” but I still think it’s the best illustration of the pitfalls of making predictions about the future-proofness of a technology.

Discussing the impending inclusion of IPv6 records in the internet’s root servers the BBC’s technology news proclaims today:

Under IPv6 an effectively inexhaustible pool of addresses becomes available.

I haven’t studied the matter in any great detail but surely that’ s a very bold claim.

Plus.Net; a 2-month review

Some time ago now I mentioned that I was leaving Tiscali’s awful broadband service behind and joining Plus.Net on a 90-day trial instead and at that time I promised to give my thoughts on my new ISP after a few weeks. Well I’m coming to the end of my second full month with Plus.Net so figured my review was overdue (and I know people are dying to find out what I think of Plus.Net).

Speed: “Up to” 8Mb/s
Usage: 8GB 15GB (plus unlimited usage from 00:00 to 08:00 every day)

Plus.Net and their Service

Overall I’m quite pleased with the service. The first month went off swimmingly; my broadband speed ended up somewhere around 6,000 kb/s download and 375kb/s upload according to SpeedTest.net. My ADSL modem says it’s synced at about 8,000KB/s so everything’s looking good. I’ve been pleased with the speeds, haven’t noticed any service interruptions and billing seems to have been hassle-free.

Overall I like the company too. I like the reassurance I get from knowing I can contact them without using a rip-off 0870/0871 number like Tiscali’s if I can’t quickly resolve any matter that might arise by using their forums. I also like the fact that they don’t use scummy Tiscali/BT-type marketing of “From £4.99 a month” with tiny small-print hidden away somewhere informing you that that only applies to the first 3 months of an 18-month contract!

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Don’t Use PayPal

This is my message: Avoid paying for things using PayPal or Google Checkout.  It’s always a good idea to pay for anything you buy online by credit card, so you get protection under the Consumer Credit Act if anything goes wrong.

I won’t pretend to like ebay (owners of PayPal) but I do have a soft spot for Google. Nevertheless, there are very good reasons why you should avoid using Google Checkout and even more to avoid using PayPal.

The main one is that they are middle-men, adding another layer of complexity to your transaction. For an example, look at dabs.com, now owned by BT (and with the poor customer service you’d expect of a BT company),  or ebuyer.com, online computer & electronics retailers . They both accept payment via PayPal, Google Checkout and their own checkout.

When you pay directly by credit card (ie using the company’s own checkout) the company requests the money from whoever handles their credit card payments, who request it from your bank.

When you pay by PayPal, PayPal request the money from whoever handles their credit card payments, who request it from your bank and then pass it on to the retailer. This has 2 implications; it could lead to higher prices in the long term, and it’s riskier for you in the immediate term.

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Urgent Warning for Shareaza Users – Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com:

© 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 Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com 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 Shareaza.com Takeover over at ShareazaSecurity.be.