Sunday, October 31, 2004

Gmail spam count

Currently the spam count reported on my Gmail account is incorrect. It is showing that there are six spam emails stored, but if I look there is only one. It also lists 1-6 as if the messages were there. Strange, is anyone else having seeing this happen on their accounts?

Even Gmail isn't perfect!

Post ID: 552, posted by jase at 11:04 PM
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Saturday, October 30, 2004

System monitoring applications & services

I've been looking at various system monitoring applications. I've come over and used a few in the past, such as Big Brother. I've taken a recent look at BB and although it is good, I think a combination of this or another application and a third party monitoring service would be better so I've been looking around at paid services that can allow for monitoring of multiple servers and their services from various locations. Of course, there is a monthly cost attached but the options included for alarm notification are increased.

Although the notifications that I've found with software such as BB is good, paid for services allow for more control and variation in methods used for notification. One of the ones I've looked at is Alertra which seems to be quite popular with a lot of people. It allows you to setup notification via email, sms phone call, MSN and more although it does not monitor server internals. A third party monitoring service that allows for this would be good, I'm sure there must be one, obviously you would need to run an application on the system though.

The phone call option with Alertra is only available to the USA & Canada but the rest is available globally. I'm sure there are other paid for services and free ones also that are good so I'll have to check some more out and compare. I'll also have to see if there are any other monitoring applications that will be good for what I'm looking for. The other option would be a custom developed one either by a third party or our team but with everything else going on at the moment, something ready built and that just works would be great for now.

If anyone knows of a good system I should check out, let me know, it's looking like Alertra will do the job for now and maybe for quite some time depending on how good it works out to be. A future project will be to design and build our own system to a custom specification or have someone else do it.

Having the application monitoring allows for things such as disk space and CPU usage to be monitored, using most web based monitors don't allow for this which is where BB and other systems come in as they can monitor internally and externally, especially with BB as it can act as a distributed system. I will have a combination of both, to allow for more detailed monitoring of internal server statistics as well as from the outside to monitor web services from different locations.

Post ID: 551, posted by jase at 08:05 PM
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Friday, October 29, 2004

OpenBSD 3.6 released

I've just received the announce email from Theo. It has been released slightly early, to try and spread out some of the load during the weekend. Take a look at what is new & improved in this release, as per the release announcement.


We are pleased to announce the official release of OpenBSD 3.6. This is our 16th release on CD-ROM (and 17th via FTP). We remain proud of OpenBSD's record of eight years with only a single remote hole in the default install. As in our previous releases, 3.6 provides significant improvements, including new features, in nearly all areas of the system:

- New platform:

* OpenBSD/luna88k

Expanding the mvme88k porting effort by supporting Omron's
line of 88100-based workstations.

- SMP support on OpenBSD/i386 and OpenBSD/amd64 platforms.

- New functionality:

* A cleaned up DHCP server and client implementation, now featuring privilege separation and safe defaults.

* A new NTP daemon written from scratch, which ought to fit
the needs of most NTP users.

* pfctl(8) now provides a rules optimizer to help improve filtering speed.
* pf(4), now supports nested anchors.
* tcpdrop(8), a command to drop TCP connections.

* The NMBCLUSTERS option has been eliminated, replaced by a sysctl with higher default values on many platforms.

* Added support for cksum (three flavours), md4, sha256, sha384 & sha512 to the md5(1) command.

* Memory file systems created by the mount_mfs(8) command now can be populated immediately after creation.

* New hotplugd(8) daemon and hotplug(4) device that watch
for newly attached devices.

* isakmpd(8) now supports NAT-traversal and Dead Peer Detection

* strtonum(3), a simple, robust and therefore safe function to convert strings to numbers, has been added.

* On the OpenBSD/sparc platform, StackGhost buffer overflow exploit protection has been added.

* A generic IEEE 802.11 framework has been added.

- Improved hardware support, including:

* Sangoma T1 and E1 cards (san(4)).
* Jumbo frames now work reliably on em(4), sk(4), and ti(4) adapters.
* USB 2.0 (ehci(4)) controllers.

* AIC79xx-based Ultra320 SCSI adapters, such as the
Adaptec 29320 & 39320 (ahd(4)).

* The i386 and amd64 CD bootloader code no longer emulates a floppy which improves the chances of booting on newer machines.

* New re(4) driver for Realtek 8169/8169S/8110S PCI Ethernet adapters.
* New atw(4) driver for ADMtek ADM8211 802.11b wireless adapters.
* New axe(4) driver for ASIX Electronics AX88172 USB Ethernet adapters.
* New cdce(4) driver for Ethernet over USB bridges.
* New ichpcib(4) driver for Intel ICHx/ICHx-M LPC PCI-ISA bridges.

* New gscpcib(4) driver for National Semiconductor Geode
SC1100 PCI-ISA bridges.

* New iic(4) driver for Inter IC (I2C) master/slave buses.

* New lmtemp(4) driver for National Semiconductor
LM75/LM77 temperature sensors.

* New gscsio(4) driver for National Semiconductor Geode
SC1100 Super I/O chips.

* New gpio(4) driver and accompanying gpioctl(8) utility for
supporting General Purpose Input/Output.

*New mediabay(4) macppc driver for the ATA33 HD
controller over removable CD.

* hw.setperf sysctl hooks for PowerNow in AMD K6 and K7 processors.

- New functionality for bgpd(8), the Border Gateway Protocol Daemon:

* Kernel memory management improvements now allow the full global routing table to be kept in memory without customizing or tuning.

* Support for adding received prefixes to a pf(4) table.
* Support for IPsec, both manually keyed and using IKE.
* Support for setting BGP communities on incoming & outbound UPDATES.
* Support for NOPEER community (RFC3765).

* Partial support for RFC2858 Multiprotocol Capabilities,
currently only IPv4-unicast is announced.

* Support for Route Reflection (RFC2796).
* Support for dynamic network announcements.
* Support for Route Refresh Capability (RFC2918).

- Improved NFS performance and reliability.

- Shared libraries and gcc 3.3.2 on the OpenBSD/hppa port.

- Privilege separation or revocation for the following programs:

* afsd(8)
* mopd(8)
* pppoe(8)
* rbootd(8)
* dhcrelay(8), dhclient(8), and dhcpd(8)

- Over 2700 ports, 2500 pre-built packages.

- Many improvements for security and reliability (look for the red
print in the complete changelog).

- As usual, many improvements in manual pages and other documentation.

- OpenSSH 3.9:

* sshd(8) now re-executes itself on accepting a new connection. This security measure ensures that all execute-time randomizations are reapplied for each connection rather than once, for the master process' lifetime. This includes mmap and malloc mappings, shared library addressing, shared library mapping order, ProPolice and StackGhost cookies on architectures that support such things.

* Selected environment variables can now be passed between
the client and the server.

* Session multiplexing: a single ssh connection can now carry multiple login/command/file transfer sessions.

- This release of OpenBSD includes the following major components from outside suppliers:

* XFree86 4.4.0 unencumbered (+ patches, and i386 contains 3.3.6 servers
(+ patches) for chipsets not supported by 4.4).

* Gcc 2.95.3 (+ patches) and 3.3.2 (+ patches)
* Perl 5.8.5 (+ patches)
* Apache 1.3.29, mod_ssl 2.8.16, DSO support (+ patches)
* OpenSSL 0.9.7d (+ patches)
* Groff 1.15
* Sendmail 8.13.0, with libmilter
* Bind 9.2.3 (+ patches)
* Lynx 2.8.5rel.2 with HTTPS and IPv6 support (+ patches)
* Sudo 1.6.7p5
* Ncurses 5.2
* Latest KAME IPv6
* Heimdal 0.6rc1 (+ patches)
* Arla 0.35.7
* Binutils 2.14
* Gdb 6.1

If you'd like to see a list of what has changed between OpenBSD 3.5
and 3.6, look at

Even though the list is a summary of the most important changes
made to OpenBSD, it still is a very very long list.


As you can see, there is a list of new features and improvements as always as well as new releases of third party applications and of course all the new packages and ports available to download if you want them. There are quite a few things which have been added that I like & I'm sure there will be a lot of people that have been waiting for the SMP support. I'll be upgrading my OpenBSD systems shortly.

Don't forget to check the errata and security pages for updates since 3.6 went gold.

Post ID: 550, posted by jase at 11:22 PM
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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Waiting on trains

I've spent a few hours waiting for trains to depart today, they were delayed due to problems with power and such. I was just thinking about how I could have used that time to read some of the books I need to read instead of just sitting around being bored.

I didn't have anything with me to read so I was forced to stare through the glass windows and up towards the sky. I'm going to have to remember to carry some books in future as the time spent waiting around could easily be used to be more productive.

So there is my mental note, all I have to do now is remember it.

Post ID: 549, posted by jase at 02:12 AM
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Wednesday, October 27, 2004

MT-Blacklist gone mad!

For some reason I seem to be experiencing some issues with MT-Blacklist. I've upgraded since and reset the blacklist but still no change. For some reason it's displaying errors. I've found some things which relate to it but have not been able to resolve the issue.

The errors that I am getting when running a de-spam are:


jayallen::Blacklist=HASH(0x8297090) Malformed UTF-8 character (unexpected non-continuation byte 0xc5, immediately after start byte 0xf3) in substitution (s///).

jayallen::Blacklist=HASH(0x8297090) Malformed UTF-8 character (unexpected non-continuation byte 0xc5, immediately after start byte 0xf3) in transliteration (tr///) at /path-to/ line 3159.

jayallen::Blacklist=HASH(0x8297090) Malformed UTF-8 character (unexpected non-continuation byte 0xc5, immediately after start byte 0xf3) in pattern match (m//) at /path-to/ line 3103.


It's one of those times when something just stops working for no reason. The errors repeat all with the same line referenced (3103) but the first line is (3159). I thought it might have had something to do with some domains I imported as some of them had strange characters in. But I reset the list to test and it still made no difference so then I upgraded MT-BL and no still no change.

From looking at the code, I'm not sure what the problem is. I've spoken to Jay Allen about it but he has not really got time at the moment to investigate and would suggest the upgrades. There's nothing I could find on the forum, apart from one post from a while ago but with no replies.

I also changed the language so it is as shown below:


As the UTF-8 which was included before has been the cause of similar errors with other things reported by other people on their systems, but the change did not make any difference in this case. I'd not made any changes before the errors started but after some reading it might have something to do with some other things which may have been changed by Ben so I'll need to speak to him and check as I've not touched them - CPAN modules as an example.

I've covered all the angles I can at the moment, so will continue investigating later. Maybe this is another reason why I should hurry up and upgrade to MT v3 and MT-BL v2 to enjoy a lot of new features and things to make tasks easier and automated.

Soon, I will sort the upgrades.

Post ID: 548, posted by jase at 12:34 AM
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Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Posting letters

I keep forgetting to post the letter to Vodafone I have written. It's not that often I post anything these days, it would be so much easier to email but for a fomal complaint the letter is the tradtional and correct way of addressing a company or possibly by fax.

Are things going to change, where the more common method of using the postal system is replaced by email when relating to issues which would have usually required a letter. We'll see, but for now I guess we'll all have to stick to the more professional and accepted method of using the postal systems. We'll just have to remember to actually post the letters and such.

Post ID: 547, posted by jase at 11:39 PM
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Monday, October 25, 2004

Bluetooth headset

I've just ordered a generic bluetooth headset, as the price has been dropped. Usually I'd check reviews and previous customer comments but didn't bother in this case so I hope it's a bargain rather than a cheap rubbish product.

Some of the more expensive ones I've seen have been reported to be rubbish but I could not find anything relating to this one. I'll have to wait until it arrives. I'll post my thoughts once I get it. It does not have any advanced features since it is a basic one, but the ones that did have the more advanced features that I read comments about were not scoring very well in the quality areas, with regards to build quality and audio quality.

I've just got a new layout of bill come through from Vodafone which makes it a lot easier to read and supplies more detailed information that before. I noticed that I have a load of minutes to use which made me think, I'll get a headset that way I might use the phone more by not having to hold it or have it on loudspeaker. I'll have to see about that idea but it'll come in handy either way.

For anyone that wants one of these, go and visit My Memory. The total price comes to 20.94 which includes delivery.

Post ID: 546, posted by jase at 10:47 PM
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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Netgear FS526T

I've just got a Netgear FS526T switch to allow me to run most of my network at 100Mbps rather than 10Mbps which is what it all runs at now, due to having just a hub that supports 10Mbps.

The FS526T also has 2 gigabit ports so they might come in handy at some point. I was looking to get a nice Cisco switch, to allow me to play with SNMP more and also have the ability to do come configuration from a switch point of view with IOS as the only IOS stuff I have done at the moment is with a Cisco 1000 series I have got.

I decided against that at the moment, for various reasons but I'll probably end up getting one soon, it'll also help as I'm eventually going to get CCNA certified & who knows from there. The FS526T has a simple web based interface to allow you to configure it but is not very complex and the options are limited, it also has a very loud built in fan which is a bit annoying if located in a room where you spend most of your time by your computers.

Other than that, it's pretty good. Well built and quite small. It comes with good instructions for initial setup, if you need help and also supplied are mounting brackets to house it in a rack if required. All round, a decent little switch so I have found so far, but lacking in SNMP & command line. Obviously if you're looking for a more heavy duty switch then you would want to go for something with full capabilities but as an addition to the network where all you require is a basic switch then it is perfect.

I don't need all the 26 ports that the FS526T comes with, but they are always there for future expansion. One thing I don't like is the fact that the web configuration interface can't be switched off from what I gather so if configured with an IP address available to the outside then anyone can connect to it. Of course they can't login, but you should filter it at your firewall instead if you have one, for extra security.

Other than that it's a great unit!

Post ID: 545, posted by jase at 11:35 PM
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Saturday, October 23, 2004

Gmail advertising

I've noticed that the adverts that appear on my Gmail account appear at the bottom of my messages if there are any that are appropriate to display. I've not found anyone else that is experiencing this, mine has been like it for nearly as long as I have had the account. Everyone else that I have asked states that they see adverts at the side of the emails still.

Maybe it is a test that is split so some accounts see them in one place and the rest in the other. Has anyone else got the adverts appearing at the bottom instead on their account or another position? At the bottom does not appear to make any marketing sense as I see them less.

Post ID: 544, posted by jase at 10:51 PM
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Friday, October 22, 2004

Vodafone customer service quality is debatable

I've been having problems with using my mobile phone abroad, ever since I first got one back in 1999. Back then, there were various issues that prevented me from receiving calls but I could make calls. Ever since I moved over to a monthly contract in 2002, I've had problems making and receiving.

I've been through a number of handsets and they all have the same issue. I've changed SIM cards and had all of the barring lifted from my account. The issue so I am told now is barring on my handset. I've tried other SIM cards belonging to friends in my handset when abroad and theirs work fine so you would think that rules out any barring on the handset. Vodafone customer services seem to think it is a problem with my handset though and even after providing me with a number of codes to remove any barring, the barring still shows up on their system.

Each time I call I have to explain the situation to a new person and most of the time they don't know what they are talking about. Everything has been changed. I've tried different handsets & different SIM cards but the problem still remains. I ever tried to get my pin reset so I could check my voicemail from other phones when away but even this was not completed.

Whilst I was away in Germany recently I had to buy a handset with a German SIM card so that I could be contacted. It really is an inconvienience when I'm away that I can't easily make calls or be contacted and I have put up with it for long enough now. Firstly I just got a SIM card, a pay as you go one which did not work in my handset due to locking in place so I had to buy an all in one package.

I've written Vodafone a letter now as it seems that is the only way to get this registered properly as a complaint and get my problems sorted. No other person I know has any issues at all on Vodafone when abroad. I'm going to claim back the cost of buying a new handset and also the money I have spent on making calls from other phones since it has not only cost me more money doing this but it has also caused me inconvienience and lost business. I'm also paying for ICS - International Call Saver - which is a waste of money since I can't even make use of it & in the process of people changing things on my account they managed to remove my ability to send MMS messages, but that has been sorted out.

I will hopefully claim this back in the way of free line rental for a period of a few months. I'm going to have to wait to see what Vodafone say, but if the issue is not sorted and they don't reimburse my expenses then I shall have to investigate other means of getting a result.

I've had to make so many calls and speak to so many people, it really is a joke that it has still not been sorted out yet. On another side note, looking on the Vodafone UK site they are now offering new special deals which can probably only be purchased via the website as new contracts which cost the same amount as what I'm paying but include a lot more. I'm going to have to see if I can get moved over to one of these as it really is annoying when you see these packages advertised but are then told they are for new contracts only.

People are not informed that Vodafone contracts online and purchased from a shop are handled and billed by different companies. It really makes things more complicated for the end user. I'll await the reply from Vodafone and see how this is going to unfold.

Other than this issue I've not had any problems with Vodafone but really will have to consider other options if this is not sorted out. As I see it, the only thing that can be causing this is something on my account. If it is a lock on the handset then why does it work fine with other Vodafone SIM cards abroad?

I'm going to Google for some information on the Nokia 6600 and get it unlocked if it is a code only issue, else I'll have to get a cable for it. More to come as I receive something back from Vodafone.

Feel free to post any experiences you have had with Vodafone alnog the lines of getting issues resolved, both good and bad.

Post ID: 543, posted by jase at 10:28 PM
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Thursday, October 21, 2004

Password or phrase?

Robert Hensing from the Microsoft PSS Security Team is trying to propose a new method of accessing systems. Although using a passphrase instead of a password is nothing new it is when we are talking about general access control systems. At present a user can authenticate using a username and password. In some cases, you'll need a token card as the system is using something like Secure ID but for the most part it's username and password authentication only.

Robert thinks along with others that it is time to change and improve upon the current system. Kind of like when the password file was readable by all users on a system - one day it was decided that this was a bad idea and about came the shadow system. Allowing users to use phrases instead of just a simple one word password would increase security and stop accounts being compromised so easily as users would not be able to use simple dictionary words and thus help to prevent dictionary based attacks.

Various people within Microsoft are looking at this phrase method of authentication, Jesper M. Johansson has written a document regarding it and outlines some of the reasons why this change should be made. There are some interesting points made. With the rise of worms that include password crackers and dictionaries the amount of automated cracking taking place is also increasing.

Insuring that AV software is constantly updated and rules are used to prevent certain words being used in passwords or the adoption of passphrase authentication, will help mitigate the effect that these worms have. The problem is, most people in the world who are not that computer literate have problems remembering passwords as it is. Although using tokens would be better there are increased costs and some companies cannot afford to pay. Combined with the fact most people would have problems using tokens, the passphrase approach would increase authentication security and not have the cost / complexity issues.

If more companies were aware of the need for better security, the people who have the authority to spend money might do. At the moment, a lot of companies are not aware. With the introduction of phrase authentication instead of passwords in Windows, it would allow for some degree of increased security without any extra money being spent.

Users would rather not have to type longer passwords or phrases, but if they are forced to then of course they will. So it is the job of the security team and administrators of a network to ensure that a decent policy is used. Windows has supported longed passwords since Windows 2000 so using a phrase is not a problem.

I have already thought about this, but reading these articles also reminds me that it is not down to the complexity of a password or phrase that makes it more secure. It is down to the length. Using a shorter password should cause a need for it to be more secure but using a longer phrase of text increase the complexity itself as the longer a password or phrase is the more possible combinations there could be which of course increases the time required to crack.

Using a long phrase, for example around 40 characters would take a long amount of time to crack. It simply would not be worth it and by the time an attack may have hit the jackpot, the password change policy would have ensured that the password has already been changed so the attacker would be back to square one.

For those of us that can type really faster, using a phrase would not be too much of an issue. For people that only type slowly, they would have to spend a little more time logging in. I'm sure that most administrators that have half a clue about security would assume this side effect for some people to be acceptable when judging it against the increased security provided.

It's not only Microsoft products that should adopt this approach. It would allow for even more security on other operating systems. In the same way, if the password file was obtained, it would not be feasible to try and crack the passwords if a good change / complixity policy was used. Maybe Microsoft should ensure that a longer policy is enabled by default to help the use of longer phrases spread.

Policies have been available on various systems for a long time but they have not been used very often or only in limited form, such as you are not allowed to use a previous password again. The complexity rules are not used as much on Windows systems and most UNIX based systems I've used don't implement any complexity requirements at all or you get warned about complexity but can ignore it and use the password you want anyway.

This could be the start of a change like we saw when people stopped using authentication systems that involved clear text. Soon we could have the same thought abouts using passwords as they are as we now do of plain text authentication.

Post ID: 542, posted by jase at 07:46 PM
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Wednesday, October 20, 2004

The Register hit by DDOS

The Register is reporting - if you can read it - that it has been hit by a DDOS attack. Maybe someone got bored or did not like one of the articles. It seems that everything is back to normal now. Again, kids will play.

Post ID: 541, posted by jase at 07:26 PM
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Tuesday, October 19, 2004

I'm finally on my replacement TFT!

I've now received my new replacment TFT display and I must say that I'm so glad to be back using a nice big display that is clear. That is half of the mission completed, the other half is securing my room to prevent further equipment being damaged.

The options include, but are not limited to:

* Getting a lock fitted
* Getting my own seperate room alarm
* Moving out
* Emplying a security guard

Maybe some of the above options would not be appropriate or even possible right now. The lock will work wonders.

Post ID: 540, posted by jase at 10:36 PM
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Monday, October 18, 2004

Things are getting worse

The guy I share a lift with to work has just left as he has got another job. I'm also actively looking for another role as the main issues I have are time wasted on travel every day and also the hours. Now the guy I share a lift with has gone, although I have arranged a replacement, it is not good as the previous arrangement.

It is going to take me 2.5 hours to get home when working on the night shift now, then add on the time taken to get here as well. That is far too much. That combined with the fact the shifts have changed and I'll be working on the night shift every 3 weeks gives me even more reason to find another job that does not have these issues.

I could of course find some accomodation closer, but that will involve extra costs and since I would like to find another position for a number of reasons that option is not viable. It would be a lot easier if I was able to drive, but I've got to wait until January next year to be able to take my test.

I'm looking for roles based in London as a simple train journey from where I live or from another location nearer to London, would not be an issue. I certainly would not mind a train trip since it would give me a good reason to do some reading - I've got quite a number of books to complete in relation to various certifications and other things.

I think I've done well to stick with the travel situation for this amount of time, but now is the time to find something more reasonable.

Post ID: 539, posted by jase at 09:12 PM
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Sunday, October 17, 2004

Lost or stolen

I'm not sure which is the vase at the moment, but I've still not received my replacement TFT display. It seems that the courier has lost it but that could mean a number of things, such as someone has stolen it.

It's slightly annoying but it just means I will have to wait for another one arrive as Relisys are currently out of stock of the model I have got. Then again Parcel Force might locate my delivery and same me any more delay, that is of course if it has not been taken by someone. Maybe the label came of the package.

It also sounds like someone might have carried out the perfect crime, who knows. Although, depending on how you look at it, it might not be classed as a crime unless someone gets caught. I don't mind, as long as I get a new display soon.

For me this is not the first experience I've had with packages being lost, tampered with and such. Maybe there is an opening for some kind of secure mailing service as the couriers these days just don't seem to be able to complete a fairly simple job.

Post ID: 538, posted by jase at 10:32 PM
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Saturday, October 16, 2004

Bed Bugs

Nevermind if they bite. I suppose most of us are not so bothered about things we cannot see. Bugs and insects that we can see generally affect us more. For instance, I spotted something running over me earlier when I was in front of the computer. I moved quickly and it fell off but I could not see where it went.

They must cover right distances and in short amounts of time for such small things, be it ants or other crawling bugs. It has just appeared in my bed while I was using the laptop! So, I managed to get it this time and put it outside. I think it liked extreme sports as this one had no idea what running off the ends of the paper was going to cause, luckily for it I kept the paper low to the ground.

It makes me wonder though how these things get in here in the first place. Obviously they always find a way, but if it has been inside for quite so time it is probably starving and in need of some food.

I've learnt from this that is it always best to keep on your guard, from even the smallest of intruders.

Post ID: 537, posted by jase at 12:53 AM
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Friday, October 15, 2004

Broken TFT display

During my time in Germany, my brother decided to have a play with some of my equipment and due to leaving the power plug for my 19" Relisys TFT display half plugged in, it seems that although it was working when I got back and rectified the situation, the TFT & or PSU has been damaged and after the display going blank but not switching off - I can't get anything more than a slight, very dark image to display from the various imputs on multiple machines I have since connected.

It is only a year old and has year onsite cover from Relisys so I have arranged for a new replacement which should be here shortly. I'm having to use an old 14" monitor I have at the moment which produces quite a bad image. It makes me respect having a nice TFT when forced to using such a small display again.

I'm going to get a lock on this room to keep my brother out when I am not here. I've had instances in the past too, but have not got around to it yet. I'm not going to waste any more time sorting the lock out. The other option would be to get my own place, which is something I'm sure I'll be doing in the not so distant future but for the moment, the lock is the solution.

Post ID: 536, posted by jase at 10:46 PM
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Thursday, October 14, 2004

Snap search

I'm just in the process of reading various things after missing out because of being in Germany. I really need to hurry up and get a laptop with mobile data so that when I am away I can keep up with things. It is really annoying that at the moment I have to keep going to locate Internet access points and even then have limited time online. You know, it's good to be able to browse the net when you have some free time and are in a hotel and such. I know I would like to be able to do this. I've got quite a lot of stuff to still catch up on from when I was away in Ibiza.

I'm just reading Jeremy Zawodny's coverage of the recent Web 2.0 conference. It looks like there were loads of interesting talks taking place and he has done quite a good job of noting down a lot of talks and the key points they made.

Snap, is another search engine. I say another as there have been a number of them appear lately each offering different facilities and options. The layout of this is good and the results are provided along with some other information such as popularity. I decided to give it a test with the first search term I could think of - sex. I got a message saying that the search would probably result in adult content and I had to agree to being provided with content of an adult nature. I clicked it a few times but did not get any further, not sure what was happening there so I decided to try a number of other searchs. They all worked fine.

I look at the Internet and sites I use in the same way as I look at other things in life. Take clothes, we all like certain styles and brands for different reasons but once you find something you like, you tend to stick with it rather than change. I think most people could relate to this idea online as well. There might be new search engines appearing such as this and A9, but are people likely to change from using there current engine, even if the newer ones offer more functionality?

For one thing, Google searches a lot more pages than say Snap - that fact alone could be a major point in people wanting to stick with Google as when it comes to search people want something that searches more pages in the hope that they will not only find matches that are related but they will find a wider variety of matches.

It'll be an interesting are as things progress but it may not be much of an issue at the moment for the established search engines to keep their userbase from wondering away. Even if a certain number did, I'm sure people would be using multiple engines as they might do now as one engine might have something another does not. I only really use Google, but to be honest I always find information in relation to what I want.

Maybe when engines are offereing a lot more, such as intelligent search, custom RSS feeds in relation to the current search and a whole lot more all in one go, then people will take a more serious look at what is available. It's all an ongoing project and it'll always continue to be that way. Most people will stick with what they know.

Post ID: 533, posted by jase at 01:55 AM
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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Well done to Jay Allen

I noticed this same days ago, but forgot to say at the time - a big well done to Jay Allen in accepting a job offer from the folks over at Six Apart to become the Movable Type Product Manager. After reading his post, I learned a number of things about the history Jay has had with MT. I was not aware that MT has played such a big part in his life and indeed will now play an even bigger part. With the great work he has done developing MT-Blacklist and the Spam Clearing House as well as other work, I'm sure he will now be able to better devote his time to improving MT. I think he's the best man for the job, going on past experience that he has with MT and even the devotion to write a book about it!

Check out the announcement from Six Apart.

Well done Jay!

Post ID: 535, posted by jase at 09:25 PM
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Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Another coffee lost

I may well just be accident prone or it might be due to the lack of space I have, but I've just knocked over a nice cup of coffee. Luckily, although going all over some things including a box to the side of the desk that the cup was on, nothing has been damaged. It took me a while though to clean everything up. Drying the CD's was the time consuming part.

I was sitting down and span around on my chair to grab something and the back of the seat knocked the mug off the desk. I was really annoyed. I've done this before. I think I am going to have to stop taking drinks near to equipment just incase, as one of these days something is going to get soaked and break.

I did manage to cover a keyboard, but the machine it was connected to was switched off anyway. It is a rubbish keyboard anyway so this is just an excuse to throw it away and buy a decent one to replace it. The funny thing is that I just had a big clear up in this room and if something was going to happen I would have thought it would have before.

I was actually looking forward to drinking the nice drink as well, maybe I will finally learn.

Post ID: 534, posted by jase at 10:15 PM
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Monday, October 11, 2004

Porsche museum

I've spend today visiting the Porsche museum in Stuttgart. Of course, as you may well know Stuttgart is the home of the factory where these amazing cars are made. I did not get a chance to go on the factory tour because you have to book it in advance but this is something I will do next time. I got quite a few pictures of the cars, but forgot to take another battery with me and the one I had was running very low and ran out so next time I'll get some more. I might even get them online at some point.

Also next time I think I'll make a visit to the Mercedes site and have a look around there. The Porsche museum is really small, but we spent a lot of time looking at the newer models in another building. It was interesting seeing some of the really old models and cars that have been in races, a lot of classics are on show. Also, as one would expect is a nice Carrera GT, which was good to see in the flesh but I've seen one already this year at the Birmingham Motor Show 2004 - this car never fails to impress.

I picked up a few things such as scaled down models to bring home, but my intention is to buy a nice new 911 Turbo at some point. I'm thinking of importing it from Germany and going to the factory to pick it up, that would be great and it would also save a lot of money, instead of paying loads more buying one in the UK.

I'm also back home now. I'm glad I went and will be sure to go again, maybe a little earlier next year and head to Munich and some other places as well. I'm glad to be home so I can sleep in my own bed again and have a good sleep after the recent lack of it!

Post ID: 532, posted by jase at 10:08 PM
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Sunday, October 10, 2004

Wine fest

Well, last night and all day was great, experiencing the festivals over here is something different. Apart from the massive jugs of beer available, there were also plenty of rides to go on and a lot of live music. I could not understand most of it, but it was interesting trying to.

The amount of people around is crazy and I'm told that the Munich festival is a lot bigger and a lot more people go. I've missed that this year, so might make a trip for that next year and maybe Stuttgart too. Today I've been doing the same again but tasting some wines, locally produced last year. I'm not a fan of wines that much but there were plenty of things to do as well as drink. I'm planning on going out again tonight, to some bars which will be fun. I've done some sight seeing around town and plan to do some more. If I had more time during this trip I would probably visit some other places here and around the country but that will have to wait.

Post ID: 531, posted by jase at 10:30 PM
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Saturday, October 9, 2004

Beer fest

I'll be off to the local beer fest in Stuttgart later today, spending all day there and then who knows what. Things will plan out as we go. I've found a few things which have been interesting, such as the fact that in most places you pay at the end or every now and again instead of each time you order. There is a lot of trust involved there and that is something that would not work back in the UK and indeed in many countries but it appears to work here in Germany.

Also the trains are a lot better than back home and the network of trains seems to be a lot bigger allowing you to get around easier and is promoting the use of public trainsport instead of cars.

Post ID: 530, posted by jase at 10:28 AM
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Friday, October 8, 2004

Arrived okay

The flight over was fine, weather was nice. I am just visiting various places and doing various things. This keyboard is a German one so the layout is different so I will keep this short. More updates later, on an easier to use keyboard!

Post ID: 529, posted by jase at 08:22 PM
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Thursday, October 7, 2004

Leaving now!

I'm just about to leave for the airport. It's only 5 minutes away, so no extra trouble getting there. I'll be there nice and early as well but have been in a rush getting ready as I expected.

Post ID: 528, posted by jase at 12:20 PM
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Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Last minute, again.

I know I should be sorting things for tomorrow, but I'm not. It is going to be a last minute rush no doubt. Since the trip is short, I will not need that mant things so it should not take to long to sort.

Not long to go now. It's a shame I don't have a decent laptop of mine to take with me. I could take the new one just purchased, but I'd rather have my own which will have things on I use and need.

Hopefully there should be some Internet access points around that I can use to check a few things. Now, if only browsing the net was better via mobile phones, then that problem would be solved more easily!

Post ID: 527, posted by jase at 11:54 PM
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Tuesday, October 5, 2004

Heading to Germany

I'll be heading to Gemany on Thursday, to check out the place and see what is going on at the festivals. I know there should be plenty of beers, foods and rides to go on. It'll be good and I should spend some time going to different places, do some sight seeing and such.

I'll be going to Stuttgart and staying there but also probably visiting Munich & some other places. I'm not really sure of the plan yet. I'll be there until Monday so need to plan how to spend the time. Some of the people I'm going with have worked over there so they know what is worth checking out, they'll be the guides. I know some German from learning it at school but I'll probably take my translator as well.

I know most can speak English but it would be interesting trying to hold a conversation in German. I suppose I should get packing my things!

Post ID: 526, posted by jase at 11:30 PM
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Monday, October 4, 2004

When applications stop working

I'm sure it has happened to everyone at some point or another. It's really annoying when it does. A certain software application decides to stop working for no reason and you have no idea what has caused it. I've got an application on my Nokia that monitors the amount of minutes I've used. It is great or was until recently.

One day it just decided to stop working, with no indication as to why. It just opens and then closes. I'm going to have to install it again, which should hopefully fix it. Just goes to show sometimes it is not the user that breaks things, they just do it on their own!

Post ID: 525, posted by jase at 12:54 AM
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Sunday, October 3, 2004

Company registration

I have been meaning for a while to form a limited company by submitting the appropriate documents to Companies House. The process can be quite daunting, especially if you have not done it before. I looked around on the Internet and it seems there are company formation agents that provide a service so that you can form a company and they deal with sending the documents to Companies House.

It costs more, but it means that you will submit an application with the correct information and since the process is done electronically, there is less time wasted on getting documents to and from Companies House if there are any problems with an application.

I'm awaiting a reply from Companies House at the moment, but hopefully everything should have gone through okay. If there are any issues they can be quickly dealt with and the application submitted again. The CFA I used is called Quick Formations.

Once the company is registered and is an entity in itself, there will then be other issues to deal with. Another consideration that will have to be made is regarding VAT registration. We'll deal with that with advice from our accountant as it might be wise to get VAT registered in our case, but I'm not sure at the moment. I've been reading about it, there is quite a lot to deal with - you only come to know about how much there is to consider when you are in the position of doing it unless you have an interest and read up anyway.

It's good things are moving, hopefully we'll contine progressing at the same rate now, if not faster. I'll have more to talk about regarding all of this as it happens, no doubt.

Post ID: 524, posted by jase at 12:06 AM
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Saturday, October 2, 2004

WorldPay under attack

I've just recevied the following email from WorldPay. It seems they are under a DOS attack. As you can see, the email is a bit light on details but at least they have decided to let customers know. I remember attacks happening in the past, not for a while though. Obviously the children are playing again.


WorldPay System Status: 2/10/2004

Dear Customer,

We regret that access to our payment and administration systems is severely disrupted due to a planned and large scale Denial of Service (DDOS) attack by a third party.

Our payment and administration systems are working, safe and secure, but the networks around them are being flooded with requests on a huge scale, causing 'service denials'. We are processing payments, but far slower and fewer than we normally would.

We are executing our contingency plans to move to full restoration of the service but cannot at this point in time predict when all customers will have the service restored without further interruption.

While attacks of this type can be anticipated, it does take time to identify and deal with the exact nature of a particular attack. We are doing everything that is possible to restore a full service as soon as is possible.

PLEASE NOTE: although we are subject to a "denial-of-service" attack, the integrity and security of our systems and data is in no way compromised.

Please check the Customer Management System portal page at where we post information about system status on a regular basis.


I'm not sure how long it has been going on for, but I paid for a product via Worldpay earlier tonight and it was processed as normal. The email has only been sent in the last hour, so I probably missed the start of the attack.

Post ID: 523, posted by jase at 11:25 PM
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Friday, October 1, 2004

El Gordo - Win quite a few million!

I've just purchased three tickets for the December draw of the Spanish El Gordo lottery. The prize fund for this draw is the biggest out of all of the El Gordo draws - a massive 2.1 billion US dollars. The first prize is $468 million USD, more than anyone would need. The tickets are limited and as they say you have to be in it to win it so fingers crossed. It'll be a great winter for anyone who does win & indeed a great life too. I'll have a long list of purchases to make if I do!

Post ID: 522, posted by jase at 11:48 PM
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