Monday, January 31, 2005

Who uses fax these days?

I'm having to send a few faxes off, but not having a fax machine makes it hard to do and although it is possible with some software, I'd still need to connect the modem, which is too much effort. Why is that some companies insist on using fax as a method of sending information when I could easily scan something in and email it?

It just makes things a lot more difficult.

Post ID: 649, posted by jase at 06:33 PM
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Sunday, January 30, 2005

Going to London

I'll be off to London at some point on Tuesday, probably quite late in the day, but ready to start my new job on Wednesday. I have quite a small list of things that I shall be taking down with me, just the essential things really.

Due to the problems I have been having buying things online, I have not yet managed to get my laptop ordered but hopefully I'll be able to sort it out shortly, as I'll need it!

Post ID: 648, posted by jase at 10:19 PM
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Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Internet is broken

It is for me anyway or has been over the past few days. A number of problems with my ISP have meant that my connectivity has been up and down. Rather annoying but it does not happen very often, even so since my account is a business one, I may well claim some discount for the problems I have had.

In these cases when there are major problems, another connection always comes in handy. Looking at ADSL Guide there are a lot of people worse off than I am!

Post ID: 647, posted by jase at 11:53 PM
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Friday, January 28, 2005

Payments being declined

I've had a number of online payments that have been declined. I contacted my bank and they said nothing is wrong but it seems that I'm not the only one having trouble. I was trying to order a laptop from Ebuyer but have not yet been able to. At first I thought it was something to do with Ebuyer, but other sites have been affected.

There must have been some major system outage affecting core payment systems, a few other people I know have also been having trouble, mine started earlier this week. Hopefully the problems will be sorted soon, if not already. I'll have a look around and see if I can find any information about what has been happening.

Post ID: 646, posted by jase at 11:46 PM
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Thursday, January 27, 2005

First steps to open source

Sun is taking the first steps to open the Solaris code to the public. Already you can find the code to DTrace on the Open Solaris site and more to follow. There are a number of reasons for the decision to open up the operating system but for the community it's mostly an all win situation.

For example, more eyes looking over the code will help with the elimination of bugs and security issues because of them. There are of course other advantages, with regards to security it may well work both ways as some potentially dangerous bugs might be found and proof of concept exploits could be developed without Sun being informed.

They could render customer systems vulnerable to attack and although this is the case anyway with any open or closed system, because the opening of the source is taking place now the initial influx of bugs that are identified could be quite high rather than being more spread out as would be the case with open source projects. Given the past record of Solaris security, I'll bet there are quite a few problems identified.

DTrace is part of Solaris 10 and one of the main new features. The code is already available for download and more code will be appearing over the coming months. Sun is hoping that this will give more people the opportunity to develop applications for Solaris and allow a more community based approach. In the past it has always been a pain getting things to work under Solaris, things should now change and with more applications being developed and supported we'll see more people using it on desktop systems.

More Sun products should see the light of the open source treatment in the future too. As we have seen in the past, if one company does something they all do. The question is, will we see the same actions from other big software developers with regards to opening the source code to the public, for their major software products?

Post ID: 645, posted by jase at 11:45 PM
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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Ebay

I've been after a few new games on Ebay but I keep missing out on the items because I keep forgetting about the auctions. I'll notice there is only an hour to go and keep thinking about it but then forget in the last 10 minutes or so and loose out.

I've done it a number of times in the past few days and it's really annoying. I only buy new items, things like sealed Xbox games as they can be obtained for a lot cheaper than in the shops, it's just annoying when I forget to put last minute bids in and loose the auction.

Post ID: 644, posted by jase at 11:15 PM
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Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Accomodation is sorted

I've sorted accomodation out, I'm going down to check it out on Saturday. I'll be sharing with the girl that is buying the house and two others. She has decided to rent out the other 3 rooms, it looks like it will be me and another guy and the two girls. More on that later. It's a new house and seems quite big, so should be fine.

As for the Solaris exam, I failed. Not very good, but it was my own fault for doing no revision, some of the questions I had no idea about, I don't remember covering certain sections on the courses I did at the end of 2003 plus I was tired which didn't help. I've got another voucher, so will do some revision before taking it again.

Post ID: 643, posted by jase at 11:09 PM
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Monday, January 24, 2005

An expensive laptop?

I've been looking to purchase a nice laptop for myself and after looking around, I think I have found the most expensive laptop ever, over at Ebuyer. It's obviously a mistake, but it costs 23084.84 including VAT. Isn't it a shame it was not an error making the laptop very cheap. I've seen this happen before and the company in question has to deliver on the price, it's not very often they can get out of it.

I can't see anyone buying that laptop, they've not got any in stock anyway. I wonder how long it'll be before it gets corrected. Check the listing of the most expensive laptop out!

As for my choice, I think I'll probably be going for the Sony Vaio A297XP. I'm still looking around, but I think that one should do nicely. Although, some more memory would be better but I could put this in later.

There are also a numbr of duplicate entries I've noticed on Ebuyer for the same laptop models, only one is out of stock and the other isn't, the one in stock also being cheaper. They need to clean the product index up!

Post ID: 642, posted by jase at 11:32 PM
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Sunday, January 23, 2005

Solaris System Administrator part 1 exam

Tomorrow I've got the Solaris System Administrator part 1 exam. It should not be too much of a problem for me given the good amount of experience I've gained through my own learning and work related tasks, a few people I know from work have recently passed it and one of them had not had any prior Unix experience before he started his current position and has only been in that position for just over a year.

I've not done any revision though, but I'll do some reading in the morning so I can get refreshed on a few things that I know are in the exam. Providing I pass that, I'll book part 2 and that will be the end of that. Until I do the Solaris 10 upgrade.

Post ID: 641, posted by jase at 11:42 PM
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Saturday, January 22, 2005

I've passed my driving test!

I finally got around to passing my driving test last week, but forgot to post about it to tell everyone the good news, until now. It was my second attempt and out of the allowance of 15 minor mistakes I made 7, so not bad at all considering the average number of test attempts for people to pass in this country is usually 3 or 4.

It's something I should have done years ago, but never got around to it. I'm glad that it is out of the way, it'll make getting around a lot easier. Now I've just got to sort a car out and then I can learn how to really drive!

Post ID: 640, posted by jase at 11:32 PM
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Friday, January 21, 2005

It's Friday

It's Friday, the start of the weekend. Although, I've had one long weekend for a while as I've been off work waiting to start my new job. I had planned on doing a number of things today but never had enough time and motivation.

I'm off out now and will be back at some point tomorrow, so can continue then.

Have a good one!

Post ID: 639, posted by jase at 06:09 PM
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Thursday, January 20, 2005

Google helps to stop comment spam

I'm sure you have heard, but Google are at it again. This time they are helping with the comment spam problem. By adding a new tag to links that users post on blog comments Google will know not to follow the links. Of course if you implement this then all links posted by users will be affected as far as the PR issue goes but the main reason for posting a link under normal circumstances would be to make the link available to other people, which isn't affected.

The updates are easily made to most web based applications that allow users to post comments or links. With this change being made, we'll have to see how it will affect the amounts of comment spam being posted and also what impact it will have on trackback based spam.

Will you be making this change on user comments / trackbacks?

Since my spam problem is resolved, in my case I believe if I made the change it would have an impact on spam PR that is never posted to the live pages and will also affect legitimate comment links. I'd see no loss towards the spam that doesn't make it through anyway and all other user links would loose out. It may well stop the amount of attempted comment spam messages, but they don't have any impact on resources that I notice. I'm undecided on making this change at the moment.

Post ID: 638, posted by jase at 11:01 PM
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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

X-Files sequel movie in the works

Good news for all X-Files fans, it looks like there is going to be a new film which will be released during 2006. The film probably will not carry on from the last ever episode for a number of reasons, one of the main things is that the film will need to be one that can be watched by everyone rather than people that were interested in the series. Check out the full details of the interview with David.

Post ID: 637, posted by jase at 11:38 PM
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Tuesday, January 18, 2005

List of tasks

Having all this free time at the moment, I was hoping to catch up on a lot of things and complete some tasks that I've got on my list of things that need to be worked on.

I've got some things completed but there is a lot that needs to be done. I'm going to buy a nice laptop shortly, which will come in use when I am down in London. I've got a few things to sort out still such as accomodation. It looks like it is going to be a last minute thing, but we'll see.

Having all this free time actually gets boring when you are not doing that much, I should have gone away abroad!

Post ID: 636, posted by jase at 11:50 PM
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Monday, January 17, 2005

Soulseek issues

I'm a proud user of Soulseek but recently I've been having problems that although have been reported, are annoying. It seem that Soulseek is now not compatible with a number of other applications. Some of the applications such as Netlimiter are required to be used with certain programs that use all of the available upstream bandwidth unless they are limited.

When you have ADSL, programs that don't have built in limiters are a problem so using Netlimiter or an alternative application to reserve a small amount of upstream bandwidth is required. Using Netlimiter poses a problem for me when Soulseek is no longer compatible with it. I don't want to have to change application, but at the moment Soulseek keeps exiting after a while.

I'm going to try updating as a new build has been released. Hopefully that might resolve the issues that I and others have been having. It shows you how much you rely on something when it stops working.

Post ID: 635, posted by jase at 10:58 PM
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Sunday, January 16, 2005

That annoying comment spam

I've disabled the ability for comments to be posted without being registered and logged in via TypeKey for the moment. I've not managed to figure out the problem I'm having with MT-BL and I can't find anyone else that is having the same issue. The amount of comment spam that is being posted and sitting in the moderation queue is quite high and it's just a waste of time having to keep removing it. I'm getting around 100-200 per day at the moment, all of which would normally be blocked by MT-BL.

Once the blacklist is back up and running I will switch the ability to post without being registered back on, although comments from users not authenticated via TypeKey will still be moderated. Also, the issue where the comments boxes were not always visible without selecting the area with a mouse has also been fixed.

Post ID: 634, posted by jase at 10:02 PM
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Google Zeitgeist

Google has just released the end of year report, Google Zeitgeist, which details information such as the most popular search terms for the year. Some of the results are quite interesting. You can get data relating to which entity of Google was used based on the Google domain, the United Kingdom for example. There is also a weekly report available.

Post ID: 633, posted by jase at 09:43 PM
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Saturday, January 15, 2005

LiveJournal is down

LiveJournal is currently down due to a massive power failure at Internap. Power has been restored but at present data is being integrity checked. Updates on the situation can be found here.

It just goes to show that even when you have a number of redundant methods of power, UPS should still be used.

Post ID: 632, posted by jase at 12:17 PM
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Friday, January 14, 2005

The Huygens probe has landed on Titan

Earlier today the Huygens probe touched down on Titan and started sending back the data. The ESA & NASA are reporting the mission as a 100% success. I tried viewing the JPL site for the mission earlier and it was dead, but appears to be up and running now, that must have had something to do with the Slashdot effect combined with all of the other traffic generated from other sites.

It's back up now though, so go check it out to see the images, audio & other data sent back from the probe.

Post ID: 631, posted by jase at 11:52 PM
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Thursday, January 13, 2005

iPod Shuffle

There is a new iPod in town, the iPod Shuffle. It comes in 512MB or 1GB versions, so even less capacity than the iPod Mini selection. Not ideal if you have a lot of music, but if you want something really small and light then this would be the ideal choice providing you don't want to store a lot of music as woulf one of the iPod Mini models.

I recently got my iPod Photo 60GB model from the states. I'll be able to fill the 60GB easily, when I get round to putting more tunes on it. At the moment I've put about 10GB worth of music on there. The new iPod Shuffle starts at a low price as well which is another thing to consider as the prices of the iPod units are still quite high. I know I always compare the disk capacity to buying an actual hard disk which for the same money, you'd get a lot more storage space than you do when buying an iPod.

Post ID: 630, posted by jase at 05:06 AM
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Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Shopping via WordPress

Here's a new take on the WordPress system, an Origami site is being powered by it. That's right, the shopping cart & indeed the entire site is powered by WordPress. Now that is something new, but it goes to show the kinds of things that are possible with WordPress if you really want them to be. The site is a side project of Jennifer who runs Scripty Goddess.

Post ID: 629, posted by jase at 11:51 PM
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Tuesday, January 11, 2005

A number of things to sort out

With starting my new job based in London next month, I've got a number of things to sort out. Knowing me, I'll leave a lot of it until the last minute. I'm not sure what I am doing with regards to accomodation just yet but I'll probably end up renting a room or sharing but if I can find a decent place near to the office that is a decent monthly price then I'll probably do that instead as I would rather have my own place over sharing with people I don't know.

In about six months I will probably be looking to buy a place with one of my friends. With the joint buying power of both of us we can get something better, maybe around the London area or maybe a bit further out. We will both be working in London so it makes sense because we'll be investing money every month rather than throwing it away on renting. In the long run, the property will obviously be an investment and if the time came to sell it then we'd get our money back plus profit.

I'll see what happens, but at least doing it this way I won't be rushing and will know by that point if I want to stay in the new position. I'm not sure if I will state the name of this new company at the moment, maybe not at all. I'll say for now, it's another big American company. After the trouble some people have had with their employers knowing about and reading their blogs, maybe this is a good opportunity for me to start clean in that area, even though I've not had any trouble there is always the potential, especially when joining a new employer.

When you know people that work at the same company as you are reading your blog, you might not have the freedom to talk about certain things that are work related or not. It could be even worse if they know it is yours but you don't know they know. If they read it but don't know it is yours then it is alright to exercise your freedom of thought and speech more easily, which is why I have the opportunity of doing so now, with the company change coming up.

In light of being able to speak about anything more freely by keeping some information such as the company name private, I think I'll not disclose that information at the moment. It could definately be the better option due to some of my thoughts and opinions that I may decide to share with you, regarding various things employers might not like their staff discussing, work related and various other subjects.

Post ID: 628, posted by jase at 06:45 PM
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Monday, January 10, 2005

Expectations

When you have an expectation, no matter what it is you would like it to be met. In business this is even more important. I've learned via previous experiences that setting the expectation of a customer is one of the most important things you can do in relation to the entire customer experience that a company can provide.

Of course, meeting the expectations of a customer is good, but beating them is even better. The problem is that most of the time no expectation is set by a company and even when it is, sometimes it is broken. In this situation, depending on the circumstances it may be more appropriate not to set any expectations rather than set some and then fail to meet them. Aiming to beat what a customer expects by over providing is the key. More often than not I find that my expectations, although usually clear, are not met.

One of the worst things a company can do is agree something with a customer and then fail to deliver. Something as simple as being told you will get a call back shortly & then not receiving one is something I find annoying and I also find that it happens to me quite a lot. I've had banks do it & various other companies. I have no problems in saying great things about companies who can deliver a good service but generally when people experience good things with a company then don't always talk about it.

When someone has a bad experience with a company they will talk. I know I usually do. It's just how the system works. Due to the technical customer facing roles I've worked in, I have learnt a lot about the whole customer relationship topic and because of this I probably notice issues more than a standard consumer might.

Due to the recent bad experiences I've had with a number of companies, some not even responding to comlpaint letters, I've come to a number of conclusions. The bottom line is a lot of companies need to get their acts together because the customer service provided is definately not what it should be & being able to provide a half decent service is not really a hard thing to achieve, even when the company is large and has a lot of customers, they are all as important as each other but with some companies they don't have this view towards their customer base.

Post ID: 627, posted by jase at 10:38 PM
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Sunday, January 9, 2005

Tsunami video footage

I've just watched a number of videos that were filmed by people in various locations that were affected by the Tsunami. After watching these videos, I now realise the power of the ocean. The destruction that was caused in a matter of minutes will take so long to be cleared up and the lives that have been lost can never be replaced.

When events like these occur it makes you really appreciate it when you live in places where these things do not happen. There are more videos and links relating to the Tsunami incident available here as well as many more sites that a quick Google search reveals.

Post ID: 626, posted by jase at 11:22 PM
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Saturday, January 8, 2005

It must be a mistake!

I've recently received some cards through from my share broker,
TD Waterhouse, to allow me to gain access to funds in my account as well as pay for things using them as well if I wish. Upon receiving them, I've noticed that the expiry date is 04/05 on both cards. There must be a mistake, a card that is only valid for four months?

Something has obviously gone wrong as I can't see them sending me new cards all the time since there is no need. I'm going to call them on Monday and see what they say. There is a first time for everything I know, but I've not heard of anyone experiencing this card expiry issue before.

It's not like banks have a standard set period that all customer cards are valid for so that they all cycle at the same time. Maybe TD Waterhouse do use that method, but I doubt it as it's better to spread the new card creation load over time rather than have them all expire at the same time.

Post ID: 625, posted by jase at 11:40 PM
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Friday, January 7, 2005

Isn't it annoying when...

You sign up for something that requires email verification, which just about covers every online based service these days, but the email never arrives. I've got this problem at the moment with Gravatar. I've tried a number of times, I guess it'll have to wait. It's not anything to do with my email, so must be a problem their end. These problems can never happen at the right time because there isn't one, I'll have to report the issue so it can be addressed.

I also had a problem with TypeKey in that the account I registered when it was first launched appeared to have been taken by someone else after I signed up and I did have the email confirmation to confirm the account was setup for me and I followed the link in the email to confirm my email address.

That was quite strange and after sending support requests about it I never got a reply so ended up creating another account which wasn't a problem but the circumstances of what happened with my first one are currently unknown to me, maybe I'll find out at some point.

Post ID: 624, posted by jase at 11:46 PM
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Thursday, January 6, 2005

Gmail delivery issues

If you have a Gmail account and your address has a special character that is used as part of your email address, you might find some of the mail that is being delivered to you is actually meant for another Gmail account that is the same as yours but without the special character, it has been reported.

An address of abc.def@gmail.com could receive mail that is meant for abcdef@gmail.com with no user intervention required. Google appears to have implemented a partial fix already, at least to stop new accounts being created with special characters. I'm unable to currently confirm if the real flaw has been addressed yet.

Post ID: 623, posted by jase at 07:47 PM
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Broken televisions

As strange as it is, there have been three televisions all go down in my house recently, but I'm sure I know why. The first one is quite an old one, so a component probably blew. The other two were fine but they had been stored in colder places for a while and not used.

When they were recently switched on after being moved from where they were located they stopped working shortly after being turned on. The cold temperature must have caused an issue, going from quite cold and not used to a warmer climate in the main part of the house and being switchred on for the first time in a while.

They have all been repaired now though but I'll have to ensure that they are stored in a warm place when not in use, the freezing cold air didn't go down to well obviously!

Post ID: 622, posted by jase at 01:06 AM
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Wednesday, January 5, 2005

The Google PR of some sites has reduced

Ben asked me earlier if it was just him or had the PR of his blog gone down. I checked and it has, I'm not sure why. Mine is still at five. It might be due to the pool of sites that Google is indexing has increased a lot and as such the PR has been spread out more.

The funny thing is that even some of the Google country based domains such as google.co.uk are not reporting the maximum PR of 10 which is what they normally show as, which is interesting.

Post ID: 621, posted by jase at 10:55 PM
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Six Apart to buy LiveJournal

Ben has informed us ealier today about a post he saw which states that Six Apart are about to buy LiveJournal. Ben has a few interesting ideas as to the intentions of this takeover, due to the mostly free nature of the LiveJournal services and the more commercial side that Six Apart has been taking Movable Type and their other creations such as TypePad.

Of course there is a large potential gain with regard to the number of new users that will be acquired by Six Apart if the plan goes ahead. We'll have to wait and see, since another party might win the bid instead or it might all be made up. Let us wait for official confirmation.

Post ID: 620, posted by jase at 10:29 PM
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Veritas NetBackup issues

For some reason Veritas NetBackup has been ignoring the rules that I have set in place to exclude certain files such as logs from the daily incremental backup schedule. Over 200 megabytes of compressed data was being backed up on a daily basis which was way too much considering a backup of most of that data is was not required.

As far as I'm aware the configuration allows files to be excluded regardless of path & just by name but that does not appear to have been working. It looks like the full path must be supplied and then any wildcards can be used if required.

I've updated the configuration to include the full paths for the exclusions, which now falls in line with the full paths which were setup in the include file. It makes sense, but could create a lot more work when creating large backup policies of the same exclusions of the same files in different locations in the directory structure.

Another important thing to note is that when including a number of directories so that the directories are not lost when a full system restore is done, it would be a good idea to exlude the files in the directory like so:

/test/test/*

Instead of excluding the directory itself also, which would be the case if the configuration was as below:

/test/test/

It might not be an issue, but if a number of applications require certain directories to be present and they are not, more time might be experienced where the system or applications are down because of missing directories. Hopefully that should solve the issue, but I'll have to wait and see the results of the backup tonight, in the logs tomorrow. If not, it'll back to the documentation & Google for me!

Post ID: 619, posted by jase at 09:48 PM
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Tuesday, January 4, 2005

Comment spam sitting in the queue

It just goes to show how much spam really does get submitted when the blacklist plugin that is in place is not working. I've not yet fixed the issue that was introduced as part of the recent upgrade that I did and the amount of spam that has been coming though is quite high.

It'll all get wiped out once I get the plugin going again and of course, it can sit in the queue for ages as it'll never make it to the live pages, the only problem is that some real comments might not be approved for a while.

There is an easy way around that, use TypeKey to comment!

Post ID: 618, posted by jase at 11:10 PM
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Monday, January 3, 2005

Ben is back

Ben has launched his new look blog, which is now also powered by WordPress instead of Movable Type.
There are a number of other changes and additions too. It has been a long time coming but he has finally sorted it although there are still some things he's working on. The spam problem will be under control now, due to the code verification he's put in place and also via the use of a MTBL port to WordPress.

Well done to Ben!

Post ID: 617, posted by jase at 11:04 PM
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Sunday, January 2, 2005

Anti-Santy worm spreading around

There seems to be a new work spreading about that is searching for sites still running vulnerable phpBB versions and then once found it attacks them via the highlight bug in viewtopic.php, it then patches the system to stop any of the other worms from compromising the system and and posts a message to a file called secure.php which contains the text:

"viewtopic.php secured by Anti-Santy-Worm V4 your site is a bit safer, but upgrade to >= 2.0.11"

I'm not sure if the patch that is applied actually works and if it can be trusted since I've not seen the changes made for myself and have not found anyone else that has confirmed it yet.

There has been reports of potential DOS caused by repeated requests made by this worm, so it's not all good.

Post ID: 616, posted by jase at 02:24 AM
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Saturday, January 1, 2005

The first day of 2005

Well after having a long night last night and not arriving home until 8.30am I went straight to bed as it had been a good night and I needed to sleep of the current state of mind that I was in.

I've not long been up and I'm still feeling tired so will probably try and get some more sleep in a while.

Now it's 2005 I might get around to doing things that I've been putting off. I finally got MT upgraded so that is one thing off the list. More to come!

As for resolutions for 2005, I don't have any!

Post ID: 615, posted by jase at 11:25 PM
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