Windows authentication is annoying

Permalink 05:31:05 pm, Categories: General, 251 words  

I'm trying to be legitimate, and all it does is causes me problems.

I got my laptop (an Acer) about four years ago. It came with XP Home and one of those annoying restore disks that'll trash everything and reset partitions and things. About a year later, I removed XP and installed Redhat Linux. Some time between then and now I replaced the 10GB disk with a 40GB disk.

Now I'm trying to reinstall XP as a dual-boot (hopefully keeping my Linux install intact) but it doesn't want to activate. Installation wouldn't recognise my CD key, so I used a pirated one to get past it. Now I'm at activation, I've put my actual CD key in and it is still rejecting it. I contacted the MS activation phone line to see if that would help, but all they said is go to Acer.

All I'm trying to do is reinstall Windows using a legitimate license that isn't even installed on any other machines, and all it'll do is get in my way :\ There's got to be a way to get the stupid thing to work, because the worst part is that it hasn't even given me my 30 days without activation.

Hey ho, if I finally get it working then it might eventually be worth it to be able to download WGA-secured items like the DirectX SDK and to be able to work in Visual Studio while my fiancee plays Sims2 on my desktop machine...Oh, to have the simple life!

99.9% of spammers now blocked!

Permalink 04:02:03 pm, Categories: General, Programming, 148 words  

It was so easy and in the last two weeks since I installed the extra modification, I've had only two spammers successfully get through with trackbacks. The tactic? Block all trackbacks whose titles don't follow one of the simplest rules of English that most, if not all, bloggers I know follow. Capitalisation. And if that rule catches real trackbacks, well then they don't deserve to track back to me if they can't use capitals! Luckily, it allows through trackbacks like this one will be, as well.

The two that got through had actually used some capitalisation, so now I've noticed another pattern that never occurs in real trackbacks. It involves the blog's name and the supposed blog post's title, and it'd have caught the two that got through. Hopefully this'll be the last of the anti-spam coding until I eventually find something better to do with the domain.


Whose bright idea was Visual Basic?

Permalink 10:09:25 pm, Categories: Programming, 544 words  

Many many years ago (sometime around September 2004 according to the time stamp on the zip of the source code, but I suspect it was earlier) I took over development of the Rollcall Army Builder. It was first written in 1997 by someone called John L. Martin, and then a guy I knew only as MudiPaws looked after it for a little while and updated it to be compatible with Warhammer 6th Edition.

Anyway, following some recent attempts to get the various sites of the Warvault.Net Toplist to contribute to new files, it turned out that Games Workshop have added extra complications to some armies since MudiPaws' updates. Time for more work from me! Progress is being logged in a thread on the HWT Forums.

The application itself is great - writing it from scratch would be much bigger project than I'd normally undertake on my own (or at least bigger than I'd undertake and complete) but modifying it isn't so bad. The worst part is what it's written in - Visual Basic! Why? What on earth convinced anyone that Visual Basic was a good language to program in?

OK, so it isn't too difficult, and I can cope with not having to put semicolons at the end of lines etc. but I try doing an IF with "a or b" and it complains when I put in "||" for the OR symbol. An equivalent to a 'continue' statement in loops seems out of the question (one exists, but it doesn't want to recognise it for me in VB6), so I'm botching it with GoTo statements. ElseIf has to be one word, while End If is two. Concatenation using "string"&var&"string" errors, but "string" & var & "string" is fine because the & isn't trying to do anything strange to the variable.

There are only two good things I've found so far. First is that it is more direct about syntax errors - you have a syntax error on a line (like an IF without a comparison) and it won't let you do anything until you fix it. The counter side to that is if you start an IF and want to copy the statement from elsewhere, you've got to comment the line out, copy, paste and uncomment. There's a lot errors it won't catch, though. Loose typing means you can get away with a lot in valid syntax but invalid types, and it won't say anything until you run that exact line of code or enter the function that contains it.

The other good thing, something that I'm not sure whether it was re-introduced in .Net 2.0 or not, is editing on-the-fly. Hit an error, it tells you, you can edit the code and continue without having to restart. It's a great help if you're part way through a long-ish set of actions when you hit some mismatch that a C# compiler would have picked up, but that's one of the minus sides - a C# compiler would normally have picked it up before then!

Oh well, I guess updating the code is easier than writing the thing from scratch. I just don't have a clue who would ever want to call themselves a programmer and voluntarily work in VB. Maybe it was something about the 90s?

Yet more anti-spam coding

Permalink 02:36:42 pm, Categories: General, Programming, 175 words  

Although closing comments on all old posts has cut down on a lot of the spam, the odd bit is still getting through. Our neighbourhood repeat-IP spammer (instead of the usual spam-bot net spammers who come from a range of IPs with related spams) has tried again, and the usual range of trackback spam has continued.

I also changed the feedback emails that it sends me when someone's trackback gets stopped, and I've noticed something rather obvious to block a good proportion of the trackbacks dead - HTML character encoded vowels. OK, so people may need to use character encoding for some characters in their blog titles, that's not a problem, but only vowels? Not likely, unless it's a spammer hiding his "credit card" title from direct detection by disguising the vowels. The anti-spam system had already been converting them back to their real characters anyway, but now it stops trackbacks dead in their tracks if the encode vowels and only vowels.

Now to wait for the next set of trackbacks and see how it goes...


Comment closing

Permalink 11:11:50 am, Categories: General, 157 words  

Some of the newer comments that have been getting through now that I've fixed the bug in the commenting system have been rather non-descript (general 'Great site' messages). Rather than try to track down anything indicitive in them, I'm not disabling comments on all posts older than a month. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like it disables trackbacks as well, so I'll keep removing anything that does get through until I eventually replace the blog with a static CV/project portfolia. I make keep the blog archived in static HTML - I've yet to decide on that.

Edit: Nope, as I suspected, Trackbacks still work once commenting is disabled. This morning's spate of Trackback spams all seem to be from the same person though - identical IPs and all URLs ending with ~alejandro_6598/files/. The username has been banned in URLs and the IP address will be going soon ( - NetCatHosting.com - USA based, but the address is listed as Ukraine)