The real death of a blog

Permalink 09:41:43 pm, Categories: General, 113 words  

Two months on from my original Death of a Blog post, I think I really am going to kill the thing off. I've not posted anything for ages, I keep getting more and more spam (although most of it is still being successfully blocked) and it's not really being very useful.

Now to work out the easiest way of archiving all of the pages in to static pages, because all I've found on a quick skim round is a "generate main page" option (which, incidentally, fails!)

Once everything is archived, I'll be keeping the site for static additions and hosting things like the DevIL partial-port that I plan to release at some point.


Where Was I...

Permalink 11:53:59 am, Categories: General, 477 words  

I've been tagged by Ben for a meme. There's a first time for everything, and it'll fail miserably at the end when I'm supposed to tag others, but never mind!

In keeping with Ben's final comments on haircuts in Secondary school, I'll track my haircut developments.

One year ago...

Just like Ben, I was at Fujitsu Siemens Computers in Bracknell, Berkshire. Around this time I was probably still being the lone maintainer of the WCMS, with a small possibility of being an advisor on the Service Pack v2 system, although that may have been later. Teaching Stefan the joys of WCMS was undoubtably later, somewhere more in June.

By this time last year, I'd probably also got used to the fact that Bracknell somehow seems to have more Scallies than Salford - home of the Scally!

One thing that I learned that year - try to avoid jobs where your software development is dictated by Sales/Marketting!

Hair: As it is now. Short and spiked at the front, only a more controlled spiking than I tend to do now.

Five years ago...

Again, like Ben, I was in my AS-Level year at College (yep, it's going to get boringly similar!) I was at Pendleton College, Salford experiencing real Scallies, while having no idea that the Ben Kingsley theatre was so-named because of a certain Sir Ben Kingsley!

By this time I'd probably have been studying for the AS-Level exams, with the line-up including Maths, Physics, Computing and History, plus the obligatory (and rather pointless) General Studies. I have yet to find one University that wanted higher than D grades that would accept General Studies as an A Level. Even worse was Key Skills. Don't even bother asking about that!

Hair: center parting, the same as I had until the first year or two of University.

Ten years ago...

It's strange to think that it was so long, but I would have been eleven (my birthday isn't until July, so I always did exams when I was a year younger than everyone else) and in the third term of the first year.

I can't think what we did in the first year, but I was at George Tomlinson School, Kearsley, named after the Minister for Education from 1947 to 1951 (probably around the time the school was built).

Hair: side parting, carried on from Primary School. I don't know why, but it lasted a fair few years!

Passing on the Meme

This is where it falls apart. I know absolutely no-one beyond Ben and Stevie who have blogs. My Fiancee has an LJ, but that won't pick up pingbacks as far as I know.

Oh well, let's try it anyway. I'll tag:

  • Stevie on the off-chance that he reads this
  • Asli, my Fiancee (it's her writing name) on the off-chance that she hasn't had one of these via her LJ friends recently.


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.


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)


Death of a blog?

Permalink 06:50:10 pm, Categories: General, 285 words  

It's not a big news-worthy thing in the land of the Net, but I'm contemplate blog-icide.

My fiancee, Asli of PerfectImagination.co.uk, has just bought a domain so that she has somewhere to put her Harry Potter Fanfiction in her own archive. She then wanted visitors to be able to comment, which would require a database - only we're using all six of our allocated databases (one for the CMS at HWT, one for the CMS at Skins@HWT, one for the HWT forums, one for the CMS at Perfect Imagination, one for my own local copy of PPHLogger (one that ignores AOL dialup users) and one for this blog).

I've managed to cut it down to five by combining the forum and main HWT database in to one (HWT gets around 70 visitors per day, so sharing connections isn't exactly a big issues!), but now I'm wondering what the point of this blog is. Even with my regularly updated Regular Expression spam filter I've received far more successful spam comments in the last few months than I've received comments in the whole life of the blog, I've done various bits of development that I haven't blogged, and I've not got anything interesting or insightful to say about any standards, languages, software packages or anything technical like that. All in all, the original idea for this blog was good, but it's lacking its point and it's taking up a database for it.

The blog will remain for a while (at least until I work out a static HTML replacement of links to various projects) but don't worry if it disappears. Yes, that means you, Ben - I'm sure you're about the only one who reads this! :D


Is it immoral or wrong...

Permalink 04:54:16 pm, Categories: General, 82 words  

I've just had yet another spammer who seems to have come along with a slightly more targetted and personal spam (i.e. added a tiny related comment and lots of spam and links) and it got me thinking again: Is it immoral or wrong to get a spam saying "great site! Come to crazydoctoryouwouldnevertrust.com and get illegal and dubious drugs..." and remove all of it but the compliment?

Just a thought for the big wide world to be going on with :)


A new year, a new Fiancee

Permalink 11:40:14 am, Categories: General, 146 words  

OK, so she's not 'new' in that I wasn't going out with her before, or in that I've had one fiancee and replaced her or anything, but the title is the best I can come up with!

While on holiday in Colorado I proposed to my girlfriend of now, very nearly, two years. It wasn't a suprise proposal, it was a mutual agreement that we wanted that extra step - it makes it much easier: you get told what ring they like, you know they won't say "no" or "not yet, it's too early", and all you have to think of is what to say where and when!

I actually proposed on the 18th December in the snow of Colorado's Rocky Mountains (Winter Park is much better for memories than normal England!), but I've only just had time to post here about it :)

Happy New Year everyone!


Payment for articles?!?

Permalink 09:08:25 am, Categories: General, 446 words  

OK, so this post doesn't really cover anything I'd normally blog about, but it just has to be posted for the same "it's just so stupid" reasons as I post the list of strange searches.

Someone has, overnight, posted on the Hive World Terra forums with the topic (and I quote exactly) "im interested in writing for Hiveworld terra". They then go on to say the following (again, completely uncorrected):

I was wondering if you would consider paying for writing scenarios, campagins, research, background information or anything else you miight think of. i wont ask for too much and I will gladly write somthing for you for free in order to give you a sample of the kind of work id write. If you decline I would like to know if you can give me any other places I could turn to. Thanks, Sam

Now firstly, why should I pay anyone to write content for me? I can make content, other people occasionally submit content for free (the site only gets around 90-100 visitors per day, with a good chunk looking to illegally download a copy of a codex, so contributions are infrequent) so why should I pay someone?

Secondly, I'm sure Games Workshop Legal would be up in arms about someone charging for a derivative work when it wasn't them or a retailer stocking their product. They're picky enough as it is, even when you're not making a profit anywhere!

Thirdly, if that post is anything to go by, then why would I even want his work? (I'm assuming 'his' from the name Sam and the username 'theguyyouknow'!) There are a few typos in there, the grammar could definitely do with improvement - Fundamentals of Capital Letters and Apostrophes for one thing - and a new paragraph or two might have been useful. I know my grammar isn't always perfect, and I might make the occasional typo, but as a presentation of "do you want me to write for you?" he could have done better. It's almost like saying "I want to write programs for you" and then presenting a small program that errors and exceptions and doesn't do all of what it should do! One thing that might explain it, though, is his email address - aol.com, never normally associated with good spelling and grammar (or good service, or good anything really :D)

If he's interested in writing for HWT then I'll gladly accept his work. If, however, he is interested in writing for the money then he doesn't stand much of a chance in the fan-community at all.

Now to wait and see where the topic goes from here and whether he actually bothers coming back!


Hyperspin for PHP page monitoring

Permalink 11:14:48 am, Categories: General, 286 words  

I've had a few occasions where my site has been unavailable because the server load was so high that Apache stopped serving PHP pages or the database was completely snarled up and non-responsive. Having set up a free SiteUptime.com monitor for my domains, it gave me some idea of when the site was down. Unfortunately it is only half-hourly and doesn't seem to check that content is being server, only that the server responds on port 80 (which it will eventually do sometimes, even if PHP isn't being served).

Recently, I found out about Hyperspin, who also do website monitoring as well as web server monitoring. This means that it'll monitor my PHP pages instead of just port 80 - hurrah! A simple free signup and I know have Hyperwave Monitoring for hiveworldterra.co.uk set up to check every five minutes. I could have set it up to check every minute, but I thought that was a little excessive :D

So far it all seems good, and the report is useful and customisable (so I can show outages, downtime for the previous month, time of next check etc). The only potential bad point is that they might end up killing my free account at some point - but they don't specify when. I've looked around and all I can find is bits saying "upgrade to pro" and an FAQ saying that sites might be restricted if you keep signing up for new free accounts as the last one runs out.

So, the public report is available for those who want it. Since it's all on the same server, the report applies to Hive World Terra, Skins @ Hive World Terra, Hive World Terra Forums, this blog and Perfect Imagination.


Junk removed from logs

Permalink 05:33:11 pm, Categories: General, 280 words  

It won't stop those pain in the arse spammers trying referal spam on my site (I don't even publically show referals, so it's useless for them anyway) but I've just cleared out my referal logs. Removing v[insert word here].com, any domains containing "real-estate" (or without the hyphen), mortgage, medications and realty seems to have done the trick. I've also added some custom filtering into the PHP code so that they get blocked. It might be a little agressive - if anyone should get refered from doctordolittle.com or ... some other domain that contains one of the specific words that I can't think of at the moment, then they should get a "bad character in referer" error. I didn't do it for the the v[insert word here].com domains, because other than the v at the start there was nothing specific enough - vjurour, viner and v a few other things, but anything I could think of would have been too inclusive of innocents.

My referals list is now down to 13! (because b2evo ignores search engines in the normal list) Now to see how long it'll stay that way!

Update: OK, one referer snook in overnight (realantiques who were, unsuprisingly, gambling spam). Some more filters have been put in place for the more obvious and less-likely-to-block-good-things pages they tried referer spamming with.

Update 2 (7th December): Some more referers have managed to get through, but I am now blocking a much larger list while trying to keep it to a method that will block as few valid referers as possible. Each referer that gets through is a referer that gives me more of an idea on how to block them :)


Odd searches hitting my site (take 2)

Permalink 10:21:39 pm, Categories: General, 256 words  

OK, I promised in the original post that there would be more when I found them, so here are some of the more interesting or odd searches that hit my sites (some won't have links for now because I'm looking at a list of search terms, not the actual searches):

  • Top Rated CMS (and yes, my site ranks top! without even trying!)
  • "homemade camoflage" - did they want tips on DIY fatigues?
  • "w40kdata-sharedtextures-full.sga download", "warhammer sharedtextures download", "w40kdata-sharedtextures-full.sga. download", "w40kdata sharedtextures full.sga", "w40kdata-sharedtextures-full" and "w40kdata-sharedtextures-full.sga" (plus several others with different spacings and odd characters) - the first three (six people in total) definately wants to download it, and the twelve who searched the last one might. Why? It's over 250MB and comes with the Dawn of War game!
  • "dowfiles.com" and "dowfile" - always good to rate high on the competitor's name! I currently rank second for dowfile and top ten for dowfiles.com.
  • "camino netscape navigator skin" - not got anything about that on my site. I do have a page saying that the CSS of the skin is compatible with various browsers though.
  • "rdn wiki website" - strangely, I rank top for that, even though Relic have the actual Wiki (which isn't even in the top 50!)
  • "homemade drop pods" - model sized, not the real thing I hope!

I think that'll do for now. There are more strange searches in my lists, but you're looking at more than 2,500 different search terms that I'd have to sift through, just for Skins@HWT!


The power of YUM

Permalink 02:24:56 pm, Categories: General, 276 words  

Just a slightly off-topic blog entry because I'm finding it so useful recently, but I definately do like YUM.

For those who don't know, I have a laptop with Fedora Core Linux installed on it that I do all of my PHP programming on (I wouldn't trust Windows to be a good and reasonable web server for PHP). Before that I had Redhat 9 and before that was Redhat 7.3. Both of these had an "up2date" service to allow you to update packages, but I didn't use it for installing much. Now, Fedora Core has a package manager called YUM and I'm really liking it.

OK, so like much of Linux it's still command line based, but I'm sure someone has probably made a GUI for it. What I really like is how simple it is to use, how powerful it is and how it resolves dependancies for me. Installing individual packages was always a pain because you'd download something, find it needed something else that you didn't have and go and hunt that other thing down. Once you'd hunted it down, the new thing could end up having something else as a dependancy, and you'd be forced to hunt again. YUM resolves all of those dependencies for you and just asks "do you want to download this and all of it's dependancies at X many MB?"

Even more useful at this very moment is that you can query it for "what provides file Y?" and it'll tell you the package and then you can install it if it's listed.

Now, back to improving the usability of my laptop through the use of Widgets/applets and Mac-styling!


IBBoard.com selling for $1,000

Permalink 12:00:17 pm, Categories: General, 148 words  

Slightly crazy, and not entirely web-dev/Dawn of War related, but I just checked up on the IBBoard.com domain (after I saw a new bulletin board software's "coming soon" message there several months ago, and the WhoIs.sc report said that it was on sale.

Obviously, like so many projects, the IBBoard forum software ground to a halt and now they want rid of the domain. They're selling it on Sedo.com (sounds suspiciously like "seedy" to me!) for $1000! I was thinking of buying the domain when it ran out, just so that I am IBBoard on the net, but that price is just rediculous! This domain (IBBoard.co.uk) only cost me a tiny amount over £3 per year!

Oh well, such is the stupidity of Capitalism and domain names! Looks like I'll have to stick with only having .co.uk and .com for Hive World Terra.


Blog version updated

Permalink 05:28:09 pm, Categories: General, 86 words  

Well, that was a little too much work for what it did! phpBB give you 'diff' files to show you the changes, b2evo goes from a 0.9.0 build to a 0.9.1 build (not exactly a huge leap) and says that they don't promise anything if you don't delete _all_ of your files first and effectively install from scratch!

Oh well, the Blog should be faster now, and possibly more secure. It might have a few new features as well, but I didn't pay much attention to those!


Odd searches hitting my site

Permalink 03:26:27 pm, Categories: General, 192 words  

Checking over stats, its always strange to see some of the things that some people search for. Some of them are obvious oddities such as the site domain, which is generally someone running a default Firefox homepage where the Google Search box steals focus when they meant to type it into the address field. Others are a little stranger:

  • i want to download badges for dawn of war - my site turns up top, but why do people use 'real language' sentences on search engines? and even stranger, why didn't they use the normal question format of "where can I download....?"? and why did the person come back with the same search an hour and a half later?! I still think Yahoo! should have turned round and said "good for you, go do it then!"
  • terra server uk - I don't know what they were looking for - nothing in the results seems close! I managed to get hit on the name, the "server load" and the fact that I'm a UK site. Do people not read the descriptions/excerpts?

I'm sure I have more burried away in my logs - just got to find them.


Skins@HWT browser stats

Permalink 12:14:14 pm, Categories: General, Web Design, 96 words  

Now I don't have anything against people who use IE, and hopefully IE7 might even be an improvement, but I'm always impressed by the browser usage stats for the Skins @ HWT website.

Granted, it's a gaming website, so people are more likely to go and download an alternative, but here are the current stats from the first month (roughly, it's actually one month and half a day)

Internet Explorer	1733	 	62.6 %
Firefox			880	 	31.8 %
Opera			68	 	2.5 %
Mozilla			32	 	1.2 %
Netscape		29	 	1 %
Safari			16	 	0.6 %
Konqueror		1	 	0 %

Over 30% Firefox usage and nearly down to 60% IE usage (it keeps moving between 60 and 65%) - now that's the way I like it!



Permalink 04:54:53 pm, Categories: Dawn of War, General, Web Design, 90 words  

Today is my birthday! I've not done much (wandered into Manchester, met up with my brother, watched Eddie Izzard's Circle DVD, probably lounging and watching CSI:Crime Scene Investigations series 4 on DVD tonight) but I am 21. I'm old :D

As for the websites, I've about got an improvement for the Downloads area complete. I'll upload it tomorrow, update all of the Dawn of War downloads so that they reference the top few relevant downloads (including some on Hangar-8's site - the link exchange is now done and traffic is flowing :) )


Starting a blog

Permalink 10:25:47 am, Categories: General, 167 words  

A blog seems to be such a common thing now - anyone from political idealists to programmers and website designers to any old person who just wants an online diary that others can read. And now I'm getting in on the act!

I started with the IBBoard.co.uk domain as a place to host my forums (Internet Bulleting Boards, hence the domain!) and then took IBBoard as my name on lots of forums. Then, after moving my website to an IBBoard subdomain, I've finally moved it to its own domain (the main Hive World Terra and the Dawn of War site Skins@HWT plus the HWT Forums) leaving the IBBoard domain empty. Since I'm no longer working and am currently on holiday before doing my final year at University, I thought I'd start a blog, just on the off chance that anyone cares!

So here it is, IBBoard the blog, with it's very first message and a default skin that will definately be changed at some point!