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Thu, 06 Dec 2007

Bad Behavior problem

When I tried to log onto my "entries" blog this morning, I found myself locked out. I got a 403 message and was told that my IP address was "associated with malicious behaviour", or something like that. The "fix this problem yourself" link didn't get me anywhere; and of course I could have contacted the site administrator (= myself) by e-mail, quoting the "technical support code" I found on the error page - but I couldn't log onto my administrator account either. So what the heck?

The problem was caused by the Bad Behavior plugin for WordPress, and deleting the relevant directory over FTP solved the problem. Apparently, Bad Behavior had gathered so much incriminating information on me in its log file that it decided to block me.

Interestingly, I was also blocked from accessing the Amity website. It ran Bad Behavior, too - until I deleted it this morning, too. How come that the plugin on both websites came to the conclusion that my IP address was part of the axis of evil?

Maybe Bad Behavior was correct after all? Maybe terrible stuff is being sent out from my IP address all the time because my computer was infected by a Trojan or something? I'm kind of worried, even though it seems very unlikely that anything is wrong with my computer. Maybe I should have had a close look at the log files instead of deleting the plugin directories on both websites right away.

Posted on 06 Dec 2007 at 11:22 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Wed, 05 Dec 2007

Dictators of Wikiland

Wikipedia is devoted to democratic consensus and the free exchange of ideas - right? Wrong! Apparently, it is run by an evil junta, whose members use a secret e-mail list to destroy anyone questioning their dictatorial rule. (Kerim twittered about this.)

Posted on 05 Dec 2007 at 14:24 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Gnome Blogs

I've been looking at a few of the blogs listed on the Gnome Blogs site. Most of the 98 blogs do seem rather dead, but there's some pretty good stuff, too.

Posted on 05 Dec 2007 at 14:13 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Lynx under Windoze

I have these periods when I love using text-based browsers. Lynx works under Windoze, sort of. Chinese characters are a big problem. - I prefer Links, but this I'd need to compile myself: fine in Linux, of course; way too much hassle in Windows.

Posted on 05 Dec 2007 at 13:55 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Tue, 04 Dec 2007

Will SpamFree make our website spam-free?

In addition to Akismet and Bad Behavior, I also installed WP-SpamFree on the Amity website. I'm curious to see if this plugin will really "virtually eliminate automated comment spam" as promised.

Posted on 04 Dec 2007 at 14:27 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Sat, 01 Dec 2007

IP addresses

Some basic information - useful for understanding what IP addresses are and how all this stuff works. Also, the relevant Wikipedia article.

Posted on 01 Dec 2007 at 14:55 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Fri, 30 Nov 2007

Plone for Belgium

Belgian local governments cooperate to develop Plone-based applications which manage documents, schedule appointments etc.: Networks effects: Plone for Belgium and beyond (a study by IDABC - European e-government services). I guess if it's good enough for Belgium, it'll work for us too ...

Posted on 30 Nov 2007 at 15:48 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Wed, 28 Nov 2007

Guide to intrusion detection etc.

A "compilation of resources that explain what intrusion detection and prevention are, how they work, troubleshooting, configurations and more", by SearchSecurity.com and SearchNetworking.com: Intrusion Detection and Prevention Learning Guide.

Also, 2 blogs which look promising: Conspicuous Chatter and TaoSecurity.

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 19:28 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

File upload - success

I got around the problem (whatever it may have been) by going back to the original files and folders and creating 2 separate .zip files from them instead of 1. The drawback of this solution is that it isn't foolproof: the person who is supposed to download and unzip the stuff may easily put them in 2 different places, which will wreck the whole thing. Foolproof or internet-proof, which do you prefer?

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 16:35 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Failed file upload (2)

Hmm ... Now, after 98%, I get a "Broken pipe" and "Remote site local filesystem disconnected" message. And I can't get over this point. What the heck is wrong here?

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 15:22 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Failed file upload

We tried to upload a file of about 110 MB to the server - and, at the office, got nowhere. The connection broke so often that we just had to give up after reconnecting to the server for several dozen times. In the end, the connection broke after just a few seconds and this didn't get any better. Was it a problem with FileZilla? With Windoze? A (probably temporary) problem with the internet connection at the office? At home now, I'm trying again - and it goes through without a hitch. 93% of the file are on the server already.

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 15:18 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Salt (2)

Two lovely introductions to the concept of salt etc.: one at hackerthreads.org, the other at ASPHeute.

Posted on 28 Nov 2007 at 13:53 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Tue, 27 Nov 2007


Salt is very closely related to the concept of nonce. I like Wikipedia. I also like the term "dictonary attack". I enjoyed reading an article about using Google for such an attack. Light Blue Touchpaper: another blog found on the way, and definitely one I'll go on reading. Hat tip to Schneier.

Oh, and the radio recording was OK.

Posted on 27 Nov 2007 at 17:31 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

FTP extension for Firefox

FireFTP works really well - and it's nice to be able to upload files to your server and see the results right away without ever leaving Firefox.

Posted on 27 Nov 2007 at 14:44 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Mon, 26 Nov 2007

Creating RSS from HTML (2)

Been there, done the learning, got the T-shirt. I wrote a PHP script, part of which I adapted from something I found (so I didn't actually do all the learning ...), which reliably produces the XML data I need for an RSS feed. These data are the output of the script when it is called; additionally, the script writes this output to a separate file named "index.rss". Strangely, Firefox syntax highlighting (in source view) doesn't work for this latter file - although it does for the former, which is named "index.php". Firefox also displays both files correctly, the result looks just like what you get when you open any out-of-the-box feed in the browser.

Google Reader, however, doesn't like my 2 files - it recognises neither the feed title nor any items. What I get is a feed named "(title: unknown)" without items. The markup looks exactly like the markup of another feed I have which works perfectly fine with Google Reader.

Might there be anything the matter with file headers which I don't understand? I just don't get it at all!

Posted on 26 Nov 2007 at 20:30 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Creating an RSS feed from an HTML file

I was rather surprised to find that PHP does not offer ready-made functions for parsing HTML, something similar to simplexml etc. for XML. OK, it's not so difficult to read an HTML file and hack it to pieces with regular expressions. But still ...

First of all, in order to get something to display for all 6 boxes on my new feeds page, I wrote an RSS file by hand for my photo galleries. This does the trick - but of course it would be so much nicer if I didn't need to update more than one file when I add another photo gallery. A PHP script should take this one file and produce a corresponding XML file whenever it is called.

Obviously, the perfect solution would be a PHP script which looks at the photo galleries directory and produces both an RSS feed and an "index.html" file on the fly. PHP has nice file functions! Yet where would the title of each feed item come from? Anyhow, for now I still have plenty to learn from trying to extract the relevant information from an HTML file and embed it in an XML file.

Posted on 26 Nov 2007 at 16:29 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Sun, 25 Nov 2007

Creating a feeds page with PHP

Fed up with dysfunctional downloadable scripts, I sat down and wrote some code to fetch and display my feeds. No need to look at the K2 sidebar widget.

Turns out that PHP has all you need - and what you need is no more than one specialised function: simplexml_load_file(). Any object created with this function has properties which are the XML nodes, e.g. ->channel, ->channel->item->title or ->item->link (depending, of course, on the structure of the XML file in question). Throw in a few control structures (if, foreach) and string functions (strlen, substr) and you're done. Tweaking the stylesheet so the output of my script is displayed nicely took me more time than writing and testing the script. I found the relevant chapter of the PHP manual at PHPBuilder very useful.

Since del.icio.us publishes an RDF feed, not a "normal" RSS one, I had to come up with 2 different versions of my "fetchFeed" function. (In an RDF file, an "item" is a child of the document - in an RSS file, it's a child of a "channel", which in turn is a child of the document.) Adapting the function to Atom or whatever is probably easy, too.

Posted on 25 Nov 2007 at 15:59 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Sat, 24 Nov 2007

Tweaked the "blox" plugin ...

... so now it creates <br /> tags instead of <br>. I'm using the following as a test:

a line
another line
a third line

Posted on 24 Nov 2007 at 13:10 in /technology/internet/blosxom. -- Permalink

Changing the date (etc.) of a file

Well, that was easy ... "touch -t 200711131100 filename" will change the date of this file to 2007 (year), 11 (month), 13 (day), 11 (hours), 00 (minutes). So, after correcting it, the relevant post goes back to where it came from. Nice to have shell access!

Posted on 24 Nov 2007 at 12:38 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Blosxom and W3C standards

I managed to tweak a few of my Blosxom files so that this blog is now "virtually" free of errors - it "almost" validates as XHTML 1.0 Transitional! I learned that the "blox" plugin, which automatically inserts <p> and <br> tags so you don't have to type them all the time, doesn't work properly when a paragraph starts with a tag (e.g. an <a href= ...>) and inserts <br> tags instead of (XHTML-compliant) <br /> ones. Also, it's best to escape characters like &.

When I corrected some of my posts and put them on the server again, of course they ended up on top of the stack - were posted with today's date. That's not what I want. So now I'm looking for a way to manipulate file dates on the server.

Posted on 24 Nov 2007 at 12:24 in /technology/internet/blosxom. -- Permalink

New homepage

I rewrote the index.html of my website from scratch. No more picture (of an onion which looks like a pig ...) but a portal: links to my web pages, both on site and elsewhere, plus the inevitable link to Tor. (I got the idea for the look and structure of the new homepage here.)

Posted on 24 Nov 2007 at 11:41 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Fri, 23 Nov 2007

Creating a feeds page - stuck

After trying several free PHP scripts, I'm giving up - at least for the time being. These scripts either don't work at all (produce fatal errors) or create HTML code that's dysfunctional in a ridiculous way (most of the code comes after </body></html>). I really don't feel like repairing something so utterly rotten.

The next step might be to try and figure out how the RSS sidebar widget of K2 works. First problem: where in the K2 code is this?

Posted on 23 Nov 2007 at 19:09 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Creating a feeds page

I'm trying to create a web page which will display several of my RSS feeds, in neat boxes sitting next to each other. Creating the boxes is, of course, no big deal with CSS. In order to convert the XML feeds to HTML which can then be displayed in the boxes, I need a script (preferably written in PHP). I'm too lazy to write such a script from scratch - although I would no doubt learn a lot in the process. So I'm looking for a script to download, which I can then adapt to my needs.

Posted on 23 Nov 2007 at 17:28 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Thu, 22 Nov 2007

Photo Matt

The blog of Matt Mullenweg, the founding developer of WordPress.

Posted on 22 Nov 2007 at 13:56 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Making WordPress more secure

A whitepaper titled "How to create a secure WordPress install", and some criticism from Dougal Campbell (Geek Ramblings, a blog with a great header image).

Posted on 22 Nov 2007 at 13:55 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Wed, 21 Nov 2007

Helpful CSS pages

Two of them: a CSS cheat sheet and a collection of elegant templates which you can simply copy & paste.

Posted on 21 Nov 2007 at 18:33 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink


Is this plugin for WordPress even better than Bad Behavior? For the time being, I'm really happy with the latter.

Posted on 21 Nov 2007 at 17:49 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

"What makes you happy?"

That's what tamba2 asks in the title of his blog. He seems to be an interesting guy - more interesting than you would think when you read only his blog entries, not his "About" page.

Posted on 21 Nov 2007 at 17:11 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

delicious bookmarks on my blog

I integrated my del.icio.us bookmarks into my "entries" blog, in the form of a "tag cloud". Also, I modified the "My other sites" page, adding screenshots and photos. My server is extremely slow - why?

Posted on 21 Nov 2007 at 17:03 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Cleaning up a delicious mess

I'm trying to get my del.icio.us bookmarks under control - there are so many which I will never need again, or which don't even work anymore. Above all, there are way too many tags: 140 or so!

Posted on 21 Nov 2007 at 14:59 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Tue, 20 Nov 2007

New look for this Blosxom blog

I couldn't keep my fingers off the stylesheet - now just about everything looks different here from before. Colours, fonts, sizes, boxes, backgrounds ... And it's still a simple "text only" blog. I like it this way.

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 21:40 in /technology/internet/blosxom. -- Permalink

Changed sidebar font size - success!

I came back to the problem of font size in the sidebars of the Amity website once more and finally figured out how to make the links to other (Amity-related) websites more prominent while leaving the fonts in all other parts of the sidebars just as small as I want them. An unexpected success! And this is a solution which I'm happy to live with.

.widget_links a { ... } did the trick. This selects only those links which are part of the division whose class is "widget_links". Once more, what would I ever do without the "CSS sidebar" of SelfHTML?

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 19:27 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Deezer (2)

After listening to a few songs, I'm somewhat underwhelmed by the sound quality on Deezer.com. Johnny Cash songs sound overamplified (but I guess it's just a low-quality sound file they're using). Also, the music gets interrupted quite often, which appears to be a server-side problem: my internet connection is really, really fast. These problems just might disappear if I created an account - but if they persisted, what would I want with one?

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 18:54 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink


A free and legal site for listening to music - sounds interesting.

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 16:27 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Changed sidebar font size

OK, so against my better judgement, I increased the font size for the sidebars on the Amity website - even though just a bit. I hope this will stop some dear colleagues from pestering me with "too small!" notes. At least I can reply now: "But I already made the letters larger!" Incidentally, by making this change I messed up K2 even more. Heaven knows how I'll ever get out again. Maybe I've already passed the point where re-creating the whole design from scratch is actually the easier and faster solution.

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 14:00 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Not updating K2

Regarding the Amity website, I think I'll leave K2 as it is instead of updating to the latest version. Updating can wait until a real problem turns up. It will be quite a hassle because I made quite a few changes to several of the K2 files, including the core.

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 11:36 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Bad Behavior, continued

In less than 5 days, Bad Behavior has blocked more than 120 attempts by spam bots to access my "entries" blog. No more than 2 spam comments got through, and these were caught by Akismet. Which is why I'm now installing Bad Behavior on the Amity website, too.

Posted on 20 Nov 2007 at 11:07 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Mon, 19 Nov 2007

Alex King's tumblelog

Maybe worth an occasional look? Another "blog by the wayside", and a very elegantly styled one.

Posted on 19 Nov 2007 at 18:50 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Twitter Tools WP plugin "broken"

I've just found out that Alex King's "Twitter Tools" plugin for WordPress doesn't work properly in WP 2.3. A fix seems to be on the way. (I wonder if anything is seriously wrong, apart from a problem with assigning the proper category to Twitter digest posts.)

Posted on 19 Nov 2007 at 18:35 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

Installed WordPress using Subversion

Subversion works fine, so I can run it (using ssh) and do something useful with it! I installed WordPress on my server using Subversion, which was very fast. I then copied all the files I had added or changed from my former blog into the directory (almost forgetting the "Twitter tools" plugin ...) - and everything works! So now I should be able to update WordPress in a very easy and fast way whenever a new version is available. I still have a few doubts - e.g., will I be able to run "svn update" so everything ends up in the correct place? But that's something to figure out later.

Posted on 19 Nov 2007 at 17:24 in /technology/internet. -- Permalink

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