Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dreamweaver DOES mess with your code

I just discovered that if you edit text in design view, DW will delete comments. I had some server side code stored in a page inside a comment (an add to cart button for Miva Merchant) and while I was editing the text that comes before the commented code, I removed what I thought were extraneous trailing spaces. But when I went back to code view, I found that all my commented add to cart code was gone! Bad, Bad, Bad Dreamweaver! In order to help prevent this from happening again I went into preferences, Invisible Elements and marked the checkbox next to comments. So, now, in design view, comments show up as one of those little yellow icons. I spend most of my time in code view, so I guess that's why I never discovered this issue before, but this is really bad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Antivirus 2009 email going around

I thought it was an email hoax at know, like the one about the 190 pound cougar that someone supposedly shot in Iowa...but I guess it's real.

Here's the email I received:

Another one, actually a malware, is called Anti-Virus 2009. It is a seriously obnoxious problem. You will go to a website that looks innocuous, and suddently this fake anti-virus program takes over your screen and you can't get rid of it. It tells you you have been attacked (which is true) and wants $39.95 or some such amount to get rid of it. This fake program looks exactly like Microsoft's anit-virus program and is a royal pain in the ass. Internet Explorer is made inoperable when it strikes. It was apparently created by some Russian creeps who now distribute it like some kind of franchise. It tried to mess with my Mac, too, but either couldn't get a grip or the program I have for malware, spyware, and other obnoxious stuff stopped it.

The only way I could get rid of it on my wife's pc was to downloadmbam-setup.exe from onto my Mac, make a CD of it, install on her machine, and turn it loose. I have the program, and if you want it I'll send it along.

It sure reads like one of those hoax emails that goes around. Microsoft doesn't have an antivirus program, for one thing. Also, why is anyone still using Internet Explorer? Haven't we learned our security lessons about Microsoft software yet?

I always wonder how much Microsoft gets paid by the antivirus software companies to stay out of the market. I mean, the fact that windows is insecure is their fault. And, they are certainly happy to take over the business model of any other company that writes software.

Anyhow, a little digging revealed that it's a malware program that you get by going to a bad or compromised website.

Another method of distributing Antivirus 2009 involves tricking you by displaying deceptive pop-up ads that may appear as regular Windows notifications with links which look like buttons reading Yes and No. No matter which "button" that you click on, a download starts, installing Antivirus 2009 on your system. Antivirus 2009 installs on your computer through a trojan and may infect your system without your knowledge or consent.

So yeah. Hope the guys who wrote this get their karmic comeuppance.

The other thing that was a surprise to me in that email, was the fact that Malwarebytes is a real program, and that a lot of people recommend it. I hadn't heard of it yet, which is strange cause I get asked to help people with this sort of problem a lot and so I pretty much keep up with developments in the field. Not lately, I guess.

Just for fun, here are a couple of links that talk about removing this spyware.

Enigmasoftware Antivirus 2009 Removal Instructions

Removal instructions at BleepingComputer

Note that I am not recommending Enigmasoftware or Bleepingcomputer or their instructions as I have not had this problem and so don't have any personal experience getting rid of it (yet).

So, use Firefox and keep your shields up when you stray off the beaten path! (how's that for mixed metaphores?)

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Left4Dead demo has a virus in it?

(Update: I was using an old, trial version of Nod32. Updated copies of Nod32 apparently did not make this mistake.)

At least that's what Nod32 thought.

I installed the demo via Steam and after it finished (2GB download!), I tried to launch the game.

Steam told me, "This game is currently unavailable. Try again later."


So I g-g-googled it, and the Steam knowledgebase told me to rename ClientRegistry.blob, to delete a bunch of files in the Steam folder, to verify the game cache...yada yada.

What the problem was, was that Nod32 quarantined the Left4Dead executable. I just happened to notice the quarantine take place when I tried reinstalling the game.

So, I set Nod32 to exclude the Left4Dead folder from scanning. Now it works.

Except for the stutter.

Also, Left4Dead is going to be a Really Fun Game.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Electromagnetic radiation is unlikely to cause cancer

I think this is interesting...
The proton precession magnetometer operates on the principal that the protons in all atoms are spinning on an axis aligned with the magnetic field. Ordinarily, protons tend to line up with the earth's magnetic field. When subjected to an artificially-induced magnetic field, the protons will align themselves with the new field. When this new field is interrupted, the protons return to their original alignment with the earth's magnetic field.
I didn't know that protons had any spin on them. Cool.
Here is some more info: about solar radiation.
"Insolation is a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given time."
"The radiant power is distributed across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, although most of the power is in the visible light portion of the spectrum. The Sun's rays are attenuated as they pass though the atmosphere, thus reducing the insolation at the Earth's surface to approximately 1000 watts per square meter for a surface perpendicular to the Sun's rays at sea level on a clear day."
I thought it was 100 watts, but it's 1000. That's the peak power. The average is 250 watts:
"The actual figure varies with the Sun angle at different times of year, according to the distance the sunlight travels through the air, and depending on the extent of atmospheric haze and cloud cover. Ignoring clouds, the average insolation for the Earth is approximately 250 watts per square meter (6 (kW·h/m²)/day), taking into account the lower radiation intensity in early morning and evening, and its near-absence at night."
Image:Solar Spectrum.png
Here is a chart of the wavelengths of solar radiation at the top of the atmosphere (yellow), and reaching the surface (red). Cell phone frequencies are on the infrared side of visible light...wayyy off the chart on the right.
(A nm is a nanometer, 1 billionth of a meter. Cell phone signals are at a wavelength of a foot, or 304,800,000 nm. Microwave ovens are at a wavelength of 112,400,000 nm or 4.8 inches.)
Now, as we go left on the chart, the emf's have more energy. X-rays are off the chart on the left. They are called ionizing radiation. They have so much energy they can break the bonds that hold molecules together, creating ions. They can break molecules in cells, in the DNA.
RF radiation does not have enough energy to break molecules.
X-rays have about 1,000 eV of energy, while the photon energy of radio waves from cellular phone towers is about one millionth of an eV, not enough to alter molecules in the body.

The difference in energy: 1000 vs 0.000,001

Looking at the chart, RF radiation is to the right of Infrared radiation, therefore, RF radiation has less energy than the infrared radiation from your oven, or fireplace. Even visible light has more energy than EMFs.
And, here is some info from
Moreover, public exposure near cell phone towers (Way more juice than your phone) is not significantly different than background levels of RF radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations.

What Does the Epidemiologic Evidence Say?

No human studies have focused specifically on cellular phone towers or even on radio waves more generally. Several studies have looked at the effects of radio waves and microwaves combined; these have generally not shown any increase in cancer, except for a US Air Force study that suggested an increase in brain tumors in association with radiofrequency/microwave exposure.

What Does the Animal Evidence Say?

A number of animal studies have been conducted, generally showing no carcinogenic (cancer-causing) effect of radio waves. Several experiments have used exposure levels that cause a rise in tissue temperature(!), and even in these studies, there was no increase in DNA mutations or in cancer. A recent review concluded that: "The scientific evidence indicates that exposure to radiofrequency radiation fields is not mutagenic and is therefore unlikely to act as an initiator of carcinogenesis.” (Emphasis, mine)

If you want to know about how microwave ovens work:
Solar radiation:
Cell phone radiation from
with lots of references and citations
Off on a tangent...Again.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

How to deal with Spam

If you Don't Already Get Spam
First and foremost, never put your email address anywhere out the internet where it will be visible on a page. If you do put it out there, you will get spam. Do not register a domain name without whois protection. If your registrar can't hide your email in the domain registration records, use a Gmail acct for your domain contact.(see below).

Next, Have two email addresses.

One gives you everything you really need to see, the other is for all the misc. stuff.

Your PRIVATE email is one that you only give out to real actual live people (and maybe your bank or another business with which you have a private and trusting relationship)

The other email is your PUBLIC email address, and I suggest a Gmail address for this, because Gmail has the greatest spam filters in the world. This address is used for newsletters, Amazon orders, and friends that like to send FW: RE: emails.

I collect email from these two addresses in two separate email programs (Outlook and Thunderbird). That way my private email account only gets mail from people I REALLY want to hear from. It cuts down on the distractions in a BIG way.

If you give your email address to someone who likes to send FW: RE: type emails, get them to change to start sending stuff to you at your public (Gmail) account, or sooner or later your PRIVATE email addr will end up on a computer that is virus infected and you will start to get spam. This has happened to me.

For an email address that gets spam, a couple ideas.
You can set up Gmail to receive your email, and then you can set up Gmail and your email program (Outlook, Thunderbird...) to get the email from Gmail. That way your email gets filtered by Gmail. Gmail's filters are so good that one of my clients had 2000+ spams filtered out, 2 that got through and no false positives.

Outlook has pretty good spam filters. Update Outlook at Office Update, and then set Outlook's junk mail options to High. What happens for me is that almost all the spam goes into the Junk folder, and I also get false positives on a regular (predictable) basis. The false positives are fairly easy to deal with. I only get them once, and I only get them from new correspondents. I keep and eye on the contents of my junk folder and 'mark as not junk' any emails coming from a real person. Now, I don't have a lot of new correspondents, and I don't get thousands of spams, so this works for me.

If you have your own domain and website, you can even change your MX records so that Google apps for domains collects your email, instead of your hosting company's email servers. Again, you get the benefit of Gmail's awesome spam filters. I set this up for a client and it's been awesomely successful. It's transparent for the client, he just collects his email in Outlook the same way he did previously.

Get an Antivirus program - You absolutely must have an antivirus program.
AVG Free Download
Comodo Antivirus free
NOD32 - Best paid antivirus

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Horribly Wrong: Adwords keyword tool advertiser competition

Google's Adwords Keyword tool supposedly shows how much competition there is for a given keyword phrase, but sometimes when I perform a search on that keyword in Google, I see no ads whatsoever.

Here is an example:
According to Adwords there is a medium high degree of advertiser competition for the phrase "visa logo"

Click for larger image

Yet when I go to Google and do a search for "visa logo" I get zero ads.

Click for larger image

So, what is going on here?

When I am working with Adsense or Adwords I have started doing searched to verify that there are competing ads in Google. In Adsense, if you are trying to write content for a high competition ad, to get highly paid clicks, then you will want to know that there really are NO advertisers for that keyword.

In Adwords, no advertisers can mean a niche that none of your competitors have discovered, which is like finding money on the street.

Your thoughts?

Monday, September 22, 2008

Letter to send to friends who FWD emails

Hi xx,

Like 99.9% of these forwarded emails, this one is also not true.


Snopes is a really good place to check the truth of FW[re:] fw: RE: type emails. Or, you can safely ignore ALL these types of emails. In 14 years of internet usage I have only ever seen two that were true. (One was the "uses of bounce sheets" email, which had a few true items on it).

Pepsi and AOL are not going to give us $123 for each email we forward, Captain Kangaroo was not a war hero, nobody shot a 190# mountain lion in Iowa, the lawyer of that deposed Nigerian dictator will not share his former master's 30 mil with us if we help him with transferring some money(to give just a few examples I have seen).

Also, if you look at the top of the email, you will see a whole bunch of email addresses, of all the people it was sent to. These are all now ripe for the picking for any scam artists or spammers who will get this email down the road. And since this email has already been circulating since 2001, we can expect it to get a lot of mileage in the future.

I, for one, don't want my email address to travel along with it.

Feel free to send this back to the person who sent the [amber alert] to you, maybe it will help cut down on this kind of stupidity, and waste of time and network resources.

Funny, if you are a web developer, I guess

"our extensive research has shown that failure in relationships is directly proportional to the number of Alt codes one has memorized"
~Author Unknown
[How bad is it if I only know three? Well, maybe four.]
"I spent a minute looking at my own code by accident. I was thinking 'What the hell is this guy doing?'"
"I went on a 30-day diet, and lost 30 days"
"How can you think you matter when your URL has a tilde in it?"
"leave the advanced tab alone - if you were advanced you'd know how to use it"
"i should just make web sites, then i can make lots of money and not have to work too hard."
"this site best viewed if you come over to my office and look at it on my state-of-the-art graphics terminal"
"The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans is suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they're okay, then it's you." -Rita Mae Brown
"Using Navigator? Or a modem? Are you in a school or a library? We don't want your business. Go hunt rats for food. Damn cavemen."

Monday, September 08, 2008

Strange characters ’ and  in Wordpress posts

After a wordpress upgrade we started to get all kinds of weird symbols in our posts, including  and ’. I figured it was a character encoding mismatch problem and a quick search on the Wordpress forums confirmed it. You have to comment out two lines in your wp-config.php file (found in your main blog directory). These are the two lines:
define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
define('DB_COLLATE', '');

Comment them out like this:

//define('DB_CHARSET', 'utf8');
//define('DB_COLLATE', '');

Fixed our problem.

Changing the ordering of products in Zen Cart 1.3.7

Here's a simple one, but I didn't know how to do it right away. If you want to feature the products on your main Zen Cart page in a certain order, you can do that by going into the admin and editing the sort order number at the bottom of each individual product. Lower sort order numbers show up first on the catalog page.

Friday, May 30, 2008

comctl32.dll and could not be copied from the xp cd

Ok, so this is how I solved a problem with Win xp install.

Problem presented itself as a file that could not be copied during file copy stage. Comctl32.dll and could not be copied from the xp cd.

I got a copy of comctl file from my laptop's xp, and I was able to copy the file from the xp cd, using the cdrom drive in my laptop instead of the desktop I was trying to install to. I also applied a little darkroom grease to the cd (nose grease is an old darkroom trick for dealing with scratches in negatives)...may have helped. It has before.

Installation continued. I reformatted the HDD in NTFS. After that(!) when there really was no OS on the box anymore, I found out that the comctl32 file I used did not match the one that was expected in the manifest file. Setup would not continue. I could not get into DOS or safe mode. Arghhg!

On my laptop I edited the file and got rid of the hash="4f02ff771050b8657e289d75f19163fe2ab02600" hashalg="SHA1" part of the man file. Hoping that setup would not check for a hash if it couldn't find one to check for. Put the file on a floppy.

You cannot boot into DOS at this point, so I booted from the XP cd and used recovery console to get into DOS. I did attrib -r I copied the file, and a new version of comctl32.dll into the folder (the version that was in the setup folder on the HDD was smaller than the file that my XP had on the disk.)

Then I rebooted and Holy Mother of Mary It Worked!

I should note that the MS Win XP CD was messed up. It was a fresh CD, never used, comctl32.dll could not be copied from the disk by any of the three cd drives I had access to.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hooking up the world's greatest spam filters

Gmail has the world's greatest spam filters. They process billions of emails everyday and they own Postini. Today, I hooked up a client's website email to Google's spam filters using Google Apps. I had to change his MX records in his hosting account cPanel. The change over was instant, though they say it could take a couple of days to take effect. I know it was instant, because he was collecting junk in his spam box right away. So now email sent to his domain goes to Gmail in his Google Apps account. From here I can set up his Gmail for POP access, and configure his email client with the Gmail settings and he'll get no more spam! Way cool. I have a bunch of clients who get tons of spam. I think they are going to like this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Be selective about who you show your ads to

One more for today... I also found a couple interesting articles on adsense ads. Specifically, on who sees your adsense ads. Do you want to show them to all your visitors? Your regular readers have learned to tune them out by now, right? Ozh at Planet Ozh has written a nifty wordpress plugin that I can't wait to try out. Serve ads to just the visitors from search engines. They came to my site while looking for something I probably don't have, and the Adsense ads just may help them since the ads are targeted by search keywords as well as page content. Ozh's plugin has a lot of options for who to serve ads to. Two links worth reading: Making money with adsense - without annoying your users and in this article he links to an article by Matt Haughey of Metafilter who writes about How Ads Really Work. I am hoping that if I write these things in this blog, I won't forget them.

The search for a secure, accessible, anti-spam form to email script

Two of my clients are getting a lot of contact form spam. The spambots fill out the contact forms with their spammy links and submit them. The strange thing is that a lot of the time the forms are just full of random garbage:
contact via: Phone, at this number: contact_at: time to contact: wfqpbwdwi addr1: 1 addr2: city: YRGKofnQEDfSFlctLKZ state: uzWAHzZsMKMb zip: nTHOHfQav Comments: OiHpuF">gjchyfyysgcj, [url=]mkixfgaalkes[/url], [link=]snjibiwuplkb[/link],
None of this links to anything. This doesn't make sense to me. Why bother? Another spam form submission that I looked at had links to a titanium manufacturer. Yeah, sending that form to website owners-that'll get them a lot of sales...not. Anyhow, it's annoying to have to weed through them, so I went looking for a solution. The first thing I found was a secure php form to email script by Dagon Design. It has protections against being used as a spam gateway and also protects the site owner from spam submissions with a reCaptcha. I like the reCapcha personally, because it is cool. The words that you type in to prove that you are a human are actually scanned from old books and presented to you in the Captcha as part of a project to identify words in these old books that failed optical character recognition. So, by answering the reCaptcha, you are actually helping the Internet Archive. I think that is cool. But, Captchas have accessibility problems, and we enlightened web dudes are not supposed to use them. So, the next easiest option seems to be to have the contact form HTML encoded in Javascript. This security through obscurity will only work until the spammers get smarter bots, but according to one blogger I read yesterday it hasn't happened to him yet. More than one person linked to the Hivelogic Enkoder, but, as of May 15, 2008, it is not up and running. Perhaps the version will work. UPDATE: The Hivelogic enkoder is up again! I also found some scripts/clues that used custom programming that involve hash values, hidden form fields, and timers. But none of these was a drop in complete script. I'll have to keep looking and see if I can find the ideal, easy to install, accessible, secure form to email script.

Research on multi user blog platforms

Yesterday I did a ton of research.

One of my 'back burner' projects is to set up a multi blog for a bunch of hardcore outdoorsmen. yesterday I did a long power search on multiple blog systems. I found at least three promising paths:

  1. Wordpress Multi user or wpmu -
    • The forums for WPMU, in a stickied post, indicates that it is not for tha faint of heart. Undeterred, I still think I could hack it, because I am tenacious and have a good deal of experience setting up php scripts.
    • Aside from the WPMU forums and project site, there is a great resource site at with themes, and plugins galore.
  2. Lyceum - Ibiblio's work with wpmu, packaging it in an 'enterprise ready' format. It is just as easy as Wordpress to install. It uses directories instead of subdomains. Most plugins should work with Lyceum. Not as much activity as WPMU in the forum threads, but all the threads have replies of some sort.
  3. Elgg - an open source social networking project. Elgg looks interesting. It's got the whole Web 2.0 thing going on. Blogging, (of course) friends networks, podcasting, community groups. It is only at version 0.9.1 now, but it's getting a refactoring and will go 1.0 with all kindsa craazy new features this summer.

I think Joomla might also be a possibility and since I am working on a Joomla site already I will have to look into it.

So, as I get time, I will delve into these platforms a little more and see if any of them will work for my purposes.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pantellaria - Wide angle panorama

Wide angle panorama
Originally uploaded by Rejetto [gone diving!]

A wide angle image from Pantellaria, an interesting island off the coast of Africa. I hope to go there some day.

This is a test blog post from Flickr.

Friday, April 11, 2008

HP DV9653cl Lightscribe

I see that I have forgotten to write more about the Lightscribe feature of the Pavilion dv9500. It's cool. It's slow. I bought a pack of colored Lightscribe disks, and it really works. It takes a long time to burn the image on the top of the disk though. 20 to 40 minutes. I have done it in draft mode and in high resolution mode, and there really isn't that much difference in quality. The high res burn has a little more contrast, but seems to me like it has the same amount of detail. The Lightscribe website has a bunch of templates you can download for free. The kids especially like burning mix cd's from our cd collection with the lightscribe supplied templates.

back in business

HP got my computer back to me within a week, in perfect condition. I have played a few directx games and it didn't burn up. Cool, eh? I am very happy with the way HP handled the situation. I got to talk to an english speaking tech, they agreed with my diagnosis right away, and service was prompt and perfect. Way to go. Not that I am pleased with the fact that it burned out in the first place...having to deal with that cost me a lot of productive time. But the fixit process went smoothly.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Cautiously Optimistic and Waiting

HP sent me a box via Fedex overnight. That makes me feel like they are serious about getting my computer fixed. It took me a few days to finish getting all my stuff backed up and to 'shred' my passwords and email and stuff. Now the HP dv9653cl is at their repair facility. And I have my fingers crossed.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

HP dv9653cl video card failure

The video card, an 8600m GS, in my HP dv9500 failed on Easter Sunday while I was starting Quake Wars. I called Costco concierge services and they put me in touch with an HP support person, who spoke english(Thank God!). They agreed that the video card had burned out and the support rep is sending me a box to ship my baby back to HP in. I bought a SATA hard drive enclosure to use to transfer, erase and archive my data with. The Rolling River has Very Generously loaned me his little Acer laptop, which is more than adequate for my needs and I am loading it up with my tools tonight. (THANKS Bro!) I am not happy about this. I am worried that it will just happen again when I load up a directx game in the future. I Searched the net for 'dv9653cl video card' and got 80 results; none of which related to a failure, so I am cautiously optimistic. More later