Category: Technowotsits

Microsoft Product Activation – XP / Vista

Funny. I had been asked a few times by customers and in online forums about
the activation, or more precisely the reactivation of Windows XP after moving
it from one PC to another, or after an upgrade of a major component/reinstall.
Then my neighbour pops round with a similar question.
I had a quick look into it and found a few facts out.

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Browzar ? New or Wolf in Sheeps Clothing?

Browzar

With Browzar you can search and surf the web without leaving any visible
trace on the computer you are using.

Browzar is free, it only takes seconds to download and
you don’t even need to install it, so you can download Browzar time and time
again, whenever and wherever you need it to protect your privacy

Hmm… Sound too good to be true? Well not quite. From the F.A.Q pages on
their site ( Browzar Web Site )

What are the system requirements for Browzar?
The minimum requirements for Browzar are: Windows 98 Second Edition (SE):
and Internet Explorer (IE) 5.5.

At first glance it appears to have a very small footprint (about 250k) which
makes it seem that its a very small application for browsing the internet.
Although there is mention of it in the FAQ, it will not work without Internet
Explorer on your PC, which probably explains why they are still working on
the Mac OS and Linux versions of the tool.

What should be noted however is that sinced it relies upon IE technology,
it will suffer from the same security problems as Windows IE and therefore
you should always update your PC as and when updates become available.

Also, since it is a Beta version, there are still a few problems being reported
and as such I wouldn’t rely on it being totally secure until such time as the
main release has been issued. There is one site that I know of that is documenting
a few problems with it ( Computer
Zen
) namely that it does not remove ALL traces of sites that you visited.
(He tried it with Playboy.com)

Would I use it over something like Firefox? No.
I am an IE user foremost. I do have Firefox and Opera installed on this machine
(my main development box), but I’ve never really got into the habit of opening
Firefox or making it my default browser. I can’t remember why but a while
back it had something to do with certain sites I used not fully supporting
Firefox and I’ve just never switched over proper. (But on my other PC’s and
laptop, Firefox is my browser of choice and the system default).

So why would you use Browzar? What possible benefit could it give you?
Well I suppose when it is finished and it works as advertised, then maybe the
privacy option could be a motive.
But for now, the main reason for using it would be the lack of toolbars, addons
and all the other poop that gets loaded along with IE right now.
In that respect Browzar is an excellent choice. From my initial tests it appears
to load faster, run faster and I would say display pages faster. (The main
reason for the last statement is that I have so many plugins installed on my
development machine that it does hinder the display of web page content if
for example a plugin keeps dialing home to let them know what I am viewing
to have it guess what I am going to view next). So in this respect, Browzar
does have a benefit over IE.

But will I use it as my first choice browser in future? I don’t think so.
Its IE with a ‘skin’ on.
Why use IE as its base?
Why not take the Open Source Firefox codebase and use that as a base for a
‘secure browser’ ?
Why open your application (Browzar) up to the same security issues as IE?
(Of course, not to say that Firefox is not open to any security issues of its
own).

I’ll watch it for sure, since I want to see where it goes. But to launch it
as a new browser is misleading and IMHO it should be labelled as a new Skin
for IE.

Intel® 2200BG and 2915ABG PRO/Wireless Network Connection Hardware

If you have a Centrino based Laptop, I suggest you go check the following. There are no reported vulnerabilities yet, but now this is out in the open, you can bet there will be some coming along in the very near future. Also, I doubt if this will be issued via a Windows Update, so you will probably have to go to Intels site and download the update

Wireless LAN Products – Intel? Centrino Wireless Driver Malformed Frame Remote Code Execution

Summary:
Security vulnerabilities exist in the Microsoft* Windows* drivers for the Intel® 2200BG and 2915ABG PRO/Wireless Network Connection Hardware because of the way that they currently handle certain frames. An attacker could potentially exploit these vulnerabilities which could potentially lead to remote code execution and system control.

Webhosting Site Goes Live (Finally)

Web Hosting, Email, Domain Name Registration Website Design

I’ve finally finished upgrading my web hosting website and its now available for taking live orders.
I’m still waiting for a few payment processor accounts to go live and these are easy enough to add as and when they become active.
For the moment you can select Paypal as the payment processor or a manual invoice step which allows you to place and order and then I email you back to sort out payment options.

So if anyone visits my blog, and wants to place an order, use the manual step for the time being and I will sort you out an extra discount.
Once we agree on a price, I will give you the access page for the payment processor of your choice with the new reduced fee.
For those people who are members of the ‘forum’, I’ll even set you up accounts at cost. (Those who know which forum will know what I am talking about, those who are wise enough to work out which forum can also have the discount). After you have made your order, email me your ‘forum’ username and I will give you the true ‘cost’ price.

I am still working on adding much more content to the site, but wanted to get the basics out there and running. I am about to add the following sections:

  • Web Site Design – This will include links to the various sites I have already designed and in operation right now.
  • SEO – We will also be offering SEO services in order to help improve your site rankings.
  • Blogging – More information on the blogging services we offer. This will include installations of many of the popular blogging applications and also dedicated accounts for hosting your ‘blogspot’ blogs.
  • Add in the FAQ section – The FAQ module is there, but not visible at the moment as it has been causing cross-browser problems on verification. Its only a few minor tweaks required, its just getting the time to fix it that is the hassle right now.

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Would pinging Google Sitemap get our blog indexed faster?

Now that there is a way for blogspot blog to add Google sitemap, and
also a way to ping Google sitemap, does this mean that if a new blog
have not been indexed yet, by adding Google sitemap to their blog and
then pinging Google sitemap, one can get one’s blog indexed faster?

This is part of a response I made to an email on the Yahoo Blogger support group to the above question. There had been a few questions on the subject in recent weeks so I thought I would post it here as post.

The answer or in this case answers is yes and no and now that I think about it, maybe….
If you host your blog on their servers (blogspot), it will take 3-7 days for them to find it.
If you host your blog on your own server, it will take around 5-7 days for them to find it.  (using blogger that is.. If say you use Moveable Type, then it will take them forevre to find it if you don’t have any inbound links or tell them about it).
If you add a google sitemap and tell them about it, it will still take 3-7 days for them to get round to indexing it.

Also remember that just because you’ve told google about your site in say hours… It doesn’t mean they will do anything with the data for weeks. It all comes down to the quality of the site content (and that goes with physical content as well site construction (coding, colour schemes etc)). Just telling Google about a site is a fraction of the story.

But, here is the word of warning I gave out before…

Yes Google have provided a way for you to authenticate your site by the use of a META Tag…
In order to prove that the sitemap you have submitted to Google belongs to you, they used to get you to upload an ‘verification file’ to your root directory. 
Google would then know that you had access to that folder and the chances were that the site was yours. 
Because some Blogspot users can’t do this (because you host on blogspot not on your own web server), they provided a method for users to use a META TAG inserted in their template to provide the authentication.  

But being on blogspot you cannot generate a SITEMAP.XML (or SITEMAP.XML.GZ – the compressed version). 
Usually, this would be a file that contains ALL of the pages on your site.  So in the case of one of my personal blogs, a list to over 2500 individual pages.
There is nothing to stop you generating this SITEMAP file no matter who you are hosted with, but if you are on blogspot you cannot upload it to your sites root folder (because you don’t have FTP access to that folder).
You cannot place it on a remote machine and then point Google Sitemaps to it because it has to be on the root folder of your website.
But don’t despair…   You have two options, one of which is a tadge sneaky, but still alllowed.  

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Response to “Fighting Abuse with Abuse Is A Terrible Idea”

This is a response to good article that I read on the use of abuse to fight abuse and the issues that surround such activity. There is a link at the end to oringal article by David Cory Hart.

Much of the spam that we receive is sent in direct violation of various federal and local laws. Many purveyors of spam are, simply stated, criminals.

The only issue I have with the above statement is that not all countries regard sending SPAM as a contravention of their laws. Having a global policy of making it illegal would be almost impossible to enforce. What I do agree with David is that it should be illegal everywhere and those responsible treated as criminals where ever..

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Motorola RAZR V3

Motorola RAZR V3

Having worked for Motorola for over 9 years, I have owned only 3 Motorola phones.
When I first saw the RAZR V3 and its list of features. I ordered one.
(This was despite being made redundant by them the week before I ordered it).

I had a problem with getting the phone to take a charge from the mains charger.
There would be periods when the phone would appear to be ‘dead’ and pressing the power button would cause the panel to briefly light and then go out completely.
Even with the charger plugged in, it would not power up.

I was told by the company I bought it from that sometimes removing the battery and leaving it out overnight would help. Well twice it did, but other times it wouldn’t. (I since found out why that worked and I’ll explain it below).

I did some digging around on the net and couldn’t find a definitive answer, so I called a few colleagues at Motorola. Despite working for them for 9 years, I only worked on the Base station aspect of Mobile phones (plus a year working on Tetra equipment). I never worked with the Mobile phone division directly. A few people had told me about charging circuit problems, but no one had a clue as to what the failures were about.

I think I have found the problem with my phone, whether or not it works for you, I don’t know. Basically, when the battery is dead flat, the mains charger is totally useless. The internal charging circuitry will not switch on to allow it to take a charge from the mains charger. How to get round this? Use the car charger for 10secs. 10secs on the car charger is enough to give the battery a small level that will allow it then to take a charge from the mains charger. RAZR V3

One of the features I specifically wanted the phone for, was bluetooth. This allows me to sync up between my various PC’s without the need for cables etc. It also allows me to use my laptop via dial-up on the phone without cables. The bluetooth feature though is one of the reasons why the battery has a life of less than a day most often or not. If I place the phone close to the other bluetooth device, it lasts longer, but if I place my phone in the kitchen away from the PC’s, it seems the bluetooth device in the phone places a large drain on the battery.

If the battery is already low and it is nowhere near the charger, then a single call will drain the battery completely and leave it unable to take a charge from the mains charger.

I now make sure it is hooked up to the charger whenever I am near a mains outlet, or plugged in to the car charger on trips. As soon as the battery level drops to a single bar, I have to switch off the phone until I am able to find a charging point.

I believe they have fixed this in the later models of the phone, but even with my contacts, it is hard to get Motorola to admit there is a problem, and to get them to replace my phone with a later model. Both my wife and son have a Nokia which they charge once a week if they are lucky. If my V3 goes without a charge for more than a day, it will die until I can get it near my car charger.

So if your RAZR V3 dies and it appears the battery is dead as a dodo, then I would go plug it into your car charger (assuming you have one) for a minute or so, just to give the battery a boost.

Now in fairness to the phone, it might be that the voltage output from my mains charger is slightly low and unable to trigger the internal charging circuit. Car charges tend to output a slightly higher voltage (and rely upon the phones internal charging circuit to get the voltage to the right level).
It might also be a fault with the phone itself and I am leaning towards this, since the later V3 models have a modified charging circuit and the charger remained the same. It could have been down to component tolerances rather than bad design in itself. But seeing as Motorola won’t respond to any of my support requests, I’ll just have to guess.

As for the battery drain itself, well that might have to be accepted. The more features you place in a phone, the more features you want from a phone, then the bigger the drain on battery life. Motorola never really got battery life sorted out as well as the competitors, but then that’s because certain other companies ‘cheat’ when it comes to battery life. (By cheat, I mean for example, the standards say a mobile phone must ‘talk’ to the network every few time intervals. If you cut the number of times that the phone talks to the network, then you save on power used. Motorola was always big on ethics and tended to stick to the letter of the standard, no matter if the competition cheated slightly). Motorola are also quite advanced in fuel-cell technology and it won’t be long before we begin pumping ‘butane’ into our phones.

But in the mean time, I need to learn to switch off my bluetooth (which sort of nullifies the use of my headset), make sure its hooked to the mains charger 24/7, or by a hat with an inbuilt solar panel. (Or go by a Nokia… but I just can’t bring myself to do that, despite the layoffs, just hearing the Nokia ring tone still makes me cringe).

Warp Drive Invention – Patent Rejection

Patently-O: Patent Law Blog: PTO Requests Model of Warp Drive Invention

PTO Requests Model of Warp Drive Invention

The Worsley-Twist warp drive does not depend upon traditional emissions of matter to create thrust. Rather, the drive creates a change in the curvature of the space-time continuum — thus allowing travel by warping space-time. Worsley & Twist patent application recently suffered another setback. The Examiner has now requested a working model:
Applicant is required to furnish a model of the instant invention. 35 U.S.C. 114. See Also 37 C.F.R. 1.91.
Among other rejections, the Examiner has asserted a rejection under 35 U.S.C. 101 for lack of utility — finding that the invention is inoperable.

Links:

U.S. Pub. No. 2003–0114313

It’s worth having a visit to the above site just to see some of the comments !

I thought I had some weird and wonderful ideas, but some of Keith Nagells really take it too the extreme.

Mind you, it appears that he has just sat down and watched every SCI-FI show on earth (I think just on earth), and tried to submit a patent for every ‘prop’ used.

When someone invents the transporter, just think of the energy we could save (but it will probably require a power source the size of the US). Who said you don’t get something for nothing!

Freeserve/Wanadoo Email Problems

For some reason, Freeserve/Wanadoo (or Freecrap and Lottapoo) are having major snags with their email servers at the moment.

Anyone sending an email from either of those two will think that the email has been sent, but it might not reach the recipient.
Some emails are being bounced back, but not all. And we are not talking just sending to my domains, they are screwing up nearly everybodies email !!!

What appears to be happening is that nearly ALL of their servers have been identified as sources of SPAM and appear on the DSBL network.
(The DSBL network is basically a service that lists all email servers responsible for sending SPAM.
Most email servers will check the DSBL list when it receives a mail, and if the sending server appears in the list, the chances are it is SPAM.

Most likely it is a combination of bad email configuration at their end, and quite a few of their users probably have machines which have been taken over by spyware/trojans and have been sending out SPAM by the bucket load.
But looking at the DSBL reports it is very widespread.

Since 99% of Freeserve/Wanadoo servers have been listed, most decent email servers such as the ones I use, are rejecting all email from those accounts.

So if you are trying to send me an email, and it appears that I am not replying, or you are getting a bounce message try sending to one of my alternative addresses (Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo).
Obviously I won’t post the addresses here cos it will get harvested and I’ll be spammed to death !!!… But if you email me to chris.a.wright at my yaps domain usually, change the yaps part for gmail.com and I’ll get it.

The best thing to do is to switch over to Pipex (http://www.pipex.net) and bin the money grabbing so and so’s.