Paul Gregg

Jack of all Tech.

Airline Security and Personal Hygiene

Written By: pgregg - Sep• 27•2006

I have just returned from a week in California and the security on flights is pretty strict – no fluids, gases, liquids of any kind.   So I have 18 hours of travel time from Belfast->London->Los Angeles->San Jose and a further 18 hours coming back.

All very well, until you realise that if you are on such long flights with connections you can get pretty sweaty, and you can’t take any deoderant with you.    I would like to apologise to the poor girl that sat next to me for 11 hours on the LA->London leg.

Do you live in NI and can not yet get broadband?

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 07•2006

If so, I want to hear from you.

I believe that the DETI NI has fudged the contract with BT and let them away with making up the figures for the rest of broadband by allowing Satellite technology.  I believe this is against both the spirit and the letter of the contract.

We need to band together in order to raise a loud enough voice and force our Government to listen and, with luck, ensure that true broadband to the letter of the contract is delivered to enable every home and business in Northern Ireland to get broadband if they so wish.

Please reply to this post with your story, or email me directly via pgregg @ pgregg.com. I am particularly interested in Postcodes of people who have been denied broadband.  Also if you have an actual letter from BT – please scan it and send it to me,

Thanks,

Paul

thetopsites.net stealing PageRank

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 05•2006

In my earlier post today I mentioned the site thetopsites.net.  They are offering a snippet of code to display your (Google) PageRank on your webpage.

All very well until you look at the code provided:


Code:

<a href="http://pagerank.thetopsites.net/" title="Free PageRank
Meter for www.mysite.com" target="_blank"><img
src="http://pagerank.thetopsites.net/r.php?url=www.mysite.com" 
border="0" alt="Free PageRank Meter for www.mysite.com" /></a>


and the warning "You should not change in any way the above code(except the url of your site) or you will be disquallified from this free service".

Then you notice that they don’t use the now-standard rel="nofollow" property in the href or img src tags.  Put two and two together and you realise that their Free PageRank monitor is actually donating some of your precious PageRank to them (because that is how PageRank works).

Clever? Yes.  Underhanded? Certainly.

BWDOW.COM referrer link spammer

Written By: pgregg - Jul• 05•2006

I’ve noticed a small number of referrers claiming a link came from http://www.bwdow.com/newsites.php?category=newsites however if you go there you won’t find any link to your page.  I put it down to yet another referral link spammer.  Usually I just add the ip (or ip range) to my firewall and be done with it – but these guys had many different IPs which suggested it wasn’t some automated spamming engine.

It was obvious they were not valid click throughs because they were HEAD requests, e.g:
www.pgregg.com 81.213.243.127 – – [05/Jul/2006:05:47:34 +0100] "HEAD / HTTP/1.0" 200 – "http://www.bwdow.com/newsites.php?category=newsites" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.1; .NET CLR 1.1.4322)" "-" "-"

So, today it all came to a HEAD (pardon the pun) and I went looking for them and it seems that they openly admit to using referral spamming (under the thin disguise of claiming their reviewers must have clicked across to your great site).

See this google cache of their presently broken forum.

During my searches I also came across another reference to them in a thetopsites.net referrer spammer blacklist and noticed a new form of referral spam thievery which I shall look at in my next post.


Feel free to add the following IPs to your firewall to blacklist these BWDOW jokers.


Code:

plop:pgregg/p3-~apache/logs-431%->fgrep www.bwdow.com access_log  
| cut -d  -f2 | sort -n | uniq -c | sort -rn | ip2hostname.php
  33 208.98.1.192    (No-RDNS-Record)
   3 81.213.244.165  (dsl.dynamic81213244165.ttnet.net.tr)
   3 66.90.92.192    (usr1-114.sharktech.net)
   2 85.96.246.224   (dsl.dynamic8596246224.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.96.132.72    (dsl.dynamic859613272.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.96.132.32    (dsl.dynamic859613232.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.96.132.165   (dsl.dynamic8596132165.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.106.221.178  (dsl85-106-56754.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.106.219.204  (dsl85-106-56268.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 85.101.68.231   (85.101.68.231)
   2 85.100.0.155    (dsl.dynamic851000155.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.246.190  (dsl.dynamic81213246190.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.246.16   (dsl.dynamic8121324616.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.243.127  (dsl.dynamic81213243127.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.242.70   (dsl.dynamic8121324270.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.242.57   (dsl.dynamic8121324257.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.242.38   (dsl.dynamic8121324238.ttnet.net.tr)
   2 81.213.242.169  (dsl.dynamic81213242169.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 88.226.161.218  (dsl88-226-41434.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.99.91.55     (dsl.dynamic85999155.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.99.91.29     (dsl.dynamic85999129.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.99.91.1      (dsl.dynamic8599911.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.99.150.70    (dsl.dynamic859915070.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.99.150.22    (dsl.dynamic859915022.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.97.179.67    (dsl.dynamic859717967.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.97.144.139   (dsl.dynamic8597144139.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.97.144.10    (dsl.dynamic859714410.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.96.76.232    (dsl.dynamic859676232.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.96.133.148   (dsl.dynamic8596133148.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.96.133.108   (dsl.dynamic8596133108.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.96.132.248   (dsl.dynamic8596132248.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.96.103.27    (dsl.dynamic859610327.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.107.131.9    (dsl85-107-33545.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.107.129.212  (dsl85-107-33236.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.107.129.131  (dsl85-107-33155.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.106.223.192  (dsl85-106-57280.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.106.219.5    (dsl85-106-56069.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.106.219.153  (dsl85-106-56217.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.106.218.237  (dsl85-106-56045.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.104.231.205  (dsl85-104-59341.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.104.226.241  (dsl85-104-58097.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.104.226.18   (dsl85-104-57874.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.103.43.3     (85.103.43.3)
   1 85.103.41.84    (85.103.41.84)
   1 85.103.41.133   (85.103.41.133)
   1 85.103.41.106   (85.103.41.106)
   1 85.102.119.30   (dsl85-102-30494.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.102.118.150  (dsl85-102-30358.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.101.70.220   (85.101.70.220)
   1 85.101.70.17    (85.101.70.17)
   1 85.101.68.243   (85.101.68.243)
   1 85.101.66.97    (85.101.66.97)
   1 85.101.65.113   (85.101.65.113)
   1 85.100.3.186    (dsl.dynamic851003186.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.100.202.138  (dsl.dynamic85100202138.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.100.200.79   (dsl.dynamic8510020079.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.100.2.61     (dsl.dynamic85100261.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 85.100.1.90     (dsl.dynamic85100190.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.247.227  (dsl.dynamic81213247227.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.247.2    (dsl.dynamic812132472.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.246.57   (dsl.dynamic8121324657.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.246.21   (dsl.dynamic8121324621.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.246.199  (dsl.dynamic81213246199.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.246.1    (dsl.dynamic812132461.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.245.140  (dsl.dynamic81213245140.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.244.39   (dsl.dynamic8121324439.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.243.67   (dsl.dynamic8121324367.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.243.200  (dsl.dynamic81213243200.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.243.176  (dsl.dynamic81213243176.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.243.143  (dsl.dynamic81213243143.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.242.5    (dsl.dynamic812132425.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.241.171  (dsl.dynamic81213241171.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.90   (dsl.dynamic8121324090.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.68   (dsl.dynamic8121324068.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.25   (dsl.dynamic8121324025.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.155  (dsl.dynamic81213240155.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.153  (dsl.dynamic81213240153.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.150  (dsl.dynamic81213240150.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.149  (dsl.dynamic81213240149.ttnet.net.tr)
   1 81.213.240.117  (dsl.dynamic81213240117.ttnet.net.tr)


I can’t get broadband… :(

Written By: pgregg - Jun• 23•2006

Despite DETINI having paid BT �10 million to ensure that Northern Ireland has 100% broadband coverage and an announcement to say that it has been achieved, I am back on dial-up Internet access.

Last week, my neighbour who applied for access before me finally got a letter from BT’s Frank McManus saying that BT actually only had 99% coverage and he would be unable to get broadband, but he should consider Satellite instead.  Thus I’m not holding out much hope of me getting it either.

The BT contract notes that only ADSL or 5.8Ghz Wireless Radio broadband would be considered acceptable, so why is BT allowed to tell him (and possibly me) we cannot have broadband?   Theres a real stink to this and I’d love to hear from others if they too, in Northern Ireland, cannot get broadband because �10m DETINI money says that should not be the case.

My favourite Windows error message

Written By: pgregg - May• 23•2006



(and yes, I do know why it happens)

Bruce Perens and Richard Stallman to speak in Belfast

Written By: pgregg - Feb• 16•2006

FOSS Means Business.

As DW writes over on his page, Bruce Perens and Richard Stallman are coming to Belfast in March 2006 for a FOSS event.  I will simply repeat DW’s post as we need to get more publicity for this event.



DW wrote:


Ciaran O’Riordan of the Free Software Foundation Europe has announced that Bruce Perens and Richard Stallman will be coming to Belfast to speak on March 16th at the Spires conference center in the city. More
information can be found at the FOSS Means Business web site.

This promises to be a really interesting event to attend, if for no other reason than to listen to Stallman’s GPL v3 advocacy talk. It is a very rare opportunity for you to come along and learn more about what is perhaps one of the most defining moments for free software this decade.

Entrance, thus far, appears to be free, or at least very cheap.



I’ll try to go and capture photographs of the event.

Qmail vs qmail – anality in spelling

Written By: pgregg - Feb• 08•2006

I noticed a referrer to my "Qmail is dying" article from http://thedjbway.org/qmail/qmail_at_eight.html where the author, Wayne Marshall,  refers to my post as "Qmail (sic) is dying".  For the record Wayne, I’m neither American, nor in America.

The obvious inference is that Qmail is not the correct spelling of qmail.  Lowercase vs Uppercase.

All I can say – if that is what you are reduced to in order to try to discredit an author then you are on very shaky ground.

Ignoring the obvious "Proper noun" grammatical issues, if you happen to search the  qmail Mailing List Archives (retained spelling from the site) the earliest reference I could find for someone saying it is "qmail, not Qmail" is 2001.   Many of us were using Qmail 8 years ago and nobody "corrected" it until several years later.  Too late.

If you also check the reference http://www.qmail.org site, you’ll find many references to Qmail – including Dave Sill’s "Life With Qmail" – I’d love to see if the first version of this referred to Qmail or qmail. 
Now the self serving qmail elitists push the "qmail" capitalisation. Who cares?

Ironically, the author also lists three 3rd party patches to fix "bugs" and declares "qmail seems pretty healthy to us".  Scary.  And people bitch at Microsoft for taking months to fix a bug.  We’re 8 years on with qmail and if Dan can’t bring himself to patch 4 lines of the code to fix 3 acknowleged bugs in qmail then I would counter that qmail is not in a healthy state at all.

Birds again

Written By: pgregg - Jan• 30•2006

Found a couple of semi-interesting picks of some birds in my photo archive and through I’d throw them on here.

The local church flock :)



And an unintended shot of a bird on a street light as I was photographing and EasyJet plane flying overhead.

FOI Request #2, DETINI – The final response + Redacted Contract

Written By: pgregg - Jan• 16•2006

On 16th December, the 20th day, according to the revised timeline due to the DETI NI’s spam filter delaying my emails for some reason I received an email reply answering my appeal for the BT contract information.

I have not yet fully read and digested the response, however my inital reaction is one of disappointment that the request was not fully met. The supplied contract is severely redacted. Why is it deemed the SLA information commercially confidential?

I have several issues with the reply, which I shall deal with in a subsequent post. But for now, the reply and the redacted copy of the contract.

I am releasing this today to coincide with a Press Release from DETI NI that declared the BT contract to be completed and that NI has 100% broadband coverage.

Internal Review Decision Letter to Mr Paul Gregg – BT Broadband Contract – IR 004.PDF
BT Broadband Contract (Redacted Version) – IR 004.PDF

New: I have OCRed the document and created an HTML version. Note that OCR isn’t perfect and I have not proofed it so refer to the original PDF for any queries.  The HTML version is provided for ease of use and searching.
BT Broadband Contract (Redacted Version) – IR 004-ocred

I would welcome some legal comment (free of charge of course) as to DETI NI’s signing a Confidentiality Clause in a major contract when they were aware* of their FOI obligations in respect of Confidentiality Clauses in contract.

* Information Commisioner Survey from NI Depts dated December 2003 – 3 months prior to the BT contract which stated: "The majority of respondents report that the Central Procurement Service manages NICS contracts with private sector suppliers. As a result, the Central Procurement Service is reviewing the existing procedures with regard to the removal of confidentiality clauses."

Or more specifically:
��we would like additional assistance in the form of more detailed interpretation of the FOIA exemptions, and in particular those relating to information provided in confidence (s41), commercial interests (s43), and prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (s36).�
– Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment