June 06, 2011

My cat thinks he's a dog

Playing around with my new camera decided to test the video capability so here is evidence that my cat thinks he is a dog.

May 25, 2010

Dodgy paid web Ads

As some people may know , in my spare time I look after a number of websites for a some local musicians and a local venue and record label.  Recently I was forwarded an email by the site owner for my opinion from someone at linkstar.co.uk offering to pay $200/ year to put a simple text link and small bit of text on a particular page for one of their clients. Why someone would offer to pay that much without even knowing how many vistors the page gets (very few as it is not the main page) is is suspicious. Obviously they are actually after the search engines rather than real visitors.

My attitude generally is that the only ads  I would even consider putting on are for organisations with which the site owner has an existing relationship with. A quick google search suugests that linkstar's method of business is slightly dubious but they do pay,though why a supposedly british company would quote payment to anotherv uk site in $ is suspicious. I expressed my reservations but obviously he persued it further as today he forwarded a further email to me with the details of the proposed ad.  At this point it gets even more suspicious as the link is for a US based hearing aid company, the supplied paragraph of accompanying text came with a disclaimer about being translated from Chinese (which shows) and the relevance of the ad to the page on which it was to be placed was tenuous. However at first glance it still wasn't obvious where the scam was.

Closer investigation of the linked to page reveals why they are trying to direct traffic to this particular site. Adblock blocked to items related to atdmt which apparently is a very annoying bit of malware should you unwitingly get it on your system.  Wether the company is an unwitting, unknowing or deliberate participant is unknown. their site may have been hacked, or they may think they are just participating a scheme to boost their site hits. Either way I will refuse to put the up.

July 03, 2009

Myspace and Paypal

It appears that Myspace have deliberately broken 'Buy Now' buttons so that they no longer work. Searching on Google sugests that this has been happening for just over a month, though most people are still unaware of this.

I only found out this morning after a local musician contacted me to say neither of the ones on her page were working. The one has been there over a year and used to work, the second I added last night for her.

For musicians who have their own websites as well the solution is fairly simple, just edit the button link to redirect to their own merchandise page, as I have done in this case. Unfortunately I am not aware of a simple solution at the moment for the significant number of musicians who do not have a suitable page elsewhere.

February 10, 2009

Coincidences and the power of the internet

For a few years now I have been helping my Mother to discover the family tree, making use of the ever increasing resources on the internet. The results of all this are stored on the ancestry.co.uk website, as this is where most of the information comes from occasionally transferred to my page on genesreunited as that seems  to generate more contacts. Apart from my Mothers Maternal grandfather I have been reasonably successful tracing back to the early/mid 1700's.

Just after Christmas I recieved a contact via ancestry from a lady in Texas who had found a photo of her Grandmother (sister of my Fathers Grandmother) and my Fathers Great-Grandmother attached to my tree, enquiring if I had any more photos that may be of interest as she had little information on that side of the family as her Grandmother had died in 1908 while her father was still young. 

Last week, having finally got back from holiday in Spain my Mother got round to checking. Initially this caused some confusion as my Father claimed his Nan didn't have a sister, which shows how much notice he normally takes in the work my Mother and I have been doing. He did however remember the lady who contacted me, her parents and sister, however he hadn't realised that they were related and thought they were just close family friends.

Following the exchange of a few more emails, the biggest coincidence is that this lady's Mother and sister both live in Kettering, which is also where my parents have been for the last 25+ years. 

Also locally there are a couple of relatives from my Dad's Fathers side who he sees around quite often, who had also contacted me independently via one of the websites without realising who I was. Since all my fathers relatives were from around High Wycombe it is quite a coincidence that 50 years after moving away from his birthplace he should end up in  the same town as several of his relatives in a different part of the country.

September 24, 2008

How not to do customer service

About 3 weeks I submitted an online support request to Philips via their website concerning my DVD/ Harddisc recorder. Acording to their website they should send some sort of response within a few hours. Until today I hadn't even received an acknowledgement and what to a get? An email asking me to complete an survey to tell them what I thought about their customer service and how they could improve it.

My responses were remarkably polite, bet they still don't actually bother to respond to the original query though.

September 20, 2008

Tesco are taking the piss

I know people  complain about christmas being promoted earlier every year but this is taking it too far. All the fresh bread in tesco this morning is packaged like this. 


July 03, 2008

Yahoo slurp– waste of bandwidth

Looking at the stats for a couple of websites I administer I have noticed that Yahoo Slurp uses an unfeasibly large amount of bandwidth compared to all the other crawlers despite actually providing very few visitors.

In the worst case for one site last month (www.tinangelrecords.co.uk) slurp used 1000 times the bandwidth of google, yet produced only 1/20th of the number of visits, it was also responsible for almost 1/3 of the total site bandwidth. Fortunately at the moment bandwidth isn't a problem, however if it should become one then the first thing I will do is just block  slurp  as the number of lost visitors doesn't justify the effort required to work out how to simply limit the amount of robot traffic generated by it.

Robots/Spiders visitors (Top 25)   -   Full list   -   Last visit
12 different robots* Hits Bandwidth Last visit
Yahoo Slurp 1003 429.59 MB 30 Jun 2008 - 23:10
MSNBot 223 782.52 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 23:54
Unknown robot (identified by 'spider') 166 444.09 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 23:10
Googlebot 113 411.59 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 10:43
Ask 80 777.73 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 03:50
Unknown robot (identified by 'robot') 61 4.20 MB 30 Jun 2008 - 20:46
MSNBot-media 60 518.56 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 03:35
Unknown robot (identified by 'bot/' or 'bot-') 17 75.99 KB 28 Jun 2008 - 23:25
Alexa (IA Archiver) 11 79.67 KB 24 Jun 2008 - 13:52
Unknown robot (identified by 'crawl') 11 39.39 KB 30 Jun 2008 - 03:00
Voila 6 16.48 KB 26 Jun 2008 - 03:12
Google Sitemaps 1 263 Bytes 25 Jun 2008 - 08:54
Connect to site from
Origin Pages Percent Hits Percent
Direct address / Bookmarks 915 68.6 % 1044 64.5 %
Links from a NewsGroup
Links from an Internet Search Engine - Full list
- Google 216 217
- Google (Images) 35 61
- Yahoo! 13 13
- Windows Live 13 13
- MSN Search 2 2
- Tiscali 1 1
- AOL 1 1
- Ask 1 1
- Sogou 1 1
- Google (cache) 0 4
283 21.2 % 314 19.4

May 08, 2008

More music

Writing about web page http://www.kristygallacher.com

It's been a long time since I've bothered putting anything on here so here's a plug for an event I have been asked to do the sound for.

kristy flyer

Kristy is one of the best local musicians around here at the moment and is organising this as part of her degree at Coventry university. 

Justine runs an acoustic night every Wednesday , for which I look after the sound. Relaunching  after a short break at a new venue The Escape bar on 21st May, with a couple of featured artists and an open mic every week.

They also do chinese food in the Hope and Anchor, which is just as well as it means I can get some food after the soundcheck as I won't have time to eat beforehand.

February 15, 2008

How to annoy a cat

This week it was time for Kelvin's annual visit to the vets, always timed for first thing in the morning  so I know  where he is.

Take 1 cat and a carrier 

kelvin pre-carrier + the carrier

combine with lots of swearing and struggling. End result is one slightly shredded hand and one very pissed off cat who didn't stop complaining for the entire journey down to the Vets.


He legged it straight out the catflap when we got back home. By the time I got back home in the evening he had decided to be friends again.

Sucking his paw

November 30, 2007

FastHosts are a [CENSCORED]

Writing about web page http://www.covscene.co.uk

I help administer Covscene, a local music website. When I got home last night I logged on as usual to check the forums and delete any spammers before going to bed only to be greeted with and error page because it couldn't connect to the database. The person who actually pays for the hosting was on MSN at teh time so I chatted with her to discover that  this had been the case for  a few hours by this point. Whilst chatting she recieved the following email from Fasthosts.

From: Fasthosts [mailto:noreply@fasthosts.co.uk]
Sent: 30 November 2007 00:52
To: xxxxxx@covscene.co.uk
Subject: Important information about your Fasthosts account

Dear Customer,

We wrote to you on 18th October 2007 advising that you change all of the
passwords on your Fasthosts accounts (including control panel, FTP, database and
email), in order to prevent any unauthorised account access following the network
intrusion we previously communicated.

Whilst we have found the vulnerability that caused this issue, and have instigated a
system wide security audit to improve and enhance our current security, we also
advised you to change your control panel, FTP and email passwords as a

Today we have been made aware that a small number of our customers who did not
change their passwords have experienced a compromise to their FTP space.

As a result, in order to totally protect all of our customers, we have today
implemented an automatic password change for every control panel, FTP or SQL
password that was not previously reset.

In 10 days time we will also reset all unchanged email passwords.

To ensure complete security when communicating your new passwords to you, we
will first take the stringent measure of sending the new control panel
password via Royal Mail. Once you have received your new control panel
password, you will then be able to go into your control panel and immediately
change your FTP, SQL and email passwords. Please note that the email password
reminder system will not work from the time you receive this mail, to the time you log
in with your new control panel password.

If you have already changed your control panel password, you will still need to go
into your control panel and change ALL the FTP, SQL and email passwords
associated with your accounts that haven't already been changed.


We apologise for the inconvenience that this will cause you during this period, but
trust you understand that our primary concern is for our customers and for the
security of their websites and data. Unfortunately, an automatic password change is
the only way of ensuring that all of our customers are totally secure.

If you have any questions relating to this, please contact our Customer Support
team on 0870 888 3600 or customersupport@fasthosts.co.uk, and they will be
more than happy to help you. Thank you once again for your understanding and
cooperation in this matter. Yours sincerely,

The Fasthosts Team

This is all well and good, however we had already changed our control panel password as reccommended a few weeks ago, yet it has still been reset along with all the other paswords. After over 3 hours on hold (@10p/mi) she eventually got through to their support only to be told that they could not give us a new password and we would have to wait to recieve the new one via the post, which they may or may not get sent out today. In the meantime we are unable to access the account via any means to let people know what is going on, or to move the content to another host.

In our case it is highly annoying, any commercial organistion is likely to be losing money. Fortunately my hosting for various other organisations is elswhere otherwise I would be having to field lots of complaints from people who actually could be losing money.

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