Archive for the ‘internet’ Category

An Aaargh! moment

Some of you may have received an invitation to join my LinkedIn network from me today. To those who accepted, thank you. To those who found the invitation unwelcome, I apologize.

It was not my intention to spam you in any way. Unfortunately I didn’t look carefully enough at what was displayed so that instead of emailing just those whom I had painstakingly selected from the list, the invitations went to all of the hundreds of addresses in my Gmail contacts list.

It was a real Aargh! moment, but by the time I had uttered the exclamation it was too late! Judging by all the invitations I have received in the past from people I don’t remember, I don’t think I am the first person to have done this.

New Yahoo! group for JT9 mode

It was inevitable this would happen: someone has started a Yahoo! group for the JT9 mode. Pity they couldn’t have made it a Google group like the one for JT65A but I guess more hams have Yahoo! accounts than Google accounts.

There was already a fairly quiet WSJT group but this will keep the discussions about using JT9 on HF separate from the rather esoteric MS and EME stuff.

Hacked off

This is not much to do with radio. But I know that many of you have your own websites and will probably find this of interest.

A couple of days ago I discovered that one of my websites had been hacked. Not G4ILO’s Shack, but the other one which still continues to earn us a little bit despite receiving only the barest maintenence in the last two years.

I opened one of the pages and instead of the expected content a server error message appeared. My first thought was that the hosting company had changed some setting so I fired off an urgent support ticket. They responded saying that some of my files had been “compromised”. Sure enough when I looked at one of the files there was some code I didn’t recognize. This code referred to a file that had been added which was zero length, and that was causing a 500 server error. I deleted the file and every access now caused a 404 “file not found” error. Eventually I found that the .htaccess file had been hacked and some code added which was being executed for every single file access.

The timestamp showed that the .htaccess had been modified a week ago on 19th March. Because of the web browser caching we had not noticed the error messages any earlier. Google had visited the site in that time however, and had received a server error for every page it tried to access. So now the site had dropped out of Google. Thanks a lot, hackers.

Further investigation revealed that the hackers had modified almost every .php file on the server. They had inserted some code at the beginning of every file, apparently meant to disable error reporting. They had inserted some other code into one .php file that was included in every page. However, something in what they had done had the effect of disabling PHP processing with the result that the PHP code was sent to the browser instead of being executed.

To cut a long story short, after trying to repair the hacked files individually, I decided to restore the site from the oldest backup the hosting company held. I had a little bit of luck: the oldest backup was taken on 19th March, the day of the attack, but it had run before the attack occurred so I was able to restore the site with every file as it was originally. A day later and that backup would have gone and I would have been unable to restore the site without a lot of manual work. But the damage had been done as far as Google was concerned.

If you are expecting a lesson to be learned as a result of this story, I don’t have one, other than if you want a quiet life stick to blogging, don’t try to run your own website. If you do, visit your site every day and check for changes.

I have no idea how the hacker managed to gain access to the files on my shared web server. If they did it once they could do it again. I don’t believe that my passwords were compromised as they are randomly-generated, but I changed them anyway. Altogether this episode lasted for several stressful hours – time that I would much rather have spent trying out the latest WSJT-X program.

DXMaps needs your support!

The DXMaps website run by Gabriel EA6VQ needs your support. This is the site that plots contacts spotted to the DX Cluster on a map, band by band, to show propagation in real-time. It is especially invaluable during the summer Sporadic-E season to track the rapidly-moving band openings.

DXMaps plots DX contacts band by band in real time

The trouble with any web site is that if it becomes very popular the costs of running it grow beyond what most people can afford as a hobby. According to EA6VQ the cost of a new dedicated server for the site will be $250 a month. So he is asking users to become “supporter users” by donating $33 US per year. But any donation is welcome.

If you are an active operator, especially on six metres and up, you will know how invaluable DXMaps.com is. Hopefully hams will step up to the plate and send Gabriel a donation.

New page for JT9 modes

JT9 just got even better. Thanks to Laurie, VK3AMA, JT9 has a new page to show current activity or general chat at hamspots.net.

As far as I can tell, the spots are generated from the spots to PSK Reporter, which the latest WSJT-X program does automatically if you tick the appropriate box. So you don’t have to do anything extra for your spots to show up on this page. This is a great facility that I am sure will increase the growing popularity of the JT9 mode.

Fix for "Gmail app unreachable" in Google Chrome

This morning when I started up Google Chrome and tried to log in to Gmail the page kept coming up “Gmail app unreachable”. Curiously, when using Firefox Gmail loaded up fine.

I found a solution to this issue that works for me. Right-click the shortcut that you use to start Google Chrome, then on the Shortcut tab in the box marked Target which contains the full path to chrome.exe, append a space followed by  –ssl-version-max=tls1 (that last character is a number 1.)

I have no idea what this does but as I say, it worked for me.

YouView or not YouView

This post is nothing to do with ham radio. However it is about radio – or rather TV – and the internet, and I’m pretty sure some of my readers know more than I do about this subject.

Here’s the thing. A few days ago TalkTalk – our telecoms and broadband provider – sent us a letter offering a free YouView box as a sop for the tariff going up. If I understand correctly, a YouView box would provide us with two things that we don’t currently get from our plain old Freesat box: the ability to record programmes (our Freesat box isn’t one with a hard drive in it) and the ability to catch up on already broadcast programmes using things like BBC iPlayer.

If we want to watch programmes after they have been broadcast then we have to use iPlayer or whatever on our computers, of which we have about six in the house already, not counting the old Toshiba laptop I run DOS on to program Motorola radios or the other slightly less old Toshiba laptop that has a whole column of dead pixels in the middle of its display. I haven’t tried connecting one of the computers to the wide screen TV in the living room and watching BBC iPlayer that way. We watch it on the computer screen if we want to. If we want to record programs for later viewing we need to buy a newer more expensive version of our Humax Freesat box.

A YouView box would cost £299 so it’s quite an attractive deal to get one free. The question is: would we be able to use it without a lot of hassle?

If I understand correctly, in order to use a YouView box we would need two things that we don’t already have: a digital terrestrial TV antenna (we get all the TV channels we need on Freesat) and an Ethernet connection to our router accessible from where the TV is (because apparently YouView doesn’t have a wi-fi adapter.) Obtaining these would entail a fair amount of extra expense on hardware (i.e. the cost of having a TV aerial installed, and some kind of wi-fi adapter or a long and ugly piece of Ethernet cable.) Nor do I know whether YouView would need the same type of TV input already being used by the Freesat box, namely the HDMI input.

So my thinking is that it’s not worth the cost and hassle. Getting stuff like this to work usually results in my tearing my hair out – and it’s only just started growing back! But then I’m not the one who cares if we miss Strictly Come Dancing because we are out or some other show that clashes with something else we’re watching. Perhaps I shouldn’t look gift YouView boxes worth £300 in the mouth. Your thoughts, multimedia experts?


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