Tuesday a vulnerability has been discovered allowing atackers to execute remote code on the server.
When a fix was published I immediately installed it on the server, but the site had already been hacked. To make matters worse, the fix files contained errors, which made that phpCOIN did not produce any output.
My server error log showed me where the errrors were, and by adding some parentesis I could fix my site.
The official fix files are now three days old, and still contain these errors. There are more and more people running into this problem asking for wroking, so I uploaded my fixed files for download.
Note that the original fix file contains more files, so you need to install those files first and then overwrite the three files with errors with my copies.
[Update 2005/12/19]: The official fix files have been updated, so my files are no longer necessary.
Now that I have left Bloglines and use RSS Bandit, it came to me that Bloglines is still fetching all those feeds in my name.
So if Feedburner reports 9 Bloglines readers, I really should subtract one of them, since I am not using Bloglines anymore.
Of course I could go back in and delete all my subscriptions, but nobody ever does that, do you?
I wonder how many of Bloglines' reported tens of thousands of people are zombies like me, still subscribed to feeds but not actually using Bloglines anymore to read them. And does Bloglines disable accounts after a certain period?
Of course the same goes also for other web-based feed aggregators.
GPH offers you the possibility to add content (RSS feeds) to the Google Search home page, which is fine if you only use three or four news sources to stay up-to-date. But if you use several more news sources, you probably already use a feed aggregator to read them, and don’t need the GPH.
I did like the idea of seeing the weather forecast on the homepage, but unfortunately neither Lleida nor Harmelen are available in the configuration of this widget. Microsoft does this better on their Start.com portal, since it does have information for Lleida, and correctly recognizes Harmelen to insert the weather forecast for Utrecht.
Today Google published an API for GPH, which hopefully will set a lot of creative programmers to work. At this moment I am only interested in two widgets: a better weather widget and an e-mail linked to my normal POP3 or IMAP mail, since I normally don’t use GMail.
I have always used Bloglines, since I wanted to access my feeds from anywhere, but recently came to the conclusion that I only read feeds from exactly two PC's.
Whenever I am traveling, I hardly have the time or possibilities to connect to the Internet, and usually only read my e-mail.
Bloglines has many features, but misses one: the ability to work off-line. One of my wishes was to be able to search through feeds while being off-line, which by nature is something Bloglines cannot offer.
Another, less important, feature I missed in Bloglines is a three-pane view: folder-headline-text. A three-panel view saves time when going through a big list of headlines.
While I am still tweaking RSS Bandit to my wishes, I am quite satisfied with it. I get through my feeds faster and can spend my off-line time reading as well. RSS Bandit has a nice little feature that lets me upload the feed list and the read status to a FTP server, so I can continue where I left off on another PC.
So far the tools to built lenses, and the time I had available to use them, are limited, but it looks like a viable initiative. Squidoo is still considered a beta, but they already earned some real money:
5,241 Lenses Made $148.88 Earned
I will continue playing with Squidoo, and will post more about it in the future.
I have two address lists, which I synchronize daily. One copy resides on my Palm Zire 31 which I always take with me, and the other list is my Outlook contacts folder on my Office PC. My address list is growing every day, and each time it costs me more to maintain it.
Looking up addresses is fast. The search function on my Palm and the excellent LookOut plug-in for Outlook are very fast. But updating information cost more. I regularly receive address changes from companies of friends. And if it is a big company I might have dozens of entries for it in my address list, which I have to update one by one. The same happens for friends and family. I usually have two entries for each ‘couple’, so I can store birth dates and mobile phone numbers. But they share the same address and home phone.
My ideal PIM application would store ‘contacts’ in two separate but linked tables: an address and a person. If I change the address, it will change for all persons within that address. Yes, that would be great!
Here is something not many people know: an open application window consumes more memory than a minimized window. You can use that in your benefit: if you have a lot of memory in your PC, you might want to keep all windows open to be able to switch faster between applications. On the other hand, if you work on a PC with little memory, it is better to keep as many windows minimized as possible to free memory for the current application.
Firefox 1.5 has been released, and I have already installed it on my PC. Why is this news? My PC runs the Spanish version of Windows, and I like my applications to be in Spanish as well. When previous versions were released, I had to wait a few days or even weeks until a Spanish version was available. This time I found the download button shown above on the Firefox site. Great job!
Recently there has been a lot of attention for web statistics: first Mint was launched, introducing design and AJAX to web statistics. Soon after that, old-timer NedStat got bought by WebStats4U, which lost most of its clients by adding unwanted advertising to sites using the NedStat counter. And last week Google re-launched Google Analytics, previously known as Urchin. There is a lot going on in a market just as old as the Internet.
As long as people have created web pages, they have been interested in knowing who is visiting their pages. Most web statistics packages already exist for years, and the only changes they have made to their products are the inclusion of new browser detection and more advanced bot filtering. And the inclusion of RSS readers of course.
The first statistics I ever used was the NedStat counter. I only had to place an image on my home page, and NedStat would tell me the referrer pages, countries, and browsers. Ver neat!
Then I moved to another hosting provider, which gave me access to the server logs. I installed AWStats and got incredible statistics. Now I can see which search bots spidered my site, which file types are more popular, and which files are missing (404 errors). It is all in the server logs!
As a technology-oriented person, I first set the webmaster view as my default view. But Google's webmaster view gives me less information than AWStats. It does not tell me about 404 errors, it does not show me bandwidth numbers, it does not show me login names.… The other views in Analyze are great, and very useful when managing my sites, but I do miss webmaster information.
I wish it would be possible to ‘enrich’ the data Google collects with my server log files, FeedBurner reports, etc. With Google Base they laid the foundation for adding content, they only have to implement in into analyze.
We all heard about the problems Google Analytics is having at the moment: after the launch they experienced extremely strong demand, and as a result, have temporarily limited the number of new signups. Not only have they stopped accepting new signups, but they also don't allow existing users to add new website profiles.
After the launch I managed to get signed up, and submitted one of my sites to evaluate Google Analytics. Today, about a week after my signup, Google Analytics finally shows me the results. And I like it a lot! So I want to add Google Analytics to my other sites.
In the Website Profiles screen I read: To track another website with Analytics, click the 'Add Website Profile' link, but there is no such link in that screen. The help function directs me to the signup screen with the message that they do not accept new signups. What to do?
I loaded the Website Profiles page in my favourite HTML editor, and find the following code:
They simply commented out the ‘Add Website Profile’ button! I open the page linked in the code, and Google adds my new website profile without any problem! So to add another website profile, you only have to log-in at Google Analytics and go to the following URL, replacing the XXXXXX by your own user number:
Citizenspeak is the talkof the day. It is a free, easy-to-use service that allows grassroots organizations and activists to launch email campaigns. The only problem is… it does not work! Whenever I try to access the site, I get the following error:
Fatal error: Call to undefined function: drupal_goto() in /smail_cluster/home/sites/citizenspeak.org/web/modules/i18n/i18n.module on line 33
It looks like the application noticed that I am connecting from Spain, and is trying to serve me a localized page, but fails to do so. I tried to change the ‘accept languages’ string of my browser, but that did not make any difference. I also switched from Firefox to Internet Explorer, but without results. I really like to have a look at the new Citizenspeak!!!
I just found out that you can validate your Google Sitemap by placing an empty HTML file on you site. After validation, Google gives you detailed statistics, including Top Search Queries and Top Search Query Clicks:
Even more interesting, they also show crawl statistics with crawl errors and the PageRank distribution for your pages:
I just noticed that I have published exactly 499 entries on Brain Tags. Time to add number 500!!!
So this is number 500, a milestone. Not that it has been difficult to write that much articles, since it took me almost eight years (I wrote the first entry on November 24, 1997). Of course I didn’t start writing regularly until I moved to Spain in 2001, when I had written only 27 entries in four years. You can follow my writing progress on the Entries & Comments page.
In the past, companies had huge departments for marketing. Marketing means that you send your customers your message. You speak, and they listen.
But then came the Cluetrain, followed by the Hughtrain and we started conversations. The ideal tool for conversations is the weblog. On the corporate weblog you can write down your thoughts, and the readers can comment on that.
To me, this still does not feel alright. It is still the company who decides on the conversation topic. I can participate in a conversation, but I can’t start one. OK, I could write my opinion on my own weblog, but wouldn’t it be nice to have all conversations together?
As I wrote this morning in The future of feed reading, I am going to try out TailRank. I exported my Bloglines subscriptions to an OPML file and imported this file in TailRank to let them know what I like to read. Then I also added the latest entry on this site end and looked at what TailRank was going to suggest me:
Yes, TailRank definitely seems to like my story!
Anyway, I mailed the image above to Kevin A. Burton, exlaining him:
I just started looking at TailRank, and I am very impressed.
I send you a screenshot of a results page, which I think might be a little bug you might want to look into. All I did was import my OPML file and submit the latest entry of my weblog. As you see, this entry appears several times on the result page.
Let’s continue talking about feed reading. Last week I described the five phases of feed reading I had observed. Or actually the first four phases are observations, while the fifth phase is purely speculation.
And exactly this fifth phase was the part I received the most feedback on. I found somebody agreeing with this tabloid view. I also received this e-mail from Robert Scoble:
I don't agree that that's phase five.
Why? Cause I keep meeting interesting people I want to have conversations with and who aren't in Memeorandum (or who won't be in the tabloids).
I have to admit that I did not think a lot about the fifth phase when I wrote it down. It was simple the first idea that came to my mind, and I jotted it down. Raw blogging…
But after reading the reactions, I thought it oer again. What exactly do I expect? How would I like to receive my news?
The tabloid model and Memeorandum do a nice job in selecting, but there is one thing neither of them covers: they are both excellent in selecting the top stories which everybody likes, but fail to select the top stories I like. There is no personalisation, and feed reading has everything to do with a personal experience.
What we really need is ‘clever’ feed readers, applications that know what I like and what I am not interested in.
My first idea is to use a Bayesian filter, which is already succesfully used to identify spam and to route helpdesk requests, on a big set of RSS feeds and have it select the most interesting items. I rarely have very original ideas, and there are many people spending more time on feed readers, so somebody must already have had the same idea, and maybe even already worked it out. A little bit of searching lead me to 0xDECAFBAD, who tried it out and found that it did not work so well.
I know that the idea is still new, and that this is just one test conducted by one person, but it is clear that more work has to be done in this field. For now I start playing with the new TailRank service, which partly solves my problem according to all those people who have written about it the last days.
I urgently needed a particular piece of electronics. So I checked the manufacturer's web site top see where I could buy it. After phoning all possible shops in Lleida, I reverted to an on-line shop. I looked at the available options and choose the biggest company. That turned out to be my biggest mistake:
On October 24 I connected to their site, found my item and saw that they had it on stock. The site mentioned a delivery time of 7 days, which was fine, since I needed it in 14 days.
I received an e-mail confirming my order, after one day!, and a request for a copy of my identification card. Of course I immediately sent this.
I checked the order status on the web, since I had not received a confirmation of reception of my message. The status mentioned ‘missing information’, so I sent an e-mail asking for the current status.
I still hadn't heard anything, and started to become a little bit nervous. So I phoned their customer support. They told me that there was a delay, and they were waiting for their supplier to deliver the goods. They could not explain me why the item was shown to be in stock when I made my order.
I received an e-mail from them, telling me that there had been an ‘incident’. I phoned them and asked them whether they would be able to deliver the item on time, since I needed it in 6 days. They assured me that it would not be a problem.
I would not let them forget me, so I phoned again. They told me that they had the item in their central warehouse, and that it was now passing quality control. They should be able to send it me in one week. I patiently explained them that I really need the item in a few days. The nice guy one the other side said that he understood me and that he would pass a message to the quality control department. I expected that it would be possible to ship it to me on the next day, but told me to phone again.
I faithfully phoned again, hoping that they'd been able to send me my device. But instead of that, the nice lady tells me that they can not deliver within the next two weeks. Besides that, she tells me that there has not been noted anything about my phone call the day before! I explain once more that I really need the device, and that they'd promised me that it would be possible to deliver it on time, but she says that there is nothing she can do. I cancel my order…
Only little time left, so all I can do is find a shop that has the device in stock and pick it up personally. I start with the big outlets in Barcelona, and after phoning 7 of them I am able to reserve my item. I hop in the car, drive 160 kilometres, pay some money —hé, this shop is even cheaper than what I found on Internet!— and drive home happily. I promise everybody that I won't buy anything from Carrefour!
Though RSS feeds are still only used by the ‘lucky few’, I discovered several phases of RSS reading behaviour:
In phase 1 you discover RSS. You are very enthusiastic about having the possibility to see all the news from your favourite resources in one place. When visiting a web site you first look for the orange XML or RSS icon to subscribe. People in phase 1 typically subscribe to 1-50 feeds. You feel very efficient, since all news automagically appears in your feed reader; you've saved yourself hours of useless browsing;
After a while you realize that there is a lot more out there: your 50 feeds are not even the top of the iceberg. You have entered phase 2. Once in while you find an interesting post outside your feeds, but since the rest of the posts from this author are about his cats you decided not to subscribe. Since you don't want to miss the good posts you set up some ‘search feeds’: Technorati, PubSub, Feedster, del.icio.us and friends search the blogsphere for your interest, and automatically notify you. You spend hours tweaking your queries, since you don't want to miss anything. All feeds are nicely organized with a separate folder per subject. You are now checking over 100 feeds on a daily basis;
What started with 5 minutes every day, now cost you over an hour. And you can't skip a single day, since that will cost you two hours next day. Phase 3 is hard work, with an ever increasing number of feeds to read. Robert Scoble mentioned reading 900+ feeds! You know that something has to happen, so you start wielding out your feeds. You unsubscribe feeds of old contacts, feeds about subjects you are no longer interested in, feeds of dead sites… You also put a break on the new feeds you subscribe to. You create a '‘probation’ folder for new feeds, and selectively promote feeds to your main folders. Despite all these efforts you don't feel like you're in control: you are juggling instead;
Usually external influences force you into phase 4. You simply don't have the time anymore to spend hours a day reading. There are two ways to deal with phase 4: people who go the drastical way simply delete all their feeds, except for the 10 feeds that really matter. After all, if something really important happens everybody will write about it within a few hours. The trick is to pick out the relevant feeds publishing all the news you are interested in.
Other people are more careful, and simply regroup their feeds by reading frequency: the 10 feeds to be read daily, about 50 feeds to be read once a week if you have time, and many feeds more just in case you want to read them on a bored Sunday afternoon. Reading is a pleasure again, and you feel in control knowing that you can't possibly read everything out there but won't miss any important news.
In phase 5 you see the light! Imagine an army of professional editors searching all available news, and selecting the best pieces. Even better, they publish their results on a handy paper based format called tabloid, which you can take with you wherever you want. And finally, you will be interrupted only once a day.
[Insert fancy graph here]
Inspired by Jason Kottke, I entered phase 4 today. I regrouped all my feeds, and reduced the number of feeds in Bloglines. Furthermore I told Bloglines to notify me only when new items appear in my ‘top’ folder. The first result has been amazing. I had a busy day, so only read my top feeds. I still have a feeling of what is going on whithout having to spend a lot of time reading.