Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Googlecache Backdoor

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Personal,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:02 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

An old “trick” that never seems to get old, even when it doesn’t quite work.

Every once in a while, I actually talk about technical stuff on this blog and this week, I’m focused on Google. Oh, sure, it’s called “Diary of a Network Geek”, but I generally talk about all sorts of geeky things that have nothing to do with computers or networking at all. Well, today you get a treat, gentle readers, and I’ll write a little technical bit about what this is and how it works, or doesn’t. Here’s the trick, in a nutshell: Google a specific site or page with no extra parameters, using the “site:ryumaou.com” syntax. (To hit a specific page, “site:ryumaou.com/hoffman/netgeek/“) When you get your search results, notice at the bottom of each description, there is a link labelled “Cached”. Click that and you’re looking at the page as it resides on the Google servers. At this point, normally, you’d not be hitting the actual website at all, but simply viewing the page as it was stored on Google’s servers when they spidered the site for their search database.

GoogleCacheGotchaNow, normally, that would hide you from a web log, but not from this blog. Why? Good question. What you see pictured in the graphic on this post is a rookie mistake. Googlecache browsing doesn’t work well to conceal one’s IP address when browsing dynamic content. I know it might not always seem like it, but this blog is, actually, fairly dynamic. In this particular case, what tripped up our inexperienced sneak is a plugin, or set of plugins, running on the blog. Mainly, it was the plugin that makes the pretty title graphics via PHP. When our tricksy, little Hobbit hit the Googlecached page, his browser made a call directly back to code stored on my site to generate the cool graphics. Graphics which, because they are generated dynamically, are not stored in Google’s cache, but created “on the fly” every time someone hits my page. Interestingly enough, even if our erstwhile intruder had turned off the ability to view graphics in his browser, the PHP code would have still generated graphic, thereby alerting me to his rather weak attempt to conceal his identity.
The only thing one might gain from this “hack” is the ability to get around a blocked IP address. Sadly, the sneak doesn’t need to do this, as I block very few IP addresses at all. For one thing, an IP block is of limited value for blocking spammers, since they change IPs regularly to avoid such blocks. For another, to deal with spam and other unwanted visitors, I have other tools that work much better. So, really, all this particular tricksy, little Hobbit did was, well, waste their own time and give me a handy topic to write a quick piece about very basic web security.

So, um, thanks. Now, c’mon in from the cold and just browse the site to your heart’s content, okay? Oh, and don’t forget to vote on the poll in the sidebar there everybody!

Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state wants to live at the expense of everyone."
   --Frederic Bastiat


Dale Reckoning Plugin

Filed under: Art,Fun,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is terribly early in the morning or 6:50 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

So, I upgraded to the latest version of WordPress not too long ago so I could test a little project of mine. Way back in the early days of blogging, when all these fancy programs were new and not so user friendly, I concieved of a beautiful way to present fiction to a large audience for free. Well, okay, me and about a million other people, but, still, I had an artistic vision. No, really! My idea was to keep a journal in the manner and style of a character from a fictional world via a blog. I saw it as a return to the roots of the novel which, in the early days, used things like journal entries and faux personal letters to tell a story. Naturally, a blog would be a perfect way to do just that.
But, as a curmudgeon and creative person who was not content to just record something in the standard calendar, I set about trying to adapt the blog I was using to a new, fictional calendar. Sadly, my first efforts met with very limited success, but, then I upgraded to the first version of WordPress and started learning a bit of PHP. It wasn’t long after that before I had a decent working plugin that would allow me to make my blog appear to be recorded in the calendar used for the Forgotten Realms setting by Wizards of the Coast, formerly TSR. It took many, many cycles of development and testing before I was satisfied, but, I finally got something that I thought was worth sharing and, then, they did a major overhaul of WordPress. So, I waited for all the bugs to get found and fixed. And, I waited and waited and waited some more for good measure. Then, a couple of weeks ago, I actually found the time to upgrade to the latest version and test my plugin again. A few minor corrections later, I had fixed all the quirks I could find and, so, without further ado, I present, for your wacky, fantasy blogging pleasure, the Dale Reckoning plugin for WordPress!

Use it in good health and enjoy! (And, yes, this is appearing almost simultaneously on my sad, little fantasy/writing blog.)


Error Condition

Filed under: Adventures with iPods,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,The Dark Side,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:57 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Okay folks, the little problem has been corrected. It seems that someone or something managed to inject a little extra PHP code into my WordPress plugins. I think they were trying to add links to websites to improve their Googlerank, but it just caused an error on the blog. Anyway, I think I got all the offending code.

My iPod arrived tonight. I’ll be loading it with music over the next several days.

As a total red herring, though, I have a date Saturday night with an actual woman. Not a girl, but a real, full-grown, self-supporting woman. She has her own business and her own very busy life. She used to live in Chicago, but she’s from here and moved back just two years ago. The pictures I’ve seen of her are, well, let’s just say she took my breath away. I’d imagine that she could pretty well have her pick of guys. In fact, she doesn’t need me at all.
But, tonight on the phone, she wouldn’t hang up until I promised to call her in the morning.

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A New Low

Filed under: Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Fun Work,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,PERL,Personal,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Horse which is around lunchtime or 12:26 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

Oh, God, this is a new low.
So, the other day, I’m joking with a friend about obsessively checking my webstats for certain pieces of information. He sort of laughs at me in e-mail and questions why I haven’t done a PERL script to automate it. And, I did actually think about it. The problem would be, as I explained to him, that I’d have to run the PERL script as a daemon, or process. Or, as a CRON job that repeated every fifteen minutes or so. Otherwise, I wouldn’t get the kind of notification that would make writing a script worthwhile. The only problem is, even my super relaxed webhost, Amzia.net, would eventually have issues with that kind of utilization.
In any case, I scouted around for some PERL code anyway, even though I’d probably never be able to actually use them. Then, one morning this past week, it occurred to me that I had PHP code that I could modify to produce the same results. So, I copied my chunk of code, tested it and put it out there, live. Worked like a charm. I got live results and e-mailed them to my friend and we had a good laugh that I’d gone and written code, that worked quite well, for a very personal, inside joke, that no one but he and I would see, or get. But, no, that’s not the new low.
Later, on the same day I made it live, I was sitting outside enjoying one of my last remaining clove cigarettes and caught myself refining the code in my head. Yep, I’m sitting there, petting the dog, smoking and tightening code in my head. I even started to add functionality as I crunched the code, too!

Oh, God, I am such a geek. I don’t even think another tattoo would help at this point. Oh, well, at least it pays the bills.


The Hell That Was Friday

Filed under: Apple,Career Archive,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Personal,Rotten Apples,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Dragon which is in the early morning or 8:24 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

It all started with those damn black birds last week…
Actually, it was a mostly quiet week, except for the fact that my house refinance is in limbo because my ex-wife’s lawyer didn’t file the special warranty deed that grants me possesion of the house. Ah, well, some things never change. She’s still sticking it to me even after the divorce.
Anyway, today, everyone in the company decided to dump their problems on me for the week. An entire week’s worth in one day. This after a week of Access database development. Yeah, development, not database administration. I hate doing Access development! All pointy-clicky and why-the-hell-does-it-do-that? But, not Friday.
Friday, I replaced a cd-rom drive in the shop. No big deal, right? Yeah, well, at the time, there was a guy in the office looking at negatives of welds, in the dark. So, I did this under someone’s desk by the infrequent light of the glowy box he was using to read the negatives. In other words, I changed a cd-rom drive basically by touch. Then, there was an electrician who need to print labels but was dissatisfied with the fact that they were off by a centimeter in one column. After wrestling with that for fourty-five minutes, I walked away to do something else and found out later that it wasn’t the printer that was off at all. It was the cheap labels he’d bought. They cut them on a bias!
Then, there was the too-picky engineer who complained all day about getting a 19-inch flat-screen LCD. Yeah, complained about it! No one but him could tell the damn difference, but he claimed his recently lasik-ed eyes were strained and hurting because of the low-resolution. Well, until we suggested that he could have his old monitor back. Suddenly then he found settings that looked good enough. Yeah, sure.
But, the coup de grĂ¢ce was the Vice President of Sales having his Macintrash G4 go South on him. I worked on that alone and, worse, with the boss, who’s the resident Mac expert. There’s noting I hate more than not knowing in front of my boss. And, after buying a hard drive, and exchanging it for one that would actually run in a damn Mac, we finally, after working until 6:30PM on a Friday, finally decided that it was a memory issue. We think. We left it running to see if it hangs up again. So, just to fight my personal ignorance, I went to Borders and bought Mac OS X : The Missing Manual, Tiger Editon . (Well, I also bought some other things including How to Do Everything with PHP and MySQL so I can build an app for Fantasist.net. And, Looking for Jake : Stories, because China Mieville is a great writer and I deserve a break!)
So, tonight after church, children, your Uncle Jim is going to be drinking heavily and ignoring trick-or-treaters. Happy Halloween. Bah!


Review: Sams Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours, Third Edition

Filed under: Fun Work,Geek Work,Review — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:11 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

Okay, I read this some time ago, but I’m finally getting to review it!

Well, since there’s been some question about the future of MovableType, the blog engine I’m currently using, I started looking at other blogs. I discovered that most of them were done in PHP, so, I decided I needed to read up on PHP. Toward that end, I got Sams Teach Yourself PHP in 24 Hours, Third Edition. Wow, what a book! First of all, it was not only a great introduction to PHP, but it was a good primer on the basics of programming. Now, a lot of that part was review for me, but it was a good review. Second, the only “bad” thing I can say about the book was that by the end, I was in way over my head. And, honestly, that wasn’t all that bad, really, but it might be intimidating for someone new to this kind of book. And, in the end, I think this was a really great book for me to have read to get a good, overall picture of PHP. It went further than I needed, but it covered everything I was worried about.
In short, if you’re looking for a good introduction to PHP programming, this is an excellent choice!



When Chairman Bill thinks..

Filed under: Career Archive,Criticism, Marginalia, and Notes,Geek Work,News and Current Events,The Network Geek at Home — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Hare which is in the early morning or 7:31 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Gibbous

people listen.

And, that, gentle readers, is no joke. Whatever you may think about Micro$oft and Chairman Bill, he drives the industry. So, what he thinks really does matter. So, what does Bill Gates think? Well, according to this article on eWeek.com, this year, he’s thinking about XML and webservices, wireless protocols, shockingly enough, security, XBox, and surprise, market domination. So, this is what’s going to matter for the next year, or so, in IT. You’d better learn about it and know it well enough to be relavent.
Thankfullly, I know a little about webservices of various kinds and I’ve got a couple of XML and PHP books lined up. And, I’m working on my Security+, still. And, I also have a book or two in my queue on security. Hmm, maybe I won’t be too bad off if I get outsourced….

How about you?

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