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I figured out why I couldn't post entries via Blog from home - it was the new firewall that I'd enabled in Linux due to my brand new security conciousness :p FTP clients now needed passive transfers enabled though I don't seem to have any problems with other Net apps - only FTP. This made me think about something that I had been putting off for quite a while - adding firewall support to all my apps.
In fact, my friend John had told me that this was a feature lacking in BOB and that he couldn't use BOB because he was behind a firewall at work. Since I had a lot of other things to distract me (including a slew of movies on DVD such as "EDtv", "The Professional", "The Substitute" and "The Substitute 2" that I'd bought and had never watched), I decided to simply plan out what I needed to do and then go on a coding marathon tomorrow and try to get Blog (and if I was lucky even BOB) updated to work with a firewall. So, I watched all the movies I mentioned and played a few sessions of "Grandia II" on DreamCast in between while I planned out how exactly I was going to modify Blog :p
Looks as if I've been having some posting problems with my journal for the last few days and I didn't even know about it :p I discovered today that my journal hadn't got updated for the last two days and on investigation found out that Blog was actually erroring out on uploading the entries but I hadn't paid any attention to the message log window ... Looks as if something broke when I set up my Linux based network but I can't figure out what went wrong. So for the moment the quickest solution was to simply dial-up from my notebook and post an entry since the only thing that seems to have trouble is FTP. Everything else works fine... Oh well ...
I had to go to the dentist yesterday for a simple check up. Of course, it turned out to be not so simple due to the fact that my last visit to the dentist had been over 10 years ago :p They took over two hours and still ended up cleaning only half my teeth and I'm supposed to go back again <vbg> I guess it was a pretty intense job because by the time it was over, my gums were bleeding and aching and the effect has not worn off even today ...
But enough of my dental problems ... As I'd mentioned a few days ago, Steve Gibson's problems with the Distributed Denial of Service attacks made me want to explore different aspects of Internet security more thoroughly. So I'd been doing some research in order to code a Delphi packet sniffer as the first step in my endeavours to learn more in the Net security arena. But yesterday I found something else that interests me just as much.
I'd told you how much I liked Trillian yesterday and later jugg told me that he'd modified one of the skins that he and I both were using because the skins are defined using XML. This made me think about doing a skin designer which would make the task of developing skins for Trillian so much more easier. I still am not sure how much effort this would involve but since there don't seem to be any GUI skin designers for Trillian at all and I really like the app, that might be my next project ... Argh, there just isn't enough hours in a day for all of this stuff!! Why couldn't I be independantly wealthy so that I have time to work on all this stuff? :p
I've been thinking up some further user-friendly additions to Blog that I've forgotten to mention due to rage issues over radio stories :p I actually realized this a few days ago - the current method of having a user click on New Entry before they can make a post (even though they can simply start typing without clicking New Entry but can't save - or saving produces errors) is not very intuitive or user friendly. I could simply have had my code detect whether the date is there when the user tries to post and if not, insert it at that time in case they hadn't clicked on New Entry. Unfortunately, I was too obtuse the first few times around to think of it <vbg> But hopefully, I'll implement it in the next release.
Talking of releases, jugg tells me that it is high time that I did another release of Scope and I do agree with him. Just haven't had the time to get around to doing so due to so many other projects. I particularly want to add the feature to launch a LinkGroup as a command-line parameter because that will allow me to do something else that jugg suggested - integrate some of my apps. If I add this particular feature, I can integrate Gossip and Scope because I can have Gossip launch Scope with multiple tabs for selected news stories. Again the suggestion was by courtesy of jugg :-)
I found a pretty neat IM client yesterday though some of you may have already heard of it - Trillian. It integrates ICQ,MSNM,AIM and Yahoo Messenger and also throws in an IRC client for good measure! I'd been using IMICI before that but IMIC seems to have issues with maintaining multiple IM connections over a dial-up connection and so I had to go back to using ICQ along with it when I'm at home. But that wasn't too serendipitous a solution since ICQ has those nasty ads now :p Trillian seems to work fine over a dial-up connection plus it's skinnable! While I don't have much use for skins that slow down my system, I'm not beyond some eye-candy either <g> And of course, the biggest plus is that Trillian lets you have emoticons :p
Lots of stuff to talk about today and so I guess I'll be making up for not posting yesterday - work again ... lots of stuff to do and not enough time to do it in ... same old story :-) Anyway, I spent all of yesterday evening reading up on Steve Gibson's postings at grc.com where he posted a very interesting (but loooong <g>) article about a series of DDOS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks on his site. It read almost like a thriller and I was reminded all over again of a book I read about 10 years ago about the hacker phenomenon in the early days of computing and about L0pht and Eric Bloodaxe (I believe that was his name if memory serves me right ...) Very very interesting stuff! Of course, Steve links to a lot of other pages both by himself and others and so it meant that I spent the entire evening reading on this stuff.
I have always enjoyed Steve Gibson's work - I first came across his software around 10 years ago when I used SpinRite and I used to swear by that app for recovering data from floppies! He is a great coder and he also makes a lot of sense in his articles. I wish I had half his coding abilities (but I don't <vbg>) but still I feel that I should be doing something about Net security as well. So I might be looking into security aspects on the Net and maybe coming up with a few apps of my own ...
Coincidentally, I heard about another Net security tool Nessus on TV while I was reading Steve Gibson's articles and since I am going into Linux territory again, I went ahead and downloaded Nessus, installed it and ran a full check on my server and was relieved to find that it was pretty secure though not totally so - I might have to work on that today ... There is a Windows version of the client for Nessus as well though I believe the server has to run on a *nix machine. The software is implemented so that the server and client work in conjunction but there might be a way around for the server part for Windows users. Give it a shot - you might find a hole in your machine's security ...
To get away from computer/tech related stuff, I heard a few stories on the radio today which made me think again about where we (I mean humanity here ...) are headed. The first story was about a fellow Michigander - Michael Scoopin - who was on "Survivor" (for the benefit of those who are not in the US - or are in US and have been living under a rock <vbg> - "Survivor" is a reality show which is currently popular in the US where they strand a group of people in a remote wilderness location and let them fend for themselves for about a month ...). Mike hunted and killed a pig on the show for food and there was a great hue and cry by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) about the whole thing. The PETA thing has been resolved but now I hear that an independant activist had sprayed Mike (and a few children near him at the time as well) with pepper spray in protest against the pig killing incident. Now while I am by no means for mistreating animals, I think it is really stupid to get all worked up over killing an animal for food when there are greater issues to be dealt with - what are these people going to do next, start trying to make tigers eat grass because they kill deer? I think we need our heads examined for having our perspectives so skewed ...
This is further highlighted by another story from Michigan today - a guy who sexually molested three young girls around (I believe around the ages of eight or nine ...) was caught by the police. Now I think that is a really sick, perverted thing to do - to molest innocent children. And I don't see such a big hue and cry about that as I do about a guy killing a pig on national TV. What's wrong with this picture? Maybe we need something like PETP (People for the Ethical Treatment of People) or PETO (People for the Ethical Treatment of Others)?
Then there was this story about two dead women in New Jersey being accidentally switched by the funeral home and she lay in an open casket for two days and nobody in her family noticed that it wasn't the right person! Well, that's not exactly true - one daughter had indeed said that that wasn't her mother but the deceased woman's eldest daughter had confirmed that it was indeed their mother and the funeral home people had told them that it was normal for a person's features to change after deat and they'd believed him!!! While it is of course possible that the two women looked a lot alike, I'm beginning to wonder whether we are becoming more and more sheeplike - we believe anything we are told by those-who-are-in-authority (or as Jarrod on "The Pretender" - another TV show - calls them, PTB - Powers That Be -) blindly. Not a good trend at all!
There it is - Blog 1.5 is out :-) The documentation turned out to be not such a big deal and I decided not to spend too much time updating the Blog page either and so I was able to get the distribution out in double-quick time. If you have an existing installation of Blog, extract the distribution to a different location, read the upgrade instructions and then proceed. Let me know if you have any problems or have any suggestions, questions etc. Have fun!
Haven't still gotten around to posting Blog 1.5 since I have to update the docs so that they will reflect the new changes accurately and also inform users how to do an upgrade as opposed to a new install. Guess, I should get that sometime today but if I get buried at work, it might not happen till I get home from work. Just keep watching this site - if you have nothing better to do that is :p
Finally got around to doing some major coding :-) I updated Blog quite drastically since I overhauled the GUI completely so that you can resize the main window and have all components resize along with it, added some splitters so that you can resize individual portions of the screen and also added a log window to the bottom of the screen so that you can see what is happening when you are publishing your entries. It is much more user friendly - at least that's what I think :p
I've also integrated changes based on all the user input to make the functionality and some of the labels in Blog much less confusing. At the same time, I've overhauled the internal database structures a bit so that publishing multiple journals/pages to the same site should be much easier.
However, since this is an update, existing users are going to have a little more work if they want to preserve their existing postings and settings :-( I don't know whether I should do two separate distros - one for new installs and one for upgrades but for the moment I'm not planning to since there is no automatic installer and I'm hoping that people will read the instructions before they do anything ... Guess we'll wait and see ...
Copyright (c) 2001 Fahim A. Farook