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May 2006 Archives

May 30, 2006

Hey Yahoo, WTF?

Filed in: Internet.

Results "1 - 100 of about 87"? You printed 100 right there! You know there's more than 87! WTF?

Posted at 9:07 PM | Comments (1)

May 27, 2006

Interesting referrer spam

Filed in: Spam.

I had 4 hits on a page all from the same IP address with completely different user agents. Two of the referrers were of the form - visiting them just resulted in an error, so it's hard to see what use they'd be. The other two were Google searches for "freesmscenter" and for a phrase in Russian. Seems sorta odd to me, seeing as most stats software seems to represent hits from Google searches as just the search text itself. Presumably the spam was promoting the sites at the top of the results for those phrases, but it seems a very roundabout way of doing it...

Posted at 1:39 PM | Comments (2)

May 25, 2006

Even better hotlink protection

Filed in: Website Management.

I haven't been happy with previous methods I've been using for hotlink prevention, because usually they result in a broken graphic on the other site which, depending on the browser, may not be visible.

Method 1: If a user hits a graphic with a referrer from another site, they get a 403 error and an HTML error page. Drawback: this results in a broken image on the other page.

Method 2: If a user hits a graphic with a referrer from another site, they get an HTML page which includes the actual graphic in an <img> tag, and a "hosted by" message. Drawbacks: results in a broken image on the other page, and the hits are recorded as traffic in my server statistics.

So I decided to try a new method: If a user hits a graphic with a referrer from another site, they get a 100x100 black and white image which looks like this*:
[Error 304 graphic

That allows them to see instantly what the problem is instead of giving them a broken graphic with no indication as to why, and it still registers as a 403 error in my server statistics. I've achived this by using a Perl script for my error 403 page. It detects whether the user is trying to load a web page (in which case it gives them an HTMLerror page) or a graphic (in which case it gives them the graphic shown above. I think it's nifty. :)

* Except users, who still get tubgirl. Bwahaha.

Posted at 9:26 PM | Comments (2)

May 23, 2006


Filed in: Tetrap.Local.

The liquor store down the road from work recently renamed itself from "The Mill" to "". Looks like whoever put up the sign on the side of their building may have been sampling their wares beforehand:

[picture of liquor store]

I hadn't noticed before, but they put the "u" up backwards...

Posted at 9:04 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2006

TSV 37!

Filed in: Doctor Who, TSV Online.

When TSV 37 first popped through my mail box back in 1994, it gave me a huge surprise to find that a picture I'd drawn of a Dalek had ended up on the front cover (I'd drawn it to accompany a story I'd written for the issue called The Last Words). I was also proud of my picture of the secondary TARDIS console which is to date the only piece of artwork I'd done for TSV that I was completely happy with.

In fact, that issue's artwork was generally well praised in the next issue's letters column. I like Chris Girdler's illustration for the New Adventure Shadowmind. Illustrations for the novels (outside of the covers of the books) seem to be rare, which is a shame because I like seeing how other people have visualised the characters and events.

I also got a cartoon published called Good Omens which suggested we should watch out for things like flying pigs and hell freezing over to signal that the BBC was bringing Doctor Who back. Sadly, Russell T. Davies has somewhat taken the wind out of that by actually making new episodes. I intend to write him a letter of complaint.

There's also a couple of piece resulting from Jon Preddle's trip to the UK: an interview with Gary Russell and some behind the scenes for the 30 Years in the TARDIS documentary (he stumbled on the filming!).

There's lots of other cool stuff too, like another installment of Beyond the Book covering three of the New Adventures, and Graham Howard on Witch Mark, so go read! :)

Posted at 9:34 PM | Comments (2)

May 19, 2006

Public Service Announcement

Filed in: Spam.

If you installed Blue Security's Blue Frog software, you should uninstall it ASAP. Spammers may be able to get control of it any use it to attack other sites or do other nefarious things.

Posted at 7:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 16, 2006


Filed in: Doctor Who, Links.

On a somewhat lighter note, I love this cartoon. :)

Posted at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

Message board spam!

Filed in: Spam.

I'm shocked! The NZDWFC general message board got a spam post! Usually spammers don't bother because the forums are blocked from search engines. Of course the anti-spam measures in the board software caught it before it could appear on the site.

The URLs spammed included a smattering of, some MSN spaces, a rapidforum, a bravenet guestbook, a Chinese wiki, and a number of subdomains on and Both of these domains are registered to one Jar Duchovni who claims to live on 127 Duane St, New York, but the IP address the spam came from appears to be in Israel (on Don't know any more information on this spammer, other than he seems to be spamming mainly guestbooks and message boards.

Posted at 10:58 PM | Comments (3)

May 15, 2006

Dodgy Aliens #3 and #4

Filed in: TV & Movies.

A couple of weekends ago, I had the pleasure(?!) of seeing the last story of the original 70s Tomorrow People series, titled War of the Empires. This brings me to...

Continue reading "Dodgy Aliens #3 and #4"

Posted at 9:14 PM | Comments (3)

Latest Xtra Sucks rant

Filed in: Internet.

Xtra are so great, right now their DNS server is buggered. I can't resolve any domain names at all. To even post this, I had to get someone overseas to do a dnslookup on DNS Stuff so I could stick it in my hosts file, and then use DNS stuff to lookup the IP address for Worst ISP ever.

Edit: I stuck some public DNS servers into the router and can surf the net again!

Posted at 6:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

Doctor Who + Google Trends

Filed in: Doctor Who, Internet.

Google launched Google Trends today, allowing you to see the popularity of particular searches over time. If there are relevant news items it displays a position on the graph, as you can see on their results for V for Vendetta.

Unfortunately in the case of "Doctor Who", there aren't any, and for Doctor Who they don't match up well with what's going on in the graph. I've therefore taken the liberty of marking on the graph below the screening dates of Series 1 to make it more obvious what's happening where:

Doctor Who graph

The first pre-series spike is, of course, the leaking of Rose onto the Internet. There's another high peak when the episode actually airs, then it tapers off a bit with spikes when Dalek, Father's Day and The Empty Child, and the last three stories screen. Later in the year there's a spike in November (for the Red Nose day special) and one in December for The Christmas Invasion. The graph ends in April short of the New Earth screening, but you can see it's leading up to another spike there. I'm interested to see if it matches the Rose spike. :)

And, coincidentally, the new Full Frontal Nerdity is Doctor Who related!

Posted at 10:46 PM | Comments (1)

May 8, 2006

Optimising mod_rewrite Part 1

Filed in: Website Management.

Mod_rewrite is a great tool in Apache for doing fancy stuff with URLs and redirections and blocking spammers. That said, while using it you should remember that the conditions and rules you add are checked by Apache on every single hit, be it for an HTML file, an image, or a style-sheet. So, here are some suggestions for reducing the amount of work Apache does for each hit:

Continue reading "Optimising mod_rewrite Part 1"

Posted at 11:54 PM | Comments (0)

May 1, 2006

Losing Usenet

Filed in: Internet.

Back in '92, when I was attending Victoria University in Wellington, my very first contact with the Internet was reading a feed of rec.arts.drwho on the University's BBS system. A year later in the newer labs, I was finally able to post to the newsgroup, and find other newsgroups to read. Before the web, Usenet was the first time I was able to read the thoughts of people on the other side of the world.

I was a bit of a terror on rec.arts.drwho during the early-mid 90s, and at one point even went to the trouble of writing a program to calculate weekly posting stats for the group. I stopped that after it became clear it was encouraging people to post large amounts of noise, though the "Weekly Stats 03/08" thread became a RADW legend. I've seen a few people from that period turn up again, especially on LiveJournal.

Fast foward to, well, now, and my ISP, Xtra, have announced that they're going to ditch their Usenet server. I haven't really read the newsgroups regularly for a while now. Occasionally I fire up Forte Agent (no relation to the annoying Microsoft characters) to see what's being talked about, but with the new Doctor Who series I've been avoiding rec.arts.drwho.moderated to avoid spoilers and many of the other groups I read are pretty quiet.

Still, I'll miss it when it's gone, even though I can theoretically read it through Google Groups. Usenet is, after all, one of the Internet's oldest services.

(See previously: Xtra Broadband speeds, and I'd like to reiterate that they should change their name from 'Xtra' to 'Less')

Posted at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)

The Show Us Your Desktop Meme

Filed in: Misc.

Pinched off Pete Wisdom: When you see this post, upload an image of your current desktop.


Though I may change that wallpaper soon: It's slightly unnerving having Billie Piper staring at me all the time.

Edit: It occured to me that the wallpaper on that screen shot was possibly a bit spoilery seeing as that episode of Doctor Who only played a day or so ago, so here's a screenshot with somewhat less spoilerly wallpaper:


The only drawback being I now have both Billie and David Tennant staring at me.

Edit: Note, if you want a proper copy of the wallpapers I'm using there without the icons and crap, you can find them in the BBC website's Doctor Who gallery.

Posted at 9:51 PM | Comments (0)

Spam post #456345672

Filed in: Spam.

I got a spam comment today with the following text in it:

My 20 year old said to me the other day that when he grows up, he's going to be a "real entrepreneur, like you used to be." When I asked him why I was no longer a "real" entrepreneur, he said it was because I wasn't making a lot of money. I guess it's more transparent now -- the cash side of things -- since he saw the rewards of a lot of hard work. But we had a long talk about why I am an entrepreneur and what it is that motivates me -- my love of what I do, the flexibility, mature sex creating something and watching it grow. Maybe too often, people look at bootstrapping or being an entrepreneur or "doing your own thing" as something "cool" without realizing the energy, love, angst and tenacity that it requires to succeed.

Which only struck me funny because they're spamming a sex site using text which includes phrases like "watching it grow". Yes, I am 12. Not sure where the text originates from, since searching for bits of it just turn up spammed forum and blog entries.

The spammed domain is owned by someone calling themselves Anry who's provided an address in the Donetsk region of the Ukraine (Any relation?). Looks like they're heavily penalised in Google. So sad.

Posted at 7:43 PM | Comments (0)


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