Jul 23

So here I am posting directly to my blog using my iPhone. It is slower to type than using a keyboard, of course, but it is at least available to me from anywhere.

And as you can see… I can add an image, too. In this case it is a picture of my recently bashed car – thanks to Robert from Princes Park Manor, N11 who looks left when pulling out of a junction whilst turning right. Twit. Good job it was at walking speed otherwise the damage would be far worse.

Do I still think that mobile phones are good tools for learning? Well yes, actually, and probably more so than before. I am typing at a reasonable speed and am not struggling too much. I have Internet access, can post short texts to a site and basically do most things I would expect to do in a normal lesson if asked to research information or put some text together. Of isn’t yet perfect but it isn’t at all bad.

Bring on more… And soon!!

photo

Jul 30

It may come as no surprise to some to find that freely available themes have got advertising embedded in them by default. It came as a surprise to me, mind you! I downloaded and installed the Dark Mood V2 wordpress theme by Ed Canape and found that in the footer file there was a PHP function that positioned some adverts. Not rocket science, but I wasn’t happy with the kind of ads that appeared. One was a pay per click affiliate program, one about Asian entertainment (ooer…) and one about Philipine paradises. However, what really ticked me off was the fact that the function had been encoded so as to make it hard to unpick it and remove said adverts.

Of all the encoding methods available to PHP programmers, possibly the best is from Zend. One of the most pointless is gencoder (although free). Luckily, it was gencoder that had been used on this occasion. The file looks like this:

encoded php

Now, as you can see there is no easy way to get into the code and remove the advertising links. However, there are two possibilities.

Firstly, you can create a CSS rule in your stylesheet which sets the footer ‘a’ display to be none:

footer a {
display:none;
}

All this does is remove any clickable links in the footer, but leaves the remaining text. This is at best a workaround, but can get you out of a fix if you are in a hurry.

The second thing to do is decode the file! Again, there are two ways to achieve this, but probably the simplest is to edit the ‘eval’ statement to read ‘print_r’ instead. If you then run the code in your browser you’ll see that it makes a bit of a mess visually, but you can still right click and ‘view source’. What you are looking for is at the bottom of the page:

if((isset($v) AND $v==0) OR (isset($t) AND $t==false)){die('This script is protected by <a style"color:cyan\" href="http://www.gencoder.sf.net\"><b><font color"#330099\">G-Encoder</font></b></a>');}echo "<div id"footer\">n";
echo " Powered by n";
echo " <a href="http://wordpress.org\">WordPress</a>n";
echo " and Design by Ivy's <a href="http://www.rubberstampguides.com/\">Rubber Stamp</a> n";
echo " Guiden";
echo " <p><a href="http://www.kirrhi.com/\">Pay Per Click Affiliate Program</a> | <a href="http://yeinjee.com/asianpop/tag/asian-entertainment/\">Asia Entertainment</a> | <a href="http://www.paradise-philippines.biz/\">Paradise Philippines</a></div>n";
echo "</div>n";
echo "n";
echo " <?php wp_footer(); ?>n";
echo "n";
echo "</body>n";
echo "</html>n";

Now you can see the code more clearly, and you can easily see what needs to happen. The last four lines are all you need… in fact, one of those can be deleted! What you really need is the call to the wordpress footer routines and to close the body tag and close the html. This is all that is necessary to complete the footer file in wordpress. Armed with this knowledge, go back and change the ‘print_r’ statement if you like, but better yet, just delete all of that guff. In it’s place simply add the following few lines of code. You can leave out the ‘div’ tags if they are not needed:

<div class="footer">
<?php wp_footer(); ?>
</div>
</body>
</html>

and that’s it. Save the file and you have got yourself an advert free footer space on your wordpress blog.

Thanks (as ever) to Alex Blanc for his timely and ultimately very simple solution to the problem, and no thanks whatsoever to the person who decided to a) put adverts in the footer, and b) encode them at all. I believe each person needs to have the right to choose whether to display adverts, and in this case I chose most strongly not to!

Apr 05

Have you ever wanted a piece of software and looked for it online only to find it is much more expensive than you thought, or a massive download that you haven’t got time for? Well, imagine finding a place that offers you near instant availability at a stupidly low price!

That’s what you get when you go to sites where you can search for major applications including Adobe Creative Suite, Microsoft Office, Quark, Cakewalk and Symantec. So what’s the catch?

Well, if you read through the FAQ on the site quickly it appears too good to be true – and that’s when your suspicions should be aroused. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is… so be very very careful. For example, look at what you don’t get – the manual, the packaging, the license and other things that make up the bulk cost of the package.

Let’s go through that again… the packaging, the manual and the license.

Yep – you don’t actually get a license with this stuff! So in effect you are getting a backup copy of software only… you can install it, but you can’t actually then activate it or use it. Which means that you can get hold of software that is readily available for free on some of the more torrent orientated sites, but actually part with real money in the process.

Why, oh why, oh why?

Dec 17

I was looking through the access logs on my blog here and I happened to notice more than one search for Jason Pitcock.

Yes, this low life scum bag managed to swindle me out of a tidy sum of money a couple of years ago which my grandfather had left to me in his will, by masquerading as a legitimate ebay seller with some good Apple computer kit to shift.

Needless to say the kit never arrived and I was one of about sixty folk who fell for his scam auctions. The FBI are now chasing his backside, and I seriously hope this evil piece of bottom dwelling pond scum gets his come-uppance.

There is a whole forum dedicated to chasing this man, and whilst it is a bit of a self-help group, it serves to warn the world that dealings with Jason Pitcock, from Texas, are likely to cause you grief.

It *was* here:
http://www.nails.ch/msgboard/

But now seems to have moved to btselectronics.com which was one of the original trading names that Pitcock used.

Feel free to join the group, and feel even more free to say that you know the man, and even better, know how to deliver some justice in his direction. He has got away with over $100,000 as far as I can tell, and looks set to just get clean away with it. This can’t be right – there needs to be some natural justice in this matter… I’d be happy to hear from anyone so disposed to deliver.

Edit – 21st march 2006 – I received a link swap request from what appears to be a legitimate fraud watch website. Oddly, the URL has a redirect:

http://www.stuartinteriors.ltd.uk/dir/redir.php?url=http://www.fraudwatchernetwork.com/

Now, if this site does indeed warn folks about potential ebay scams and fraudulent activity I’m all for it! Click http://www.fraudwatchernetwork.com/news/ebay-fraud-blog.html if you wish to visit that site.

Fraud – Ebay Fraud Blog
Fraud Prevention, Information and News about Fraud Online

May 14

I have been caught out once or twice with dodgy dealers who haunt places like eBay (check out any threads you can find on Jason Pitcock, who ripped me and about 60 other folk off for Apple kit and is now being put on trial by the FBI). So it is with a great deal of trepidation that I enter into any online deal that looks too good to be true.

However, I have to say that the Alpine sat nav gear which Kara got me for my recent birthday has made me think again – there *are* some decent people ‘out there’.

We bought the unit from http://www.caraudio-versand.de/ and throughout I was worried that I couldn’t speak German and didn’t want to appear too ignorant by ringing them and speaking in English. How wrong could I get… I *did* pluck up the courage to ring after I had exchanged several emails.

What a thoroughly nice lot of people to do business with!

I dealt with Marta (or rather, she dealt with me), who has answered all of my questions graciously and basically worked really hard to make me feel at ease with it all. The money for the unit was sent via a bank transfer and I received a UPS tracking number almost right away. The goods came, they are all fine and there was no hitch at all.

Well, perhaps one small one – the actual DVD with the navigation details on it didn’t arrive – no worry though, a quick email to Marta and I got a most polite and apologetic reply, with a UPS tracking number the next day.

Wow.

I am pretty easily pleased, but sceptical of online deals. This deal and this company have challenged my view – they are based in Memmingen, about 80 miles west of Munich. I think when the unit is installed I’ll use it to drive over to them and say thank you in person.

The unit is due to be fitted this coming week – I’ll write about how that all goes as soon as it happens.