Turkish Hackers

12:30AM via vi tex editor
My website was hacked a few hours by some fun-loving Turks. I have a ticket in my web host provider. I don’t know if was caused by my own WordPress security holes or the web host provider’s security holes. The WordPress database is fine as far as I can tell. Perhaps this will be a good opportunity to upgrade to WordPress 2.5. The hackers seemingly only impacted some index.php files, but even after restoring what I think are valid index.php files, the site just doesn’t work.

In the meantime, I realize the world does not miss this site. I’m annoyed, but what else is new. I mean, I’m annoyed that the frat boys at the end of the block keep their trash bins out at the corner seven days a week. It doesn’t take much…

Maybe I’ll make an extra effort to Twitter. That Twitter, that’s why the really scary thoughts go, because I really don’t think about what I’m putting out there. Que sera, sera.

1:22AM via WordPress Got the site working again. For the benefit of other WordPress users who get their sites hacked by a Turkish hacker, or just for anyone whose WordPress suddenly starts showing only blank pages, for either content or admin screens, I’ll share the fix. I backed up all my plugins in the wp-content/plugin directory. I deleted the plugin directory. (Simply renaming the directory and adding a plugin at a time to a blank plugin directory didn’t work. Having a blank plugin directory still caused blank pages). I recreated the plugin directory while I was already logged into the admin part of WordPress (wp-admin) and navigated to the Plugins option. Then I added all the plugins back. Then I reactived the ones I wanted one at a time and tested to see if any had broken WordPress. None had. All better now.

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Domain discrimination!

I tried to enter an email address that uses my domain in order to register for something on the AT&T wireless site.

The email address entered is not valid. Please provide a valid email address in the following format: User@Domain.Extension

Wait until the fine people of São Tomé and Principe find out about this!

I spoke too soon…Verizon, you suck, too

I was telling the sales rep at Costco that while it would be good to have the same functionality in my new phone that I had with my old one, I didn’t care too much about the music player or getting TV on my phone or having a full keyboard. I wanted a decent phone with a decent battery life.

I bought the LG VX8350. Plain clamshell design, nothing special.

I neglected to consider one feature of my old Sprint phone which I took for granted–the ability to run the mobile Gmail application. That’s my cell phone candy, being able to check my Google mail quickly and with a good interface. It turns out my Verizon phone can’t run this. I can surf the mobile Gmail web page, but it takes a few steps to get there, and the interface isn’t nearly as friendly as the app’s. I can get my Gmail through Verizon’s web-mail program, configuring it as a POP account, but then I see all my mail in the inbox, whereas with all the list-servs I’m on and all the filters I have, only about 5% of my mail is truly Inbox worthy.

After doing some research, I’ve learned what anyone who knows anything about cell phones apparently knows, which is that most Verizon phones only run BREW applications and nothing Java-based. This means you can’t get the mobile Gmail app or the Opera Mini browser or any one of thousands of cell phone applications. Verizon restricts your application downloads to things on its approved GetItNow list, most of which you have to pay for. So they may have the best customer support and the best network, but their internet capabilities suck.

So now I’ll research the AT&T phones, AT&T being the other carrier that Costco sells phones and service for, having gotten rid of Sprint a couple of months ago. The other alternative is getting a Blackberry or Treo for Verizon, but I wasn’t planning to spend anything on a new phone.

Like with so many of my gripes, this one probably isn’t shared by too many people. I’m not finding much evidence that anyone buys a cell phone based on its ability to run the Gmail application.

Fortunately, I’m well within the period to cancel my service and get a new phone.

UPDATE. Better explanation of my Gmail dilemma, from a 5/07 NY Times article

Google says that about 300 phones — from AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile — are Java-compatible. Unfortunately, no Verizon phones run Java, and therefore no Verizon phones can run mobile Gmail. (You can always open m.gmail.com directly in a Verizon phone’s Web browser — that’s an optimized cellphone version of the Gmail Web site — but the Gmail for Mobile software is five times as fast.)

Spamazon

PC World – Spam Law Test (circa 2004)

Amazon.com, which continued to send e-mail after our opt-out request, acknowledged the error. A spokesperson blamed a technical aberration, which the company tells us has since been corrected.

I suspect the spokesperson for Amazon was spouting a bunch of b.s. They still ignore opt-out requests. I hate to be so brutal as to flag Amazon.com email as spam, and, in truth, I really can’t as long as there’s the remote chance that I might one day have affiliate earnings. I’ll just have to create a special filter.

I don’t buy anything from Amazon. The expulsion of gas in your face when you try to stop their marketing emails is one reason. The second is that they rely too much on a hyper form of business intelligence that is constantly in your face when you visit their site. “We noticed you bought this book back in 2003, three people on your street bought this CD, and eight people who went to your school just bought these. Therefore, we think you might be interested in X, Y, and Z. We hope you find our attempts to live inside your brain useful!” Actually, no, I find it all wholly obnoxious. I actually expressed a similar opinion with much rosier words back in June 2005 when I interviews with Amazon in Seattle. Some exec asked me for my honest opinion on something I wish Amazon did better. I told her I thought their site was way too cluttered. I don’t know if I didn’t get the job because of that answer or because I did a poor job of explaining when I would use an array and when I would use a hash. Being proficient at Perl really wasn’t a significant job requirement, but I was interviewed by a Perl geek who seemed appalled by my ignorance. (Not getting the job is not a reason why I don’t shop at Amazon. I’m pretty comfortable with the first two reasons).

Fun with avatars

Yahoo Answers AvatarPlaying with Yahoo! Answers. Wait, that’s the site I just railed against the other day because of the enormous stupidity and or evil of the responses to Nancy Pelosi’s question about climate change. Whatever. I just took some prescription cough medicine, so…so I can do whatever I want, like go make myself a new avatar.

Duke Medicine’s Healthview Website

I’ve been ripping on some websites recently, so I thought I’d point out where I’ve had a good customer experience. Most of my healthcare is through some arm of Duke Health (they have about a thousand arms, it seems, at this point). The used to use something called Patient Channel to help you see your appointments and billing statements. They’ve now moved to something called Healthview. It’s a simple site, but it had all the info I needed with a very easy-to-digest presentation.

So if you see doctors or get any services through Duke Health, check out this website.

Duke Medicine – Healthview