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Fri 8th May 2009

Using PHP date in your footer

Filed under: Internet and Technology

If you have your own website then the chances are you have a footer containing a copyright notice and a date.

While this is all fine and dandy in itself, when was the last time you checked the date?  Even if you often update your website it's very often something that gets overlooked.

While this isn't a problem in itself, it does a look a little bad when in the year 2009 your copyright notice is stating 2004 for example.

You could of course put a note in your diary to change the date on your website on the 1st of January every year but having it done automatically is going to be the best option.

So, how do you achieve this?  Simple!  By using PHP.  Simply stick the following code in your PHP enabled page:

<?php echo date('Y'); ?>

This will print out the current year - every year it updates automatically.  Hoorah!

Check out the official PHP Date page at for more information and further usage examples.
Thu 12th March 2009

Live Form Validation

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Apologies if the website I'm now going to mention is well known among you all but I've only today stumbled across it.

I decided today to have a look at live form validation, you know the thing; when signing up on some websites they have a system where every entry you type into an input box gets validated immediately.

I thought that was pretty cool so thought I'd work it out and stick it on my Contact page.  During my Google research, I came across LiveValidation, a small piece of Javascript designed for the very purpose of on-the-fly form validation.


It's extremely easy to use - just include the javascript class somewhere on your page and then add the validation code after each form component.  LiveValidation literally does the rest for you (as long as each input field has an "id" identifier).  After tweaking it to my liking I now have a very nice looking validation component on my own Contact page.

I've you're good with PHP, it's well worth remembering to insert some server-side validation also.  This allows browsers that are not running Javascript to still complete your forms.  This also allows for anyone attempting to bypass the Javascript to still come up against validation.

Now, my Contact form is validated first by the LiveValidation script, then assuming this is all OK the server validates the entires also using PHP, assuming this is OK the message gets delivered.  An additional layer of spam protection plus it looks good too!

If you're interested, head on over to the LiveValidation site to download their Javascript code.
Thu 8th January 2009

Cannot find http://(chinese characters)

Filed under: Internet and Technology

A friend of mine recently presented me with their Vista PC running McAfee Antivirus which had a strange problem.  Everytime they tried to open Internet Explorer they simply got a message stating that Internet Explorer cannot find http:// and then a string of random Chinese characters.  These characters changed everytime Internet Explorer was opened.  Internet Explorer would then shut down and restart itself, the message would again appear and this loop would continue until you ended the "iexplore.exe" task in task manager.

No problem!  Classic Malware/Virus infection I thought.  So, I get my trusty copy of Combofix out and run it on the machine.  Unusually it finds nothing.  So, I decided to install and run Spybot Search & Destroy thinking it would just be a standard piece of Adware, this found nothing either.  Strange indeed!

So, I decided to Google the problem and hence the reason for this post really.  The only post I could find relating to this problem was here and the only fix offered was a complete Operating System re-installation, no thanks!  Anyway, read on for the fix....

I ran Internet Explorer with no Add-Ons (Start->Programs->Accessories->System Tools) and it ran fine.  This proves the problem to be with one of the Add-ons.  So, I went through each Add-On disabling them one by one until I found the culprit.  (To do this, right-click the Internet Explorer icon on the desktop and choose "Properties", click the "Programs" tab and click the "Manage Add-Ons" button).  The culprit turned out to be the McAfee SiteAdvisor Toolbar, once this add-on was disabled Internet Explorer worked fine.

I'm guessing unistalling and reinstalling McAfee would fix this but in my friend's case I uninstalled McAfee and stuck avast! on instead.  Job done.
Tue 2nd September 2008

Google launches its own browser

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Search giant Google is releasing its own web browser product called 'Chrome'.  It should be released today as a Beta for Microsoft Windows users only.

Chrome's main list of features are as follows:

Google Chrome is Google’s open source browser project. As rumored before under the name of “Google Browser”, this will be based on the existing rendering engine Webkit. Furthermore, it will include Google’s Gears project.

The browser will include a JavaScript Virtual Machine called V8, built from scratch by a team in Denmark, and open-sourced as well so other browsers could include it. One aim of V8 was to speed up JavaScript performance in the browser, as it’s such an important component on the web today. Google also say they’re using a “multi-process design” which they say means “a bit more memory up front” but over time also “less memory bloat.” When web pages or plug-ins do use a lot of memory, you can spot them in Chrome’s task manager, “placing blame where blame belongs.”

Google Chrome will use special tabs. Instead of traditional tabs like those seen in Firefox, Chrome puts the tab buttons on the upper side of the window, not below the address bar.

The browser has an address bar with auto-completion features. Called ’omnibox’, Google says it offers search suggestions, top pages you’ve visited, pages you didn’t visit but which are popular amd more. The omnibox (“omni” is a prefix meaning “all”, as in “omniscient” – “all-knowing”) also lets you enter e.g. “digital camera” if the title of the page you visited was “Canon Digital Camera”. Additionally, the omnibox lets you search a website of which it captured the search box; you need to type the site’s name into the address bar, like “amazon”, and then hit the tab key and enter your search keywords.

As a default homepage Chrome presents you with a kind of “speed dial” feature, similar to the one of Opera. On that page you will see your most visited webpages as 9 screenshot thumbnails. To the side, you will also see a couple of your recent searches and your recently bookmarked pages, as well as recently closed tabs.

Chrome has a privacy mode; Google says you can create an “incognito” window “and nothing that occurs in that window is ever logged on your computer.” The latest version of Internet Explorer calls this InPrivate. Google’s use-case for when you might want to use the “incognito” feature is e.g. to keep a surprise gift a secret. As far as Microsoft’s InPrivate mode is concerned, people also speculated it was a “porn mode.”

Web apps can be launched in their own browser window without address bar and toolbar. Mozilla has a project called Prism that aims to do similar (though doing so may train users into accepting non-URL windows as safe or into ignoring the URL, which could increase the effectiveness of phishing attacks).

To fight malware and phishing attempts, Chrome is constantly downloading lists of harmful sites. Google also promises that whatever runs in a tab is sandboxed so that it won’t affect your machine and can be safely closed. Plugins the user installed may escape this security model, Google admits.

Good luck to you Google, you're entering an already crowded market but with your name I'm sure Chrome will do well.  I'll certainly be giving it a go!  Read more over at Google's Blog.
Wed 9th July 2008

It's official - Knight Rider GPS!

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Some weeks ago a rumour surfaced of a Knight Rider themed GPS being released.  What!?  OMG!  Really?  Me being me, I was a little sceptical, but hold on to your hats folks, it's really being released!  Navigation manufacturer Mio has officially confirmed the arrival of the Knight Rider GPS unit.

Now this thing is truly a genious piece of design, appealing to everyone who grew up in the 1980's (and maybe 70's).  It features the voice of William Daniels, the orginal KITT, and welcomes everyone with “Hello, Michael, where would you like to go today?” when turned on although a database of 300 other names are programmed in - great unless you're name is Lathanial or Wentworth - then I think you're going to have to stick with "Michael" (or change your name)

It also features the two red synthesizer displays that actually move in time with KITT's voice.  Let's face it, this has got to be one of it's coolest features - definitely a reason to go buy it my book anyway.

The 181g, 12.8 x 7.5 x 1.8mm unit has a 4.3in, 480 x 272 widescreen "anti-glare" touch-sensitive display and comes pre-programmed with over 4m points of interest - hopefully they’re not all Knight Rider filming locations, or retail outlets stocking flared trousers, leather jackets and fake tan - and maps for the US and Canada. It also accepts SD memory cards.

Mio’s Knight Rider satnav will cost $270 (£135/€155) when it’s released in the US. A UK release date or price hasn’t been tracked down yet :(
Tue 10th June 2008

£100 iPhone?

Filed under: Internet and Technology

So Jobbo revealed the specs for the latest iPhone yesterday at the Apple World Wide Developers' Conference and reading the stories circulating the web today, it seems things are looking up for my "I wish I had an iPhone but they are quite expensive and I really can't justify it at present, plus what am I going to do with it?" stance on owning an iPhone.

So, what's new then?  Well new additions include 3G (obviously), GPS and a bigger battery.  It still has a 2 Megapixel camera (boo) but they have rejigged the headphone socket so you can use your own headphones if you wish.

But, and here's the best bit, Jobbo revealed the new pricing structure.  He reckons he's going to be flogging these little beauts for $199 a pop, that's about £100.  This causes me quite a conundrum, should I get one?  Should I not?  One the one hand I don't really need one, but on the other hand they are super-cool.

The big question over the price however is this; is this the price for a non-subsidised essentially Pay as You Go handset?  Or is this the price for a subsidised contract handset?  Fingers crossed on the former - I don't want to be tied to a contract.

Hmmm, they're due out on July 11th, so watch this space.....
Tue 29th April 2008

Why I shall be switching to avast! antivirus

Filed under: Internet and Technology

OK, well my experience with avast! Antivirus started quite some time ago.  A friend of mine called me and asked me to come and sort their computer out before they smashed the 'effing thing to bits.  I duly obliged and found the machine to be crawling with Adware/Spyware etc. 

So, I installed my trusted Spybot Search and Destroy and did a full scan - as usual loads of stuff was found and removed.  I rebooted the PC and did another scan, a previously removed piece of Spyware had returned and the machine was still seriously sluggish.  So, it became obvious that what I needed was a decent free virus scanner to eradicate this.  I'd heard a lot of good things about avast! so downloaded it and ran the boot-time scan.  It found and removed loads more stuff and the machine was running sweet as a nut once it had fully booted.

I hadn't really given avast! another thought until this week when it has proven itself two more times.

I decided to upgrade my niece and nephew's PC because it was too slow running The Sims 2.  It was then I noticed loads of pop-ups appearing every time I went online.  The machine was running AVG 7.5 so I decided it must be a Spyware infection.  Out came my trusty copy of Spybot Search and Destroy which duly removed a load of Spyware but the pop ups remained.  It was then I remembered avast! and my previous success with it.  I downloaded it, ran the boot-time scan and it found 10 (10 count-em!) viruses.  The machine booted and again ran sweet as a nut.

Then, last night I get a call about a laptop with a problem.  I get there and find it infected with a CoolWWWSearch (CWS) Trojan.  Spybot Search and Destroy successfully identified and removed it, but upon reboot it came back.  The machine was running a corporate edition of Symantec Client Security so I didn't want to install another virus scanner if at all possible for fear of messing the Symantec one up.  I did some Googling and found that Trend Micro offer a tool called CWShredder which claims to eradicate the CWS Trojan and all it's variants for good.  This, however, fared no better.  It identified and removed the virus, but upon rebooting the machine the virus returned.  I downloaded and installed SuperAntiSpyware which I had heard was reasonably good - this didn't even identify the infection!  I tried a few other removal tools also which all identified the infection but none successfully removed it.

Eventually, I admitted defeat and installed avast! 4.8 Home Edition.  Again I did the boot-time scan and immediately it identified and removed:

CWS-AboutBlank (Hijack)
Search-Space (Hijack)

Once the machine booted, all was running sweeter than a nut covered in sweet stuff.

So, in summary, if you are looking for a decent Antivirus/Malware/Rootkit solution, you can't do much better than heading over to

Tue 22nd April 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Users of Microsoft Windows XP can look forward to a third service pack at the end of the month.  On April 29th, the third (and probably final) service pack will be released via Windows Update and Microsoft downloads

Service Pack 3 rolls up all of the previously released XP fixes, and also adds some new features which make XP more compatible with Windows Server 2008.  These new features include Management Console 3.0 and Windows Installer 3.1.

Microsoft have however promised that the user's experience will not be significantly changed after installation of this service pack.

For further information on this service pack release, click here or here.
Mon 31st March 2008

Vista downed with Flash Vulnerbaility (Ubuntu left standing)

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Windows Vista has finally been hacked on the last day of the CanSecWest PWN2OWN contest.

It was finally brought down by Shane Macaulay who used a previously unknown Adobe Flash exploit - however, it did take him the best part of 4 hours to achieve this.

For his trouble, Shane gets to keep the hacked laptop, and a $5000 bounty.

Let's hope Microsoft and Adobe can get this vulnerability fixed.  Once they do, it would appear as though Vista is pretty darn secure.

The Ubuntu Linux box has been left unhacked, the OS X Mac box went down in day two.

Full story over at El Reg.
Wed 19th March 2008

Vista SP1 rolled out

Filed under: Internet and Technology

Microsoft has finally made Vista Service Pack 1 available for public download.  Yey! you might say?  But whoa there, read on before you rush over to the download page.

There is a rather large list of programs that just break after installation of the service pack, including popular software such as ZoneAlarm and BitDefender.

They have also said that other programs may experience "a loss of functionality" after installation of the service pack.  So, before downloading, just make sure you are fully aware of the risks.

Click here for the download.  If (like me) you would rather let Microsoft do everything for you, SP1 will be automatically applied to your Vista machine sometime in mid-April.