Clint Eastwood at the republican national convention – RNC 2012

Yes I watched, and yes it was embarrassing in a way to see such a legendary man ramble on and talk to a chair for well over 10 minutes.

Clint Eastwood is 82 years old and has starred in nearly 70 motion pictures..  He, at his age, still maintains a rate of about 1 movie per year either on camera or behind it.  At that pace, and at his advanced age.. I think we can and should forgive him for any ramblings at the RNC.  He’s nothing if not passionate and I applaud him for that.  He has more energy and intelligence than many half, or even more than half his age.

So in the immortal words of Chris Crocker, LEAVE EASTWOOD ALONE!

Do you get spammed on your contact forms by bots? I might have some help for you

I’m a web developer and we’ve deployed hundreds of sites.. most of those sites have contact forms and all of them use google’s re-captcha system..  Recently the amount of spam has gone off the scale, some how these people are evading google’s captcha system.. whether it be by paying for a service or by some other means.

I decided to try to implement a few things:

1. I wrote PHP code to check the IP address against several RBL lists on the net.
2. I wrote PHP code to implement Akisment in Joomla, customizeable for each form.
3. I wrote PHP code to check them against the great botscout service

After playing around a while I decided the best order was RBL first because it has no usage limits, Akismet next because it also has no limits and then lastly botscout because it has a 300 check per day limit with an API key and only 20 without one ( keys are free ) ..

I still noticed some getting through however.. so I implemented my own checks.. I noticed that in 90% of the cases the spammer was using a phone number of 123456 or a zip code of 123456 .. so I had a simple if statement to check those fields.. that blocked a TON … but still the occasional one has slipped through..

Lastly, I implemented a honeypot field.. this is a field on your form named “url” or “email” ( those are most common ) and then hiding it via CSS.. if the form is submitted and that field is populated, you KNOW you have a bot because human viewers can’t see that field..

So after writing those two if statements, I added them to the top .. to my surprise, checking for 123456 and the honeypot field has blocked 100% of the bots.. they don’t even make it to the services I listed above..

If you’re interested in some code snippets ( php ) let me know and I’ll share.. If there’s enough interest I will write a Joomla plugin that implements everything I’ve mentioned.

Internet explorer, chrome and firefox can ONLY connect to https sites

A friend of mine had this issue and I spent about two days troubleshooting it via Yahoo messenger because he lives in Canada.. He was able to connect to https sites, but not standard http …

I had him try a number of things:

  • Reset IE8’s settings
  • Make sure security zones were set up correctly
  • Made sure no proxy was enabled, even in the registry directly
  • Re-registered a bunch of DLL files related to internet and explorer
  • Had him try in safe mode with networking
  • Had him try to create a new user and login so a new profile was in use
  • Had him telnet to a website on port 80, which worked .. he could telnet to that port so not firewall related.
  • I had him start IE without extensions
  • Had him run bleeping computer’s combofix utility
  • I had him run tddskiller

NONE of this worked..  So I asked him to install Fiddler2 so we could look and see what the browser was trying to do … low and behold, it WORKED.. Fiddler2 is just a simple proxy .. it routes all of your traffic through it and then goes out to the internet.. it shouldn’t have worked, but it did .. which was ODD ..

Long story SHORT .. if you have these symptoms … might you also have Avast Antivirus installed? .. if so, try disabling web shield and see if your browser works then ..

That was precisely his problem! I asked him to uninstall it and instead install the free “Microsoft Security Essentials” package.. it’s light weight and highly effective.

Joomla – Modify the name or link value in the pathway ( jPathway ) object

This is normally impossible to do because $jApp->getPathWay returns an object with the pathway items as protected properties.. you can’t modify them or even loop through them to build a new pathway array.

My dilemma is that I wanted to alter the link for one of the breadcrumbs to point to a different URL, I have my reasons so don’t ask =)

I solved it by casting the returned items object as an array, then reset the array to get rid of the funky named keys.. This left me with a very simple object to work with.. I was able to read out the existing values, search for what I wanted to replace and then rebuild the breadcrumbs with the altered data.

Free Music Download Released – Not Soon Forgotten by Oneduality

Enjoy this free music download of my new song “Not Soon Forgotten” from my soundcloud page

Adding Joomla 2.5 users programmatically without sending the welcome e-mail

The code I’m sharing is a stand-alone script that can be ran directly from your browser, it doesn’t need to be added to a module or component, though the core functionality can be used in either of course =)

This code was written to read an excel spreadsheet containing a username, e-mail and password. I wanted to create these users and NOT send the “Welcome” e-mail containing the login information because the site was still under development and the users already had that information anyway.

The script loads in the Joomla framework and then utilizes PHPExcel to read in the spreadsheet.. read on for the code.

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You can’t appreciate true love without knowing true pain, in the end the love you gain is worth the heart ache it took to acquire

Since I re-launched my blog, ( click to view archive of my original from 2005 to 2007 ) I’ve been tracking my search engine results and seen an amazing number of being googling for somethin I wrote back in 2004-2005 for my old blog.. so I thought I would re-post the quote in it’s entirety.. I originally posted it on my first blog as you see below but shortened it for version 2 of the blog and didn’t include it at all for my 2012 blog.. I’ve been flattered to see people using it all over the web but I’m usually not attributed as the author.

The motivation for this bit of writing was because I’d recently had a break up and was trying to rationalize trying to get back together with them. As I realized that I eventually decided to drop the second, third and fourth paragraphs and stick to the core of what I still believed which is summed up in the first.

Enjoy … here’s the full quote:

You can’t appreciate true love without knowing true pain, in the end the love you gain is worth the heart ache it took to acquire because truly, there is nothing in the world better than looking into the eyes of someone who you know truly loves you.. Everything else fades away and for once in your life you feel complete.

There will only be one person in your life who will be able to calm your fears with the sound of their voice, or that will be willing to stand by you through all troubles life brings.. Only one person will ever open their heart to you and forgive you for everything before you do it simply because your very existence is precious to them.

People will come and go, but there is always this one person who will stand out, this one person who will remain a constant thought..

Know that, understand it .. and don’t give up.. if you do, your life is already over..

– Lonnie Waugh, 2005

Is Facebook involved in a scam against their own advertisers by using bots?

While skimming the internet this morning I came across a post from a company that makes use of Facebook advertising.  They noticed that they were getting charged for click throughs but were only able to verify 20% of those clicks with their analytics.. But what’s worse is that when they started logging those clicks, they found that 80% of them were from bots.

Read on for details, including the original post!

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What a week!

This entry is just about me and my daily happenings.. feel free to skip it if you’re the casual reader who happened upon this by chance =) otherwise.. read on.

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The importance of wireframing/mockups.. and some free tools to get you going

I’ve been in the web development business for several years now and I realize that everyone has their own process. All too often a designer will first jump straight into photoshop  and start piecing together a design they’ve thought up.  In the case of designers I know, they will do this with 2 or 3 designs and then present those to the client so that they can give feedback.. Then the round of revisions, often drastic changes to layout or colors… etc.  This process can take days to get through!

There are ways to lesson this headache however.. Here are some useful tips ….

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