Archive for September, 2004

JPEG exploit could beat antivirus, says expert - ZDNet UK News

JPEG exploit could beat antivirus, says expert - ZDNet UK News

Also known as Jpeg of Death, it seems that a newly discovered Windows vulnerability allows nasty people to hide malicious code inside Jpeg files.

This is just almost unbelievable! If you are unfortunate enough to use IE, I suggest you do a quick Windows Update and Office Update.

Talking of Windows Update, has anyone risked the Service Pack 2 upgrade yet? I’m rather worried that everything is going to break if I install it!

Beer, the Lake District, traffic, and spam!

I’m finally back from the lakes. Hoorah, I hear you all cry!

Well, out of the 8 days I spent in The Lakes, it rained (heavily) on 7 on them. One day was glorious sunshine without a cloud in the sky, but alas that was the day I was driving back :-(

The journey shuold take about 5 hours (from Surrey). However, the journey there was quite bad: it took 7 hours with all the traffic on the motorways. There was a pretty bad accident just past Birmingham, and I sat there for about two hours. Joy. And though I thought it couldn’t get much worse, the jouney back just took the biscuit! I spent 10 hours in the car, most of which was spent sitting in traffic once again. It was mainly Birmingham that was screwing things up (as usual), so I think I’ll make a point never to drive past there again!

So the weather was bad. Very bad. It wasn’t just wet, but it was rather windy too. I went for a short walk on Tuesday and managed to catch a cold, so didn’t really feel to great for the rest of the time. I did see some family though which was good, and I tried lots of new beers! Here is a taster of some that I tried:

Dinner: Landlord, Timothy Taylor (x2). Loverly beer :-)
Lunch: Bluebird Bitter XB, Coniston Brewery. OK, but too much of a bitter.
Dinner: Cracker Ale, Barrrington Brewery. Excellent food, but naff beer.
Lunch: Hawkshead Red, Hawkshead Brewery. Bottled beer. Excellent!
Dinner: Jennings’ Cumberland Ale. OK, but a bit bland.
Jennings’ Sneck Lifter. Strong, like something from a beer fest. OK, but couldn’t drink a lot of it.
Lunch: Morhouse’s Witches Cauldren. OK, but not as nice as thr Hawkshead Red.
Dinner: Raven Ale x 2. Very nice indeed. Defferent to Hawkshead Red: much weaker, but still nice. A good session beer. 1 x Hawkshead Red (bottled) when home (very nice), and 1 x Hawkshead Gold (bottled) (fairly nice, but not as nice as thbe Red).

(More to some, but I wrote them down somewhere else).

So the beer and food was very good.

When I got back I had about 4000 emails to go through. To give you an idea of the spam levels I get, one mail box had over 200o mails in it, and 26 of them were actualy for me. I use spamassasin, but it seems a bit crap. Must try and sort this out sometime. If you mailed me and I missed it, please try again - chances are I deleted it by accident!

And it’s not just email spam I’m getting - I’m getting comment spam now too! So if youre comments don’t seem to work, please don’t worry - I’ve just turned on the comment moderation for a bit while I try and get it under controll.

BritBlog seemed to do quite well while I was away. I’ve got over 400 members now, so it seems to be doing quite well :-) With all the rain, I managed to get some good work done while I was away too. It was planning and preparation for some work that I’m about to start. It’s good being able to spend proper time on this stage of a project - always ends in better results!

Right, got to press on. I’ll be updating this post shortly, when I’ve found the other beers….

Easy Meal for One

Hurrah! I’m off to the Lake District for a few days break tomorrow. I hope to get some walking in, and eat some good food and drink some good beer.

It won’t be a real holiday though: I have to take my notebook as I’ve got work to do… Something for the rainy days maybe. There will be no internet access though, so I’ll be pretty cut off :-)

Now, talking of good food, I’ve discovered a great new dish that you can make quite easily, and it’s not too much bother even when you’re just cooknig for one. Dan, if you’re reading this, you may know what it is called. I think it’s a casserole, and you make it like this:

  1. Lightly fry a chicken breast on both sides, and pop it in a pyrex dish (one of those with a lid - I think they are called casserole dishes)
  2. While the chicken is frying, you can peel some potatoes and prepare whatever else you like. Tonight I’ve had potatoes, a big carrot, a courgette, a small swede, a leek, and an onion. (Sometimes I add small tomatoes too.)
  3. As I said above, pop the chicken in the dish, and add all the vegetables. When the frying pan has cooled down I rinse it round with hot water from the kettle, and poor it into the glass dish.
  4. Add more water to the dish. You don’t need to cover everything in water as the lid stops it from burning. I add a bit of salt and ground pepper too.
  5. Now bung it in the oven, and leave for an hour or so. I’m not sure what the best temperature is, and my oven has a dodgy gauge, but I leave it in at around gas mark 6.

If you try it out, let me know what you think. I reckon it’s got to be good for you too, with all those vegetables in it!

Fun in an office

I’ve been away for a few days doing some Macromedia Flash contracting in Cambridge (for quite a good company). It was supposed to be two days, but ended up gaining an extra fews hours… Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, but I really needed to come home on Tuesday night so that I could get on with some other work. But it wasn’t to be: and I ended up staying an extra night, leaving Cambridge today after lunch.

I spoke briefly on Monday and Tuesday to one of my customers that lives near East Grinstead, and as I would be coming past there as I came ’round the M25 on my way home, I suggested that I pop in so we can go over some work. This was handy in some respects, but its set me back still further with the other work. Guess I’ll have to get up early in the morning now :-(

Got still more (potentially) interesting work lined up too, so it looks like things may continue to stay busy over the next few months. Some of it is through a good customer (one who has his head screwed on properly), so although I prefer not to be too busy, it should be a fairly comfortable busy if you know what I mean. A decent customer makes all the difference in my book!

I seem to be doing a lot of Macromedia Flash stuff at the moment (and will be in the near future, too). I do the ActionScript stuff - not the design stuff, and I’m rather surprised it’s happening. While I like it in so far as it is a change from the norm, I still prefer working with PHP. It all pays the bills though (when the customers eventually pay), so I shouldn’t moan too much. I think I’ll update my CV tomorrow and see if I can get some more contracting work; it’s so much less hassel than trying to sell my ’services’, and there is much less paperwork! It’s nice to work in an office with real people too; I get quite lonely at home sometimes.

Right, I’ve finished my lemsip (got a sore-throat yesterday), so it’s off to bed for me.

Long week - too busy for me :-(

It’s been a very long week. After last weekend’s trip to Cambridge, I had to return again on Monday afternoon to drop some stuff off at the accountants, and then take a server to my old business partner Matt, who is getting some software running on it for me.

Monday night is Jazz at the Elm Tree, so a few of us went on to that after noodles at some noodle bar. Its nice going into a pub nearly three years after I left the place, and still being remembered by the landlord :-) The beer is quite good there too, and prviding John (the landlord) is in a good mood the atmosphere is great.

While I was up there, I was asked if I could do some Macromedia Flash work for a good local, so I had to go and see them on Tuesday morning. I’m not really a flash person (I like to do some ActionScript when I can, but can’t design to save my life), but I enjoy doing it when the opportunity arises as it’s a nice change from PHP and SQL. Anyway, the discussion went OK on Tuesday, so I’ve got to go up again on Monday/Tuesday for two days of contracting. I’m too busy at the moment to really do it, and I’m a little apprehensive as I don’t think there will be enough time to get everything they want doing done, but the company will look good on my CV and the money is quite good, so I couldn’t really refuse them…

So that’s a bit of a pain. I have another medium sized flash job coming up in the next few weeks too, and had a good meeting about that on Thursday. That’s something I like about being self employed: going to a meeting somewhere interesting, with a nice drive across country, nice lunch with a beer or two, and then a relaxed meeting with someone that knows what they are talking about and what they want. I don’t like arsing around with some people who keep shifting the goal-posts, thinking that they can keep making changes without incurring any extra costs, and generally being a pain in the backside. Especially the ones that think they could get a flight booking system/customer management system/staff rota/in-flight menu generator/baggage tracking system/backup auto-pilot system for 250 quid (including VAT)! Customers eh?

Anyway, the flash work should be quite fun and fairly straight forward, so I’m looking forward to that starting. Having said that, I need to get all the crap that I’ve got on at the moment out of the way first, so I guess it’s an incentive to get my backside into gear. I’m supposed to be going on holiday next week too. Doesn’t look like I’ll get the whole 8 days, but I should get a few days walking in up in the Lakes.

I went out for a meal with a friend this evening, which was quite pleasant. She’s just moved to Surrey, so we went to a nice pub/restaurant near Box Hill. Again, it was a nice drive there and back through windy country roads, but being in a pub with decent beer and not being able to drink it is something I find hard to do. I’m trying to make up for it now by having a bottle of Old Speckled Hen, and I’ve got Miles Davis Kind Of Blue playing for company. I’m beginning to feel in the mood for sitting up late drinking and listening to some decent music now, but alas I have to be up early tomorrow so I guess I should be getting to bed. I’m yawning as I type, so it’s probably a good plan. I don’t want to have to stop Miles though :-(

Piss-up in a bewery

Or, Piss up in Milton Brewery, to be precise. Went up to Cambridge on Friday night for a friend’s birthday celebration, which was to be held in the brewery. This basically involved a ‘tour’ of the brewery, and as much beer as you could drink - all for £15! Oh yes, food was provided: pork pies, pasties and crisps!

I didn’t feel like I had made the most of this deal on Saturday morning, which is rather unusual for me. However, everyone else was suffering rather badly, so perhaps this was for the best. It was a glorious day, so we went into town and hired a couple of punts. I can’t punt to save my life, so that was a good excuse to relax while someone else did the hard work. Nothing like being punted by a pro, I can tell you. Had a good laugh watching the tourists collide and fall in too :-)

Alas I had to come home, but thankfully I persuaded a friend of mine to help me out on some work that’s bogging me down at the moment. This means I’m going back up on Monday to take a server up there for some tweaking. And maybe I’ll have a nice beer while I’m there?

A jiffy bag is on it’s way…

Another 26 minutes on the phone to Orange, and now I’m going to get a replacement handset. Got to wait probably until Monday for the jiffy bag to arrive, then a few more days for them to get my ‘phone back, then a few more days to get my replacement ‘phone. All a bit of a pain really.

I wish I was a lumberjack. With my best buddy by my side, we’d sing, sing, sing…

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay,
I sleep all night and I work all day.

Sorry, went off on one again.

Damn pain these nubile telephones.

SPV C500: Day 1

My new ‘phone came yesterday, and there are some good things and some bad things.

To start with the bad:

  1. There seems to be something wrong with the way Orange Customer Services line works, as it doesn’t recognise my key presses when they say something like “Push #1 for sales, #2 for support” etc. This was happening last week with my old ‘phone, so I find it hard to believe it is a handset problem.
  2. The GPRS was broken most of yesterday. I couldn’t get through on my mobile (because the buttons don’t work), so I had to call the customer service people on a landline. After about 40 mins of messing around, the woman on the other end sais “Oh look! There’s a problem with the GPRS gateway which is it isn’t working!“. So after about 8 sim updates and an expensive call, there was nothing wrong with the ‘phone.
  3. The ‘press and hold #1 for voicemail’ doesn’t work. It appears to have the number ‘+’ programmed into the key and not my answerphone. So that’s great. I now have to dial 1-2-3 to get my voicemail which I guess isn’t the end of the world, but the #1 key should work!
  4. Not really a ‘phone issue, but on the whole, Orange customer service sucks!

So what about the good things?

  1. It seems slightly quicker in operation than my old SPV E100 (turning off and booting up especially).
  2. It is a lot smaller than my old SPV E100!
  3. The battery life seems better, though it was plugged into my computer most of yesterday…
  4. It supports IMAP, though I’ve not managed to get this to work yet…

I’ve not got a lot to say on the positive front. I don’t expect to rave about a ‘phone: it’s just a phone after all. However, it does bug me when stuff doesn’t work like it should do.

No doubt I will have more to say on this ‘phone as I use it more.