Hacked off

Fuck you (Fuck you), fuck you very, very much
‘Cause we hate what you do
And we hate your whole crew
So, please don’t stay in touch

Bloody hackers…

I went to look at something on my website the other day and I ended up somewhere else! I’m not quite sure what the page I ended up at was meant to be but it was obvious that my site had been hacked. It happened before about 4 years ago and I ended up re-doing the way my site was ran and based it all on a WordPress installation. Now I was worried that all the hard work I had put into doing the site was all going to be lost. I looked at the old pages I had uploaded and they seemed to be working ok so it was obviously something to do with the WordPress installation.

I guessed that the best thing to try and do was to re-install everything using the back ups I had downloaded. The only problem was that I hadn’t done a back up for nearly a year but having said that much of what I’d done was from the time before the last backup so I would lose some but not all of the site. Ot was better than nothing. I tried with the last back up and it threw up an error message. I used the one before and it did the same. I then contacted GoDaddy my website host for help. The man there suggested download a back up and the running it through the virus checker on my mac and if it was fine then uploading that file. I did and again it threw up an error message. I gave up for the day!

The next day I rang GoDaddy – the man there was very helpful and told me that they could sort it all out for me! He explained that they could apply a malware checker but I’d have to have it on both sites and eventually the came out and told me that the cost would be £93 for 3 months – I just laughed! There’s a small (cynical) part of me that wonders if the malware wasn’t added deliberately so that they can sell their virus checking service! I mean if one in three people bite then that is a lot of cash – almost like a sales drive! Anyway the issue was soved when the line went dead.

I then took a deep breath and reset my site hoping that the errors caused in the back up were because of the virus. After the reset I tried again but again I had the error message. I spoke to GoDaddy again and was told that I could re-install my site manually but it was tricky! Anyway to cut a long story short I found a webpage that was very helpful and was able to get it all back up and running to the state it was in in May last year. Obviously some things were missing but it was working. I had to install WordPress on the site and then go into phpmyadmin on the control panel and import the old mysql database. This gave me the layout and text of the site (although I had to re-intstall the theme.)Then I had to manually upload all the images into their various places in the wp-content/uploads directory. Once I’d done that it was all running ok. I did the same for the second website and then did a back up of all of the site (who know if this would actually work if I need to re-install it).

Once I’d downloaded that I got to thinking about what was missing – the thing that pissed me off most was the loss of the comment John Otway left on my site! Although I later found I’d also lost the tribute to Jubbly the crazy cat and a few other webpages. I then thought – sod it, in for a penny, in for a pound and used the back up I made yesterday! I figured that now I knew how to reset it I knew I could do it again so if it went wrong I just start again. I went into the phpmyadmin and imported the mysql database from yesterday and to my delight it all worked. I still had to upload the rest of the pictures but so far it’s running ok. I’ve changed the passwords on the site to computer generated ones which should be harder to hack. So hopefully we should be ok going forward.

Now I have to question the support given by GoDaddy – this is the second time I have had them attempt to sell me a solution rather than help me resolve an issue. Then the advice that manually restoring the site was a bit tricky – I mean what sort of technical support is that? The only thing anyone did that was helpful was to suggest I download a back up yesterday – I would never have considered that as the site was hacked but in the end it saved a lot of content on the re-install!

I must do back up more often!

Fifteen Years

I was doing some digital tidying up the other day moving files from one HDD to another to keep them safe as the first drive is knocking on a bit! As I was doing it I realised that it is 15 years ago this month that I went into PC World in Chatham and came out with two new toys that I didn’t realise at the time would make so much difference to the way we live and record out lives over the next few years. The first was a Kodak digital camera and the other was a Compaq H3950 pocket pc.

It seems now like digital photography has been around forever but back then it was a novelty! My friends who had recently moved to Wales had bought one and I liked the idea of using a camera that meant the images could then be used on my website – blogs, Facebook etc had yet to be invented!

I can’t remember how much I paid for it but it was expensive for the time, especially as it was only 2.2 megapixels and only had a basic zoom. It took ok pictures but was very limiting in lowlight. I had it for around 4 years and by the end of that time, when we went to Australia, I felt the need to move up to the next level – since then I have had two Fuji bridge cameras and I now own a Nikon D300 DSLR. However other developments in cameras have obviously changed the whole ballgame!

The pocket PC was like what we now know as a smartphone except it didn’t make phone calls and ran a cut down version of Windows. You could connect it it to your pc via a docking station and it would sync up. I noticed the other day that my 2003 paper diary literally stopped a few months in so my switch over to a digital diary must have been instant! Looking back it was quite basic but the real improvement came a year or so later when I was able to connect to the internet  using my newly acquired Motorola Razr V3 flip phone, also the first phone I owned with a built in camera! This allowed me to receive emails or surf the web using the equivalent of a dial up connection. This was still three and a half years before the first iphone came out!

In 2005 both the pocket pc and the flip phone were replaced by a single device – the QTEC 9100 (and another year later by the 9600). This was truly what we now know as a smart phone as it combined the pocket pc with a phone facility and even had wifi to connect directly to the internet without running up your phone bill.  They were clunky compared to todays devices, they still had a slide out physical keyboard and you had to use a stick to operate the screen but I loved it. It was so useful when we went on holiday to Australia to communicate with home as I could also use instant messaging on it too!

After the two QTec devices I moved onto a rather good HTC phone, again running Windows, but after slamming that in a car door I was given a replacement on which they had tried to emulate an iphone gui which was crap. I decided that I might as well go over to an iPhone but really didn’t want to have to do everything through iTunes and in any case it would mean leaving Vodafone as they weren’t doing them at the time. I phoned them up and they introduced me to Android which I have used ever since!

The other development over that time is the addition of camera to phones. Although the first Qtec phone I had featured a camera it wasn’t until 2009 and the last Windows device and the first Android device that the resolution of the camera exceeded the Kodak camera I had bought in 2003. The camera on the phone was for a long time a “use if you don’t have a proper camera” device and it wasn’t until around 2011 when I got HTC Desire HD that it started to be something you could actually consider taking serious photographs with. The jump from a 3MP camera on the first Android to an 8MP camera on the HD made all the difference! There were now a number of cool apps that made your cameraphone a useful tool rather than a weapon of last resort, I even had some of the images I took featured in a local exhibition!

A G Hales High Class Footwear Repairs Revisted ©deadheaduk

Over the next few years the quality of the phones increased and so did the lenses and software to the point where I sometimes think “why bother with the Nikon!” My latest phone, the Google Pixel, has one of the best digital cameras I’ve ever owned on it – so much so that I had a professional photographer shaking his head is disbelief when he found out that a picture I posted on Instagram was from my phone! He’d used a £5k camera and lens and got the same shot!

The other thing that has changed significantly over that period is storage! The Kodak camera came with a 64Mb compact flash card which seemed a lot at the time and the Nikon still uses compact flash but the two I have for that camera are 32Gb each. (It should be noted that the first PC I owned only had a 20Mb hard drive and any of the memory sticks in my bag are hundreds of times larger!)

Most of the stuff I was moving was on CDr – I used to occasionally burn off the files on my PC onto CDr to clear up space. Obviously they only held 650Mb which now seems so small – mind you I’ve still got some zip discs somewhere and they seemed huge at the time and only held 250Mb! As things progress PCs don’t have the ability to read these “older” formats anymore and I worry about losing stuff – particularly old photos. I had moved everything onto a 400Mb HDD but even that was knocking on a bit so I moved everything again onto a 3Tb one.

Now of course there’s the cloud and one day I guess I should put all my stuff onto a virtual drive somewhere but I often wonder how long that will last! I had an account with one provider who suddenly decided to close it down and I had to re download everything. Maybe in thousands of years time there will be a gap in the history books for our times because everything became digital but was stored in a format no one can access anymore! It’d be odd to think that the more we advanced the more we lost!