A4Tech Night Vision FlexiCam

The latest addition to my tech gadgetry is a night vision webcam. This A4Tech PK-7MAR “FlexiCam” captures 30 frames per second at 640X480 pixels both in daylight and absolute darkness.

A4Tech Night Vision FlexiCam

For the night vision function, the cam uses 4 infrared LEDs which are placed around the lens. There’s a bright flash-like light panel on top of the cam that acts as a filler in low-light conditions. The cam is mounted on steel tube, which can be extended upto 16″ or 40 centimeters. The tube is flexible enough to be bended and stretched to bring to cam to eye level. A microphone is built-in as well which seemed to be of good quality. It has a “snapshot” button that can be used to take quick pictures (however, it’s a software dependent feature). The front-side sliding cover is a good attempt to protect the lens, and can come handy if you suddenly need to disappear from a chat session!

What’s Your Uptime?

Uptime-Project is for you if you rarely if switch off your computer. If you’re proud of your system uptime, and want the world to know about it, then get yourself an account now. Once registered, all you have to is to run a small client application on your machine which will send your uptime data to the project’s server at a regular interval. This application is available for all platforms including Linux, BDS, Solaris, and of coarse Windows.

Once your first uptime data is sent to the server, you’ll be placed on the rank list with over 24,000 other users. Auto updating dynamic images will also be created for you which you can use on your website or blog or even as your forum signature. There’s a variety of design to choose from, among which I liked this one:

Whats Your Uptime?

If you a have a great uptime, then go ahead and participate in this project. Compete with users with astonishing uptime like current winner with the uptime of 6 years 58 days 10 hours and 52 minutes!

Update on February 14, 2007:

Uptime-Project team sent an e-mail announcement today declaring closure of the project on March 1, 2007. It is to be noted that this successful German project has been running for 5 years now with 1.7 million data records.

Definitive Guide to phpBB Spam Control

The following guide is for a phpBB 2.x forums, which is an outdated version. This guide is not applicable for you if you’re using phpBB 3.x.

I have had the privilege of setting up and administer a lot of phpBB forums in the last five years. Spam has always been a major headache, but it went outrageous for my work and personal forums in recent times. Everyday a massive number of spam bot would register bypassing the phpBB visual confirmation, and would post illicit ads. Celebrity porn, erectile dysfunction medications, replica watches, hot jobs, Russian bride, what not?

I googled for anti-spam solutions, followed expert opinions found on various forums, but nothing seemed to work. The spammers seemed to be a step ahead on the game. However, after experimenting with a lot of MODs and hacks, I found the right ingredients (or combinations) to keep my forums clean. No more wasting time to enable new registrants manually, no more logging to the forums ten times a day to find and delete the spam posts.

If you’re tired of the spammers as well, then you might consider trying out my ingredients. It worked for me and should work for you too. Prior knowledge of MOD installation is needed for this purpose, for which you can refer to the official knowledge base guide. Also, remember to backup yours files before attempting the process.

Step 0: Registration restriction:
Install the Humanizer MOD. This will effectively keep the spam bots away from registering on your forum.

Definitive Guide to phpBB Spam Control

Step 1: No URLs for a week:
To stop the spam bots putting advertisement thread on your forum, install the Only Active Members Can Post URLs MOD. Once installed and enabled, the forum members won’t be able to post URLs before (a) certain number days after registering (b) making certain number of posts.

Definitive Guide to phpBB Spam Control

This will reduce the number of spam posts in an immense scale, since the spammers never come back to post using the same nick twice. Forums that has guest posting enabled would gain from this MOD as well, as it would restrict URL posting from strangers.

Step 2: Hiding the spammers:
Hiding the spammers from the member list is crucial. To do this, install the Hide Zero Posters MOD. This would prevent the spam bots with zero posts from showing up in the member list page, and as won’t be displayed as the newest user on the front page.

Step 3: Deleting the spammers:
SQL queries and other geeky hacks are possible to wipw off the spam bots, but a easier and safer way is to use the Admin Userlist MOD. This MOD not only lets you view all of the forum members and various information about them, but it also allows you to delete, ban, activate, and de-activate multiple users at once.

Definitive Guide to phpBB Spam Control

I deleted 700 users (read: spam bots) in about 20 minutes. Make it a habit to spend at least ten minutes a week to perform this maintenance step.

Words of Wisdom:
Remember that no automation is good enough to keep your forums out of reach of spammers.

Moderation is an important part of the job which you’ve to do on a regular basis. The steps above and the hacks beyond would only help you to make your life easier.

If you need any assistance on deploying this on your forums then please feel free to contact me.

Last updated on March 12, 2008

DVD Burner + More RAM

I got myself a DVD burner today. It’s an ASUS DRW 1608P3S drive, which can write at maximum of 16X on DVD±R, 8X on DVD+RW, 6X on DVD-RW, 8X on DVD±R (Double Layer), 5X on DVD-RAM, 40X on CD-R, 32X on CD-RW, and can read at maximum of 16X on DVD-ROM and 40X on CD-ROM.DVD Burner + More RAMI also got myself 1 gigabyte TwinMOS DDR RAM, making my system happier with a whooping 2.25 gigabyte memory. Cool, huh? DVD Burner + More RAM

Remote Include Vulnerability in Mambo

If you are Mambo user and using Galleria, SimpleBoard, or ExtCalender components, then be careful. A Remote Include Vulnerability has been discovered, and a lot of Mambo run sites using one of these components are being hacked and defaced. To save yourself from this epidemic, check for this line on top of all the PHP files on your component directories:

defined( ‘_VALID_MOS’ Remote Include Vulnerability in Mambo or die( ‘Direct Access to this location is not allowed.’ Remote Include Vulnerability in Mambo

If it’s not there on every pages, then add it on the top. If available, it’s always the best option to update your modules and components to the latest stable version.

Remeberber: if apache.org or whitehouse.gov can get hacked, so can be yours. Be careful. Very careful. There’s nothing called security in this crazy world.

E-mail Icon Generator

As a spam fighting measure, most bloggers are using Nexodyne’s E-mail Icon Generator, which displays your e-mail addresses on graphical buttons. It supports major e-mail service providers and puts their logo after your username. Here’s how my Yahoo! address looks:

E mail Icon Generator

I’ll never need to use this button as I’ve better ways to protect my e-mail addresses from spam harvesters. ;)

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