Web Stuff

Fix for wordpress xmlrpc.php ddos attack

The last two days we had major hassle from people doing a kinda DDOS on the xmlrpc by trying to ping back urls, I was banning Ip’s as fast as they popped up, but there were just too many, I altered the name of the file, but that doesn’t help, cause then the idiots get served the 404 page, and thats still a massive load on so many connections, I tried altering permissions, and also tried adding code i found into the theme functions.php, but nothing seemed to help, until I found this…

RewriteRule ^xmlrpc\.php$ “http\:\/\/0\.0\.0\.0\/” [R=301,L]

I added this to the .htaccess and loads dropped from 90% to a more reasonable 3% within a few seconds. all it does is redirect the fools to a url, so it doesnt even have to serve them the 404 not found pages.

Worked great, and gave me time to properly ban the offending IPs

Walk-by Panorama’s

Been playing with the iPhone, used it loads for panorama’s, click and twist, how simple can it get, but then a few days ago, thought why not click and walk-by the scene, holding the iphone camera pointed always in the same direction. These are the first results of my Walk-by Panorama’s.






They will never stitch 100% but I am sure I can improve on these first attempts.


Website updates

I have finally found some time to do some updates to my local history website, http://www.newton-le-willows.com , its only taken a few years, its almost embarrassing that I have left it so long, it was still running on Joomla 1.0, and I am sure that was replaced with newer code in about 2005, I still hve to figure out what todo about the forum section, it has so many posts, attachments and users that I am a little worried that any change will break the whole thing, I might take a few years more to just have a think about whats needed to update it  🙂

Google accounts

I am having a bit of a google account meltdown, I’ve had different accounts with gmail / googlemail, youtube etc since they were all individual systems, from well before google owned youtube, and now that Google have unified their logons across their different systems with Google+ being tied into their email, webmaster tools, youtube etc, I find that I just cannot get access to all my data from any one account, I have thought about it, and it looks like I am going to have to trash my youtube account,, and an old gmail account, to bring everything into one new single Google+ account, there just doesn’t seem to be a way to change ownership of youtube accounts from one gmail to another, you cn add and associate the account with other email address’s but ownership stays with the original account, so I spent the last hour downloading all my videos, and I plan to just leave the old stuff online to gather dust and then add new videos into a new youtube account which I can associate to a main Google+ account

See what I mean, its all too confusing, I already had a headache, but now…..

Atheist, Agnostic or Humanist

This is a subject matter which I haven’t ever written before either here on in the Newton website, in fact I don’t normally even get drawn into discussion about religion (or politics) but somehow it came up in conversation earlier today, and I found myself thinking about it, so what the hell, here’s a few lines

I’ve never been a religious person, I wouldn’t call myself an atheist or an agnostic, I suppose I am more a Humanist, someone who thinks you should be able to live a decent life without having it ruled or controlled by religious or superstitious beliefs.

I think everything known about human history supports the humanist view more than any other, man’s existed on the earth for hundreds of thousands if not millions of years, and I would argue that at no time did any of the different societies not have some sort of Gods to which they prayed, and each one would have citizens utterly convinced their Gods were the one and only true Gods.

Every different religion cannot possibly be correct, many, one, or all of them must be praying to a false deity, unless there all correct and that wouldn’t make sense to the one God scenario which most religions follow, so I think the presumption should be, that they are all equally wrong, and following on from that, that if the many historical world societies and their many millions of people of all races, for thousands of years, were praying to their own now long forgotten Gods, then why should the same not be true for current religions, are they correct or just the latest religion in a continuous cycle that revolves and recycles into a newer version every few thousand years.

I wonder how many of the religions that ever existed, were no more than some king, pharaoh or governments pre-calculated way to keep their populations controlled, having a book or chiseled tablet with the ruleset required to keep the order in that society, it seems to me that religion would be (is) a "most excellent" medium for control of citizens.

Each successful society seems to have rolled over the previous religions into their own, Its like a code project forking, part going stale getting forgotten and a new better code coming forth and attracting newer brighter coders, the Romans and everyone else just wrapped earlier religious beliefs around and into their own Gods, then Christianity etc have done the same to the old Roman Gods, so that I do not think any of the religions have any real historical merit, I mean, whats 2000 years when judged against 100,000 years of mankind walking the earth, some people would have us believe that for the first 98,000 years no-one prayed, yet were finding archaeological sites in places like Turkey’s 1963 discovery of the stunning Gobekli Tepe estimated to be 11,000 years old, it predates Stonehenge by upto 6000 years, and noone knows to which Gods the Stone Henge builders prayed, so you can pretty much bet the choice of deity at Gobekii Tepe had little to do with any of our current religious options.

New religions and idea’s popup all the time, and gain massive followings, Scientology has been around now for about 60 years, and although its been named in parliament as a cult, its just been allowed by the Courts to hold its first in church wedding, its now by this court ruling recognised as a religion equal to any other, with Scientology being based on the belief that trillions of aliens got stranded on Earth by a dictator from another world millions of years ago I do wonder if any of our current religions could ever roll that into a future all encompassing religious model. There-again, we might find that in the future people move away from faith based religions, to some form of Tech based system, kids may well praise console companies and see games releases as preachings, with historically classic console versions and game levels changing hands at some future Sothebys auction like a Rembrandt painting or a 12th century Latin bible might sell today.
So, having laid out my own humanist belief, you might ask why the hell I agreed to look at building a website for Christian news and Prayer requests, well there isn’t really an answer to that, other than I’m just edging my bets.

I could be as wrong as the rest of the humanists, agnostics or atheists, who knows, like David Bowie says in one of his songs "Knowledge comes with deaths release"..  How true,, so I am betting on both teams 🙂

Anyway, here’s a link to the unfinished tester for a Christian Prayers website that I am building

Do schools kill creativity?

Was sent a link to this video a few years ago,  watched it again earlier and really enjoyed it,  thought i would post a link to it here

[youtube_sc url=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iG9CE55wbtY]

I think it should be made compulsory viewing for anyone that wants to work within the education system, and some existing teachers


Whittington Castle, Oswestry

While out on the same run that We visited Old Oswestry Hill Fort my wife and I took a detour to Shrewsbury, another place we have never visited, didn’t even realise that it had a Castle, but what made the day, is that on the way home, we drove through a small village and stumbled upon another really great medieval castle site, with just the best moat and keep, really pretty and well restored, it was open to visitors, and free to visit, so we stopped and walked around, the village is called Whittington, and I found that the ruins are the restored remains of the Medieval Castle.

Whittington Castle, Whittington, near Oswestry

The Castle is community owned and run, and its a real credit to them, tea rooms, book shop, £1 parking, all very well laid out, wooden walkways, nice gardens, really couldn’t be done any better.

Heres a link to their website, and if your ever anywhere near Whittington Village, then visit the Castle and take a look for yourself, its well worth a visit.

Old Oswestry Hill Fort

Today I took a drive out to Oswestry to take a look at the old Hill Fort that sits just outside of the town

Oswestry Hill Fort

I hadn’t ever visited Oswestry before,and really didn’t think the site would be so large, was well worth the visit

There’s a few car park spaces right against the west entrance to the site, and it’s really easily found.

The only thing that I didn’t like is the arrogance of the bloody dog walkers, the place was full of people with no interest in where they were, just using the place to let their dogs run free and shit anywhere they felt like, why the f*%k do some people with dogs ruin these places for other people, it’s almost as bad as someone letting their dog crap in the middle of a playground or football field.

So, great place to visit, especially if you’re interested in this type of thing, but be careful of dog shit.

Google Maps – Airplane over Bagshot, UK

While searching on Google Maps for a postcode and then clicking through to the location to work out a route how to get to the place I noticed this airplane..

I did some searching on Google, found that quite a few people have spotted different aircraft on the google map system, but I didn’t see this airplane listed on any of the pages that I visited. Heres a Google Map Airplane link



Wierd, I checked this link above to the airplane on google a few days after I found it, and its gone, looks like its flown away, itooks like google have changed the map images for that area to a different set, because the image I posted above has the landscape in bright sunshine, and yet the current image has a much darker image.


CPanel Wildcard Sub-domains

Thought I might post this as I found it really useful, and its info not easily found online..
The following is how to add a wildcard DNS entry for any domain on a WHM/CPanel server.


edit the dns zone to add * in A with IP address
make or edit the directories for your domain (not the public_http dir, this has to be in the root server files)
for non-ssl http make a directory here..
and for ssl https make a directory here..
And then in those directories add a file:
which contains the configuration options you want added to that specific VirtualHost.
For example if you want to add a wildcard ServerAlias, you would just create this file and add:
ServerAlias *.domain.com
The key for the filename is that it has to be a .conf extension so that it is picked up.
Once you make the first change to the VirtualHost, from ssh prompt as root run:
/scripts/ensure_vhost_includes –user=username

Cuil Spam?

There’s loads of hype around about the ‘new’ cuil search engine, everyone seems to be saying how good it is, how different etc, but I really do not like it, and I am not sure that its bots are very website friendly, they ran wild in my websites about 18 months ago, disregarding totally all that is in the Robots.txt, so much so that I ended up adding the complete range into iptables to save my server from continued hassle, at this period ‘Twiceler’ cuils roaming website scraping bot was still in training, at least thats what i was told when i emailed Jim (Jim’s the guy who keeps track of Twiceler, when he’s not busy with his horses.) asking what the f*** he was doing to my server

The cuil search engine is now alive and kicking and it seems they have changed the name from the original version of cuill to cuil, but I still don’t really like it.

So… The last week, I have been hit by spam into webforms, spam comments etc, but oddly it’s all been cuil related.

Why would anyone want to spam ‘for a search engine’?

All the spammed links have been coming into my sites from US based open proxies with no x-forwarded ip’s, the form fields, address box’s and details sections are being prefilled with crap and the main content item is then spam for the cuil search engine written in bbcode

[b][url=www.cuil.com]New Search Engine[/url][/b]

I can understand spammers that post spam links for gambling sites, drug sites or even spamming xxx site links, but who and why would anyone bother to spam website forms with links to www.cuil.com

I’m baffled, maybe Jim’s horses know?

Friday 13th

I am not normally superstitious, I have never been someone to worry that its Friday 13th, but yesterday, it was that day, and yesterday I had loads of hassle and bad luck, so maybe there is something in this superstition lark after all..

  1. One of my canon lenses seems to have failed, the internal motor which does the auto focus, just buzz’s and doesn’t do anything else, seems to have stripped a gear or slipped somehow internally, this is really annoying, as I just checked Sigma’s website, and they charge 39 quid, just to take a look at a lens, then for work on the motor another 40 quid, and then add any parts onto that.   I bought the bloody lens second-hand for 100 quid over a year ago, so the cost to fix is almost the same as looking for another one,,,  well thats going to be my excuse for a new lens..
  2. Recently I upgraded one of my failing hard drives, bad sectors on a 120 gig drive, with a brand new 500 gig drive, and yes, you guessed it, yesterday it started knocking, it also has bad sectors, and it seems to be just ‘trying to die’ .     It does have a guarantee, so at least I know it will get replaced FOC, but, what’s more annoying is, this ‘new’ drive is where I placed all my stitched panorama’s from the recent Lady Hill excavation, I did write DVD copies of the images, and gave copies to Bob and Mark Olly, .. now it looks like I am going to have to ask for copies back of my own DVD’s, because the bad sectors seem to be right across the section that hold the images, and most simply do not open anymore… so that’s that.
  3. My web server decided to have a white page day, it ran out of resources, with little or no allocation of memory left it just started to display white pages, I spent around 3 hours attempting to solve the problems, restarting services, killing connections from yahoo and Google’s search bots, watching error logs etc, nothing I did seemed to help, the memory situation just got worse, I eventually got the support staff at the host involved, thinking I had missed something, or started some stupid looped process, but it turned out it was someone else, who has a VPS hosting account in the same shared server, who had major configuration issues, which was pulling the resources from all the other shared accounts, and effecting everyone, not just myself.  

So Friday 13th was a crap day, maybe i should have seen it coming, maybe its time to take more notice of superstition

At Home.. :)

Home at last, still very sore, but being home is cool, will be on crutches for approx 6 weeks, not supposed to drive for a few months, should give me time to get some of the many code projects i have hidden away to get completed. Have decided I am going to convert the Newton website to use joomla code, I am really impressed with Joomla, cannot see any reason to plod-on with postnuke, will probably convert my dowd webspace also to joomla, the easyspace hosting runs out soon and i have already transfered the dowd domain name to 123reg, so this enforced home detention will give me the time to get these things done

postnuke 2 Joomla

I have now done a few test conversions of a full working postnuke website into a joomla one Even managed to transfer all the forum posts from pnforum into joomlaboard. it wasn’t too difficult, finding the correct scripts via google and other forums was the hardest part. then i had to seperatly transfer all the pnforum posts into a standalone verion of phpbb, then later when i had inported all the users, weblinks, articles, categories etc from postnuke into joomla, imported the forum posts from the standalone phpbb, their seems no way to directly import the posts pnforum 2 joomlaboard and not loose the users details etc. So now i know I can do it, i suppose i have to decide am I going to, and if so when?

Steven Dowd

Nuke or Joomla!

I am in a dilemma, I have used postnuke for years, but lately am very disheartened with it, it seems to be lagging behind other systems, particulally Joomla. I have used postnuke for websites since day one of nukes creation, I have been stood back from the community for quite some years due to my legal hassles, but have always kept up with whats been going on, at the moment I feel the system is failing to keep up, to make the system do some of the pretty things joomla does, i would have to find 3rd part addons etc etc, and then worry whether the authors would upkeep them, yet Joomla does most all things straight out of the box. If I had to list the particular things which have impressed me with Joomla, which are missing in postnuke I would have to list them as follows.

  • Built in Image system, image uploads, content image insertion, Image admin for all sections, groups, links, contacts, menu items etc
  • Front page management, article / news order management, ordering for front page items, ordering for links, sections, contacts etc
  • Module, Components, Themes Installation system.
  • Simpler permissions, Groups and User management.

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