I was hacked!


I didn’t think this blog was popular enough to actually get hacked, but I was apparently wrong.

Evidence the first – For some reason it was taking a really long time to load, even though I had cleaned out a lot of extraneous crap code recently.

Evidence the second (and, really obvious) – I was going through the source code because I wanted to add a graphic to my header, and I was trying to find the right spot. In doing so, I noticed a bunch of weird links to external sites that I certainly hadn’t put in there. Online pharmacies and whatnot. So I went into the header file in wordpress, and found extraneous code pointing to a .ru site. yeah. Not so much evidence as, well, concrete proof. I also did a google search for the code, and discovered that it appears on many other sites.

I don’t know how it got seeded (perhaps through a plugin?), but the code to search for in your header.php file in wordpress is “alkoltashov (dot) narod (dot) ru / sites.txt”. This apparently pulls in the multiple http addresses.

I’m off to go search for more strange code to make sure my site is actually clean. I’ll post an update if I find anything else.

Update: Found another one – in the footer.php file, somehow the link to demus design, which designed my template, got switched to “elavil lab”, with another link to an online pharmacy. And the link to wordpress.org linked to some third-party site rather than the real wordpress. I’m off to change my password as well!

Update further: from a little searching online, it appears to be a vulnerability of wordpress 2.8.1, which is the latest version available by my hosting provider (although the latest available overall is 2.8.4). looks like I’m going to have to keep a close eye on things until they upgrade further over at network solutions. I also found a few other small things. My only advice is to go through all of your template files and look for code that doesn’t belong. This is so annoying.

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backlash at the speed of…well…twitter


Ok, so I’m late to the twitter game – I started an account not too long ago, and…yeah, in a lot of ways a lot of it is kind of pointlessly entertaining, but I have to take real issue with crap like this. Not because it isn’t true in all circumstances, but because it reduces a service like twitter to its most useless part, and then assumes that everyone pointlessly uses it the same way. Sure, I follow some celebrities because I find them entertaining and whatnot, but I also follow several real friends and, quite frankly, I’ve made new real world friends thanks to twitter, in the very short amount of time i’ve been on the service. Here’s how that worked…

A few weeks back, I twittered something about cycling in NY. Someone who was looking for other NY cyclists found me and started following me. So I followed her back (hey, she posted good bike tips). So then…she organized a bike ride to coney island. Which I, at the very last minute, decided to participate in. I had a blast, met some great people, and made some new friends. who then proceeded to follow me (and vice versa) on twitter so that we could keep in touch easily. Today, we met up for another (yes, real life) bike ride out to red hook, and it was another blast (and heck, when a few people got stuck with a flat tire, we actually used twitter to try to find each other). So rather than the alienation that people seem to think is inevitable from each new social networking site, I spent the beautiful day today out of doors, on my bike, with 20 other like-minded people who I would have never in a million years met in any other way.

Each of these things is a tool. How one chooses to use them is really dependent on the individual. People who trend towards loneliness and alienation may continue down that path, but it’s because they already had that propensity. twitter didn’t make them that way.

I’m a loner by nature. When I was a kid, I was often much happier in my room with my nose buried in a book. And many of my closest friends (who I do see as often as we are able to make plans) have kids and stuff going on which makes it a bit harder to drop everything and go get a drink (and they’re certainly not bike fanatics like me). A lot of the “burying in a book” mentality has perhaps transferred to electronic media, but at the same time, if that media didn’t exist, I would have most likely spent my day today by myself. Maybe I would have gone for a bike ride, by myself, but knowing myself better than that, I would have spent half the day vegging out on my couch before I thought to go outside and enjoy the sunny 77-degree day.

I’m sorry, but the catastrophic “[insert latest technology] is destroying all of our social skills and making us all [narcissists/nihilists/sociopaths]” has just got to stop.

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well, Circuit City is officially dead. I think I’d be more upset about losing one of the major computer outlets in my neighborhood if they weren’t complete jerks every time I walked into one of their stores. And lest you think those two links contradict each other, please note that, in both cases, the salespeople were not interested in actually serving me, the customer, be it by answering my questions or by leaving me alone when I specifically point out that I’m just browsing.

The only thing that actually bothers me is that they literally just opened up a store in the old tower records location near lincoln center less than one year ago. Here’s hoping the space can find another (decent) tenant soon.

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internet goodness


The cable guy finally showed up yesterday, after I had been without service for a week and a half (no such luck having my service mysteriously pop back on this time without intervention).  He ran some tests though, and discovered that it wasn’t that I got no signal, but that the signal was coming through at way too high a frequency (one which was OK for the TV/cable service, but not for internet).  So began the process of checking every connection all the way back to the junction box in the stairwell.

Which he opened up, took a deep breath, and noted that the connections in there looked like they hadn’t been updated in over 20 years.  I laughed and pointed out that I knew the previous tenant in my apartment (being that she’s my stepmom), and she moved in in 1978.  So she probably had cable installed around the same time that cable was installed in the building.  So he replaced all of the connections, and now I have shiny shiny internet again, and it’s actually much faster than it was before.  Like, near-instantaneous.  So I highly recommend that if you live in a really old building, you find out the last time your trunk line was updated, and if it’s before the internet existed, maybe see about getting that fixed!

Also, I didn’t even realize that there was a problem before, but when we put the TV back on to test it out with some high-def olympic coverage, I could swear that my picture was clearer than it had been in the morning.  I could just be imagining things, but I was actually taken aback (I think the non-word “whoa” might have been uttered).  

The third thing I have, of course, is a neckache, because I had to put all of the furniture back after the cable guy left and something went wonky in the middle of that process.  

Still managed to get a bike ride with my brother in afterwards. Although “with” is somewhat misleading as a significant portion of our ride involved me watching his red backpack get smaller and smaller, and him having to periodically stop and wait for me.  The best part about the ride?  The realization that I’m not actually that slow.  I’m only the slowest cyclist on the road at 6:30 in the morning.  At 5 in the afternoon on a Saturday, there are plenty of people who are more than willing to suck and get in my way while I quietly seethe about how slow they all are.

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This is when i realized that the iphone was worth it


As I wrote about a month ago, my Internet connection died for about a week, and then miraculously started working again the day before my tech appointment. I figured at that point that the issue was done.

Until last night, when I got home, eager to go out for a bike ride before it got too late out, only to discover that I was having the same problem, where my (new) cable modem indicated that there was no signal coming into my apartment. So instead of a pleasant sunset ride along the Hudson river, I got 40 minutes on the phone with the cable company.

But this time there was a marked difference in my tone – I was practically zen about the whole thing. Completely understanding when the earliest weekend appointment wasn’t for a week and a half.

And I chalk it up, in its entirety, to the fact that this little device (on which I’m writing this blog entry) has the best Internet capabilities of anything that’s not an “actual” computer that I’ve ever used. It makes my work-provided blackberry look like a commodore 64.

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Coolest iphone app yet


This is really just a test. I’m writing this on my iPhone, using the just made available wordpress for iPhone app from the app store.

For good measure, here’s an attempt to post a photo directly as well.

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Yes, I actually got up super early this morning, got on line at the apple store in midtown, and got a new iphone.  I’d like to point to the fact that I never bought the first one as some sort of proof that I don’t immediately jump on every apple bandwagon that comes my way, but…who am I kidding.  In any event, there were massive problems at the apple store, which I got to experience firsthand.  In addition to the activation problems there was a big problem with the AT&T servers that allowed us to sign up for accounts, so I probably ended up spending over 2 hours in the store once I had gotten inside (that was after waiting on line for two hours).  It wasn’t unpleasant though.  I basically hung out with the apple nerds (ahem, i mean “geniuses”), who were stuck not being able to do anything because they couldn’t access the iTunes store.  They spent a non-insignificant amount of time trying to get me to go get their manager to let them download movies off of itunes so that we could at least “entertain” all of the people stuck in the store.  I didn’t do it, because I am a pill.  The guy behind me on the activation line though – seriously needed some stress management classes.  Little hint to those people who “need” their phone immediately?  Don’t decide to port your number on the first day of the friggin’ launch.  You’ll be much happier waiting a few days until they work the kinks out.  Anyway, I think the nerds liked me so much because I was extremely calm and patient about the whole thing.  It helped that I had nowhere else to be.

And then…

about 30 seconds after I walked out of the store, I decided to take the iphone out of the box because it was buzzing (most likely with ‘welcome’ texts from AT&T), and the phone slipped out of the box and landed face down on the cobblestone sidewalk of central park south and the screen cracked into about a gazillion pieces.  I thought I was going to have a heart attack.

But I calmly walked back to the store, got the security people to let me cut the line (after showing them the devastation), and the store people were very very very nice and very sorry about what happened, and exchanged the very damaged phone for a new one.  It took a little while, because we had to re-port all of my account information, and they said I was actually pretty lucky that it was launch day, because tomorrow they might not have been allowed to do this, but in the end, I’m home with a shiny, fully functional, non-broken iphone currently syncing with my computer.  And I’m keeping it in the soft-sided pouch that I used for my iPod Touch.

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So, after a week without internet, and multiple phone calls to the cable company wherein it was determined that nothing could be done except send a tech out next Saturday, I got home tonight, sat down on my couch, looked at my cable modem (which is normally perched on top of my cable box), and noticed that all of the lights were back on. And now I have internet again. As evidenced by this post. which I’m writing from home.

I almost don’t know what to do with myself. There’s so. much. information!

Although I’m not cancelling my service call until Friday, because I need to see if this sticks for more than 24 hours.

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ahh, internet…sweet, sweet internet…


No, my internet at home hasn’t been fixed.  It just happens to be Monday, meaning that I’m back at work.

This is not to say that I didn’t try to get my internet working this weekend, even going so far as to trek down to the cable company office on 23rd street to swap out my cable modem.  But when I plugged the new one in, I had the exact same problem I was having before.  Apparently, somewhere along the line, there’s something preventing my modem from communicating with the server.  So unless it somehow fixes itself (which is obviously doubtful), I have to wait for my scheduled “appointment” of 2-6pm on Saturday.  I really, really, really, really hope this works.

I know I’m a particularly heavy internet user, but even I didn’t realize how much I had come to rely on it.  E-mail actually wasn’t the problem.  My blackberry still worked for basic communication.  But everything from ordering food delivery to checking the weather is now done, at least in part, through the web.  I had to hold off returning some films to netflix because I didn’t know what was next in my queue.  When I decided to go see WALL*E last night, I had to hope it wasn’t sold out because I couldn’t check fandango.  And let’s not even get into the fact that Google Reader has stopped counting how many unread articles I’ve got, because when you hit 1000, all it says is “1000+”.  Oh, and updating my blog.  Or checking facebook.  Or paying bills(!).

I haven’t faced withdrawal this bad since I gave up diet coke.

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I’ve been convinced to join facebook by one of my friends. Of course, I’m completely antisocial so I’ve got about 5 friends at the moment.

Not to turn into one of those crazy old people that yells at you to get off my lawn, but I think I’m too old for this stuff.

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