Patch Tuesday again

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If you’re one of our dedicated server customers, you’ve got the option of a paid support package, the choices being Anchor Secure and Anchor Complete. Whatever you choose (or if you decide you don’t need one), we just hope it’s the right one for you. One of the services we provide with a support package is keeping your system up to date. For Linux machines this means installing updated packages as they’re released, and for Windows this means staying on top of Windows Update. We can do a lot of this without you ever noticing, but Windows Updates almost always require a reboot of the machine, which we schedule with our customers by email. This brings us to an amusing little snippet from one of our customers. Anchor: We’re going…

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A fix for the browser crashing blues

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Ever been constructing a verbose and complex reply to an email on a webmail site, only to have the browser crash when you were about to hit send? Or perhaps putting the finishing touches on your Wikipedia edits to the particle physics article (I know I have) and have all of your hard work lost in the blink of eye? Fear not, salvation is at hand! Although many Web 2.0 sites providing text-editing will save drafts and provide a reasonable text editor, nothing beats your favourite text editor of all time, Vim. Or Emacs. Or whatever you would prefer to use. Why shouldn’t you be able to use any text editor you like? It’s your computer and your time after all! If you are using Firefox, your problems are over….

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How to talk like a pirate without all of the fuss

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Wanted to send your buddies a pirate message but the words just won’t come? No trouble, just visit the Pirate Talk Translator and convert your regular landlubber-speak into bonafide pirate-ified slang! If you use the popular Pidgin Instant Messaging client, then you can download the Purple Plugin pack which contains a talk filter. Set it to Pirate and you can have your instant messages translated into pirate-speak on the fly!

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Web hosting statistics vs Google Analytics

By | Company News, Technical | No Comments

We get the request from time to time, “can you track XYZ in the website statistics for our web hosting?” We get a bit of “Your statistics reports aren’t very pretty”. We include two very commonly used statistics generators with all shared web hosting, AWStats and Webalizer. Both of these tools generate statistics using the logs that the web server keeps for every page request. These logs look something like this: 88.179.0.194 – – [11/Dec/2008:04:48:03 +1100] “GET / HTTP/1.1” 302 20 “http://www.google.fr/search?hl=fr&q=anchor+blog&start=10&sa=N” “Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X 10.5; fr; rv:1.9.0.4) Gecko/2008102920 Firefox/3.0.4” Without explaining the log file in detail, in summary, the above line tells us: What IP address each request comes from The date and time of the request If the user clicked on a link to…

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End of Year Support Hours

By | Company News | No Comments

Unfortunately as much as we’d like to to let the servers fend for themselves over the end of year period whilst we take a well earned break we can’t, there’s always someone that forgets a password or decides to break their website during the holiday period. Anchor will be available on all business days – that excludes public holidays and weekends over the break. We will operate on reduced staff numbers on other days reflecting the reduced support load. There will be a provisioning embargo in place for dedicated servers and co-location services between the 17th of December and the 5th of January 2009. Note that this embargo only applies to provision of new services – it does not effect support of existing services. Throughout the holiday period – dedicated…

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SaaS (Socks as a Service)

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http://www.blacksocks.com/ I came across this rather amusing company a little while ago. They’ve been around since before the turn of the millennium but I somehow hadn’t stumbled upon them until now. What with everything turning web2.0-ey nowadays, I’d say they’ve got themselves a nice little niche. In case you’re too busy to visit (or too much of a slacker, TL;DR!), the concept is simple: you pay a yearly subscription fee (they call it a “sockscription”), and they keep sending you pairs of nice new black socks. It’s a very cute idea that has wide-ranging appeal and applicability. It also abides by one of the general rules for sysadmins, which is to automate whatever you can; the less time you waste thinking about repeatable tasks, the more time you have for…

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SaaS (Security-scanning as a Service)

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We’ve had some enquiries from customers recently regarding security compliance scans, the most popular of which is the PCI DSS. For those not in the know, this stands for the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. It is of course a fascinating topic, covering best-practice standards for processing and storage of customer information. The enquiries we get relate to a security scan carried out by an Approved Scanning Vendor (ASV). The usual report format is a list of potential “vulnerabilities” detected, with a severity rating of 1 to 5 assigned to each. Anchor’s shared hosting servers never have any problems with this, so the report reads like a missal of mundanity. TCP port 21 is open, an FTP service appears to be running! Crazy, I know… The thing is, this…

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How not to handle errors: phpmyadmin edition

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The user does something that fails, due to server-side problems, and you wish to inform the user of this problem so it can be fixed. You redirect to a page with a URL something like /error.php?message=Something+has+gone+wrong.+Please+fix+it+and+try+again The user fixes the error on the server, and (since staring at the location bar isn’t a whole lot of fun) simply hits ‘reload’ in their browser. This causes much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as the problem apparently persists. I’ll give phpMyAdmin partial credit for at least HTML escaping their errors, but… the stupid, it BURNS!

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A new home for the Anchor NOC

By | Technical | One Comment

http://royal.pingdom.com/2008/11/14/the-worlds-most-super-designed-data-center-fit-for-a-james-bond-villain/ This story’s been around for a little bit, but it popped up in the geeky media a few days ago. Seeing it, we were inspired to share our own little piece of home with you. Rent prices for inner-city office space have been rising steadily over the last few years, and smaller businesses in particular are starting to feel the squeeze. Rather than sitting around hoping for the real estate economy to cool down a bit, we made the decision several months ago to move. We’ve handled a few office moves since we opened up shop in 2000, most of them have come off without a hitch and (more importantly) with no impact to our support operations. As much fun as moving is, doing it every few years is…

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