XXX domain owners to launch search engine for porn

xxx-domainsICM Registry, the guys behind the new .xxx porn domains have revealed they are to create a search engine exclusively for porn. It is due to launch tomorrow.

This could be a step towards isolating pornographic content from the casual surfer, although the cynic in me thinks it may be more likely to be an act to promote XXX domain registrations.

I wonder if they’ll copy Google and have an “I’m feeling lucky” button? ūüôā


Stuxnet worm sabotages industrial installations

The Stuxnet worm is the first known malicious software designed to destroy or sabotage factories, power plants, refineries or other industrial installations.

We are used to Trojans and viruses roaming the internet harming computers and causing financial damage, but Stuxnet really is in a league of its own.

The worm targets closed and highly secure industrial networks and after being introduced with a USB key, Stuxnet slips past four previously unknown vulnerabilities in the Windows operating system, so-called “zero day” vulnerabilities.

It is rare for malicious software to exploit even two of them.  Each one can take months for hackers to identify and more time to write software to exploit.  The worm then hunts for specific types of computers made by German company Siemens.

Having found its host, it lies dormant, waiting for a certain moment to override the computer’s control of industrial machinery, with potentially disastrous consequences. This new breed of malware could wreak the kind of damage only previously seen in Hollywood disaster films. Imagine a nuclear power station’s cooling system being overridden, for example.

Experts estimate developing the Stuxnet worm would have taken a highly specialised team between six months and a year.

Israeli cybersecurity strategist Gadi Evron says the worm is so advanced it is almost certainly state-sponsored.¬† “This would require a lot of resources on the level of a nation state. “Taking into account the intelligence required to attack a specific target, it would be virtually impossible that this is a lone attacker sitting at home.”

Less impressive, though, is the spread of the worm’s infection. “The attack managed to infect, over several months, something like 30,000 to 50,000 PCs in many facilities and corporations worldwide,” said Uri Rivner from internet security company RSA. Such a wide dissemination has helped expose the worm’s existence and helped efforts to neutralise it.

It also raises questions about the likely target for the worm. Iran says computers at its nuclear plant in Bushehr have been compromised by the worm but will not reveal the extent of the damage. Some figures suggest 60% of the Stuxnet infections are in Iran. That has led to a highly speculative finger of blame being pointed at Israel. Is the Jewish state trying to disrupt Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons programme? We will probably never know. Other unknowns also remain. Has the worm already achieved its goal, or is it lying in wait to carry out its sabotage? Is Iran the intended victim, are other countries at risk?

And, more worryingly, the worm is a trailblazer. Other hackers can learn from its pioneering methods to produce more sophisticated malware threatening other networks in the future.


The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim has won the coveted top prize for ‘Game of the year’ at the Spike Video Game Awards in Los Angeles, California. It was only released on November 11, 2011 for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 so it has really performed beyond the developers’ expectations.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, to give it its full title,¬† won the highly desired “Best role-playing game” with the developers Bethesda Softworks being chosen as the studio of the year too. The¬† Spike Video Game Awards (SVGA anyone?) honours outstanding achievements solely inside the gaming industry.

Other winners this year include

  • Best shoot-em-up – Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • Best fighting game – Mortal Kombat
  • Best graphics – Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception
  • Best motion game. The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword
  • Best PC game – Portal 2
  • Hall of fame – Zelda (about time!)

Skyrim‘s storyline details the main character’s efforts to defeat Alduin, the prophesised destroyer of the world, in the land of Skyrim.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a role-playing video game developed by Bethesda Game Studios. It is the superb fifth installment in The Elder Scrolls action role playing video game series, following The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion.

Click here for the best prices on The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim


Google goes SSL

Yesterday, Google announced they are making Google for signed in users SSL only. This means that if you are signed into Google’s system (eg Gmail) and go to Google.com, the page will default to https rather than the usual http.¬†


Free Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, InDesign, Acrobat, Audition, GoLive

adobe-photoshop-free-cs2Do you want a free licensed version of Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Premiere, InDesign, Acrobat, Audition, GoLive, Acrobat, InCopy, or Elements? Well Adobe have done a very strange thing and put direct download links to the CS2 versions of this excellent software online WITH the activation serial key. Why would they do that I hear you ask? Well apparently Adobe have problems with their licensing server and older software is not validating correctly. To combat this and in a gesture of goodwill (or long-term customer baiting) they are making older versions like CS2 run, without requiring validation, on these keys.

Windows and Mac versions can be downloaded free from the Adobe website here

So why give away Adobe CS2 for free?

Supposedly, these licences are for existing customers, although the software is now coming up to 8 years old so it would be understandable if it was given away to tempt people to upgrade to later versions. Because of the high prices that Adobe has previously charged for this software, my guess is that it would possibly be perceived as putting a finger up to previous customers who bought this suite if they released it free of charge. Hence some mystery surrounds this ultra discreet release of serials and downloads.

I’m not sure all programs are Windows 7 or 8 compatible. There are Mac OSX downloads in there too, again I’m not sure what version of the OS it will go up to. What I do know is that the original minimum spec for CS2 was

  • Mac OS X v.10.2.8‚Äďv.10.3.8. PowerPC¬ģ G4 or G5 processor
  • Microsoft¬ģ Windows¬ģ 2000/Windows XP. Intel¬ģ Pentium¬ģ III or 4 processor

I’d recommend that you go for the complete CS2 download listed at the start as it contains all the individual software programs. If you manage to get a copy and install it, please let me and others know what operating system you’re running it on by dropping a quick comment below.

 


Clickbank dormant account charges

If you’re searching for clickbank dormant account charges then you probably found out already that something’s up. I looked in on my account to see a strange debiting going on in my Clickbank account every 2 weeks. Turns out, this is Clickbank’s dark secret….

 Clickbank dormant account charges explained

What they do is allow you to make one or more sales that puts your account into credit, then, after a period of ‘inactivity’ of 90 days, they start to deduct a ‘maintenance charge’ on your account. Worse still, this keeps going every billing period. And with Clickbank’s billing period set to every 2 weeks this means that your earnings plummet quickly and soon you’re back where you started on a zero balance. This really isn’t well explained and I had to search elsewhere to find out what was going on.

A ClickBank account can become dormant if there is a positive balance in the account but no earnings have been made for a 90-day period.

Furthermore, ClickBank say that they shall withhold payment of any account balanceto an affiliate¬† until at least 5 sales have been made with 5 or more different credit card numbers.¬† Also, the affiliate’s account must have received at least 2 different payment methods from the following list:

  • Visa
  • Mastercard
  • PayPal
  • European Direct Debit (ELV)

This is bad practice and considering how often most people check their affiliate accounts, it’s designed to make money by borderline fraudulent means.

This from Clickbank themselves:

Accounts with a positive balance but no earnings for an extended period of time are considered dormant. Dormant accounts are subject to a charge of $1 per pay period after 90 days of inactivity, $5 per pay period after 180 days of inactivity, and $50 per pay period after 365 days of inactivity.

$50, are you kidding me? We’re supposed to be working together!

Here’s a funny (yeah, hilarious) twist too, PayPal purchases do not count toward the minimum 5 different credit card numbers.¬† This is despite PayPal users having to have a different credit card to own different accounts. Imagine everyone pays by PayPal, that leaves you on the bi-weekly debit cycle that soon gobbles up all your earnings. For many affiliates, this means they’ll never get to make any money at all, despite generating sales. So you could earn $30, $300 or even $3000 and then watch it drip slowly away – and there’s nothing you can do to stop it except drive more sales their way.¬† This stinks of writing the rules to profit the most and it’s a very shady way to do business.

Clickbank charges workaround

So the only workaround I can see is to set the payout threshold to the minimum $10 before payment is sent.¬† Well this would work for US affiliates, but consider a UK affiliate that has to receive cheques (payout by PayPal is not an option). There is at least a ¬£5 charge with most high-street banks to cash a foreign cheque, so this really eats in to a $10 (¬£6) cheque!¬† Did I mention too that there’s a $2.50 charge for each and every payout? That’s in the Clickbank small print somewhere and would bash the affiliate who cashes out on a $10 amount a whopping 25% of their earnings.

Unfortunately, unless you are a US affiliate you’ll need to be pretty sure you can make money REGULARLY enough to avoid the so-called ‘dormant account’ penalties. If you’re taking a break from promoting Clickbank then consider emptying the account out immediately.

Hope this helps a few people out there, please drop me a comment below if you’ve had similar experiences with Clickbank dormant account charges or if this article has helped you save a few pennies.


New version of AnyDVD released

There’s a new version of AnyDVD that has just been released. Here the list of fixes and improvements:

7.1.5.0 2013 02 11
– New (DVD): Support for new discs
– New (Blu-ray): Support for new discs
– Fix (Blu-ray): Incorrect region code detection with some discs
– Some minor fixes and improvements

The update is free for all registered customers, of course.
Just install the new version on top of your current version,
regardless which version you have installed:

Note: If your license has expired you must renew before you install the update
or else your product will stop working.


How to force a line break in WordPress

Wordpress force line break fixMany bloggers are complaining that they can’t see how to force a line break in WordPress.¬† It has been a problem right from its inception to the current iteration (3.4.1 as I write). The problem stems from the way that WordPress’s inbuilt editor – TinyMCE – handles spaces and returns. Adding break and paragraph tags ( for example <br> and <p> ) within the HTML editor doesn’t work as they are stripped out upon publishing. And as for combining this with images, they float in some pretty bizarre places making the formatting of some pages look simply dreadful.

So we could try to update TinyMCE. ¬†There is a fix we can do, but for the sake of brevity I won’t post it because every time WordPress gets updated this will be overwritten. This makes the TinyMCE fix not suitable for most people who want a permanent solution.

So here is the best solution I have found, simple and effective. It involves going into the HTML tab of the visual editor (at the top of where you type your post content). Select this and position your cursor where you want the line break to occur.

Add <br class=”blank”> anywhere you want your line break to appear, this is usually after some plain text.

Update your post and view it, you should see the elusive WordPress line break has appeared. If you have the time, please drop me a comment below if it works for you.

 


Royal Wedding viruses hit users

With the royal wedding in full swing here inthe UK, many internet users are searching the latest news, gossip and videos for information.  Unfortunately, we have seen a lot of PCs passing through our repair departments riddled with spyware, viruses and Trojans caused by downloading software that comes from dubious sources.

Royal wedding hoax alerts

The malicious links we have found have so far been marked “William and Kate live interview”, “Royal Wedding called off”, “UK Royal Wedding free programme”, “Kate Middleton Wedding Dress virtual tour” and “Bomb alert spoils royal wedding plans”. There were even less tasteful ones such as “Kate Middleton injured in terrorist attack” and “Sniper attack on Prince William” which, when clicked, both took us to sites proclaiming to have exclusive video footage of the hoax events. Some even more graphic titles are best not repeated here….

 

The remedy for trouble-free royal wedding coverage online?

Don’t believe all you read and stick to major news sources such as bbc.co.uk or news.sky.com

Arm yourself with a fully featured internet security package that alerts you about possible threats from webpages and uses search filtering to avoid malicious webpages.¬† Don’t download programmes and guides unless from official sources.

 


W3 total cache security and performance issues

There have been a lot of problems recently with this popular WordPress plugin. Many users report that W3 Total Cache was having some serious security and performance issues

Fortunately, it’s still actively developed and there is a new version of W3 Total Cache available for download or auto-update within the WordPress admin console. Here’s a look at what version 0.9.2.7 has to offer:

Fixed config file write in more hosting environments
Fixed legacy config file import on servers with hardened file permissions
Fixed page cache write cache rules in some environments
Fixed retina images
Fixed false positive notifications when permissions are not changed or same
Fixed minify help
Improved upgrade notifications
Improved page cache and minify notifications

This is what version 0.9.2.6 added and fixed:

Added support for grouping cache entries for easier flushing
Added more options for placing minified files on pages. Custom placements using HTML comments.
Added CSS inclusion for auto / manual minify. If present its used:
Added JS inclusion for minify auto mode. If present its used: ,
Added JS inclusion for minify manual mode. If present they are used when selecting correspong location in placement dropdown: , ,
Added new minification inclusion options, async, defer, extsrc and asyncsrc
Added flushing sitemaps
Added flushing custom pages
Added flush the current blog when flushing in MultiSite
Added flushing home page and/or post page if static
Added flushing older pages (page/2, page/3) on purge requests
Added flushing a limited amount of pagenumbers
Added purging caches for deleted blogs in WordPress MultiSite
Added uninstall process to the plugin for easier cleanup
Added upgrade support that cleans up and removes old cache folders
Added message when disk enhanced page caching is not working properly
Added custom wp-content name and locations
Added CDN feature “Dont use CDN for specific roles”
Added “Purge from cache” link on edit post/page pages
Added permalink suffixes (.html, .htm etc)
Added uploading blogs.dir files when using MultiSite and CDN
Added notification about IAM when using Amazon services (SNS, CloudFront, S3 etc)
Added ‘Don’t minify JS files’ ‘Don’t minify CSS files’ options for minify
Added Access-Control-Allow-Origin support for CDNs
Added hooks clean_post_cache and menu changes
Added caching JSON mime-type. Other mime-types can be added using array filter ‘w3tc_is_cacheable_content_type’
Added automatic reloading of config files when APC apc.stat is disabled
Added request reload of APC file over HTTP
Added priming of post on publish
Added single config file (by default) when using WordPress MultiSite
Added switch_to_blog() support
Added wp_cache_decr, wp_cache_incr support
Added wp_cache_switch_to_blog support
Added fragment caching functionality that extends the transient caching methods in WordPress core
Added network activation and network policy management
Added control for comment cookie lifetime
Added Go Daddy SUBDOMAIN_DOCUMENT_ROOT directive support
Added JSON to mod_deflate configuration
Added JavaScript mime-type variations to mod_deflate configuration
Added WP-CLI support for purging cache, purging pull CDNs, reloading APC files, clearing APC, deleting pgcache files, and updating browser query string
Added .htc mime type
Added Rackspace CloudFiles container location selection
Added rejected terms in database cache, to allow for deeper database caching capability
Added Akamai CDN origin pull support
Added system cache purge when apc.stat is disabled
Added origin rel canonical support for CDNs
Added AT&T origin pull CDN
Added full-page mirroring and purging for origin pull CDNs
Added compatibility mode improve disk enhanced page caching performance ~20% for users that don’t care about interoperability
Added nginx example files
Added varnish example files
Added basic application monitoring support using New Relic
Added application monitoring widget using New Relic
Added plugin dashboard page to display widgets etc
Added purge from cache link to admin bar dropdown while browser posts/pages on front-end
Added purge CDN completely link to admin bar dropdown
Added CDN SSL checkbox “Disable CDN on SSL page”
Added pull CDN support to MultiSite
Fixed caching of the “Front Page” and added an option for the same
Fixed w3_url_format function was not included error
Fixed security vulnerability with file cache: disk basic page caching, database or object caching to disk. CVEs: CVE-2012-6077, CVE-2012-6078, CVE-2012-6079
Fixed issue with concurrent writes to single config file
Fixed Preview mode and deploy button
Fixed varnish purging (See varnish config example file in ini folder)
Fixed false positive notification on Page Cache: Disc Enhanced
Fixed broken images for feedburner in dashboard on HTTPS sites
Fixed minify ID generation causing notices
Fixed false positive on minification related to group configuration among other
Fixed default wp-content path and CDN uploads when WordPress is installed in directory
Fixed pages not flushing when making changes in WordPress Admin
Fixed mod_filter being used on unsupported Apache versions
Fixed WordPress upgrade issue caused by W3TC remaining active
Fixed minify path when using WordPress MultiSite and blogs in sub-directories
Fixed user interface for “Dont cache specific roles”
Fixed CDN and minify to file for storage
Fixed feed_link filters interferring with feed purging
Fixed false positive with minify rewrite test and WordPress MultiSite sub-directory mode
Fixed WordPress Multisite in sub-directory mode and minify paths
Fixed caching posts page when using static home page
Fixed object cache not being initialised before getting options
Fixed locating document root for minify in certain environments
Fixed saving settings if permalinks are turned off
Fixed “Install” page displaying rules that is not required
Fixed minify cache being empty while page is cached so no minified files are generated, minified files auto generation no longer depend on pages not being cached
Fixed unnecessary flushing with SSL, user agents and referrer not being activated
Fixed “Purge from Page Cache” not purging varnish or CDN when enabled
Fixed CSS minification and relative paths in external files
Fixed login / logout and compability with BuddyPress
Fixed flushing same posts many times if status is trashed or restored
Fixed handling of .html fancy permalinks with nginx
Fixed handling of missing xcache opcode cache
Fixed Amazon S3 allowing LIST permissions to everyone
Fixed handling of .xml mime type
Fixed numerous object cache compatibility issues
Fixed memcached port support issue
Fixed HTTP_HOST not defined warning issue
Fixed xdebug not configured halt issue
Fixed minified files not being mirrored by push CDNs
Fixed uploading to CDNs multiple times even if force overwrite is disabled
Improved CloudFlare support: purging, dev mode, minification options, automatic IP range updates, rocket loader feature, security levels
Improved support for the Bad Behavior plugin
Improved object cache and MultiSite compability
Improved flushing behavior with better post and pages detection. To change behavior hook into filter ‘w3tc_flushable_post’
Improved XML user interface when using Page Cache Disc: Enhanced
Improved minify filename path generation
Improved minify custom placement usage
Improved PHP 5 compability by removing deprecated functionality
Improved WP 3.4 and 3.5 compability by removing deprecated functions usage
Improved plugin by removing unnecessary ob_starts
Improved minify usage by returning old minify files while generating new
Improved update procedure by removing need to manually deactivate and reactivate plugin
Improved CDN paths and URL generation using both single and multisite installs
Improved Admin Bar menu with more flushing actions
Improved minify auto by adding support for downloading and combining external files
Improved descriptions for various “Do not cache …” textareas
Improved header settings so plugin header settings override WordPress default header where appropriate
Improved debug logging by adding a debug folder constant: W3TC_DEBUG_DIR
Improved support for WPTouch plugin
Improved custom post type support and flushing
Improved cache key format and handling
Improved minify support on Windows
Improved purging functionality for CDN providers
Improved compatibility wp-fb-autoconnect plugin
Improved support of WordPress installed when in a sub-directory
Improved support of non-default WordPress folder setups
Improved use of HTTP API and FileSystem API in WordPress. HTTP API usage improves minify and CDN functionality. FileSystem API integration improves activation, deactivation and configuration changes
Improved execution time across all caching engines
Improved cache miss performance for page caching
Improved notification handling
Improved cache priming algorithm
Improved minify error reporting
Improved varnish purging capability
Improved memory caching logic and purging speed
Improved support for auto minify in more hosting environments
Improved support for use of sockets in memcached
Improved handling of old settings upon update
Improved detection of document root on additional hosting providers
Improved handling of eTags
Improved browser cache policy options
Improved bug submission form implementation
Improved NetDNA / MaxCDN support by using their new API
Disabled minify if CloudFlare is active
Removed PHP 4 support
Removed cookie used for user agent groups unless the feature is used
Removed cookie used for referrer unless the feature is used

Quite a few of my clients reported slowdowns that were attributed to this plugin, which is a shame because in general this plugin can take static WP sites to much faster page load times. In 90% of cases, a simple update resolved their issues, so it’s worth doing if you are having slowdowns that you can’t find the reason for.

Personally, I always remove any caching plugin and htaccess code before attempting to diagnose slowdown or instability issues as it often masks or compounds server and code problems.

Let me know below if you have any issues that W3 caused or that you managed to resolve.

Removed duplicate inclusion of JSON library