October 2006

Whenever new hardware is on the market someone will manage to install linux on it. But did you ever want to install linux on a dead badger? If so, here is the guide.

Thinkgeek Gadget for GoogleFor a long time Google has been offering so-called gadgets that you could put on your personalised homepage. Thanks to the gadgets you get the weather report, google video, digg news or a calender to your homepage. Not so long ago Google published a new feature: now it is even possible to put those gadgets on your real homepage.

Of course there are lots of official and even more unoffical gadgets in the directory, but you know what is missing? A gadget for Thinkgeek, the ultimate gadget store (to be exact: there are rss-feeds for thinkgeek you can add to your google homepage, but not real gadgets). So why not create one?

The Google API pages offer extended information on how to build a gadget. The main part of every gadget is a small xml definition of the gadgets properties, requirements and perhaps code. The recommended way of filling the gadget is by putting html and javascript directly into this xml file. Unfortunately I was unable to build my gadget that way because I always got a javascript error in the google code. As always the Google code is badly scrambled so I didn’t spend much time looking for the error. (Anyways, if anyone finds a solution to “ig_a[ig_g] is not a function” - send me a mail)

Another way to build a gadget is by simply specifying a url that contains the gadget content. After javascript didn’t work I went to build a simple perl script that parses the thinkgeek rss and generates an html output. This worked fine and the gadget now displays a random thinkgeekd product on every load.

If you want to give it a try, click here: Add to Google

Google Sitemaps Webmaster Tools has been around some time giving out some information about how Google treats your website. The most interesting part was a statistic showing for which queries your site shows up and for which queries it gets most clicks.

During the last days Google has added a new great stats function to Sitemaps: Under Diagnostics > Tools > Crawl Rate you can see how often the Googlebot has crawled your site, how many traffic was generated per day and how long it took to download an average website. Especially the last information gives good information about speed problems on your host or server (I have attached a copy of my current speed stats which show some definitive speed problems my webhost has had in the past).

Finally the new page in Sitemaps tells me that Googlebot is currently limiting the number of accesses to my web page to avoid overloading the server. If I’m sure that the host can stand more connections (and I am for most of my sites ;-)) I can allow Googlebot to access the page more often. Unfortunately I don’t keep stats about how often search engine bots access my websites so I won’t find out if this option really changes anything.

Attached Files:

During the last months slowly most flash applications on the web have started to require flash 8 as a minimum. For Linux users this meant lots of blank pages because Adobe would not release Flash 8 for Linux and Flash 9 is scheduled for 2007.
Now finally the beta of Flash 9 has been released for Linux (besides Mac and Windows)! Perhaps I’m gonna try to build a Gentoo ebuild later.

(Via: Digg)

If you listen to skype officials you will often hear that skype is so, so secure. Of course that only refers to the encrpytion of chats and calls. But what about the security of a network you would want to deploy skype in? There is not much information about what skype does and does not - but still there are many companies out there using skype for their everyday internal calls.

On Blackhat Europe this year in Amsterdam Phillipe Biondi and Fabrice Desclaux have published an analysis of skype they did for EADS: “Silver needle in the Skype“.

The hardest part of the analysis was that the complete code of skype is encrypted and obfuscated, part of it even seem to be polymorphic. This makes it very hard to find out what the code exactly does and there might even be spyware code hidden in there. From the network side skype produces a good amount of traffic even when no chats are going on and it works its way around most firewalls. Being a p2p software it does only connect to a mainserver once and then changes to a random skype client. It seems as if skype then trusts any counterpart that does all parts of the communication right. The document describes how this could be used to build a “black” network of skype stations that can be manipulated and spyed on.

All in all I don’t think that we will continue to run skype in our company networks because I don’t like software that might be doing something that it is not intended to. Don’t understand me wrong: I don’t think that skype is bad or trying to inject spyware into every pc it is installed on, but for a company network I don’t like the remote possibility of this happing - especially as there might be third-parties exploiting the system. For private use everyone has to decide how big the risk of comprimising the system is, personally I will still use skype for my overseas calls - but I won’t keep it running all day.

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