Category Archives: Wordpress

Comment spammers try to get clever

On my personal blog, on a post about the Melbourne public transport smartcard Myki, this comment popped into the moderation queue:

I found another very uefsul behaviour this morning.I don’t touch off when I get home at night. While, this seems weird how do they know I got off in Zone 1 (for which I have a pass) and didn’t travel into Zone 2 (for which I should be charged Money)? But, the fare manual says that if you have a MyKi Pass and you touch on in a zone for which that pass is valid (Parliament in my case) then there is no default fair.So, every morning when I touch on, it tells me deducting fare for previous trip . Which is $0.00. Cool.This morning I forgot to touch on some power issues on our line, got to chatting with the Station Hosts, just forgot. When I got to Parliament, I fully expected the gates to deny me egress and I’d have to do the silly thing where you act exasperated and they just wave you through the end gate even though you’re holding nothing but a wallet in your hand (MyKi works while in the wallet).BUT, it let me through. Seems that it’s happy enough that I started a trip (at Parliament) last night, spent 16 hours travelling and ended my trip back where I started. So it let me out basically a touch off of the trip home last night.Bizarre. But uefsul.

At first glance, it looked on-topic. But I was suspicious because the user link was to facebook.com/profile.php?id=XYZ (I’ve removed the ID) — and it came in the middle of a bunch of other (less-relevant) comments linking to similar URLs.

Googling around for key words in the comment, I found that it’s a copy of a comment from a completely different blog, with various misspellings inserted, and paragraph breaks removed. The original:

I found another very useful behaviour this morning.

I don’t touch off when I get home at night. While, this seems weird – how do they know I got off in Zone 1 (for which I have a pass) and didn’t travel into Zone 2 (for which I should be charged Money)? But, the fare manual says that if you have a MyKi Pass and you touch on in a zone for which that pass is valid (Parliament in my case) then there is no default fair.

So, every morning when I touch on, it tells me “deducting fare for previous trip”. Which is $0.00. Cool.

This morning I forgot to touch on – some power issues on our line, got to chatting with the Station Hosts, just forgot. When I got to Parliament, I fully expected the gates to deny me egress and I’d have to do the silly thing where you act exasperated and they just wave you through the end gate even though you’re holding nothing but a wallet in your hand (MyKi works while in the wallet).

BUT, it let me through. Seems that it’s happy enough that I started a trip (at Parliament) last night, spent 16 hours travelling and ended my trip back where I started. So it let me out – basically a touch off of the trip home last night.

Bizarre. But useful.

It seems the spammers are trying to get a bit more clever at sneaking their comment posts past moderators.

I still don’t know why, given WordPress has used NoFollow on their comment links for about ten years now.

Hacked!

It seems this blog got hacked recently. A couple of posts had the following code inserted into them:

	 
/* < ![CDATA[ */
var quicktagsL10n = {
	quickLinks: "(Quick Links)",
	wordLookup: "Enter a word to look up:",
	dictionaryLookup: "Dictionary lookup",
	lookup: "lookup",
	closeAllOpenTags: "Close all open tags",
	closeTags: "close<div style="display: none"><a href='http://buycheaplasixonline.org/' title='buy cheap lasix'>buy cheap lasix</a> tags",
	enterURL: "Enter the URL",
	enterImageURL: "Enter the URL of the image",
	enterImageDescription: "Enter a description of the image",
	fullscreen: "fullscreen",
	toggleFullscreen: "Toggle fullscreen mode"
};
try{convertEntities(quicktagsL10n);}catch(e){};
/* ]]> */
 
 
	 edToolbar() 
	 
...(post text)...
	 
	edCanvas = document.getElementById('content');

This was on WordPress 3.2.1. I’ve now updated to 3.5; hopefully this won’t recur, but it’s something to watch out for if you’re running blogs using older versions.

Working on the server

Upgrading to WordPress 3, that kind of thing. Hold off new comments and posts until done. I’m also moving servers.

If you can see this, it’s done!

Here’s the process I’m following for moving these various sites:

Take an export of the database.

Run the SQL: update wp_posts set comment_status = ‘closed’ so nobody comes in and writes a comment subsequently lost.

Import into the new site and upload the new WP installation and the old theme and images etc onto the new site.

(I’ve found my new web ISP’s DDOS protection gets antsy if I use the default Filezilla setting of two simeltaneous connections.)

Hack the hosts file to look at it while getting it perfected.

Run /wp-admin/upgrade.php and let it upgrade the database

Go into the Admin screens, to the Permalink settings and save the default so the .htaccess file is updated

Apart from then switching the registrar so the domain looks at the new IP address, that’s about it.

Will also re-load the old .htaccess settings like the deny list for the big-hitting bandwidth thieves.

And I’m installing the W3 Total Cache plugin to optimise the site a bit. (I used to have WP set to deliver gzip-compressed pages; sometime before version 2.9, that option’s been removed.)

Update: Finally, WP3 seems to have fixed the weird bug that caused some comments and posts to be rejected dependent on particular words being present.

Don’t panic

This is not a Towel Day post. Rather, it’s just to say I’m upgrading WordPress tonight to 2.9.2, so things may be a little weird.

Update 10:07pm. Done. The big question is: have they fixed this bug?

If they have, I’ll be able to say Lynx with a space after it (in a post or a comment) and not have it give me back an error.

No. It still does it. (I’ve used a &nbsp; above.)

Hello to Sam Hamilton and James Dee

So I was looking at the comments awaiting moderation. Two showed up on this post: Why Facebook sucks, a rollicking read about over-bearing security dialogues just to use Facebook’s video application.

Here’s the first comment — I’ve zapped the email address, but one was left:

Sam Hamilton 76.243.71.190
Submitted on 2009/05/29 at 9:37am

If you are tired of facebook but want a way to connect with artists and musicians
then you should check out http://www.putiton.com
If you are tired of facebook but still want to connect with your friends then pick up the phone…

Fair enough.

Here’s the second:

James Dee 75.85.9.225
Submitted on 2009/06/03 at 3:16pm

I’m an artist and I haven’t been satisfied using facebook or myspace to promote myself… too slow and too much junk. I’ll give putiton a try… it looks clean

The problem here is that the first comment is still awaiting moderation. (Yes, it’s several days old. I don’t check as often as I should.)

So why would “James” decide to try putiton, a social networking site which basically nobody has heard of (well at least I haven’t) if nobody else has suggested it (eg the first comment isn’t visible to anyone)?

Curiously, “Sam” and even “James” have left similar messages on other, similar posts on other blogs.

(Sam has a profile on the offending site.)

Slowing down WordPress spam

I noticed a lot of my WordPress spam is coming from a handful of IP address ranges. I’ve checked, and in the five-ish years I’ve been using WordPress, no valid comments seem to be coming from there. (Just tap the relevant IP address into the WP comment admin search box.)

Time for a little .htaccess magic, I think.

order allow,deny
deny from 194.8.75.
deny from 194.8.74.
deny from 87.118.112.
deny from 194.8.75.
deny from 194.8.74.
deny from 87.118.112.
deny from 61.18.170.
deny from 196.12.36.
deny from 219.64.175.
deny from 69.59.137.
deny from 80.88.242.
allow from all

By the way, in cPanel File Manager, to see .htaccess you have to switch on the option to view hidden files on the options page when you go in.

Anyway, the result is less spam, though there appears to be a rash of new attacks from a wide variety of IP addresses, with a shirtload of embedded links to upcoming.yahoo.com

Has my WordPress blog been hacked?

At some stage, some weird text seems to have inserted itself into a bunch of my links on my personal blog… a Get parameter referencing phpMyAdmin and a long hexadecimal string, which appears to be the same every time.

So for instance the link:
<a href=”/1995/12/22/the-bill/”>

became:
<a href=”/1995/12/22/the-bill/?phpMyAdmin=3bceb1b20913e8babce341325e13bf76″>

And this one:
<a href=”http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/energy.shtml”>

became:
<a href=”<a href=?phpMyAdmin=3bceb1b20913e8babce341325e13bf76″http://www.ptua.org.au/myths/energy.shtml”>

A Google search suggests that this specific parameter appears to be unique to my blog.

It mainly appears to have hit internal relative links, but has hit some external ones too. But it hasn’t affected all the links, by any means. Maybe a few dozen posts. And for the most part they are like the first example, above, and don’t actually break the links.

At first I thought it was a hack back at some time when I might have had a vulnerable version of WordPress on my blog. Though I’ve been unable to find any other examples of it (not that it’s the easiest thing to search for), and now I’m wondering if it was some mistake during a migration of the database.

Weirdness.

Something I don’t like about WordPress

I love WordPress.

But not 100%.

Something I don’t like is how it decides arbitrarily when to decide to re-authenticate you.

I had logged in here to write a post, and it happily let me type it all out, until I hit the Publish button, when it decided to double-check who I was. Which was fine, but by the time it had done that, it revealed that the draft of the post that had been saved was from several minutes before I’d hit Publish, and I’d lost a couple of links I’d put in which now I’ll have to find again.

Blargh.

Twitter widgets

I used Twitter Tools for a while with WordPress, and it worked well until recently, when it stopped.

While pondering what went wrong, I noticed Twitter now has an official set of widgets for web pages.

Twitter / Get a Widget for your site

They’ve got customised ones for MySpace, Blogger, Facebook, Typepad, and a generic one (in HTML or Flash) for everything else.

The Triple J question

Trust Josh to ask a curly question for the StackOverflow podcast: “Why did the Stack Overflow schedule blow out?” and quoting back Jeff and Joel's own previous forecasts at them.

Made for an interesting discussion though. I certainly agree with the point that until you're actually working on something, you d

on't have a great deal of confidence in just how much there is to do … that becomes apparent as you go.

Transcript.

(So I can find it later: WordPress URL parameters, for example for showing all posts by Josh.)

zp8497586rq

Recent finds

Ever wonder how they fitted an entire computer language into just a few kilobytes, back in the 80s? Documented disassembly of BBC Basic 4.

How to highlight author comments in WordPress … but it relies on the author being user ID 1, so it won’t work here, where we have several people posting. Could easily be customised to look for other user IDs though.

Some developers are throwing in the towel and running Vista as Admin.

The excellent Secret Life of Machines not only has a web site, but is available freely (and legally) via BitTorrent. And the theme tune is available on iTunes.