* Posts by Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

26 publicly visible posts • joined 15 Jan 2007

Webhost hack wipes out data for 100,000 sites

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Thumb Up

Further to the above...

I've just had an email from vaserv who have advised me that:


Currently, we are enrolling a new platform on the new hardware for our customers who have lost all their data on one of the, unfortunately, lost host machines, and the ones that do have backups and would like to get things as soon as possible. Currently we expect to start deploying these during the night, once servers are prepared and installed.

We would also take this opportunity to outline that we will be issuing full RFO (Reason For Outage) and some other announcements related to this situation once everything is fully operative again. In addition to this, please read what we will be doing for you, our beloved customers, below:

- We will be applying 1 month worth of credits in case you have had a downtime for the day

- We will be applying 2 months worth of credits in case you have suffered lost of your data


They've done a great job on this one, and I've even had an email from BlueSquare advising me that they will transfer VPS server to their own infrastructure ASAP, WITHOUT changing the pricing!

Well done VAServ,

A Very Happy Customer.

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Me Too!

A number of sites hosted by me for friends and family disappeared as a result of this hack, including a site for a business that I was going to set up last year.

I have a complete backup because it was obvious from the site that backups and data security was not something that they provided.

If you lost data in this, then I'm sorry but you should have read the T's & C's and taken appropriate steps.

Moral: Don't host business critical services on a system that costs less than £20 per month...

Seminal password tool rises from Symantec ashes

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Thumb Up


I first started learning about security and bad passwords using L0phtCrack, good to see it back in business, might have to download and add to my "toolkit"... YAY!!!!!

BOFH: Aspie no questions

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Thumb Up

You sir...

... are a legend...

Colonel: US Army has working electropulse grenades

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Black Helicopters

OK, if they've got EMP grenades....

then I want my BFG10K...

That's all marine, stand down...

New Windows virus attacks PHP, HTML, and ASP scripts

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

attack vector?

Just read the MS and TM blog posts, am I right in believing that this virus can only infect locally stored PHP scripts that could potentially be uploaded to a server, or can this virus run multiple exploits against PHP and thereby infect servers that are visited by an infected machine?

UK.gov to spend hundreds of millions on snooping silo

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Black Helicopters

VPNs and colo

I'm speechless.

I knew it was getting bad, but I didn't realise it was getting this bad.

I've setup a post on my blog:


If people can put suggestions for data centres/col-lo facilities that are outside of the reach of UK law, then I'll put them into a database and write up a series of articles on how to setup VPNs etc to servers located in these places.

No anoymous post - they know who I am and can find me if they want to, I bet the elReg log IP addresses for these posts anyway... :oP

Supercomputer to improve UK weather

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace


... I presume that this will also be running Symphony and Linux given the latest publicity push that IBM are making?

Major Linux security glitch lets hackers in at Claranet

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Linux isn't secure...

Shock horror, A Linux user stating that fact that all windows users know to be true!!

The cancer that is open-source spreads FUD about how secure it is before falling prey to a hacker and not fixing the patch for six months... no... wait.... sorry, what I mean to say was:

1) This kernel shouldn't have been used on a production system

2) No computer system is completely secure against attack unless it is switched off, sealed in a lead-lined case, covered in cement, surrounded by Nuclear Waste and blasted into space before being blown up...and even then someone would probably be able to hack it given time...

3) Linux has bugs. Thousands of them every year. Some of them become exploits, these are usually patched within 24-48 hours. Linux may not be completely secure, but it is secure, and more so than windows.


Hackers go after Excel

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

One Word...


Military industrial complex aims to revamp email

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

pgp/gpg anyone?

Just a thought...

Beeb confirms iPlayer streaming dominance

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

What about...

"BBC was forced to act swiftly under pressure from its own Trust and Downing Street"

Pressure put upon the trust and the government by the Open Rights Group, the Open Source Consortium and a whole host of other people that believe that DRM etc. is generally a Bad Thing (TM).

On the whole, Mr Williams, a good article, however maybe next time the organisations behind it could have a bit more credit?


Beware the populist mash oozing out of Facebook and YouTube

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Paris Hilton

FB - for cats...

Although Facebook has allowed me to get in contact with people I've not spoken to for years (except my best-man who appears to be deliberately ignoring me!) the application I use most on there is LOLCats.[0]

Social Networking and Fart^H^H^H^HWEB2.0 will die in the same way that boo.com did, my only concern is that it will be replaced by something even more air-filled such as PARIS2.5-super-duper-okely-dokely-talk-to-me-now (or maybe web 3.0 [1])

/me goes to look at more lolcats...


[0] What that says about me as a social person, I'm not quite sure - maybe it means I have real friends...?

[1] And what exactly did happen to web 1.1 - 1.9 and the various minor increments anyway?

Yes! It's the the wireless USB Missile Launcher

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Black Helicopters

I spy a hack coming on...

Who wants to buy me one of these so I can hack it and give it video and laser sighting?

I reckon it would be easy enough to do....

I'll send you my paypal account details on request...



Dell parks itself in PC superstores across Europe

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

@ Chris W

This was someone allegedly from their business department.

Maybe he was training or something, but the fact is that if I ask for a business desktop, I expect a business desktop not a gaming rig in the same way that if I ask for a Microwave in other DGSi stores, I do not expect a top of the range gas oven with integrated hob and grill.

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

/me works in IT providing support AND shops @ DSGi

I'm reading this all with interest - I've been doing support jobs both face to face and over the phone for years. I've also been shopping at PC world because it's close and convienient when I need something "NOW".

I have a real issue with going to PC World and if I could shop elsewhere, I would. About two months ago, I asked one of their staff for a desktop suitable for business use. He tried to sell me a Home Entertainment PC running Windows Vista Media Centre Edition (or what ever it's called).

When I requested that I needed a Business Desktop running Windows XP Pro, I was led to a gaming machine with 4GB RAM and a Dual-Core 2.6GHz processor with 256MB Graphics card running Vista Ultimate.

I had stated time and time again that all the Computer needed to do was run a standard office suite and browse the internet and I'm offered a box that has a greater spec than a number of our production servers!

Sorry Adam et al that are in support of DSGi, the staff are at best amature and at worst incompetent. With pre-tax profits of £52.4m last year [0], isn't some of this money better spent on training staff instead of paying fat-cat's dividends? Surprisingly enough, if DSGi trained their staff, more of us would shop there and the profits would reach £100m in a very short space of time even if DSG reduced the prices of goods.

DSGi do not provide good service and they are not "competitively priced" - I can get a lot of things that DSGi sell for cheaper at the Tesco Megastore next door, I just can't get a business desktop from there yet.

/me wanders off to dell.co.uk - I'm going to shop on line to prove that it's the way forward... :oP


Phone phreaks spoof LSD-induced multiple homicide

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

VOIP is not the answer

The slight issue with VOIP is that it is a packet based data service just like http and all the other services available over networks these days. If you can engineer a situation so the packets get routed via your servers, what's to stop you injecting packets of your own into the data stream so that a sales call that started out as

"Hello, this is me calling from my company, please can I speak to Mr soandso?"

Turns into

"Hello, this is me calling from my company, Mr soandso is a complete <insert stream of obscenities here>"

VOIP is by no means secure, the only VOIP connection I'd trust is one that is betweeen company departments over a secured (and by that I mean encrypted with at least 256 3-DES/AES or similar) VPN and even then I'm not so sure.

My £0.02,


Helicopters: President buys British, Queen buys American

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace
Gates Horns

.net travel

"The new S76 C++, which will continue to provide the Royal Family with a helicopter travel service for official engagements, was chosen as... providing the best value and producing the lowest carbon footprint," said Captain Christopher Pittaway, Manager and Chief Pilot of The Queen's Helicopter Flight."

/me waits for MS to jump on the bandwagon and release a C# chopper...

PlusNet blasts email into blackhole (again)

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Isn't it obvious?

I've not used an ISP for my email since I got a hotmail account all those years ago for precisely this reason.

In the last few months since I signed up to plusNet, I've had no issues with my connection what-so-ever. £14.99 a month for an 8GB limit that only applies between 8am and midnight (just schedule downloads for between 00:10 and 07:50!), a connection speed that is regularly 6-8Mbps down and at least 512kbps up, a static IP on a home connection AND a callcentre BASED IN THE UK(!!!) is bloody good value for money in my opinion.

It's certainly better than the £14.99 a month I was paying for 2Mbps from Tiscali which was constantly breaking on me and support didn't understand that I had already checked my router and diagnosed that the fault was with them.

Issues with email? Don't use them for it. Truth is, they're the best ISP I've been with in the last 7 years for a connection, so that's what I use them for.

Could Linux become the dominant OS?

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

A few thoughts on this...

I love articles like this, it effectively says "Linux is good, but it's not quite ready yet...".

Personally I think that linux is more than ready for the commercial and business desktop, if I didn't I wouldn't have taken a job selling it to companies (and before you start, I've used MS since DOS 6.2 - not as long as some, but I have used and supported windows including Vista. I'm not a Linux fan-boy, I appreciate that some people _need_ windows).

The comments always make me smile on these articles and I often think that they are written or syndicated on ElReg just so that the editor can have a good laugh at the flame war that always erupts. The comments do raise a few points however:

Q) Isn't Linux is harder to use than Windows or OSX (i.e. is not so user friendly)?

A) Not really, no. I recently gave an Ubuntu CD to a person who was so far beyond being "non-technical", it wasn't even funny. She installed it without a hitch, connected it to the internet and setup her email and everything else without any issues, she even commented on how fast it was and how well it ran,

Q) I've used Microsoft Office for years, doesn't that mean I can't use any of my spreadsheets that have macros in them?

A) Again, not really. Open Office now supports 99.9% of Microsoft Office documents. The only documents that I've had issues with are Office 2007 (although Microsoft Office 2003 can't open them natively either) and a few PowerPoint presentations that have custom animations built into them. I've never had an issue with Excel Spreadsheets regardless if whether they have macros or not (If someone has got a spreadsheet that has lots of macros that they use, I'm happy to try and open it and take a screen shot to prove this if it works!)

Q) The groupware offerings for Linux are lame.

A) Some of them, yes. I'm currently involved in a project at work where we are analysing the Exchange alternatives and I am yet to find one that works completely to my satisfaction, the best ones (i.e. the ones that offer the most functionality) seem to require that you run their own LDAP server - If you've already got an LDAP server on your network, this could prove a bit of an issue. There is huge potential here however and Zimbra is currently looking good!

Q) But Linux looks horrible - Vista Aero has loads of cool eye-candy!

A) http://youtube.com/watch?v=E4Fbk52Mk1w <- I rest my case.

Anyways, at the end of the day, most of my customers just care about saving money. We can setup a 20-workstation environment with built in high availability using existing computers as clients for about GBP13k. This gives them the operating system, office suite and much much more included in the price - that's something that Windows can't do.

Windows has it's place in the corporate environment. I understand that and many many companies have bespoke apps that will only run on windows. What I'm finding is that some people are willing to run those apps under wine or recompile them with Mono in order to make the change.

If anyone hasn't played with Linux already, I really suggest that you download a copy from the Ubuntu website and have a play. It's a live CD, so you can run it without touching your windows data, so you can't loose (as long as you don't run the installer when you don't want to!).



HP TouchSmart IQ770 PC

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Bet it won't play Hunt the Wumpus...

Looks nice, but as has been mentioned its a bit pricy and sadly, it runs a legacy operating system.

Now if it came with Linux, Beryl/Compiz and MythTV, it might be worth the price tag...

Apple releases Mac OS X 10.4.10

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

No it's not...

A Palindrome reads the same from left to right:




so nerrr... :o)

Say goodbye to Office 2003, Microsoft tells PC builders

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Office is changing... so can you... :oP

My Dad has just decided to move all of his computers to Linux and Open Office three weeks after my Mum got a laptop running Vista and Office 2007.

Whilst they were using Windows/Office XP, he was very reluctant to change, now he thinks that if he's gonna be forced to change, he might as well change to Linux and save money (not encounter viruses, not have to reboot all the time, etc.etc.).


HP hails Print 2.0

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Does this mean...

that my printer will now have it's own MySpace Page?

MS update ate my CPU cycles

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

This isn't new...

I've been experiencing this since January, googling doesn't help, nor do any of the solutions, Ubuntu doesn't do this... :o(

Open Phones with Open Moko

Matthew Macdonald-Wallace

Nice idea but...

... I bet it isn't launched over here in the UK, or if it is, it's launched for £350 instead of the equivalent of $350.

As a huge fan of Open-Source and a hater of my current smartphone (An orange MPV500 running Windows PocketPc 2003), I'd love one of these, I just can't see any of the UK carriers signing up to it.

Anyone disagree? :)