Friday, May 30, 2008

comctl32.dll and could not be copied from the xp cd

Ok, so this is how I solved a problem with Win xp install.

Problem presented itself as a file that could not be copied during file copy stage. Comctl32.dll and could not be copied from the xp cd.

I got a copy of comctl file from my laptop's xp, and I was able to copy the file from the xp cd, using the cdrom drive in my laptop instead of the desktop I was trying to install to. I also applied a little darkroom grease to the cd (nose grease is an old darkroom trick for dealing with scratches in negatives)...may have helped. It has before.

Installation continued. I reformatted the HDD in NTFS. After that(!) when there really was no OS on the box anymore, I found out that the comctl32 file I used did not match the one that was expected in the manifest file. Setup would not continue. I could not get into DOS or safe mode. Arghhg!

On my laptop I edited the file and got rid of the hash="4f02ff771050b8657e289d75f19163fe2ab02600" hashalg="SHA1" part of the man file. Hoping that setup would not check for a hash if it couldn't find one to check for. Put the file on a floppy.

You cannot boot into DOS at this point, so I booted from the XP cd and used recovery console to get into DOS. I did attrib -r I copied the file, and a new version of comctl32.dll into the folder (the version that was in the setup folder on the HDD was smaller than the file that my XP had on the disk.)

Then I rebooted and Holy Mother of Mary It Worked!

I should note that the MS Win XP CD was messed up. It was a fresh CD, never used, comctl32.dll could not be copied from the disk by any of the three cd drives I had access to.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hooking up the world's greatest spam filters

Gmail has the world's greatest spam filters. They process billions of emails everyday and they own Postini. Today, I hooked up a client's website email to Google's spam filters using Google Apps. I had to change his MX records in his hosting account cPanel. The change over was instant, though they say it could take a couple of days to take effect. I know it was instant, because he was collecting junk in his spam box right away. So now email sent to his domain goes to Gmail in his Google Apps account. From here I can set up his Gmail for POP access, and configure his email client with the Gmail settings and he'll get no more spam! Way cool. I have a bunch of clients who get tons of spam. I think they are going to like this.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Be selective about who you show your ads to

One more for today... I also found a couple interesting articles on adsense ads. Specifically, on who sees your adsense ads. Do you want to show them to all your visitors? Your regular readers have learned to tune them out by now, right? Ozh at Planet Ozh has written a nifty wordpress plugin that I can't wait to try out. Serve ads to just the visitors from search engines. They came to my site while looking for something I probably don't have, and the Adsense ads just may help them since the ads are targeted by search keywords as well as page content. Ozh's plugin has a lot of options for who to serve ads to. Two links worth reading: Making money with adsense - without annoying your users and in this article he links to an article by Matt Haughey of Metafilter who writes about How Ads Really Work. I am hoping that if I write these things in this blog, I won't forget them.

Labels: , , ,

The search for a secure, accessible, anti-spam form to email script

Two of my clients are getting a lot of contact form spam. The spambots fill out the contact forms with their spammy links and submit them. The strange thing is that a lot of the time the forms are just full of random garbage:

contact via: Phone, at this number: contact_at: time to contact: wfqpbwdwi addr1: 1 addr2: city: YRGKofnQEDfSFlctLKZ state: uzWAHzZsMKMb zip: nTHOHfQav Comments: OiHpuF">gjchyfyysgcj, [url=]mkixfgaalkes[/url], [link=]snjibiwuplkb[/link],
None of this links to anything. This doesn't make sense to me. Why bother? Another spam form submission that I looked at had links to a titanium manufacturer. Yeah, sending that form to website owners-that'll get them a lot of sales...not. Anyhow, it's annoying to have to weed through them, so I went looking for a solution. The first thing I found was a secure php form to email script by Dagon Design. It has protections against being used as a spam gateway and also protects the site owner from spam submissions with a reCaptcha. I like the reCapcha personally, because it is cool. The words that you type in to prove that you are a human are actually scanned from old books and presented to you in the Captcha as part of a project to identify words in these old books that failed optical character recognition. So, by answering the reCaptcha, you are actually helping the Internet Archive. I think that is cool. But, Captchas have accessibility problems, and we enlightened web dudes are not supposed to use them. So, the next easiest option seems to be to have the contact form HTML encoded in Javascript. This security through obscurity will only work until the spammers get smarter bots, but according to one blogger I read yesterday it hasn't happened to him yet. More than one person linked to the Hivelogic Enkoder, but, as of May 15, 2008, it is not up and running. Perhaps the version will work. UPDATE: The Hivelogic enkoder is up again! I also found some scripts/clues that used custom programming that involve hash values, hidden form fields, and timers. But none of these was a drop in complete script. I'll have to keep looking and see if I can find the ideal, easy to install, accessible, secure form to email script.

Labels: , , , ,

Research on multi user blog platforms

Yesterday I did a ton of research.

One of my 'back burner' projects is to set up a multi blog for a bunch of hardcore outdoorsmen. yesterday I did a long power search on multiple blog systems. I found at least three promising paths:

  1. Wordpress Multi user or wpmu -
    • The forums for WPMU, in a stickied post, indicates that it is not for tha faint of heart. Undeterred, I still think I could hack it, because I am tenacious and have a good deal of experience setting up php scripts.
    • Aside from the WPMU forums and project site, there is a great resource site at with themes, and plugins galore.
  2. Lyceum - Ibiblio's work with wpmu, packaging it in an 'enterprise ready' format. It is just as easy as Wordpress to install. It uses directories instead of subdomains. Most plugins should work with Lyceum. Not as much activity as WPMU in the forum threads, but all the threads have replies of some sort.
  3. Elgg - an open source social networking project. Elgg looks interesting. It's got the whole Web 2.0 thing going on. Blogging, (of course) friends networks, podcasting, community groups. It is only at version 0.9.1 now, but it's getting a refactoring and will go 1.0 with all kindsa craazy new features this summer.

I think Joomla might also be a possibility and since I am working on a Joomla site already I will have to look into it.

So, as I get time, I will delve into these platforms a little more and see if any of them will work for my purposes.

Labels: , ,