Hide the annoying IRC bits in Xchat

I’m a big fan of Xchat (Windows version), an IRC client I’ve used for over a decade in Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. Here’s some tricks that you might find useful if you use IRC:

Hide the join/part/quit messages. If your IRC channel is busy you’ll know how annoying these are. The xkcd wiki has instructions for other IRC clients.

All channels: /set irc_conf_mode on
One channel: Right click on a channel, “Settings->Hide join/part messages” (src)

Hide the “UserX is known as UserY” messages. Users have scripts or use ZNC that will rename themselves when they go away or disconnect from the proxy. On a busy channel this can generate a huge amount of text.

Settings > advanced > text events

highlight “change nick”
in text box below, highlight that text and delete
press enter
click “ok” (src)

Many more tips here of course but I think the first tip above is the most useful, at least for me!


Chrome bug: it forgets browsing sessions!

I just reported my first Chrome bug but it looks like it’s been known for quite some time, unfortunately.

When Chrome is configured to open the home page on startup it forgets any recently opened tabs if you don’t open those pages before you close the browser again. I’m fairly certain it used to do the right thing before and remember those pages but I’m not sure when that behaviour changed.

Unfortunately Firefox does the same thing. Go to History->Restore Previous Session and it will restore the home page in the same circumstances. I’m almost certain that browser did the right thing in a previous release.

If one were pedantic, the previous session was the single homepage tab and not the dozen tabs I had open before my browser was closed but it’s not what I expect. I’ll close my browser down when I’m doing something intensive but then click on a link in Tweetdeck, laugh at a rage comic and close the browser again before I realise my mistake.

The other thing Chrome has changed is when you have multiple windows open. It only shows the recently closed tabs for one of those windows. Open the home page again and you’ll see the “recently closed” link again where you can open tabs from other windows. You can also press ctrl-shift-t to restore closed windows.

If you hadn’t closed many pages before you shut your browser down you can also use the History page to open previously closed pages selectively. Unfortunately that won’t help if you had pages open for days that you just meant to read when you had time but never found the time. I find myself shoving pages into Read It Later just so I can get back to them at my leisure.

I’ve tried a few Chrome extensions that promised to save my browsing sessions but none worked in the way I’ve described. Does such an extension exist?


Wikipedia is down is it?

Today is the day kids have to read books to do their homework. But seriously, SOPA and PIPA, bills being considered by the U.S. Congress could have far reaching implications for anyone who puts content online. It’s really going to hurt the U.S. economy and by extension any country that exports into that country. If you live outside the U.S. many of the websites you use every day will be affected by this law, and if a non U.S. website is blocked then they could lose significant website traffic and suffer financially. (who have gone black along with other well known websites) quoted this Boing Boing post which you can’t see either because it’s gone black today:

Boing Boing could never co-exist with a SOPA world: we could not ever link to another website unless we were sure that no links to anything that infringes copyright appeared on that site. So in order to link to a URL on LiveJournal or WordPress or Twitter or Blogspot, we’d have to first confirm that no one had ever made an infringing link, anywhere on that site. Making one link would require checking millions (even tens of millions) of pages, just to be sure that we weren’t in some way impinging on the ability of five Hollywood studios, four multinational record labels, and six global publishers to maximize their profits.

In related news, EMI Ireland threatened to sue the Irish Government for not doing enough to stop copyright violations. Legislation is due this month but I haven’t heard anything in the news since. One wonders how they’ll deal with this ruling by the Court of Justice (thanks ILUG):

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) delivered a landmark case for protecting free speech in the fight against online piracy. In a decision issued today on the Scarlet Extended SA v SABAM case, the Court stated that web filtering systems used to prevent illegal downloading on peer-to-peer networks was incompatible with fundamental human rights.

For more on this read Will Ireland block the internet to save CDs? The likely answer is “Yes”. (Thanks Talideon!)

Here’s a great examination of SOPA and PIPA by Reddit sysadmin Jason Harvey. It’s lengthy but here are a few snippets:

Facilitation of criminal violations

The potential for abuse in this language is painfully obvious. “Facilitation” can often be argued as simply teaching or demonstrating how to do something. Under this definition, a site could be targeted for something as simple as describing how to rip a Blu-Ray. This language also makes it clear that the legislation is not solely targeting sites “dedicated to theft”.

If the Attorney General served reddit with an order to remove links to a domain, we would be required to scrub every post and comment on the site containing the domain and censor the links out, even if the specific link contained no infringing content. We would also need to implement a system to automatically censor the domain from any future posts or comments. This places a measurable burden upon the site’s technical infrastructure. It also damages one of the most important tenets of reddit, and the internet as a whole – free and open discussion about whatever the fuck you want.

Why this doesn’t actually stop piracy

This legislation is aimed at requiring private U.S. entities to enforce restrictions against foreign sites but does nothing against the infringement itself. All of the enforcement actions can and will be worked around by sites focused on copyright infringement. U.S. citizens will still be able to use foreign DNS servers, new advertising and payment networks will pop up overseas, and “infringing sites” will still be linked to by other foreign sites and search engines. In fact, tools used to circumvent these forms of internet restrictions are being funded by the U.S. State department to offer citizens under “repressive regimes” uncensored access to the internet. When the dust settles, piracy will still exist, and the internet in the U.S. will have entered the realm of federal regulation and censorship.

See also, Google’s Take Action page, and the Reddit SOPA FAQ.


oh hi

I’m pretty sure bingbot doesn’t live at and wouldn’t hit /wp-login.php 509 times in a row.

deny from

Ireland Web

Makerbot 3D Printer makes a Church

Last Saturday I went to the Coderdojo party in the NSC with my son Adam to see what it was all about. We arrived late and all the pizza was gone but there were loads of balloons for the younger kids to play with!

The adults and older kids watched a 3D Makerbot printer demo. I love the open wooden case the printer is made from and when it started making a replica of St. Anne’s Church all eyes were glued to it as layers of plastic were laid down layer by layer. I posted some more photos here too.

One that was made earlier

Thanks Ann for tweeting about this on Saturday morning and reminding me it was on! Hopefully I’ll get to more Coderdojo events in the future!


Sneaky spammy web forms

I have a feeling the renewal form that Imagine Publishing in the UK uses had this sneaky web form last year too. Read the opt out clauses, carefully. None of the checkboxes were checked by default and as you can see they’re below the “Place Your Order” button.





A really simple way to archive your Tweets

  1. You have a gmail account don’t you? Visit Google Reader now.
  2. Click on the “Add a Subscription” button.
  3. Type in the web address of your Twitter profile. Mine is
  4. Click Add.
  5. There is no #5.
Since Google Reader doesn’t have the 3,200 post limit that Twitter has you can always get access to your old tweets, even when you go over that limit. On the downside, your Twitter account can’t be private and Google will find out yet more about you (but they probably already indexed your Twitter account anyway so no loss there!)

Tabbed SSH Sessions in Putty

If you’re a Windows user who uses Putty to ssh to your server you may be annoyed by the fact that you must have a separate window for each ssh session. I know I am, as tabbing through windows to find the right browser window is made just a little bit harder by flipping through those black screens.

Anyway, I went searching. There are ways to fix this. Unfortunately only one worked for me.

  1. Putty Connection Manager – is a nice interface that imported my Putty sessions automatically. Unfortunately double clicking on them launched the session but, apart from a new tab showing, the terminal window itself remained grey.
  2. Superputty – is very similar to Putty Connection Manager but didn’t work either. It doesn’t import Putty sessions automatically, it had to be done manually through a menu. Even though I didn’t have any sessions it warned that imported sessions might overwrite Superputty sessions. When I double clicked on a session it loaded Putty in a new window.
  3. WinTabber is a general purpose tabbing app that makes it easy to tab any sort of windows. However, during the install it offers to install Putty so they know their market! You can use CTRL and the number keys to switch quickly between tabs, just like I’m used to on other operating systems. This worked fine, but the free version has a limit of 4 tabs. Don’t worry, the registered version only costs $5 so it’s not going to break the bank.

In Mac OS X and Linux the terminals I use support tabs so I’ve always thought it odd there wasn’t an ssh client bundled with Windows. How do you handle ssh sessions in Windows?


Admin 101: Postfix smtp limits

I’ve just moved all my sites on to a new install of Ubuntu on one of my VPses. This site and In Photos are now on the same server again and the VPS has finally calmed down.

Between configuring Apache (turn off keep alives, and reduce the number of child processes), installing xcache and the WordPress object cache and configuring it, and configuring MySQL I totally forgot about Postfix.

I did install Postgrey of course but when Blacknight switched the web and mail traffic to this server things started to go screwy.
Load average shot up, I thought it was Apache and spent quite some time playing with the number of processes, all to no avail. I didn’t immediately notice the large number of smtp processes when I did a “ps auxw”. I was looking at Apache.

What was happening was a rumplestiltskin attack on my server. Rogue bots all over the Internet try to send spam emails to mail servers using randomly generated addresses in the hope of guessing a correct one. It happens all the time, and I had configured Postfix correctly in the past, but I had forgot this time.

So, if your server is suffering under the strain of too many Postfix smtp processes open up /etc/postfix/ and look for the smtp line:

smtp inet n – – – – smtpd

Change the last dash to a number, try small first, depending on how much mail traffic your server gets. I changed mine to 3, restarted Postfix, and the server is humming along nicely now. Postfix was actually using up more resources than Apache during those attacks! It’s unfortunate that Ubuntu (and probably every other dist of Linux) allows unlimited number of smtp processes.

Oh, I’m hosted at Linode. Yes that’s an affiliate link, but I’ve been using them for years and been very happy with them.


Watch out for Amazon reseller shipping charges

When you see a nice cheap product on Amazon or any other online retailer beware of the shipping and handling charges. This HDMI to DVI-D converter goes for a paltry £2.59 but then attracts a hefty £11.08 from the reseller. I can’t pretend that I didn’t notice it on the order page but at the time I wanted to get the order done and dusted so I didn’t quibble. The box it comes in better be lined with velvet and the address better be hand written and signed with the artist’s name…

I had enough trouble with console AV cables and certain retailers in the last few weeks I wanted the whole sorry episode over and done with.