Archive for category IT Related Stuff

The hazard of using Web Browser Extensions

Extensions for Web Browsers FireFox

We all probably use Extensions in our web browsers without hesitation as they make our life easier.

Popular web extensions include Ad Blockers which block adverts, Video Downloaders which help us download Youtube videos and more .

There is a price to be paid for this convenience as you are literally handing over your life to some other parties. This is especially the case with using free apps out there as not every has good intentions. It is best to start from a point of mistrust until the position of an application such as an Extension or Plugin can be proved otherwise.

Let‘s look at the popular video downloader extension, Video DownloadHelper for the FireFox and Chrome web browsers.

hazard of using browser extensions

Video Downloadhelper


Besides the web browser extension, Video DownloadHelper now insists on installing an Companion Application onto your device (where device is desktop or laptop. I have never installed it on a smartphone). All this so that you can download Youtube and other video clips with a couple of mouse button clicks.

However, if you take a look at the permissions this Extension and Companion Application require to run you nay as well hand over your computing device to someone with all your passwords and data including government business and banking details. 

permissions that sign your life away



Have a look below and the permissions list and you will see that this extension with it’s Companion app can record and send your every action performed on your device to other parties.

I advice checking the permissions that Extensions and plugins require very carefully before you install them. This includes Advert blockers like AdBlock Plus.

You can get around the problem of downloading videos without signing your life away, I recommend using VLC Player which is a genuine open source project created by the good :). 

VLC Player

VLC Player


Here is a link to how to download videos using VLC Player.

Have fun browsing but remember to stay safe. Make a text file of sites and login info you needneed and then periodically clear your cookies and historic data stored in your browser.

BitCoin Wallet for Android and the Jota Text Editor


A couple of applications for the android smartphone.

BitCoin Wallet android_BitCoin_Wallet

The first application is a BitCoin wallet. This application is quite lightweight and works well on my Sony Ericsson Xperia smartphone. The system requirements don’t seem to be quite low. This is because the software does not download the full BitCoin blockchain. This makes it quicker at processing the transaction in a reasonable amount of time with limited processing power. It took under two minutes to send Bitcoins from the wallet on my PC to my wallet on my smartphone.

The software can be downloaded directly from the developer’s site as well as Google’s Play Store.

Not being a fan of Google, I prefer to download software that is available directly from the developer. Here’s the link to developer’s site:


After installing the BitCoin wallet please remember to encrypt it and PLEASE make sure you REMEMBER the password that you choose for this. As if you forget it, there is no way that you will be able to access your wallet. It is also advisable to make a copy of this encrypted file and store it elsewhere for example, your computer’s hard drive or a usb stick.

You can also see what developments are being made to the software and make your own requests too on the forum. At the moment NFC (tap to transfer type transaction) functionality has been implemented and is being tested.


jota_text_editorJota Text Editor.

My Xperia came without a decent text editor. It had one of sorts but I could never summon it at will and did want to use a google app. Anf give the corporations and GCHQ yet more material to work with. After having a look around I found Jota Text Editor which is a brilliant little text editor it’s pronounced as i-o-t-a by the way.

You can download it from here.


That about wraps it up for now.

Don’t Delay! Secure your online BitCoin Wallet today!

With the current value of BitCoin soaring against the fiat currencies  it’s inevitable that it will attract keen interest from cyber criminals.  Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by having your wallet stored at an online  exchange.
Whilst many exchanges provide good file security and network on their networks,  they are not responsible for the contents of your wallet being stolen should your password be compromised through a phishing attack or if you login password gets captured by a trojan on your computer/mobile phone.
The best way to secure your wallet is by having  two factor authentication set on it. 
Whilst the largest bitcoin exchange Mtgox provides support for this security model the  documentation provided by Mtgox is a appalling and two factor authentication would not be able to be implemented by non technical computer person.

If you have an online Mtgox wallet that you access by means of a home computer download and install the the the Google Authentication App. I’m not a big fan of becoming even more dependent on  Google but this is what is  supported by MtGox and will have to do for now unless you decide to buy a YubiKey which is a hardware implementation (via a USB key).


  1. Download the  html5 google authenticator app here and  extract the files in into a folder of your choice. Then open the index.html in your browser.

You should have a screen looking something like this, with only the default google alice account.  Click the ‘+’ to create an Mtgox account and enter the PRIVATE Key here that you create at the MtGox site. Login to MtGox now to create this PRIVATE KEY.

2. Creating your Private Key. Log into your MtGox account and go to the Security Centre.

Click on the ‘Add New’ New Software Authentication System. This will bring up the screen shown below.

Print and Save this in a safe place! Take a screen shot of it as you will need to know and keep hold of your Secure Private Key for future reference. Do not Lose it!

3. Now enter this PRIVATE Key into the  place requesting it in the Google Authenticator. You should then have your OTP (one time password aka passcode) appear fro the MtGox account in Google Authenticator and the changes ever 30s.

4.Copy the OTP (also called the Code on the mtGox site)  from the Google Authenticator and  enter it into the 4th field at the bottom called ‘Code’. Then click on the ‘Save’ button.

5. Applying the Security.

Go back to the mtGox security centre. When you created the Private Key using the New Software Authentication System, the first entry created was the Auth Name. This was done automatically. In the screen above it it OTP#5059.

You can apply your OTP to the LOgin, Withdrawal and Security Centre.

Apply it to both the Withdrawals and Security Centre as shown in the screen shot below.  Why link this Google Authentication to the Security Centre. This is so that if someone does gain access to you email account the won’t be able to reset/remove  the security on your Withdrawals and thus steal your BitCoins and other Funds.

  You should now be able to sleep more securely knowing that your valuable BitCoins cannot be stolen should your email account used to autheticate you at MTGox ever get compromised.

Special thanks to BitCoinBull at BitCoinTalk.org for the original posting in the form and to G.Braad (me@gbraad.nl.) for compiling the Google authenticator for HTML5.


What I love and hate about my Nokia N95 phone.

Well, perhaps Love/ Hate are  too strong a word. Especially since I am no techno geek or techno whizz and slow to make the  change from a proven and working system. Indeed my N95 came out in 1997 and we have only been together for 3 months. So I am not really up there with the latest technology. In fact the only reason I got it is that I felt it would be handy to be able to access the web via wifi.

So let’s start with the short comings of my Nokia N95.

  • For one you can use it like a normal phone because the ear piece does not work 95% of the time. It’s a bug in the software that never seems to have been ironed out. You have to speak to your call either via loudspeaker or headphones. Shocking! A lot of people must have returned these phones for this reason.
  • Volume control does not work – a design fault where the button breaks of it’s mountings. You can hover adjust the volume and leave it at a preset level using the external volume control cable. No ideal but a work around.
  • Nokia has provided sync support only for MS Outlook and IBM Lotus Notes. This means that you cannot sync your calendar with open source email applications like Mozilla’s Thunderbird which is a pain. And please no one mention Google Calendar. We have already given Google too much power with near search engine monopoly, our addiction to Youtube videos that I don’t really want to hand them my Calendar.
  • Not many applications out there, but I don’t find this to be a limitation as it does web, email, calendar and a couple of instant messenger programs.
  • Some say it’s a bit bulky but I don’t find this a problem.

The things I like about the N95

  • Pretty stable Symbian S60 operating system
  • Decent SatNav and Nokia Maps
  • Great sound system! Puts Apple iPhones to shame. You don’t need external speakers with this on to get the party going )
  • 4 Gb memory for storageis sufficent and the apps cope okay with the 48 Mb internal RAM.
  • Takes great pics with the 5 Mega pixel camera
  • Plays Youtube videos well – Real Player
  • Crystal clear and bright display
  • Supports OggPlayer (free app. but they accept donations) which is great for Audio books – has independent volume control and fast forward/rewind which default Nokia Music Player lacked.
  • Buttons – I like buttons. Nokia’s 3 lettered buttons suit me down to a tee.

Well, that’s be and my N95 in a nutshell. I am not looking to get another phone anytime soon )

Re-installing Monitoring on SBS 2003 SP2

Re-installing Monitoring on Small Business Server 2003 Sp2

I had to re-install WSUS 3.) Sp2 and Monitoring on my SBS 2003 server after it broke when I tried to upgrade WSUS fro version 3.0 Sp1 to 2.0 Sp2.

These are the steps I followed:

Steps to Re-install SBS Monitoring

1. Control Panel -> Add Remove Programs -> Windows Small Business Server 2003 -> Change Remove ->
Set Server Tools to Maintenance. Set Monitoring to Remove and continue the setup process.

2. Control Panel -> Add Remove Program -> Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (SBSMonitoring) -> Remove.

3. Delete IIS Virtual Directory

Open IIS, expand servername, Web Sites, Default Web Site
Deleted Monitoring. Backed up files in the virtual directory first.

4. Renamed the C:\program files\Microsoft SQL Server\MSSQL$SBSMONITORING Folder.

5. Deleted the registry keys relating to Monitoring

A. Deleted HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\SmallBusinessServer\Monitoring
B. Deleted HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Microsoft SQL

6. Reboot the server.

7. Control Panel -> Add Remove Program -> Windows Small Business Server 2003.
Set Server Tools to Maintenance. Set Monitoring to Install and continue the setup process. I had an error message that

the system was unable to install MS SQL SP4. An error showed up on the install option.

8. 6. Rebooted the server.

9. 7. MSSQL$SBSMONITORING and SQLAgent$SBSMONITORING services started up on reboot.

10. 8. In Server Management Console -> Monitoring and Reporting: run the “Set Up Monitoring Reports and Alerts wizard”

Monitoring is now running but I have two errors relating to it in my system log file.

These are:

Event ID 120

The report server cannot decrypt the symmetric key. Most likely, the service account or password has changed. To continue, run rsconfig.exe to update the report server account information.\r\n
Event ID 140

The application domain WindowsService_5 failed to initialize. Error: Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.Utilities.KeyStateNotValidException: The report server cannot access the private key for the service account. This key is used to decrypt the symmetric key that protects content in the report server database. This condition might occur after the password is reset for the report server service account. You must either restore a backup key or delete all encrypted content. —> System.Runtime.InteropServices.COMException (0x8009000B): Key not valid for use in specified state. (Exception from HRESULT: 0x8009000B) at System.Runtime.InteropServices.Marshal.ThrowExceptionForHRInternal(Int32 errorCode, IntPtr errorInfo) at RSManagedCrypto.RSCrypto.ExportPublicKey() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.DataProtection.PreparePublicKey(Boolean repair) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.<GetEncryptionKey>b__2() — End of inner exception stack trace — at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.<GetEncryptionKey>b__2() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.RevertImpersonationContext.<>c__DisplayClass1.<Run>b__0(Object state) at System.Security.SecurityContext.Run(SecurityContext securityContext, ContextCallback callback, Object state) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Diagnostics.RevertImpersonationContext.Run(ContextBody callback) at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.GetEncryptionKey() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ConnectionManager.ConnectStorage() at Microsoft.ReportingServices.Library.ServiceController.ServiceStartThread(Object firstStart).

I tried using the RSKeyMgmt tool but it just could not find the instance of MS SQL server on my machine. i.e <severname>\SBSMonitoring If any one has some bright ideas, I’d be happy to hear from them.

WSUS 3.0 SP2 installed without any problems after this.

Remote desktop in XP not maximizing.

I have had this happen to me quite a few times when using a Remote Desktop connection. The RDP connection screen would go funny and then refuse to maximise again. So I decided to do a write up to save me time in the future.

The solution is really quite simple. Go to Start –> Programs –> Accessories. Launch Remote Desktop by clicking on the icon.  Then click on the Options button. You should then get the following screen come up.


Remote Desktop Settings

Select the Display tab and set the Remote Desktop Size to Full Screen (by moving the slider fully to the right).

If you want to have several remote desktop connections of varying sizes you can create shortcuts to the as follows:

Shortcut name:%SystemRoot%\system32\mstsc.exe /w:1600 /h:1200

Happy RDP-ing!

E-Commerce Exhibition 2010

This year’s e-commerce exhibition was run at the London Olympia on the 19th and 20th October. By all accounts of those who had attended the previous years it was busier and better than the previous year.



Girls from the UKFast Host Stand

UKFast Girls-bright-work.co.uk

UKFast had one of the biggest stands there.

Besides the lovely girls on their stand and promoting their carbon neutral ethos, UKFast had these tips to share:

  • Since August 2010 Google has changed it search engine model and organic searches now can return upto 7 results per page for the same website rather than the one as previously. A point worthy of some thought.
  • Google’s addition of Twitter updates (which was implemented by Google autumn 2009) now means search results include relevant Twitter updates.

There were a lot of Online Payment Centre Solutions:

These were offering alternative solutions to the likes of WorldPay and RBS WorldPay.

  • RBS WorldPay

Big UK players but didn’t have anything special for existing customers.

clickandbuy http://www.bright-work.co.uk

  • In this picture above, the lovely Anapolia at the clickandbuy stand. They are a German company and say that they are the 2 largest online transaction processing company after WorldPay. Anapolia said they are different in that they can accept debit cards which are prevalent in German and through the rest of Europe.

  • EVP International – a smaller Lithuanian company offering transaction processing with a special focus on central and eastern Europe.

the US/UK market. They use a bank account to clear payments on behalf of customers.

  • CreditCall Another world wide credit card clearance company.


Attended a 30 minute Google – Intoduction to Google Products Seminar.

google http://www.bright-work.co.uk

A well presented session. Gained some SEO tips regarding what Google look for when ranking your website, namely Page Relevance and Links to your site.

However Google admitted without confessing that they tweek the system as they think it right that billion dollar companies like Amazon for example should appear at the top of the organic search list for the search term – amazon.


Google said to be very aware of seasonal trends when running your Adword campaign as this will determine what users are searching for at the time. A good example given was Stena Ferries capitalisation of the air travel disruption by the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud this year by running a tailored Adword campaign.

  • Adwords should be compelling

  • Ranking of Adwords is awarded for Relavance, Click Through Rate and the the Landing Page Quality.

My personal take – Adwords simply burns a hole in one’s pocket but there you go. Google says it’s all about market forces and how much it’s worth to you.

Display Ads – if you didn’t know, Google own Youtube

Youtube has a seriously huge audience (Google claims it’s the second largest search engine – a reflection of the society we live in today, I guess) and a company would do well to invest in producing and hosting entertaining videos. Google encourages E-commerce entrepreneurs to develop a Brand Channel.

According to Google internet use via mobile will overtake pcs by 2013.

SEO Guys – DotAgency

dotCompany http://www.bright-work.co.uk

I spoke with these guys extensively. The cool dude on the right is my friend Anthony. He uses DotAgency the for his emailing campaigns (Investment Banking Sector) and finds them cost effective at about 100 pounds a month for 25,000 managed emails. They are also doing SEO work. Speaking with them on Monday.

Rest of the Conference.

There were some interesting people doing very interesting stuff.

French companies had a strong presence.  french companies http://www.bright-work.co.ukThese two lovely girls offered said they could get us bulk purchase of digital signatures at a very competitive price.


I spoke with Steve Bolton who said they can offer use competitively priced digital signatures for two web hosting servers.

i-kos http://www.bright-work.co.uk


Richard Jones on the left from i-kos . He is very passionate about developing e-commerce systems for companies on the Drupal platform.

There was only one company that I saw selling middle ware solutions. This was Martin Gordon-Kerr at Orion Consulting. The said they can implement a full document management solution for companies. Have Hitachi and Oki Printers on their books.

Ran into an old colleague, James McCormick – with whom I used to work with at Pitney Bowes MapInfo. He is now at Gomez. These guys do web performance stuff and more which I will look into when I get a chance.

Lunch was a garlic bread, Hot American Pizza and coke. Take away style. I also managed to squeeze in a back massage which was nice :) A very worthwhile expo all in all.

Installing XAMPP and Open-Audit

First install XAMPP which will install Apache, MySQL , PHP on Windows XP

Download the installer from Source Forge http://sourceforge.net/projects/xampp/

Version I have installed: xampp-win32-1.7.3

Vista pointers.

To get it up and running in Vista,  do  the following:

Disable WWW service as this runs on Port 80 by default which Apache needs. Check that no other service/application is listening on Port 80. From the command prompt use nestat –ao to do this.

What didn’t work in Vista..

Editing the httpd.conf file in the Apache ..\conf directory and set ‘Listen’ to 8080 and ‘Server Hostname’ to localhost:8080. i.e change the port settings for these two entries. In XP you just need to change the Listen entry’s port settings to 8080 if you already have IIS running on port 80

Use XAMPP Control Panel (apache friends version) to restart Apache and ensure that the services you want are running.

(to be continued)

Problem installing Macromedia Flash Player

I had a problem installing Macromedia Flash Play v10 in a Windows XP environment. The problem was that Macromedia Flash installed appeared to lack the permissions to install a certain file even though I was logged on an administrator. After a frustrating week I finally worked out what it was. :)

My problem turned out to be my McAfee Antivirus. Turning off ‘ ON Access Scan At Start-up’  allowed me to install the flash player. Remember to turn it back on post installation.

Another thing work checking are the permissions in the registry key HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT

Good luck!

Defrag your Harddisk to maintain the perform of Windows XP.

It’s a good idea to periodically defrag your harddisk in Windows XP. This will increase the performance of the orperating system.

To run the Defrag utility go Start-> All Programs ->Acessories -> Systems Tools -> Disk Defragmenter.

Note: To speed up a defrag operation  restart the system before you launch the Defragmenter application. This allows the operating system to clear out the swap/paging file and  focus strictly on defragmenting  the necessary data on the hard disk without having to stop and manage a huge swap file.

More advanced users can configure the defrag operation to occur immediately at startup. You can do so easily with a simple registry edit.

Note: Editing the Windows Registry is not without risk. Please  back up your Windows Registry before you do any editing.

Follow these steps to start a defrag operation immediately upon startup:
* Launch the Registry Editor (Regedit.exe).
* Go to:

* Right-click the RunOnce subkey and select New | String Value.
* Name the value Defrag and press [Enter] twice.
* Type Defrag.exe c: /f in the Value Data text box and click OK.
* Close the Registry Editor and restart Windows.

The defrag operation will begin when you type your password and press [Enter]. (Values added to the RunOnce key are removed immediately after the command has been run.)