three 3g ‘broadband’

Finally got some degree of broadband net access to our house here a few miles outside Ennis, County Clare. ADSL never worked according to the eircom website and cable was obviously a non runner when you’re out in the middle of nowhere. Then last week I heard that three were offering broadband of up to 3.6megabits/second using the 3g phone network.

I ordered the PC card for my laptop but my laptop only has an express card slot like most new models. Don’t know why three offer obsolete equipment. But I rang asking to swop for the USB modem and they had it out in one working day.

Set it up grand but I’m only getting download speeds of about 30kilobytes/second storage owing to the bad network coverage. The software that comes with it shows how many ‘bars’ you have and I only ever have one or zero sometimes which cuts out the connection. I tried it at my sisters place which is closer to town and got over 100kilobytes/second. Still, 30kb/second is 10 times quicker than crappy dialup. Definitely a good option for people with few broadband options.

Voted today

Voted for the first time in a general election today. I literally made up my mind at the polling station. I generally agree with Fianna Fail and PD objectives so in order of preference I went: Timmy Dooley, Brendan Daly, Tony Killeen (all FF) and Murt Collins (PD).

I don’t think I’ll ever vote for Sinn Fein, the Greens or Labour. And Enda Kenny just doesn’t instill confidence. James Breen is an independent from Kilnamona which I didn’t vote for as I never heard of him doing anything in the last 5 years apart from topping the list of TDs expenses or something. And he woke me up this morning with a SMS to vote for him! Don’t know how they got my number, must be on the register or something.

Solving captchas in your blackhat scripts

Been playing a lot with blackhat stuff and writing PHP scripts to spam your links to as many places as possible. Most of these forums, guestbooks and blogs now have captchas but there’s a few ways around them. You can setup a crappy porn site and get people to solve captchas to see your content. You can try to write code that solves them, which is hard. Or you can hire people to solve them.

Someone setup a nice little service to automate (blackhatters sure do like to automate) all this at Captcha Solver. I heard about something like this at You register as a user, incorporate the API into your code and are charged roughly 2 cent per captcha. Eastern europeans and others register as a worker and presumably get paid 1 cent or less to solve the captchas. Interesting.

A notice on the homepage tells me that people from Ireland are not allowed to sign up as workers for some reason. Damn. I wanted to spend the summer solving captchas for 1 cent each…. what a shite job.

Amazon S3 and site backups

Been looking for ages for a way to backup the data on my money-making sites which is over 100GB. I’d be finished if my server crashed and I lost all that. So I exported the database as a big 104GB SQL file and started downloading to my external hard drive from college which was going to take 80 hours and that hard drive was acting up lately. I couldn’t find a cheap enough online backup service and anyway they all assumed you were backing up normal data from your Windows PC.

Then reading through old Matt Cutt posts directed me to Amazon S3 which is a dirtcheap backup solution (hate that word but fits here). Only costs 20 cents per uploaded gigabyte and 15 cent per gigabyte/month of storage. So $20 to upload everything and $15 per month after that. So cheap for peace of mind.

So paused the really long download to the external drive at 3% and split up that 104GB SQL into 1GB pieces as S3 has a cap of 5GB per file. Downloaded a handy perl/curl script to upload files to the service and setup a screen and ran the scripts. So should be all backed up by this time tomorrow. Handy.

site down

Blog finally back up. I had to setup nameservers on this server and my machine in the states, ran into loads of problems of course, I can get nothing right off the bat. Money making site took preference so this blog was out in the wind for a few days. Email still not working and proxy goosed. Should have hired some Indian to do this all this shit

mysql goes over max connections with loads of sleep queries in processlist

Getting weird problems with my server that put it out of the action for most of the day. The error being reported was too many connections which I thought is a nice problem to have as loads of people using my website. But when I ran ‘SHOW PROCESSLIST;’ in mysql it showed loads of sleep processes that were waiting for ages.

To find out which queries were causing this I restarted mysql with log=/home/logfile which logs all queries. Then run SHOW PROCESSLIST again and match the ID of the sleeping queries to the log file. Loads of different SQL queries were returned so that didn’t really help. Then I got lazy and just edited the /etc/my.cnf file and set wait_timout to 60 seconds, so mysql just kills anything over 60 seconds. The default was 8 hours! So that’s a temporary fix, still don’t know what the root cause is.

My server has a dual core Xeon and running msql version 4.1 and there’s reports of this problem with that version and processer. So I’ll upgrade to mysql 5 and see if that fixes it.

search bebo

The old way to search bebo for old friends was through Google which was crap as they haven’t indexed all profiles yet. The solution? Use Bigulo the Bebo search engine developed by a Des Traynor doing a PhD in computer science. It also lets you check who has the most friends and who’s rated the best looking. I actually had the idea of doing the same thing when Bebo hit the scene about this time last year, I wrote a script that scraped all of the NUIG people on Bebo and how many other NUIG friends they had for the laugh. But extending that out for all of Bebo… jaysus. How did bebo not ban Bigulo’s IP after seeing it download god-knows-how-much bandwidth.