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Viewing entries for August 2003

If this is not the end of oblivion...

Haven't been posting very regularly lately have I? This month I have been mostly doing:

Renovating a house

Some relatives of mine have bought themselves a new house. It's a nice place: stone-built house in a pleasant village, comes with a barn.

Trouble is, the upstairs floors and joists have all needed replacing, the mortar in the walls has got damp and has had to be redone, so they've been doing a bit of building work and I've been lending some assistance). They've moved in now, but it's going to be quite some time before their work is done. All good fun.

Looking for jobs

Since a few months ago, I've been attending jobsearch sessions in Northampton 3 times a week with the Training Network Group as part of the New Deal scheme. This is because I had been on the unemployment register for over 6 months. I have to do 12 hours each week at this place sitting down, reading through the job sections of newspapers, searching the Internet for jobs and then of course applying for them.

It hasn't been pointless, as I have in fact had 5 interviews since I started attending and they have helped me improve my CV a bit. It does get quite tedious, but I can't complain.

Writing a website

I have written a website for an author but I need to find somewhere to host it. I was going to consider internic.co.uk (who hosted Queen's Temple Publications), but it seems that they are no longer hosting sites and they're directing me to some random American company (not quite sure exactly what's going on there).

Starting Voidwars Game 3

Ah yes, did I forget to mention? Voidwars Game 3 is now open for signups. Only 64 places are available this time around so sign up now!

Changes include: rebalancing of resources, revamped credit institute, reintroduction of alliance tax (+ new alliance joining fee), stars (each player starts in their own star system), plus various other minor changes and fixes.

Losing another hard drive

Now my video hard drive has died. Definitely being put off Maxtor hard drives at the moment.

Living without a car

This week I have been without my car since my extremely kind brother currently has it down in Croydon to repair the damage done when it was broken into. You certainly miss your freedom when you don't have it though...

Posted: 2003-08-29 17:14:54 UTC by Xiven | Cross-references (0) | Comments (0)


GwieF, Kamakaze and Cosmo all got their computers infected today with a worm. GwieF discovered it first when he spotted a suspicious file (msblast.exe) in the running processes list. Kam then checked for the file and didn't have it, but shortly afterwards the same file appeared in his system32 directory. Upon asking, it was discovered that Cosmo also had the same file. The times of infection (discovered by checking the created date on the msblast.exe file were: some time in the morning, 8.33pm, and 7.13pm respectively.

Google yielded no results so I went to Symantec and noticed a link to details of the W32.Blaster.Worm on the front page. Apparently this particular worm was only discovered today.

The worm exploits a flaw in Windows DCOM, which allows it to infect a machine without the user actually doing something stupid since all it needs is an unpatched computer with TCP port 135 exposed.

A patch for this flaw has been available since 16 July 2003 (revised on 21 July 2003), so the lesson here as usual is that if you are using Windows, make sure you keep up to date with the latest security patches (after all, you can be sure that as soon as a flaw has been publically announced, it's only a matter of time before someone tries to exploit it).

Fortunately for me:

  1. I always keep up to date with Windows security patches. To help with this, I'm subscribed to Microsoft's Product Security Notification mailing list, so I always know when I need to go get a new patch.
  2. I have a lovely shiny firewall/router that I installed last week. It's an Olivetti M4 (P133 with 16MB RAM) running SmoothWall v2.0 beta 5 (incidentally I had been having trouble getting SmoothWall 1.0, or indeed any form of Linux at all to install on this machine, apparently because Linux has had some weird problems with the Olivetti M4 - fixed in later versions of the kernel, but that's another story).

Looking at the firewall logs, in the past 40 minutes alone my firewall has detected 29 attempts to access TCP port 135, from a different IP address every time, so it would appear that this thing is spreading quite rapidly (especially given the rate at which it infected the aforementioned PCs).

Update 1: In the past hour or so, the hit rate on port 135 has increased from 43.5 per hour to 64.5 per hour. I'll definitely be keeping an eye on this.

Update 2: Symantec's description of the worm has been updated with more details about the payload and slightly more comprehensive removal instructions. Apparently, the worm will activate a Denial of Service attack directed at windowsupdate on 16 August, and continue until the end of the year

Update 3: Some news reports have now appeared:

Posted: 2003-08-11 16:12:47 UTC by Xiven | Cross-references (0) | Comments (5)

We're getting there!

Last week was a fun week. I got to experience the wonder that is the UK rail network not once, but twice. Both trips were for job interviews; one was in Hoylake, Wirral (fairly near Liverpool) and the other was in London.

Both times I booked my tickets at TheTrainLine, which is actually a pretty painless process. Collecting the tickets at the station was also simple.

The first trip was going reasonably smoothly. The first train departed Milton Keynes Central on time and having been delayed a bit just past Birmingham New Street arrived at Wolverhampton about 10 minutes late (cutting it a bit fine for the next connection, but that one ended up being 10 minutes late as well...).

Unfortunately this is where it all started going horribly wrong. At Runcorn station (one stop short of Liverpool Lime Street) we were suddenly told that the train would be terminating here due to a track fault and that we would have to wait for the next train (huh?) which meant an extra wait of about 20 minutes. We all boarded the next train, but before long this train stopped. The driver announced that apparently there was a major signalling failure at Liverpool Lime Street and that the wait could be up to 40 minutes.

Eventually we arrived at Liverpool and I went on a hunt for the train to Hoylake. It took a few minutes to find out that I needed to go on the Liverpool Undergound. I found out that the next train was leaving in 3 minutes and so hurried to the platform where the train was just arriving.

At this point it was clear that I was not going to arrive at the interview on time and I found myself somewhat cursing the fact that today of all days I had managed to leave my mobile phone at home. So at this point I would like to express my grateful thanks to the very kind lady who let me use her phone. ☺

The journey back was much simpler since a) I didn't need to change at Wolverhampton and b) I was in no hurry. However as we were passing Rugby station, the engine of our train decided it was going to lose all power. Another 20 minute delay followed, but they did manage to fix the problem.

My second train journey of the week was far more pleasant. Got the express train from Milton Keynes Central to London Euston no problem (in my experience this route is one of the most reliable). The way back I decided for some reason to not take the express train, which turned out to be a mistake as one of the passengers decided to try travelling without a ticket and then got so aggravated at being caught that the police had to be called to take him away. This delayed our train quite a bit (and apparently all the trains behind us as well) so thank you so much to him.

So in conclusion, the UK rail network is not completely useless, but it still seems to completely fall down when even the slightest thing goes wrong. Also, having to drive 20 miles just to get to the station in the first place because all the branch lines have been gone for decades just shows how dedicated our government really is to getting us out of our cars and back on to public transport.

Posted: 2003-08-03 07:08:24 UTC by Xiven | Cross-references (0) | Comments (1)