I’m starting a Buy British movement

$8* or £4.44 (as at todays exchange rate) is unlikely to buy you

a weeks worth of milk for your family
3 pints of beer
a box of chocolates
a joint of beef
or
5 litres of fuel

It’s not enough to buy a single floor tile
or a can of paint
or 1 days mortgage on a family home.

In the UK you can’t buy 15 minutes of an electrician’s time for £4.44

So why should anyone think they can pay $8 for an hour of expert technical advice or quality code production or attractive well executed design? Outsourcing overseas may be cheap but are you really getting what you want? or just what you’re willing to pay for.

There are hundreds of new media and web companies in the UK. Why not Buy British?

*$8 was the hourly rate claimed by an Indian company prospecting for work on a well known website advertising freelance projects.

Hackers – part deux

While updating a number of other sites I also decided to clear out some of the test sites I have on my general hosting. Good move as it happens, I noticed the dreaded ‘1’ folder on my wordpress blog too. It’s usually found in the wp-content folder, nestling above the plugins and themes folders. Luckily there are easy ways to remove said inconvenience and I found them on the bontb website. Bontb, for those who don’t know or are just darn curious (like me!), stands for Blog or not to blog. Thank you Majo!

Hackers – you gotta love em >:[

I generally have a neutral view of hackers, you could say that they come with a territory and are always a risk. Lock it all as tight as you can and ride out the storm of school holidays and study leave.

Of course that all changes when files appear on your server that you think has been locked tighter than a nut. I will admit I don’t look at everyone’s site every day so it didn’t hit my radar until my customer tells me his site is down. (A week after he comes back from holiday. By which time of course, 2 weeks have gone past and there are no logs to check how this happened and for proof.) At this point there is no berating the customer, they didn’t ask to be hacked and they are always right…

So it is time to hate the hacker.
All the time I have to spend talking to the host while they pass the buck and pretend it never happened because there’s nothing they can do anyway,
All the time I have to spend reassuring the customer,
All the time I spend uploading and installing a clean script install to replace the already latest version I had running,
All the time I upload products and attributes and other such things to the database,
All the time I go through the configuration files line by line,
All the time I upload custom text files,
All the time I re-upload the images,
I hate the hacker for trying to grab credit card data that the site doesn’t even accept [grr]

But then I have to laugh, the site is so quiet at the moment that the chances of them getting any results would be nil. There’s no credit card data accepted or stored.

I have to love the hacker who is so incompetant that their injected files do nothing but produce error messages that then cause the customer to call me to say their site is down. If the site had been popular or the customer less on the road it would have been reported same day and then the possibilities for proof and tracking could have been endless.

So although I’ve spent hours putting a site back together, I have to quote Nelson in saying

Ha-ha!

Graphic tablets, HP scanners and Vista

I am now the proud owner of a graphics tablet, something I’ve always been meaning to buy and it is all I could hope for, except…

I have a windows laptop with Vista (32 bit home premium, what it came with…) – thus far no real problem, in fact Vista has all sorts of optional extras that enable themselves when you install a tablet: Journal, pen flicks, handwriting recognition. Great! you think… until you want to use the HP integrated scanner / printer you bought a year ago.

Vista’s extra tablet gimics use TWAIN exclusively, and I do mean it when I say Vista doesn’t share well – at least not with HP. Suddenly there was no way of communicating with the scanning software, no HP software update would solve it and due to Vista’s highly integrated nature creating a new user didn’t solve the problem. Unclicking the handwriting recognition box in the Tablet PC options also did not help; there seemed to be no easy way to disable this vista tablet functionality. Googling the problem confirmed that this is due to a largely unadvertised and seemingly unsolved clash between HP and Vista’s use of TWAIN.

More googling found a tutorial from the lovely people at bleepingcomputer.com, teaching you how to turn on and off features in Vista. It is really simple and I can’t believe I missed this on searching around in control settings. You may have to be really patient, it took a couple of minutes for the feature list to come up and about 10 mins for the feature to uninstall itself before restarting.

I was concerned that switching off Tablet PC optional components would switch off the functionality of the graphics tablet. Not so. I still have all the functionality that the wacom installer gives me, just none of the ‘handwritten notes’ style vista features. More importantly for me, I can now access my scanner as before.

Points to note:

  • The HP printer is a PSC1610, as far as I can find out this problem exists for all Printer/Copier/Scanners by HP but may not be experienced with separate scanners or combined printer-scanners from other manufacturers.
  • This problem has been reported with both Wacom and non-wacom tablets.
  • To date I cannot find a solution which does not involve choosing between the handwriting recognition features of Vista such as Journal and Writepad and use of the scanner. If you find one, please let me know!