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Curtin’s Internet Filtering and Blocking
How much does your educational institution filter the internet, especially if you’re at tertiary level (because K-12 filtering has other issues attached to it)? I ask because in my recent shift to Curtin, I’ve discovered the joys of university-level internet filter, something that didn’t happen at my previous institution. The list of blocked or click-thru site (ie not completely blocked, but having a warning message asking if you really need this website) seems to alter week to week. This morning, every time I want to visit Twitter, Plurk, Facebook or even a wordpress.com blog, I have to click through a warning page; every time I reload, I have to click through a warning page. Apart from being highly frustrating, I’m currently redesigning several units which are thematically linked by the concept of web presence; almost everything I want students to look at will have these warnings on the Curtin network. I wonder how many students will get frustrated and give up on the unit? This morning’s blocks so far …
Ironic Update: The first attempt to upload this blog post from my work computer led me to discover that even this website is blocked now:
I wonder what sort of hoops I’m going to have to jump through to try and fix this? 🙁
Update 2: Most of the blocking seems to have magically stopped as suddenly as it began about 12 hours ago so, being generous, I’d like to believe this was an accidental blocking … I’d really like to believe that …
Upgrades, Deletions, Apologies … and a Little Anger
Visitors to this blog may have noticed many things broken or not got anything but a 404 for the last 12 hours. My apologies – most is now fixed, but let me explain. Last night, about 5 minutes before I went to bed, I got this email:
from: “email@example.com” <firstname.lastname@example.org>
subject: Update [Incident ID: 2110748] – Information Regarding Your Account for tamaleaver.net
Support Staff Response
It has come to our attention that your tamaleaver.net hosting account is running a vulnerable version of wordpress. This has caused an attacker to upload malicious content to your hosting account. We have removed the malicious content and have disabled the vulnerable script.
To prevent further attacks, we request that you update your version of wordpress as soon as possible. We appreciate your cooperation in this matter.
Please let us know if we can be of further assistance.
Advanced Hosting Support
I was a little surprised since I was running 2.1.3 which, to the best of my knowledge, was fine (and I was not running the buggy 2.1.1). However, I figured I’d check in the morning what had been deleted – I presumed a script that wasn’t part of the standard WordPress world, so that was fine. However, to my horror this morning when I checked, I found that “support” (and I use the term very broadly) had done at least two things: deleted my entire wp-admin directory, and deleted a number of image files (the reason for which I can’t even begin to fathom). As a result, this blog has been rather stuffed for the last 12 hours. Since it was broken anyway, I’ve now upgraded to WordPress 2.2 and got almost everything back and running. However, a month’s worth of uploaded images were deleted, and I’ve not backed up since the end of April, so they can’t be recovered (thus, if you find a blog post with an image missing … primarily from posts in May 2007, this is why; I’ll try and replace them at a later stage.)
So, sorry for the downtime, if I had any control over it I’d promise it wouldn’t happen again! That said, the support folk at secureserver (whom GoDaddy use) will be getting a rather frank email about the over-deletion of my files, and, more to the point, a request to exactly what they think happened since I’ve seen no evidence myself of any malicious content.
Sadly, that title means dilemmas in using del.icio.us and WordPress together, not dilemmas in deciding my next dessert! 🙁 For over a month now I’ve been using del.icio.us’ “Blogging: daily blog posting” tool to create daily posts containing my del.icio.us bookmarks in the preceding 24 hours. These posts are timed to occur at 0 GMT (8am my time), but I noticed on Saturday morning, despite a number of bookmarks waiting to appear, none did. Nor did my Sunday post arrive. So, checking del.icio.us, I found this error notice:
results:Running at Sun Apr 15 00:31:03 2007 GMT<br>Fetched 1 items.<br>posting error was: 408 Request Timeout <br>
My first concern was that WordPress had a new issue, but since I was still using 2.1.2 (and had been for more than a week, with successful posts during that time), I looked at GoDaddy (my hosts) which produced a rather intricate and inexplicably complex maze, but in the end no errors could be found in WordPress or my database. So, next I tried to install WordPress 2.1.3 since it has a bug-fix for what they call a “major XML-RPC issue”, which might have stopped del.icio.us talking to my installation of WordPress. No improvements there. Then digging deeper into the WordPress forums I found this thread – WP 2.1.3 slow performance – in which a number of people talk about slowdowns using the 2.1 versions of WordPress but, probably not coincidentally, most are using GoDaddy. So, I phoned GoDaddy support who, after 20 minutes – and putting me on hold for at least 15 of those minutes – I’m told that there’s nothing wrong at their end; their servers are running ‘optimally’, as is my database. Also to my surprise, the support guy had never heard of del.icio.us. (And, I should add, even using Skypeout, calling the US for 20 minutes from Australia isn’t the cheapest thing to do.) Finally, I’ve gone back to del.icio.us and tried to run a slightly different daily blog posting request, but still I get the same error!
So, the short version of this story is: no daily links until I can figure out what’s going on (and, to be frank, I think I’ve exhausted my technical knowledge). If anyone has advice or an alternate way to automate daily del.icio.us summary posts in WordPress, that’d be most welcome. (However, I have tried postalicious and that just times out!). Help!
Update (Monday, 9am): Despite all my failed attempts, my link-posts returned on Monday morning; I have no idea why, but I should know better than to question by now!