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Dec 19

Well people have been coming here searching for what all and what not. We analyse some search terms

1. Airtel Live 403 Error – Seems like the access denied or the forbidden error , to the person who searched this : You are receiving this as airtel has limited its net access to only the airtel live portal and some selected partner sites (like indiatimes wap , rediff wap and one or two more) . Many people claim to have a solution for using free internet off of airtel’s gprs service. We do NOT reccomend this as Airtel might find out and charge you and that wont be nice believe me.

2. Orkut Addiction – Absolutely the thing you should search for while coming here. Orkut addiction has reached new levels , people spend their free time reading and writing scraps on this so called social networking site. Good thing , India doesnt know about myspace yet or else thise generation will be literally going to the dogs.

3. Index Ignore command – Read the htaccess tutorial i had posted for more on this. This command can be used to refuse the directory index of your site’s folders.
4. Picasa Web Order Prints – We have absolutely no idea on this having never tried this , but we never reccomend web ordering , just goto your nearest market and order. Believe me face to face ordering is much better than online ordering which can sometimes go horribly wrong although it might be cheaper and convinient.

Lets make this search engine strings analysis a weekly feature !!!


Dec 15

The fact that i have been playing with webhosting for a long time has made me like .htaccess very much , i dont care what others say , but to me the file is indispensible and let me show you how small tasks can be easily achieved by this one file wonder. first thing first , make a test .htaccess file in a test hosting account and proceed. For those who might be confused , .htaccess is a file by the same name.

1. htaccess file redirecting –

.htaccess can be used to make redirects in your site , and that too very easily and these redirects work much better than javascript redirects my experience as a webmaster has taught me.

See and Observe

Redirect /toberedirected http://wisetechie.com/blog/

Here tobe redirected is the old directory which needs to be redirected to the blog directory.

For example – Redirect /tests http://wisetechie.com/blog/

will take you to my blog directory upon entering http://wisetechie.com/tests , the change will take place automatically in the address bar

2. Banning IPs through htaccess-

Although most control panels come with this banning IP feature built-in , some dont , to ban an IP , paste the following into your .htaccess file

deny from IP address

I tried using my own IP address , getting the forbidden error was bit of excitement for me , but being able to access backend easily meant that i could easily edit .htaccess again , i would however reccomend only to ban rogue IPs which you know are trouble.

I have personally used this command , once there was an IP from china which was basically a bot , reading my blog’s feed and copying all content for an automated site , now all it gets is a 403 forbidden page , but it keeps trying , atleast my content is secure. Later i got that IP address’s traffic null routed which basically ended the headache.

3. Changing Directory Index through htaccess-

This is a good tool , however DONT use it if you use automated Installation scripts as they themselves sometimes edit this information and it might result in a conflict. What does this command do then ?

This command allows you to change the default index file of your site , for example , typing yoursite.com will make the webserver originally show yoursite.com/index.html , what if i dont want index.html but wisetechie.html , i can change that through .htaccess too.

DirectoryIndex wisetechie.html wt.html wt.php

The command basically sets the priority for the directory indexes through the .htaccess file , if i open mysite.com/abc/ , then first the server will search for wisetechie.html in that directory , then wt.html in that directory and if even that is not found it will search for wt.php

4. Make Files Secure using htaccess

Since we are learning old school , another thing we can do easily is protect certain files or certain class of files from being viewed by external agents , an easy way to do this is by the following syntax

# To protect .doc files

<Files *.doc>

Deny From All

</Files>

The command gives a 403 forbidden error for every .doc file that is tried to be accessed by the users.

5. Banning Rogue Bots through htaccess

All bots come with user agents , some bad bots can be easily identified by their user agents and can be blocked and can help you save precious bandwidth and inturn precious money. We will discuss this in a later post , just to keep you hungry for some more.

6. Index Ignore Command in htaccess file –

This command again is the old school way to prevent directory listings , if i have a directory full of family images , i dont want any stranger to be able to come and list all the pictures namewise and take his pic , only people whom i have given specific URLs should be able to view my personal images.

IndexIgnore *

Put this in the .htaccess file of the directory you dont want anyone to be able to see , if you want specific files not to be listed you can also do that by the following modification.

IndexIgnore *.jpeg *.jpg

This particular command will let all files other than .jpg or .jpeg extensions to be listed in the directory listings as and when done by the user on my site.

The Purpose –

Although most of these are automated these days by programs such as Cpanel and other such systems , i felt it is necessary to know these as this raw knowledge is important for all webmasters , when you add a redirect or a deny entry in cpanel , you should know what is the adventurous way of doing it through your good old htaccess files. By compiling just a few of these commonly used commands i hope i have aroused interest in enough individuals as to how web site administering is actually done. :)

Now when you are done with reading my htaccess tutorial you must realise this is just the basics of htaccess, the vegetables for the roasted vegetables (ok , i know , bad joke , i mean htaccess can be used as a foundation for bigger things) , you got to put the bits and pieces together to create a masterpiece. For those of you wondering what can we do with a .htaccess file , Here is something Rohit cooked up for us(using htaccess and php) over at his blog

Just goes to show a little programming + a smart brain can make small and witty things which you wouldnt have imagined in your wildest dreams otherwise.

Now you guys have probably seen that the avatars on this forum are static, they have to be manually changed before you can use a new one. :-?
Now take a look at my avatar url
http://www.smart-techie.com/images/avatar.gif
Now what happens when you view it? You see a jpg or a gif image.
Try accessing the same url 5 or more times… Did you notice something?
The picture changes automatically at random (amongst a set of 3 pics) If you didn’t see this try more times ;)
How does it happen?
The first part is a VERY simple php script on my webserver (you need a hosting account with php scripting enabled for running scripts). Also (in Linux) CHMOD the files to give execute permission to everyone.
The php code that I am using is

php
$random = rand(1,3);

switch ($random)

{
case 1:header(location: /images/konqi.jpg ) ;

break;

case 2:header(location: /images/Homer.gif ) ;

break;

case 3:header(location: /images/Hobbes.gif ) ;

break;
}

header(Cache-Control: no-store, no-cache, must-revalidate) ;

header(Cache-Control: post-check=0, pre-check=0, FALSE) ;

header(Expires: Mon, 26 Jul 1997 05:00:00 GMT ) ; // Date in the past

header(Pragma: no-cache) ;

?>

Doesn’t take a genius to figure out what is going on here. Anyways I’ll explain :)
1. A random number is chosen between 1 and 3 and the corresponding image is displayed. This is done by the header function which is used to send HTTP headers ( a temporary redirect HTTP 302 response) This says that the resource that you want to see is at some other location).2. The headers at the end are DESPERATE ones which tell the browser “Please don’t cache the images or you will spoil my image changing effect?” Now to save bandwidth and load pages faster, browsers store copies of resources that they retrieved from the Internet on your disk in a location called cache/Temporary Internet files or similar location. Try about:cache in mozilla to see whats in it.
Also an expiry date is given in past so that the browser thinks “Oh, this content that I retrieved has become old. I shouldn’t cache it. Next time I’ll ask for a fresh copy” Sweet…
Now the file is saved as somename.php on your server and on running it the effect of changing avatars is complete.
2. Now for the final bit. Try pasting this url in your avatar field and the forum complains. It wants the URL to end in gif/jpg or whatever. So how to bypass this? Simple. Use the Apache .htaccess file (not available on IIS)
.htaccess is a file that stores settings on a folder basis on you webserver. I modify this file to add a statement

Redirect /avatar.gif http://www.website.com/images/somefile.php

There you have it! It is always easy to fool software.
Try this at least once to see the power of web scripting.


Dec 14

I really hope this post is preserved in time because i feel like a moron having to read up how to restore databases each time and its very easy except maybe if you get in a tight corner. Here we assume we have to backup and restore a database with username@localhost account. The problem with such an account is that it will not have database creation priviliges in many hosts so you will basically kill yourself trying to figure out how to go about this. I assume that your host has disabled the backup facility of Cpanel or you dont have Cpanel (in which case :: GET A LIFE !!! or maybe a good host). Images look a little hazy but you dont really need them , just follow the instructions and backup everything before proceeding , wait , thats what we are doing !!! , ok i stink at situational humour :-|.
Part 1. Backup Your Database in PHP My Admin

Login to your control panel , click on PHP My Admin , if this option is not there and an option My SQL databases is there , open it instead and then click on PHP My Admin.
PHP My Admin Screenshot

Click on Export , you will be able to select one or all of your databases , i leave the other options untouched , do the databases one by one , you will know why later on.

Export Database Screenshot

You will be treated to a file with SQL queries , copy the queries and save it in a txt notepad file or anything which doesnt spoil the commands.

Part 2. Restore Your Database in PHP My Admin

Login to your control panel , click on PHP My Admin , if this option is not there and an option My SQL databases is there , open it instead and then click on PHP My Admin.

Rewind !!!! , this wont work , if you see your SQL commands carefully , they have a create database command , however your account , username@localhost has no database creation priviliges , this is where you will be pulling your hair out like i was , you may create as many users as you like but you wont be able to login with them and further blah blah blah , breaking 3-4 cups later when you regain your senses we continue. Some of you may have already realised the workaround.

Why had we created the backup database wise , there was a reason. We first create the database through the my SQL databases section , then we remove the database creation command from the query backup and also the database ‘USE’ command.


Now going into the PHP My admin , we select the database from the sidebar , click on the SQL button and paste our queries and execute them.

We live happily ever after , although this tutorial might appear non-sensical to you but to a person actually facing the problems i have outlined , rest assured this page is a gold mine of information.


Dec 07

We decided to use DHL university express to send the transcripts to the Stanford University as the deadline was just 8 days away , we called their customer care and scheduled a pickup at our home. The DHL guy came at the right time with packing supplies , promptly everything was taken care of and we were given an airway bill tracking number.

The status of the shipment was tracked using the online tracking facility provided by DHL , really neat feature. Moreover they offer students a 50% discount on express services.

And you wont believe it , the package reached the university in 3 days , now thats what we call express , my experience with DHL university express has been A+ and i am planning to use their services for the rest of the transcripts too.


Dec 07

Well if you are we are planning to provide you with a step-by step guide on how to proceed , on our panel we have some people who are applying this year and they will soon be sharing their experience with you regard GRE , applying , SOPs , sending your application and visa process. So stay tuned !!!


Dec 05

Broadband

I wouldnt be surprised if it were , almost everyone i know gets speeds lesser than what was promised by their ISP. Till now there was only 1 mode of redressal the TRAI – Telecom Regulatory Authority of India. But with the Consumer Forum Decision that came today , its all about to change.The case was against a leading private ISP , the complaintant had alleged that his download speed was lesser than what broadband has been defined by TRAI and what he was promised when he paid. The consumercourt ruled in the consumer’s favour saying that this amounted to deficiency in service ordering return of Rs.1200 and also Rs.7000 as mental harrassment.

Thats the way to go !

to check if your ISP is shortchanging you , check your broadband speed at the following URLs

http://us.mcafee.com/root/speedometer/test_0150.asp

http://www.dslreports.com/speedtest