Archive for Internet

Why AOL sucks

I have a client that is currently on AOL, and has been getting messages every 2nd or 3rd time they logon to AOL that basically claims the following:

“Upgrade to AOL Gold now, Same Price, Faster Speed.” — Great deal right?

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How to Disable Windows Messenger

Why would you want to disable Windows Messenger?

Well you may notice that nobody uses the old Windows Messenger anymore, this is because it is abandon-ware, its no longer updated or maintained by Microsoft. This is because we all use MSN Messenger, Messenger Live or third party software (trillian or such).

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Why I registered mIRC

For those that don’t know… mIRC is communication software, otherwise known as an IRC client. IRC (or Internet Relay Chat) to me is a place where people can come together to discuss a shared interest to form a community.

To be a part of these communities is very rewarding in essence that by networking with people you can get involved in things you wouldn’t normally be involved in, while also having the ability to seek advise or help others. The scope of IRC goes far beyond this.

I use mIRC on a daily basis to communicate with friends in these communities, I also use it as a scripting platform for many things from returning the exchange rate to locating a site via google to checking if a domain is taken. The possibilities are endless.

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Configuring a FreeBSD IRC Shell Server

This is a brief guide created to help configure a secure FreeBSD as an IRC shell server.

In this case I will be running FreeBSD 6.0, with bash shell, SSHd, named (bind), httpd (Apache2+PHP4), FTPd (pure-ftpd). Read the rest of this entry »

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email address on your website

This is something that people don’t seem to realise, and although I tell them over and over it seems to go ignored.


The reason is that spam bots crawl websites and gather email addresses, then place them into a list ready to spam.

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Start your own free email service

I have been interested in starting my own free email service for some time now.

Over the years i’ve seen free email services such as, yahoo, and now, to name just a few of the many thousands out there.

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Free Stuff

I love free stuff, it’s probably why I like open source so much…

I think we must all like free stuff, so I have decided to gather a few sites together that offer up-to-date free stuff.

There’s all sorts of junk you can get for free, mostly by filling in a form online with your details.

There are usually limited ties too, most of the time its purely a case of a product awareness campaign.

Here are a few sites you can try:

  • - This site has been around for years, probably the most renowned. However it does seem to have grown quite uncontrollably large, offers free online services as well as products, lacks frequent updates, and is targeted at the US population. (US based)
  • Freebie Forum - This forum has over 1500 active members. You can usually find free stuff fairly quickly. (UK)
  • Bob’s Free Stuff Forum - A very cool populated forum, offering live up-to-date stuff for free. There’s over 10,000 members on this forum. (UK)
  • Money Saving Freebies - This is a heavily populated forum by people always looking to save money, you can expect to find good stuff as soon as it’s known here. (UK)
  • - Kinda cool, offers you quite a good selection, you can make comments too, but you must be a member, membership is free. (UK)
  • - Freebie blog site. (US based)
  • FreeStuffChannel - Freebie site with RSS feed. (US based)
  • FreeGrabber - Another freebie site blog with RSS feed. (US based)
  • Free Stuff Exchange Forum - This is only a small forum, but can sometimes offer some good stuff. (UK)
  • Free-Stuff - A site updated 3 times per week apparently. (UK)
  • Freebiersclub - Members only, but its pretty awsum! (UK)
  • Free Stuff Junction Site List - A list of freebie sites. (UK)
  • Find more free stuff on DMOZ

Enjoy your free junk!


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Fax to email

Fax to email is perhaps one of the most interesting, oldest and most overlooked technology.

These days although it seems like everyone has an email address, there are businesses that rely on their fax machine asif its their only means of communication to the outside world.

However, we can’t always be around to man a fax machine 24/7/365, so usually you’re left with a number of options:

  • Wait until you return so you can check your fax machine
  • Get someone else to check your fax machine, then send them to your current location
  • Tell people sending the fax to send to a different number depending on your location at the time
  • Tell them to scan it in and email it to you
  • Tell them not to bother at all

As you are probably aware for businesses that are none stop 24/7, if you are unable to reach critical information it is possible to loose business.

There is really only one solution…

That is you must have a computer, broadband, a fax modem, a phone line, and a piece of software to tie it all together.

The software you require must do the following functions:

  • Receive faxes
  • Send faxes via email.
  • Distinguish the difference between voice calls and faxes
  • Act as an answering machine if a voice call is received
  • Have some method of remotely accessing or sending voice messages

So far the only software I have found that will do this task is called FaxTalk, in particular FaxTalk Messenger Pro 7. This software is GREAT! It has the following features:

  • Complete voice messaging and fax solution.
  • Access contacts from Microsoft Outlook 2000/2002/2003 and Windows Address Book.
  • Send faxes over the internet to any email address.
  • Forward received faxes and messages by email.
  • Access received faxes and voice messages in Microsoft Outlook.
  • Receive calls and send faxes when logged out of Windows 2000/XP.
  • Block the reception of unwanted junk faxes.
  • Process received voice messages and faxes using notification rules.

And so much more, the list is endless! This is the ultimate solution.

However I didn’t stop there…

I also looked other fax to email solutions including fax gateways.

Tiscali offer a fax gateway to all of their members, and since its free to signup to Tiscali, its available to anyone. Once your signed up and logged in, you simply assign yourself a new number and you can receive faxes via email/webmail via your new number as of immediate effect.

There are many other broadband providers (such as Demon) that offer a similar service free providing you have a business broadband package with them, unlike BT, who simply are unaware of such a service.

Another fax gateway to have a look at is, apparently its free!

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Quite some time ago I decided that I wanted to offer support via MSN for a business. This is all very well until you want multiple staff to cover the “live” support, obviously you cannot have more than one client connected via the MSN protocol using the same account at any one time.

My solution to this was to use an existing platform that allowed multiple users, which was IRC. The next step was to create a “bot” that would connect to the MSN Messenger network and relay the information back and forth.

Originally due to my skills in coding in mIRC I decided to code a very simple MSN messenger client. This proved quite a challenge after looking at the MSN Messenger Protocol Docs. I decided to check out existing MSN messenger clients for mIRC and see how they had done it.

I tried roughly 5 from, none of them worked apart from MSNMIRC by Artweks.

I decided to strip this down and allow relaying via remotely triggered commands, I codenamed this script “xmsn”. This worked very well for quite some time, until MSN decided to change the way their older protocols work, which meant they now required SSL to authenticate.

It took some time to figure out, but eventually the script was fully functional again with the addition of a DLL (ssl.dll - 58kb), however it seemed that this DLL would only work on some machines, yet not others, this meant I required a new machine to run one mIRC bot.

I ran this for some time, probably around a year, and decided that running a whole machine just for on mIRC based bot was a bit of a waste, so I decided to investigate my options.

Eggdrop was my first port of call, using some kind of TCL script that could connect to the MSN protocol would be fantastic, yet this did not appear to exist, however I did locate an MSN messenger client called aMSN, which was based on TCL. There were some issues with this though, firstly it is not eggdrop based, fine I thought i’ll strip it down, secondly there is no console mode, its a 100% GUI application, therefore a BIG task. I simply didn’t have the time to deal with this complexity.

After some further searching I discovered the BitlBee project, which is in itself an amazing project and an amazing idea. In principle its an IRCd that can connect to many popular instant messenger protocols such as MSN messenger.

The idea was to somehow run an eggdrop that would connect to a BitlBee server, connect to MSN, and relay the details to another IRCd using a relay tcl script. Obviously the relay script would also need the ability to accept triggers from the other IRCd so the users can control it and send messages, etc.

An alternative idea would be to use psyBNC with multiuser enabled, even though this method would probably be more secure, i’d prefer to use the eggdrop method.

In the end I decided to trim down a version of linkchan.tcl, which I had used before over the years and so was already fimilar with its structure and functionatility. This offers me a fantastic platform to base this project on.

There is the project research so far, the next step is to release bitlbee.tcl once i’m happy the script is stable.

Update: I have posted a beta version of the “bitlbee.tcl” under the eggdrop tcl section.

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Legally listen to music online for free

One of the things I enjoy doing while I work is listening to music.

After a while of listening to the music stored on my computer and my good old CD collection I find myself getting bored of it and in search for something new.

The sure way of getting hold of new music is to go online and look for it.

My first port of call for free music is BBC Radio1, where you can “listen live” or even “listen again” meaning you can listen to any previous shows, this is good if you like a particular show or type of music. One of the main problems is that you are required to use RealPlayer (if you’re in the UK, you can use Windows Media Player as well) to listen to the radio streams.

Of course as you probably know, there are some limits with this, including the fact that the music is rather general, and sometimes the presenter can get annoying.

Another radio streaming option is WinAmp’s Shoutcast based radio stations. The situation is that nullsoft (the company that makes winamp) released a streaming server application that can be used for free. People all over the world use this to run their own online radio station, ultimately meaning that there is a lot of choice. Best of all you can listen using Winamp or your choice of media player.

If like me you are a fan of dance music (in particular trance), you’ll probably find that Digitally Imported is probably one of the best online radio stations out there. They offer everything from Trance right through to Euro Dance to Gabber.

If streaming audio using third party media players isn’t your thing then don’t worry, there’s still more options out there.

As part of a new generation of websites Pandora offers the ability to listen to your choice of music via an embedded flash player. The question I am sure you’ll be asking is “how does it work?” well basically Pandora has a huge collection of music, and a huge database of recommendations from users. Simply, you put in a song that you like and you are provided with a radio station that seamlessly plays music that other users who liked that song recommended. It works very well most of the time. One of the best features of this site is that if you don’t like the current track, you can skip onto the next track.
A similar concept is which is probably a bit better as it appears to have more users, and allows for integration with your media player meaning it has better recommendations and feedback to utilise.

Yahoo! have recently jumped on this band wagon and released Yahoo! Music, which appears to offers a similar service to Pandora and, you can expect this to be quite good.

Another site that I am forced to mention is of course MySpace, as you are probably aware MySpace was originally created so that bands could get better known, and bands have chosen to take advantage of this by offering their music via MySpace’s music player. This is a good option if you want to listen to a few tracks at a time by particular artists. has existed for many years now, far longer than MySpace, I remember downloading PPK - resurrection from this site years ago. is fairly new offering music search and internet radio network, I have yet to try this out to its full extent.
There are plenty more sites out there, this is just a short list of reliable sites that really work.

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