Archive for April, 2006

April 27th, 2006

Working with Mac

I’ve been using mostly Macs during the last two months, as my workstation nowadays is a Mac (with a 23″ display, it does make a difference).

After installing all necessary tools, such as Witch and others, the computer is quite okay to work with. I don’t want to compare it to my Windows environment yet, as I’ve been steadily improving the Windows for over five years now.

I’ve noticed that my usage patterns for browsers is different. In PC, I tend to use new windows for every task. In Mac, however, I’m using tabs. I also use more browsers in Mac; Camino, Mozilla and Safari (in that order, by the way). In Windows, I’m satisfied with Mozilla and sometimes I need to use IE to test something.

As long time readers remember, I was not converted to a Mac user when I bought my first Mac almost a year and a half ago. One of the newest annoyances has been to notice that Mac programs do not get the first mouse click through, if the window is inactive. In Windows, I click a link on an inactive browser and the browser follows the link. Furthermore, hovering over the link tells me where its leading. In Mac, I need to click the browser to activate it first and then click again. Double the effort!

The active window in Mac is also nearly impossible to spot fast. There just is no consistency about showing which window has the focus — or then you have to look at the small circles at the top left corner… I’ve tried to find a haxie or a them that would give more visual cues about the active window, but all that I’ve tried just remove cues, making it harder to work with windows. A challenge to theme maker: make a theme that actually helps people to work faster instead being just more stylish.

April 22nd, 2006

Aapo’s first birthday party

Our son Aapo was born exactly one year ago (to be frank, it happened exactly one year and half an hour ago…). So today we had a great birthday bash with relatives, and partying continues tomorrow with more people.

Aapo got a set of Duplo blocks, a plastic truck and a toy moped, to name a few of the presents. A tractor is still coming in a couple weeks when my parents pay us a visit — but please don’t tell Aapo about it.

He got the honour to blow out the candles, with some help from his mother.

Aapo’s first birthday cake

Aapo tasted a cake for the first time, and it was a big success. Aapo just continued to demand more more.

April 18th, 2006

Had a productive Easter

As some of you may know, we spent the Easter home this year. Looking back, it was a good decision. We would have got much better service in Polvijärvi, but making your own food is also a pleasurable pastime.

Finland has two extra bank holidays, the Good Friday and Easter Monday are both off. The weekend is four days, a decent break from the routines.

The Easter was also very productive. Sanna is busy setting up their patent shop and I’ve been consulting her regarding the IT systems. We got a lot done on that front, too.

Altogether, I made the following accomplishments (with my family, of course):

  • Bought a gas grill and all required paraphernalia.
  • Designed a site layout for an upcoming site.
  • Cleaned up a mess in the storage room, as my Pepsi can collection leaked — over my dear Amiga keyboard among other things.
  • Drilled holes to the bottom of the aforementioned cans (around 40) and emptied them to the sink. This process took more than two days. It was such a fun to shake the cans to squirt the Pepsi out as fast as possible. Unfortunately the pressure was not strong enough to empty the whole can and the rest of the stuff dribbled out really slowly.
  • Met friends from the UK.
  • Bought a full set of patio furniture (two tables and eight chairs), and managed to bring them home all at once. Fitting them inside Peugeot 407SW took twenty minutes, as the space usage was optimised over the time.
  • Recovered Nomadig.com from the hacking attempt. See the previous post.
  • Made and ate lamb dish, a hamburger. This was the first time for me to grill a lamb steak. Didn’t use the gas grill, as the weather is still too cold.
  • Implemented a bunch of missing functionality to the forecoming Web 2.0 service. Things were moving towards closure very well.
  • Finished three books. Started fourth.
  • Imported a bunch of stuff to IT systems for Espatent.
  • Implemented an off-site web site editing environment for a client.

All in all, very nice four days.

The newest shopping paradise

Kamppi is the latest, the greatest and the biggest shopping mall under one root in Helsinki downtown. Opened on spring 2006, the shopping mall stands on top of the old local bus terminal. The place is a microcity itself; there are several floors of shops, including grocery store, a number of restaurants, a nightclub, bowling hall, metro station, bus station, offices and three apartment buildings.

Inside Kamppi mall in Helsinki

For shoppers, the place is a paradise. The ground floor has a lot of small quick shops, the grocery store and most of the restaurants. There are no junk food joints here, but you can find Italian and Japanese food, salad bar and ice cream parlour among others. The second floor has the fashion shops, the third floor is for children, the fourth floor for sports and the fifth floor for young trends.

The nightclub has entrance on the fifth floor and sprawls most of the sixth floor with a view over the city.

www.kamppi.fi, Urho Kekkosen katu 2, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 7429 8552

April 16th, 2006

Hacking attempt

Yesterday, while checking my ShortStats I found out that there is no much traffic in Nomadig.com. The reason was imminent when I opened the site. The front page sported a PHP error and journal was broken, too.

After logging in to the system, I quickly checked the files and noticed that the PHP files were mangled. Whitespaces were missing and the bigger files were cut above eight kilobytes.

The first thing to do was to close the site for maintenance, so I created a small static HTML file for the front page and the journal to inform visitors.

The second step was to request a full restore for the site. Fortunately I haven’t been working on the site for a while, so I wouldn’t loose any precious changes. This had a flipside, too, as my offline backup was done last August…

Glancing through the files, I find out some PHP injections that looked very odd. They collected user information from $_SERVER and then posted that information to user7.phpinclude.ru. The URL of the site was “hidden” using base64_decode.

I read a few discussion threads about this and learned that the site injects links to paysites inside your content. While they were trying to accomplish this, they broke my site completely. Thanks, guys.

Closer inspection to the files revealed a huge number of backdoors with names such as includes.php, time.php, users.php and so forth. Every directory that was writable with PHP was infected. I painstakingly cleaned them. First used grep to find the files and then remove those. I also copied old development files from my hard disk over infected files and little by little I could clean up the mess.

There were changes also in HTML and JS files. Fortunately those have been there for ages, so I just copied everything over them.

My hosting provider restored their backup a few minutes ago and everything seems to be ok now. The file and directory permissions are fixed now, but due to this probably some of my PHP admin stuff is broken. Needs to be investigated later.

I’d better also set up a cronjob to make a backup of the site as soon as I get a Linux server of my own. I cannot store the backups in Nomadig.com, as the space will run out in less than a week.

Delicious salads

Restaurant Teatteri enjoys residing at the one of the best spots in Helsinki, in Swedisth theater building at the western end of Esplanadi park. The restaurant complex has several different places to hand around, including a fine dining restaurant, a café and a couple of bars.

Café Teatteri in Helsinki

We visited the café on Pohjois-Esplanadi, located in front of Academic Bookstore, just next to the Marimekko store. The café is quite small compared to the rest of the restaurants, but this adds some intimacy. The noise level keeps down, too. The window tables are the best, as there is so much to see on the streets.

They have an excellent selection of salads. The base salad itself tastes very good and then you can select two or more toppings, such as salmon, tofu and olives. The salads are made on the premises, so the freshness is guaranteed.

All normal coffees are available and the staff is willing to customise them, if asked. The sweeter offerings are quite small, cookies and similar stuff.

www.ravintolateatteri.com, Pohjoisesplandi 2, Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 681 1130

April 13th, 2006

Espatent launches

Sanna and a couple her colleagues started their own company, Espatent, a couple of weeks ago. The patent attorney business in Finland got a serious contender, as the skills and general knowledge of these guys is far better than in general.

And I’m not saying this because Sanna happens to be my wife. I have several patents and patent applications, drafted by various agencies and people in Helsinki, including also Sanna and her partners. The quality and the craftmanship of their application drafts is just so much better. Further, they learn fast. It is always a pleasure to work with a patent agent that understands you from the beginning and can bring some additional value to the application.

So, if any of my dear readers are contemplating patenting now or in the future, don’t hesitate to talk with Espatent, too. It pays off.

Just about everything

If you are looking for anything, there is a quite good chance that it can be found at Clas Ohlson store in Kamppi mall. Maybe clothes and food are excluded, but it seems that everything else can be found. Need some car accessories? Yep, they have those. Computer gadgets? Power tools? Garden midgets? You name it.

You can make also peculiar finds there. I found a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t fathom existing, but sure they were there. The only problem is that you might need to spend some time there just trying to find the stuff. Fortunately, the staff seems to be well educated of whereabouts of various items.

As an additional bonus, the shop has magnificent views over the Kamppi square.

www.clasohlson.fi, Urho Kekkosen katu 1 (in Kamppi shopping mall), Helsinki, Finland, +358 20 111 2380