Problems Again

I just had some very strange problems on my blog. There was an extra 4GB of data in my account, in “Other”, which I could not delete, which made it impossible for me to receive email or update the blog. My emails to customer support didn’t get a response, so I’ve migrated everything to a different server. Any oddities you find are probably a result of the migration, so please let me know.

Blog Hacked

My blog was hacked last night. I’ve restored from the most recent backup, which was from Sunday, so I don’t think I’ve lost anything. I’ve also taken the opportunity to do a bit more security hardening, although I don’t know where the weakness was. Fortunately, I’m using the Wordfence plugin, which is what alerted me to the hacks. I hope it won’t happen again, and the blog is back to its unhacked state.

It did take all day, however.

Server Troubles

I’ve been having some problems with my server. First, I was massively over quota because of the archives of the development mailing lists I run for Ars Magica. As part of the solution to that problem (which was my fault, although it took tech support about five attempts to work out where the files taking up my quota were; I don’t think many people use mailing lists these days), I was moved to a newer server, with a larger quota.

That server then got blacklisted as a spammer. It’s not clear why that happened, but apparently it can take up to two weeks to clear the blacklisting. So I got moved to yet another shared server.

I appear to have lost at least one email in the transition. Right now (9:30am JST) I think I’ve answered all the emails I received that needed an answer. (Comments about my posting to Facebook don’t need an answer.) So, if you thought you would get an answer and haven’t, please send your email again, because I probably didn’t get it. (I stopped responding to the test emails I requested when I sent out the general “Communication Restored” email, for the people who got those.)

Incidentally, I can recommend Liquid Web as a hosting provider. It works fine almost all the time, and the support staff are very quick about fixing things when there is a problem, even when (as with the spam blacklisting) the problem is not their fault. Also, their tech support does not treat you like an idiot. They might not be ideal if you know nothing about running a web site, because I don’t think they will actually set everything up for you, but if you have a basic idea and are willing to learn, they’re great. They do try to make it as easy for you as possible, in my experience.

Blog Move

I’ve moved my blog from a subdirectory to be the main page of my website. I’ve done this because I only really update the blog these days.

There should be links to all parts of my website in the right-hand sidebar, under the adverts, and any old links to my blog should be automatically redirected to the new location. It seems to be working for now.

All I need now is time to update a bit more.

(We’re all fine.)

Flash Player 11 EULA MIA

So, the Flash plugin for Safari is telling me that there is a new version available, Flash 11. When I download the software and launch the installer, the first screen, naturally, tells me to click to say that I’ve read the EULA, and provides a link to the EULA. At the moment, that link is http://www.adobe.com/products/eulas/#flash_player, which, as of this writing, looks like this:

The list of available EULAs for Flash, which only goes up to 10.3

You will see that there is no EULA listed for Flash Player 11. Googling it turns up some supplementary third-party licensing information, and a license for the beta version, but no EULA for the release of version 11.

I think I can state with a fair degree of confidence that anyone who has installed version 11 has not read the EULA, although they have said that they have. I’m not sure what the legal position on that is. I’m even more interested in whether the courts will be ready to assume that someone has read and understood an EULA that Adobe appears not to have published. Personally, I’m not going to lie on the installer, so until the EULA for Flash 11 is available somewhere online, I’ll be running with an earlier version of the plugin.

The bizarre thing is that the plugin has been out for a week or so, and nobody seems to have mentioned this online. I would have expected someone, somewhere to have noticed. (The contact form on the Adobe web site doesn’t include an option for “you have forgotten to publish your license.”) Maybe it is somewhere obvious, and I’m just being particularly blind. Actually, that seems the most likely option (I mean, there are people on the net who are really, really anal about licensing). But really, I can’t see it. Of course, I do expect it to appear in the near future… So, feel free to point out where I’m missing it.

Email Address Change

Thanks to ridiculous amounts of spam coming to my david@davidchart.com address, I will be retiring it in the very near future. If you are using it to contact me and I haven’t already told you the new one, you can use the contact link in the left column to find out.

Oddly, I’m having the big spam problem with an email address I have never made available online. The ones I have put online are not having any problems at all…

Security Problem

A couple of days ago, someone uploaded a spam script to my web host using my account. My hosting service have, of course, deleted the script, but the question of how the spammers did it is still open. The normal explanation is a stolen password, but I had a secure password, and I don’t use it for anything else, or tell anyone what it is. I also use a secure connection to connect to the service. Thus, this is a bit puzzling. I’m currently checking for malware, but there isn’t much for the Mac or Linux in any case, and I am rather careful about that sort of thing.

So, the problem is that I really don’t know how this could have happened. Obviously, I’ve changed my password, but until I know what happened, I can’t rule out further problems. This may make it difficult to contact me by email, and may lead to my website vanishing briefly. I really hope not, but, as I say, I don’t know what’s going on yet.

Update: I’ve scanned my computer for malware, and there wasn’t any. Thus, I still don’t know how this happened. Obviously, that makes it hard to protect against it happening again. So, please let me know if you spot anything strange on the site.

Redecorating

Yuriko’s just about finished redecorating the flat, and I’ve just redecorated my blog. I hope you like the new look; I think it’s quite clean and easy to use.

We’ve all got colds to varying degrees at the moment. Mayuki’s is making her sick quite a lot, but although we’ve taken her to the doctor, they say it’s just a cold. Given that she’s very definitely not ill while she’s not actually throwing up, I think that is quite plausible. Yuriko’s got a sore throat and is losing her voice, and I’m just a bit under the weather.

That’s a large part of the reason why I’ve not been updating the blog. Another reason is that I’m trying to get caught up on work. I made some progress today, but, of course, not quite as much as I hoped. Ah well, there’s always tomorrow.

New Flat

Yesterday we handed over the money and became the owners of our new flat. Well, new to us; it’s actually twice the age of the current one, and very close to it. So, why are we moving? The new flat has an extra room.

Mayuki standing in the corner of a Japanese-style room

Our tatami-mat room. You might just be able to see the colour change where the furniture used to be.

We had to go to Yokohama to borrow a room in a bank (the bank that gave me the mortgage) where we could transfer enormous amounts of money to the relevant people, including the estate agents, insurance companies, the scrivener who was changing the deeds, and, of course, the previous owners of the flat, who got this month’s ground rent/service charge and the remainder of this year’s property tax as well as the remainder of the price of the flat itself. That was straightforward, although it did take an hour to get all the paperwork done. (So, now not only have I received a Japanese mortgage, I’ve spent it.)

On the way back, I submitted my tax return. It’s been a busy few months.

Anyway, shortly after we got home Yuriko’s friend from university came over. He’s an architect, and is in charge of the remodelling we’re going to have done.

[I’ve just lost more than half of the blog entry. The log-in cookie expired while I was writing, so the autosave stopped working, and when I tried to save the draft, I was sent to the log-in window and the text vanished. This is a bug in WordPress, which I will have to report when I have time.]

A cityscape beyond which you cannot see Mt. Fuji

On a clear day, you can see Mount Fuji from the Japanese-style room. Yesterday wasn't clear.

The new flat is in a danchi. These are large complexes of flats built in the 1970s, while Japan’s economy was booming and everyone was moving to the cities. Unlike the equivalent structures in the UK, they have not turned into sink estates. They are, however, generally very big for the price, because they are getting old, and Japanese people like new houses. Because they were built for people moving out of traditional Japanese homes, with lots of tatami matting, they all had tatami rooms. Our flat has one such room left, but it quite possibly hasn’t been redecorated since the danchi was built, so one part of the remodelling will be renovating that. We’re going to leave it Japanese-style, however, because I’ve wanted a tatami room since I got to Japan.

We’re also planning to put a partition in the living room, to create an area where Mayuki can make train layouts, or doll dioramas, or lego constructions, and leave them up for days at a time. The main other work is likely to be a counter area in the kitchen, for cooking and eating breakfast, lunch, and some dinners. More formal dinners will be eaten in the tatami room, we think.

The room nearest the entrance is going to be my office, and I’m going to teach in there. That should mean that my evening lessons won’t interrupt Yuriko and Mayuki’s normal activities, and thus should make their lives significantly easier, particularly as Mayuki gets bigger.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the place looks like after remodelling. I think it will look much more interesting than it does now.

Liquid Web

This website, and all my blogs, are hosted by Liquid Web, a US web hosting company. They were recommended on an industry mailing list about six years ago, and so when I decided to switch to a host independent of my connection ISP, I signed up with them. They aren’t the cheapest option available (with the discounts, the basic package works out to about $12.50/month), but they’re also not ridiculously expensive. One reason I’ve stuck with them for about five and a half years is inertia, of course.

The other reason is that, most of the time, everything just works. I get very little downtime (in fact, I don’t think I’ve noticed any), and I can install the latest version of WordPress, run dozens of low-volume mailing lists, and do just about anything else I might want to do.

More important, when something does go wrong, the email support system is extremely effective. The technicians the emails go to actually fix the problems. Most recently, I needed a newer version of MySQL to keep WordPress up to date, so they migrated my account to a newer server, which had a sufficiently new version. When there was a problem with one of the blogs (Tamao), they worked out how to fix it with no intervention on my part. It took less than 36 hours to go from my reporting the initial problem to everything being fixed. Bear in mind that 24 of those 36 were New Year’s Day, and that there was quite a lot of them waiting for me to confirm things or spot problems. If I ever had a problem that needed to be fixed now, I’m confident that they would manage it, although I’d probably have to phone. I suppose I could also hover over the keyboard.

So, if you’re looking for a reliable web hosting provider, my experience of them has been entirely positive, even though Japan is a very long way from their location.