Sunday, 16 October 2016

Invoice scam - Do not pay for services not ordered or needed - techesseosseo.org was oseoservice.org SPAM FRAUD SCAM

December 2016 update
Same scam - new domain = techesseosseo.org

Seriously unless you have a business relationship with

]Registrant Email: wangbing616@engineer.com
Admin ID: 1611081654kifh
Admin Name: wang bing
Admin Organization: wang bing
Admin Street: Dong Shan Quxiangzhouqucuixiangjiedao1406hao
Admin City: guangzhou
Admin State/Province: guangdong
Admin Postal Code: 519000
Admin Country: CN
Admin Phone: +86.075620871127

Don't send him/her any money or CC card details.

---------
As the owner of few domains on the internet I get my share of frauds and scam emails. The fake SEO service invoice that looks and sounds proper is a common culprit. Intended to arrive on the desk of an admin person, who may be does not look to closely or is fooled by the language, and just clicks to pay.  This is fraud as regardless of if the service exists, and it probably doesn't, because the service was not ordered.  Sending invoice in bulk hoping that a few pay up is a common scam made easier by  email and web technology.

Don't fall for this one.  The letter says :

We do not register or renew domain names. We sell traffic generator software.

and yet uses the domain registration information to spam. The fact that the scammers have used domain information to scrape admin email addresses in breach of the terms of service of the registrars is just a minor point.












Sunday, 2 October 2016

Sometimes warranties work - Samsung Fridge Freezer fixed for free. (almost)

We have a nice big 2013 Samsung fridge freezer Model RSH7ZNBP that had a problem.



Over the last few months it had developed a "Death Rattle". Each time the motor stopped it would rattle like something inside was loose. Of the few moving parts in a fridge the core compressor is the most important providing the central cooling function and this sounded like it was suffering.  Being fairly new device Samsung was called who recommend a server company in our area. Actually about 100 miles away in Somerset, but they visited the next week.  The repair quoted was 
  • Replace the Compressor, 3 way Valve & Re-gas appliance at a cost of £413 and thanks for the £94 call out fee. 
This seemed a lot to pay for a quality fridge that was just a few years old.  I was about to call Samsung in a huff to see about getting a reduction when I saw a sticker on the front of the instruction booklet ...

  • 10 Year Warranty on the DigitalInterverter compressor
Fantastic. The words inside confirmed that the compressor was only guaranteed for cost of parts but that is the main cost involved.  A call to the service centre when much easier than expected and the same service folks listed a week later, with the wrong part.  Another visit a week later saw the compressor, 3 way valve all replace and the fridge/freezer re-gassed and working. No more mechanical clanging rattle on compressor stop.

Looking back just a bit concerned that the service folks who fist visited did not know about the 10 year extended warranty given for free with this model but ho hum all sorted in the end. 

The usual rules apply for these complex appliances, Keep the receipt and book of words and insist on a woking life of 3..8 years without major repairs.





Thursday, 9 June 2016

Sani pass adventure - on a hired mountain bike 2011

I saw that BBC Top Gear S23E2 went up the Sani Pass in three high cost high power SUVS.  The track from the South Africa border post to the entrance to Lesotho at the top is a long dirt trail with stream crossings, precipitous edges. The views are fantastic high up in the Dackenberg range.

BBC has a big budget, I had a rented mountain bike. Friend Ian drive me and bike from Underberg to the base of the climb. It took a solid 3 hours and bit to crawl up to the top. The clouds came down and the chill descended on the last section.

Cheers

Gannett




video



Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Silverstone April 2014 World Endurance racing - pictures


Choose your favourite ..
Aston Martins

Ferraris


American muscle

Porsches

Toyota


All racing at Silverstone April 16/17 2016 weekend. Results write up here and full gallery here.




Saturday, 26 March 2016

Paradox database.db recycled into Libre Office ready for mailing label generation

Problem

A neighbour asked for some help moving over from a couple of turn of the century windows XP boxes onto a new PC running Windows 10. Most of this was easy as the printer was quite up-to-date and most of the activity on the machine was for email using Thunderbird and document creation using Word 2003. The sting in the tail was the "Mailings" system used to handle a small business mailing list. As can be seen the standard address data was supplemented with some flags marked a..z which are used to record various attributes about the entry.  The main output from the system was mailing labels used for posting catalogs. There are about 5700+ entries in the database.



Research and process

The first task was to find which database system is used to hold the data, then see if the data can be extracted easily. Step two would be to reformat the extracted data into a modern usable format and finally figure out how to create mailing labels from that data.

Finding the brand of database was achieved by online search of files ending in .DB and .PX. Doing a strings command on the .EXE file and looking on the web for hints from the contents.

The strings output gave these names that looked like sub-routines or procedure names near the start of the file.

DBEDIT
DBGARROW
DBINSERT
DBN_CANCEL
DBN_DELETE
DBN_EDIT
DBN_FIRST
DBN_INSERT
DBN_LAST
DBN_NEXT
DBN_POST
DBN_PRIOR 

Search on these names gave hints that Delphi development environment had been used. The searches for .DB and .PX had results that indicated a Paradox database was being used. This matched with the known technology from the age of the system from around 2004. 

There are four main ways to read and refactor database files :
  1. Start the existing database - connect to it and extract all the data,
  2. Read the database files using an extractor tool, reformat or reuse the output,
  3. Read the database files and figure out the low level format to extract the records and rebuild into an input format,
  4. Use the import feature of a new database to read an older one.

The major advantage of using some kind of extraction tool  2) over a forensic bit twiddling approach 3) are time to solution, accuracy and ease of use.  Extraction from database using encryption mandate methods 1 & 4 above. For this project method 2 was to be used.

Knowing that the database was in Paradox format allowed the research to be more focused on obtaining a read and extract tool. Luckily the Wikipedia page for Paradox database listed PxTools & Pxlib combination that could be used to read an existing database file. The PxTools project is partly hosted on Sourceforge and partly on private web pages of  Jan Kneschke. The download links were a bit mixed up but just knowing that such a tool existed was enough to believe that clean extraction would be possible.

After some struggles to get a clean compile of the pxlib and link-load with pxtool ( -lm was needed ) a viable binary was obtained. 

Many database files build in the format of the data into a header record. Once that header is understood the rest of the data extraction is quite straight forward. The pxtool was then able to pull the record format and then provide the data in a variety of formats.

$ more ADDRESS_sceema.txt
File Version:            5.0
File Type:               indexed .DB data file
Tablename:               resttemp.DB
Num. of Records:         5716
Theor. Num. of Rec.:     6980
Num. of Fields:          36
Header size:             2048 (0x800)
Max. Table size:         2 (0x800)
Num. of Data Blocks:     1396
Num. of 1st Data Block:  1
Num. of last Data Block: 1241
Num. of prim. Key fields: 1
Next auto inc. value:    0
Write protected:         0
Code Page:               437 (0x1B5)
Encryption:              0x0
Update time:             27.8.2001 23:00:00 (998949600)

Fieldname          | Type
------------------------------------
         Client No | int(4)
           Surname | char(50)
              Name | char(50)
           Address | char(100)
              Town | char(30)
            County | char(30)
          Postcode | char(10)
         Telephone | char(40)
              Date | int(2)
                 A | boolean(1)
                 B | boolean(1)
                 C | boolean(1)
                 D | boolean(1)
                 E | boolean(1)
                 F | boolean(1)
                 G | boolean(1)
                 H | boolean(1)
                 I | boolean(1)
                 J | boolean(1)
                 K | boolean(1)
                 L | boolean(1)
                 M | boolean(1)
                 N | boolean(1)
                 O | boolean(1)
                 P | boolean(1)
                 Q | boolean(1)
                 R | boolean(1)
                 S | boolean(1)
                 T | boolean(1)
                 U | boolean(1)
                 V | boolean(1)
                 W | boolean(1)
                 X | boolean(1)
                 Y | boolean(1)
                 Z | boolean(1)
     Mailsort Code | int(4)
------------------------------------
     Record length | 346 (0x15A)

Extracts in .cvs and .html and .sql were obtained using the various options of PxTool. The database originally had some more involved functions to enable the use of mail sort codes but this was no longer needed. 

With the data extracted into .csv format, the import into LibreOffice Calc was straightforward. The 5777 address records appear as a row each with the fields separated out into columns.  The standard data filters were applied to the headings row to allow for sorting and searching. Conditional formatting was applied to the A..Z fields to highlight the set values. Some of the Address fields had line breaks which were replaced with, using a find/replace command.

Creating output

The last stage was to figure out how to generate the mailing labels, now only needed for Xmas cards, as the whole catalog process has moved on-line to a website. The lettered column flags are used to filter the data into various categories one of which was to send a Christmas card.

Libre Office has all the features needed to generate mail merge and labels project.  The steps required to do this are all.
  1. Review the data and check the column alignment and data.
  2. Register the spreadsheet as a data source in the Libre office Base program,
  3. Create a template label document with fields from the data source set up in 2)
  4. Generate the actual labels document using a filtered set of the data.
Step 2 is the magic, a new database is created that links back into the spreadsheet. After this step this "bridge" database can be used as a data source for later merges.


Once this whole process has been done for the first time just step 4) is repeated for other output selections. There are a couple of ways to achieve this all of which are demonstrated in YouTube. The most useful YouTube demos coming from TheFrugalComputerGuy who goes over many of the basic and advanced feature of Libre office.

Reimplementation of a database is the sort of project that can be a real time sink. Using the resources already existing this transformation was achieved in a couple of afternoons work. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Ubuntu catch-up

It's be a long while since my last blog post. Have to say that I have mostly been commenting over on the time sink that is Facebook. Anyway I had a few days off over the Xmas break to catch up on a few housekeeping tasks. I don't mean re-roofing the shed, pulling leaves out of the pond, adding compost to the sinking vegtable patch or clearing the accumulating kibble from the office book shelves. What I mean is getting the Ubuntu linux machine up to date.  I have this hotrod machine that has a fairly complex set up that includes being able to boot into Windows 7, Windows 10 and Ubuntu Linux, used ocasionaly for various digital exploring and research projects.

In a fit of reckless enthusiasm the upgrade to 14.04 Ubuntu was triggered. After the usual process a reboot launched. This was where the fun started, the GUI login screen shows but in a low resolution version. Logging in gave a few flashes then back to the login screen. This is not a uncommon issue that relates to having an Nvidia plug-in graphics card that needs updated drivers.

First step was to get console access to the system using F1 or ssh in from another system (if previously configured).  

Next was update the Nvidia driver using

$  sudo apt-get install nvidia-current

However this ended with

Building for 3.2.0-68-generic and 3.13.0-61-generic
Building for architecture x86_64
Module build for the currently running kernel was skipped since the
kernel source for this kernel does not seem to be installed.
Building initial module for 3.13.0-61-generic
Done.

IE a successful build for the latest kernel version but not he one running on the system, which was rather old as shown by...

$ uname -a
Linux bb02-u910 3.2.0-68-generic #102-Ubuntu SMP Tue Aug 12 22:02:15 UTC 2014 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

3.2 being much older than 3.13.0

This was not expected, I had no particular need to run an old kernel on the updated system.  Indeed looking at the version table 3.2 is well behind the rest of the system, dating back to Ubuntu version 12.04

The kernel version is loaded during the system start up sequence by GRUB. Looking in /boot shows the configuration files and menus file that offer the kernel version during the start up sequence. The update-grub command should be adding the latest built kernels to the menu offered during the start up sequence. Update-grub appears to be working but the new kernels were not offered, it was instead showing a list of older kernels. Some research showed that GRUB needed updating. After checking which actual device is used the update sequence went through first time.

With Grub updated, the new kernel version 3.13.0-61-generic loaded and the graphics driver was in place. Success.

Notes and Links:

To get console -  use
  • Ctrl-Alt-F1 shortcut keys to switch to the first console.
    To switch back to Desktop mode, use the Ctrl-Alt-F7 shortcut keys.
    Or ssh in from another system,
Update Nvidia driver   or this way if you have a working GUI login
Check the Kernel version against name -a
Grub version update from 0.97 to 1.96 - Did not need to use boot recovery disk as the MBR was fine.

Whilst the above may seem quite complicated the main message to understand this that there is help out there especially on the Ubuntu forums.



Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Whatsapp Spam direct to your mobile and in ur face deception

This single image shows the whole process of Whatsapp spam process. Get a WhatsApp account (free) Load up a load of random or guessed phone numbers into a group. Send a cheesy message and then unload the group. Simples. A pain in the a***e international spam in short order. Cheaper than international SMS and no blowback.

And what is WhatsApp doing about this - nothing I as far as I can tell. 



Who who'll have guessed that a free messaging app would be used for spam ? Where's the president for that ? Just about the last 30 years of internet, Usenet, Email, worms, Viruses, Facebook.

---------------------------------------------------

Here is another ugly face of the net - pop up deception right in your face. Triggered from from a random interesting post on Facebook this javascript dialog box locks out your browser.  The use of a deceptive domain name "com-macupdate.info"  preceded by apple. gives the impression of legitimacy.

Action to take - Force quit Safari then restart Safari holding down Shift to avoid dropping right back into the same issue.  This and other similar scams are discussed on the Apple support forums.


http://apple.com-macupdate.info domain is a part of com-macupdate.info nothing to do with Apple.com