Archive for January 20, 2008

Philips shaver won’t charge? Fix it :) (Philishave)

Philips shaver won’t charge? Fix it 🙂 (Philishave)

OK, so my shaver decided to make weird noises and weird smells when connected to the mains – indicating that death was not far away.

So, here’s how to fix it.

You need 1 * 50 ohm resistor, 1 * USB cable, 1 * soldering iron.

50 ohms will give max 100mA charge rate.

Disassemble the shaver, cut off the now useless mains pins. (You’ll need a weird star-shaped screwdriver.)

Cut the female plug from the USB cable, strip back about 5cm of wire, and cut off the white and green wires – you only need the red and black wires. (That’s unless you want to build in a memory stick too!)

Attach the 50 ohm resistor in series with the red wire and the battery, and attach the black wire to the negative battery terminal. (I didn’t have any 50 ohm resistors handy, so this picture has two 80 ohm resistors in parallel to give 40 ohms.)

Charging time will be around 10-15 hours.

[ccc-news] 30 Hour Outage Special

[ccc-news] 30 Hour Outage Special

This is a special edition of CCC-News with information about why there was a 30 hour outage on email and web hosting.

In this edition:

Important news
30 hour server outage – what happened…
Mobiles please?

LG phone not so good on NextG?
The Computer of Doom!

30 hour server outage – what happened…

On Wednesday evening, the server that handles’s email, websites, and about 30 other websites hosted by CCC, went off the air.

I had received an email shortly before advising that a security upgrade was to be performed, so was not concerned, as this is usually a quick process. Not this time!

It turned out that the server had been infected by a special kind of virus known as a root kit. This makes the virus virtually invisible.

Additionally, this bug appears to be related to a new virus or worm that is doing the rounds, and even has the experts of the world baffled about where it came from and what it does!

The good news for now is that the server has been completely rebuilt, and upgraded to protect itself as best as the admins know how, from this bug.

Here is the explanation we received from WebHostsAustralia who manage the higher-level administration of the server. We’re on the Sydney server mentioned here…

Now that we have been pretty well been able to return normal services I would like to give a run down on what has been causing the problems on the server

Just prior to xmas we noticed that the server had ceased to be able to create files or directories that were all numerical and 2 clients reported they were getting alerts from their anti virus programs when visiting their sites

These alerts however were not showing up for all people viewing the sites in fact none of us could see them and I for example had just upgraded to norton 2008 a few days before on this machine

At the same time one of the clients running norton 2005 was getting the alerts

After further investigation we established that the alerts were only showing up for some people using Internet Explorer and not Firefox or other browsers

We ran a full virus scan using a couple of different systems on the server and they showed no problems so we started searching google for anything related

While we did find the odd report of others having the same problem there was no indication of anyone knowing exactly what was causing the problems or of any solution

We therefore decided to to instigate the server move in order to have a completely fresh install of all software on new hardware in a different data centre

This was the move at xmas and for 3 days everything ran fine before the problem re appeared

We then contact Centos (the operating system which runs on the server) cPanel and a server security company. None of them could identify the problem or suggest a solution

4 days ago we finally found some information as to what was causing the problem

>From the links below you will see that even today no one including the top Internet security companies knows how it is getting in to servers or how it can effectively be stopped…web_infection/…ion_continues/

and that only 3 out of the top 33 anti virus programmes can even pick it up

As you may know we have our own hardware and racks in Brisbane along with servers we lease in 4 data centres in the US while this server in Sydney is leased from a company down there

Overnight on Tuesday we discovered one of the servers in Brisbane and one in the US had been attacked in the same way

By now we had been able to identify a company in Scotland with the ability to remove the infection from the server and we commissioned them to clean the 3 servers

As you may know we have our own hardware and racks in Brisbane and have complete access to them and the data centres in the US are fully and permanently staffed however this server in Sydney is leased from a company down there who do not have personnel in the actual data centre

In order for the Scots to access the server we needed a centos disk installed in the server and access set up for external log in by the techs

With the US and Brisbane servers we were able to set this up right away and the necessary work was completed in under an hour per server with no interruption to service

We submitted a request to our server provider in Sydney at 6am on Wednesday for this access to be set up

For some reason they did not treat this as a priority despite repeated communications to that effect from us and it was only in the late afternoon it was finally actioned

The security company then accessed the server and performed the fix however when they went to restart the server to complete everything it would not come back up

Apparently when the person was setting up the access for them they had somehow managed to delete the contents of the /boot partition on the server

This left us with a dead server and noone in Sydney who could physically go in and reinstall the necessary software

Because remote access was still set up we sourced a company in India (due to the time difference) who swore they could fix it “no problems”

Well they clearly couldn’t and as a result we wasted 15 hours as a result

Our options at this point were to try and find someone else who could access the server and add the software to get it back up or wipe the server completely and reinstall everything from scratch

Because such a re install would take 12 – 18 hours I was still holding out that we could get it fixed and avoid this

We got the Scottish techs to have a look and they thought they could get it back up but in order to do so the process involves the disk in the server to be removed and inserted at various intervals which proved to be very time consuming as someone had to be organised each time to do this

In the end I had to make the decision to cut our losses and re install everything

Steve has now worked overnight to do this and by now all sites should be back up and running although a few may still require some final tweaking to be at 100%


We originally obtained the server in Sydney as a one off to run our server monitoring system for our US and Brisbane servers from a remote location and as there was a lot of space free on the server we decided to offer Sydney based hosting on it

As a result of this incident I am set to terminate the hosting from this server and move all sites to a new server I am setting up in Brisbane today

The main reason for this is our necessity to rely on third parties should a problem arise with the server in Sydney as opposed to here in Brisbane where we can have one of our own staff in the Data Centre in approximately 15 minutes and logged into a server with a console

We will still be maintaining a server in Sydney to run our monitoring and these forums from but we would like to move all client sites to Brisbane as soon as people are ready

Given the level of connections within Australia there should be absolutely no noticeable difference in performance but there will be the security of greatly increased service in the event of any future issues

However should anyone wish to remain on this server they can do

Once Steve and Michael have completed the remaining work on the server restore they will be contacting all clients on the server however should anyone not wish to wait please just pop a ticket in the help desk and we will start things rolling

If you have not done so already please have a read of the links I posted above as it is well worth seeing what we were up against


Note: No financial or physical contact information is stored on this server.

Mobiles please?

During this outage I sent updates to affected customers via Windows Messenger and SMS. If you’d like to be on the list for any future issues, please write back with a mobile number or Messenger address that you would like to have used for this purpose.


In a future Newsletter I’ll talk about Gmail – and how you can use it to kill junk mail from other addresses. For now I’ll just mention that it’s a good idea to set up a gmail address as a backup that you can use if you’re ever in need of one. It’s free from – It’s a bit like hotmail, but without the ads, etc.

LG phone not so good on NextG?

Unpleasant surprise number two for this week was the LG TU500 mobile puchased on eBay, in an attempt to get hands free working better n the car. It was not good – no buggger could hear me for a start, and the phonebook could not be transferred either; but that was not the worst of it…

I kept getting missed call messages – you know, the ones you have to pay through the nose to retrieve. I did some ‘scientific’ tests at home using two NextG phones in my pocket at the same time, calling both from a landline. The cheaper ZTE F252 phone worked each time, but the LG didn’t. Yet when on a desk they both showed equivalent coverage.

So, while the LG is maybe the better phone featurewise and possibly for outright coverage strength, the cheaper ZTE is more reliable when you’re teetering on the edge! The ZTE doesn’t wander off as much, or if it does, it is faster to re-register.

Notes: this was only a test with two handsets, so may not be scientifically accurate. Also, the TU500 was superseded by the TU550 recently. Both tested phones were in auto 2g/3g mode.

The Computer of Doom!

One of the newer capabilities of the upgraded Kingswood wiring is the ability to run a desktop computer direct from the battery. This rarely used feature is occasionally useful when some small task needs to be done, but I have no office available and don’t want to drive 15-30km to the home office.

It had it’s first official use Wednesday when a Glen Innes customer arranged to have a new modem installed after lightning blew up their existing one. (We met up in Guyra.)

So I plugged it in, turned it on and … nothing happened. No power light. Nothing. (Unpleasant surprise number three – they hadn’t at this point told me that it wouldn’t turn on – only that the phone line was dead if they connected the computer.) They’d wandered off for lunch, so I couldn’t reach them; so I left a note on their car that I’d be an hour, and headed back to the home office.

Theirs was an ancient computer bought second hand two years ago when I was still teaching at GALA, so worth ‘bugger all’ – and I have a shed wall of similar machines; but strangely each one I put their hard drive in – the part of a computer that holds all the information – it would not turn on. By the time I was on the third ancient (and a bit dusty) computer it finally dawned on me…

… The lightning had done so much damage that it had shorted out the hard drive! ..and the CD drive too.

That drive had almost killed three computers, but fortunately after a break of a few minutes they all recovered.

So, in this case all their stuff is probably gone. They haven’t asked for it to be recovered, which may be possible by swapping parts of the drive, for which purpose I hold a stash of old drives. The in-car power was useful however in setting up their email account on the $15 replacement.

[ccc-news] Assorted News 4 :)

[ccc-news] Assorted News 4 🙂

In this edition:

Important News
Reminder on Trading Hours

Security News
Safest ways to browse.

What’s New on the ‘Net
Stage 6
New Wireless Internet and Mobile Phone coverage on the horizon.

Warehouse Specials
Wireless Keyboard & Mouse $30
Digital Tire Pressure Gauge $20

The Kingswood’s Back!
GPS Thoughts.

Reminder on Trading Hours

G’day to you all, and welcome to 2008! Hope it’s going well for you! Here at CCC the year has started off surprisingly busy – where traditionally Dec – Jan were the slow months.

Just a quick reminder on the trading hours – they are officially 9am to 8pm. There are two reasons for these slightly unusual hours.
1 – It allows me to help people who work traditional 9-5 jobs and don’t get home until 6 or 7
2 – I’m a ‘night person’

As a result, if you try to call CCC before 9am you’ll very likely get the answering service. The office phones are on a timer which turns them off between 4am and 9am. In case of emergencies, there is a special hotline number available for anyone who requests it, but it is not publicised.

Safest Ways to Browse.

In the last few months there’s been an increase in popular websites becoming laced with nasty bugs – particularly sites popular with younger people such as MySpace, FaceBook, etc, and I read in the news this morning that there’s some new bugs doing the rounds on some e-commerce sites that have the experts a bit baffled too! So, if you’re particularly keen on keeping safe on the ‘net, here’s a few tips that might help 🙂 (Apart from the usual ‘have a virus scanner’, etc.)

There are five possible steps below – for most people step 1 and 2 are enough, step 3 optional, step 4 useful but occasionally mildly frustrating, and step 5 is only if you think you’re going to be going exploring off the beaten track.

Easiest Step: Upgrade to Firefox.

There are many reasons why I recommend this step.
– It loads pages faster than Internet Explorer
– If is open source, which means it is updated quickly when a glitch is found.
– It supports ‘extensions’ which allow you to customise it to be even safer
– It doesn’t natively support the technology Microsoft made many years ago that allowed websites to add programs to your computer without asking.

While Firefox alone won’t make you completely safe, it is a good first step, and is required for the next few tips.

You can get it free by going to

Step 2: Get AdBlock Plus

A good number of bugs get onto people’s computers through advertisements. These can be messages like “Your computer is vulnerable – click here to scan” etc – when really it’s just a picture, not a real message but might fool you into downloading something. Additionally, the reason some big sites have been hit is because what usually happens when you visit those sites is that they then call up a third party site that has the ads on it, and you see them. Those third parties don’t always spot a malicious ad given to them by a fourth party, and so they slip through onto the web page you’re looking at, and in some cases can do damage to your computer wihout you even clicking on them.

So, you can largely avoid much of this by installing the AdBlock Plus extension for Firefox. It will remove most pesky banner ads from most websites. You can get it by clicking here:

This also has the advantage that pages load faster – sometimes much faster if the advertising page is slow but the real site is fast.

Of course, this does deprive some websites of some of their income, but in my view if the industry can’t keep itself clean, why take the risk.

Step 3: Get FlashBlock

OK this step is not quite as necessary, but can still prevent some more recent bugs; and also save you a fair bit on your downloads; which can be useful if you’re on a restrictive plan. Many websites use Flash to do fancy ads that love to get in the way, play fancy animations or movies, quite often without you asking for them.

FlashBlock prevents them from downloading and running straight away – it leaves their outline and a round ‘play’ button you can click if you want to see whatever’s hidden. You can get it at

Step 4: For the mildly paranoid? NoScript

Some bugs can be in the form of hidden ‘scripts’ that make your computer do things that the webpage wants it to do. Usually these are pretty benign things like ‘add up the total of a shopping cart’ or ‘make that menu turn blue when the mouse is on it’ etc. However, they are also able to be abused to do nasty things. NoScript will prevent any script from running unless you give it permission. You only have to give permission once per website if you find the site isn’t working right while blocked. Perhaps this one’s a bit ‘geeky’ for many people, but if you’re wanting to be particularly safe, it could be worthwhile to have as well. Download NoScript here 🙂

Step 5: For the completely paranoid, or if you like ‘going off the beaten track’

If you’re a bit geeky, want to be able to surf the Internet and not have to worry about bugs at all, you can make a Virtual Computer using “Microsoft Virtual PC” from – you’d then have to install a copy of Windows or unix in it and use that for looking around on the Internet. You can then either set it to ‘undo’ it’s changes after closing, or just reinstall it when it gets too bad. A Virtual PC generally can’t interact with the real one, so any virus you get can only damage what’s on the virtual PC.

Stage 6 – Kinda like “YouTube”, but better content?

A customer just recently introduced me to Stage 6. It’s another video sharing site, a bit like YouTube, but with higher quality video, and in some cases some more contemporary video too. It has an option once a video has finished playing for you to save it on your computer to watch again later. Of course, be careful if you’re on a low downloads plan! You can find it at

New Wireless Internet and Mobile Phone coverage on the horizon?

As you know, NextG is able to be used for Internet connection, but is ridiculously expensive. (Comparison: NextG: 200MB for $59 vs. Vodafone 5,000MB for $50, or in other words, 29 times as expensive as their best competitor.) Both VodaFone and Optus have made noises about introducing high speed Internet coverage to many more towers in Australia, which could possibly include us! This could be particularly good news for people who cannot get ADSL broadband because they live more than 6km from an exchange.

I’m not sure yet whether I’ll be able to resell, or act as an agent for any of these services, but will of course keep you informed. The key thing for now is to avoid getting caught in a long-term contract with NextG if possible.

Oh, by the way I think Vodafone was looking at possibly using a new frequency for their regional towers so they’d have a similar coverage to NextG’s – here’s hoping!

Wireless Keyboard & Mouse set for $30

They still have some “Laser” Wireless Keyboard and Mouse sets for $30. I’ve sold four sets now, and only had a slight issue with one which was corrected by pressing the ‘connect’ button to get a new frequency. They’re at the front of the store – turn left as you go in.

Digital Tire Pressure Gauge for $20

A new bargain item – usually these gauges are more expensive. I compared results with a $50 model – exactly the same result. They’re at the back of the store. A bit weird looking since the integrate a knife (for cutting seat belts apparently) and a torch (what doesn’t these days) and a hammer (for breaking windows) as well as the gauge.

I have no relationship with The Warehouse – other than occasionally picking out the good stuff from the rubbish 🙂 I think the $4 USB hubs are back in stock too.

The Kingswood’s Back!

Well, it took a little longer than planned, but the Kingswood’s back on the road again, with a new front seat, and some additional wiring to tidy things up a bit. (The fuse box was getting a little hot when running the laptop and the evaporative airconditioner at the same time through the inverter.) I do apologise for the noise from the front – I have a replacement flange gasket that should shut it up, but it’s a bugger to get under and fix; so I’m waiting for a suitable time to find a mechanic to do that for me. Oh, and with the new GPS I can now see why I get overtaken regularly – 60MPH is only 92KPH on my speedo. Well, of course there’s the issue that it’s a 161 motor (the smallest motor available for that model) so it’s not powerful – but I’d rather that than be paying more for fuel.

GPS thoughts.

One new addition to the Kingswood this year is a GPS unit. A little hard to justify spending $460 on one, but it was a Christmas gift from a relative so I no complain 😉 They are interesting to work with, and generally are a time saver. However, this one’s plagued by a few issues which I believe affects many others too.

Old Maps: On this one, the pinch is still the old pinch, so I find myself driving through a fields and trees according to it’s screen
No Dirt: It knows Urandangie Street is dirt, but it doesn’t know that parts of Old Armidale Road and Bushy Creek Road are dirt, so it’ll send you that way in preference.
No Numbers: In some cases it knows no street numbers at all – or very few. For example, Toms Gully Road it only knows 193 and 880, blissfully unaware of all the others. Not a big deal ‘tho, just a frustration.

Those issues aside, they are quite useful. It’s good to finally be able to just plug in some address down the Ebor road or Wards Mistake road for example, and then listen to the radio / podcasts, etc, without having to continually watch for elusive turn-offs. At least 4 times last year I passed turnoffs on the aptly-named Wards Mistake road!

I’m not yet in a position to give a comparison of different models. The one I purchased, a Navman S50, was largely purchased because of it’s Bluetooth hands free option, meaning I could see who was calling (by name) and talk to them while driving, instead of using that silly ‘cyborg’ ear piece thing that seems to prefer life down the side of the chair rather than in my ear, and is often flat when needed. Of course, it turned out not to be compatible with my Telstra NextG mobile, so eBay has solved that problem with a secondhand LG mobile to replace it. If it weren’t for that killer feature, I’d have done more research 😉

I’m a little ambivalent about the windscreen mounting since it takes away a small viewable area, but it’s well off to the side. Finding other mounting points on a 1971 car isn’t so easy – the steering wheel was the next likely contender, but it’s a bit hard on the eyes changing focal range from wheel to road repeatedly. I have at last filled one of the ironies that my workmates from Bourke RetraVision used to say about putting a GPS in such an old car – now all I need is one speeding ticket and all their ridicules will be null and void!

I wish you all the best for 2008 🙂 Feel free to write back with feedback or comments on these newsletters – if there’s something you want to know about or share, let me know!

Cheers, Mike.