Snippets

Its interesting the way we seem live today – in snippets. Everything seems to happen so quickly that I hardly have time to register it before the next thing comes along. I feel that blogging is much the same way. There is so much going on in my life right now, but I find it difficult to share in small doses like this. I also sometimes wonder if its actually worth sharing in this context. The title of my blog lays claim to who I am, yet I feel like I share very little of that here. Am I really defined by the weekend adventures that I have? By the pictures that I take? By the websites I visit? I’d like to think that many of you readers know me well; but for those who have stumbled upon my site, or that are just tuning in – I’m not sure if my posts (or recent lack of) are living up to the title of my blog “I am Pablo“. Perhaps its too much to expect to really delve into the depths on these pages, and perhaps the snippets of life that I share here are just enough to evoke an idea – but somehow that doesn’t feel like enough. I also wonder if maintaining a blog gives an illusion of a connection – as if those who read it have a sense they know whats going on in my life. On the flip side, do I really know whats going on with the lives of those whose blogs I read? I guess each of us only discloses what we feel comfortable disclosing – but lately I can’t help but to feel as if that is bit disingenuous. I suppose that partially accounts for my lack of writing as of late. I’m also finding that in this world of perpetual connectedness it is quite hard to detach – just when you think you have, something reminds you that you are still plugged in.

Our Engadget HD contest entry

I was going to enter the Engadget HD contest with my setup, but when talking to Greg about it I realized that his was far worse! We took the above video today for his entry. Unfortunately, the e-mail bounced – Engadget HD’s 3gb GMail account was full!! We await to see what they will say about those whose entries bounced. In the mean time for your enjoyment…

Long week

Just a quick update! Had a bit more of a laid back weekend and went straight into a two day conference with the Consortium on Chicago School Research for work. The research data that they provided to us was quite fascinating and will be the topic of a forthcoming entry. I’ve since been trying to be more productive at work which has translated into less time for blogging. I’m hoping to have a bit more time this weekend to get stuff done – starting it off with a half day of work today followed by the Cubs v Sox Crosstown Classic! Hopefully the weather holds up!

Spring is in the air

I decided to do a bit of spring cleaning! I saw that WordPress 2.2 is available, and decided to upgrade my blog software. In doing so, I realized that my theme was quite outdated and that it would not take advantage of new features offered by the new version. I settled on the Mandigo theme, which I’m quite happy with. I finally have the option to change the blog resolution to 1024×768! Hopefully its not too big for anybody. Feel free to let me know what you think in the comments section! After two years with the same theme, it was about time that I updated!

Fixing my hacked WordPress database

I decided to write a quick recap on what I did to fix my WordPress database. Excuse me while I put my <Geek> hat on! Basically the perpetrator put in some malicious code that would execute every time an entry was viewed. The code bounced the end user to the perpetrator’s website (in my case, RootinG SabatogE ForceD). I took down WordPress before more damage could be done by renaming the index.php to index.old.

Step 1
Export your WordPress database so that you can edit the file manually. It may seem quite intimidating, but with the proper text editor it can be much easier to follow.

Step 2
Open up your WordPress database in a text editor. Again, I can’t recommend Context enough! It formats the document so that it is much easier to read/follow. The tabbed editing is also great to compare two files (which is how I ultimately solved the problem). Once you see the contents do a search for the webpage to which your users are being re-directed. In my case, I did a search for “rooting” which immediately brought me to the first hacked section.

`wp_categories` VALUES (1, 'Hacked By RootinG SabotagE ForceD || From Turkey', 'general', 'General nonsense.', 0, 14, 0, 0, 0);

As this is a “wp_categories” entry, I knew it had to be one of my categories. This one was easy, all I needed to do was subtitute the hacked text with my actual category name – in this case, “general”

`wp_categories` VALUES (1, 'General', 'general', 'General nonsense.', 0, 14, 0, 0, 0);

Fixed! My second category was also hacked, so I fixed that one in the same matter.

The next search for “rooting” brought me to the following:

`wp_options` VALUES (1, 0, 'siteurl', 'Y', 1, 'http://www.rootingforced.org/index', 20, 8, 'meta http-equiv="Refresh" content="1;URL=http://www.rootingforced.org/index"', 1, 'yes');

As the “siteurl” gets executed on every page view – the malicious code (in bold) executed no matter where you went! Again, the fix was quite simple, replace the bad with the good!

`wp_options` VALUES (1, 0, 'siteurl', 'Y', 1, 'http://www.iampablo.com', 20, 8, 'WordPress web address', 1, 'yes');

The “wordpress web address” text I got from looking at a known good database. The blog name and blog description were also modified, and easy to fix. But there was one more piece of code to fix.

`wp_users` VALUES (1, 'mNt', '7a1762814efa069678b1c7bf1ced4bed39b58439', 'administrator', 'musnatek@gmail.com', 'http://www.iampablo.com', '2005-07-06 13:25:53', '7a1762814efa069678b1c7bf1ced4bed39b58439', 0, 'mNt');

This piece of code changed the admin username to mNt as well as the admin password. Luckily I had an old database backup that I used to replace it.

`wp_users` VALUES (1, 'admin', 'cec315e3d0975e5cc2811d5d8725f149', 'administrator', 'me@iampablo.com', 'http://www.iampablo.com', '2005-07-06 13:25:53', '', 0, 'Pablo');

If the database works the way I think it does, using the above code cec315… should change your admin password to “fixed”. I would suggest you change it as soon as you get WordPress back up and running! The above were the only instances of hacked info that I was able to find. In the end, the database was a lot less screwed up than I had expected! I would search the database a few more times for any words similar to the website your users are being forwarded to.

Step 3
Restore your WordPress database following the directions in the link provided. Once the process has completed, try logging into your database admin panel using “fixed” as your password: http://www.wpblog/wp-admin

Change your admin password immediately and hopefully you are up and running!
</Geek>

It wasn’t quite as difficult as I had feared, and I hope that others find this guide useful if they have a similar problem with their WordPress blog! My hunch is that security was compromised because my old host had not kept up with security updates… but who knows, all I know is I’m glad its back up and running!

Not dead yet!

Back from the dead! I was able to resurrect the full database, so no entries have been lost! As it turns out, the database was hijacked and every post sent to that crazy website. I’m assuming its from my previous host’s incompetence… but I’m thrilled that Host Maven helped get me back up and running!

As it turns out, it was a simple line of code that caused it all – a bit of detective work got me going again! I’ll post the fix tonight as I hope to help others who have been hijacked the same way!

Good to be back!

If a celebrity falls in the forest…

…do they make a sound? A similar question is if today’s media giants decide not to cover somebody – will that person make the news?

It was only meant to be a weeklong ban — not the boldest of journalistic initiatives, and one, we realized, that might seem hypocritical once it ended. And it wasn’t based on a view of what the public should be focusing on — the war in Iraq, for example, or the upcoming election of the next leader of the free world, as opposed to the doings of a partygoing celebrity heiress/reality TV star most famous for a grainy sex video.

No, editors just wanted to see what would happen if we didn’t cover this media phenomenon, this creature of the Internet gossip age, for a full week. After that, we’d take it day by day. Would anyone care? Would anyone notice? And would that tell us something interesting? CNN.com

Though this is an interesting experiment, in the end, a week long ban is just that – a week long. I don’t think it will really change the news in any big way. Sure, I didn’t hear about her birthday party in Vegas or Beverly Hills… but, as her life doesn’t interest me at all, I’m sure I wouldn’t have read about it anyway. Maybe it wasn’t thrown out in all of the magazines or newspapers for the world to see, but does anybody really care?

I decided to do a Technorati search to see if there has been less blog “coverage” during the ban:

Posts that contain “Paris Hilton “ per day for the last 30 days.

Ok, so maybe there was a bit of a lull – bloggers posting less than 1000 entries per day during that week – it’ll be interesting to see how that changes over time.

Does this show that the media creates these monsters? Does it show that the world only cares about what the media feeds us? An interesting experiment… but wouldn’t we be much better served if they just stopped covering her all together?

If a celebrity falls in the forest… I don’t really care!

Change

I plan on making a few changes to the blog in the coming days/weeks. One of the first, is to parse my links as it seems many of our fellow bloggers have fallen off of the face of the blogosphere. That being said, I have unceremoniously removed them from my roster until such date that they post again. I am happy to say that Dave has returned armed with his “War On Logic”. Welcome back!

Speaking of change… the picture above is the Excel spreadsheet that I created to analyze the information that Dave provided in his “guess the value of the change I have been keeping under my bed for 6 years” contest. We actually had a bit of a mathematical jam session one night while having drinks at Dave and TK’s apartment and used the same method to come up with an answer. Also discovering that dimes and quarters are worth the exact same amount per weight. Fascinating, I know! I’m not certain that posting my methodology will give anything away to others who might want to participate, but I promised Dave I would!

This weekend was the first weekend I have been in Chicago in almost a month! I needed that time to decompress and get some stuff done, and I’ll be needing more of it as the week rolls on. Work was insane last week, mostly due to a misunderstanding on my part on a grant deadline – I ended up working until 2am on Tuesday and Wednesday was probably the most stressful day I’ve had to date! I managed to get everything in on time, but there are still a few loose ends I need to tie up.

Though traveling has been a blast the last few weeks, its good to be home.