May 27, 2013

Free DNS Servers on Amazon Web Services (AWS)?

Filed under: Networking,T3city — pj @ 7:47 pm

Recently, I was researching how to run Ubuntu instances on AWS. I found The free tier includes 750 hours for EC2 Linux Micro Instances and 30GB of EBS storage. After clicking around, I figured out this is what you get with the Micro EC2 Instance running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS:

  • The default Ubuntu 12.04 LTS AWS image boots on a 8GB  root partition created on EBS. This allows you to run a a normal Ubuntu server. If you create a larger EBS partition, Ubuntu will automatically expand the file system on first boot, but 8GB should be plenty for a typical DNS server.
  • The Micro Instances includes 600MB of RAM
  • I thought I read that the Micro Instance includes 2 CPU cores, but the image I booted only shows 1 CPU.

This should be fine for a backup DNS server. (more…)

March 12, 2013

New Domain Name Scams

Filed under: Abuse,T3city — pj @ 2:11 pm

Most people know about Cybersquatting, but there are plenty of other scams involving domain names. Here are a few:


A friend forwarded me an email yesterday with a scam I haven’t seen before. He received domain name spam that looked like this: (more…)

June 28, 2009

Web Service for Document Conversion – an Odyssey

Filed under: .Net,PHP,Programming,T3city — pj @ 2:02 pm

A couple of years ago, I needed a way to convert Microsoft Word documents to Pdf from a C# program. The application I was working on processed hundreds of documents and was run by the system scheduler every day at around 3am, so manual conversion was not an option. I wasn’t in control of the source documents, so I had to accept the documents the way they were given to me. I needed to do additional processing on the documents, so I wanted to convert them into a universal format. I already had a good library for reading Pdf files. After researching my options, I settled on using OpenOffice to do the conversion. OpenOffice has a pretty good Word filter, the ability to create Pdfs and an automation interface accessible to all .Net languages, including C#, so it was a good fit. I know there are commercial solutions and ways to automate Microsoft Office, but the OpenOffice solution was free and fairly easy to use.

Recently, I upgraded my development system from OpenOffice 2.x to OpenOffice 3.1. I can’t remember now the main reason I upgraded, but I was looking forward to being able to add the ability to convert docx to pdf (Office Open XML support was added in OpenOffice 3.x). I figured the upgrade might require some minor changes to my document conversion code, but it turned out not to be so simple.

March 26, 2009

New Year, New Projects Completed

Filed under: ListingsTech,T3city — pj @ 11:34 pm

Wow, this has been a busy few months. In addition to the usual flood of small projects, since November, we’ve published these brand new sites: This was an interesting and very large project that recently went live. The application we created for this site is general purpose and can support many types of e-commerce. The backend of this site is very comprehensive and highly automated. Due to its sensitive nature, the there are multiple layers of security and a dedicated audit trail facility. This site is based on our very comprehensive and sophisticated online store engine. Our client’s goal is to compete head on with the likes of (who probably have spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on their online store). We have a very full featured marketing capabilities, integrated product catalog management (with lots of JavaScript to make it friendly and easy to use), integrated order fulfillment and automated integration with in-house store inventory. Since Google is the source of so much traffic (both paid and non-paid), we support every service that Google offers: Google Base (a.k.a. Google Products and Froogle), Google Site Maps, Google Adwords, Google Checkout and Google Analytics. We have some interesting payment solutions for vendors that want to sell to non-traditional markets (overseas). All our web applications support our standard skin and content management system (see below), so just about any look and feel can be created without any programming or database changes. There is a lot of power and flexibility under the hood that is probably best demonstrated in a meeting. This is a standard ListingsTech site to market HUD homes in the metro Chattanooga, TN area. One interesting thing about this project is that we allow visitors to search across subsets of two different listings databases. We needed to do this because the databases contain all HUD listings for Georgia and Tennessee, but the site is only for Chattanooga. Another interesting idea here is the general approach of keeping the site as simple as possible – we are trying to get visitors to the information or service they want in as few clicks as possible… Want to see listings for Walker County? Click the search term on the left. Need to get prequalified for a loan? Click the link on the top of the page and fill out the form. Need more information about a listing? Click the “Contact Us for More Info” link and type your question.  

July 7, 2008

How to get the best deal on a notebook computer (a.k.a. laptop computer)

Filed under: Networking,T3city — pj @ 1:28 pm

This is a question I get a lot. Notebook computers are extremely popular… everybody is tired of all the wires and space required by a traditional desktop computer. People are printing less and not everybody needs a big tower case that can hold the latest and greatest $500 video card! Kids want a computer they can easily take to college or class. They problem is that the typical budget notebook runs $700 – $800 (both online and in the stores), but everybody wants to pay $400 – $500. (more…)

March 13, 2007

Switching from PayflowPro to PayPal Website Payments Pro

Filed under: .Net,PHP,Programming,T3city — pj @ 10:32 pm

Way back in 1996 I created an e-commerce web site for a small software company I owned. The system allowed customers to purchase and download software our web site. To make the system appealing and easy to use for buyers, we processed credit cards automatically. Back then, there were no Internet credit card processing gateways, but I was able to purchase some rather expensive software that allowed my computer to emulate a credit card terminal. The software used the computer’s modem to call a modem bank at the credit card processor and complete the transaction. There was a way to automate the software via text files and command lines and that’s what I did. It was slow, but it worked.

Eventually, my credit card processor teamed up with one of the first companies to offer an Internet credit card processing gateway, Cybercash. I hopped on board as one of the first customers. (more…)

February 15, 2007

“Green Address Bar” SSL Certificates

Filed under: .Net,Networking,PHP,T3city — pj @ 8:02 pm

I’ve written other places about SSL certificates. Once upon a time, you bought your SSL certificates from either Verisign or Thawte. Back then, all (both) SSL Certificate Authorities (CAs) did some real validation on the entity (business or person) that was applying for the SSL cert. To validate the entity, they did things like review corporate records to make sure addresses matched, looked up phone numbers in public directories and matched drivers licenses to domain registrations.

I can understand why they wanted a bit of money for the work that was required for validation that first year, but overall, SSL certificates have long been overpriced for the value they provide. After that first validation, the next year’s renewal costs the CA practically nothing, but they used to give no renewal discounts at all and, even now, renewal discounts don’t exist and multi-year discounts are not as substantial as they could (should?) be. (more…)

February 9, 2007

Linux vs. Windows for Web Hosting

Filed under: .Net,PHP,T3city — pj @ 3:19 am

A lot of people think I’m an Linux/open source bigot. That’s not true at all. I do love Linux and open source. As a programmer, I dig the ability to “use the source, Luke”. Not only is looking at source code interesting on its own (at least for some of us), but every now and then it really helps with debugging and troubleshooting. Linux Servers are simply better than Windows Servers for a lot of the hosting I do, so I learned how to host on Linux. Back in the days of Windows NT, there was no comparison – our Linux web servers ran heavily loaded for years at a time while Windows NT systems with more than one web site needed regular reboots – really, I’m not making it up. (more…)

January 31, 2007

Primary Data Center Switch Upgraded to Gigabit Ethernet

Filed under: Networking,T3city — pj @ 4:14 pm

We’ve been meaning to upgrade our switches to GigE for some time. Last week, I swapped out our trusty Cisco 2924 switch with a NetGear GigE Prosafe Smart Switch. So far, so good on the NetGear switch.

The web UI is a little clunky, but overall, it’s better than most other switch configuration UI’s I’ve used in the past. I still prefer a script based configuration, but you don’t get that in these lower cost “web managed” switches.


November 28, 2006

PHP guestbook for

Filed under: PHP,Programming,T3city — pj @ 12:20 am

When T3city took over the hosting for, they had a guestbook on their web site. Their old host used what appeared to be a custom guestbook written in Cold Fusion. We don’t support Cold Fusion and I figured I could find something better in PHP, anyway. I found and installed the Purple Yin Guestbook. The PYG script worked well for some time. At some point, though, their guestbook (and guestbooks all over the Internet) got hit by bots (autonomous programs) created by spammers to post in guestbooks. Because the posts were automated, there were many of them. Eventually,’s owner, Gary, called and we discussed the spam problem. I decided to upgrade to the latest version of PYG. This new version supported captcha images. Gary asked to only use one random digit for the captcha image. This stopped the spam right away. Unfortunately, there were a lot of spam entries to clean up, but Gary worked on this as time allowed.

A couple of weeks ago, Gary started having more problems with his guestbook. It was slow and, more importantly, it wasn’t taking new posts. After some digging around, I found out that it was slow because PYG stored all the entries in a simple text file. THis is OK (and maybe ideal) for a guestbook with a few posts. Gary’s guestbook is active and covers several years. Also, there were still a fair number of spam posts that were not visible (Gary’s guestbook is moderated), but still in the text file. Altogether, Gary has over 3000 posts in his guestbook. (more…)

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