Geeky stuff

Implementing CAPTCHA spam protection in PHP

Those people privileged enough to have websites with fancy (or non-fancy) forms on them will probably be all too aware of the evil spambots that come along and auto-fill them in with commercial nonsense, inane content or on occasions just blanks and hit the submit button. Depending on what the form does this tends to mean you'll get 1000 advertisement emails, a database full of rubbish or a few thousands complaints at spam. The Poorhouse has already discussed a few ways of dealing with the problem but another common one is illustrated here.

Fun with binary

Uber - and I mean uber - geeks, there is another attractively nerd-ridden game out there for you. Get onto Cisco's Binary Game. It even includes a suitably hi-tech-stuff-happening-in-lame-film-type soundtrack.

Kind of like a geek form of one of the gazillion Tetris type games out there the deal is that a screen including 1s and 0s as per binary notation appears alongside a box for the equivalent decimal form of the number. Should the decimal number be filled in you should immediately turn the 1s and 0s on and off until you formed the binary equivalent. If however the box is empty, you need to convert the binary to decimal and enter it into the box. Quickly - because take too long and the rows of problems to solve will increase until the screen is overfilled with the horrors of binary notation.

And remember kiddies...there are only 10 types of people in the world etc. etc. The Poorhouse is ashamed to find this game addictive.

Fixing Windows Mobile task and event reminders

As part of the general trend of human-to-machine intelligence outsourcing, the Poorhouse likes to take note of its ever-more failing memory and delegate tasks such as knowing what to do on an average day to PDA-esque technology. With even the most basic of mobile phones now having enough diary features to plan a space mission this generally works well. A day without 1000 reminders to "Get out of bed", "Have a shower", "Tie up shoelaces" and so on is probably a day wasted.

All goes well until the PDA/phone/whatever breaks. Unfortunately the Poorhouse's current smartphone which runs Windows Mobile 5 did break a bit - although quite subtly. Whilst you could still input appointments, tasks et al. it would always fail to actually remind you to do them. Wonderful.

"No valid information" error when remastering your PA Business Systems computer

PA Business Systems is a company selling computer, seemingly mainly refurbished Packard Bell systems. It's a cheap way of getting a decent spec computer for substantially less than the inflated price that PC World and Packard Bell seem to manage to create between them. However it is still a Packard Bell and thus "weird" in some ways.

The Poorhouse has one such machine. It came to pass that it was desirable to "re-master" it. Re-master is Packard Bell speak for reinstalling Windows and the applications it came with - basically reverting it to factory settings, and is what PB annoyingly try and recommend for pretty much any error you encounter, down to the level of "my fingernail broke when typing the letter X". However, upon careful following of the instructions provided a nice black screen came up saying something along the lines of "This computer contains no valid information". Amazing.

Sort of "Leave on server" facility on Gmail's POP feature

Gmail (aka Googlemail) is beauteous in many, many ways - but its POP access is not one of them. Sure enough, it does have it, and for free, which is an improvement on many webmail services, but it's a bit weird. This isn't normally a problem because most often you might as well use the website rather than drag your email down to your computer using Outlook et al.

One such exception is if you have a mobile device that can't handle either the mobile website or the Gmail mobile application (which doesn't work on the Google Apps version of Gmail anyway) or can't always be online.

Put MSN Messenger back on your Windows Mobile 5 gadgetry

These days any half-recent mobile phones have a pile full of ridiculous facilities, designed to make space travel look like the stuff of mere kiddies. If your phone can't output 100 ringtones simultaneously, surf the inter-web at above-broadband speeds whilst cooking your dinner then something is wrong. There is thus some convergence between phone and PDA, many of which run Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.

Looking at some recent Windows Mobile 5 phones from Orange, T-Mobile and probably others it seems like something is missing though. Yes, what good is your fancy-dancy 10-mega-gig phone if it can't help you ROFL LMAO with your equally bored buddies via the magic of MSN Messenger?

What time is it?

Elite web surfers: the virtues of using the 'fox as opposed to Internet Explorer to surf away have been discussed many a time before - mainly to do with the many extensions you can add on to it to make it super useful. Yet to feature on the Poorhouse however is the number one essential reason to get it right now.

Two words: Stop and Hammertime.

Well, for far too long when that immense webpage full of a certain type of photographs has refused to download within the hour, you've had to reach for a dull red stop sign, X or other such tedious and predictable iconic representation of "stop" stuck at the top of your boring web browser. No longer!

Fixing the spam module mysql_real_escape_string error

Kernaltrap has an excellent Drupal anti-spam module which is used to great effect at the present time on this site. Recently it was set to moderate forum posts (which in Drupal terminology are themselves nodes) and errors started appearing in the watchdog logs every time the cron tasks were run.

mysql_real_escape_string() expects parameter 1 to be string, array given in /usr/home/adam/public_html/includes/ on line 350.


Unknown column 'n.revision_timestamp' in 'where clause' query: SELECT n.nid, n.vid, n.type, n.status, n.created, n.changed, n.comment, n.promote, n.moderate, n.sticky, r.timestamp AS revision_timestamp, r.title, r.body, r.teaser, r.log, r.format, u.uid,, u.picture, FROM node n INNER JOIN users u ON u.uid = n.uid INNER JOIN node_revisions r ON r.vid = n.vid WHERE n.nid = '835' AND n.vid = '835' AND n.type = 'forum' AND n.status = '0' AND n.created = '1165946854' AND n.changed = '1165946854' AND n.comment = '2' AND n.promote = '0' AND n.moderate = '0' AND n.sticky = '0' AND n.revision_timestamp = '1165946854' AND n.title = 'Merry Christmas Site' AND n.body = '<a href=\"\">xanax</a> \r\n<a href=\"\">phentermine</a> \r\n<a href=\"http://tramadol400.blo in /usr/home/adam/public_html/includes/ on line 121.

Online file conversion

The Internet is great for sending files around, whether they be documents, pictures, sounds, videos or any other such electro-data. What is sometimes less great is when the proud recipient of your favourite picture of your hilarious office antics, or chain letter that if you don't forward to 7 people immediately you will die a painful death, can’t actually see the file because they don't have the right obscure program needed to open it.

This problem is only exacerbated by the profusion of admittedly cool new technologies where for instance a Nokia phone can bluetooth a sound recording to your Apple Mac via a Palm PC and so on. Who knows what format that will turn up in, or how to open it? If horror-of-horrors you aren't even on your own computer the chances of you finding and installing a program that will let you convert such things is minimal. So luckily you don't have to any more, Media Convert will do it for you via the web.

Free fonts

For anyone needing strange and wonderful typographical assistance in the guise of free fonts, the Poorhouse recommends There you can download and preview hundreds of free fonts.

Just like many other sites to be fair. But this one looks pleasant and lets you preview the fonts by inputting your own text.

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