Sep 07 2008

Buffalo vs. Lion … … vs. Croc

Category: VideosChrisM @ 8:39 pm

Ignore the advert (you can just click the little ‘X’ to remove it), and make sure you watch the video from beginning to end. The title of this post gives you a clue as to the main players, but you wouldn’t necessarily be able to guess the outcome of each battle. Don’t get all misty-eyed and stop the video too early…

One other thing I observed – the American woman/women who scream at key early points… if animal’s savage behaviour shocks you so much, perhaps don’t go on safari? (Firefox still wins any day 😉 )

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Jul 25 2008

Bloggerwave Issues Once More

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 6:00 pm

As you may remember from my last mention of Bloggerwave, they were a little behind in keeping up with their payments. They managed to pay $60 of the $70 that was owed. As the other $10 is from late last year, and I’ve not received any response from them at all, I’ll not be holding my breath.

However, moving onto new issues, bloggers who visit the Bloggerwave site in a FireFox browser will find they are unable to select and therefore copy the image url required for each task. You can either switch to Internet Explorer, or save the page, and open it up in Dreamweaver/FrontPage/Notepad to extract the requried information. A more fundamental error in their system however is found when new bloggers register with their system. When you try to accept a new task, the screen you are taken to does not display any information at all. IF you already have previous tasks completed in their system, this problem does not arise, however as all new members will obviously not have any tasks already in the system, you hit a brick wall. I’ve sent the company another message (after testing the issue with a friend who had just signed up), but their past history of communications makes me believe that the best I can hope for is for the issue to be silently fixed at some point.

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Jul 23 2008

RSS Feeds

Category: Friends,KazakhstanChrisM @ 5:36 am

Following on from the last post, I have recently got around to re-adding most of my favourite RSS feeds, following the last hard drive failure. So, check these out sometime and let me know if you want to recommend any others. (If there is no comment feed listed, it is because there is none listed on their site, and I was unable to guess the correct URL.)

Kazakhstan Blogs

KZBlogKZBlog Comments

The Life Of 2Me – Not actually on Kazakhstan any more, but the older posts are still of interest. The newer ones are interesting too, just not on Kazakhstan 😉

English AdvantageEnglish Advantage Comments – Not specifically Kazkhstan-based, but it does get mentioned from time to time

A Momentary Relapse of ReasonA Momentary Relapse of Reason Comments – See the previous post here for more info on this new blog

News From The CaravanNews From The Caravan Comments

Narcogen – This feed URL should filter out his automatic XBox 360 posts.

Bogar – Live Space’s RSS feed defaults to a lot of items, it would appear. Occasionally times out.

NewEurasiaNewEurasia Comments – Both of these are specifically for the Kazakhstan section of the site.

RegistranRegistran Comments

Other Blogs

Celt PhotographicCelt Photographic Comments – Not often updated any more.

StarBlogStarBlog Comments – A mix of German and English posts.

WordPress GuruWordPress Guru CommentsAsk OwenAsk Owen CommentsUgh!!’s Greymatter HoneypotUgh!!’s Greymatter Honeypot Comments

I’ll add the feed URL for Alex’s Dryad Musings blog once we have her hosted somewhere properly – the free hosting’s required adverts inserted at the top of each page currently ruin the feed.

Whilst you’re checking out and possibly adding those feeds to FireFox/your favourite RSS reader, don’t forget this blog’s feed and comment feed.

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Jul 16 2008

WordPress 2.6

Category: WordPressChrisM @ 2:49 am

So, just a few months after WordPress 2.5 was released, we now have 2.6! I checked this version on this blog’s little brother (, making sure there were no repeats of the problems encountered with 2.5 and 2.5.1 last time around. No immediate issues to be found, so I’ve updated 19 sites in very little time (mainly thanks to the WordPress Automatic Upgrade plug in).
One quick thing I’ve noticed so far… the word count feature does not seem to stay perfectly ‘live’. So if you’ve typed out a long post, and the word count is still 0, you probably haven’t started a new paragraph (this seems to trigger an update). Try pressing Enter and then deleting the new para if necessary.
I’ll now not need to worry about installing the Firefox add-on I previously used the next time I do a new install. Also this word count does not take into account the amount of words in the Title box, so that’s an improvement.

Watch the video below for more information on the changes that can be found with WordPress 2.6…

I’ve just noticed my comment feed is now working again! I first noticed it wasn’t functioning a couple of months ago, and just assumed it was a configuration issue with feedburner. Since upgrading to WP2.6, all seems well again 🙂

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Jul 16 2008

PPP Weren’t Down!

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 2:33 am

I meant to update the situation since my PayPerPost And SocialSpark Down Again? post. It turns out the problem was at my end, as many other sites were also not available. The sites resolved OK, but they just hung with the connection established, not even timing out. After running through the obvious preliminary checks, I asked Ira to contact our pseduo-ISP, and check what the problem was. Nothing at all apparently, the fault must lie with our setup.

I sent this letter, and was happy to receive a reply, quite quickly, on a Saturday afternoon!

(his name removed),

I believe you spoke to my wife, Irina, earlier today. These are the details of the problems we have, I look forward to hearing the solution.

Are our current internet problems because we are on the restricted speed connection right now, as we’ve gone over 10Gb?

This has been happening since Wednesday, possibly one or two days before that.

Problems include…

1) The following sites not working –

None of those sites will load, it just states ‘waiting for (name of site)’ constantly. All sites load if I use a web proxy service to test them.
Other sites load ok, the ones given are just examples I’ve noticed so far.

2) MSN Messenger can not connect, but Skype is OK.

3) BitTorrents cause complete failure with the internet connection – ALL downloads/uploads, not just torrents will stop for 10-20 seconds, start again for 10 seconds, then fail again in a loop. This has always been the case, not just since Wednesday.

Attempts to repair or specifically identify the problem…

Confirmed that no proxy server is set, Automatically Detect Settings unchecked, used both FireFox, Internet Explorer 7, Pocket Internet Explorer and NetFront.
I tried the same things on my wife’s laptop, with both a wired LAN connection and WiFi. Exact same problems occur.
I tried the same things on my PDA, using WiFi. Exact same problems occur.
I obviously tried restarting the PCs & the router (a Netgear DG834PN).
I checked the MTU is not set too high (currently 1492) and therefore causing strange fragmentation problems.
I removed the DNS servers I had assigned (OpenDNS, as the ones in this country are quite bad), and used the default ones supplied by Bazis, as well as defining the router itself as the DNS server (which would only cause the PC to use the default Bazis ones anyway). This was done both on the PC and the router itself.

The problems remain.

These issues occur on three different devices, with different DNS servers set, I believe the fault lies with either your or Kazakh Telecoms network hardware.
I did not think that resetting the TCP/IP protocol stack would be worth doing, as all three devices would be very unlikely to suffer from the same problem at the same time.

I used to work for an ISP in Britain, as a Senior Technical Support Agent, so I hope I have told you all the information you need to fix this problem. If there are other tests you want me to carry out, please tell me.

If you have a modem that you want to test in this flat to confirm the fault is not here, I would be happy to help.

Chris Merriman

Once I actually read their reply, I wasn’t exactly over the moon…


Reinstall operating system Windows
or restore her(it) with help of the load disk. Probably after attacks virus she conked…
Earlier beside me was such problem, was not opened mail on
If you want that I came to you home and has tested on my notebook, I with joy to you will come…

About 10 GB… There is quota In Kazakhtelekom to speed on loading more 10Gb.
You it is necessary to call me 688-907

Krasnikov (name removed)!

I should point out straight away that they said they didn’t speak English (not a problem, it is to be assumed in this country), but I really hoped the letter I’d sent would give them enough information to not get a ‘reinstall Windows’ reply. Anyway, at some point last Saturday something happened that caused the sites to work again. Whether it was something corrected at Bazis, or further on up the line with Megaline (the real ISP) noticing that some of their hardware wasn’t working, I’m not sure. Anyway, sent this reply…

Thanks for your advice.

Reinstalling Windows really is a last ditch ‘fix’ for any computer problem. The fact that these sites did not work on THREE different devices (XP desktop, Vista laptop, Windows Mobile 6 PDA) indicates this would not have done anything to remedy situation. All three devices are confirmed as virus, trojan, spyware, adware and, in general, malware free. I’ve not encountered any viruses in the last 15 years that prevented that sort of range of sites from loading.

Luckily, at some point during Saturday afternoon, something was fixed somewhere, and the sites worked again. Perhaps Megaline had a routing problem or flakey hardware that is now fixed?
Anyway, I’ll wait until the end of the month, when I get my ‘normal’ speeds again (I understand the 10Gb limit, it is laughably small, but I understand it), before retesting to see if BitTorrents still cause catastrophic failures for all internet based traffic.

Thank you for replying,

Chris Merriman

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Jun 04 2008

PC No Longer In Pieces :-)

Category: PersonalChrisM @ 4:44 am

As I mentioned previously, our main PC had a major failure with the hard drive that had Windows and all the apps on it. It is most probably just a coincidence, but this occurred directly after I updated my on board audio drivers. Upon rebooting, I was presented with an error message stating that HAL.DLL was corrupted. Not a problem, I’ll drop into Safe Mode and find which CAB the file is compressed within on the XP Install CD, expand it and drop it into place. Another reboot bought up multiple file corruptions, including BOOT.INI . As the hard drive was only 40Gb, and was already second hand, I decided now would be a good time to finally insert the 500Gb drive I got for Christmas from Mum. Having fitted the drive in (not as easy as before, as there were still another three internal drives attached), and installed XP, I discovered that the install process had decided to make the boot drive L: ! This caused issues with some driver installation programs, and I discovered that the Windows Disk Management util could only reassign letters to non-OS install drives. So, using a few different utils, I recovered the faulty hard drive to the point that it could be read again, and rescued every directory I could. In the end, I only lost my Firefox bookmarks, in terms of important non-backed up data, so all that was left was another OS install, hardware and their respective drivers to be added on at a time, and now that I have 500Gb to play with for just programs, all the programs I could lay my hands on to install.
Anyway, things are now settled down enough for me to return to my normal routine on this PC, so thanks to those people that were patient enough to wait for me to respond to e-mails and comments.

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May 29 2008

More Illusions

Category: PicturesChrisM @ 1:16 am

A few more JPGs and GIFs that caught my attention earlier. (I was actually looking for good photos of the Japanese station master cat when I found these…)
This one has to be my favourite – stare at the black cross in the middle, and you should eventually find that the purple dots appear to vanish, and that the moving dot leaves a green after image. You do need to sit very still for this one – the slightest movement of your eyes seem to cause the illusion to reset in your brain.

Spinning Dot Illusion

To see the rest, click the link below – I’ve had to hide them from the front page, as all the photos were causing very slow loading times on the site.
Continue reading “More Illusions”

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Feb 27 2008

WP-GotLucky Problem Sorted

Category: Personal,WordPressChrisM @ 5:26 pm

I recently got around to creating the required SQL tables for this plugin to function. I had a problem though, where I was not being e-mailed the results when somebody found my site from searching for a specific term. I tried a few different approaches, but couldn’t get the code to work.
I actually got around to checking the script code properly today.
Of course the plugin wasn’t e-mailing me results, I hadn’t uncommented the specific line 🙂
For anyone else running up against this problem, remove the // symbols from the line that starts mail(get_settings('

I’m now being e-mailed, and the RSS feed still works. Whilst the feed is a lot quicker to access (its set in FireFox as one of my RSS locations to check), it is useful to have an archive of previous search terms that this site appeared in – apart from anything else, it is one way of letting me know the reason people arrived here (at least from Google, that is).

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Feb 20 2008

Amsterdam Trip IS On

Almost all the details are now sorted… We have bought the plane tickets, paid a deposit on the Apartment, now we just need to sort out a pet-sitter again. Either that or re-unit Karra and Muska with their Mum (Dasha) and younger sister (Tishka) that they’ve never met. Ira thinks 4 cats in one house would be too much work for her parents, so perhaps Mira fancies trying out living on her own again?
Anyway, see below for a map of the general area we’ll be staying in.

View Larger Map

Sadly Alex and Mat won’t be coming this year, as was originally hoped, as their flights cost even more than ours. btw, congrats to Alex – Dryad Musings has just got an Alexa rank… around 12 million, but that is better than the dreaded ‘no data’. At one point this site almost broke into the 200k region, but since then its bounced back up to the million mark again. Which is a little odd, as my unique visitors per month have been steadily increasing, but there you go. ChrisD (who doesn’t have a blog, so doesn’t get a hyperlinked name 😉 ) can’t come either, as his new work randomly tests its employees, and he is worried about passive smoking whilst he drinks.

The apartment we are renting has internet access, but it is wired, so unless Ira’s laptop comes for the journey, we’ll in communicado for a while (my PDA/phone has WiFI and BT, but is obviously lacking an RJ45 socket LMAO)

Anyway, enough on Amsterdam for now, I’m sure I’ll be boring you with more info a lot more over the coming weeks…

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Dec 05 2007


Category: Aware Or Conspiracy Nut...,Kazakhstan,PersonalChrisM @ 3:15 am

Just noticed that since changing ISPs, FireFox’s search bar now defaults to the Kazakh Google domain ( for searches. Any other Kazakh readers out there find this behaviour with FF?
Hmmm, nope, can’t find an online option to prevent this redirection from .com to .kz . Will see if I can hard wire it for, and hope no re-directions come into effect that way.
Makes me wonder if happens to return any different results from any political search terms, a la China etc. ?

OK, removing (temporarily at least), the tin foil hat. It appears that once you click on the link that forces .com to stay as .com (not certain, but I believe the URL ended in /ncr ???), searches are back to normal. Assuming .com searches are not in anyway filtered.
Anyway, how this redirection was re-activated following an ISP change, I’m not certain, perhaps a cookie expiring and/or tied in with an IP address change on our part?

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