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Preview: VictorSawma.com: Blog about Web, Security and Life

Victor's Blog about the Web, Security and Life



The web for me is a hobby where standards and best practices are daily bread. Security is a concern that everybody must be aware of its details for IT in general, and the web in particular, to be a safer place. My life, on the other hand, is that of a re



Published: Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:32:00 +0000

 



Lebanese Governments and Parliaments: The On-Going Digital Signature Crime!

Tue, 29 Apr 2014 07:15:30 +0000

Up until this day, all previous and current Lebanese governments and parliament members have failed to put in place a national standard for digital signatures. The process is not hard, not vague, not tidious and - for sure - not dangerous. Digital Signatures are already approved as national standards in all digitally-active countries except in Lebanon desipte the fact that Lebanon is a dititally-active country.

What Are Digital Signatures?

Digital Signatures, as the name implies, are an electronic means to digitally sign a document. This document can be an online transaction, an email,  a file, etc.

Why Are Digital Signatures Important?

Digitally signing a transaction or document allows online systems to verify that the entity performing this transaction is really that party. It also prevents the transaction from being modified by 3rd parties. Most importantly, it eleminates the ability to repudiate that the transaction took place. If party A digitally signs a transaction and sends it to party B, then party A cannot, later on, deny the fact that it did that transaction.

Why Should Digital Signatures Become a National Standard?

All commercial companies operating within a certain country require legal support when it comes to online transactions. Without having a national standard put in place, entities can still operate in a secure manner but might fail in legal courts (in the case of legal disputes) to prove things since standards are not legalized at the national level.

By adopting a national standard, these entities can use digital signatures in court to prove things and, thus, the level of trust in online transactions becomes higher and allows for more businesses to go online safely.

Where Is The Crime if No Digital Signature Standard is Put in Place?

By not having a digital signature standard put in place, the Lebanese Government is putting the whole digital community at risk. This includes online businesses, software development agencies and online users. The Lebanese Government cannot stay behind the digital era anymore. This is not affecting the Government alone anymore. It is affecting the whole infrastructure.

Online businesses nowadays are undergoing a very high risk simply because the Lebanese Governement is FAILING them. Once standards are legalized and put in place, these businesses can prosper and grow exponentially by adopting tools and standards that allows them to further expand into the online community.




The New Facebook Sneak Peaks

Thu, 29 Sep 2011 14:26:56 +0000

Facebook is undergoing a lot of changes recently especially after the release of Google+. The link below provides sneak peaks about the NEW facebook profile and features that Facebook will be introducing shortly...

http://mashable.com/2011/09/21/prepare-for-the-new-facebook/

 




Google Desparate for Gmail?

Fri, 29 Jul 2011 09:04:22 +0000

Today, I received an email message from http://www.emailintervention.com/ The message is simply asking me to switch from my "traditional" email service to the "modern and spam-free" Gmail service.

While this request may sound normal, a quick question popped into my mind.

"Why would Google build a website to ask people to join Gmail if Gmail originally started on an invitation-only basis?
More precisely, why would Google build this website now and not when it first opened Gmail for the public?"

Is Google desparate to advertise Gmail?

Is this just another indirect way of advertising Google Plus?

Is it just a sub-service provided by Google to Gmail users to allow them to invite their friends?

 




Shortcuts to Official Exam Results on www.schoolnet.edu.lb

Tue, 05 Jul 2011 10:42:18 +0000

UPDATE I just learned that one of our clients is also providing a copy of the official results for the Lebanese exams. Check their website out: http://www.sawtelfarah.com/ ORIGINAL POST I think some of you have faced this before. You want to check your kid's results in the official exams and cannot open the website www.schoolnet.edu.lb because it is under too much pressure. The URLs below will save you from having to wait forever to reach the page where you fill in the form to get the result. Simply pick up the URL that is for you and replace the with the number and paste it into your browser and voila. I hope this helps. For BREVET RESULTS: Beirut: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=1&id= North: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=2&id= South: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=3&id= Mount Lebanon: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=4&id= Nabatieh: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=5&id= Bekaa: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/brevet.asp?idd=6&id= For SG RESULTS: Beirut: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=1&id= North: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=2&id= South: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=3&id= Mount Lebanon: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=4&id= Nabatieh: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=5&id= Bekaa: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sg.asp?idd=6&id= For SE RESULTS: Beirut: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=1&id= North: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=2&id= South: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=3&id= Mount Lebanon: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=4&id= Nabatieh: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=5&id= Bekaa: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/se.asp?idd=6&id= For SV RESULTS: Beirut: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=1&id= North: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=2&id= South: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=3&id= Mount Lebanon: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=4&id= Nabatieh: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=5&id= Bekaa: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/sv.asp?idd=6&id= For LH RESULTS: Beirut: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=1&id= North: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=2&id= South: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=3&id= Mount Lebanon: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=4&id= Nabatieh: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=5&id= Bekaa: http://www.schoolnet.edu.lb/exam1/lh.asp?idd=6&id= I will try to add a form to simplify this but you can use the links above for now ;)   [...]



Alfa Statement Roaming Charges

Sat, 01 May 2010 09:08:45 +0000

I just got off the phone with Alfa Call Center regarding a weird charge that occurred on my detailed bill where I found many roaming charges for the number +9613488888 each being charged at $0.299. The charge occurred within the period of my my last trip to Tunis. The weird thing about it is not only that I don't know what this number is, but also that the invoice is for the period 27-March till 27-April while the charges in question are for the period of 21-23 March.

After spending 34 minutes with the Alfa Customer Service representative on the phone, below is the conclusion for how your Alfa Invoice displays charges as well as the detailed explanation about this issue.

Whenever you travel outside Lebanon and use the SMS Romaing service, 2 charges apply:

  • The first charge is related to the Alfa SMS service for the number that you are sending the SMS to. Currently, if the number is in Lebanon, the charge will be $0.09. If the number is outside Lebanon, the charge will be $0.18.
  • The second charge is for the Roaming Service charged by the network that you are roaming through. This cost is variable from one country to another. For Tunis, the cost is currently at $0.299 per SMS.

On your invoice, you will find one of two cases:

  • If the charge occurs within one line, you will see it as type R (for Roaming) and the cost will be the cost of SMS + the cost of Roaming.
  • If the charge is split into two entries, you will see it as one charge of type S (for SMS) and another charge of type R (for Roaming).

For example, if you send an SMS from Tunis to Lebanon through roaming, the charge can appear either on one line as $0.389 or on two lines where the first line displays the cost of SMS as $0.09 and the second line displays the cost of roaming in Tunis ($0.299). If you send another SMS from Tunis to a country different than Lebanon, then the charge will appear either on one line as  $0.479 or on two lines where the first line displays the cost of SMS as $0.18 and the second line displays the cost of roaming in Tunis ($0.299).

Another thing that should be noted as well is the fact that all roaming charges from external networks (Tunis in this case) are not charged in real time and can take up to 4-5 days for the charge to arrive to Alfa. If you travel around the end of your billing cycle, the SMS charge can occur on one invoice while the roaming charge will occur on the next bill. This last fact is what resulted in large number of charges of $0.299 being listed for the number +9613488888 which turned out to be the SMS Center number of Alfa. My trip to Tunis took place on March 21-23. Thus, the SMS charges appeared on my March bill. The Roaming charges, however, were not charged back due to the delay explained above and, thus, my April bill was charged with these numbers.

If you ever face this situation with Alfa, now you can know the details without having to spend half an hour with them analyzing the charges over the phone.




Google Analytics vs Log File Based Statistics

Mon, 19 Apr 2010 10:46:43 +0000

The way Google Analytics works is very different from the way log file based statistics work. Log file based statistics follows a very clear process. It opens the log file at the server side, parses its contents and generates results based on that content. Google Analytics, on the other hand, uses JavaScript technology to create a cookie within the user browser and uses that cookie (and JavaScript) to track the user's behavior on the website.

Although both tools provide VISITS statistics, Google Analytics tends to be more accurate due to the fact that cookies allow for differentiating between two users on the same virtual network while IP-based differentiation (the technique used by Log File Based Statistics) fails to work.

There are many differences (when it comes to accuracy) between the two tools. The first tool, Log File Based Statistics, is intended for accuracy in number of hits, pages, bandwidth consumption, server load, etc. The second tool, Google Analytics, is intended for user behavior tracking, number of visitors, entry pages, exit pages, landing pages, etc.

The above general description is very crucial for website administrators to understand where each tool is more effective and to also highlight the fact that using one tool does not eliminate the need to the other. Both tools are still needed to achieve all results properly (and effectively). If your concern is only statistical (hits, pages, consumption, etc.), Log File Based tools are the key. If your concern is marketing-oriented (i.e. visitors, behaviors, etc.), then Google Analytics is king.

Why Are Numbers of Google Analytics Lower Than Those of Normal Log File Based Statistics?

The following list is not an exhaustive one but is intended to list the many cases where numbers will look different:
1- JavaScript and Cookies: Google Analytics relies on JavaScript and Cookies. As such, all user agents that do not support these two will not be counted. An example of user agents that do not support these two are: PDAs, a large sector of hand-held devices, a large portion of mobile phones with default settings, referrals (websites that refer to portions of your website like an image, video, etc.), computers with hardened security settings on their PC, search engine bots, etc.

2- Cache Engines: Some cache engines serve pages to visitors from their internal cache engine without referring back to the original website. In this case, the cache engine will send what is known as a HEAD request to the server to check whether the page has been modified or not since last time it was fetched. The HEAD request is counted within LOG FILE BASED STATISTICS but is not counted within Google Analytics since some cache engines only request updates to main information files (like PHP) but not for each page entry (like JavaScript files or CSS files)

3- Visits Calculation Algorithm: the to tools are very different in terms of identifying a visit. Log file based statistics attaches a certain IP address within a certain amount of activity time to a certain visit. In other words, if an IP address is active within the log file (fetching content) for 20 minutes and then inactive for 30 minutes, and then active again; Log File Based Statistics might consider this activity as 2 distinct visits from the same IP address. Google Analytics, on the other hand, uses the cookie to track the visit and, thus, can be more relaxed in terms of the time for the visit to timeout. Some echoes are that Google Analytics might consider any activity within the next 3 hours as valid for the same current visit. Thus, don't expect the number of visits to be any similar at all.




Ziad Baroud Spamming?

Tue, 02 Mar 2010 06:32:57 +0000

(image) Today, I received an email from Mr. Ziad Baroud, the Minister of Internal Affairs, asking me to check my listing on the DGPS website. While the majority would like the fact that Mr. Baroud is using a one-to-one communication method to reach as much Lebanese citizens as possible, I did not like the fact that Mr. Baroud is encouraging spammers to send out such emails.

Lebanon is already a spammed country. Tens of companies send out SPAM / JUNK emails every day. We all nag and complain from such emails and spend 20-30% of our email time identifying and deleting SPAM / JUNK emails before starting to actually reading legitimate emails.

It would have been nice if Mr. Baroud had:

  • Avoided spamming me by sending me an email that I did not ask to receive (this is what SPAMming is after all)
  • Used a more modern e-Marketing tool to spread out the word. A banner on a few websites (Facebook, Google, Yahoo!, MSN, Tayyar, Yellow Pages of Lebanon, etc.) could have done the same effect if not better since it wouldn't be dropped into the JUNK folder like what happened with this message. Of course the banner would have cost him a little bit more but I don't believe that budget is a problem in this case.
  • Used this case as an exercise to help him identify Lebanese SPAMMING companies and warn them to stop providing this service.
  • Used this article as an alert to start pushing an Anti-SPAM rule / law into the Lebanese system.

I would love to see a minister / parliament member / president / anybody in the Lebanese government starting to handle rules and regulations related to Technology. Digital signatures and Anti-SPAM rules are just the beginning.




Standard Chartered Email & Website Phishing

Sun, 21 Feb 2010 00:39:33 +0000

(image) If you receive an email related to the suspension of your Standard Chartered account with a link to www.standardchartered.ae in it asking you to login in order to update your account settings, don't click on it.

Beware of it. This is a phishing email leading to a phishing website and has been reported as such. Just don't click the link in that email. The website it takes you to is: http://sinhwatech.com/V1/Standardbankae.html

I checked it again right now and Google is reporting it as a phishing website but it is good to note it here just in case you didn't have the Google bar installed.




NetDesignPlus in Kuwait

Fri, 05 Feb 2010 18:53:44 +0000

In December 2009, NetDesignPlus officially opened its newest branch in Shuwaikh, Kuwait. With this opening, we will be able to better serve our Kuwait clients by being closer and in direct contact with them regarding our online services including web development, design, hosting and consultancy.




Hidden Fees with Malev Hungarian Airlines Online Booking System

Thu, 04 Feb 2010 15:18:11 +0000

Yesterday, I booked my first ticket online with Malev Hungarian Airlines. My trip is from Beirut to Gotenburg on July 2010.

The total fare to be charged "as per the website" was 567 USD for the roundtrip. The confirmation email (and yes I still have it and is attached below) confirms that the total charges should 567 USD. Yet, my credit card was charged 609 USD.

Being pretty familiar with Credit Card charges, I decided that this should be some sort of conversion between USD / Euro while processing the payment through their payment gateway. Thus, I gently sent them an email asking them to refund the difference.

Today, I received a reply back from them asking me to contact client service on a Hungarian phone number. I did. The woman on the other side simply checked, confirmed the price (567 USD) and said that everything is OK lol

I told her that the card was charged 609 USD. She was surprised first but, then, she remembered (surprisingly she did) that there is something that they call a "Service Fee" that is worth 30 Euros for the Lebanon region and that changes from region to region. What a joke!

She couldn't even confirm that the service fee is 30 Euros. She said that it should be around 30 Euros but there is no way for her to know the exact figure.

The worse part is that she is admitting that they have hidden fees.

The worst part is that she cannot now what the exact fee should be.

No comment from me on this. I know that this will be my last time to book with them online unless some magic occurs and someone points how something so unprofessional can happen with an airline reservation system.

 




IEEE High Availability Database Workshop

Sun, 13 Dec 2009 08:41:04 +0000

Today, I guided a workshop about high-availability database solutions at NDU. The workshop went for 6 straight hours (from 9:30 till 15:30) and was attended by more than 50 students from various universities in Lebanon. The workshop was organized by the NDU IEEE branch in collaboration with the Computer Science Club.

I started the workshop with a general overview of availability issues in Database solutions. Then, I moved to a more detailed description of Database Replication and Database Clustering before moving forward to the hands-on implementation that included the following:

  1. How-to install / configure MySQL Cluster on Centos
  2. How-to configure a database for asynchronous data replication
  3. How-to configure a Cluster for real-time synchronous data mirroring
  4. How-to configure load-balancing using the "balance" tool and Linux VFS (overview)

The unique thing behind this workshop was the ability to achieve a working solution that includes a Cluster Manager, 2 Cluster Nodes, 2 Cluster API nodes and a load-balancer while using only 3 server machines.

The solution architecture was simple and included the following machines:

  •  192.168.0.1: this machine acted as the load balancer and the cluster manager. All requests to database operations in applications have to go through this machine which will, in turn, forward them to either 192.168.0.2 or 192.168.0.3.
    • A slightly different solution will be to use Linux VFS to share a load-balanced IP address (e.g. 192.168.0.10) on 192.168.0.2 and 192.168.0.3. In this case, application database operations will have to go to the shared IP address (192.168.0.10)
  • 192.168.0.2: this machine acted as a cluster node and a MySQL API node.
  • 192.168.0.3: this machine acted as a cluster node and a MySQL API node.



Google Wave: Social Networking or Cloud Computing?

Wed, 30 Sep 2009 19:59:50 +0000

What will Google Wave's primary power be in? Will it be Social Networking and thus competing with Facebook or will it be Cloud Computing and thus computing with Microsoft Live and Yahoo? Just a note for anyone reading this and willing to give his / her opinion.

To get more information about Google's Wave, visit the URL below:
https://wave.google.com/wave




How To Recover Your Hotmail / MSN / Live Passport Account?

Fri, 25 Sep 2009 07:13:37 +0000

Did you lose access to your Hotmail / MSN / Live account and cannot reset your password using normal techniques (like Secret Question / Answer or Alternate Email)?

If yes, here is the link that allows you to "try" to recover your account by contacting Microsoft directly.

https://support.live.com/eform.aspx?productKey=wlidvalidation&ct=eformcs

Click on the link above and fill in as much information as possible. Make sure you use an email address that you have access to. The more information you provide (contacts in your address book, folders, email activity, etc.) the more convincing your request will be for the staff member who will be reviewing your request.

Normally, if convinced, Microsoft will simply reset your account password and send it over to the email address that you provide. Pay attention not to get confused between the stolen account email address and the email address that you want to receive the recovered password on.




The Future of Web Programming

Wed, 02 Sep 2009 20:02:01 +0000

I was having an interesting discussion yesterday about web programming languages with a friend of mine during which we tackled various programming languages (PHP, Java, VB and C#) and their competitive nature for web programming. I found it very useful to place a summary (yet a detailed one) about this topic due to the interestingly arguable nature of this topic... PHP:Past, Current and Future I will start with PHP simply because it is still my favourite web scripting language. Back in 1998, when I first tackled PHP, many programmers that I knew used to make fun out of it (same way they used to make fun out of Search Engine Optimization back then as well ;) starting from its recursive name (PHP stands for PHP Hypertext Processor) reaching the naive (yet powerful) nature of the language back then. I always had my bet that one day PHP will have to evolve into an application development language (like Java or C# nowadays). Luckily now, I can safely say that is almost here with the presence of the ZendServer, PHP 5, Zend Framework and PHP-GTK. A good business solution nowadays can easily outbeat other applications in terms of performance, stability and speed of production simply by using the tools listed just above. Although these tools are not yet well-know at the commercial levels, they are being introduced (as far as I know) at many academic levels and will make it (in the very near future) to the commercial setting. As far as the community is involved, I can safely say that PHP did a huge progress over the past two years. Back in 2003-2004, many programmers (and I was almost going to be one of them) moved into JSP with the J2EE being so powerful back then giving up while waiting for a mature and stable PHP framework to support them. Being stubborn, I insisted back then on sticking to PHP and worked for almost 4 months (full-time) back then to produce my first set of PHP modules to be used for Rapid Application Development (RAD) within websites. Lately, I ported my modules into CakePHP and Zend Framework whose combined power is ultimate for high-traffic websites that can serve hundreds of thousands of requests / hour peaking at thousands of concurrent requests with as low as 10% of CPU usage and 1 GB of RAM. A very simple, yet convincing example of this are two websites that I developed: www.yellowpages.com.lb and www.al-sharq.com. For commercial confidentiality purposes, I cannot reveal numbers in here. Yet, you can visit these websites to get a glance about the dazzling power behind PHP performance when combined with Linux, MySQL, APC and the Zend Framework.   Java: The Enterprise Programming Language I just love Java! I love its powerful architecture, community and powerful solutions. Yet, one main feature lacks Java to make it into the daily websites that people visit: low resource footprint. Java is well known for its huge resource utilization at the server level. A normal website developed in JSP will require at least 2 GB of RAM to properly cache JSP files. Performance, on the other hand, cannot be surpassed by any other web programming languate that I know about (make sure to add your comment if you know about one). The only thing is that you cannot have 50 websites sharing the same server unless you have at least 8 GB of RAM dedicated for the JSP container.   Visual Basic: Bye Bye! VB is dying. Believe it or not, this language will not make it to the 2015 year. If you don't dump it now, Microsoft will in the few coming years (if not months) to give way for C#. Although it will still be used at the OS level, I don't see any reason why programmers will still be using it (unless they are like some of my friends who insist on using [...]



Microsoft Halloween Documents

Tue, 18 Nov 2008 17:19:21 +0000

(image) Check this website out and see why Microsoft is so "scared" from the Open Source community and Open Source products. In the last week of October 1998, a confidential Microsoft memorandum on Redmond's strategy against Linux and Open Source software was leaked out to the public. Read the memorandum and more...

http://www.catb.org/~esr/halloween/




Emerald Who's Who is a Scam

Tue, 28 Oct 2008 18:01:14 +0000

I am writing this article in here so that everyone else out there can be aware of this SCAM and FRAUDULENT company named Emerald Who's Who. These people are very professional at their SCAM business to the extent that you will feel very stuck in their deal. I was almost caught yesterday except for this small silly mistake that they did and got my defensive mechanisms up.If you are intereseted in this story, click to read more. If you are not intereseted in the details, simply be aware of anybody calling you over your phone from a company named Emerald Who's Who.My story with this is short and simple. A long time ago (around 6 months ago), I received an email from Emerald Who's Who informing me that I have been referred to them by experts in my domain as one of the credible people in my field. As such, they are inviting me to become listed as part of their Who's Who. I visited their scam website and, to my surprise, it looked like a normal one with some listings of other members on it (some of them being well known in my region). The website uses SSL encryption verified by Verisign so these people must be doing some real business (although not completely verified). I felt safe about it so I completed the form (a very long one) and submitted it.Six months after that (literally six months), I recieved a call during a business meeting that I had. The man on the other hand of the line was very business oriented and used terms that caused me to feel really special. I know I am special in one way or another but I just did not know that Louis Gerstner was my next possible competitor ;)He asked me many questions related to the way I conceive my business, what I think makes NetDesignPlus a special web development company, as well as many other questions that made him look really interested in preparing a mini-bio about me.So far, I was the rat in the trap. I was thinking about all the possible ways to make use of this connection to the maximum extent possible. The guy moved forward to add that in addition to being listed, I can make use of some optional premium services in return for money. These services include being published in many forms (online, catalogs, journals, etc.) as well as a selective service that allows me to use their services to select potential customers from their database of professionals, etc.The interview lasted around 20 minutes during which I completely believed this guy. Then, the BIG mistake was done when he started becoming pushy towards my credit card. I tried being polite with this extremely polite person by telling him that I will review his proposal (which he promised to send by email) and then, I will proceed and register for the package that I choose.At this point, he started becoming more and more pushy (he must be this way since the rat is starting to vision the trap now) by offering me packages for lower prices and trying to get my credit card number over the phone. I explicitly mentioned to him that I cannot give my credit card number to anyone (isn't this what my bank told me when I got it?). How about giving it over the phone to some person calling himself Jerry Aguire (yup, Aguire and not Maguire). At this point, he said that he has an alternative solution for me where he can send me the proposal while he is over the phone and then, I can check it while he is on the phone with me and decide whether I want to buy or not while he is on the phone with me. I asked why I cannot get some time. He said that they have thousands of requests that they need to consider (poor them) and cannot go back and forth on a single application. At this point, I realized the scam and decided to have some fu[...]



Recovering Lost Web Pages

Wed, 22 Oct 2008 11:42:41 +0000

Nice title eh? Here is the case.

  • You paid for someone to develop a website for you.
  • Your website was done (no programming involved) and hosted online.
  • For one reason or another, you don't have access to your website anymore. Many cases might lead to this such as problems with the party that developed your website, crash on a server with no backup as well as all sort of other non-professional reasons that might be faced.

You want to recover these lost pages?

The solution is fairly easy.

  • Goto http://google.com/
  • Type site: followed by your domain name (e.g. site:victorsawma.com) and hit the button
  • Google will get you a list of all pages that Google's spider have crawled from your website and saved locally on their servers (Yes. Google has almost all websites saved locally on their servers. This was actually the way Google started as per the creators of Google)
  • At the bottom of each entry, you will see a link labeled (cached)
  • Click on that link and you will be able to see the cached page from Google's servers.
  • Save the page and move to the next page

This can be very helpful in many other cases such as updating website content and then deciding to revert back to old text.

Try it for yourself. The link below will show you all pages from my site that are cached by Google:

http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Avictorsawma.com

Images, on the other hand, are not cached. As such, you will have to try to get them from somewhere else but at least we have saved the content which matters most. Right?




Al Jazeera TV: Internet Isolation Effects on Family Members

Mon, 30 Jun 2008 18:16:04 +0000

I was a guest on Al Jazeera TV last Saturday. The topic was about the negative effects of the Internet on family members in terms of isolation. You can watch the movie by clicking on the picture below (Real Player required).Victor Sawma, Al Jazeera TVSat. June 28, 2008 23:34 pmWhat really bugged me about this TV appearance was the fact that I couldn't finish my topic. The result was a person who masters web technologies talking about the negatives of the web on family members in terms of isolation. I will put the whole topic in here for those who are interested in getting the whole story.The topic that was being discussed was related to the isolation effects of the Internet on family members. We can all see many people sitting in a room together chatting, smiling, typing, etc. Although these people are sitting together, they are, in reality, not together since each member is enjoying his own virtual Internet world. This fact can cause many negative effects on family members and family ties.First, it is very important to discuss the main difference between the Web and other media technologies (TV, Radio, etc.). While traditional media technologies are one-way (with some minor limited interactive exceptions), the web is completely interactive and rich. This fact makes the web more popular to human beings including children and parents within families.Although the web leads to isolation, it is important to understand the reasons behind the isolation (listed below).Working Alone: unlike TV and Radio media where family members gather to watch or listen, children usually work on the internet alone. This is a bounding condition that leaves the family member alone against all the positives and negatives of the web.Children with Psychological / Social Problems: a very important cause for isolation is found with children who face psychological and social problems. A child facing a hard time making friends due to appearance issues or other social issues might use the Internet as an escape from reality. This leads to the child creating his own virtual world and convincing himself / herself of his / her new personality. Thus, leading to more isolation and separation between family members and the society.Unlimited / No Border Medium: Having no limits on the Internet can be seen as a positive and negative characteristic. A child who uses the Internet to bypass borders for collecting information and sharing experience shows a positive edge. On the other hand, some children might use the internet to bypass borders as an escape from confronting social issues in real life. This, as well, leads to more isolation.Social Interaction: Similar to the border case, the Internet helps surfers getting introduced to customs and traditions of other societies. If a child uses this information for the sake of information only, this can be seen as a positive. If a child, however, starts confronting his traditions / customs by introducing other traditions / customs, then this can lead to more isolation as well.Freedom (of what?): The Internet is an anonymous medium where every visitor has no identity verified. Children who use this freedom in a positive manner will sure enjoy a positive experience. Other children who use the Internet to express rage and perform crimes that are locally prohibited by law will surely get addicted to the Internet more and more and, thus, leading to more isolation.ConclusionDespite the list of negative effects that the Internet "might" cause to family members, a major factor in determining the influence of the Internet on family members is the awareness [...]



Suspicious Network Solutions Measures

Sun, 13 Jan 2008 19:33:24 +0000

A friend of mine called me today and asked me about a "funny" problem that he is facing with domain names. He tries to search for a domain name to register it and gets two different answers from Network Solutions (domain name available for registration) and GoDaddy (domain name NOT available for registration). Performing a simple WhoIs on the domain name in question, you get that the domain name is registered by Network Solutions and is currently available for registration at Network Solutions. I proceeded to Network Solutions and tried to search for the domain name there, the domain name was still available for registration. Trying the same thing at GoDaddy again showed that the domain name is NOT available. I tried to query the reason behind this and the result was a very suspicious protection measure put in place by Network Solutions. My friend tried to SEARCH for the domain name availability yesterday and it showed as "Available for Registration" on Network Solutions. He did not register the domain name. He did not even do anything else but searched to check whether the domain name was available for registration or not. Today, he came to me to reserve the domain name and it turned out that the domain name was only available for registration at Network Solutions at the normal registration price. The reason behind this is described at the Network Solutions website as, and I quote: "In response to customer concerns about domain names being registered by someone else just after they have conducted a domain name search, Network Solutions is implementing a new security measure to protect our customers. What is the Customer Protection Measure? Network Solutions may reserve domain names that are searched on our Web site for up to 4 days. During this period, these domain names will only be available to register at networksolutions.com. This customer protection measure may be enabled when a customer searches for an available .com domain name at networksolutions.com but decides not to purchase the name immediately after conducting the search. After the search ends, Network Solutions will put the domain name on reserve. During this reservation period, the name is not active and Network Solutions does not monetize the traffic on these domains. If a customer searches for the domain again during the next 4 days at networksolutions.com the domain will be available to register. If the domain name is not purchased within 4 days, it will be released back to the registry and will be available for registration through any registrar. This protection measure provides our customers the opportunity to register domains they have previously searched without the fear that the name will be already taken through Front Running. By holding the searched domains at Network Solutions for a short period, it allows our customers to take the time to decide whether this is the domain name that they really want to register." What Is Suspicious About This? Network Solutions claims that this measure is being taken to protect customers from losing domain names through front running. Front running, and I quote, "is when an individual registers domains within minutes or hours after someone else has conducted a domain name search on a registrar’s site, performed a WHOIS query or typed a domain in the browser to see if there is an active Web site. Front Runners may get access to these searches through Internet Service Providers, Spyware, or registries. Front Running allows these individuals to atte[...]



Which Operating System Is Microsoft Using?

Mon, 13 Aug 2007 23:54:14 +0000

I stumbled today at a page thinking it was a joke until I checked it manually to make sure it was correct. The page is simple. It is from NetCraft and shows the servers that are being used by big companies like IBM and Microsoft. Logically speaking, Microsoft should be using Windows Servers at least to prove to its clients that Microsoft servers are stable everywhere and for everything. I was shocked to find out that Microsoft was using Linux (its competitor) as a server.

The screenshot below is from NetCraft and can be seen (while it exists) by clicking on this link.
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