Thursday, April 26, 2012

WordPress Import Blogger tool failure

A few months ago I was impressed by how well managed importing a copy of

Today I tried an import from my Dreamhost [1] version of WordPress 3.3.2 using the "Import Blogger" tool. This time it failed; Google rejected the authentication request with a cryptic message:

The page you have requested cannot be displayed. Another site was requesting access to your Google Account, but sent a malformed request. Please contact the site that you were trying to use when you received this message to inform them of the error. A detailed error message follows:

The site "" has not been registered.

I couldn't fine any fix for this, though I did come across many reports of the error with various half-fixes. I wonder if this is because both my Blogger blog and the WordPress blog are on Or perhaps this is another sign that WordPress is problematic; I think if I do move to WordPress I will pay for and the associated support.

[1] If you use the promo code of KATEVA you get $50 off the 1st year fee and I get an equal credit (50/50 split).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Google Drive: Google's 20% price hike

With the debut of Google Drive, Google has increased their storage plan costs:

My old plan cost me $20 a year for 80GB (without Google Drive). It's no longer offered, but I can continue with it if I wish.

The equivalent new plan would cost me $60 a year for 200GB (extra storage largely for Google Drive).

My per GB costs would therefore increase from 0.25$ to 0.30$; a 20% price hike. [1]

Curious. For now I'll stay with my old plan and the "free" 5GB of Google Drive storage.

[1] The numbers are better if you consider what I would actually use if I committed to Google Drive. I am using 20GB and thus paying $1/GB for storage I truly use. It may be that Google's prior prices were only profitable when most of the storage was not in use, which was likely given limited use options (primarily Picasa).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Apple fixed (iMessage) in iOS 5.1 -- and nobody noticed

I give Apple a lot of hurt, but here they fixed something big and nobody else seems to have noticed. Even better, by fixing it they put more hurt on a deserving AT&T.

A few months ago I wrote about iMessage use on an AT&T iPhone without a SIM card (iPod Touch mode) using .me accounts. Problem was Message/iMessage 5.0 wouldn't let me enter a .me account in the iMessage app, nor would it show .me email addresses. I could only iMessage my son from the Contact UI. From, since he's on H2O wireless rather than AT&T, I could only initiate a conversation using SMS (20 cents for me, 5 cents for him).

I'm still on iOS 5.0 on my phone [1], but my son is on 5.1. So I could see than on his phone I can enter email addresses (the keyboard has a '.' now) as well as choose a .me address -- all from the UI. I've now updated my phone to 5.1 and it works there too.

It's a significant enhancement, but I don't think anyone else noticed ...

[1] I was concerned it wouldn't work with MobileMe, and I've yet to switch to the inferior and problematic iCloud alternative.

Monday, April 09, 2012

The post-Flashback era: removing Java and Flash from OS X

Decades ago, my SE/30 caught a Mac Classic virus. There was a fine freeware antivirus app for the Mac then, maintained by an academic and Mac geek. I used that until OS X came along. After OS X there was no great need for antivirus software, and none worth using.

Alas, as had been long expected, those days are back. There is money to be made now preying on Mac users, and Windows 7 is not the soft target of XP or 95. All Mac geeks have been reviewing the two important articles on Flashback:

I've run the 'defaults read' test on the admin account on four machines:

  • defaults read /Applications/ LSEnvironment
  • defaults read /Applications/Google\ LSEnvironment
  • defaults read ~/.MacOSX/environment DYLD_INSERT_LIBRARIES

I suspect the last needs to be run on every user account, which is the sort of tedious job antiviral software was built for. So far I haven't found any problems.

I haven't put antiviral software on our Macs yet (OS 10.5, 10.6, 10.7) but i'm taking these measures:

  • Uninstall Flash Player and switch default browsers to Chrome (sandboxed Google-owned Flash)
  • Uninstall Adobe Acrobat (done long ago)
  • Never run as admin user (done long ago)
  • Disable Java on all Macs (Java Preferences - delete cache, uncheck JVM)
  • Don't install Microsoft Office

I'll move my two Mountain Lion capable machines to the new OS later this summer, and I'll be watching to see what happens with OS X antiviral software. My Win 7 experience with antiviral software means I'll think hard before I take that road.

Update: Flashback may be the worst virus-specific malware infection ever.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

AT&T's SMS spam - blocking the email route

I am sure AT&T is doing everything in its power to reduce the amount of spam that hits my text plan [2], even though they earn money from each spam [1]. They're just that kind of company.

As best I can tell there are three sources for the AT&T carried text spam I get. One source has an 8 digit number; I forward those to AT&T's spam service and, annoyingly, have to send a second text with the number retyped. I have no idea if this does anything, or if it even reverses AT&T's charge.

The second source has a "short code". AT&T says I'm to to reply "STOP" to these. I assume these are AT&T "approved" and are never classified as spam, even when they sell criminal scams.

The third source is via an email gateway to my "device default email address" of "":

AT&T Wireless- Block spam text messages on your wireless phone

[To] Block all email messages sent to your device's default email address (i.e., Create an email alias for your phone in Messaging Preferences, then change the Mobile Number Control settings so that only those text messages addressed to your email alias will be delivered to your wireless device.

I had no idea that it was possible to send email to my SMS service -- we were never part of the SMS era. What a perfect scam setup.

Sounds like the "fix" is to create an SMS email address that is then kept secret. This isn't done through AT&T's usual mobile site, it's a separate service with its own password (max 8 character?!) and registration process:

I'll look at doing this for our phones.

[1] Thanks to iMessage, and H2O Wireless and old AT&T-locked iPhones for the kids, our family does very little SMS. So it's cheaper to pay 20 cents/text than to sign up for AT&T's desperately overpriced text plans.

[2] Obviously I'm joking. If AT&T were serious about blocking spam they'd let us block all short code text.

Update: I recommend this reference: As I half-suspected, the STOP approach is not the best. I'm surprised to learn that as bad as AT&T is, everyone else is worse. Blocking email gateways also blocks many notification services (airlines, Google Calendar, etc) -- but I can live without those. Also Android phones have some pretty good SMS blocking methods, iPhones have none.

Update 2: Weird coincidence -- or not. NYT article on the topic today. They mention Cloudmark's emerging "7227" service, but nothing about providing options to block all short codes, or all email gateway spam, and nothing about the revenue carriers make from text spam. Sigh.

Update 4/9/12: I blocked all email text or multimedia messages and all and messages. There are also block and allow lists I might play with later, but for now I blocked everything. I didn't set up an alias.

Unfortunately (cough) AT&T doesn't implement similar blocking for SMS:

Text messages sent via email can also be blocked directly from your handset. When you receive an email that you wish to block, simply reply to the email with the word "block" in the body of your message. The sender's email address will be added to your Block List. Note: this does not apply for mobile-to-mobile text messages.

I suspect these blocks won't make much difference, but I'll see.

Update 4/13/12:

How to stop text spam: Why cellphone spam is on the rise and what you can do about it. - Slate Magazine

... they use customized computer programs to generate and send hundreds of messages in a matter of minutes, varying the wording, capitalization, and punctuation to evade the phone companies' rudimentary spam filters. And thanks to a fiendish device called a SIM box, the spammers can plug dozens, even hundreds, of SIM cards—each representing a different mobile phone number—into a single phone. By the time you’ve received a text and reported the number, there's a good chance it has been used hundreds of times and discarded...

... Blocking messages from the Internet is also unlikely to cut down on the volume of spam you receive. Sending texts from the Web used to be a popular method for mobile spammers, who could try endless random combinations of numbers in hopes of a few hits. But unlimited texting plans made that approach less attractive to spammers, who know that such messages can easily be blocked. Though it’s still worth doing, don’t expect a magic bullet...

... a third of all text messages in China today are spam...

... They knew unlimited texting plans were in the pipeline. They should’ve known that unlimited plans mean seemingly unlimited spam...

I think my son has been responding to some of these spams, that may explain the 200 texts he's received. The only solution seems to be to turn off SMS service altogether. Interesting observation that the spam deluge is a result of unlimited texting plans (free spam), and that China saw it first.