bookmark_borderWordPress permissions

Because I said I would and because this type of thing is still very much a “black art” as far as I’m concerned (networking in general falls into that category), here are the permissions I have set in my WordPress install.

This is what I have setup for my WordPress Theme folder (wp-content/themes/MYTHEME/) but I guess it’s likely to be similar if you have a custom WordPress install. I had loads of problems not being able to edit files through the WordPress admin interface, and various timeouts and 404 errors. I’ve not had any problems since I did the following:

Set the permissions (CHMOD for tech speak users) for the theme, or WordPress, FOLDER to 755.
Set the permissions for all the FILES in that folder to 776.

And that should help. Maybe. As ever with these things, YMMV.

To do this using FileZilla users, connect to your site, then right-click a folder or file, and select File Attributes. In the dialog that is displayed, type in the appropriate number and click OK.

Here’s hoping it helps. Someone.

bookmark_borderQuestions Answered #1

In a desperate effort to gain some weird form of validation, I stole an idea for a blog post and begged my readers to ask me a question. And they did. The buggers. Now I have to answer them.

Question 1: Keith (my blogless* mate) asked “4.56 AM or other similar times that should not exist, what to do when you find your self there”.

The first thing to try and figure out is whether that time should, or should not, exist. It’s entirely possible for that specific time (and others like it) to exist in a very pleasant way. For example, and this is just completely off the top of my head, if you were, say, in the back of a stretch limo, supping champagne from the bottle whilst cavorting in a hot tub with a gaggle of supermodels, you might think “this is a pretty good time”, or (perhaps somewhat more realistically) if you were waiting atop Kilimanjaro for the sunrise, those would both be excellent examples of “times that most definitely should exist”. I’d warrant that if the time was 4.55 AM (in either of our scenarios) and as the second hand clicked round onto 12 everything disappeared to revel it’d all been a dream… well I was pis… you’d be pretty pissed off, right?

I digress (and for longer than you realise, although I really shouldn’t admit that I’ve spent the last few minutes figuring out which supermodels I’ve have in the hot tub with me… now, where was I? Ohh yes, why times shouldn’t exist).

Right, let’s presume that you’ve been trying, and failing, to fall asleep.

If that’s the case then anything beyond 2 AM counts as “a time that should not exist” (as do the years 1981-1984 but that’s a different story..) and you are probably wide awake and silently cursing your inability to get to sleep. You probably have to be up in a few hours for something important like a wedding or job interview (work itself doesn’t count), so you’ll be trying like mad to find that comfy spot in the bed so you can “drop off” (odd phrase that, surely dropping off the bed would wake you up?).

Right, so you are wide awake, so the first thing to do if get up out of bed. Let’s make sure your body knows that sleep is nowhere near, as this is stage one in the trick of “falling back asleep” that always seems to work for me (or at the very least MAY work for me as I’m making this all up as I go along, can you tell?). Right, downstairs, put the kettle on and boil the TV.

Done? Excellent.

Having now successfully blacked out the neighbourhood you can go back to bed.

You see, the only reason you are awake is because you are waiting for an alarm to wake you back up. You know that when the alarm goes off it will herald a new day, and possibly an “important event”. So, rather than lie awake, worrying about the alarm and the pending “important event”, this method removes your source of worry (no electricity = no pesky radio DJ screaming in your ear until you bounce the alarm clock off the floor) and you can fall asleep peacefully.


If anyone tries this method, do let me know how it goes as, obviously, YMMV**.

Ohh, and on a final note, if you are thinking of trying this method, I’d really appreciate it if you signed and sent me an official waiver or something first. Anything that absolves me of any blame whatsoever would be ideal. Thanks.

Sleep well.

* Doesn’t make him any less of a man though. Mind you, the big chuffers about 6’5 so I’m not ever really that inclined to argue with him or point out any character deficiencies. What do you think am I? Stupid? No, that is not a question I need answered.

** YMMV means “Your mileage may vary”. It’s one of those ‘geek’ abbreviations that a lot of people don’t understand. But hey, if they CBATG, then obviously the PEBCAK.

bookmark_borderYou torrent?

It’s fairly common for us-wot-use-computers to be considered experts at all things computery. However, this is often not the case are there are so many different areas of computeriness that being an expert in all of them is, invariably, impossible. For example, please do not EVER ask me about networking. Wi-Fi or otherwise. I can hack my way through the minefield if I need to but I sure as hell don’t enjoy it and most certainly don’t want to do it any more than needed.

Software usage I’m pretty good on, but that comes with the job really, so when Louise asked for some advice on how to get someone up and running and downloading torrents as quickly as possible I figured I could handle that. I also figured that I may as well post it here too as, who knows, it may be beneficial to others. The following information is based solely on what I use. YMMV.

Disclaimer: There are many illegal files that can be downloaded. There are also many legal files available as torrents, so please stick to them. I am not responsible for what you choose to download.

So, what are “torrents”? Technically a torrent is just a file containing information that is used by a torrent application. When you want to download something, be it software, music or videos, you find a torrent file, and use that to download the files.

The name comes from the underlying technology that provides “peer-to-peer” file transfers, known as BitTorrent. The clever bit is that you aren’t downloading one big file from one place (like a website) but smaller chunks of that file direct from other people. The torrent application handles the downloading of the chunks and, once it’s got all the chunks it needs, it assembles them into the file you wanted to download.

First things first, you’ll need a torrent application. I use μTorrent as it’s simple, easy to use and light on resources. I have used Azureus in the past but it can be a little greedy when it comes to your system memory. I’ll be talking specifically about μTorrent from here on out.

Right, you’ve downloaded μTorrent (or if you haven’t go and do that now). One thing to note is that you don’t need to install it. I like to keep things organised, so I created a folder in c:program filesutorrent, pasted the utorrent.exe file in there, then created a shortcut to it. You can put the shortcut anywhere you like, either on your desktop or add it to your Start menu. Up to you.

Next up, where to find torrent files. Well there are a magnitude of sites out there, but I typically use two. TorrentSpy and IsoHunt. They should be fairly straightforward to use, just search for whatever you want to download. When you see what you want in the search results, click on the link and you should find an option to “Download Torrent”.

Can you guess what the next step is? That’s right (gosh, we are clever little monkeys), click the “Download Torrent” link. Your browser will probably ask you what you want to do with it, so make sure it opens the file with μTorrent. If you don’t get the option, you’ll need to find where the .torrent file was downloaded to, and open it in μTorrent manually*.

Almost there, still with me?

μTorrent will now be opened and you’ve got one final step. You need to tell it where you want to the downloaded files to go. Again I have a Torrents folder, and under that I create subfolders as necessary.

And that’s it. μTorrent will start downloading as soon as it finds someone who is hosting the file. Simple.

A few things to note then:

  1. As soon as you give it a .torrent file, μTorrent will ‘reserve’ the filename in your system. If you browse to where you asked it to save the files you’ll see the filename there already. This does NOT mean it’s finished downloading. Check the status in the μTorrent window to see if it’s finished or not.
  2. Once you have finished downloading, it’s considered good manners to leave the files available to others. This is the basis for a peer-to-peer system. You can throttle the “upload” speed in the μTorrent settings if you are worried about impact on your connection speed.
  3. I’ve deliberately not mentioned RSS feeds, which μTorrent can handle, I’m saving that for another post.

So there you have it, a quick(ish) guide to downloading torrents. I hope it’s useful. If you get stuck, I can recommend the μtorrent forums, or if it’s a more general question, feel free to ask here.

* Whilst I like not having to install μTorrent, the downside is that it doesn’t setup ‘associations’. So you have to tell Windows which application it should use to open .torrent files.

bookmark_borderOh good grief

Microsoft are entering the fight against spyware and that’s fine. That’s their right of course.

However why would I want to pay for this when Ad-Aware and Spy-Bot do such a great job* as it is? Who WOULD pay for this? Well that’s obvious. A lot of people will, and I’ll venture that most will be people who are still wary of their computer and not entirely sure how it all works. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not having a dig at the ‘technically challenged’, far from it. I’m wondering how (who?) is protecting their needs. Owning a computer CAN be a very expensive business.

* YMMV and yes it’s a pain having to run TWO applications but hey, they’re free! Add in ZoneAlarm (free) and AVG AntiVirus (free) and most standalone computers are happy as Larry. Of course ditching IE in favour of Firefox helps too.

bookmark_borderCustomisation: Take 2

So you wanna see my desktop then?

If you can make it out on this resized screenshot – you’ll spot that I’ve got a different XP Style running. Rob mentioned StyleXP in a comment, which will let you do this and a lot more, but I didn’t like the 2MB (!!) overhead, and found a nice little patch that let’s you load other XP Styles without an application.

Next up, the text on the left hand side has the time and date, current CPU usage, RAM usage, number of processes running, internet traffic (up and down, handy if I was, say, running eMule or something..), IP address, Uptime, Last restart time and date and the wee bars at the bottom of the chunk show my hard drive partitions and their status – provided by a Samurize configuration.

Top-right, that black square is the cover of the currently playing track in iTunes (Jay-Z’s Black Album at the moment) – provided by a Samurize script.

Along the bottom is the aforementioned Y’z Dock – it’s a way of replicating the Mac bar thingy, and was so Mac like Apple told the guy who developed it to ‘cease and desist’ – as I mentioned, you can still download it in a few places, didn’t take me long to find it, but it is no longer being developed.

That’s it really. There are several custom icons used to mark specific folders – e.g. for all my photos – but not much else going on. I’m a bit of geek (yes, really) and find it all fascinating. I’ve been running all this stuff for months and not had a single crash although, as with most PC software YMMV. Next up, that box of mine and Knoppix I reckon.

Click for 1280 x 1024 screenshot (~250kb)


ShortPopUp – sometimes you just find a piece of software, something simple, that does exactly what you’ve been looking for since, well since Windows 95. Display the contents of a folder from the taskbar (including the ability to filter the list). Simple and allows me to pull my playlists from my ‘Music’ directory, fire up WinAmp and (with the aid of the auto start plugin for WinAmp) starting playing automatically. Nice for me, a huge bonus for Louise as it saves her rooting about to find ‘her’ playlist.

Ohhh and while I remember, I’m kinda liking WinBar too, but TClock will ALWAYS reign supreme. Don’t believe me? Ask Virtual Plastic.. (advance warning: ensure you have plenty of room on your hard drive before you visit, you’ll be downloading stuff by the bucket load!). Ohhh and YMMV, but please take the time to read the documentation, before you install any of these glorious pieces of freeware.