Auto screenshot on Windows

I recently migrated my desktop back to Windows, and while I’m at work I need to have regular screenshots of my monitor, for investigation and other purposes. I easily found a solution to record desktop activity by making regular screenshots on Ubuntu, and I thought that Windows solutions will be even more. It turned out to be the opposite — they were all either paid or not working/lacking features.

Here is how “Auto Screen Capture FV” was born. Two screenshots of the interface follow:



It has the following features:

  • Runs on Windows
  • Free as speech; open-source, developed with Microsoft Visual C# 2010 Express
  • Captures a screenshot automatically without disrupting user activity
  • Saves the snapshot images as compressed JPEG files, in order to save disk space
  • The destination directory where the images are saved is selected by the user
  • Rotates too old image files by deleting them, in order to save disk space
  • All settings are permanently saved in the registry, so next program starts remember what you configured
  • Auto screen capture can be easily temporarily suspended
  • Program can run in background; it minimizes to system tray

Old image files are actually moved to “Recycle bin”, in order to be on the safe side — if we have a bug, no files are lost. Auto Screen Capture FV has been tested on Windows 7.

Download links:


Resources:

ResellerClub technical problems with DNS and Domain Forwarding

Today I woke up and found out that many of my domains aren’t working. I’m using ResellerClub (aka. DirectI) free DNS and free Domain Forwarding. Well, they deleted all my DNS records. The Domain Forwarding service stopped working too.

I’ve filed a support ticket with an “Emergency” priority. Let’s see what happens now… I’ll keep you updated.

UPDATE: Instead of just fixing things, ResellerClub really disappointed me. I am their long-term and very faithful customer, but now I see that I shouldn’t have trusted them so much.

It took two days for ResellerClub’s support to respond with the following ridiculous statement:

DNS records are merely record entries made in the server, and not a space occupying entity for which a ‘backup’ would be available/generated.
Hence there is no backup for the records at our end.

ResellerClub keep no backup whatsoever of their DNS and Domain Forwarding configurations! The explanation of this fact is hilarious — because DNS records do not occupy space. :)

This really pissed me off, and I asked them how they could operate without a backup. What if the disks of their DNS or database servers fail? What if an operator deletes a record by mistake? The answer by ResellerClub’s support was that they monitor their servers, so this is not an issue. Ha-ha! Since when is monitoring a substitution of backups?? Furthermore, they added that the system was fully automated, so no operator’s mistake was possible. I replied that even if the system operates automatically, it is still being maintained by humans, who may delete data by mistake. How would they explain why my DNS and forwarding data was lost…

Anyway, no need to dig into this any further. I re-created the DNS records, and also learnt an important lesson — never trust an (IT) organization unless you really know that they operate in a professional way by following all well-established principles in the industry. ResellerClub ain’t one of them!

StartSSL customer care

A few days ago I had to go through the “Class 2 Identity Validation (StartSSL™ Verified)” process, so that I can issue an unlimited count of wild-card certificates.

Before even getting any deeper in the process, I first contacted StartSSL and asked them if they stand behind their words, that once verified (one time-fee $49.90/yr), a customer of theirs can issue an unlimited count of wild-card certificates. I got a pretty quick response by StartSSL stating that this is indeed true, there’s no catch.

After that I started the process of verification – registered, submitted documents, etc. There were many unknown things to me and I had to ask their support many questions (I won’t go into details as I can’t disclose all of it), and we’re almost at the end – they send me a verification postal mail. Once I get the code, we should be done.

But this post is not only about my success with StartSSL – it’s about their very quick, accurate and helpful Support service. You guys rock!

Free SSL certificates

More and more people start telling me about the StartSSL SSL authority, which is a daughter company of StartCom. The rumor that they are giving free SSL certificates looked too unbelievable to me, so I decided to review this more carefully.

After much reading at their page, what people say was confirmed – StartSSL really issue SSL certificates for free, when they are about to be used by individuals on their websites. This means that your personal name stays in the SSL certificate information which can be reviewed if you click on the SSL bar in your web browser.

Business or other legal entities verify their company’s information once for an annual fee and can then issue an unlimited count of SSL certificates too, including wild-card ones. Once verified, a business customer can purchase EV certificates for US$ 49.90 per year.

You can compare these prices with any other SSL certificate authority and you’ll see it yourself that StartSSL are the most affordable one, and the only one which doesn’t charge you for what doesn’t cost them money either – that’s why they can offer “loosely verified” SSL certificates for personal websites for free. It’s unbelievable but true.

My IT brain immediately started to doubt the technical side. I had to check if web browsers accept these SSL certificates without issuing an SSL warning about the certificate being signed by an unknown SSL authority. The test results were successful and the SSL root authority of StartSSL was recognized by the latest version of:

  • Internet Explorer 8 on Windows.
  • Chrome on Windows.
  • Firefox on Windows and Linux.
  • Chromium on Linux.

Furthermore, the Debian “lenny”, “squeeze” and Ubuntu Lucid CA repositories also recognize the StartSSL root certificate. You can verify this yourself by the following command:
openssl s_client -CApath /etc/ssl/certs -connect startssl.com:443

StartSSL have a long list with platforms and browsers which recognize their certificates. You can review the list at the products comparison page.

No more self-signed SSL certificates for personal use, hurray! :)

Update 29/Nov/2010: If you're interested, you can also review my success story with the Support staff of StartSSL.

Perl API Kit for ResellerClub (DirectI)

ResellerClub offer a SOAP/WSDL API interface, in addition to their Online Control Panel, which lets you automate some of your tasks or integrate it directly with your website.

They claim to support a Perl API Kit, but it doesn’t work out-of-the box for me. Whenever I make an API call, I get the following:

soapenv:Server.userException java.lang.Exception: Body not found.

There is a similar bug report at Web Hosting Talk too.

After a few hours of struggling with SOAP::Lite, reading sources, and some trial and error, I finally was able to make the API work in Perl! :D

If you want to try my version of their Perl API Kit, you have to execute the following:

wget --no-verbose http://www.famzah.net/download/resellerclub/resellerclub-api.tgz
tar -zxf resellerclub-api.tgz
cd resellerclub-api

vi example.pl # edit your username/password
./example.pl

In order to build my version of the Perl API Kit yourself, click the "show source" link below and execute the commands.

mkdir resellerclub-api
cd resellerclub-api
wget --no-verbose http://www.famzah.net/download/resellerclub/setup.sh
wget --no-verbose http://www.famzah.net/download/resellerclub/example.pl
chmod +x setup.sh example.pl
./setup.sh

vi example.pl # edit your username/password
./example.pl

The scripts use some Debian/Ubuntu specific "apt-get" commands to install the required Perl and system packages, but this can easily be ported to other *nix systems too.

ICDSoft 30% discount coupon for new web hosting accounts

Today I recall a very cool feature of the reseller program of ICDSoft. Resellers are entitled to the right of giving promotional discounted prices to new customers. Here you go:

No need to thank me, you are welcome… :)

Webhosting in Deutschland und Europa

Ich bin tätig im Feld der Internet-Dienste seit 1999 und Freunde fragen mich ab und zu, um ihnen eine Webhosting Firma anzubieten, die zuverlässig und billig ist. Die Begriffe “zuverlässig” und “billig” kommen nicht leicht zusammen, deswegen sage ich ihnen immer, dass die billigsten Lösungen oft etwas fehlen. Zur selben Zeit hat man immer ein Finanzinteresse und Budget, deswegen erweist sich der Preis als ein wichtiger Faktor. Kurz gesagt, ich bevorzuge die Firmen mit mittleren Preisen und guter Reputation.

Hier ist meine bisherige positive Erfahrung mit Deutschen Hosting Firmen:

  1. ICDSoft Hosting Deutschland:
    • Vorteile: Tätig seit 1999 mit sehr guten Referenzen von Kunden weltweit, ausgezeichnete Hardware, 15-Minuten-Reaktion des Supports auf technischen Anfragen, tägliche Backups, gute Rabatte für Reseller und Kunden mit mehreren Kontos.
    • Nachteile: Das erste Jahr ist 20% teurer (30% Rabattmöglichkeiten hier). Doch gibt es eine bedingungslose 100-Tage Geld-Zurück-Garantie, deswegen können Sie sich risikofrei in den anspruchsvollen Diensten selbst überzeugen, oder enttäuschen. :)
  2. 1&1 Deutschland für VPS und Dedicated Server:
    • Vorteile: Am Markt seit vielen Jahren, sehr berühmt, bietet alle Typen von Hosting-Diensten. Ich habe selbst einige Male ihre VPS/Dedicated Server Plans benutzt und bin sehr zufrieden mit den Preisen und der Qualität. Support ist verhältnismäßig gut. Software und Hardware sind perfekt.
    • Nachteile: 1&1 Deutschland arbeitet nur mit deutschen Bürgern. Falls Sie aus Bulgarien zum Beispiel sind, dann sind Sie nicht erlaubt, ein Konto bei 1&1 Deutschland zu haben. Webhosting ist zu billig.

Beide Firmen verfügen über Rechenzentren nicht nur in Europa, aber auch in den USA – ICDSoft, 1&1. ICDSoft hat Rechenzentren auch in Hong Kong und Bulgarien, wobei 1&1 – in Großbritannien, Frankreich, Österreich und Spanien.


Natürlich habe ich nicht nur positive, aber auch negative Erfahrung mit Deutschen Hosting Firmen. Ihre Namen nenne ich nicht, aber beschreibe kurz die Probleme:

  • Firma A: Ich hatte einen Domain-Namen damit; Support antwortete in 3-4 Tage und sehr oft nur als wir am Telefon gesprochen haben.
  • Firma B: Ich hatte ein VPS damit; zu viele Kunden auf einem einzelnen Server, zu alte System-Software, nur telefonisches Support.
  • Firma C: Ich habe ein Audit der Sicherheit gemacht, da ein Freund mich sein Konto gegeben hat; in zwei Stunden war ich “root” am Server…

Bitte merken Sie zwei Dinge hier – diese Ratschläge reflektieren meine eigene (begrenzte) Erfahrung mit der Deutschen Markt von Hosting-Diensten. Ich bin ein Angestellter von ICDSoft seit 2003 und das hat ein Einfluss auf meine Meinung – von einer Seite bin ich ein bisschen befangen, aus der anderen Seite siehe ich die Prozesse in der Firma aus einer inneren Perspektive und bin 100% sicher im alles, was ich gesagt habe. Das hier ist meine personale Meinung.

Paragraph indentation fix for HTML lists in the WordPress.com Contempt theme

Here is how a list in the original Contempt theme looks like:

Contempt HTML list, original

And here is how a designer fellow helped me change it:

Contempt HTML list, modified

The differences are as follows:

  • The indentation of the non-first lines in the list paragraph are aligned with the first line.
  • The list marker is not the symbol “o” but the original circle symbol provided by browsers.
  • The spacing between list paragraphs is a bit bigger, in order to improve the readability.

If you like the modified version better, you need to navigate to Appearance->Edit CSS and add the following CSS code there:

.entry ul li:before,#sidebar ul ul li:before {
	content:"";
}

body .entry ul {
	list-style-position:outside!important;
	list-style-type:circle!important;
	text-indent:0!important;
}

body .entry ul li {
	margin-bottom:13px;
}

You can also read my other post if you like to Make WordPress.com Contempt theme layout wider.

Make WordPress.com Contempt theme layout wider

If you want to modify the width of your blog layout, you have to fist purchase the “Edit CSS” Upgrade. You can then tweak the CSS and adjust the Contempt theme for a bigger resolution.

First download the new background image which is stretched to fit the new wider design. You have to upload this image to your blog via Media->Add New. Copy the URL address of the uploaded image; in my case this was “http://famzah.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/bg.jpg”.

Navigate to Appearance->Edit CSS and put the following CSS code there:

#topbar {max-width:950px;}
#pagebar {width:950px;}
#page {width:950px;}
#footer {width:950px;}
#content {width:700px;}

#sidebar {padding:20px 0 10px 0; margin:-60px 0 0 730px; width:200px;}

#headerimg {background-repeat:repeat-x;}
body {background-image:url(http://famzah.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/bg.jpg);}

Make sure that you replace the URL address "http://famzah.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/bg.jpg" with the URL address of your image.

If you want even bigger space for the primary content area, you can shrink the sidebar a bit by using the following CSS code for "#sidebar", instead of the above one:

#sidebar {padding:20px 0 10px 0; margin:-60px 0 0 780px; width:150px;}

Special thanks to the WordPress.com Support team. The Contempt theme had the background image embedded in the HTML body source code. This made it impossible for the background image to be replaced. After I contacted the Support team, they fixed this in a few hours. Kudos!

Another fellow blogger came to the same CSS conclusion on how to resize the Contempt theme and make it wider. So we are either both correct, or we both broke the CSS of our blogs and you are now facing layout problems while reading this. :)

You can also read my other post about Paragraph indentation fix for HTML lists in the WordPress.com Contempt theme.