2004: part two

And a happy un-birthday to me!

The second half of years always seem to be better than the first, don't you think? Not that the first half was bad, far from it. Well anyway, here we are, part two of 2004, and already I'm getting excited about it.

July, August, September, October, November, December, luv 'em! Even though my birthday is in the first haf of the year, I still find it difficult to dredge up significant memories with any of the early months' names' attached. October, on the other hand, fairly leaps out at me, like December does to most folk. I'm ramblng, yes.

Some of you have spotted that I'm been devoting all my spare time (if ever there was such a thing) to getting the distro machine into shape. it's coming along beautifully too. For your entertainment, here's the current version.info updates..

corz distro machine v 0.7 ßeta

expanded the editing functions in the stats page. as well as nudging things up and down, you can just edit scores straight in. this will assist while I track down why one of my onsite score file reset itself. fortunately I had a backup from the previous day, but you might not!

.. either it was something nefarious, in which case I have a hole in the security somewhere, or more likely; there was a real busy spell and the server tried to do too many things with the one flat-file all-at-once.

by the way, if it was something nefarious, and it was *you* that did it, could you please do it again, say, every day for a week, so I can get to the bottom of it!

anyway, the machine now puts an exclusive lock on the file for the duration of the write operation, all three microsecods of it, or thereabouts. we'll see how it goes. if you get a wiped score file, please report it to me!

completed the title customisation. if you specify "info" as the title for your source area, for instance, that will be used throughout, mostly.

you can now specify an alternative css file for your "clean" embedded menus. see the distro machine download page, which includes two embedded menus from two separate distro machines, each using a different native css file, yet on the page, both using the same, as specified by that page.

removed the "download which file?.." message from embedded menus. I reckon your own titles are better for these.

improved the downloading still further, and almost by accident. it's all snapped into focus. I figured it might be better to get all the score-file stuff out of the way before sending the file to the user. I was right!

switched the default colour scheme to blue. I use this more myself, and this is purely to save me having to edit the three separate distromachines onsite that use the blue scheme. I upgrade my machines more than anyone, of course.

new: secure area. I wanted this for my "friends" folder. it's neater, and a wee bit more secure than the old http authorisation methods, which apparently, some browsers aren't doing any more; seems like a smart idea. We are using POST variables to send our password, which is held as a 32 byte md5, in a temporary session cookie. even the worst case browser scenario should only have the md5 flying around the wires. In other words, it's fairly secure.

users are presented with a simple (and quite cute) password dialog. once logged in they can access all your menu systems, files, whatever.

don't use your password-protected machine to deliver back-end menu services; it won't. (it's so easy to just chuck another one somewhere for this)

new: the name of the sections is now displayed in the menu itself. you can also now (optionally) have your custom text displayed inside the menu, too, which fills that space on the right!

new: expanded list of downloadables. we now check for, and send mime-types, so mp3's, ogg's, excell spreadsheets, and such things can be delivered easily with the machine. I'll expand this list as I go along, no doubt. so far..

doc, xls, htm, html, jpg, png, pdf, txt, ogg, mp3,m3u, zip, rar, sit, sitx, tgz, gzip, bz2, arc, bzip, pict, mpg, mov, and others.

if you use the machine to distribute, say, mp3's, this should cause whatever the user's operating system is set to do with these filetypes, i.e. open the mp3 player.

new: made a few more things customisable. stuff like the main titles. you can have a "foo viewer" menu now, or whatever.

I also improved the overall download handling, there should be less browser stalling, and associated weirdness. we DO send size headers now, too.

I dropped in the code for all this pretty quick, so it's into the beta folder for a bit, until it's had some field testing, any feedback on the new secure area features are especially welcome.

have fun!

so there you have it, features galore. I've spotted a few downloads of the new betas, so please do let me know if anything wonky happens, particularly with the downloading functions or security features.

I'm thinking about ways to deal with modern download managers. My logs are a mess with idiots who think it's perfectly cool to download a 5k file in three separate parts, and just grab-em-all like that while they're at it. *sigh*. "site-suckers" are just about as bad. it's like having a pack of msn-bots round for lunch; no fun.

What will happen, most likely, is that I'll have the machine block multiple connexions from the same IP, or something like that. Perhaps display a wee message along the lines of "Are you fucking mental? This file is FIVE KILOBYTES! Why on Earth would you need to download it in three parts?"

I could, of course, just have the machine block all known download managers completely, easy, but I can imagine my subsequent inbox, so probably not.

for now..

;o) Cor

ps.. okay okay, I'm considering a separate blog for the dev updates.

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