India Launches First Commercial Satellite Payload

Here’s some interesting news:

India has gone into business in outer space, launching its first commercial rocket. The rocket was carrying an Italian astronomical satellite that will be used to gather information about the origins of the universe. India is the fifth entry into the commercial satellite launch business after the US, Russia, China, Ukraine and the European Space Agency.

I hadn’t realised Ukraine was in the business too..

Further Adventures in OpenID Delegation Land

Having gotten OpenID delegation going I had to go and play some more.. 🙂

Now I was a bit puzzled about the OpenID XRDS Url mentioned in Eran’s plugin, I don’t see if being created at and the thought of just putting a URL in there and hoping is a bit, well, unsatisfying. Now that isn’t Evan’s fault, it’s just the fact that the WordPress service isn’t that well documented for delegation and I was hoping for something that would go a little bit further.

Before I found Evan’s OpenID Delegation plugin I came across Will Norris’s WP-Yadis plugin (originally wp-xrds) but it didn’t really work under PHP5 and so I had quickly skipped over it. Having found myself not quite happy with the outcome of using Evan’s (again, not his fault) I decided to go back and see if I could fix up the PHP4 code that wasn’t happy with PHP5.

Now it turns out it wasn’t that hard to fix, just 3 instances of foreach() where a variable needed casting to Array. That let me put in the OpenID Server Url and OpenID Delegate Server Url that I had been using previously and magically created a XRDS (aka Yadis) document. Brilliant I thought.

But wp-yadis could do more, it already had a set of definitions for a number of providers so that you could just pick the one you wanted and give it your username and let it automatically generate the URLs, but there wasn’t anything for WordPress. A bit more hacking later (to add a substitution to the server URL that was previously only happening on the delegation URL) and it was working!

I’ve sent Will the patch by email, but as the licensing isn’t clear I can’t really make it available here without Will’s approval.

OpenID Delegation To

Now that blogs include an OpenID server for free and most WordPress users have an account there as they need it for Akismet to work, it turns out they can use it as the invisible back end to authenticate via their own WordPress blogs (hosted elsewhere) using the concept of delegation.

I thought it would be interesting to try and get OpenID delegation going on this blog as a proof of concept, and because I’m tired of commenting on Tim Connors blog as anonymous. 🙂

Now whilst OpenID delegation requires nothing more than a couple of lines of HTML, on a site that is dynamically generated like a blog you need a bit of code to add that into the front page, otherwise it’s not going to work. With WordPress that is done via plugins and casting around I found Eran Sandler’s OpenID Delegate plugin which I took for a spin.

It’s easy to install, a single PHP file in your wp-content/plugins directory, and then an OpenID Delegation item appears in your Option menu. Clicking on that and you will see three cryptically named options:

  • OpenID Server Url – this is the URL that access the OpenID server code
  • OpenID Delegate Server Url – this is the URL for the OpenID that you possess
  • OpenID XRDS Url – this is a URL for a special file that is supposed to control the delegation

Initially I tried setting http://???? for each field (where ???? is the name of my blog at and that almost, but not quite, seemed to work according to the OpenID validator. It took me a while to figure out what was needed, but from this forum thread I found a clue that I’d missed a necessary option on the OpenID Server URL.

So, what got it to work for me (and presumably will for you too) is:

  • OpenID Server Url:
  • OpenID Delegate Server Url:
  • OpenID XRDS Url:

The proof that it works ?

A successful comment on Tim’s Live Journal using my blog as the OpenID server. That’s enough to make me happy..

It’s the wrong leech, Gromit!

Oops, it looks like there’s been a bit of a mix up with the humble leech in medical research!

In the slimiest and perhaps costliest case of mistaken identity in modern biology, hundreds of scientific papers and years of research could be thrown into doubt, for they may have been based on experiments carried out on the wrong leech

It’s the wrong leech Gromit, and they’ve gone wrong! (Apologies to The Wrong Trousers)

“What has been sold and used as Hirudo medicinalis is usually another species, Hirudo verbana,” said Dr Siddall, who led an international team of researchers in examining dozens of specimens procured from leech farms in Europe and the United States. “Indeed, we have never received a true medicinalis from a commercial supplier,” he said, adding a few leeches from a third species, H. orientalis, from Turkey or Azerbaijan, may also have crept into the mix.

There is an upside to this (asides from the increasing volume of medical papers as they try and correct their previous research and try and work out what compound came from which species):

“With three species rather than one, there may three times as many interesting compounds to be discovered and harnessed,” he said.

Fake WordPress/2.1-alpha3 Trackback Spam Countermeasure (and a factoid) (Updated)

For those of you who control your Apache server driving your blog and who would like to easily block the incoming tide of spam with the fake user-agent “-- WordPress/2.1-alpha3” then all you need to do is to add the following to your .htaccess or central Apache configuration.

BrowserMatchNoCase "-- WordPress/2.1-alpha3" spambot=1 Order allow,deny
deny from env=spambot
allow from all

That should then cause the spammers to bounce off with a 403 “go away” error. You can also lather, rinse, repeat for other spam user-agents you would prefer not to let into the house..

On another point, a couple of them (one each in Brazil, Holland and Israel) had a fake SMTP server listening on port 25:

220 ESMTP service ready
250 ok
250 ok
250 ok
250 ok
telnet> quit
Connection closed.

Very odd!

Update: Also see Fight Blog Spam with Apache.

Open Source for Business

If you are a business person who is new to the world of Open Source, or you need to introduce business people to Open Source and what it can do for you then the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA, an automobile speciality parts trade association) has a very good introduction to Open Source called Open Source Explained : What it is — What it isn’t — and How SEMA Members Can Benefit From It.

Using open source is like owning a 1960s musclecar. You can drive it just as it is, or you can tweak and modify it to the limits of your (or a friend’s) time and talents. On the other hand, a closed source program is quite the opposite. The work of the people who create the software is not available for tweaking or performance enhancements by the general public. It’s like getting a car with the hood welded shut by the manufacturer. “Here are the keys. Put gas in it, and call us if it breaks.” Closed source has its place, and it might be the only choice in certain instances.

As well as being a gentle introduction to what Open Source is it covers all the sorts of things that businesses care about, servers, oeprating systems, databases, word processing, desktop publishing, CRM, ERP, etc. Well worth a read even if you are involved in Open Source because you’re almost certain to come across something you’d not heard of before.

The author ? Well he’s not a professional geek, he is:

Walter D. Vaughan, Jr. is a vice president at Steele Rubber Products. He is a current member of SEMA’s Business Technology Committee, an ARMO Select Committee member and a recipient of ARMO’s 1998 Industry Person of the Year Award. He also uses or has tested extensively all the software mentioned in this article. to get Business Reporting Capabilities

Now this looks like it might be rather an interesting extension to the capabilities of, it appears Sun and Pentaho are planning to integrate the business reporting engine from Pentaho into 2.3, tentatively due for September this year.

With the integration of Pentaho’s reporting engine and the new Report Designer, developed by Sun, users will be able to create reports with content from the Base database as well as a wide range of proprietary and open source relational databases, OLAP and XML sources. For example, users will be able to generate customer invoices by creating a customer invoice template and then pulling customer names, addresses, and current due balances from an accounts receivable application or database. They can then produce the invoices as Writer documents.

Given that this is only at the thinking about stage at the moment there’s precious little real information asides many rewordings of the press release (including this), the best real information I could find was from Ocke Janssen’s blog at Sun which has real information, including a couple of very early screenshots!

The new report designer will extend the database application. You then have the possibility to create reports not only with the famous wizard, but also manually. As output format you have the choice between text documents or spreadsheets. (OASIS Open Document Format). The designer uses the classical way of presenting reports. To navigate through the components of your report, you’ll have a navigator as you for sure already know from forms. Each repeating section of the report has its own area where text can be inserted. In the first release you’ll be able to create groups (with header and footer), functions, page header/footer, report header/footer. The best way to find all features is to try it when a stable version is available;-)

Must. Have. Patience! 🙂

RIP Kurt Vonnegut – 1922 to 2007

So it goes.. 🙁

American literary idol Kurt Vonnegut, best known for such classic novels as Slaughterhouse Five and Cat’s Cradle, has died on Tuesday in Manhattan at age 84, The New York Times has reported. Longtime family friend, Morgan Entrekin, who reported Vonnegut’s death, said the writer had suffered brain injuries as a result of a fall several weeks ago, the newspaper reported.