Category Archives: Computers

FatCow Rating -D – Part Two

In our last post we described how FatCow hosting had shut down our sites because of a false positive on an automated malware scan. That false positive involved a perfectly safe file that is found in every WordPress installation.

Today’s post has to do with FatCow suspending our forum’s email account…without telling us that they had done so. Some of this involved fairly technical details so we’ll just give you the basics. This is, after all, Computers Made Simple.

Our forum, GTWorld.ca , has been around for almost two years. It’s a small forum, perhaps 500 members, and we only use email to notify members of their successful registration, forgotten passwords, etc. We have never done mass emailing and we do not publish a newsletter. That’s important in this saga.

The forum uses the phpBB platform. It’s not necessary to know that but if you’ve been having problems with a similar platform, we’d suggest you read farther to see what the problem might be. phpBB is a self-contained package that uses the PHP scripting language. It sounds more complicated than it is but, once you get the hang of it, it’s reasonable simple to use.

We’d noticed recently that we weren’t hearing back from prospective members when we reminded them by email that they’d been approved. We’d also head that some members who’d forgotten their passwords were not being prompted by email. We weren’t sure what the problem was but we set out to fix things up.

For the next week or so, we basically took apart our phpBB installation, piece by piece, to see if we could track down what was happening. We also enlisted the help of FatCow’s support department. After days of trying, they couldn’t find the problem either. Finally, frustrated and tired, we posted questions about the situation on the phpBB support forum.

It didn’t take long before one of the experts there figured out that FatCow themselves were preventing our emails from going through. At first, we couldn’t believe that this could happen. Our own hosting company suspending our site’s emails without even telling us? No way. Turns out, that was exactly what they were doing.

Somehow, most likely through an automated scanning program, our very tiny amount of email had triggered yet another false positive, this time for spam. Once we had an inkling of what the problem might be, we asked the FatCow support staff that had been helping us. Here’s our query:

Is FatCow marking these emails as SPAM? Is that why they do not go through? The board has no spam, the emails we are trying to send are activation emails, notices from admin, etc. Is FatCow blocking them?

FatCow responded:

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience caused. I have tested the functionality and verified the logs. The emails sent are dropped as spam by our spam scanner. So, I will be handing this ticket over to one of our System Administrator to reset the spam score and fix the issue. I have also handed over all my findings to that specialist. You should be hearing from them within 12 – 24 hours.

What followed were several very heated messages that we won’t share here. Here’s one of our final messages to FatCow:

I will be polite and say thank you but I solved this problem myself, right? I discovered that FatCow had marked my totally safe emails as spam. Support tried to help but it was FatCow themselves who caused the problem.

FatCow responded:

Your email content were flushed by our spam scanner considering it as spam. The email might be flushed due to low reputation or email content might have including some links/spammish pattern. Yes, you have provided the information which helped us to resolve the issue.

 

Spammish? That’s a new word, isn’t it? At least they admitted that we had solved the problem ourselves. Apology? None received yet. Admitting the FatCow was at fault? Nope, nothing remotely resembling an apology has ever come my way in either instance. FatCow still maintains that the site was at fault, not their scanners.

Since our forum has only one administrator, we know full well that there was never any spam emanating from it. The only time we encountered spam, and that was less than five times, were emails sent from the main page of the site using the ‘Contact Us’ link that is standard on every installation of phpBB’s forum software. Those emails went directly to the gmail account of the administrator, nowhere else. We’ve removed that link from the main page of the site. The spam emails, by the way, were not sent by members but by strangers who happened upon the forum.

FatCow hosting is a good deal, we can’t ignore that, but if you want a responsible hosting company, one that understands your needs and offers you smart, intelligent support, look elsewhere. Once we find a reputable hosting company, we’ll post a link to their site.

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook . Thanks for reading!

FatCow Rating – D-

We’ve been with FatCow hosting for quite a while. Up to this year, they’ve been an inexpensive, reliable company. Two incidents in the last six months changed all that. They’ve lost our support. Here’s why.

WordPress Sites Shut Down  Because of a False Positive on a Default WordPress File

Every WordPress installation includes many default files, we’re talking thousands of little bits and pieces that make WordPress what it is, a reliable platform for bloggers.

Back in May, FatCow’s  scanners decided that the standard WordPress file, moxieplayer.swf, was malware. Here’s the email we received:

 

Hello,

A routine scan of your account has found the following malicious or infected files:

wp-includes/js/tinymce/plugins/media/moxieplayer.swf

As a result, we have suspended your website, to avoid problems for website visitors or other customers. Please remove the malicious code, through FTP or the File Manager. I would recommend deleting and republishing your entire website from a clean copy; this should then erase any other code which may have

been injected into your pages to allow back-door access by unauthorized people.

You should immediately change your password through the control panel for the account, and most importantly, you need to make sure any application in your account are completely up-to-date as far as versions, security patches, etc. are concerned. This applies not just to the core application, but also plugins,

themes, modules, etc. If this is not done, your account will remain vulnerable to future attacks of this kind.

In order to secure your web application,you can use SiteLock Fix product which scans your website daily and removes any infected files. To learn more about SiteLock, please go to: (url removed) /product/sitelock

Sounds serious, right? FatCow did more than warn us, they suspended our websites. That means that FatCow removed access to them, no one could view any of our eleven websites.

In this situation, we had to go through every installation, find the suspicious file and delete it. We’re quite surprised that our WordPress installations still worked after they were put back online.

Once the sites we up again, we began to do some detective work. That file, moxieplayer.swf, is a standard WordPress file. It comes with every WordPress installation. When we notified FatCow of that, here’s what they said:

Comment:
It is possible that a few lines of malicious code was found within the file as opposed to our scanner considering that the file as a whole was malicious. I’m going to try to have this looked into a little further, but with the files already gone we might be limited in what we can research. I’ll get back to you if I find out more information.

Guess what? FatCow never bothered to get back to us. You will note that in the first message, FatCow was pushing Sitelock, an extra-cost feature that they recommended. Fatcow flagged a perfectly safe WordPress file then tried to sell a premium product using scare tactics.

FatCow never admitted their mistake. Every other company that we’ve dealt with over the last twenty years has taken the blame for their own errors. Not FatCow. Despite having our sites shut down for absolutely no reason whatsoever, FatCow never offered compensation either. In their ads and on their site, FatCow pretends to be wholesome, efficient and friendly. Trust us, they’re not.

Stay tuned for Part Two of our rating on FatCow Web Hosting. Once we find a reputable hosting company, we’ll come back a post a link to their site.

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook . Thanks for reading!

The Ultimate Social Media Guide – Part 1

We’ve covered some parts of current social media already. Things like Facebook, WeChat have had in-depth study here on Computers Made Simple. What’s left? Lots. Here’s a list of some of the apps that we’ll be working on:

1. Periscope – It’s currently only available from the Apple store but we understand that there’s an Android version coming soon. Once we get access to that, we’ll be detailing Periscope’s pluses and minuses.

Photo of Periscope Logo
Once this gets to Android, we’ll review it.

2. Instagram – Yes it’s old and somewhat gray but Instagram is still viable and fun. We’ll explain how to get followers and the best way to discover who to follow. There are some tricks and tips that we’ll share too.

Instagram Logo
We’re very active on Instagram. It’s a great way to share memorable photos and moments with the world.

3. Snapchat – This fun app isn’t just for teens or tweens. It’s a fun way to check out popular events happening all over the world. Whether it’s the X-games or just a TGIF celebration, you’ll be able to catch it on Snapchat. Stories are getting more popular on Snapchat and we’ll explain how to create your own.

Photo of Snapchat icon
It’s not what you think. OK, there’s some of that too but there’s lots more that comes with this app.

4. Vine – Silly and endlessly entertaining, Vine is a great way to while away those minutes while you’re waiting for your next appointment or when you’re on your way to work…as a passenger, of course.

Photo of Vine logo
Short and fun videos, that’s Vine.

5.  Small, but fun, time-wasters – We’ve got lots of these on our various devices, doesn’t everyone? We’ll itemize our favorites, just in case you haven’t heard of them.

Photo of QuizUp Logo
Hours of fun with this one. We love trivia so it’s always being used.

 

What are your favorite apps? Let us know and we’ll check them out. If we see something that needs explaining, we’ll do a post on it.

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .  Thanks for reading!

THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO WECHAT – PART 5

So far we’ve opened a WeChat account with a temporary and free phone number, verified our email and played around with the social parts of the app. In this post we’re going to get a new password. If you forget your WeChat password, there are two ways to get back into your account. One is by SMS and the other is by email. There is a third option but it exists ONLY if you have signed up for WeChat with QQ. Today, it’s email that we’re going to use.

1. We logged out of our account. Since we used a ridiculously easy password, we weren’t too concerned about forgetting it. We did make one mistake though. Follow along to hear about it.

WeChat forgot password 1
Switch account, log in or get a new password. We chose the last.

2. Once you’re logged out, you have some choices. You can switch to another WeChat account on the same screen or log in again to the same account. Or, and this is the reason for this post, you can tell WeChat that you forgot your password. The other option is to sign in by SMS but we’ll leave that for another time.

WeChat forgot password 2
Yes, we forgot our password although we could still log in with an SMS that WeChat will send us.

3. If you tell WeChat that you’ve forgotten your password, there are three options open to you: reset via email, log in via SMS or sign in with your QQ password and ID.

WeChat forgot password 3
Three options. We want to ‘Reset password via email’.

Note: In order to regain a lost password, you must have either a phone number or an email account linked to your account. That seems obvious, right? You would not believe the number of readers who don’t seem to get this point. Don’t use a made-up number or email account to register for WeChat. Make sure you verify at least one of the two ways that WeChat can communicate with you if you forget your password. WeChat will only send SMS messages or emails to verified accounts. Why? Because if they did it any other way then anyone could steal anyone else’s WeChat account. Think about it and make sure you verify a number or an email account.

4. Fill in your email address, the one that is linked to your WeChat account. We had to do this a few times because we forgot what email we used to sign up. Then, when we used autofill, it somehow made a typo and WeChat wouldn’t accept the email address, even though we were sure it was correct. It wasn’t until we actually typed the address into the slot that we we able to get WeChat to send us the new password form.

WeChat Forgot Address   4
Use autofill at your peril. Better to type it in yourself.

5. Press Next and wait. Go to your email account and check both the inbox and the junk mail folder. It could take a few minutes for the message to come through so be patient. When the message arrives, open it to see this:

WeChat Forgot Address  5
Here’s the email. That URL is long enough, isn’t it?

6. Click on the link and this comes up.

WeChat Forgot Address  6
Make it strong and memorable. Hey, at least write it down!

7. Fill in the new password. Click OK. This comes up:

WeChat Forgot Address  8
Done! Now go log in to make sure it worked.

8. Go back to your mobile device and sign in with your new password. Write it down so you don’t forget it again.

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .  Thanks for reading!