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Digital Tapestries

Volume Itransbrd.gif (859 bytes)April 2000


special edition!

Welcome to the very first All Singing, All Dancing, premier edition of the Digital Tapestries Newsletter - capture this screen now, as it's sure to become a real Collector's Item!

We have lots of goodies for you in this issue, from articles, jokes, and tutorials to valuable and much sought after original presets, tubes, and other assorted freebies!   The index on the right will take you straight to them.

The Management and staff would like to thank all those who have contributed to make this first edition a fantastic newsletter!  Many thanks also to the redoubtable Callan, without whom none of this would have been possible.


upcoming events!

"Watch This Space" for exciting contests and amazing prizes!

Due to medical emergencies in the household no date has been set for the upgrade yet, but we will shortly be moving across to Ultraboard 2000, which promises new features and extra User functions.  We've been led to believe that we will be able to retain our current message base, too - stay tuned for more news! (film at eleven...)

Next month: Mouth watering recipes!  Don't miss them!


article: callan's technoramble

The deployment of the Digital Tapestries forum.

This is a bit of a nerdish technoramble. It will be confusing to some people, but hopefully some may find some of this interesting.(!)

First, a bit about me: - I'm a 34 year old UNIX systems engineer, average quake player (call myself "callanfodder"), love a wide variety of music, and have more computers in the house than most larger financial institutions (well almostJ) We hooked up a semipermanent connection to our Service Provider, Labyrinth, about 6 months ago, and all the machines (including a 10 year old Mips magnum UNIX system and my stepdaughters computer) are connected to it via a domestic Network

Labyrinth is not your average ISP. Apart from the usual (email, "www", news and a couple of games servers), Laby also encourages a "community" aspect, and provides some "old fashioned", but powerful services. It is one of the few ISP's that still provide FULL Unix shell access, 30Mb of filestore, and probably most importantly for this sort of venture, CGI hosting.

CGI hosting is the ability to run programs on the web server, taking input from a user, processing this, and displaying web pages in return. Laby allows the use of CGI, PERL, SSI and FreeBSD binaries to run through the web server in this manner, with access to a mySQL server (database server), if needed. Quite a generous list, all provided as a freebie with basic user subscription!!

The web server which does this is no slouch either, with twin 400Mhz PentiumII processors, 512Mb RAM, and striped, ultra fast SCSII hard disks. Naturally, the operating system is UNIX (FreeBSD).

CGI access is usually not provided, due to security considerations - badly written CGI scripts provide excellent opportunities for unfettered access to the rest of the UNIX system - as a result, most ISP's shy away from providing it.
Laby gets around this security issue by a system called the "jail". Akin to the Java "sandbox", it is a remapping of the directories needed to run the cgi script, and all other subdirectories are stripped out. Security is it's GOOD side - but configuration is it's BAD side.

Firstly, a lot of directory paths play switcheroo, depending on mode of access.
Normal "shell" (telnet) mapping, and cgi (web Jail) mapping differ greatly.   Web directory mapping is different AGAIN, and to add insult to injury, access to files and pages served by the webserver are from a different user (the user "nobody").
To safeguard forum password files from access by a remote web browser, but still allow the little "smiley" emoticons to be displayed by the web server, was a prime example of the duplicate directory/permissions issues that had to be resolved.

SO!  We lost two weeks in deploying the web server - one week through an abortive attempt by a fellow Labyrinth webmaster to resolve some installations (GRR), then the FOLLOWING week I was working in Bangkok, Thailand, commissioning a new IBM server for a large customer. Winter was becoming quite concerned (read " totally frantic" -Ed.), so we decided to "give it a go ourselves"... Neither Winter nor myself liked the idea of running a forum on a server we couldn't control, nor one with banner advertising. Since Internet privacy is one of my pet hobby-horses, I was also very mistrustful of any and all such services. On MY server, I control what it displays, WHAT information it stores, HOW it is stored, and WHO has access to it. I guess in a nutshell, sovereignty is important for both of us.....

It took about 5 hours but, after a lot of typing, FTPing, headscratching and checking (and a fair amount of profanity -Ed.), it all well sorta worked out of the box... ... Security was non existent, most of the emoticons didn't work, and the colours were wrong, but otherwise, it ran. We were elated, and I frantically backed up what I'd done, in case I wasn't able to repeat the "performance". Once I felt a bit more confident, the remaining security holes we could find were plugged, the broken bits fixed (graphics, some dodgy colours etc) and the server placed online......

I will confess, some (unexploited) potential security issues were identified by one of the Labyrinth engineers a few days later, and were promptly plugged!  Other than that, the only technical problems have been two instances where the Apache web server has stopped serving requests (gone offline) - Hopefully, with a quick change made Laby-side today, that should no longer happen.. (crosses fingers!)

I did come across ONE rather useful utility - a little CGI script that, when run, presented a form. Typing directory paths into the form, then "submitting" the form then fired off the script, which then displayed the contents of the specified directory. This allowed me to "probe" the "jail", and generate a map of just how it was laid out. If anyone wants this script, just ask....

And now, we've just downloaded and paid for ....... UltraBoard2000!!!! AUUUUUUGHHH!!!!!!!!!

My next article will be on FORMS, and their interaction with CGI.


article: bandwidth theft - by marty

"Why can't I link to your images?"

When you link to my images you are taking up my bandwidth.

"So? What's bandwidth?"

"Bandwidth" is the pull on the server to go into my directory and get the link and image and have it show up on your pages as well as mine. If I were to get say, 100 hits per day, that's fine with my ISP. But if I have you and several others linking to my images, and you all get 100 hits a day, then you're using up a lot of time and resources on my server. And that's NOT ok with my ISP. He may now start charging me for the large amounts of resources that I, (you) are actually pulling from his server. But *I* would be the one to pay for it. Now that is *not* fair, is it? No it isn't.

"Why should I care, you have to pay, not me!"

Well that's true to a degree, but if I can't afford to pay for the additional pull on my server and my site goes down, you lose those graphics you were stealing from me and your site gets ugly broken images all over it. (and probably a very appropriate punishment, too! -Ed.)

"How do you know someone's stealing your bandwidth before you get hit with the extra bandwidth charges?"

One way is by going here to this site: Tips - Who's Been Linking and just follow the "How to" on the page and find who's been linking to you.

Another way is by going here to this site: Alta Vista Search and just type this in:, replacing the generic information with your ISP and your website URL, or if it is your own domain just type in your domain information, e.g.: image:

A third one to try is the Bandwidth Speed Test, as mentioned by PeeLee in her own Newsletter

"What do you do when you catch a bandwidth thief?"

Go to Web Guard! and learn how, with images provided!

"And a little extra help for Web TV Users...."

WebTV users can use a transloader service to download free or linkware graphics to use for their own sites.  There are two transloaders available online at the moment, the first is Star Boulevard Transloader, the other is WebUP.

Martha J Hernandez
Web Developer
MJ Web Development


closing remarks - or "the fine print"

And finally... Top Signs That you Are Addicted To The Net

1 You wake up at 3am to go to the bathroom and check your email on the way back to bed.

2 You get a tattoo that reads "This person best viewed with Netscape Navigator 3 or higher".

3 You name your children after famous email artists.

4 You turn off your modem and get this awful empty feeling.

5 You spend half of the plane trip with your laptop on your lap checking your email and your child in the overhead compartment.

6 You decide to stay in college for an additional year or two just for the free internet access.

7 You laugh at people with 2400-baud modems.

8 You start using smilies in your snail mail.

9 Your hard drive crashes. You haven't logged in for two hours. You start to twitch. You pick up the phone and manually dial your ISP's access number. You try to hum songs to communicate with the modem. AND you succeed.

10 You find yourself typing "com" after every period when using a word processor.

11 You refer to going to the bathroom as downloading.

12 you start introducing yourself as "Winter at I-I-Net dot net dot com.

13 All of your close friends have an @ in their names.

14 You can't call your mother...she doesn't have a modem.

15 You check your mail. It says "no new message". So you check it again!

16 Your phone bill comes to your door step in a box.

17 You don't know what sex three of your closest friends are because theyhave neutral nicknames and you never bothered to ask.

18 You move into a new house and decide to netscape instead of landscape.

19 You tell the cab driver you live at http//

20 You start tilting your head sideways to smile :-)


in this issue

Amazing, but true!

111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

oh, har har!

Q: What's invisible and smells of carrots?
A: Little bunny farts!

Q: How do you catch a unique bunny?
A: You neek up on him!

*  *  *

A man died and was at the Pearly Gates. He said to God "Before I go in, I have a question - why did You make women so beautiful?"

"So you would love them," God replied.

"And why," the man then asked, "did you make them so stupid?"

"So they would love you."

*  *  *

Diet Rules

1) If you eat something and no-one sees you eat it, it has no calories.

2) If you drink a diet soda with a candy bar, the calories in the candy bar are cancelled out by the diet soda.

3) When you eat with someone else, calories don't count if you do not eat more than they do.

4) Food used for medicinal purposes NEVER counts, such as hot chocolate, brandy, toast and Sarah Lee Cheescake.

5) If you fatten up everyone else around you, then you look thinner.

6) Movie related foods do not have additional calories because they are part of the entertainment package and not part of one's personal fuel. Examples Milk Duds, Buttered Popcorn, Junior Mints, Red Hots & Tootsie Rolls.

7) Broken cookie pieces contain no calories. The process of breaking causes calorie leakage.

8) Things licked off knives and spoons have no calories if you are in the process of preparing something.

9) Foods that have the same colour have the same number of calories. Examples are Spinach and Pistachio ice cream; Mushrooms & Mashed Potatoes.

10) Chocolate is a universal colour and may be freely substituted for any other food colour.

11) Anything consumed whilst standing has no calories. This is due to gravity and the density of the caloric mass.

12) Anything consumed from someone else's plate has no calories since the calories rightfully belong to the other person and will cling to his/her plate. (We all know how calories like to cling!!)

13) Remember "stressed" spelled backwards is "desserts"

*  *  *

The Answer Is Always Carrot:

Amaze yourself and your friends with this simple little party trick:

Ask a friend a few simple sums:

1 + 5,   2 + 4,  2 X 3,
4 + 2,  5 + 1

Then ask them to name a vegetable.

98% of the time they will answer "carrot". Why this is so, no-one seems to be able to say, but it's true! Only 2% of the population will answer something other than "carrot" - Try it and see!

**Note All the simple sums above add up to the number 6. Whether this has any significance or not I don't know, but that's the way I've always seen it written up. Anyway, have a go - see if it works for you!

*  *  *

editorial staff

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The opinions expressed in this issue are not necessarily those of the management. Any similarities between persons, living or dead, entirely co-incidental.  Contents of package likely to settle. Not valid in some states. Do not add water. If swallowed, seek medical advice. Batteries not included. As seen on TV. Do not fold, spindle or mutilate. Postage and handling extra.



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