Archive for November 2008

My new rss mini news feed

A little while ago I decided to build a little rss feed for the main site. This way I could have an area for little news information like new pictures. I use the forum for big news like program releases and this blog for cool stuff. So here we go, this is how I built my mini news feed.

The entire thing uses a simple MySQL database, apache, php, and some xml code. To start you MUST edit your mod_php.conf file, look for the line.

AddType application/x-httpd-php .php .html .htm .xml

See how I have .xml at the end. This is because rss feed use xml, if you don’t add this your php parser will not check your .xml files for php code. Remember you will have to restart your apache server after editing that file.

Now, to make things simple I recommend using phpMyAdmin to help you build a database. After you have installed phpMyAdmin and logged in as root you can create your database.

Once logged in create a new database, lets call it foobar. Create 2 tables ‘admin’ and ‘mininews’. In admin we need 3 Fields,

idx (type 'int(2)', Extra 'auto_increment', put as KEY)
name (type 'tinytext')
pass (type 'tinytext')

Then under mininews

idx (type 'int(100)', Extra 'auto_increment', put as KEY)
news (type 'tinytext')
link (type 'tinytext')
date (type 'timestamp', default 'CURRENT_TIMESPAMP')

Now go to insert a new record in ‘admin’, idx should start at 0, but it doesn’t really matter.
Under name, put a username that you will use to insert new records.

Go back to the main page with phpMyAdmin and click on the ‘Privileges’ tab. Then create a new user. REMEMBER YOUR USERNAME AND PASSWORD, DO NOT USE THE SAME LOGIN AS ABOVE!
Put in a username, localhost, password, and re-type password. Then click Go, do NOT give that user access over the entire server. On the next screen you can select the database you want the user to have access to, select ‘foobar’.
Only give that user the following privileges under the data area.


Once done with that you may see an option to update server privileges, if not it may have been done already… I sure hope so.

Now we need some starter php code. This section is used to insert data into the database from the web browser and NOW with phpMyAdmin (altho you are welcome to use it if you so desire).

Here is my mininews_mysql.php file. This will connect to the database for reading and writing.

define ('DB_USER', '<DB USER>');
define ('DB_PASSWORD', '<DB PASSWORD>');
define ('DB_HOST', 'localhost');
define ('DB_NAME', 'foobar');
$dbc = @mysql_connect (DB_HOST, DB_USER, DB_PASSWORD) OR die ('Could not connect to mini news feed database ' . mysql_error() );
mysql_select_db (DB_NAME) OR die ('Could not select mini news feed database ' . mysql_error() );
// function for trimming form data
function escape_data($data) {
        global $dbc;
        if (ini_get('magic_quotes_gpc')) {
                $data = stripslashes($data);
        return mysql_real_escape_string (trim($data), $dbc);
// end escape data function

Now the file used to add a news feed. I call this one mininews_admin.php

// if submit
if (isset ($_POST['submit'])) {
        require_once ('./mininews_mysql.php');
        // check that uname and upass work in the db
        $uname = escape_data($_POST['uname']);
        $upass = escape_data($_POST['upass']);
        $query = "SELECT name FROM admin WHERE name='$uname' AND pass=PASSWORD('$upass')";
        $result = @mysql_query ($query);
        $row = mysql_fetch_array ($result);
        if ($row) { // if a match was made
                $news = escape_data($_POST['news']);
                $link = escape_data($_POST['link']);
                // inset data into the database!
                $query = "INSERT INTO mininews (news, link, date) VALUES ('$news', '$link', NOW() )";
                $result = @mysql_query ($query); // run the query
                echo "<h1>Completed</h1>";
                echo "<a href=''>Go back!</a>";
        else { // if no match was made
                echo "WRONG! If you are not an ADMIN you shouldn't even be trying";
                echo "Click <a href=''>here</a> to go home";
// need auto forward back to mininews.php
// main script
<!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN">
                <TITLE>TangoRangers dev site</TITLE>
<FORM METHOD='POST' ACTION='./mininews_admin.php'>
<h3>Enter in the fields and be sure to enter username and password to post</h3>
Title: <INPUT TYPE="text" NAME="news" size=40 /><br />
Full URL: <INPUT TYPE="text" NAME="link" size=40 /><br />
<br />
User Name: <INPUT type="text" name="uname" /><br />
Password: <INPUT type="password" name="upass" /><br />
<br />
<INPUT type="submit" name="submit" value="submit" /><br />
<a href="./mininews.php">Go Back</a>

You are free to edit this as you see fit, the only problem I have is after you insert a new feed it shows you what you started with. It’s kind of annoying, but I live with it.

Now for the actual rss feed!
To start, edit your index.php/html file and include this example line in your function.

That will add the little rss feed button in the address bar of everyone’s favorite web browser (*cough* Firefox).

Now create a file called ‘mininews.xml’. xml is a pretty easy language to work with, it’s layout is as follows


In the actual file you will need to pull data from the database and for that matter, call the mininews_mysql.php file to form the connection to the database. Here is my file (slightly edited).

        require_once ('./mininews_mysql.php');
        $query = "SELECT DATE_FORMAT(date, '%b %D, %Y at %k:%i') AS date, news AS news, link AS link FROM mininews ORDER BY date DESC";
        $result = @mysql_query ($query);
        //$row = mysql_fetch_array ($result);
        $rss = '<?xml version="1.0" encoding="iso-8859-1" ?>';
        $rss .= '<rss version="2.0">';
                $rss .= '<channel>';
                        $rss .= '<title>Site News</title>';
                        $rss .= '<link></link>';
                        $rss .= '<description>mini news feed</description>';
                        while($row = mysql_fetch_array($result)){
                        $rss .= "
                                <description>on ".$row['date']."</description>
                        $rss .= '</channel>';
                $rss .= '</rss>';
        header("Content-Type: text/xml; charset=iso-8859-1");
        print $rss;

Now this will pull EVERY feed, no limits, so if you have a lot you may want to add in a limiter. Look at the $query line, and add ‘LIMIT #’ at the end, replace # with the actual number.

And that should do it. I think, I don’t think I missed anything, if I did… oops… I’ll fix it. Until next time ^_^

Hacking moviebeam

Some time ago I posted in a forum that I was going to hack a moviebeam box.  Well lets put it this way, it’s kind of a waste of time.  Granted, they say it’s unhackable… not true. I found a great site at that gave me a lot of good info.  However, upon my own experiments I have found that it’s a HUGE pain in the ass to try to retrieve movies.  The problem is when you hot swap the hard drive you only get to use it for about 3 min.  This is not enough time to copy a movie off the drive.  However, I was able to start playing a movie… at least once.  It appeared to be in a standard MPEG-2 format, just like DVDs.  So, if you do what is explained on the link above you can get movies.

NOTE! I do not condone stealing! It’s wrong! I did this as an experiment to see if I could do it! It was my first attempt at hardware hacking and I think I did a pretty good job.  Below is a way (only a theory, I did NOT test it) to get a movie.

After you have hot swapped the drive setup apache or an ftp server to point at the directory (ie /mnt/sdb2) so you can see the file listings.  Then from another computer use


then once the drive stops working repeat the hot swap and use

wget -c 

and it should continue where it left off.

I did NOT try this, it’s only a theory.  I have stopped my attempts to hack the moviebeam box (mostly because the last thing I want is a lawsuit).  If you are able to hack it and steal movies… well shame on you.