Macrotone Blogs

Macrotone blogs upon Joomla, our products and other matters.

IP Mapping 1.4.0 released

location-48IP Mapping release 1.4.0 available.

The Joomla component came from a requirement to display IP addresses of site visitors upon Google maps.

This minor update corrects a minor problem but was mainly intended to prepare for Joomla 3.5 and the character set utf8mb4.

See the changelog for details.

The release is available in the usual download location on our site.

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IP Mapping 1.3.2 released

location-48IP Mapping release 1.3.2 available.

The Joomla component came from a requirement to display IP addresses of site visitors upon Google maps.
This release required a Joomla version 3.3 or above to function. Earlier versions are not supported. The release adds an option to use HTML5 geo-location determination to store the visitors location data. The browser itself, if it supports HTML5 geo-location controls the whether the user permits or declines to share their location data. If the user declines then the normal IP location determination mechanism is used.

This minor update corrects a few minor problems with the earlier 1.3.1 release.  Tested upon Joomla 3.4.3.

See the changelog for details.

The release is available in the usual download location on our site.

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IP Mapping, clustering, refresh – performance impacts

ipmappingWe mentioned the other day about using HTML5 to determine a site visitors location and using it to be displayed upon a Google map. We are here looking at the various options that need to be considered when setting the parameters for the best ‘site impression’.  I have deliberately used the term ‘impression’ because most of the ‘work’ is actually performed by Javascript in the users browser. Each user will most likely be using a different machine, i.e. Desktop, laptop, tablet, smartphone etc., not to mention the different processors included in each type, and all these will different performance characteristics.  This each user’s impression of ‘how fast’ a site actually is, will be different, and this is without considering the impact of any network performance in a) obtaining the source data from the web site and b) the transfer of data to/from the Google mapping servers.

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Experiences with HTML5 mapping

ipmappingWe have recently been updating our IP Mapping Joomla component to handle HTML5 geolocation detection and thought this may be of interest to others.

IP Mapping was originally designed with the aim of displaying IP addresses upon Google Maps and experience has shown that although it works well it is very reliant upon the accuracy of the data held by the various database and communication suppliers. The various supplied of the IP to location mapping vary considerably in the accuracy of the location information. We ourselves have been ‘located’ as being several hundred miles away from where we were physically located, depending upon which IP-location provider we were using and when we were determining the location. Whilst this may be adequate for some, for others it is a little bit hit and miss. I am thinking here of a ‘local’ village or town intending to serve the local neighbourhood, who desire to know how widespread their visitors are.

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Observation of Visitor Private IP addresses

It has been observed for some time that some of our site visitors, usually of the less desirable types have been ‘presenting’ Private IP addresses, as reported by our site protection software.

An IP address is considered private if the IP number falls within one of the IP address ranges reserved for private uses by Internet standards groups. These private IP address ranges exist:

10.0.0.0 through 10.255.255.255
169.254.0.0 through 169.254.255.255 (APIPA only)
172.16.0.0 through 172.31.255.255
192.168.0.0 through 192.168.255.255

Private IP addresses are typically used on local networks including home, school and business LANs including airports and hotels.

Devices with private IP addresses cannot (?) connect directly to the Internet. Likewise, computers outside the local network cannot connect directly to a device with a private IP. Instead, access to such devices must be brokered by a router or similar device that supports Network Address Translation (NAT). NAT hides the private IP numbers but can selectively transfer messages to these devices, affording a layer of security to the local network.

Standards groups created private IP addressing to prevent a shortage of public IP addresses available to Internet service providers and subscribers.

Despite the above, which is standard(?) Internet criteria, we have observed visitors using addresses in the 192.168 range for over a year.  However since the beginning of the month (February 2014) we have seen a large number of addresses in the 172.16 range as well.  Something has obviously changed as these should not be possible.

Searching on the web,  has not revealed any other site that reported the problem? Whilst not an issue for ourselves, since we do not use the IP address information for any purpose other than providing an assessment of where our visitors original from, it might well pose a problem  for other sites.  It is suspected that the only ‘real’ way to stop the practise would be to block the IP ranges, such that a visitor using an IP address from outside the local network, that has a value within the ranges, being effectively ‘blocked’ from accessing any information upon a site, although this should not, according to the criteria above be required.

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