Bad mans find good woman

I’ve been hit severals time recently with comment spams. In fact the frequency of attack has really picked up as WordPress has become more popular.

I don’t use any form of blacklist, but controlling the spam is still pretty trivial. There’s one throttle in place that doesn’t allow more than so many posts in a short period of time–over ten posts in a minute, and over fifty a day; anything beyond these limits is automatically moderated. I can easily increase the number of comments per minute or day if I suddenly gain political blogger status.

(The ten posts in a minute throttle is new, so please send me email if you have problems.)

I also have code in place to automatically put my comments into moderation at 20 days. Due to the increased frequency of attack, I’ve changed this to put any comments older than five days into moderation. Since most activity falls within this five day period, this shouldn’t be too restrictive.

With these protections in place, I still get the comments. But no build is happening, so it’s just a straight database access and an email. And since I can’t get more than ten of these beasties at a time, the mail is no burden. Once a day, I then go into WordPress, go to the comment power-editing page, search on whatever is common on all the spams, and then mass delete the bunch.

If there’s one drawback to this, when my throttle is in place, your comments may end up in my moderation queue. But unless you’re selling me online gambling, I’ll let you through.

This spam throttling is one of my favorite WP modifications. If I had to pick any five modifications I’ve done to WordPress that has more than paid for the time to maintain these between version upgrades, I would pick the following:

  1. My comment spam throttling. Without having to resort to IP or other blacklisting, I have it controlled and managed with a minimum of effort. I am looking at putting this into a plug-in for WP 1.3
  2. My fullpage preview. There’s nothing like previewing your post within the environment it will be viewed at when published. The only way this can be a plug-in is to use DHTML to modify the page objects on load. Since I’m not fond of using DHTML for anything to do with navigation, I prefer to customize the page.
  3. My comment editing. As I posted comments in the last few days in other weblogs, I really regretted I couldn’t edit the comments after the fact. My damn typos. Because of this, I’ve come to have a deep appreciation for my own comment editing feature. I think all sites that offer comments, should provide comment editing. Best thing of all, this can be a drop-in modification. I need to package it accordingly for 1.3.
  4. My moderated comments customization. Being able to turn moderation on an off selectively rather than globally is a wonder. Again, this can be a plug-in, but would require DHTML to modify the document and this doesn’t ring my bell. So it stays a customization.
  5. My other customizations are tied for usefulness, but I like my comment/trackback split, and my talkback feature (both plug-ins, which I need to link at the WP support wiki). I also like my Insert post status that allows me to publish an entry, without it being part of the overall site navigation. This is particularly useful for About pages and other content that you want static. I also like my static page implementation, though I think the one that comes with WordPress now might be better (have to check it out and see).I also like my new “about this entry” with notes annotation that I just added. It adds an element of fun.

Why do technologists like weblogging? Because the tools are a tweaker’s paradise.


Guess who’s coming to dinner

Dave Rogers is also less than impressed with the new iMach G5 from Apple. However, he has other things to think about now – such as a possible category 5 hurricane by the name of Frances that is shaping up, from all computer models, to hit near his home. If I were a betting woman, I would bet on this storm hitting between Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, with the first winds starting Thursday night/Friday morning.

(I don’t think this will impact service for this site, but note that my host’s (Hosting Matters) servers are in that area. However, if there is a problem with the servers, I do NOT want Annette, Stacey, and the gang worrying about making their way into the shop to fix the problem. Let the sites stay down – Michelle Malkin will understand. She’s a compassionate conservative.)

I’ve been watching this beast for several days, as it got stronger and more determined. The shear is low and the water is hot, and the previous activity was long ago enough so that no churn is bringing up the cooler water. And though there is a possibility of the storm being blown further north or south, even the more cautious weather forecasters are saying that it looks like it will hit the Florida this Friday. And it doesn’t look to weaken.

Hopefully those in mobile homes and along the ocean will use shelters, but they’re already maxed out with Charley. I guess one good thing about all this, if you can say anything is good about Florida being hit with two such major hurricanes in such a short time, is that support people are already there, entrenched, to help out with this one.

It’s frustrating to sit here knowing that this storm is heading towards people I know and there’s not a damn thing I can do to help them. I did sign up at the Red Cross for disaster help, but haven’t had my training yet. When I called to volunteer to help in Florida, I was gently and kindly told that our state is only sending in those with years of experience, and a newbie like me would be more trouble then help.

It’s been said that we webloggers can pool ourselves into a viable force for good. But what good can we do against Mother Nature, who always manages to demonstrate that no matter how clever we are, the Lady always wins?

However, folks in that area have good warning, and they know what to do. Including not standing out in winds in excess of 120MPH, yelling ‘hee YAH!’ at the top of their lungs, while they take pics to post.

Not that I would do something like this if I lived there. Not me.

I’ll be watching the storm, and keeping the folks there in my most positive thoughts.


Floating computers

Like Don Park, I am less than impressed with the design of the new G5, even with the thought of a laptop with a 24 hour battery:

I can ducktape it to a small powerboat battery and use it as a laptop. Wow, a laptop with 24 hour battery life and replaceable keyboard. I am starting to like the idea.

Though an interesting design, the iMac G5 seems to ignore usability in favor of the “I’m so cool, and sexy, too” factor.

For instance, the monitor is firmly attached to the computer, which means you really can’t add or replace the monitor if you wish, as you can a traditional non-iMac desktop. You can’t do this with a laptop either, but a laptop you can take with you on the plane or to the coffee shop. I suppose you could swing this baby over your shoulder and take it with you, but I have a feeling this might trip security sensors. And probably revoke your warranty.

You could use it in your living room as a DVD movie player, but I would think a nice flat screen TV with DVD player would do better. Nothing says “floating in air’ like 50 inches on the wall.

I know the company is marketing to a new class of people with too much money to spend–the new generation iPod “Sex and the City” anti-geeks who drive heavily overpriced BMWs specifically because they’re compatible with their tunes devices–but no design, no matter how ‘enchanting’ is going to make up for overall capacity and cost effectiveness.

But then, I’m an old generation Ford Focus driver who hums under my breath as I drive.


Slashdotted AKMA

AKMA’s recent flirtation with breaking the law by using the open WiFi outside of the library has been Slashdotted. Contrary to many Slashdot stories, this one is amazingly free of invective, and has some very thoughtful responses.

In particular, when the story was submitted, the writer made specific mention of AKMA’s profession:

A policeman approached him and asked that he only access the Internet from within the Library and hinted that Federal Laws against “signal theft” were applicable. Oh, and btw, we’re not talking about a person that looked like your stereotypical ‘hacker’; AKMA is an ordained priest.”

(Oh, I would love to see a Gary Turner morph of AKMA into a hacker.)

This sparked additional commentary above and in addition to that generated by the policeman’s actions, including the following:

Actually, that’s a good point. We’re thinking “jerk policeman picking on innocent geek”, but it might have undercurrents of “jerk policemen who hates priests picking on innocent geek who is a priest”. We probably need to get over the idea that certain occupations are automatically respected (priests, doctors, COBOL programmers, etc).


Our friends for freedom

I’ve developed a re-awakened interest in World War II history due to conversations that I’ve been following in weblogging. I went to the library to check out a couple of books on the Japanese internment, and found five books on women’s participation in the war effort intermixed on the same shelf. I checked out books on both subjects.

One of the books makes liberal use of WW II posters, as demonstration of the contradiction inherent with women’s roles during the war. Going online, I found digital images of almost all of them, and they are fascinating to look at; particularly since most encouraged behavior in war that the country, as a whole, discouraged during peace.

For instance, in one set of posters, each features a photo of a man representing a country who was ally in the war. All of the posters had words to the effect that these people were our friends in the fight for freedom. Among those so honored were the very proud, and very black, Ethiopians; ironic, when you consider that blacks in this country weren’t allowed to serve alongside the whites in most situations until later in the hostilities.

In fact, when a small group of black nurses were finally allowed to volunteer at war’s end, they were assigned to tend German patients; laws on the books prevented them from helping American or other allied white men.