Monthly Archives: April 2007

Please type my name

I just had a thought after filling in an anti-spam keyword in a comment form. Sometimes my thoughts are interesting but this isn’t one of them. Justin Mason asks you to type his first name as a means to defeat spam bots. I bet if I did the same, even going so far as writing my name next to the box people would misspell it. “donnacha”, “donacha”, “doncha” and “dunacha” are all variations I’ve seen. You don’t want to know how Sky Digital butchered it!

For extra fun I could have an audio clip saying my name instead. I might not ever receive a comment ever again!

Jacinta and Adam came home from the hospital yesterday, my brain is lightly fried, with chips and tomato sauce. Thank you so much Mairead for making us dinner and minding Adam so we could get a short rest! Aren’t family great?

What the heck is that RSS thing anyway?

I’m not going to explain it but a short video I found on Conor’s blog will. It’s produced by Common Craft and explains in easy to understand terms why and how this stuff can make your online life so much more efficient and fun. When you’re done watching the video, click on the Subscribe link over on the sidebar and subscribe to my blog to see how easy it is! You’ll never look back after you discover the power of RSS syndication!

And one final tip, if you’re following the comments on a blog post, you can subscribe to that post so you’ll be notified when a new comment appears! Say you don’t like cats, well my 8 reasons to hate cats post would be right up your alley. It seems to be very popular for some reason. Instead of refreshing the same page over and over again, look for the “Feed for this entry” link and subscribe to it. The cat-hating conversation appears in your news reader along with all your other feeds!
PS. I love cats!

Full of suds

Don’t you just hate people who exaggerate? I don’t mean the person who bends the truth on the odd occasion when describing an amazing story. That’s how stories happen – with time the extraneous bits get chopped off with each telling and the fish gets bigger, or the risk gets higher.

No, it annoys me when someone exaggerates everything about themselves. Are they compensating for something? Trying a little too hard to please, to be noticed, to be great. “The ego has landed.”

That’s my little thought for the day before I head off to the hospital. Have a good day today!

One giant leap for starman Hawking

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The Sunday Times reports that Steven Hawking is going to take a trip in the “Vomet Comet” to experience up to 25 seconds of weightlessness!

I think that is simply the most wonderful thing that could happen to a man who has studied gravity and physics all his life. He has also been offered a free place on Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spacecraft and apparently he has been, “smiling a lot this week”, and I look forward to hearing how he got on.

Hawking, 65, will be lifted out of his wheelchair so that he can enjoy zero gravity when the plane takes off from the shuttle landing facility at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Meanwhile, I wonder what Ryanair would do if they ran spaceflights? They’d certainly place a surcharge on any extra weight, but at the prices required to lift 1KG of weight they better not overesitimate the weight

Update! I found a photo of his weightless experience here!

Google Adsense joins the Google collective

Did anyone else get this email from Google Adsense?

They’re migrating their Adsense logins to regular Google ones which is a good and bad thing. It’s good because it’s a single sign on for Adsense, Gmail and whatever else you’re having, but it’s bad because Google know so much more about your activities. They even own Double Click now so imagine what else they may gleam about your browsing habits?

Another side effect of the migration is the “remember me” setting. Instead of having to login when the Adsense page times out, the login iframe will still be logged in. It’s slightly worrysome to be honest because the timeout was a useful feature on an application with commercially sensitive data. The only other Google service I use, Analytics, doesn’t auto login unless you bookmark and internal page so maybe I should unckeck the “remember me” box next time I login.

Oh, looks like this is old news. Why do they allow people to signup with a different email address if they’re just going to migrate them later on? I have this big long post written so I’m not going to scrap it just because it’s old hat stuff! :)

It also gives me an opportunity to ask if anyone would be interested in an ad click tracker with a built in Competitive ad filter manager?

Baby stuff? See Mother and baby on the street!

A Dad's scary moment

Kav’s scary moment #1 was the birth of his daughter. Our baby still hasn’t made an appearance and it looks likely we’ll be going to the hospital tomorrow evening. I doubt I could describe the event as well as Kav has, so if you’ve been through the experience, go read his blog post. If you haven’t, go read it anyway, it’s written very well and worth a few minutes of your time!

It’s an emotional bungee jump, is why. Frozen panic masked as calm, driving with jittery, awkward limbs. The rush of the brief heroics when you’re playing the rescuer, flying it down the corridor with a wheelchair containing your bellowing wife and your soon-to-be first-born. The feeling of being absolutely useless to her while she goes through this.

There is nothing you can do, so you mask your uselessness with words of support, while the midwives calmly go through the motions for the tenth time that night.

Missing your National Geographic?

Due to my ongoing problems with An Post, the postal service in Ireland, I wasn’t overly worried when this month’s copy of National Geographic didn’t materialise on time. It rarely does.

However, it’s getting on a bit, it’s the 17th of the month so I rang their Dutch offices(the only number I had for them) and found out that a shipment of magazines destined for Germany and Belgium went astray. Susan, the very nice woman on the other end of the phone verified my account details and told me that a few customers in Ireland were affected too. She promised that a copy of the missing magazine would be sent out to me from their American office immediately and I should expect it within 2 weeks.

So, if you’re missing this month’s copy of NGM, visit ngmservice.com where you can type in your customer number and find out where it’s gone.

Filter spam through Postfix and Spamassassin

It has been a long time since I used and configured Sendmail, and I don’t miss it one bit now that Postfix is on the scene, but the amount of spam I receive does bother me. My Junk folder had reached 160MB, mostly due to some idiots sending huge spam attachments, but also because spam still works and a majority of the email circulating is spam and not legitimate.

Spamassassin is how we fight back. Unfortunately it needs a reasonably powerful server, gobs of memory and CPU when there’s a lot of incoming email and time to configure. Using spamd/spamc makes things easier on your server but it’s still a hefty price to pay for being spam free.

Here are a few pages I found useful this morning when getting things up and running on my Ubuntu server:

I also recommend running Postgrey to stop some junk mail before it gets into your system at all.

Now, if only there was a Spamassassin for the junk mail and clothes collection leaflets we get to the front door. How’s about a Defense Tower that would fire pellets when it noticed someone with leaflets calling to the door?

Edit: Justin talks about one of Spamassassin’s honeypot traps and about goings on at Blacklist.ie