News is Evil

Last year, I decided to try I bought David Allen’s Getting Things Done audiobook. I’d already read the printed book, but I figured the audiobook would be a good way to refresh the ideas. The download was was same cost as if I’d bought CDs. OK, but it’s immediately usuable, right? No, there’s crazy DRM on the downloads. My MP3 player (Creative Zen) doesn’t have the Microsoft PlaysForSure firmware, so the software wouldn’t let me copy the audio to the device. It would let me burn CDs, which I could turn around and rip into MP3s to put on my MP3 player. It’s a brilliant system. This is is why I think is stupid.

I recently decided is evil because they will not stop spamming me. On average, I think I get about one email a day from them. I got tired of that, so I logged in told them to stop sending email (unsubscribe). The emails kept coming. I used the “forgot password” (for surely I had forgotten it), and discovered there were now two accounts pointing to my email address. What?!? OK, so I got into each account and set the email address to something bogus. Guess what? The emails keep coming.
Of course, they have some message in the spam about how I should send send an email to to stop getting emails. Nothing suggests to me that it would be effective. Like other spammers, it would probably encourage them. Oh, well. I can always just filter them into the junk folder.

This is not the way to win friends and influence people…it is a way to make enemies and influence people. They have irritated me enough to share this story. I bet I’m not the only one.


Montserrat is spamming me!

This is weird. Suddenly, I started getting comment spam through the random generators. I understand comment spam coming from the WordPress install or from the Drupal install that runs Clear Night Sky. Both are well-known blogging platforms, and you can figure that a comment posted will appear on the site (except that I moderate all comments on this site). But the comment button from the random generators? They just generate emails to me. Every few months I pick the funniest ones and post them to the Random Generators Blog, but there’s no hope for these guys that somehow I’d mistake their comments for anything other than spam.

So, I tried changing the name of the action module, and I tried adding a hidden variable to the form. It’s not a simple hack that submits to the form action. It must be a real person or a relatively sophisticated robot that reads the form page and then submits. I think it’s real people, probably in some distant place where people get paid to paste spam into comment forms.

I looked at the HTTP headers coming from these submits and they all go through proxies, presumably to mask that they are coming from Montserrat, a tiny Caribbean island. But going through proxies means I get a very different set of HTTP headers which are somewhat mangled. So, I tweaked the code to look for one of the consistent differences. Those people now get a message that the comment went through, but email really gets sent. Plus, I added a 20 second delay.

I hope they don’t read this blog. 🙂


WordPress Upgraded to 2.0

It seemed like a good idea, but it wasn’t a super smooth upgrade. I guess I’m experiencing a (somehwhat) known bug around permalinks that are three layers deep.

Creative Pursuits


I guess Google finally indexed the gigantic list of words you can download from the Random Generators. Either that, or playing Gogglewhack has become more popular. Anyway, I’ve been getting emails in the past few months about how my site is a Googlewhack.

It’s just that there are so many words in the list, there’s bound to be two in combination that don’t appear anywhere else in the Google index. However, I don’t think my site really does count. Rule number 3 is significant.

3. Google shows you an excerpt of the page you whacked. Look at that text. If it’s merely a list of words (such as a bibliography, concordance, encyclopedia, glossary, thesaurus, dictionary, domain names, or plain old machine-generated random garbage), No Whack For You!

Clearly, the page that dumps the entire dictionary of words is disqualified. Of course, any given random output from one of the generators could combine two words to form a transient Googlewhack. In the Google results, you’ll see something that qualifies. When you click to the site, it’s different.

Perhaps the Googlewhack masters should consider this vagueness in the rules. Perhaps they have already and I’m too lazy to figure that out.

Anyway, if you feel the need to tell me I’m a Googlewhack, you might as well note it as a comment to this post.


New Site

I’ve switched my site over to WordPress. Why? It seemed like an interesting idea that would encourage me to write more content more often.

Check the links to the left to get into all the old content. Check back here for new content.