May 30, 2006 weirdness

Am I the only one who thinks it's odd that the main music-file-format on is DRM-ed WMA?

May 18, 2006

Spam Wars - The Empire strikes back

Seems, that my predictions and guesses in my last post about the Spam Wars had more prophetic value in it than I expected myself. But it did take an end before it even really began because the cleverer gave in.

Blue Security shut down their site and will stop their business because the little starup company doesn't want to be responsible for the collateral damage which a continued fight against spam using its tactic of distributed opt-out could cause.

I'd like to see such attempts again in the future but probably from bigger companies who can rely on more financial and technical environment than Blue Security could.

Perhaps even an open-source attempt, but in that case there have to be measures implemented that the spammers itself can't somehow "hijack" the projects tools and use it for bad purposes on their own.

See the Wired article "Under Attack, Spam Fighter Folds" for a deeper view on the reasons why Blue Security shut its doors.

May 16, 2006

Nintendo and iRex gadget excitement

The last few days caused quite some excitement for me because I got aware of some real good news for me and my geeky, childish mind.

First off with Nintendo:

Wow. I've been really thinking about pre-ordering the Wii, as soon as it's possible. Another thing I've been thinking of: The controller of the Wii will connect via Bluetooth. Would it be possible to connect it with a standard PC on Windows or Linux using a bluetooth receiver? Could that be possible? Someone to take that idea? Playing Oblivion with the Wii-controller would be incredible. A nice-looking news-site for the Wii seems to be Nintendo Wii News. And this Wii Montage on Google Video pretty much sums up all the fun.

The second gadged is the iRex iLiad:

  • it has support for non-DRM-ed content
  • LAN/WLAN/USB/SD-MMC/etc. ...
  • E-Ink display
  • and it'll run on some sorts of Linux

There's a nice coverage on TeleRead: A first look on the iRex Iliad. If it wouldn't have a price around 500$, I'd buy it as soon as possible. But I'll certainly have to think about that again.

May 11, 2006

MovableType rebuild weirdness and blog updates

I've mentioned that there are some problems with this blog in the past. I wasn't able to fix the problem when users post comments though but I fixed some discomfort on my side.

I often wondered why rebuilding the monhly archive was done in 100-entries-steps altough I had set the setting

EntriesPerRebuild 10

I somehow came across this topic in the MovableType Community Forums which suggests to modify some multiplicators in one of MovableType's core files.

I dug a bit into that and investigated the file lib/MT/App/ myself. And there, around line 3495 I found following block, just above the start_rebuild_pages function definition:

my %Limit_Multipliers = (
    Individual => 1,
    Daily => 2,
    Weekly => 5,
    Monthly => 10,
    Dynamic => 5,

Obviously these are multiplicators to the EnriesPerRebuild setting but I have no idea why this behaviour is neither configurable via the standard configuration options nor why this is not documented anywhere.

I changed down all of those settings to 1 and now a full site rebuild runs through without any HTTP 500 error, altough the rebuild-status window refreshes much more often now. The commenting error still persists... *sigh*

Have also been playing around a bit with another visitor statistics tool to get somehow rid of the LevelTen Hit Counter which has served quite well until now but still has a few annoyances. For example it regulary wants to contact it's producers homepage for "updates". Besides the privacy issue with this it just doesn't work on on all of my computers/browsers except one. And it refuses to work until it is up-to-date again. With the help of the Web Traffic Analysis Index of AdvanceScripts Script Resource Directory I found the phpMyVisites PHP package. It showed a nice layout and almost the same functionality as the LevelTen Hitcounter and so I decided to give it a try.

Currently both hitcounters are running side-by-side so that I can compare them better but I'm looking forward dropping the old one in the not so far future.

May 8, 2006

Spam Wars

Last week I recognized a radical increase of spam appearing in my corporate mailbox. DIdn't think much about that because Thunderbird did a nice job on filtering them out of my regular mail. Just one mail slipped through and because I'm natural curious I took a peek inside. The text caught a thought because it was a threat that when I didn't sign out of BlueFrog I'd get 40 times as much spam as currently.

Yes, I'm participating in Blue Security's attempt to stop spammers by automatically filling out their advertised forms and visiting their pages without producing any real value which renders their business rather useless. It's not that ethical to intentionally hit someone with a quasi-DoS attack but then the targets aren't thinking about ethical stuff either.

"Well," I thought "there you go..." and marked it as spam.

Then yesterday I read about some problems around in parts of the internet and a security company involved in it. A quick search turned up that Blue Security had been under a DDoS attack which somehow had been redirected to affect SixApart and Tucows. The former is hosting blogs of thousands of users and the latter is a major DNS provider. There is some inconsictency in the statements issued by Blue Security and the other victims but you can read more about that on the LOOSE wire blog - The Blue Frog vs. PharmaMaster, The Red-faced Blue Frog and CIO Online - Antispan firm says it was victim of attack. A timeline of the events and the messages from the attacker are listed on Blue Security's page.

I'm impressed. On the one side because a spammer fears so much about it's business that he personally threatens the company responsible for his problems and on the other side how much harm an individual can cause if it unleashes the powers of an obviously impressive botnet as (hopefully) last ressort. I'm unsure how people will react to this recent activities. Perhaps it will aid Blue Security's attempts to stop spammers but perhaps Blue Security's actions scared away the people. I hope for the former. Perhaps in the future we'll even have to expect some more outages around the internet when the "Spam War" is heating up.

Going back to train my Thunderbird junkfilter...

May 3, 2006

Car locking lazyness

My workplace is in a corner of our building where I have a full view on our main entrance. When I'm sitting at my computers nobody can enter or leave the building through the main entrance without being recognized by me. And from time to time I observe some strange habbits of the people.

One of those strange behaviours is when employees from carrying businesses (like mail service, pizza or FedEx) deliver something. They hardly ever lock their vehicles when they enter the building. To the contrary some of them even leave a big truck with all doors wide open standing in the middle of the place with the engine running and enter the building. I'd just had to walk over, enter the car and drive away or pick up some expensive-looking goods. They'd never notice. Well, they would but not immediately and they couldn't tell where their deliveries had disappeared.

From time to time also other people leave their vehicles alone unsecured.

I think that this is a good sign for our culture and safety. Of course occassionally things are stolen from an unlocked car but in general I have no problem leaving my car unlocked for some minutes. There are not so many places in the western world where you can behave like that. Of course, I wouldn't let my keys left in the car...