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Can the spam problem be solved? //at 02:23 //by abe

from the never-say-never-again dept.

Many have tried to solve spam problem, even Micrsoft (with a quite strange solution ;-), but except personal solutions like well working and well-kept spam filters, no well-working general technical solution has been found yet.

Although I really would like to see a technical solution and often think about this problem, I currently believe that this primarily is a social problem which cannot be solved solely with technic. UserFriendly’s Erwin seems to see it the same way and proposed today a quite drastical solution.

There are good ideas out there (e.g. SPF, RBL, Greylisting and Teergrubing), but all seem to have their problems, too. Especially RBL often have administrative problems, i.e. if an entry is justified or not. Greylisting simply can be bypassed by being SMTP conform and trying again, so it’s usefulness will decrease permanently. And against Lutz Donnerhacke’s teergrubing, spammers seem to have found workarounds quite quickly. Haven’t heard much about it in the last years. (I just can’t remember what the drawback of SPF was.)

For myself I’ve solved the spam problem with a learning SpamAssassin and sorting mail by spam-level into several mailboxes. The higher the spam-level of such an inbox, the more seldom I look into it. Works fine. For me. No general solution though, since the SpamAssassin needs to be fed with fresh spam regularly.

Cheap blue pills //at 02:22 //by abe

from the I-should-have-taken-the-blue-pill dept.

I just got an obvious spam e-mail with subject “cheap blue pills” and it took me quite a moment to realise that they don’t want me to buy pills which let me keep everyone I love and everything that I have built my life upon. What a pity. But why don’t they sell also red pills? ;-)

Blosxom plugin tagging released //at 02:22 //by abe

from the if-it-doesn't-exist-you-have-to-write-it-yourself dept.

I like the idea of categorising blog posts and I like blosxom, but even with multcat adding a post to multiple categories is somehow limited. In other blogs I often saw the technic of tagging articles with a keyword. I wanted that feature, too, but there weren’t any appropriate plugin for blosxom. Until now, because again, I just wrote it by my own…

So here is the blosxom plugin tagging, version 0.01. License is GPL v2 or higher.

tagging expects one or more “header” lines starting with “Tags: ” and being located directly under the first line, which always is the title. Those lines you can fill with comma seperated keywords (seperation by blanks possible via config) and shows them with appropriate links in $tagging::tag_list for the story template and $tagging::global_tag_list with all used keywords for the head or foot template.

Filtering is done using the -tags parameter in the query string. It uses the same delimiter as configured for the Tag header lines inside the posts.

Image based captchas are evil //at 02:20 //by abe

from the accessibility dept.

I always found Captchas annoying. But since I also had or have problems with guestbook or comment spamming, I understood that people and especially companies saw no other choice against comment or wiki spamming, mass account grabbing, etc. But since most captcha are based on the fact that people can still read deformed or garbled texts in images while machines can’t or at least only with a big effort, there is one big drawback with them: They are even more an insuperable obstacle for blinds or visually handicapped people than for machines.

The blind computer science student Sebastian Andres showed at Berlinux how blinds navigate and use the web and where they (must) stop. So because of GMail uses visual captchas as a defense against mass account grabbing, he couldn’t get such a “free” e-mail account. (And yes there exist non-visual captchas. But they’re seldom used.) Thanks Sebastian for this insight.

Uncyclopedia: Misinformation rules //at 02:20 //by abe

from the nonsens-united dept.

Uncyclopedia is an encyclopedia full of misinformation and utter lies. It’s sort of like Congress or Parliament (or Funkadelic). Unlike Congress or Parliament (but not Funkadelic), however, we do have a sense of humor.”

Sounds a little bit like the German written Kamelopedia which has any information about camels, even that information, that doesn’t exist.

Now playing: J.B.O. — Verteidiger des wahren Blödsinns

Implemented a blacklist for blog comment spam //at 02:12 //by abe

from the the-last-straw dept.

Just killed all the remaining comment spams (I hope) and implemented a simple regexp based blacklist which should get most medicaments, potence pills, casinos, lotteries and other frequently posted junk. I hope, it does not hit too many valid posts. If you have problems posting comments, feel free to contact me by e-mail or on IRC.

In other news, I installed the blosxom plugin comments_recent and adapted the mail feature of writeback notify to my (in the meantime heavily modified) instance of the comments plugin v0.6. I also made it symlink-safe for use with multcat.

Blacklisting comment spam in blosxom //at 02:12 //by abe

from the it-seems-to-work-so-it-has-to-be-released dept.

Since the demand for blosxom anti-comment-spam solutions respective appropriate blosxom plugins seems to be really high, I’ve decided to polish up my apparently quite well working although still in beta state being anti-spam enhanced version of the comments plugin (ZIP) by putting the blacklist outside in an external file and writing some (still short) docs.

I use it since 11th of January this year and got only two spam comments and many more normal comments since then, so it should work. Although: I also got a question if my trackback doesn’t work. Hmmm. So no warranties, just an offer for help fighting against comment spam. ;-)

Another feature which is basically ported from the writeback notify plugin is notification of the blog owner about new comments by mail. Since on the server on which my blog runs the used Perl module Mail::Sendmail was not available, I used Mail::Send instead for my version.

For installation you first need to download the ZIP file of the original comments plugin, install it’s templates and then install my anti-spam enhanced version of the plugin itself.

Now playing: Rockapella — Come on Eileen

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Hackergotchi of Axel Beckert


This is the blog or weblog of Axel Stefan Beckert (aka abe or XTaran) who thought, he would never start blogging... (He also once thought, that there is no reason to switch to this new ugly Netscape thing because Mosaïc works fine. That was about 1996.) Well, times change...

He was born 1975 at Villingen-Schwenningen, made his Abitur at Schwäbisch Hall, studied Computer Science with minor Biology at University of Saarland at Saarbrücken (Germany) and now lives in Zürich (Switzerland), working at the IT Support Group (ISG) of the Departement of Physics at ETH Zurich.

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  • Bastian Sick: Der Dativ ist dem Genitiv sein Tod (Teile 1-3)
  • Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett: Good Omens (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Douglas R. Hofstadter: Gödel, Escher, Bach
  • Neil Gaiman: Keine Panik (borrowed from Ermel)

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  • Neil Stephenson: Cryptonomicon (borrowed from Ermel)

Always a good snack

  • Wolfgang Stoffels: Lokomotivbau und Dampftechnik (borrowed from Ermel)
  • Beverly Cole: Trains — The Early Years (getty images)