Comment Spam Phrases

Posted in Meta, Web at 12 pm

It is interesting to see comment spam evolve and grow. Of course the money is in automation. I got an interestingly mis-configured bot come through this last week and left the following phrases. It would be interesting to study the misspellings (tortured as they are) and the language mis-use that is used to make them look more ‘authentic’.

  • Doubled letters
  • missing letters
  • missing spaces/punctuation
  • substituted letters that use near-by keyboard letters. (For instance ‘avout’ for ‘about’.)
  • additional letters that use near-by keyboard letters. (For instance ‘briong’ for ‘bring’.)

Then there’s the subject matter references. Often perfectly tuned to be interpreted as referring to the post, but complimentary to the author, to encourage the blog author to leave them.

The only trace of the spamming is the URL that’s pointed to in the username, the user web site or sometimes the email address. See the full list that I got below. (Though I worry that posting this will further drop the site in Google PageRankings. Oh well.)

Read the rest of this entry »


Halloween Costume Ideas: Trimming down

Posted in Meta at 12 am

Each year at this time there is a significant spike in traffic on this site, mostly because of the Halloween Costume Archive. However I noticed that another page about an award winning costume on my blog was actually using a lot of bandwidth, way out of proportion from its hit count. It seems there was some weighty code hanging around in my WordPress template.

So I started digging into the raw HTML code that was being expressed and noticed that a huge amount of the text was dedicated to links for each month’s archives, stretching back to 1998. There was not only a series of links on the right-hand column, but also a set of META tags with the rel=”archive” attribute set that linked to each of them a second time. Now that we’re 10 years on for this journal, that’s 240 links with out much additional function. It seemed highly unlikely that readers would meticulously trawl through the archives using either of these methods. So I cut them out.

So while the the HTML weight of that single entry came in at about 45KB, I was able to drop it down to… (wait for it…)

18KB. That’s right! 60% of my page weight was coming from just these two sets of archive links. I’ve now 1) commented out the metatags created by this line of code: wp_get_archives(‘type=monthly&format=link’); that is inside the header.php file that came with my theme; and 2) I’ve replaced the previous Archive widget with a simple text widget where I’ve hard-coded a list of links to the yearly archives. I’ll now need to update that once a year, but I think I can handle such a task.

So there’s a lesson here: Check your view-source every decade to make sure you’re not overlinking yourself.

Hopefully, this weight reduction, combined with upgrading my bandwidth allocation 300% will keep my site under the bandwidth cap this year until November 1, when for some reason the traffic falls like a rock.


Interconnected publishing

Posted in Media, Meta, Web at 6 pm

I’ve been working on getting my WordPress/Twitter/FaceBook spaces working together and I think I’ve hit on a pretty good system.

It comes down to two sides: how do I publish things and how do other people read and stay up with that stream (as underwhelming as it is.)

For the first side of the coin, I like to publish three different types of content: Super short stuff and pithy comments which obviously fit into Twitter’s paradigm quite well. For timely commentary on things and longer thoughts, WordPress is a good choice and is the latest in a long series of journaling and blogging software tools that I’ve either used or built myself. Finally, longer form pieces essays or research or archival stuff seems to make more sense as web pages on my personal site.

For the audience side of things, I’m seeing 4 or 5 different methods that people use to keep up with individuals. Web site reading from bookmarks would be one (Hi Mom and Dad!). People who do a lot of web reading might use an RSS feed reader (Hi Micah!). Others may rely on Twitter to keep up with me and some others may want to keep an eye on things only through FaceBook. There are other channels like MySpace, but the ones I’m listing here seem to be the right ones for my audience.

So what have I connected? 1) I’ve connected FaceBook to Twitter using Twitter’s application. Next I added TwitterTools to my WordPress install and that takes care of cross posting between Twitter and WordPress entries. So now I can post tweets and they show up in my FaceBook status and they show up in WordPress on a once daily basis. (This might be annoying to some, so I’ll have to keep an eye on this and perhaps reduce the re-post rate to once a week or so.)

As for research and essays, I’ll post them to my site and then make an annotation here (as I’ve usually done over the past few years.) So if we follow the chain, 1) a page added to my site leads to 2) an announcement on my WordPress blog, which 3) triggers a Twitter tweet, and then finally 4) updates my FaceBook status.



Transitions to the future

Posted in Meta, Tech at 1 am

I’m slowly getting all of my personal publishing moved under my RossOlson.com domain. This will include this journal of course, but also the appropriate pages from OrderSomewhereChaos.com. I’m hoping to have this done in the next year or so. Obviously I’m trying to do this as quickly as possible and only making small amounts of headway.


Transfer in progress

Posted in Meta at 12 am

I’m in the process of migrating my Dwelling journal from Bad-Seed.Org to RossOlson.com. That makes the most long-term sense. But it looks like the export/import process has lost a few items: category assignments, blogroll/links and maybe some others. Not huge losses I suppose, but annoying and it makes me think that perhaps other things got lost along the way.


Pay no attention

Posted in Meta at 10 am

I’ve just finally upgraded this to WordPress 2.something from the 1.oldversion that I was using since 2005. I’m sure I had missed lots of improvements on the Admin side, but I’m hoping that you won’t see any changes from the public side of things.

Let’s see… I can finally mark something off my to do list that’s been there for… 2.5 years. Nice.

I would normally close out a post like this with ‘Enjoy!’ but if you weren’t already enjoying this, there’s nothing new to improve things.


USL Live on Mac OS X – Fixing poor video streaming

Posted in Meta, Tech at 8 am

The following was sent via the USL Live Contact Us form. I’m guessing they won’t get to this until after the season is over, but in case any one wants to know how to get great video from their service on the Mac, read on.

Dear USL Live,

There is a lack of information regarding the set up for Macs to get the best playback on your site and in your Help section. At this point, most of the people I’ve talked to think that it’s impossible to watch USL Live on a Mac. The problem is, they (and your web site) is missing a critical setting that makes USL Live work on a Mac.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE add a section to your FAQs on both of these pages:

You need to add a paragraph that says something like the following:

For the best viewing experience on Mac OS X using the Flip4Mac WMV plug-in, you will need to set the following option in the System Preference Panel.

  1. Click on the Apple Menu in the upper-left hand corner.
  2. Select the System Preferences from the Apple Menu.
  3. In the System Preferences, look for the Flip4Mac WMV icon at the bottom of the window, in the “Other” section. Click on that Flip4Mac WMV icon.
  4. Click on the “Player” tab at the top of the Flip4Mac preference pane.
  5. Make sure that there is a check in the checkbox next to “Create Streaming Movies”.
  6. Close the System Preferences. (No restart is necessary.)

This setting controls how the software treats streamed video (like USL Live). The default method (when the box is not checked) causes Flip4Mac to access the stream without a buffer and without adjusting the video playback to accommodate the speed of your connection.

With this setting activated, Flip4Mac will now perform like a champ, displaying even full screen video with quality on par to the playback on the PC side of things.

In fact, while watching the Portland Timbers (as they defeated the Carolina Railhawks to reclaim first place in the USL First Division) at Slabtown with a contingent of the Timbers Army, the 4 or 5 people gathered around my PowerBook at the back of the bar got to watch the game a full 60 seconds ahead of the other group watching it via a PC laptop.

The amount of buffering that the Mac was doing vs. the amount of buffering on the PC side is the only thing I can think of that would cause this variance. Not that I’m complaining mind you, but when Amy and I started celebrating the Bryan Jordan goal in the 80th minute, I think the rest of the Army was wondering what the hell was going on over in our corner. The goal 50 or 60 seconds later on their screen probably made our whoops and hollers seem like a spoiler. Sorry guys!


Thoughts leftover from dreaming

Posted in Life, Media, Meta, People, Tech at 1 pm

Original Posting: 3/9/2001 10:00:05 AM:

If we make networks that can self repair, then loose the ability to shut all network nodes down, then the smallest portion of the backups/self-maintenece/self-repair portions of software become more robust, would we have created a system that could out live us as a race? What would distinguish this from being another race altogether?

I found a new Weblog/Journaling perl script called Greymatter, via Camworld that looks very promising. I could get rid of Blogger (not to ‘dis’ blogger, but I can’t truly customize it) and set up my archives again. If I do this soon I won’t have too many archives to transfer over. After all, Dwelling is coming up on it’s 3 year birthday…

I’ve decided that blowing air at people will be my way of admonishing them. It will be a particularly harsh punishment in the morning. I’m going to be a great parent. “Don’t make me come over there and blow air in your face!”

NP in my head: Brian Eno’s latest release, “It’s a Beautiful Day”

Now biting my hand: Simone.


Deutsch Games, Runaway dogs and Awards

Posted in Life, Meta, People at 6 pm

I may not remember to write about all these things but I at least wanted to gloss them over before the week’s end.

Amy got an award for her volunteer work. Had she been at the international conference, she would have received it in front of the entire conference. I’m so proud of her!

On the way home from work yesterday, there was a little border collie loose on the southbound I-5 near the Rose Quarter. I helped calm it down and catch it along with three other concerned drivers. I hope it’s found its home by now.

This morning I was sent an e-mail from a German television station, asking me to appear on their Game show!?!?!?! This was not a mistake. I’ll have to get the full translation to figure out what they really want, but it’s just bizarre any way you slice it…


She's a Peach

Posted in Career, Life, Meta, People, Web at 7 pm

Toady I’m doing part of a teacher workshop put on by OMSI. These are teachers with little or no experience with web development, and I’ll be giving them the basics. I’ll be trying to show them a way of critiquing sites so they can understand the difference between good and bad design. I’ve only got half and hour, so we’ll see how it goes.

Amy and I had a great night last night. Details unavailable. 🙂 “She’s a Peach…”

I got caught up on my e-mail back to about late Monday. I’ve still got stuff back to early last week… 🙁

I finally got a counter on this page. It will be interesting to see how many I’m getting. As well, I implemented that new error page for OMSI. It’s working really well from what I can see. The only problem is that if it works well, then no one will know it’s there… :p