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Welcome to The blog of whall

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Hi, This is Wayne. This is my site, my stuff, my blog, blahblahblah. The site itself is powered by WordPress and the Scary Little theme. I thought it was cool, and I still do.

One of the smartest things I’ve seen in a while is the WordPress “Recheck Queue for Spam” feature:

wordpress recheck queue for spam

When I first started blogging, I thought “no big deal” because I get a notification of the spam and then I go in and mark it as spam.  Seeing as how Akismet catches tens of thousands of spam comments for me, I figured I could handle the one-off’s with no problem.

But then my blog got a little more popular and there was more comment spam.  Even though Akismet still caught the vast majority, there was still some I had to moderate because it “got through” Akismet.

Then I installed the Add Meta Tags plugin, and I noticed my blog and my posts being visited more often by Google searchers, and I welcomed the new visitors.  I was impressed by how much more visible my blog was.  And of course, comment spam went up by a LOT.  Again, Akismet caught most of it but there was a noticable increase of spam going to me for moderation. 

So while I still think my spam management tasks are minor compared to many (maybe a dozen a day in my moderation queue), I was very glad to see the little link called “Recheck Queue for Spam”.  I’m happy to report that EVERY SINGLE TIME I’ve clicked it, it has 100% removed the spam and 100% left alone the “real” comments.

What I like about this spam management system is that every time someone tags a comment as spam, Akismet get smarter.  The comments that “get past” Akismet just mean that I’m one of the first to get the comment.  After a short time (minutes, hours), Akismet wizens up and when I “recheck queue” it has learned about those comments and takes care of it for me.

Yay Akismet!

wordpress and akismet are awesome

You’d think I’d be content and this would be enough.

Oh, no.

You see, I’ve also put an entry into my crontab file to automatically click the link for me every hour, so the queue automatically gets cleaned out for me and I don’t even have to click the link!  Huzzah!  I figure this way, Akismet gets smarter quicker for others as well, via the verification and removal of spam comments.  Sure, I’d probably be a better spamnetizen if I actually marked the spam as spam myself and submitted it, but who has time for that?  Hopefully someone else.

0   *   *   *   *   wget -O – -q -t 1 http://whall.org/blog/wp-admin/edit-comments.php?page=akismet-admin&recheckqueue=true&noheader=true

I started wondering why yahoo or google doesn’t offer this feature… I mean, wouldn’t it be even more beneficial in email, where you’re dealing with a much bigger influx of content, and even more value for identifying spam AFTER it’s delivered? 

Added bonus:

If you read down this far, I give you an added bonus.  The Bible says that God’s promise to mankind that he’d never again send a global flood is represented by the rainbow.  Others have said that Beer is proof that God exists.

This picture combines both ideas.

click to enlarge
(click to enlarge)

I did a little maintenance on the ol’ blog this week.  For one, I upgraded to WordPress 2.3.2 because they said it was an “urgent security release.”  Okay, I’ll upgrade.  It took a whole 3 minutes. I even used my Maintenance Mode plugin, which I love.

Some of the plugins I use also got a little lovin’ – Subscribe to Comments went to v2.1.2, Akismet went to v2.1.3, and Twitter Tools finally supported WP 2.3 with v1.1b1.  All of these updates were easy and quick. 

Now that Twitter Tools supports WordPress 2.3, my tweets gets created automatically when I post a new entry on the blog.   Another cool thing I added was a sidebar portion that lists my most recent tweets (this comes with Twitter Tools).

twitter updates on wordpress sidebar

Note: out of the box, the way Twitter Tools displays tweets looks horrible.  So I did my own little custom CSS to make the first line kind of highlighted in a blue-green tint by using a background image per LI tag, and also modified the actual Twitter Tools code to display the time with the hyperlink FIRST instead of at the end of the line.  I was dismayed to see that the authors didn’t allow the end user to define how they wanted the tweet displayed.  To me, it’s much more important to see how recent the tweet is, and THEN see the content. But either way, the plugin should allow personalization and custom CSS without requiring manual code work.

This is the code I changed in twitter-tools.php (original line numbers shown):

if (count($tweets) > 0) {
      foreach ($tweets as $tweet) {
//       $output .= '      
  • '.aktt_make_clickable(wp_specialchars($tweet->tw_text)).' '.aktt_relativeTime($tweet->tw_created_at, 3).'
  • '."\n"; $output .= '
  • '.aktt_relativeTime($tweet->tw_created_at, 3).': '.aktt_make_clickable(wp_specialchars($tweet->tw_text)).'
  • '."\n"; } }

    The original line that comes with it is commented out (line 449), and the line I changed it to is now shown as line 450. This is based on version 1.1b1.

    I also added this to my styles.php for the CSS to make it look more prettified:

    /* twitter tools */
    div.aktt_tweets {
            text-align: left;
            padding-left: 10px;
            padding-right: 10px;
    }
    div.aktt_tweets li {
            background-image:url('images/gradiated-3.jpg');
            color: black;
    }

    And just today I installed WP Syntax so I could finally MAYBE display code snippets in a post correctly.  Sheesh this is hard to do!  I tried the Preserve Code Formatting plugin but it didn’t work very well for me. Even with WP Syntax, tinyMCE still has problems with the greater than signs and stuff, and it converts them to the ampersand equivalents, so I had to turn off visual editing just to complete this post.

    Hmm, since I’m composing this post “early” and scheduling it to actually show up tomorrow morning, I wonder if Twitter Tools is smart enough to not do a tweet? It probably isn’t. Shucks. I’m now exposed as a fraud. I guess that’s better than being exposed as a fraulein.

    Oh, and Happy New Year!

    oooh, lucky #13 in the series.


    Microsoft’s Seadragon and Photosynth demo

    This demo at “TED”, where ideas are shared, shows off a couple of Microsoft’s latest acquisitions and how cool they can be.  It’s about 9 minutes long, but very worthwhile, even if you’re not as geeky as me.   I first saw it over at Ren’s Journal and have seen it a couple of times since then.  First piece is about how to view massive amounts of images/data/video/information/books/content in various ways and the second is how software can meld together tons of photos of the same thing but from different perspectives, different resolutions, and come up with a more complete model.  The posting at ted.com explains a little more and actually explained what the foreign language is at the beginning – it’s actually the guy’s name.


    Sun becomes a Windows Server 2003 OEM

    This is pretty big.  PC Magazine has an article about their increased partnership.  Well, PC Mag started it and it looks like it becomes an eWEEK story.  This surprises me, but it also makes me happy.


    Delivery of comics in your email

    There are some comics I just love to read.  They include Pearls Before Swine and Dilbert.  Also, I love me some Calvin and Hobbes and Non Sequitur

    So I was very happy to find isnoop.net’s Comic Strip Snagger.  You just go online, pick the comics you want and it’ll email them to you daily.  It’ll also set up an RSS feed for your selections so you can read them in a feed reader instead of email if you want.  Very cool concept.  I’m not 100% sure of the technical legality, but I buy these guys’ books all the time, so I feel morally justified.  I have more than 10 Calvin & Hobbes books, more than a dozen Dilbert books (plus the TV series on DVD) and I’ve bought every Pearls Before Swine book that’s been released.

    The Comic Strip Snagger even gives you the normal weekly style on weekdays, and the “sunday edition” on Sundays:

    isnoop.net comic delivery daily edition  isnoop.net comics email sunday edition

    There are other comics I’m sure I’d like, but I find if I have too many in the email, I can’t read them all.  I can read four comics without a problem, but not 20.   I tried it a long time ago with comics.com and I got 16 or 17 comics emailed to me daily.  I ended up avoiding the emails because I knew I’d be a few minutes in reading it, so they’d back up.  It’s hard to catch up on a few days of 16-17 comics, ya know?


    Thank you, Akismet.

    This week I hit 37,000 spam comments caught by akismet.   WOW.

    akismet spam comments


    Thank you, Poopy and Cheldork!

    This week I hit 45 comments in one day on a post.  WOW.  Who cares if there’s a smidgeon of profanity?  I can always fix that later or claim innocent bystander.

    I got 45 comments on one post in one day!  AMAZING!


    Disavow?

    A friend of mine pointed me to a site where I had downloaded PHProxy, or poxy for short.  The tool is a simple little script that you can load on your webserver, and it will proxy (read: HIDE) where you go.  For example, lets say you want to browse to a site but you don’t want the people who watch your internet traffic to know you browsed that site.  Normally, anyone who owns or manages your internet connection can monitor what you do and where you go.  HTTPS helps hide the content, say, financial information from a bank, but they can still know you went to your bank’s web site even if they don’t know what your account number is or statements look like.

    So I loaded PHProxy on one of my domains to test it out and since I’m the one who monitors our company’s internet (or is supposed to; I don’t actively go looking unless asked by HR).  It works very well, I must say.  The traffic between my computer and my mostly-unused domain is encrypted, and then I can browse away to whatever I want, and the “tracks” so to speak are hidden.

    That same friend pointed me to the site again this week, and this was there waiting for me (click for larger version):

    click for larger version

    Now, either he got punked or got busted.  I don’t know how to convert that Arabic or whatever script.  Can someone translate it?

    I’m guessing if he didn’t get punked, maybe he lives in the middle east or something.  If the guy is going through turmoil, I send my positive thoughts towards him. 

    And what does relinquish all rights really mean?  Can someone else now take it, publish it and make money?


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