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Wednesday 22 February, 2006
#[linkfarm] Emacs Org Mode - Very cool outlining/TODO/scheduler mode, with a ton of output/export options. Looks deadly cool. Emacs really is the king. Learn it! Love it!
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#[linkfarm] archive.org now has a ton of Warren Zevon live recordings stretching back to 1976
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Monday 20 February, 2006
#You want our cursory package, sir? Certainly.

Our buyer's surveyor has just visited. I didn't time him, but if he was here for more than 15 minutes, including hellos and attempts to engage him in small talk, I'd be surprised.

smellygit said On they buyers questionnaire thing is there a box for 'Has your house ever been struck by a tornado?' [added 21st Feb 2006]
'Is your house infested with a bad smell?' [added 21st Feb 2006]

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Friday 17 February, 2006
#An easy prediction regarding programmers in the UK

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Wednesday 15 February, 2006
#[elsewhere] The government might have avoided some degree of egg on face, although not much.
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#Greetings comment-spammers

So I hooked up this nonce thingy, to try and knock out the comment spam I've been seeing. My assumption was, based on the spam coming in from a variety of IP addresses at different times of the day, that the spam was automatically submitted by a bot. Popping in the nonce in would stymy the bot, and so that spam would go away.

But I was wrong. There are people out there spamming by hand, presumably for pay, because I'm still seeing comment spam. I think there's some kind of semi-automated system feeding up the pages to spam, which is why I only see it on one particular entry, but it does seem like an enormous waste of effort. Theirs and mine.

smellygit said The "wibbly number in a graphic" approach I used seemed to halt the spam I was getting (which must have been by a bot I suppose). The wordpress spam filters also caught most of it - but requires me to moderate it. [added 15th Feb 2006]
I considered the "do a simple sum" approach and may still have to, I guess. I've just hooked in some blacklisting though, so fingers crossed that'll stop it for the moment. [added 15th Feb 2006]
smellygit said In my experience black listing works for a very short time :( [added 15th Feb 2006]
It'll work longer than the nonce I hope :) [added 15th Feb 2006]
Ken [e] said The "do a simple sum" approach may fox a few people - how simple are you proposing? ;)

Is there some sort of common theme to the content of the spam? Is there an algorithm around that can do nebulous aggregate of word content, then you can dump anything that, say, has a spam index of over 90%?

But, as you say, an enormous waste of effort. Perhaps a period of manually removing their bullshit will encourage to move on to pastures new? [added 15th Feb 2006]

Common themes - mailing hit the spicy brocolli recipe, all URLs eventually point to an online pharmacy allegedly in Canada. I have been manually killing them off, but it doesn't seem to be putting them off. The opposite, in fact. Blacklisting is catching some now, so maybe that'll put them off a bit. [added 15th Feb 2006]
Ken [e] said >I have been manually killing them off, but it doesn't seem to be putting them off. The opposite, in fact.

Oh bugger. They're using a telepathic Vulcan force field that pushes stronger the more you resist... Quick Jez - enter a calm meditative state and think nice thoughts.

A trip to the online pharmacy may help for tranquilisers. [added 16th Feb 2006]

AngryJohn [e] said You could adopt smellygit's most cunning tactic which was to ensure that the wibbly number graphic was in no way related to the code that had to be entered. That'd fox 'em. [added 16th Feb 2006]
smellygit said Oi! It works now :p [added 17th Feb 2006]

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Slightly unbelievably, I've had to implement an anti-comment-spam mechanism. I've gone for the nonce approach. If you could add a comment here, we'll find out if it still works for you non-spamming types :)

anonymous said What a lovely day it is today. [added 15th Feb 2006]
It is, isn't it? [added 15th Feb 2006]
anonymous said Eat More Pies?

( does that count as a comment spam? ) [added 15th Feb 2006]

wunderwoman said What a relief - I was getting really worried about that spicy broccoli! [added 15th Feb 2006]

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Monday 13 February, 2006
#[linkfarm] XSieve is an XML transformation language based on combination of XSLT 1.0 and a Lisp dialect Scheme. XSieve is an alternative to XSLT 2.0.
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#[linkfarm] How to Sell Your Book, CD, or DVD on Amazon - Should put this on bp.c really
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#[linkfarm] Space rock re-opens Mars debate - Yay! Go the PSSRI!
Observation and Analysis of In Situ Carbonaceous material in Nakhla - part I and part II. The in situ bit is important. The Nakhla meteorite fell in 1911, so the exterior has been subject to potential terrestrial contamination of nigh on a century. This new result is from the interior of the meteorite, so is subject to much less contamination, and so should give a much truer picture of the carbonaceous gibbuns. How cool!
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#Half Term
But not for grown-ups. Even for grown-ups with some kind of low grade enteritis churning up their innards.
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#[linkfarm] Current web style - Expect to see me rip this off shortly - assuming I cba of course
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# It's been a while since any kind of amusing spam made it through my filters, so let's give a hurrah to Special 70th Anniversary Edition of "Scandinavian Shipowners and Ship Management Companies" 2006 Edition!
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Friday 10 February, 2006
#[linkfarm] How to fold a fitted sheet - In our house this falls into the "man's work" category, because it's a bit engineeringy*.

* - May not apply to your household. Engineeringiness does not necessarily equate to manishness. Unless your household is all male. And all engineer. Or something.

[Update] Can now confirm it works a treat on both singles and doubles. [added 10th Feb 2006]

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Thursday 09 February, 2006
#Raw Sex

Drawn 8 November 1990, during the first term of my final year at university. That was a Thursday, when there wasn't much on the telly. I thought it was a bit of an obvious joke, but it became something of an underground hit in the biology department. Perhaps biologists like obvious jokes?

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Wednesday 08 February, 2006

The bank confirmed the mortgage yesterday, and the surveyors are on their way. The bank gives them five days to turn it round, so they've got to get their skates on, I guess.

Applying for a mortgage seems a rather capricious business really. You can never tell what's going to make a difference or not. Past experience suggests that, because we work for our own company, most lenders won't even look at us and those that will want to charge loads of money for the priviledge. Consequently, we're going for the same mortgage we have now: an offset mortgage from our bank. Offset means that any credit balance on your bank accounts is put against the mortgage owing, reducing the interest accordingly. For people like us, who's income comes in slightly irregular largish lumps it works pretty well.

The extra wrinkle we put on top of that is a reserve. That's an extra lump of money over and above the amount you need to actually buy the house. It sits there until you want some or all of it, then you get the cash and your mortgage goes up by that amount. Cheap pre-approved borrowing, basically. It costs nothing if you don't use it, and it's significantly cheaper than getting a conventioal loan.

Yesterday afternoon, Chris the junior underwriter rings up and asks about the reserve we've asked for. It's unusually high and he wondered what we were going to do with it. Stupid as this sounds, I don't know for sure. I ventured a couple of things (rewiring, for instance), but it rather depends on how we find things once we've moved in, coupled with my billables. No point borrowing if you can't afford to pay it back after all. He didn't sound convinced. He then asked me if Nattle was "also known as" Dr Higgins, since his search had revealed an "undisclosed credit" in that name. I wasn't sure what that meant, but finally worked out it was her John Lewis store-card (ooh, hark at him! posho!).

He tone of voice implied the whole business was in the balance. I asked him if this stuff made any difference, and he didn't know. It was all up to the senior underwriters. He even dropped his voice slightly when he said "senior underwriters", to make them sound extra spooky and powerful

We filled in the application over the phone and were not asked about what we wanted the reserve for or whether we had any credit cards. What else might we or might we not have been asked about? How significant could the absense or presence of a particular piece of information be?

Perhaps this chap was just showing a bit of initiative, picking up a slightly unusual application. Maybe he was just a pedant or trying to impress his boss with the quality of his i-dotting and t-crossing.

He rang back within an hour to say everything was approved. The mysterious and shadowy senior underwriters must have considered our application for, oh, almost as long as it took to fill the form out in the first place.

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#[linkfarm] Moving to OpenOffice: Batch Converting Legacy Documents
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Tuesday 07 February, 2006
#[linkfarm] Mission Impossible III Trailer - Philip Seymour Hoffman is the baddie. Yes! JJ Abrams directs. Yes! Tom Cruise is still the goodie. Doh!
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#[linkfarm] The Fate of The Artist - Pages from Eddie Campbell's new book (due in April I think)
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