Bloggery Madness

Aside

This backend of this blog is continuing its descent into madness. Following on from the problems where no posts would accept tags, this seems to have fixed itself while simultaneously stopping the blog posting anything but the most recent article on the home page. All of this has taken place without user intervention. It seems the glue, velco and staples holding the back end together have finally given up the ghost. Hopefully we will be able to find time this weekend to fix things. Sorry for any weirdness until then and during the “improvements.”

WordPress upgrade mildly broken

Bits keep falling off this blog like so many bits of newspaper escaping from the recycling van cage. (E.g. the Atheist blogroll became landfill months ago, although I see it still works fine on dozens of sites.)

After bowing to WordPress’s nagging requests and upgrading WordPress to version x (I can’t remember) two days ago, I find that I can’t attach tags to posts.

Any ideas?

Bloggery

Come back flatterspam, all is forgiven.

For the past few days, the blog has been getting gibberish comment-spam, in oddly large numbers, almost at DDOS attack levels. (OK, I exaggerate but there were over 380 yesterday, 51 today.) Some of these comment spams are particularly weird, in that even the URLs are gibberish.

It’s not as if the random word generators have generated text in any known human language, that could trick the unwary into clicking on a link to onlinefakemeds.com or whatever. The URLS themselves are also random letter collections, with names like Mr._Mxyzptlk but less meaningful.

Charitably assuming that spammers have not completely taken leave of their senses, I guess that these suidfiojdfolsrkl.comstyle links go to redirects and do eventually take the unwary URL-clicker somewhere. (Obviously, I’m not going to try them out. I’m enough of a sucker for any worm or trojan anyway.)

But still, what is the point? It seems even less likely that people would click on a gibberish link in a mound of gibberish than that they would believe that a complete stranger in Africa would pay them ten percent for the assistance in transferring 64 million dollars.

A few more blog-related odds and ends, now I’m on the subject:

Apologies to anyone who expects to get email alerts about new posts here. This plug-in has just stopped working. We don’t know what happened so we have less than no idea how to change it.

The Atheist blogroll got broken so long ago, it’s almost a distant memory. Again apologies. We threw it away a few months after it got stuck permanently showing last August’s posts of about ten blogroll members. (Or something like that.)

Other things just randomly break anyway. For instance, there was a link to the Convention on Modern Liberty that only lasted a week or so.

Plus, this blog can load so slowly (even on my allegedly very fast connection) that It’s hard to see why anyone bothers waiting for it.

Except for all those visitors who are looking for Schwarzenegger, 5 fruit and veg, funny magic the gathering cards, Bodium castle, fairytale castles, fine art or morris dancing. These are the top search terms that consistently bring people here from Google. Every day.

Now, I am all for giving the public what they want, but there’s only so much that I have to say on any of these topics. So, most of these visitors must leave a little disappointed, to put it mildly.

This blog needs a serious “REDO FROM START.” It should happen soon…..

If it ain’t broke

I have tried blogging platforms apart from WordPress and have found them too restrictive or unpleasant to use. I had a few stabs at helping a friend develop a “network of networks” on another platform (N**g) I was reduced to helpless gibbering, as its counter-intuitive interface actually sucked out my previously adequate knoweldge of html and css and replaced them with complete incomprehension. So, I am a diehard fan of WordPress. It doesn’t leave you stupider than before you start using it.

But, the new WordPress upgrade is annoying. For silly things, granted, but it’s still infuriating.

The old admin interface discreetly offered you lots of choices that you could ignore except once every few months. This one puts lots of items (that you don’t care about) in your face, as soon as you login.

Usually, I open this interface to post. For instance, I don’t much care who has linked to the blog, if those links are just spam pingbacks or from sites with a working Atheist Blogroll (which you will no longer find here, for reasons we can’t fathom.) If it’s a real link, I’ll find it anyway. WordPress news doesn’t really interest me much. If I want to read it, I’ll look at the WordPress site. And so on.

When I started using the new interface, there was a confusing Quick Draft window in the top right corner. Confusing because I didn’t know if this was the new Post window. In which case, it feels so cramped that I really don’t want to use it.

It made me wonder – will my drafts be “quick” enough to match some conceptual terms of use? My long drawn out blogging process : finger-pecking characters, writing drafts, rereading, typo-searching, changing my mind, rewriting whole paragraphs only to make them worse – and so on. It ain’t “quick.”

Maybe the interface will give you five minutes and post things, when you don’t expect it. (That happens often enough anyway, by accident.) That would be “quick.” Because, otherwise, it looks as if writing in the Quick Post window might turn out to be slower than using the old-fashioned and more generously-proportioned Post Window.

Faffing about nervously with that little rectangle, I spot Posts – Add New. This mercifully brings me to a window much more like the old one. But it still puts disconcerting things all over the screen.

For instance, “Excerpt”, which tells me that Excerpts are “optional hand-crafted summaries of your content.” So, something like an Abstract, then? It’s hard enough to write an Abstract for an academic piece. Why would anyone want to write an abstract of their blog post? To my recollection, academic Abstracts exist mainly so that hard-pressed post-graduate research students can use them for “I’ve read that”- bluffing purposes. Is anyone going to bluff reading a blog post?

Phew, at least writing an Abstract Excerpt is still “optional.” You won’t lose marks if you don’t bother. But you can “use them in your template.” (Why?) With a “template” link that I choose not to follow, to avoid getting sucked further into a WordPress shadow world, in which a blog exists to make use of WordPress capacities, instead of the other way round.

I love WordPress. It’s brilliant. I am a bit sad that it seems to be about to fall into the canal that separates “useful new features” from “bloatware.”

Function creep means that any software revision has to have lots of extra features, way beyond the point at which they serve any purpose except to distinguish the new version from the one before.

I understand why this has to be so for commercial programs. If Adobe doesn’t convince buyers that the new Photoshop has many more desirable functions than the last version, unemployed software writers will be streaming out of their factory saying “The dream is over,” (like the workforce of the Baby-Get-Well-Cards factory, in the Simpsons episode in which Homer swathed all the Springfield babies in PPE.)

WordPress though? Surely, WordPress is partly a labour of love and partly an opportunity fro shit-hot coders to show their brilliance. In which case, hiding the upgraded stuff in the background and leaving the old-fashioned interface intact would suit me better.

Blogspam that’s not funny

Idly deleting the blogspam in Akismet I see that this blog appears to have got spam from… itself.

admin | info@www.whydontyou.org.uk | whydontyou.org.uk | IP: 85.153.7.194
Your investigation have been helpfull for me. I wish everybody writes article as this.

WTF? Well, I suppose it’s always possible that I am suffering from a brain disease that makes me both send out spam at random and forget that I’ve sent it.

Plus removes any native-speaking familiarity with the English langauge.

Not to mention that it seems that I’ve been absent-mindedly visiting Turkey without realising it. Because this host is what that IP resolves to (assuming, for no good reason, that the originating IP isn’t spoofed)

Turkey
City: Istanbul
Latitude: 41.0186 Longitude: 28.9647
Host: barbaros.turkbilnet.com
IP: 85.153.7.194

This really pisses me off. If the spammers are so prolific that they’ve spammed the blog they were using as a pretend source, how many other blogs have got spams that seem to originate from here?

Does anyone have any suggestions about what to do about this?

Bless this blog

PCs’ demonic powers are self-evident to anyone who’s had to pay with their own blood for opening a case or for trying to get a cpu fan off its mount. So, it’s no surprise that there are religious ceremonies to propitiate the evil entities that haunt the average PC box. (h/t the Register)

There’s a Shinto shrine where you can get your PC blessed, according to iol.co.za

In high-tech Japan, not only programmers provide protection from viruses and other computer bugs, but also the gods.
At Tokyo’s Kanda-Myojin Shinto shrine, the faithful can bring their computer and have the priests use centuries-old ceremonies to ask the gods for help and protection for their computer, a shrine spokesperson said Friday.

Centuries old? Wow, if they protected 17th century PCs adequately, these are the ceremonies for me.

The site otakuinternational.com has a picture of laptops getting prayed over in the aforementioned Shinto shrine. Sadly, you have to go to Japan. They don’t do it over the internet, although I may have spotted a marketing opportunity there.

Among the traditional charms often found at a Shinto shrine, they offer a very unique one adorned with what looks like circuit boards and chips. You can even find one to bless your blog. I guess there is no such thing as too much protection!

Otakuinternational has a photo of what you need for blog protection.

From otakuinternational site converte dto jpg

From otakuinternational site converted to jpg

This may sound a bit pushy, o great and magic bloglord, but maybe you could see your way clear to sorting out the endless comments delay thing on this blog.

Toutatis knows I’ve poured enough coffee into the keyboard to slake the thirst of an army of vengeful spirits. And I am facing something that could easily be magnetic north, if only I had a compass.

*************
Aside

Someone called Chris, commenting on the Register piece, linked to a bbspot article about Bush supporting a faith-based firewalls from a couple of years ago. 🙂

Wittering on about blog spam again

This blog feels slightly shortchanged in the weird searches department. For example, if you look at HjHop’s site, he gets searches that are bizarre enough for him to make a funny feature of them.

Search engine choices that bring unsuspecting people here are generally just odd. Not entertaining, just odd. Normally, there are between 5 and 15 for Schwarzenegger (?) and similar numbers for pictures of guns. (??????) Sometimes, castles come top, usually Bodium castle – but there were only 7 searches for this today. Today’s search referrals also included Rorschach (?7) art and fine art, (?6) and (?5). 5 Fruit and veg is normally a front runner but came nowhere today. I defy anyone to make a readable post out of that lot.

I suspect noone has ever been directed by a search engine to what we fondly believe is the normal content of our posts.

But this blog could acquit itself well, if it ever gets in a competitive event relating to volumes of blogspam. According to WordPress stats for this blog, there have been 2,624 approved comments but

Akismet has protected your site from 13,409 spam comments already

Akismet doesn’t even cover the whole life span of the blog and it’s probably been reinstalled a couple of times – hence, reset to 0 – but even on these figures, that’s a good few times as many spam comments as there were legit ones.

There are clearly spam fashions. I quite admire the craftsmanship involved in the ones that have generic phrases designed to flatter you into allowing the comment through the filter:

Love your blog. I’ll bookmark it and return later.

or the old favourite from last year, with words to the effect that:

I didn’t quite understand what you said on [insert name of blog] but I’m interested to know more.

However, it’s as if the heart has gone out of the spammers. This week’s “new black” for spam seems to involve sending some random syllables, occasionally with a load of links:

qkncihdf tjnprcd mitqlanp oznqx eaqrpzu imfwatulo sjmxrqgh

for example. Or, what about this, where even the links don’t make an effort to disguise their innate spammishness, let alone entice the unwary with promises of free meds or unfeasible bodily expansion?

biprong unbrimming martinetism bosn amative biota spongida expectingly
ziafm wnwwqwuy
http://jdskmnffl.com
ktuhbdk info
http://jlvxkeva.com
uosgu wcmqjs
http://sgqwajre.com
kxrrd qzfkagqn

What’s going on? There are eleven of these in the Akismet spam queue today. Not one has an English word in it.

The Register had a long security post about blogspam, on Friday. The article was about a malware scam that claims to take the user to various legit sounding places.

Over the next several weeks I noticed a lot more of these, not only pointing to Google but also to Yahoo and MSN. The servers they pointed to all had the same basic structure, such as google-homepage.google-us.info, msn-us.info, yahoo-us.info, etc. Every one resolves to the same IP address: 124.217.253.8. That IP address is registered to Piradius.net in Singapore. The server appears to be hosted out of Kuala Lumpur. The domains, however, are registered in Ukraine:

(They’ve all moved since the article was written, of course.)

The rest of the article is fascinating. Click on one of these imaginary images and they run an executable. The article shows a series of legit looking screendumps, with the alerts very well designed. They put the fear of malware into you and offer you apparently Microsoft-approved solutions. There’s even a blag Microsoft Security Centre. The only intrinsic design flaw was that it said XP Security Centre, which was immediately suspicious to someone running Vista.

I’m as much of a mug as anyone. I just hope I haven’t fallen for any of these…….

One thing I’m pretty sure this blog been subject to (thanks to Firestats’ fund of fascinating information on referrers) is a hack of restricted WordPress content using the Google cache. It just involves asking for things from the cache by modifying the url request string. (I’ve done that by accident I suspect)

That password-protected site of yours – it ain’t
It’s one of the simplest hacks we’ve seen in a long time, and the more elite computer users have known about it for a while, but it’s still kinda cool and just a little bit unnerving: A hacker has revealed a way to use Google and other search engines to gain unauthorized access to password-protected content on a dizzying number of websites.

We don’t have any restricted or pay-per-view content,so no loss as far as this blog is concerned. But, it’s sort of blog-validating to be in there in a “dizzying number.” 🙂