Spam Spam Spam! And Music.

So, the Akismet plugin (or some combination of that and ReCaptcha) has weeded out over 85,000 spam comments from this blog.  I should really wise up and just start firewalling IP addresses, but whatever.

On another, less spammy note I am excited about purchasing a Focusrite Saffire Pro 10 IO audio interface.  As a musician, it is important to have a good way to record yourself…  As a GNU/Linux user it is important to find compatible hardware.  Thankfully, the Saffire satisfies both of these.  It is a firewire interface supported by FFADO, and thus I can use it on my Linux machines for multitrack awesomeness with Ardour and Jack.

In case anyone is wondering, there aren’t a lot of audio interfaces supported on Linux, but if you get one that is, you can actually be productive with it.  I’ve used an M Audio interface for recording bands before (this new one will give me more inputs), and it can work well.  Sure, if you’re used to something like Protools or Logic that’s what you’re used to.  But if you’ve got a Linux machine and want to experiment, there is a lot there.  As a general rule you’ll have to mess with things more (though Ubuntu Studio tries to minimize this), but you can do some pretty neat things.  Like using audio interfaces on other hosts, and all sorts of other fancy network audio streaming.  I should write up a post on some of this stuff, but most of it is out there if you search.

Yes, I could spend more, get a Mac, and go the route most people go for their home recording studios.  But I like the idea of having free (as in freedom) tools that can do a lot of this stuff.  Sure as hell beats spam.

Spam and CAPTCHA

So after leaving this place for a month (probably more), I log in to find that there are over 6300 comments pending.  I have WordPress set up to automatically queue comments there that contain more than three hyperlinks, which tends to be a hallmark of spam.  Of course, there are the more discrete spam bots, which just leave some BS comment and have the Website field point to discount V1agara or whatever else.  Those are usually picked out by Akismet, which actually does a pretty good job.  Unknown to me, however, was the fact that I had forgotten to re-enable Akismet after I upgraded.  So it caught neither the trickier comments nor the 6300 blatant ones, which would otherwise have ended up in the Spam pile.  And to boot, Akismet needs updating anyway.

Well, I decided to try a different solution, so the other day I installed the reCaptcha plugin.  This service, which not only keeps your site from being inadvertently associated with male-enhancement drugs, also helps Google to digitize books, with words OCR programs tend to have problems with.  (Think bad scans.)  Check out their site for more information, it’s a neat concept.

I’ve only had it up for a day, so I’m not entirely sure it’s working, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t be.  I tried using tesseract on one of the images, and here’s what I got.  First, the image:

Random reCAPTCHA image
And here’s what it gave me back:


Now, when I cropped out ‘of’ and tried that separately, it got it – that’s how it works (check the link above), it gives you a known one and an unknown one; I guess you could fool it if you got the one correct.  It does check the other word with other sites, though.  (As a side note, I did put in the text given above along with ‘of’, and I was actually able to fool it.  My guess though is that if you did this from the same IP a bunch of times it would catch on.)

So I’ll see how this turns out, hopefully it’s not too annoying.

Misc. Stuff

So it is now fall.  The summer finished up nicely, we even got to go to Cape Cod.  (Photos will follow.)  I’m still working, with the intent of returning for classes in winter quarter.  Still playing music, still messing with Linux, still dreaming of getting all my power from the sun (or at least right now for my mail server), and above all playing with the cats when I can in Buffalo.  But first, some selected Cape pics:

So that’s been the highlight of the past month or so.  Work still drags on, this blog still collects spam, etc.

Winter Without Christmas

I believe that today is the Nativity, or the last day of Christmas or whatever.  It is also the day I am heading back to school, back to the daily grind…  Actually, I shouldn’t complain.  My quarter is relatively light, and I’m used to the schedule and the campus.  All and all it will be great, even if I do have to get up and think each day of the week.  (Well, think about school, not that I don’t think otherwise…  You get the idea.)

Well, as anyone who reads this blog regularly has probably figured out I like to talk about the weather.  And I must say it is looking great outside, snowy, and sunny.  Not too snowy, but it looks like winter.  Now that the first set of Winter holidays are wrapping up it is becoming quite clear that it is really only the beginning of winter.  Yes, we’ve got a ways to go, at least up here.

Now, the funny thing is, a lot of people complain about winter.  And rightfully so; I hate digging my car out and the like.  But I also love the snow, and I think more appreciation needs to be paid to it.  I mean, if you live in an are in which a huge snow storm is pretty much the worst disaster you would expect to occur somewhat regularly, consider yourself lucky, I say!  Because after all is said and done, it melts.

So I am looking forward to some nice days this winter.  The sun is there; the days have been getting longer since the Solstice, and they will continue to get longer until the summer.  Admittedly it’s harder to like winter without Christmas (at least I could see that), but it’s another season, and I say that as long as there’s sun out to keep the spirits high be happy.  Gray days suck, but they don’t last forever.

Well, on a different note I would just like to point out that this place actually gets a ton of comment spam.  You wouldn’t notice it thanks to the Askimet plugin I installed, which intelligently detects spam and marks it for me to look at and delete en masse.  Now, it’s not perfect, so I do check it over, but I will appologize now if I missed a legit comment.  If it was something basic, like “Thanks, great post” then it may get marked as spam and I might very well just delete it.  But I will do my best to look for intelligent thoughts.


Gotta love spam.  I get a tone of it, through both Email and this blog, but mostly through Email.  My main mail server is down, so my mail gets sent to my Gmail account, which thankfully is good at filtering the spam.  But it still amazes me how much I get as I go through my junk folder.

And don’t even get me started about the blog spam…  I’m going to have to look into a CAPTCHA plugin to try to fight off the scripts, or at least the ones that don’t know how to read (sadly, some of them do).  It’s such an intrusion, but hey I guess that’s just what’s out there.

What puzzles me is how anyone thinks spam is actually an effective marketing tool.  I mean, don’t we already have things like TV infomercials for selling male enhancement pills?  Wouldn’t they stand a better chance than spam?  And, I would think that most people by now see spam as a nuisance, and just delete it.  And surely no one in their right mind would trust a company that sends out horribly formatted Emails in bulk, right?

Well I guess enough people must bite.  It’s sad, but the spam keeps flowing.  Oh well, I still let a smile be my umbrella as I appreciate the two or three legitmate mailing lists I’m on.  Someday, the dam will breach, and we will be rid of the problem of spam.  Hopefully society will still exist by that point.