Recently in Site News Category

Turn off the lights when you leave

| 1 Comment

It’s time to stop fooling myself and shutter the current incarnation of this blog.

It’s not that I haven’t had anything to say; it’s just that I haven’t felt like recording anything as a blog entry.

Yes, I did leave myself an out. Notice that I said “current incarnation.” In the distant future, this weblog may return in a considerably revamped form, but for now all 396 entries and 875+ comments will remain as is, at least as long as AdSense dollars continue to subsidize the domain name and the hosting fees.

I suppose a few random thoughts are in order before I sign off.

  • My aging iPod tumbled to the ground one evening after work, shattering its LCD. I finally replaced it with a “reconditioned” iPod nano.
  • I’ve become addicted to my Tassimo single-cup brewer and Torani coffee syrups.
  • I am immensely happy with my decision over a year ago to switch from six-bladed Gillettes to a double-edge razor (Merkur and Feather), badger hair brush, and Taylor of Old Bond Street shaving soap.
  • I still do not own a cell phone, even in the age of the iPhone.
  • The last four albums I have bought on iTunes have been DRM-free (Mezzanine, A Posteriori, Global, and Reflections).
  • I gave up on physical fitness. Sooner or later I will get back up off my fat ass and get back in shape, but not right now.
  • Like most Americans, I grow increasingly disgusted with Bush and Cheney’s disdain for this country and its voters, its laws, its military, its reputation, and its legacy.
  • I have FiOS, and I love it. Download speeds (and upload speeds) are even faster than at my workplace.
  • With just a couple of months left until I turn 35, I confront myself with the question, “Am I happy?” My response would have to be a resigned exhalation and an unenthusiastic “meh…”

…and with that, “Good night and so long.”

Registrar Hostage

RegisterFly Swatter
If you are a customer of the domain registrar RegisterFly.com, you may have been following the corporate drama. Apparently, two of the owners ousted a third owner, alleging gross misuse of company funds. That owner took over the system and started deleting customer data. The leaders of the “coup” were able to regain control, and issued a statement to their customers. Then, just this Friday, a judge gave the company back to the ousted guy.

To make matters worse, their customer support has been ineffectual and unresponsive, at least as far back as November; however, I have not had the time or energy to transfer my domains to another registrar.

That judge’s ruling was the final straw. Way too much drama for me; I want out as soon as possible.

GoDaddy.com is offering $6.25 (at cost) domain transfers from RegisterFly, so I opened up an account with them. I am seeing now that this will not be an easy process. I am unable to remove the Whois protection from a few of my domains, which means that my real contact information is obscured in the Whois record (normally a good thing) in favor of a spamfly.com or protectfly.com e-mail address. Because of this, GoDaddy cannot send me a “Transaction ID” and “Security Code” for those domains.

Also, half of my domains do not have an “Authorization Code,” which is a 10-digit alphanumeric string, which is supposed to prove that the transfer is legitimate. Instead, only a blank field and the words “Auth code” appear in bold where the 10-digit code is supposed to be.

So now I wait. All of my domains are in limbo, in various states of progression through the transfer process. notMike.com may become a casualty of this process, but at least the numerical IP will remain active (http://72.18.130.5/~notmike).

Abandoned

LiLo
So I’m on my third week of jury duty (more on this after the trial is over), and I was flipping through the New York Post during an extended lunch break.

I normally don’t read offline newspapers, but I was bored, and the barely audible soap opera on the plasma at the front of the room wasn’t holding my interest.

Anyway, one Post article caught my eye. They were reporting on a recent Gartner Group study that estimated there are over 200 million dead, abandoned blogs out there. Of course, the Post’s spin was that Lindsay Lohan’s blog hadn’t been updated in like three and a half years (OMG! SMHID). Jenna Elfman and Melanie Griffith had also not updated their blogs in ages (OMG x2).

As any errant Googlers who happen by the front page of this blog might notice — notMike.com has almost become one of those 200 million. Noooo! Here I am, setting a bad example for the LiLo’s of the world.

Well, damn it, this blogger (you can call me MiMu…or not) is not going to let his blog become a statistic. I promise more frequent updates over the coming weeks.

Are you human?

| 2 Comments

The spambots are getting really…really annoying. Akismet and SpamLookup do block most of the obvious spam comments (at this point why do they even bother with the topless cheerleader, p e e n i s enlargement, viagra, texas holdem, morgage loan BS).

However, lately I have been waking up in the morning to a crapflood of a few dozen spam comments that made their way through. These are usually just random strings of text with no identifying commonality, peppered with links to legitimate web sites. I guess these are trying to poison the filters with false positives and whatnot.

So, thanks to Comment Challenge, a new plug-in from Jay Allen of MT-Blacklist fame, my comment form now has a challenge and response question to weed the bots from the human commenters.

The hardest part was choosing a question that was not culturally biased or ambiguous. My first one is “What direction is opposite of north?” Hopefully, it doesn’t prove to be overly annoying to commenters.

The only other Turing test plug-ins I could find used image CAPTCHAs, which I hate. A few of these have proven that, in fact, I am not human because I could not figure out what those grunge font squiggles were supposed to be.

terminator spambot

So once the spambots get smart enough to answer these types of challenge and response questions, it’s all over for the humans anyway. It will be time to surrender to our AI masters. (Of course, even Skynet or the Architect would be better than Dubya.)

Hosting problems, downtime, resolution

The site has been offline for at least a day and unable to accept comments for about four days.

At that time, Total Choice Hosting made a change to a number of their servers that generally affected their customers using Movable Type. All plugins that resided in a subfolder of the MT plugins folder were non-functional. This included all of my anti-spam plugins.

I first noticed the problem when a flood of spam posts about “topless cheerleaders” made their way to my blog. Now, I have nothing against topless cheerleaders, and I am sure that these young girls are very nice people. Spammers, however, are not nice people.

I disabled comments and contacted my host. They escalated the problem and offered to move me to a new server. I did not have a chance to respond (work lasted past 9 PM most of the week).

Saturday morning I was doing a Google search for something unrelated and noticed a link for my blog come up. I clicked the link and got a “file not found error.” Proceeding to the main page, I found a teal Apache/CPanel default page.

I contacted my host again, and they restored my site from a backup. My static files and MT installation were from September, and my database was from August 16. I am now manually rebuilding all posts since then and all comments. At least my blog has not seen much activity in the past few months, just three posts and 36 comments.

All is good again I suppose. I was worried I would have to start from scratch.

Comments and trackbacks off for now

I’m in the “back woods” of Pennsylvania for the weekend. A storm or something knocked out phone service for a couple of houses on my parents’ road, so I can’t even use a modem. Broadband? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Anyway, I found a Starbucks twenty minutes away. I’m sitting in their parking lot and getting four bars. (Actually, the wireless service is from a hotel across the street.)

Anyway, comments and trackbacks are off until I can get back to civilization (damn spammers).

Update 7/05: Feedback is now back on. No phone. No internet. Satellite TV blanking out every time there was a cloud overhead. Sheesh, even “third-world” countries have better connectivity. Oh well, it’s good to be back in Jersey.

Three point three

Six Apart released Movable Type 3.3 beta 1 today.

I can rarely resist an upgrade. Even though they do not recommend installation of this beta on a production system, and even though the final is probably just three short weeks away; I took the plunge anyway and installed 3.3b1 on notMike.com. (I will certainly hold off upgrading my university’s installation of MT until the final, though.)

I haven’t had a chance to read all the way through the release notes, but a few new things are obvious.

Everything looks good so far. Streamlining and simplifying the admin interface looks to be the main goal of this upgrade. We finally have quick formatting buttons for entries that work in Safari; WYSIWYG-editing is still limited to Firefox or IE.

Support for tags is now built in. I started using them with this post.

The search template is now configurable at the blog level! This means that the display of my customized search pages were broken for a short while. It just underscores that I need to do a redesign based on the latest MT templates.

Nothing else broken yet, knock on wood.

So I did it. One month of daily posts. I occasionally cheated; I back-dated some posts that I didn’t get a chance to write until past midnight that day. Some of the posts were of sub-par quality; my fortune cookie fortune collection makes for great filler (unfortunately, you’re hungry for another post in an hour).

Updates will be more sporadic for awhile again. Hopefully, not as sporadic as before.

Next week I finally get to witness firsthand why, indeed, Cleveland rocks.

Google Ads update

This entry is one of the many little things that I have wanted to mention for months, but never got around to it.

My little experiment with Google AdSense that started in January 2005 proved to be reasonably successful. As someone who tries his best to tune out the ads at the periphery of most websites, it still surprises me that anyone is able to get any kind of click-through; however, the few that do click on those ads eventually add up.

A website owner doesn’t see a dime until they accumulate $100, which can be a little frustrating. At least the small increments carry over month-to-month. I finally crossed over that magic threshold in January 2006. I can’t say much more without risking violation of the terms of service.

I won’t be quitting my day job any time soon, but at least that paid for my domain names and hosting fees for the year.

M'aidez!

Okay. I am going to try something with my neglected little blog that I have not done in a long while—post at least one entry every day for an entire month (any time within a 24-hour period counts). Eh, I probably won’t make it an entire week

…nothing like a positive attitude to kick things off.

I guarantee you that most of the entries will be rather mundane, as my life has been rather low-key lately. In fact, the first official entry of the month is about as exciting as watching hair grow.

Powered by Movable Type 4.3-en