Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts
Showing posts with label blogging. Show all posts

Monday, February 22, 2016

Blogging and the Ban

What's the common denominator between NORML and Linux Mint? Neither site's blog posts comments from yours truly. I suspect it is due to the unwelcome baggage accompanying the innocuous comment, namely this url. The censoring editor, whoever that may have been, took a gander at this web site, grew afeared by the opinions, and decided the safest path was to ban the comment or the commenter. There is a prevalent trend now of avoiding controversy by not posting urls. Urls are distracting, first of all, and there is the danger a visitor could leave the site for the site of the url.

In time, I forget I'm censored, or suppose myself mistaken in my assumption, because I'm never sure about anything, unlike Donald Trump. I like to be fair and give second chances, and besides, there are technical reasons a comment could fail to post. With all of that in mind, I try again, months later, typing from one to three paragraphs in a comment, only to encounter the same result, which is the vaporization of my verbosity. I don't mind that I try and try again, wasted effort though it is, because I like confirmation of my assumptions. On each occasion when my comment fails to post, I perceive a door remaining shut, and that is a good reminder, if nothing else. Of course, as with everything, there are advantages and disadvantages. It is easier to move past a closed door than an open one, where one might feel curious enough to look in on occasion to see what is inside and offer assistance and advice. There are those that I can help and those that don't seem to need help. Through the years, I've gotten better at sorting the types and then moving on.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Where I Get My Traffic

You may wonder where Glorious Igor gets all his traffic. Like for instance if you have no life and actually give a hoot about some over-the-hill blogger.



The answer is like I said before, 99% of my traffic is spam and malware sites from Russia that target and want to infect me and probably other bloggers. I don't know whether the KGB is still in business these days or whether it was renamed to some other acronym, but Putin's a bad actor and certainly spreads evil tentacles through cyberspace trying to infect, annoy or otherwise harm perceived and actual enemies.

A dumbass novice blogger or technically unsophisticated blogger would out of vanity click on one of those sites and expose their computer to a malware attack and also reveal their IP address, so that even if their computer is not compromised, their identity is, at least in part. Once someone has an IP address, they have a pretty effective way to determine who is who, unless the visitor is using a proxy or public wireless, etc., but even then, there are trails and there are trails...

I never click on such sites. If I don't recognize the site, to hell with it. I am somewhat interested in the search terms that lead people to my blog. That is perhaps the only valid and useful stat. I know that people read me because of dungeon crawl, solydx, and to a lesser extent other linux thingamajiggies. I know that people could not give a damn about my opinions on philosophy, my stories and my opinions on politics, but I also know that I don't give a damn whether they give a damn, and I write what I please anyway. Sometimes people do read my stuff by accident no doubt and once in a blue moon, I think when someone is under the influence of a substance, they will leave a comment letting me know their reaction. That can be fun, although a lot of comments have spam links or are left solely for the purpose of promoting another site.

Monday, November 24, 2014

99% of Traffic is Spam

There. I've said it.

99% of all traffic to this blog is generated by spam affiliates from Russia and the Ukraine, the unsavory crime-ridden ghettoes of cyberspace, and other locales in eastern Europe and China.

Why they waste their time scanning this blog probably has to do with mentions of Putin and other keywords, but even before I started blogging about that, they were responsible for at least 50% of the traffic.

Self-promoting Symantec did no one any favors by revealing their discovery of Regin and should be fined several billion dollars or nationalized outright. Symantec did not discover the Regin virus until too late, and its discovery is more in the lines of a confession than a scoop. I do not use overpriced Symantec anti-virus, a system resource hog. Why pay for these ineffective antiviruses that cannot detect viruses, when quiet, effective Microsoft Security Essentials (or Windows Defender) is 100% free?

Russia really needs a lot of  cyberespionage directed at it, and if the NSA is not responsible, then the NSA would be irresponsible. Under Putin, Russia represents evil incarnate, and any means used against it are justified, in the same way that any means are justified against the HIV virus or Ebola. Putrid Putin has the same level of morality, philosophy and aesthetic taste as the Ebola or HIV virus, which is to say none at all, and he has the same influence upon the world. To support Putrid and his Putridity is to be aligned with evil. I hope to see the day when Putrid is put in the ground where he belongs. Dump his carcass in the same pit as his soul-mate Stalin. He murdered Russia's democracy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Internet's Not Fair

We didn't evolve to use the Internet. Period.

We evolved to live in a world where we could whisper and not usually be heard. A world where we could say disposable, temporary things that then become mere hearsay. A world where we could speak our minds, in other words.

The Internet is unforgiving. It never forgets and it never forgives. This is one excellent reason to strive toward anonymity in one's public postings. Yet one must also remember that if the fancy struck them, law enforcement could unmask an anonymous person in all of five minutes at maximum. Very little effort is required and apparently no warrant these days, when the Bill of Rights is held as an obsolete document binding common folk only and not anyone in government.

So I do feel sorry for the random folks that just don't get the Internet, just aren't prepared for the modern world we live in and just can't deport themselves online with the requisite caution. Working people such as this public school teacher can lose their jobs over ill-considered utterances along the lines of Kill Whitey. Sitting around at home in the evening while in one's cups leads folks to say their heart-felt desires and fears, as has been the case for thousands of years, but today it brings profound social consequences. Perhaps lack of social awareness and lack of discipline is sufficient cause for a teacher to be fired. Teaching has always been a politically and socially sensitive role. Socrates was put to death for less. For my part, I would prefer that the teacher be granted a reprieve in exchange for a public apology, because this could be a learning experience not just for her but for students and teachers around the country as well. Let the teacher be if she apologizes and retracts the offending words, with the understanding that any additional offense will result in termination. I would also recommend that she should get off Twitter, get off Facebook and stay off. It's not hard and would be for the best. What is so great about being connected 24/7? We need to disengage ourselves sometimes.

Through long and painful experience, I have learned to, first of all, moderate what I say, so that nothing said is violent or threatening, unless it be toward the official enemies of the country I live in. In my best state of mind, I don't approve of violent of threatening impulses, but a plant will absorb certain elements of the environment it finds itself in. In the second place, I control which venue of the Internet I express my opinions. A little-known blog is a good sandbox to deposit my perhaps controversial opinions, which nobody cares about in the first place. People aren't terribly interested in other people's opinions, it turns out, unless those opinions coincide with their own. As we conceal certain portions of our body, we also should conceal certain portions of our thoughts in order to get along with others. I want to get along not only with those who think as I do on politics, but with everyone that I possibly can. If a so-called conservative likes me first, then finds out in stages that I am liberal, then I am a good ambassador of the liberal cause, and he may have cause to question his opinions. If first the conservative find out I am liberal, then they may never like me at all, because tribalism kicks in and they view me through a distorted lens.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

If You Booze, You Lose

Based on the content of the some of the comments I've received, particularly from Anonymous readers, I am recommending the Freethinkers Alcoholics Anonymous web site to help those damaged and impaired minds kick their addiction to alcohol. Hell is found in a bottle. Remember, if you booze, you lose. Be a winner. Stop drinking, and start Thinking. Turn that frown upside down!

Friday, April 11, 2014

I Am Not a Free Teacher

I did not volunteer to be the free teacher of the Internet. When strangers leave profane comments, I delete. I can think of about twenty reasons that profanity is a bad idea and no reasons why it is a good idea. The English language is wonderfully complex, with many choices of words available. I suggest that individuals with limited vocabulary study hard to expand their vocabulary and browse a couple of books on etiquette. On the other hand, don't take my advice. Ignore it. Let life be your teacher...

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Internet Trolls

Slate Magazine has an interesting article on internet trolls. I had an internet troll comment on my blog just this week. He left homophobic insults, expecting me to be outraged, to respond or just to publish his inflammatory remarks. I did none of the above. I deleted his comments without a second thought, grinning at the thought of the time he wasted typing them in. I have experience with the most savage and sophisticated Internet trolls, both as a forum moderator and web site admin.

You know what baby? Igor was not born yesterday. Nothing outrages me and nothing surprises me. I've seen it all. I know that trolls have zero interest in the truth, zero interest in goodness, and maximum interest in discord, evil and chaos. They are sworn to the darkness. They are like arsonists or rapists, except they operate online because it's easier and doesn't expose them to mace, gunfire or arrest. They are fulfilling a little need that isn't getting satisfied elsewhere. Internet trolls are not difficult to identify, understand or deal with. The only question is which can of pesticide to spray on them.

I had a good friend who believed all comments should be published even if they contain death threats or bomb formulas. He was an ultra-libertarian. I suppose that if a rapist came along, he would spread his legs in the name of freedom. That is his prerogative. His site, his rules.

I play by a different set of rules. A stranger that seeks my attention had better unball his fists, wipe the drool from his beard, zip up his trousers and speak in a civil tone of voice. Otherwise, the door is shut, locked and bolted, and if need be, the police are on their way. End of discussion.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Closed Forums

I've noticed an increasing trend of closed forums on the Internet. Some forum admins don't even know their forums are closed. Their registration is broken or inept. Kubuntu's forum is a case in point. I tried eight times to register for that forum. It's like trying to break into Fort Knox. Linuxgames is another web site that one cannot register for.

I do not require registration to post comments on my blog. I even allow anonymous comments. All I require is the solution to a simple CAPTCHA, because that's what Blogger offers me in terms of anti-spam tools. Yes, I still get a spam comment maybe once a month. I delete it. Problem solved. Deleting a spam comment takes maybe five seconds of my time. I don't force my users to squint their eyes at a graphical image of blurred, semi-legible words or numbers. I don't care who they are or what their email address is.

I have some advice for forum admins that are wondering why few people post messages on their forums. The problem is you. You raise the hurdle too high, and most people just aren't going to bother. They will go somewhere else. I do not know why someone would go to the trouble of maintaining a forum and then set a big barrier in place to prevent people from using it. That wastes everybody's time.

When I was a forum admin, and I was one for many years and in many different places, I developed elegant means of dealing with spammers. The most effective method is a blacklist. Mine seems to bounce the majority of spambots now in existence. I regularly add new IP ranges when I notice some bots slipping past my defenses. Traps are helpful too. Captcha works, but I am not a big fan of Captcha, because all too often, forum admins choose an impossible Captcha that humans have difficulty solving. I have grown to hate the complicated versions of Captcha, the ones that use a combination of an image and text. There are better, simpler methods available, such as requiring the solution to a simple mathematical problem, such as, "What is fifteen divided by three plus four, written in numeric form?" The answer is 9, but it is an answer that very few spambots are prepared to offer at this time, and if any ever do, then additional wrinkles could easily be added.

The reality is that your fancy-pantsy semi-legible or illegible Captcha isn't going to stop a determined spammer, who can and does hire humans to complete registration. Outfits like E-lance offer cheap labor--online labor--all over the world for hire for often unethical endeavors.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bluehost Keeps Subtracting Features

I figured out where all of Bluehost's development goes. They pay their developers to subtract features or make them difficult or impossible to use. There was a time when I could download a log of all site transactions--that stopped about a year ago. Now it's a huge hassle, for no reason other than Bluehost hates its customers. There was a time when I could backup the SQL database. Now that is completely impossible. Bluehost instead gives me the option of a full-site backup, which never completes but just gives me what amounts to an error message saying, "Sorry, but we at Bluehost do not know how to program computers. We're still learning, and you're stuck with us while we're in training diapers!" I see the reason why. Bluehost wants me to pay $20 for the upgrade to "Backup Pro". That is, if I want to back up my web site, I have to cough up more money now. Bluehost is basically sticking a gun to my head and saying cough up the dough or say goodbye to all your hard work. I wish Bluehost would just quit jerking their customers around and leave CPanel alone. All their changes have been negative with consequences for their customers. I am sure of one thing, I will not be renewing with Bluehost whenever renewal time comes around. I will spend ten, twenty, however many hours it takes to backup my database using SQL statements, but one thing is certain, I will not pay even $0.01 for additional captivity with "Bluebeard," the web-hosting pirate. I like a company that does what it says and sticks by its word, not one that pulls dirty tricks out of the blue to rake in more cash.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Namecheap, the Worst Web Hosting Company

Namecheap, Inc. just sent me an invoice for--well, I don't know what. They expect me to pay a bunch of money because, I guess, they need money. I haven't hosted with them in years and my domain is no longer registered with them. I'm not surprised their morals are amiss. Namecheap is possibly the worst web host in existence. Their service was lousy, with unexplained bizarre errors, and their tech support, which I frequently had to use, was foreign, incompetent, unresponsive, and uncaring. I was never so happy as when I abandoned my Namecheap account and moved to a different host, even though it cost me financially to do so. Namecheat is more like it.

The host I recommend is Bluehost, a class act all around. They may be Mormon-owned for all I know, but they do web hosting right, and on the extremely rare occasion that I have needed their tech support, I have talked to real, live American techies on the telephone who know what they are doing. I've never been talking to a Bluehost representative without feeling like they are intelligent and, perhaps more importantly, care. I've used Bluehost for many years. I don't know of any other web host that is as good as they are, although it's true I haven't tried many. Bluehost is even recommended by Wordpress, which I think is very impressive in itself. Their founder runs the entire company on Mac or Linux, scorning Microsoft. I've followed his blog off and on through the years. I doubt we would agree on politics, but as far as computers go, I think we are in agreement.

For the past couple days, my site on Bluehost has become inaccessible around midnight every day without explanation and stays slow until the morning. So I can't recommend Bluehost without reservation. I need to become more cautious about my enthusiasm for things. It seems like the very moment that I praise something, that's when I discover its shortcoming. In the case of Bluehost, I discovered their nightly slowdown about the same time that I renewed for two years. However, I think that this may have been a temporary glitch, possibly due to Wordpress attackers.

If this is the only post any visitor to my blog ever reads, then so much the better. Namecheap caused me hardship with their unexplained errors and incompetent service.

7/30/2013 Update: This post against Namecheap has been attacked on over ten separate occasions by spam comments linking to malware sites that try to infect people's computers with viruses. My policy now is that whenever that happens, this post will be updated to be the front-page, very first post; or else I may post another message about Namecheap and its sleazy, unethical business practices. There's no way that Namecheap can get out of their well-deserved poor reputation. They are going to have to live with it, no matter how many spammers they hire.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Coarse Comments

Sometimes I wonder whether to turn comments off, as some bloggers have already done. Google feeds visitors to just a handful of pages on this blog, for the most part, and those posts tend to concern narrow, technical topics of limited interest to me, such as Blexbot scrapers, or my method for cheating in Dungeon Crawl Stone Soup, or Kubuntu 13.04. I wrote them, true, but they are not subjects that I find to be of great or abiding interest. The popularity of these posts reflects what people tend to search for on Google and also the stringent competition on Google for philosophical topics. Whenever I write on philosophy, I can almost guarantee no one will ever comment on the post. My site finds a little niche in the search engine database only where narrow, obscure and complicated technical topics are concerned, because there are not enough writers in the world on these topics.

The quality of comments is occasionally deplorable. Recently, someone commented that Blexbot programmers "should be hung from a tree," which I deleted, because that is a horrible thing to say, for many reasons. Such sentiments, common though they may be, will not be published on my watch. I do believe in censorship, where threats and insults are concerned, and this was a key matter of disagreement between myself and a former friend of mine. Some words are precursors to (s)words. That swords not be drawn, let such provocations remain unsaid.

Another person commented that "lol cheating is fun," in reply to a hack for a game, which struck me as ungrammatical, evoking the image of the writer sitting by his computer with a long silvery thread of drool hanging from his open mouth and a dozen empty beer cans by his feet. I invest time and thought into my posts, and if a commenter lacks the ability to do the same, then their comment does not need to live.

I've had worse comments, too, like the one from the meth fan who cursed me in several comments, for no apparent reason, until he revealed the irritant by arguing "some people can handle their meth," which may be up for debate, but foul and abusive language curtails all debate and cedes the field to the other side, me. Former meth users, such as musician Rufus Wainwright and comedian Margaret Cho, two prominent celebrities, have come forward and revealed that meth caused them pain and suffering, along with disturbances in their relationships with other people. Although the same can be said for alcohol, this is not quite the case with a substance like marijuana, which is non-toxic and does not harm the human body. Margaret Cho called marijuana "a vegetable, not a drug," an assertion that I think has some merit, because it is certainly not harmful in the same way that other drugs are harmful. One can use too much marijuana, just as one can eat too much asparagus, but the effects are not as serious as using too much alcohol. Alcohol can and does kill its users in a variety of ways, whereas marijuana does not. On the other hand, I do not believe meth is safe for humans, and have said so here, although I allow a possible exception during battlefield tactics, for which meth has a certain historical basis deriving from WW2. For civilians, I find it difficult to imagine any scenario where meth would be useful medicine, although along with other substances, it could possibly enhance the end-of-life experience for those about to die. I dislike advocating blanket rules that cover all situations, because as an engineer, I know that the devil is in the details. There will be cases that are unforeseen, because who among us sees all?

Monday, August 26, 2013

The CAPTCHA Insanity

Dear fellow bloggers, if you don't want comments on your blog, then just say so. I typed a fairly lengthy comment on one prominent Linux blog, only to be confounded by the blogger's spambot-trapping CAPTCHA. He's installed a virtual Fort Knox on his blog. I had to decipher not merely a distorted word, but also an out-of-focus picture with a three-digit number on it. In nine cases out of ten, I could not read either the word or the number. My vision is close to 20/20, but after a dozen failed attempts I conceded defeat. The blogger did not receive my comment and will never know that he turned away his reader. Contrast his policy with my own. I allow anonymous comments and have nothing more than the generic CAPTCHA. I'm not torturing people with cryptograms. Yeah, I receive a spam comment once in a blue moon, especially on that post I wrote about Namecheap (the worst web hosting company in existence today), but I delete them. If I notice an upsurge in spam, then I change my settings to hold new comments in the moderation queue, so that they are not published unless I approve them. That completely defeats spammers. And for the record, I do not censor people who disagree with me. I prefer to argue with them! I do censor profanity and vulgarity, because I don't think it's cute or clever, and that sort of thing can impact my search ranking on Google.

Please knock it off with the crypto CAPTCHA insanity!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Blog Status

I updated my public .htaccess blacklist, in case anyone's interested. I assume someone is, because that post has received 11,000 hits, and they can't all be bots. My guess is that people are using it as a resource to check up on an IP address. I can tell you that from using it, the number of bots getting through declines by about 99%. Some will still get through, but the list grows over time due to my efforts, and those that get through, don't get through for long.

My efforts to monetize this blog via AdSense have fallen flat due to a technical error on AdSense's side. I left a message in their help forum but haven't received any answers. They do not permit ordinary mortals to contact them via email. So I will leave a post on my front page into perpetuity that points the finger at AdSense, which is broken, dead as a doorknob, kaput, game over on my site due to an AdSense bug. I imagine their developers are too busy drinking coffee and eating donuts to work on boring stuff like code.

I like working on code and am pretty good at it, but I am not allowed to do so anymore, because all the programming jobs were given to foreigners. I believe that politicians in Washington, D.C. right now are working on ways to eliminate even more jobs so that they will make a bunch of money on the stock market. The politicians are bribed, bought and paid for by corporations and don't care about America or, much less, American workers.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Trying Ads Again

I decided to try adverts again, because I put a lot of effort into the blog over the years, with a big wonky zero in the way of return. Many people come here and find the information they need to solve the problem at hand and then leave without so much as a thank you. Even if I only make five bucks a year, in ten years time, I'll at least be able to buy some bananas. I like bananas.

Well, it looks like Google Adsense is programmed by morons. Adsense sent me an email saying they put my account on hold until I update my tax info. I'm not permitted to update my tax info because my account balance is below $10. Thus, my sites are on hold forever or until Google hires intelligent programmers. I'm on hold forever.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blogger Fails in Firefox

I've been using Blogger since 2009. Starting around 2012, Google made ill-conceived changes to Blogger that have made me dread editing my template's html or css. I have given up on maintaining a custom template. The Template and Layout functions of Blogger are horrible. Blogger has crashed Firefox so many times that I've lost count. How does Blogspot set about crashing a computer? Constant and nonstop hits to web sites like twitter, facebook, and google's own. Continual processing for no apparent reason, endless loops just burning the cpu up until 100% of the processor is in use, accomplishing nothing whatsoever. Blogger crashes Firefox on both Linux and Windows systems, I might add. It doesn't matter what kind of computer I use or how much memory I have or how fast my Internet is or which operating system I choose. Blogger will crash Firefox in a heartbeat. It will also bring a computer system to a crawl and force a reboot.

Like most things, Blogger devolves rather than getting better. I suppose Windows doesn't set a good example in that regard. The only thing Google cares about is making money off AdSense, but I can't see running ads on a web site where I cannot even edit the html or css at all without the computer crashing. I certainly can't recommend Blogger to anyone who wants to start a blog, unless they like rebooting their computer every five minutes.

On the plus side, I do like the stock template. It's nice and dark and seems more pleasing to the eye, although I could ask for a bit more color. We have color monitors--shouldn't we use them? Black and white seems, well, a bit of a throwback to the 1970's, when I actually had a black and white television set. It's a sign of age if one can remember watching television in black and white.

I would have preferred the option of selecting and installing a new template rather than being pressured into doing so by a kludgey editor that crashed my computers. Nobody likes being forced to do things.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Confessions of a Blogger

The reality as I see it is that most blogs have no readers--or few, if any. The lion's share of traffic consists of bots. Bots with bad intentions, mostly--content scrapers and hackers angling for derivative traffic. ?!Buzzword?! What is "derivative traffic," igor? Well, pardon my jargon, but derivative traffic is traffic that derives from somebody else's labor--writing, photos, what-have-you. Capiche? There are sites on the Internet that have stolen my content, such as it is, despite what may be regarded as its uncertain value. There are many sites on the Internet that rate my site, analyze my site, give every manner of statistics, and give previews and archival history of my site. All of that comes from bot traffic, from unattended software programs hammering this site day after day collecting data.

On this blog, my best estimation is that 90% of the hits are non-human bots. Of the humans that do hit the blog, most are searching for answers to narrow technical questions, and most hit about a dozen different posts that are the most popular posts on my blog. That would include the Dungeon Crawl Cheat, although I don't know how many Dungeon Crawlers actually bother installing the batch file nowadays. Not many people know what batch files are anymore, and I reckon those that don't would be worried about a virus. The batch file is useful mainly for my own purposes. I can't imagine playing Dungeon Crawl without it. I like to have control over death. Isn't that a natural human desire?

Why so many bots? I get asked that question often, especially when I explain that ninety out of a hundred hits to any given web site are non-human. Well, hackers figured out a long time ago that they could exploit weaknesses in human nature and in search engine technology to drive traffic to their own web sites, where they make money off advertising, install malware, flog some worthless software, or just increase the value of an url that they plan to sell later.

Gee, igor, that sounds like an easy way to make money! How come you don't do it? Ha-ha, I've thought about that and a lot of other easy ways to make money. I won't say I'm above temptation. But even though our government sets such a poor example, I still find some value in ethics. I don't want my legacy to consist of crap web sites and increased distortion and confusion on the Internet. I've always been on the other side of that war and have invested too much effort in fighting bots to change hats now. I suspect the government is behind some of these bots, using them in an effort to monitor and exert some degree of control over the flow of information.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What Bing Means to Me

I detest Yahoo and Bing. The acronym "Bing" stands for Bastion of Incompetence, Negligence and Gross impairment. Yahoo and Bing are one and the same as far as search results are concerned.

My strong feeling against these two search engines is in reaction to their stubborn insistence to index every last page on a web site, even those pages that the site owner has specifically disallowed in robots.txt. I discovered tonight that #2 in the Yahoo and Bing results for a search term for one of my web sites was the very bot-trap that I had disallowed in my robots.txt. The bot-trap should never, ever, under any circumstances be indexed by any search engine. The reason that Bing and Yahoo index it is because they are stupid, stubborn and ignorant. There is no other conceivable reason. I understand how the rules work in robots.txt. Google understands. Yahoo and Bing do not understand. I do not have time enough in my day to teach those corporations how to code their search engine. They are just going to have to teach themselves.

However, the incompetence of Yahoo and Bing caused a problem for me. I don't want innocent humans clicking on a search result in Bing and getting banned from my site. My first thought was to disallow Bing and Yahoo altogether and get de-indexed from those seach engines, which send so little traffic they are scarcely worth worrying about. However, some people don't know any better and get suckered into installing a toolbar that connects them to Yahoo or Bing.

My solution was simple and elegant. First, I renamed my bot-trap. The new name will not be disclosed anywhere. Yahoo and Bing won't be able to find it unless they stoop to dirty tricks and get banned. They might just do that. If the new bot-trap name shows up, then I may resort to banning Yahoo and Bing altogether, which was my first plan of action.

However, for the time being, the #2 search result that formerly led to my bot-trap now leads to a page that simply informs the user that Yahoo or Bing has caused an error, and they should use Google instead. A link to Google.com is thoughtfully provided.

My problem has now become Yahoo and Bing's problem. They lose face, rather than the other way around, and that's the way it should be.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Wordpress Security Vs. Wordpress Search Ranking

Wordpress security is sometimes at loggerheads with a site's search ranking. There are many tricks and tips recommended by security wonks that will actually decrease a site search ranking, such as banning all hits to xmlrpc.php, or disallowing various paths in robots.txt. I've experimented over the last several days and learned what works and what is counter-productive. I do not believe it is wise to ban hits to xmlrpc.php, and I do not think web admins should second-guess Google when it comes to directing robots. Google knows what it is doing, for the most part, and additional rules make Google angry, in a manner of speaking. I watched my site plummet from #2 in search rankings for a particular term to #5 after adding a lot of rules to robots.txt. Needless to say, I yanked those rules right out!

There is such a thing as having enough or even too much security. With regular backups of the database and the files, I am not inclined to follow all of the recommendations set forth by Perishable Press, one of the few sites I regularly follow. I view Perishable's advice in the way of guidelines and educational material. The author has a knack for explaining technical issues without resorting to jargon, with a humorous style reminiscent of Stephen King--the American vernacular, gotta love it--and he offers excellent examples on .htaccess. He is my "go-to" site when I am confused about arcane .htaccess syntax, which is often, because .htaccess syntax is unintuitive. I use some of his security tips, but not all, because some cause problems. I am also concerned that perhaps other problems may be created that I cannot detect, problems that may become evident in the future after I add a new plug-in or there's a new update to Wordpress.

Perishable's .htaccess code is sometimes compressed in a way that makes it difficult to debug or understand what is being done. Perhaps that is a form of showing off or maybe the intention is for the code to execute faster, but I'd prefer to sacrifice efficiency for readability and ease of maintenance.

I am no stranger to compressing code. I won a little contest back in the '80s, getting my name and program published in a national magazine. The challenge was to code a BASIC program that did something cool in only one line. Each BASIC statement could be separated by a colon (:), and GOTO 0 was allowed. But was this a useful or helpful skill? Maybe. This sort of experience may have helped me become a better maintainer of other people's spaghetti-code programs, which comprised a large portion of my career. I rarely had difficulty finding and fixing bugs.

I think Apache wrote the language for .htaccess back when every byte mattered, and in order to save a couple bytes, they made the language cryptic and anti-human. I much prefer languages such as COBOL, batch/script, or BASIC for their sheer readability. I never was a fan of C++, even if it is twice as fast. In my opinion, buy a faster computer, if you need speed. When programming languages are easier to understand and to code, then greater deeds may be wrought by human minds and with far fewer bugs. That's my philosophy about programming. I have indeed worked with extremely cryptic computer programming languages--assembler, no less. I am merely stating my own preference as a programmer and user. It's nice to be able to look at source code and figure out what is going on in just a few moments. Maybe my opinion does not dovetail with job security for those programmers already entrenched in cryptic languages, but it seems rather obvious to me.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Jonesin' for Wordpress 3.6

I eagerly await the overdue release of Wordpress 3.6 and moreover the twentythirteen theme. I haven't updated my Wordpress theme in ages, and I feel like now's the time, especially since I have time on my hands. The twentythirteen theme is supposed to offer superior support for mobile devices. I don't use one, but so many people do that of course I want to keep those people happy.

Yet another part of me wonders whether it is wise to join the other lemmings leaping into 3.6. Perhaps it is better to remain with the tried and true 3.5.1 and wait to see how 3.6 pans out in terms of security and stability. Perhaps I should give the hacking community time to find all the weaknesses in the next release. I don't know. I think if I backup on a regular basis, then I can deal with whatever may arise.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Blexbot Content Scraper is Really Nielsen Media Research

I had great difficulty finding detailed information online about an IP address, 216.176.177.162, that appeared in my site log over ten thousand times. But now that IP address is cold busted. It belongs to Nielsen Media Research, a pack of content scrapers. They do not wish to be identified as such, and so they lie, and call themselves a random name like Blexbot. Tomorrow they will be clexbot, and the day after that, wmu-bot. What are Content Scrapers? They are greedy bots that attempt to grab every piece of data from a given site. Interesting bits of this data are then grouped together and sold to companies, governments, or individuals. In short, they grab content and try to profit from it. They do not send traffic. They should be banned by every site, no question about it.

Lookie what the scumbags are doing on a Wordpress site:
216.176.177.162 - - [29/May/2013:06:21:13 -0800] "GET /password HTTP/1.1" 404 2438 "-" "BLEXBot"

216.176.177.162 - - [29/May/2013:06:21:16 -0800] "GET /signup?context=webintent HTTP/1.1" 404 2438 "-" "BLEXBot"

216.176.177.162 - - [29/May/2013:06:21:18 -0800] "GET /reg/join HTTP/1.1" 404 2401 "-" "BLEXBot"

216.176.177.162 - - [29/May/2013:06:21:21 -0800] "GET /forgot_password HTTP/1.1" 404 2438 "-" "BLEXBot"

They're not just content scrapers, they're malicious hackers. Those 404's you see above? That code means they're making up links as they go along, running them up the flag pole to see if anybody salutes. Meanwhile, the web admin gets to have fun wondering what's wrong with his web site that all of these 404 errors are popping up. (There were many more than just the above examples.)
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions