perception & censorship

I’ve been thinking a bit about perception recently, both in the context of starting a new job in a new town, and in the context of online personas. I am rarely truly aware of how I am perceived by others, and often I move through life oblivious to how my words or actions might come across to someone who does not know me well.

New situations make me nervous, and when I’m nervous, I often find myself babbling inanely until someone more sociable is able to skillfully maneuver the conversation to something more suitable. I’m hyper-aware of this now that nearly every day presents a new situation, which makes me even more worried that I’ll say or do something stupid.

The thing is, I’m generally a good person. I try hard to find common ground with those around me, and I’m fairly open to criticism or “learning experiences.” I can also be cranky and a bit mouthy, but usually only when I’m frustrated or pushed over my tolerance limit. Long-time readers of this blog may have picked up on all of this, but there’s no way for me to know for sure. I just have to hope that as I have grown as a person over the past five years, so has the representation of me through my writing.

This brings me to the topic of censorship. I would like to state clearly, for the record, that I do not censor comments on my blog, unless they are spam or trackbacks from splogs. Those things are evil and should be destroyed. Comments that are not spam are freely posted, regardless of their content.

One of the reasons why I moved from the MovabeType blog software to WordPress was because I was getting 50+ spam comments an hour caught in the clunky spam filter used by MT. This made it a nightmare to check, and often I just deleted them all without making sure that no legitimate comments were accidentally marked as spam. Since I rarely get comments, I wasn’t too concerned with that, anyway.

However, several people have indicated that they thought I was censoring comments on this blog because I didn’t want anyone who disagrees with me to comment here. The folks who told me this are friends whom I trust, and it surprised me that they would make that sort of assumption. Again, this is a problem with perception verses reality.

Do I come across as someone who does not want criticism? I hope not. Sure, like anyone, I prefer to have constructive criticism, but that is a difficult thing to get in the virtual world where it’s much easier to make snarky comments or flame someone than to have a real conversation where everyone feels like their perspective is heard.

All this is to say, please, do comment here. If there is an old post that you’d like to comment on and you discover that commenting has been disabled for it (an old setting I used to limit spam), send me a note and I’ll open it up.

MT 3.2

For those reading this via RSS, I appologize for the repeat entries that went through today. I just upgraded to MovableType 3.2, which refreshed my index pages, including the feed. I must say, I’m quite impressed with the snazzy new look for the admin interface, as well as the relatively simple upgrade installation. I’m also looking forward to reducing the trackback spam via the new plugin integrated into version 3.2.

gmail coolness

I have recently switched my personal emailing entirely over to my Gmail account. In the past year, I’ve been using it for Where’s George hit notifications, Geocaching.com messages, and new BookCrossing messages and journal entry notifications. I continued to use my SpamCop webmail account for other personal emailing. However, when it came time to renew my account ($30/yr), I decided that it was time to move on. I’ve found that changing my email address every few years keeps the spam down. Even with the excellent spam filters, I was getting 10-15 spam messages a day sent to my SpamCop account, some of which were not filtered to the Held Mail folder. In the past 15 days that I’ve been using Gmail exclusively for all of my non-work emailing, I’ve been very happy with it. It’s managing threads of conversations much better than any email system I’ve used in the past. And, since it’s a relatively new account, I have gotten maybe fifteen spam messages in the past year. Not bad.

This past year, I received permission to set up a book exchange bookshelf in the group study area in the library. It’s not exactly an OBCZ, but it functions as such. I set up a separate account on BookCrossing and started registering books left there using that account rather than my regular one. I had been using my work email for that account, but I felt a bit uncomfortable about it. Also, I suspected that sometimes private messages and journal entry notifications were not getting through the campus email filters. I thought about setting up a Gmail account for that, but the idea of having to check yet another email account did not appeal to me. Then I realized I could just have everything forwarded from the library BookCrossing email account to my regular Gmail account. Brilliant! In no time I had the second account set up and forwarding messages. Thank you, Google!

new look

Come check out the new look for my blog, if you aren’t already viewing it now.

Come check out the new look for my blog, if you aren’t already viewing it now. I went through all of the templates and really tweaked them to fit with what I wanted. I used the Color Schemer to tweak the colors, and I found it to be quite a handy free tool.

Also, from now on, I won’t be using CloseComments. I don’t have an easy way to open comments on older entries, and with over 350 entries, I’m not going to do it manually. I plan to let MT-Blacklist moderation catch the comment spam. If that doesn’t work, I’ll go back to closing comments older than fifteen days.

degunking your gunk

New email users and those overwhelmed by the size of their inboxes will find this book useful.

Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses by Jeff Duntemann

Duntemann is a co-founder of Paraglyph Press, the publisher of this how-to computer book. His previous publications include Degunking Windows (Paraglyph) and Assembly Language Step-by-Step (Wiley), and he has been writing technical books for the geeks and the plebes for many years. I was immediately drawn to the accessible, common language used in the book. Although, I did find it difficult that he tends to use some non-standard terms several times before actually defining them (ie mailbase).

Continue reading “degunking your gunk”

comment spam: bragging too much

Shoulda kept my mouth shut…

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve bragged a bit about how I haven’t gotten any comment spam since early August. I should have known better. I’ve been hit by about ten or so comment spam messages in the past few days, despite all the nifty ways I’ve blocked this from happening. Oh, well. A couple of clicks and the spam comment is gone and the URL is blacklisted.

I wonder if the reason why I hadn’t gotten much comment spam until now was because I wasn’t posting much? I’m quite pleased that I’ve managed to keep up with posting something interesting (IMHO) at least five days out of the week this month.

MT comment spam solutions

Comment spam giving you trouble? Try this.

The Digital Librarian has been comment spammed to the point of turning off comments, which is too bad, since I can’t leave a comment for a solution, so I’m writing this here.

I’ve been using a combination of CloseComments and MT-Blacklist since the begining of July, and I’ve had very few comment spams get through. In fact, I haven’t updated my Blacklist since the first part of August, and I might have had one comment spam get through (I can’t remember for sure when that happened). For anyone who has not upgraded to MovableType 3.0, this combination is one of the best for blocking comment spam.

closecomments

Yesterday I returned from spending the day with family to discover that I had been slammed with almost 350 comment spams from the same porn site.

Yesterday I returned from spending the day with family to discover that I had been slammed with almost 350 comment spams from the same porn site. Thankfully it was a quick fix. One entry into MT-Blacklist and I could delete the comments and rebuild the entries in just a few clicks. However, it was still frustrating to have to do this in the first place.

Last week, I discovered another MovableType plugin called CloseComments. You can set this to run everytime you re-build your main index, and it will close comments of older, inactive posts, depending on the variables you choose. I have mine set to close comments on posts older than 15 days and have been inactive for at least one day. I couldn’t get this to work at first, and last night gave me the motivation to figure it out.

The reason why it wasn’t working was that the database behind this blog was in the Berkeley DB format, and not the required SQL format. I didn’t know that there was an easy way to convert them until I did a few Google searches. I did the conversion process last night and in a few days, CloseComments should be doing its thing. Combine this with MT-Blacklist, and you’ll end up with very little comment spam.

Update 7/6/04: Make sure to check MT-Blacklist after the conversion process. I discovered this morning that my blacklist settings had been reset.

spam poetry

Andrei Codrescu on spam poetry.

I am always pleased to hear Andrei Codrescu‘s commentaries on NPR, and last night’s piece on “spam poetry” was no exception. I have been wondering about those bizarre messages that get filtered to my Held Mail folder. My email provider, SpamCop, uses the SpamAssasin software along with other spam filtering programs to keep my inbox clean.