Archive for April, 2007

http:bl – A new way to protect you email address

April 25th, 2007

The problem of spam has now got silly and there are many people doing many things to reduce it. Personally I use some simple javascript on my contact page to generat my email address on the browser to prevent it from being harvested, and that works rather will, although I would never put my personal email address on a web site. I have also been playing with BoxBe that requires users to interact to sent the mail to me. That is also working well, but it appears many users can not be bothering to follow the process through and email is not getting to me.

Following a discussion with a friend I started using Project Honeypot to try and trap these harvesting spam bots by feeling varying email addresses to each IP address visiting our sites and then seeing which of these addresses get spam sent to them. This has also worked well, but other than seeing the breakdowns of where the spam is coming form it has been of no use until now. Currently Project Honeypot are releasing an announcement every day this week and today http:bl was announced. This is a similar service to email DNS block lists but lists the servers that look for email addresses and not the ones sending the spam email.

I have produced some demonstration PHP that will make it easy for most people to contact me normally (still using the javascript), but make it harder (probably using BoxBe) for people and bots coming from suspect IP addresses. Click for my http:bl example code.

Update: Yes it will work if you are using OpenDNS. This is why I check the first address octet is 127.

My search history

April 24th, 2007

Google have introduced the Web History service so if you are logged in to your Google account you can see what you searched for on Google. You can also see what sites you have visited if you have the Google Toolbar installed and enabled, but I do not use this feature for privacy reasons, although if the data was regulated under UK legislation and could be removed by request I probably would.

The result were quite interesting. Apparently I have made 9,283 Google searches since November 5th 2005 and the top ten are…

  1. cacher of the month
  2. high orbit podcast
  3. Alistair MacDonald
  4. ne1fm
  5. alistair macdonald
  6. dabbar
  7. catcher of the month
  8. digifusion
  9. cranky geeks
  10. NE1 2SW

I can split these searches down in to three categories. First things like “cacher of the month” and “high orbit podcast” are sites that I use semiregularly and can not remember the web site URL. I search things like dabbar, ne1fm and my name to keep track of what others are saying about them (and me). The third category is just things that I have needed to find and only “digifusion” appears in the top 10, but considering the ad hoc nature of searching the only surprising thing about this is that anything for this category appears in the top ten list.

For reference “NE1 2SW” is the postcode for my office that I often use as a starting point on Google maps, so I guess those queries are logged as well.

Windows ME is OSX…

April 22nd, 2007

…if you believe Windows Update.

I have just run the restore disks on my old Sony Vaio laptop so I can do some Windows development for hardware incomparable with XP. When I came to do the essential Windows update (after upgrading to IE6) I got the message…

Thank you for your interest in obtaining updates from our site.

This website is designed to work with Microsoft Windows operating systems only.
To find updates for Microsoft products that are designed for Macintosh operating systems, please visit

All is not lost as I did manage to find an unofficial service pack with the most recent updates and hotfixes.

Hack Day

April 19th, 2007

This is a quick post to let you know about Hack Day on the 16th and 17th of June in Alexandra Palace London. All the information is on the web site so I will not waffle on. I have signed up and appear to have made the cut, so if you do as well and live close by then get in touch and we can car pool.

New York to London

April 18th, 2007

Have you used Google Maps to travel across continents? Someone suggested I have a go at planning a trip from New York to London. It worked well, although 3,462 mile swim across the Atlantic ocean in instruction 37 may take most of the predicted 29 days and 10 hours journey.

You can check this on Google Maps if you don’t believe me.

Some sad news

April 8th, 2007

On Friday Gillian and I broke up.

I am obviously upset by this and and taking a little time out as a result, so please expect things to be a little more behind schedule than normal.

It is our hope to retain our friendship that we had for a long time before getting romantically involved.