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Astonish Me!

Fighting Spam

June 20th, 2006  · stk

Your b2evolution blog is a target for SPAM. What SPAM-fighting tools are out there? What works? Here's an up-to-date list of the SPAM-fighting techniques for your blog, with links to instructions and a synopsis of their effectiveness.

SPAM is a Four Letter Word

stop spam

If you have a blog, it doesn't matter what software or service you use, once you begin blogging, you'll discover two things:

• Thing 1: You are now a webmaster.

• Thing 2: Your blog is a target for SPAM.

You didn't sign up for these things! You don't care about htaccess, PHP, JavaScript, XHTML, validation, web standards, CSS and the like! You just want to blog, have it all "work" and for spammers to leave you alone, gosh darn it.

If life were like that, you wouldn't need articles like this one. The fact is, if you want to keep SPAM off your blog website, you'll need to play an active roll in defending it, or hire someone to do it for you.

Like those who dump garbage in the forest, SPAMmers are scum. Like the garbage dumpers, a SPAMmer has no regard for others. Their only thought is that SPAM allows them to send their bogus offers and get rich schemes to suckers at a very low cost.

-Ian Kaplan

SPAM works like this: Blog developers build tools into their (often free) applications to keep SPAM away, then SPAM developers (the enemy) find a way to defeat it, selling their software to people who use it to leave SPAM on your blog. The SPAM helps these people sell something (typically medications or website memberships, but it could be anything). By leaving a link with keywords, they get "inbound links", better page rankings, and possible click-through customers, which, in turn, means that anyone looking to buy their product, finds their site, on page one, of a web search.

Fighting SPAM is like a game of leap frog. A new version of blog software comes out with anti-spam methods that work. Everyone is happy ... until the methods are defeated. Bloggers are left to fend for themselves, until the next major release of blog software comes out, which starts the cycle over again.

This is where we are with b2evolution. The new version (Phoenix) will have some nifty tools to aid in the battle against spammers, but it's not quite ready for prime time. So what's a b2evolution blogger to do?

What are the SPAM defense options? What works? What doesn't?

This article presents a list of known SPAM defenses, with links to information about each, a description of the pros and cons associated with the technique and a brief synopsis of their effectiveness. I first posted the list on the b2evolution forums, but because posts get buried so quickly there, decided to keep an up-to-date list, with more detail, here.

Why me? I'm no SPAM guru. What I've learned, I've learned from necessity. I don't like spammers, I do like to "noodle around" and learn and I like helping others. So, there you are. If you find a mistake or know of a technique I don't mention, please leave a comment or contact me.

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Updated: 13-Feb-2011
Web View Count: 14968 viewsLast Web Update: 13-Feb-2011

Google Spell-Check Plugin

May 30th, 2006  · stk

AstonishMe! brings you "Google Spell-Check Plugin", adding spell-checking capabilities to your b2evolution (v1.0+) posts and comment forms. It uses Google's API and has many similar features to the Gmail spell-checker. It supports 8 different languages. Learn more.

 AstonishMe! Google Spell Plugin

An AstonishMe! Public Release

If you want to get a really nifty spell checker for your b2evolution blog, then look no further than AstonishMe!

Now publicly available, our "Google Spell-Check Plug-in" is a back-office and comment form spell-checker, which uses the Google Spell-Check API. If you use Gmail, then you're already familiar with the interface, as ours has the same look-and-feel and uses the same dictionary. It's a piece of cake to install, easy as pie to use and makes for a delicious add-on to your b2evolution blog.

To learn more about "Google Spell-Check" and obtain your copy, continue on ...

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Updated: 23-Feb-2008
Web View Count: 29790 viewsLast Web Update: 23-Feb-2008

Casio EX-Z850 Video Problems

May 11th, 2006  · stk

After buying a new Casio EX-Z850 digital camera, I was disappointed to find that the video quality wasn't as good as its predecessor. See for yourself.

Comparing video with the EX-Z750

When it was time to buy a new digital camera, I zoomed in on the Casio EX-Z750. After reading Ken Rockwell's review, it seemed that this camera had everything I wanted. Then I found out that the EX-Z850 was new to the market and I hunted down a good deal. I figured the EX-Z850 would be an improvement on the EX-Z750. Not in everything, apparently.

Shortly after ordering it, I read that the EX-Z850's video wasn't up to par, compared with the EX-Z750. These observations came from Casio Talk and Mike Davidson. The delivery truck was on its way from the United States to Canada, so I could only wait.

After receiving the camera, I tried it out. I liked the large, bright LCD screen, anti-shake function, superb ergonometrics, quick response, long battery life and past movie mode. But I had nothing to compare the video against. So, I went out locally and purchased a EX-Z750GY (a grey body and one of the few remaining EX-Z750's in town, as it is no longer being manufactured). If fact, Casio recently announced a newer 10 Mega-Pixel model.

Read on for the video comparison...

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Updated: 16-Oct-2007
Web View Count: 25160 viewsLast Web Update: 16-Oct-2007
Filed in:b2evo
Web Dev·The Web

A Target on Your Blog

May 9th, 2006  · stk

How about this: Software that targets b2evolution blogs and ONLY b2evolution blogs! We're talking comment SPAM here, folks. Ever wonder why you spend so much time deleting comments from your blog? Find out more ...

b2evolution Comment Spam Software

b2eblogger

Did you know that you can buy software specifically for spamming b2evolution blogs? How about that "howdy-do" with your morning coffee? Just think of all those SPAM messages you spend time deleting from your blog. Perhaps many are coming from this software?

It's enough to make steam come out of your ears.

Of course, if the programming is crafted as well as the banner ad (notice the spelling error?), then b2evolution owners don't have too much to worry about.

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Updated: 20-Jun-2011
Web View Count: 14776 viewsLast Web Update: 20-Jun-2011

Lights Out, Nobody Home

April 26th, 2006  · stk

SiteGround Suspends Randsco.com

We had been experiencing FTP problems at our hosting service, SiteGround, for several days. I opened a support ticket and was working at solving the problem (automatic disconnection after less than a minute of inactivity) when, all of a sudden, our site went down.

This has happened before and service is usually restored in a ... matter of minutes. As usual, I spot checked site access at Alertra (checking availability from a half-a-dozen world-wide locations). Nothing but errors. It was not our ISP. Randsco was definitely down.

I submitted a trouble ticket and received the usual prompt reply from SiteGround, only a few minutes later. The contents were unexpected:

Hello Alertra,

Your account [is] currently limited. I will now forward your ticket to our abuse department.

LOL ... my name isn't "Alertra"! What does "limited" mean? The Abuse department?

Our site remained down, as I patiently waited for word from SiteGround. A half-hour later, I received the following email/ticket entitled "Abuse".

Dear Scott,

During the last 24 hours your website ... overloaded the server several times ... dangerous for the other users ... transferring your website to a special server ... will take up to 24 hours ... website will remain accessible ... but will [have] some limitations ... may result in occasional server error messages. ... will NOT experience any downtime ... Once the transfer is completed you will be notified ...

Best Regards,

And just like that, Randsco was off the 'net.

If you have a shared hosting account, or have shared hosting and your site has overloaded a server, you will be interested to read about our experience and "post mortem" of the event ...

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Updated: 28-May-2006
Web View Count: 10054 viewsLast Web Update: 28-May-2006