A quick glance at the folder where my computer puts stuff it thinks is spam shows I’m getting a lot more of it lately (about 5 or 6 spams per day, right now, with more at weekends). The amount coming into the “spamtrap” addresses which report spam to the Distributed Checksum Clearinghouse for the benefit of the world at large seems to be going up too. The DCC works by counting how many times a particular message text has been seen in the wild. Messages with a high count are either spam or legitimate bulk email, so you need to whitelist the mailing lists you’re on so as not to filter them by accident. Every other bulk email that you didn’t ask for (and whitelist) is spam, by definition.

I’m actually doing some good with the spamtraps, as my computer is getting stuff which doesn’t already have a high count and maxing out its count as it sees it.

I can’t imagine what it’d be like for someone whose address appears somewhere on the web or Usenet and who doesn’t have any filters. It looks like it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

If you have a LiveJournal, you’re a blogger. It’s short for “web logger”, you see. The Register writes that most bloggers are teenage girls. “Teenage girls of all ages”, they add, pointing to examples of grown men throwing tantrums, dieting, experimenting with alcohol, and, for all I know, giggling and going gooey over that bloke from Alias.

The Register is a tabloid, and as such they love to build things up, buttercup baby, just to knock them down. Blogs never deliver what they say they will, the Register says, pointing to the exciteable speculation of the professional bloggers, who apparently think they’re the vanguard of a revolution in communication in which the centralised corporate meeja will be the first against the wall.

This is all pretty reasonable. The number of people on the Internet is very much larger than the number of people who care enough to read any given web log, and the number of people on the Internet is very much smaller than the number of people. So the revolution will not be blogged, fair enough. But then it all gets a bit nasty.

…blogging is a solitary activity that requires the blogger to spend less time reading a book, taking the dog for the walk, meeting friends in the pub, seeing a movie, or reading to the kids. The reason that 99.93 per cent of the world doesn’t blog, and never will, is because people make simple information choices in what they choose to ingest and produce, and most of this will be either personal and private, or truly social.

Maybe blogs are a way of keeping the truly antisocial out of harm’s way. So if you know a middle-aged sociopath, for heaven’s sake, point him to a computer and show him how to start a weblog.

At least it will keep him off the streets.

This is going away from the worthy task of pricking the pretensions of those blogging advocates and getting close to the old Saturday Night Live sketch about how some people need to “get a life”. The Register’s problem is that it fails to differentiate between people trying to get attention for their revolution and friends who are just quietly doing their thing. No-one thinks any step away from talking face to face is an absolute improvement. But given the constraints of distance and free time, alternatives like the telephone, email, instant messenger, and even a LiveJournal might be the next best thing. Every time some new way of taking that step turns up, people regard it as slightly odd. Back in 1994, it used to be that knowing email addresses off by heart was “sad”, but knowing telephone numbers wasn’t.

Letters, phone calls, email, Drogon, and this blog thingy are useful as long as there are friends using them. It’s not a revolution, it’s more of the same. Blog like no-one’s watching, because to a first approximation, you’re right.

Trying out the Charm LiveJournal client, as it’ll let me edit postings locally rather than using a web browser, so I can use Vim to edit them. And it’s written in Python, which earns it geek credibility. I suppose I should find something to say while I’m here.

The controversial Drogon sex discussion featured this rather good version of a Madonna song (perfectly safe for work, viewers, but needs Flash and sound).

Should male Cambridge Dancers’ Club members have perse-girl on their list of interests, I wonder?

The news from Drogon land:

Please be aware that some people come from an oppressed background and culture and may not appreciate open and frank discussions on subjects such as sex in a public place in Drogon. But you can’t win, as even if you then took those conversations into private, some individuals would then whinge that they were being excluded. Life sucks.

I knew I shouldn’t have suggested Mild Green Fairy liquid as a hand lubricant.

Vernon Schyrver is being typically acerbic in about whether this Anti Spam Research Group is ever going to go anywhere. Given Vernon’s annoying habit of being clever and right, it seems likely that non-techies are doomed to get spam until their mailbox collapses under the weight. When I work up the courage, I’ll ask him whether he thinks the hashcash idea might work if there were some way for people on slow machines to pay their ISP to do the computation for them. This seems more likely to work than the mythical micropayments systems which people always suggest, since you’re dealing with an organisation with which you already have some kind of billing arrangement.

Danny O’Brien (of NTK fame) linked to a posting by someone who gets why I write stuff to filter the crap that works on Windows for people who aren’t very technical: This time we said it would be different, remember? If I can manage to concentrate this evening, might do some more work on another Spampal plugin.

Seeing as a few friends seem to be getting into LiveJournal, I’ll mention that Friendster seems to be the new SixDegrees (anyone remember that). I’m tempted.

Allen sent me a link to an archived version of the old index page for my old machine,, which got me nicely nostaligic for a bit:

Three broad categories of people tend to get accounts:

  • Friends who know more about Linux than me and can help out with sysadmin stuff.
  • People I know who don’t have Unix access elsewhere.
  • Women I am trying to impress.

That last one never worked, of course.

In other news, girlie is ill and so I have spent most of today watching crappy TV, reading and playing on Drogon. I should write some code for nilsimsa or the POP3 filtering proxy thing, but I can’t be bothered. Work tends to suck the enthusiasm out of me at the moment.

Sainburys spam made the Register:

This had nothing to do with me emailing the editor, of course 🙂 (Actually, I bet a few other people did the same thing, but every bit helps).

So, Thom gave me a magic cookie and I made myself an account. Not entirely sure what I will use it for yet, but I expect I’ll think of something.

Things done today:

  • Work
  • Successfully got Sainsburys listed in SPEWS, as well as their spamming friends (well, I may have had a bit of help, but I claim that posting to and with the subject line “ATTN SPEWS” might have tipped it). Major supermarket chains quake at my words, I tell you.
  • Went to Ed and Jacqui’s engagement party in some forgotten sub-basement of Trinity. There was glitter and dips and friends and people I’ve not seen for a while, so that was good. Danced one cha-cha but was wearing wrong sort of shoes so could not spin.