Turkeys and Free Software

I hope everyone had a nice Turkey day. Ours went fairly well. We ate a lot of food, visited with friends and relatives, and ate more tasty food. I also went for four entire days without doing any work. I did stop by my office once but only to check email. Speaking of email, I notice spam levels continue to rise. Our mail server blocked 32,614 spams during November – and I still ended up with 30 or so per day making it to my mailbox. I’d say the majority of the SMTP traffic on our network is now spam.

Well, it turns out that even though DMOZ/ODP provides “open content” they do it using closed software. So no luck with my offer to help them debug the RDF export problem. They had plenty of other offers to help from editors who were also hackers but all the offers of help in the world won’t do any good if they keep their source code secret. I posted links to some Free Software/Open Source propaganda in the hopes it might change a mind or two but I’m not going to hold my breath.

Snow and Spam

I better post this while I’m thinking about it. The last couple of weeks have been way too busy. After a slow December, business really picked up in January and based on the number of new proposals we’ve been cranking out, it hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down yet. Anyway, what’s happened in the last couple of weeks that’s worth telling you about? Hmmm…

I sent a mod_virgule patch to Raph a week or so ago that fixes the duplicate article problem which has been plaguing Advogato. Don’t know if he applied it or not but I’ve been using it on robots.net for a while and haven’t had any dupicate posts.

It actually snowed here in Dallas about a week ago. Real snow like we haven’t had in years. Unfortunately, it was typical Texas weather – 60F one day, heavy snow and 30F the next, and back in the 60s again after that. So most of the snow was gone within 48 hours. But I managed to shoot a few nice photos of it before it melted.

In the never-ending fight to block spam, I’ve finally found a suitable replacement for ORBS. After the demise of ORBS, a whole pile of ORBS clones sprang up and I’ve tried a lot of them. Most had tiny databases, bad data, got too many false positives, or were otherwise unsatisfactory. ORDB, however, has turned out to be the best of the bunch; as good or better than the original. Now, if I could just figure out how to pronounce the name! In addition to ORDB, we’re using SPEWS, the Spamhaus Block List, and our own private block list. We usually block 500-600 spams per day with the current setup (about 90%).

Spam and Other Annoyances

My increased efforts at dealing with the all the spam we’ve been getting lately seems to be having some effect. The good news is that I’ve accumulated a dozen or so “kills” – mostly just throw-away accounts but at least one web site & domain shut down by an ISP. The bad news is that one or more of the spammers seems to have targeted us for a counter-attack. The last several days have seen continued attempts to crack our systems. Mostly by script-kiddies and all unsuccessful so far. I spent the weekend upgrading some of our security measures and will be doing more security work this week.

More Spam

Is it just me or has the volume of spam been increasing lately? I just finished processing this weekends accumulated spam. My usual routine is to track down the origin address (and the spammer’s real address if a URL is provided in the spam). I pass the origin IP to ORBS where I usually find out that it’s a known open relay – though once in a while I get lucky and report one that hasn’t been discovered yet. I then prepare a standard issue NCC nastygram for the the postmasters at the origin site which gets cc’ed to everybody involved up to the nearest tier-1 provider. In rare cases I’ve been able to get a verifiable business address and file an online report with the BBB or FTC. Like most government agencies, the BBB and FTC have so far not been able to do anything other than generate and file paper work.