Sunday, June 28, 2009

"Jerry" is a spamtard

In fact he may well leave a spam comment on this post, touting his list of bridalwear sites. As "Jerry" in all likelihood doesn't read English the irony will be lost on him. I'm talking as though "Jerry" is human but probably he is a bot: I seem to remembering reading that somebody had cracked captchas a while back. Certainly "Jerry" has been the only spamtard persistent enough to spam every single post on this site, even my very first one (which possibly makes him the first person to visit that page, ever). "Laptop Battery", "Peter W" and "Eda" are lightweights by comparison.

This sorry state of affairs is my fault. I have allowed comments without moderation because I would rather zap the occasional spam than moderate all the comments. But, until Joel Garry alerted me, I had failed to notice that spamtards were spamming old posts. As Joel said, some of the stuff was nasty, really explicit pr0n sites. So, moderation for older posts is now in effect - it's already caught a couple.

In the meantime I have a large housekeeping task. One post - on multi-core licensing, bizarrely - has over 150 spam comments, and as I have already said, "Jerry" has spammed every single post. It is unfortunate that Blogger does not provide the functionality to delete comments in bulk, despite being desired for several years. So the only option is to delete each spam comment individually, which as Bill Scott has observed, is a rather user hostile design.

The question behind all this is why Blogger doesn't provide the functionality. It's not like it would be hard to offer a list of all the comments with a check box and a Delete All button. The Google forums (they own Blogger) have lots of questions but no useful advice. It is especially puzzling when compared to the excellent way GoogleMail handles spam.

Now I am off to zap a few more comments. With a song in my heart and a smile on my face, naturally.

Update: 19-JUL-2009

Unfortunately my prediction was wrong and "Jerry" didn't post a spam comment to this thread. However, the moderation filter picked up another spamtard trying to post to this thread. The text is so wildly inappropriate that I was almost tempted to publish it:
I'm glad you're back to posting. I love reading about your shopping adventures and great finds. Your outfits are always super cute too!
Thank you, "Julia", your outfits are always super cute too.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Which one would you read?

The digest from one of my LinkedIn groups included a plaintive cry from Bruce Newman, VP of the Productivity Institute, regarding their weekly newsletter. One of the articles in the current issue has been read far more often than all of the others and he would like to know why.

Here is the list: which one would you choose to read first?

  • Why Even Good Marketing Fails - And How To Fix It
  • The Problem Of Self Examination
  • Knowledge Management Systems: It's Not What You Know...
  • It's All In The Details
  • People Drive ERP Systems' Performance
  • Defining A Company's Identity
  • A Violinist In The Metro -- Washington, D.C.

If you are most intrigued by the last title then you are not alone. That's the one which has so troubled Bruce.

To me its appeal is clear: every other title is either vague and bland, or explicit and dull. Only that title arouses the reader's curiosity: it must be about busking in the subway but surely a business tech newsletter cannot publish a piece on such a subject. I expect that the sort of people who subscribe to a newsletter published by The Productivity Institute have inboxes stuffed with mailings about ERP systems; they must appreciate the chance to read something different while still apparently working.

I feared the actual article might not live up to the promise of its title. But fortunately it's worth reading. And the lesson is applicable to VP Bruce Newman's predicament.

Peaking behind the knowledge curtain

After threatening for years to start a blog Martin Widlake has finally put fingers to keyboard. Some of you may recall that I am a fan of his UKOUG presentations. His writing is entertaining and insightful too. Despite his blog being called Yet Another OracleBlog he has not written much on Oracle, but I expect that will come.

In the meantime Martin has revisited "The knowledge curtain", a concept he discussed in one of those UKOUG presentations. The curtain is that barrier of misunderstanding which separates users and IT staff. It is one of the main reasons why some IT projects overrun or exceed budget or fail to fully meet the users' expectations.1 The good news is, the barrier is just a curtain. It's not a wall topped with barbed wire, it's not a shark-filled moat. I won't give away Martin's analysis: you can read it for yourselves

This does seem like a good time to mention something Rob James said at a BCS SPA meeting from a while back. In a discussion about rules engines he observed that these days it is not uncommon for the IT department to have a better understanding of the business than the users. The users only know what the business rules should be: the IT staff know what the computer systems actually do.

1. Whereas the occasional IT catastrophes, the ones which make the headlines, are usually due to a single error.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Real data persistence

Scientists working scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California have developed a chip which can pack data at densities thousands of times greater than current technology. The chips use a "crystalline iron nanoparticle shuttle enclosed within the hollow of a multiwalled carbon nanotube". These chips can store a trillion bits of data per square inch and, due to the nanotubes' thermodynamic stability, can retain the data for a billion years. Now that's what you call persistent.

Apparently the technology could be on the market within the next two years. All we need now is a device for maintaining a Locoscript to Whatever convertor which will last for a similar length of time...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Sun belatedly launches Java App Store

Over on O'Reilly Timothy M. O'Brien reports on the launch of Sun's Java App Store at their JavaOne conference. It seems the store will work1 on the same principle as the iPhone App Store: Java developers upload their apps so that other people can download and pay for them. It's Sourceforge with a cash register. Only it's still in Beta and they haven't decided yet how best to actually collect the money. I can't help feeling that this is emblematic of Sun's general failure to monetize Java for themselves.

As O'Brien describes it the launch seems a maudlin affair, with the triumvirate of Scott McNealy, Jonathan Schwartz and James Gosling talking about how great Java is and what a great future it has. Then the future turns up on stage, in the form of the imperator novus himself, Larry Ellison. Larry says some things about how great Java is and what a great future it has. I note that he picked out JavaFX, Sun's RIA offering which is widely regarded as floundering in the wake of Adobe Flex and MS Silverlight. O'Brien quotes Larry as saying "we're looking forward to is seeing libraries coming out of [the group] that are JavaFX based", and "Thank you James [Gosling], suffering programmers will [thank you] for the rest of their lives because they don't have to program in AJAX any more."

Also, Larry says that "Other than the database which was based on the SQL language which was our origin, everything that sits atop the database, all of our products are based on Java." Is ApEx still a skunk works project?


The Register has its own jaundiced take on Larry's spiel. They also have a more measured take on the technical implications of in switching the Fusion strategy from AJAX to JavaFX.

Update 2

Lucas Jellema has already blogged about this keynote in some depth. He has the advantage of being at JavaOne, rather than gathering stuff second hand.

1. You can find the Java App Store here but - at the time of writing - it is still a private beta so there is not much to see.