Blocking Comment Spam

Comment spam is annoying. Since I sit well below the A-List blogger rung, it isn't my biggest problem in the world. It is just annoying.

The super fine blogware I use has a feature for blocking IP addresses. Lately I have been updating this list with IPs from comment spammers. 90% of these IP addresses originate from China. I'm considering blocking the entire class A IP block for China. If you are a legit visitor who cares about what I write, leave me a comment and tell me how bad of an idea that is.

I'm willing to share my IP list with others. Here is the list as of May 28, 2008:

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Good, now I can buy more music

According to the BBC, Warner music is now making DRM-Free music tracks available on Amazon.com. This makes me happy because I have put off purchasing a lot of music due to the DRM debacle.

Simply put, I don't want to be arbitrarily restricted in my usage of property I've bought and paid for. Imagine the response from Warner if I tried to dictate how they can spend money I paid to them?

"Warner, Purchase a new potted plant and place it in the corporate Headquarters. You will pick the dead leaves from aforementioned plant. You will not water it twice on even numbered days...."

So cheers to Warner. May you make more money as a result of your decision.

Dell Dollars - Fine Print Sucks - Laptops with XP are Hard To Purchase

I am pricing laptops after the Dell C640 died Monday night. I want a the new Mac hardware with Leopard on it. So far, there have been various delays and with the Dell finally going to that great /dev/null in the sky, I believe my hand is forced.

I own a very fine HP laptop and would like another. The problem being HP only offers Vista on their new hardware and I refuse to be a Vista Owner. (If you care why, listen to episodes 73-77 on the SecurityNow podcast. Very enlightening stuff.) Because of my preference, I am limited to the following Laptops:

  • Vostro 1000
  • Vostro 1500
  • Latitude D520
  • Latitude D531

As a Red-Blooded Card-Carrying Capitalist, I am offended to be limited to 4 laptop models. We live in a 'Free Market' Society. The last time I checked, there were 4 Major Laptop vendors and a smattering of lesser known/quality manufacturers. Surely one of them (preferrably HP) can offer XP on their computers.

So after swimming through the injustices and trade offs, I finally select a laptop, configure it to my satisfaction and begin selecting the support options. I normally decline support, but Dell offered a very interesting deal:

view plain print about
1Get $70 Dell Dollars w/3Yr Ltd Warranty and Next Business Day On-Site Svc [add $169]
2Apply Dell Dollars coupon to your next purchase! Discount Details

So I get Three Years Support for essentially $100? Lemme check the fine print:

view plain print about
1With a Dell Dollars coupon*, you can return to Dell.com and redeem your coupon to purchase any products and services through the Dell Small Business online store. You will receive your Dell Dollars coupon with redemption information 4-6 weeks after your order ships.
2
3*One coupon per customer, one time use only. Coupon expires 120 days from date of eligible system purchase.

So they will send me a coupon for 70$ off my next purchase. It will take 4-6 weeks after my order ships. This $70 coupon expires 120 days from "date of eligible system purchase".

I am no expert in accounting, but if there are 10 days between the date of the system purchase and 28-42 days required for arrival of said coupon, there will be somewhere between 68 - 82 days to use the coupon. Man, gotta love fine print.

So for now, I am going to put away the credit card, cancel my $1,400 order from Dell and keep it just me, the HP, the old MacBook, and my new Coaster, the Dell C640. There has to be a better way. I appreciate all advice on the topic.

Missing Features from Gmail

If you asked, I would say I like Gmail a lot. However, I have been yelling at it lately because it is missing some vital features.

Missing Feature 1:

The ability to instantly mark a single email as read. I do not like unread email in my box. I am happy when I see 'Gmail Inbox'. I do not like 'Gmail Inbox(23)' even if I know those 23 emails are garbage. Call me neurotic if you must.

To mark email unread, you can open it, which takes much longer than I want to invest, or you can use the drop down command. The drop down command requires clicking the tiny checkbox on the left, going to the drop down box and selecting 'Mark Read'. Sometimes, I accidently select Mark Unread. Or for more fun, 'Add Star'.

Solution: Add a 'Mark Read' button

I'd be happy to trade either my 'Archive' or 'Mark Spam' button for it. I will settle for a context menu option.

Missing Feature 2:

The ability to ignore future emails in a 'conversation'.

I subscribe to quite a few mailing lists and sometimes I lose interest in a thread. I want to push a button and have all future emails in the thread marked read. This way I am not annoyed by the Unread counter, but I have the message for historical purposes when I want to search through all the mailing list posts for an answer.

Solution: Add an 'I Don't Care' button

Ideally, this would be a button on the same level as 'Archive', 'Delete' and 'Mark Spam'. I certainly would use it more frequently than either of those three. If trading buttons is offsides, I'll settle for a drop down entry.

Attention Google

Lots of people want these two features, just read the comments below! Surely you are busy with your new office suite and don't have time to enhance Gmail. You are welcome to hire me on to help you with this. For a small fee and some stock options, I am sure we can get this worked out.

Spider Pig

I've been humming the tune to Spider Pig all morning. Anybody know where I can get the soundtrack?

Replacing a small laptop computer

A long time ago in a land far far away, my no-brainer choice for new computers was Dell. I recommended Dell systems over the years as the safe option for businesses, friends and neighbors. In the last year, I have made an about face.

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Pricing for Leopard. OSX 10.5

As seen on engaget:

Steve Jobs sez- "We've got a basic version that will cost $129, we've got a Premium Version which will cost $129..." laughter and applause. "We've got a business version! $129. Ultimate version! We're throwing everything into it, it's $129." Can't even hear Steve, too much applause. "We think everyone's going to buy the ultimate version."

Think you are having a bad day, read this!

PAW PAW, Mich. - A man was taken on a wild ride when his wheelchair became lodged in the grille of a semitrailer and was accidentally pushed down a highway for four miles at about 50 mph, authorities said.

The police statement:

view plain print about
1"The man spilled his soda pop, but he wasn't upset," said Sgt. Kathy Morton of the Michigan State Police.


If this was me, the police would have said: "The man was visibly upset and needed several changes of shorts"

You can read the rest of the story for a picture and more details.

Bears in the neighborhood.

At the moment, I live in New Jersey, right where the suburbs of the 'city' meet the countryside. New Jersey is remarkable for a lot of reasons. Today, let us talk of my favorite topic, Bears.

Not the Chicago Bears, mind you, I mean the black fuzzy bears that look so cute you want to reach out and pet them. Of course, you need to have a friend along. Afterwards someone will be transporting parts of your carcass to the hospital. Who better than a friend, right? I digress, Death and Dismemberment notwithstanding, the bears are seriously cute.

For some reason, I seem to attract bears. Maybe I need to change my hair care products, or finally cease wearing the sneakers I've had for 4 years. Regardless, I have 6 bear sightings in less than a year.

I have seen 6 wild bears. 3 I saw on foot. 3, I just saw in my neighborhood as I was leaving for a sandwich.

Professional Bearologists will tell you to leave the bears alone. They say do not follow the bears, stay far away. This is precisely what I did not do.

I followed the bears (doing 1MPH in my car with the window open) across three lots trying to take a sensible picture with my camera phone. I was sure they would jump through the window and start mauling at any second. The thought of getting up close pictures was worth the risk.


As you can tell from the stellar image quality, it was not worth the risk. I should have left the phone in my pocket and just watched the bears.

So now, in place of getting a new MacBook, I am looking for a new cellphone/pda with an excellent camera. I am leaning towards the Blackberry Pearl

Any recommendations, suggestions, personal anectdotes?

External Hard Drive Recommendation

The Western Digital WD5000C032 500 GB external hard drive gets a big thumbs up!

I purchased this drive a few months ago for backing up my laptops. I wanted a HUGE drive for less than $250 and this one fit the bill. I purchased it from Amazon.com and it arrived a few days later. When I opened the box I was impressed how nice the drive looks. Finished in a black enclosure and adorned with a single light in the front, the drive is attractive and very easy to use.

I recommend this drive because it is durable. Very Durable! I had this drive plugged into my computer and the disk was spinning away when I decided to clean off my desk. Like a moron, I picked the drive up by the USB cable to move it and it fell.

Did it fall on the nice, soft carpet? No. It fell 4 feet and hit the wooden baseboard, bounced into my wooden desk and hit the floor. I cringed as it bounced, and bounced again and was convinced the drive was ruined.

I made the promise to myself that if the drive still worked, I would write a post about it. The drive works fine, I actually have it plugged into my computer right now.

Please do not take this post as an open invite to bounce your own hard drive like a basketball. However, in the world of crappy and undependable computer parts, the Western Digital 'My Book' External Hard Drive series has my respect.