Blank Comment Spam

There seems to be a lot of comment spam at the moment where the content is just a pair of <a>  </a> tags with no other content.

The common point linking most of them is their email address being usually an, and a handful with Or more specifically, the following:

There’s been about 76 of these that I’ve found, and they’ve started appearing on Saturday March 15th. To say the least, they are quite unusual compared to the regular spam I’ve been getting. I’m sure with time they may vary those addresses, or something else is going to be launched with this being just a simple system test-run.

Doing a little quick investigation via Google indicates that these aren’t new email spam addresses.

Congrats Hugo!

Wow, Hugo Ortega has been awarded the title of Australia’s first Tablet PC MVP (though, I’d always thought Doc. Neil was the first. But, apparently not!).

Tablet PC Guy

Anyway, congratulations to Hugo!

A much deserved award to a very dedicated Tablet PC advocate.

I still remember about a year ago, Hugo left a comment on a post where I’d lamented about the difficulties of finding a Tablet PC in a retail outlet in Australia.

Also check out Hugo’s YouTube videos.

Oh, and thanks to Ber for the Tablet PC Guy. I got it from him at this years’ MEDC in Melbourne.

Photo taken using my Nikon D70s, and a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 lens.

Aussie blogs listing

Looks like there’s now an Aussie Blogs Index underway and has listed about 764 active Australian blogs.

Don’t really know too much about it at this stage, aside from being a listing of Australian blogs.

I think there will always be more Aussie blogs out there, than listed on any such list. Question is though, why is it important for us to have our very own corner of the web?

Well, for starters, there’s a lot of things that are uniquely Australian, and only fellow Australians would understand it.

And there’s also that Aussie (+Kiwi) Tech blog listing, Tech Talk Blogs.

So it looks like the Aussie blogosphere is slowly gathering up some momentum. Let’s see what happens aye? 🙂

Akismet Rocks

I’ve been using this Comment/Trackback spam stopping plugin for WordPress called Akismet since yesterday.

Thus far, it’s caught 69 comment spams. And all 69 of those were genuine comment spams.

I’m impressed with it thus far.

But since this blog is fairly low on the blog comment traffic, I haven’t noticed any non-spam comments getting stuck.

Sometimes I can get upwards of 150 spam comments per day.

Akismet has been around for a little while now. (About 2 months).

I finally decided to install it after reading lots of success stories in particular, this post by Dougal Campbell titled Poisoning the Well. The type of comments that he mentions are similar to the new batch of comment spam that I’ve noticed lately. These comment spams are becoming a little bit harder to tell apart from those written by people living in countries with really bad English.

The only way that I can actually tell is that 1 out of 5 or so links they post are not-legitimate links.

Jackob Nielson on Weblog usability

I noticed on Memeorandum that Jakob Nielson posted a new article on Weblog Usability.

Here’s a summary of what he says are usability issues of weblogs (The Top Ten Design Mistakes):
1. No Author Biographies
2. No Author Photo
3. Nondescript Posting Titles
4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go
5. Classic Hits are Buried
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
8. Mixing Topics
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service

Some interesting topics in there.

Let’s see, I don’t do number 2. And number 3 happens at times. I try not to do number 4.
Number 5 is an interesting idea. Number 7 happens here quite often (As in, irregular posting pattern).

I’m unsure about number 8. I think if you want to write on more than one topic, just create more specific categories to cover those interests of yours.

I think number 9 is also very very important. Especially in the current age of powerful search engines and the caching of the web. Just look at websites such as which basically, caches things on the web 🙂 Let’s not forget, there’s numerous other services out there that do web and more specifically blog caching.

Google just keeps growing

Looks like Google just keeps on growing.

Michael Still mentioned in his blog that he’s moving to Mountain View to join Google.

Wow! Another smart Aussie aus-dotnet’ter moving to a big company in the US.

He’s probably best known for keeping an archive of the aus-dotnet mailing list on his linux server at home 😛

Let’s see now… Since I started in this industry almost 2 years ago, I’ve seen a few aus-dotnetters heading over to the US.
A few to Microsoft (Chris Garty, David Kean to name a few).

I think Michael’s the first aus-dotnetter I know of going to work at Google. Goodluck Michael!

Morfik Ajax IDE

Saw Morfik mentioned in a recent blog entry at the blog, and have finally had a bit more of a look.

First thing? Had a look at their About Morfik page. What did I see?

Morfik is located in Hobart, Australia.

Wow, innovation from that little island just south of Melbourne 🙂
(And we share the same area code! Victorian numbers are +61 3, as is Tasmania)

Anyway, Morfik looks really interesting. The IDE seems to resemble Visual Studio .NET’s IDE. (Or at least it does to me! … To a certain extent)

They’ll be at the Web 2.0 conference next week, with more details about this app of theirs (they are a sponsor).

Ok, now onto the interesting stuff about this IDE and their JavaScript Synthesis Technology (JST)

From their page:

Morfik offers ground-breaking Javascript Synthesis Technology (‘JST’) that allows developers to use a visual design environment and a high-level language of their choice to create applications comprised purely of HTML and Javascript. This revolutionary technology combined with its tight integration of the browser, a database and web server, uniquely offers developers the opportunity to create web applications that run on the desktop after being unplugged from the web.

Now that’s really blurring the lines between a desktop app and a web app which “lives” inside of a browser. This “JST” it seems gives Morfik the ability to work with an online/offline mode, akin to what’s offered by a Smart Client.

It says you can use an OO language of your choice to implement the business logic. There’s a bit more in this blog post. Which says the supported OO languages are: C++/C#/Java/Delphi.

This could be interesting. But i’ll reserve my judgement until I’ve seen it in action.

A look back at aus-dotnet

From Andrew Coates’ blog:

Aus-DotNet List moving Mail Servers
I just spoke to Dr Pete (Stanski), who runs the Aus-DotNet mailing list and, as per his note to the list a couple of days ago, he’s moved the list to a new ISP and a new server. It seems like the propagation of the MX record is taking longer than expected, but rest assured, there’ll be no requirement to resubscribe. It’ll all be “Seamless” as soon as the DNS system catches up.

On Monday Dr Pete wrote:

Hi Guys,

Yes. We’ve been experiencing a few problems with the mailing list.

The ISP we are using is running out of bandwidth on the server that we are hosting it – due to the size of the list.

During this week we shall be moving the list off to a new server and ISP so that we give you guys 100% uptime. If it all goes smoothly, you should not see any issues (i.e. no need for resubscribing). However, we will have to change the MX records to point to a new SMTP box so that might mean going off the air for about 1 day or so.

Sorry about the inconvenience over the last few days and last 3 weeks when the problems started. But the current ISP has not been the easiest to work with on this issue hence the migration to a different provider that can. Also since the MS Exchange server does not support mailing lists very well (Exchange feature request guys!) we had to find an ISP that could accommodate our mailing list needs. The good news is I think we have once – more details on this will be provided shortly.



What i’m surprised about the most is that there wasn’t any bandwidth issues last year. Both years had quite heavy traffic. But on reflection, this years’ Friday topics had a bit more “bite” to them 🙂

Pretty amazing though, I think the list has been going now for over 3 years (I joined the list in 2002).

The first 5 emails I got from the list were all written by Dr Pete.

Here are the 5 subject titles:

[16/10/2002 6:58pm] 1. XML Spy for VS.NET
[17/10/2002 9:09am] 2. VS.NET six months on – Where are we now?
[17/10/2002 9:29pm] 3. Who needs an Xbox
[17/10/2002 5:42pm] 4. Yet another IDE for ASP.Net
[17/10/2002 6:33pm] 5. Yet another IDE for ASP.Net

As you can see, there was substantial quiet time in between the posts, which would be a bit of a rarity at times these days on the list (except for this current down time).

Just reading through some of the really old posts and I noticed Frank Arrigo‘s old email signature. Below is a comparison with a recent and the oldest one I could find (shortened them both a bit):

Date: Thursday, 31 October 2002 9:04 AM

frank arrigo

group manager, .NET ecosystem

developer and platform strategy group

microsoft australia

Date: Thursday, 18 August 2005 10:47 AM

Frank Arrigo | Microsoft Pty | Group Manager | Developer Platform Evangelism
“Have you hugged a developer today?”


So “Developer and Platform Strategy Group” has been updated to “Developer Platform Evangelism” (DPE).

Pure lowercase has been replaced.

I like the “.NET ecosystem” part though. I reckon it should be used to describe the .NET community environment.

And from the archives in my inbox, it looks like the signature change occured sometime between October 2, 2003 and December 2, 2003.

Over the years I’ve learnt a lot from the list, and i’m sure others have too. I’ve answered a few questions, here and there. Been helped by others on the list. And have gotten to know a few of those on the list via the Melbourne .NET User Group.

Also realised there was a substantial amount of Dr Pete’s former students on there (especially during the early days).

Much thanks to Dr Pete for putting the list up and maintaining it over the years. Well done! 🙂

New wave of blog spamming

Damn, looks like some of those links in the “spam” comments are links to real blogs.

There’s many “abandoned” blogs out there, and it looks like these spammers are taking advantage of them by putting all of their spam links in the comments area of those blogs:

I guess when one thought the “fight” against these spammers was getting under control they’ve started to throw a few new spanners into the mix.

These days all of my comments are moderated because of this spam problem.

Have a read of this blog post for more details about this new form of spamming.

I’ve actually experienced this here. It’s been going on for the past 2 days or so. It looked like a ligit foreign language blog to me at first, and I didn’t think any more of it. Aside from the fact that the comments that were being posted sounded almost word for word with the old spams that were being posted here that I regularly deleted. That’s when things seemed a bit fishy.

So watch out for this new wave of blog spam all!

Ajax talk at VDNUG

I’m presenting this month at the newly formed Victoria .NET User Group (that’s MDNUG+AusDev+Victoria.NET Cluster).

My talk is on Ajax and apart from the general Ajax stuff, i’ll be talking about how to make use of it in ASP.NET applications.

This will be my first presentation at the user group and my first proper presentation since I graduated from uni (end of 2003).

It’ll be on the 21st of September at the Microsoft Melbourne Como Office. And looks like i’ll be the “first on stage”. Or so says the website.

At this point in time, my focus will most likely be around the most “mature” Ajax library available for ASP.NET apps, which is Ajax.NET.
Unsure how much detail I’ll go into. We’ll just have to wait and see on that.

I remember Chris Garty last year before he left was encouraging me to pick a topic and volunteer to give a presentation on the topic. Well Chris, i’m finally going to give my first presentation at the UG. I’ve learnt a lot from the user group, and I guess it’s my turn to give something back to the UG community.

Well the idea for this presentation came about when I was talking with Matt and Elaine about Ajax (after the Sharepoint User Group meeting) and whether they’d done anything using it. Both said no, and wanted to know more about it, so I said I’d see if I can do a presentation for September on it.

Looking forward to giving this presentation to see how I go. I’m sure i’ll be fine. Already have a fairly good idea what I want to talk about. Just need to put all that into a powerpoint deck of some sort. Think i’ll keep the slides to a minimum with brief points that i’ll elaborate on as I go along and planning to have a few demos. (Haven’t decided how many demos i’ll do).