SH Sean Harding/blog
Spam stats
Thursday, February 13th, 2003

I added a simple little widget in the right column of the front page to list the percentage of my email that was spam yesterday and the long-term average percentage of spam I’ve been receiving.

The definition of "spam" here is simple: it’s what SpamAssassin tags as spam. That means the count will include some false positives, and it’ll miss a few pieces of spam. But my experience with my configuration suggests that these numbers largely cancel each other out. I think it’s close enough for my purposes.

There are a couple of other factors here that may make the spam percentage lower than it otherwise would be. I have a large list of blacklisted domain names and netblocks in my Sendmail configuration. I’m not using anything like MAPS RBL here. I’ve just constructed a list based on where a lot of my spam seems to come from. It’s been pretty effective for me (it’s currently blocking an average of 20,000 spam messages a month). It’s hard to say how many of those messages would truly have gotten through to me; some of them are sure to be dictionary attacks or otherwise sent to invalid addresses. But I have no doubt that my spam percentages would be significantly higher without the blacklists there.

Also, I’ve used temporary autogenerated addresses for a lot of things like posting on Usenet. And my main web page currently has uniquely-generated email addresses on each page. Those are real addresses — mail sent to them will get through to me. But their nature makes it very easy for me to disable any that I find to have been harvested by spammers. While I’m not currently taking advantage of it, I do also have the capability to make those addresses work only for a short period of time. If the spam flood from them becomes too much of an nuisance, I may turn that on. It seems unlikely to seriously inconvenience legitimate users and if the time window were small enough, it would make the addresses useless for spammers.

Update 2003-04-30:

I added some information on my blacklist blocking to the spam stats box on the main page. Some of the blacklist information is discussed above. Since I wrote that, I’ve started using the Spamhaus SBL blacklist. At the time of this writing, it accounts for a very small percentage of my overall blacklist blocked messages.

Married by America???
Wednesday, February 12th, 2003

Fox has a new reality show coming up called "Married by America." In the interest of full disclosure, I’m going to admit right up front that I like a lot of the reality shows that have been put out over the past few years. Even ones that were widely reviled. I watched the Big Brothers. I love Survivor. And while I haven’t gotten excited about them like I have some of the others, I’m not offended by the various "marriage" shows. But based on the history of those shows, it seems pretty obvious to me that none of these marriages will ever last.

Ok, ok, that should have been obvious before any of the shows hit the air. But at least viewers could have fantasies that the televised marriages would actually mean something — that the participants would live "happily ever after." At this point, I think even the fantasies have been crushed. Every reality show marriage so far has ended just as promptly as the shows did. So, what’s the point? Everyone knows, without a doubt, that this "marriage by america" is going to fail. We know it’ll probably fail within a month, and there’s no way it’ll last a year. Knowing that, I’d argue that it doesn’t even qualify as a real marriage. It’s just as much fiction as the marriage of Monica and Chandler on Friends. Maybe even more so; at least Courtney Cox Arquette and Matthew Perry have known each other for years.

Without any illusion of reality, why would anyone watch this show? There’s no character development. The story line, if there is one, depends on the supposed "reality" of the situation being presented. That’s gone, so I don’t see how the show can succeed. It makes me wonder: are Fox’s programming folks desperate or oblivious? Or maybe they know something I don’t. I guess we’ll find out in a few weeks.

Good or bad? Maybe both.
Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

In pointing to a BBC article solicting photographs from the public, Dave Winer says: "They are welcoming amateur journalists."

That the are, but I can’t help but notice something else they’re doing: getting content for free when they would normally have to pay someone for it…

100 Stories
Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

Mark has begun posting an amazing collection of stories. I think this is really fabulous work. For me, it’s gems like these that make the web worth all the annoyance and frustration.

I encourage you to take a look. I think it will be worth your while.

Free lunch
Tuesday, February 11th, 2003

Rob at Cockeyed has an interesting new report on pyramid schemes. I always want to think that no one is stupid enough to fall for these things, but I’m proven wrong time and time again.

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