Brought to you by the letter E, and the number quatro.
I went to the bar tonight with Sharaun, she goes most every Wednesday night to meet up with the Wednesday night soccer crew. I’ve been a few times, but usually the prospect of sitting at home on the couch is more appealing to me. I don’t know why that is, because I actually enjoy going to the bar a lot. Wednesday night is “pint night” and you get to keep the glass. It makes me wonder how many other things I miss out on because I’m just unmotivated. She wants me to buy her some pepper spray (we’re talking about Sharaun now). She says she’s deathly scared when I’m away on travel and she’s home alone. So, I guess I will buy her some pepper spray. I could just get her some shells for the .22 – but she’d hate that, and there’s a chance she’d have better luck with the pepper spray anyway… a misplaced .22 round might be less incapacitating. It makes me feel kinda bad, y’know? I mean, I consider the opportunity for travel to one of the awesomest perks of my job. It kinda bums me out that she doesn’t like it. I can understand though, I guess, being that I’m the one off on exciting adventures while she’s left to fend for herself.

I’m gonna talk about comment spam and scripts and robots and other nerd-stuff now. Feel free to tune out.

I have no earthly idea what my latest plague of comment spam is all about, but I think I’ve got it under control. Let me explain: Beginning, oh, about two months ago I guess, I began getting strange comments. They were posted with the name field blank, and contained no content other than the letter ‘E’ as an e-mail address. As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no purpose to this kind of comment spam, other than to annoy me and fill my database with crap. I mean, unless it’s some secret spamvertising campaign for the letter E perpetuated by the nefarious Sesame Street gang – I have no idea what the motivation behind such spam would be. There are no links in the comment, no text, no real e-mail address, just one single stupid letter. What’s worse is, because they really aren’t screaming “spam,” they were getting through my comment filters. The other day, I just broke down and added the “word” ‘E’ to my spam-block list in WordPress. I’m guessing this only blocks “whole words” of ‘E,’ and not any comment containing the letter E – and so far it seems to be working.

There are a few things which tell me that these are indeed bot-driven spam comments, and not just someone’s idea of messing with me. They are always on older, seemingly random posts, which is a sure sign that you’re dealing with a spambot. They come in rapid clumps, multiple comments within seconds of each other on different entries. And, they all seem to come from the same stinkin’ IP address: Whois tells me it belongs to a Comcast block in Utah or something – but I’d bet it’s forged anyway. You know, I can understand spam comments that hype penis pills or poker or whatever… but the letter E? Even if your comments got through, what the heck are they doing?

The only possibly explanation I can dream up is that it’s some method the robot spam machines use to test the “strength” of my spam filtering. I would imagine some algorithm that first posts several E-only comments via an automated script. Next, it would parse my pages to see if its E-only comment actually posted where the public can see it. If so – it would then step it up a notch – this time perhaps posting an E-only comment where the E is actually a URL linked to some poker site (I’ve actually seen these “next-level” E-only posts). Parse again, if it made it through – uplevel the comment to full-fledged spam. Then, using the information it’s managed to gather on where a blog’s comment filtering kicks in and starts blocking comments – the robot can effectively mark a “filter strength” field in its site database. Every few days, go out and do the E-test again to keep the “filter strength” field up-to-date. This way, spammers can categorize blogs by how susceptible their commenting scripts are to spam.

And, if the blog-commenting spam business model operates anything like the e-mail spam industry, where people sell DVDs full of harvested, “guaranteed working,” e-mail addresses to potential spammers – then this kind of “guaranteed spam-accepting” list of blog URLs list might fetch a higher price than just a raw text list of URLs. I mean, if the URL harvester can give you some guarantee that your spam robot will get it’s comments through on 80% of the blogs on their harvest-list – as a spammer you may be more likely to fork out the money for their list over another that’s just a bulk harvest of open blog comment-script URLs. So that’s my theory on the E comments. It’s a filter-testing scheme to add value to a harvester’s comment-script URL list. If that’s not right, I have no idea what they are – other than malicious and annoying and taking up space in my database. Stupid spammers, why don’t you leave me alone? I hate you so much.

OK, I think I’m done with that. Believe it or not it’s 11:12pm right now… I should be hitting the sack, but I’ve been staying up later lately. Maybe my brain is subconsciously preparing my body for the timezone switch or something.

I was perusing my server logs the other day, and looking at who’s linked to my pages. I found an oddball reference to one of my 96 Tears pages from some girl’s blog. Thing is, the entry from her site that linked to my pages was great – kind of my idea of what epitomizes a good blog post. Read it, I think you’ll dig it.

In closing, I’m going to give you a shortlist of new albums I’ve been enjoying lately. Some you may have heard of, some not. Either way, here goes: The Cribs : New Fellas, The National : Alligator, The Ponys : Celebration Castle, Great Lake Swimmers : Great Lake Swimmers, Red Sparowes : At the Soundless Dawn, and Hal : Hal. Now, some of those are relatively new and untested – but some have already proven to be leaders from the outset. I’d recommend most all of them, but I need some more time on Hal and The National. Put it this way – if you’re going to buy an album this weekend – buy The Ponys; if you’re buying two – pickup The Cribs too.

Man, I’m fast falling asleep. Need to spellcheck, rearrange, add thumbnail image, and post. Goodnight.

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