Spam Suicide

02/07/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Internet, Spamming

While looking into new users who had joined my forum, I would find plenty that had joined up with many blogs over the past little while. Others were nowhere else to be found on the web, but when I went looking for the domain name in question, I got a pleasant surprise. I discovered the Spam Suicide site.

Right on the very front page, there is a warning in front of the link to the forums on Spam Suicide:

Warning! DO NOT register on the forum unless you are one of those nasty automated spambots who do nothing but annoy legitimate forum users and make forum administrators' lives a complete nightmare.

SPAM ONLY > > > > >forum< < < < < SPAM ONLY

If you are a real person please DO NOT join the Spamsuicide forum

Spambots cannot resist a forum. In particular, they cannot resist trying to automatically join a forum run by the popular PHPBB2 (PHP Bulletin Board 2).

(I guess, sadly, that MWForum is on the list that bots will join - ah well, I won't move to manual approval unless I start getting inundated)

The reason why Spamsuicide is such a nifty idea is that automatic registrations have to be done by clicking through a link that is sent out by the forum. This means that there has to be at least a real e-mail address of some sort used to collect the registration message and 'click' the verification link contained in it.

The registered forum account will then typically lie fallow for a short time before spam messages start getting posted through it.

With a great bloody big message up front saying "Don't join!", only spambots and the very occasional dum-dum will create accounts on Spamsuicide. So if you see an e-mail address or an entire domain listed on Spamsuicide, then you can rest 99% assured that if you have a user join and it has one of those addresses as its e-mail address, that you can delete that user without hesitation.

(The 1% caveat is that the web site author solicits spammer addresses from others, and there's a possibility someone innocent might get trapped in there)

Nice work :)


Haggard Now "Completely Heterosexual"

02/07/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, People, Religion

Oh, this is rich... Haggard's been cured...?

"He is completely heterosexual," Ralph said. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."

Fortunately, they do also address the issue of infidelity, which I'm glad they're taking as not being overshadowed by the gay factor:

Ralph said the board spoke with people close to Haggard while investigating his claim that his only extramarital sexual contact happened with Mike Jones. The board found no evidence to the contrary.

I'm still savouring the schadenfreude after him doing the sermons he did with a straight face. (Someone also provided a transcript of Dawkins meeting Haggard here... the aftermath was particularly odd)

Is it a tendency for the zealous to lose a spring and come completely unwound like this? It is pragmatic that they are considering a move elsewhere. In what capacity, I guess we will see.


Incident On Calgary LRT This Morning

02/06/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Announcements [A], Thoughts, People

At around 9:55 (just before 10:00 am) on February 5, 2007 (this morning), an incident took place on the Westbound City Centre LRT in Calgary on the left hand side of the front part of the last car in the train, from just before the 1st Street station until the 4th Street station.

The perpetrator, a foul-mouthed young woman with very short hair, attacked a young long-haired woman on the LRT who dared speak up about her. I did not get to witness the start of the incident, but based on where people were sitting, the short-haired young woman got out of her seat to attack the other woman, also threatening a beating if she were to leave the train.

The short-haired woman had blood on the bridge of her nose; it is likely that the blood was not hers. The long-haired woman who was attacked had her glasses broken. Other passengers endeavoured to break up the fight, but the damage was already done.

I managed to get an unfortunately blurry picture of the perpetrator and the friend that she was travelling with, who both left the train at the 4th Street station:


If you have any information, such as recognizing the person involved (based on her over-reaction, this is unlikely to be her first attack on someone else), please provide the information in comments; I will endeavour to pass them along if I am contacted in this case.


Yet Another Phishing Scam

02/05/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Internet, Spamming

More bullshit designed to bilk people out of their money:

Dear Western Union Customer,

We regret to inform you that your account will be suspended due to concerns we have for the safety and integrity of the Western Union community.

Per the User Agreement, Section 9, we may immediately issue a warning, temporarily suspend, indefinitely suspend or terminate your membership and refuse to provide our services to you if we believe that your actions may cause financial loss or legal liability for you, our users or us. We may also take these actions if we are unable to verify or authenticate any information you provide to us.


Full story »


Subtle change to Firefox 2

02/05/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


I've only just upgraded to Firefox 2 so hadn't noticed this before: there's now a built in spell-checker in the edit gadget. It uses the red underline method of indicating there's a word it's not sure about.

Most excellent!


Synergy2 Desktop

02/05/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Reviews


Truly the internet is a wonderful place; if you have a need, there's probably someone out there with just the thing to resolve it. Sometimes it's even free. Such is the case with Synergy2.

Full story »


Floppy disk, we salute you

02/03/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology


...even though you were unreliable, slow, and, at least initially, flipping expensive.

Also on a retro-computing note, here's a 56k modem emulation.

(Via Wired's GadgetLab)


"Silly English Knnnnniiiiiggits!"

02/03/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly, YouTube


"Monty Python and the Holy Grail" meets Christopher Ecclestone era "Dr Who" and it works. Who knew?

(Via BoingBoing)



02/03/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Common Sense, Science

They just finished the fifth Amazing Meeting put together by the James Randi Educational Foundation last month, and it sounded like a real blockbuster, with Adam and Tory from MythBusters, Matt and Trey from South Park and Julia Sweeney on the celebrity side, and nifty skeptic folks like Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy and Robert Lancaster of Stop Sylvia Browne fame.

Robert Lancaster had a particularly interesting time there, as his site got an explosion of coverage and interest (including a possible interview on Fox?) from a New York Times article while he was at TAM 5. In trying to keep up with the onslaught, he ran up quite a internet café bill, with which people helped him out. Interviews and a call from James Randi rounded out the few surreal days.

Phil also reported from TAM5.

(He also has a bit of a retrospective with Penn and Teller with a video wherein his amazing ability to stand still (is this common to all astronomers?) is exhibited for all to see, interposed with some good skepticism and a lot of swearing by non-Phil people :) )

I think I might keep an eye open for TAM6. Dare we indulge our skeptical nerdy side with something like this? :)

EDITED: The original Stop Sylvia Browne site's domain was scooped, so I've repointed it at its new home.


Today's self-referential post: Ritchie is melancholy and socially withdrawn

01/31/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Calgary


Dr. Michael Keren, a University of Calgary professor, has written a book where the thesis -- at least based on the published synopsis -- is that bloggers are a bunch of loner weenies (keep in mind I'm paraphrasing this a bit.) And, yup, he even manages a slam against cat-blogging in the press release.

Money quote from that press release:

Comparing bloggers to terrorists, Keren writes...

Seriously? How hard is he trying to sell this thing? That's like saying "Comparing income trust accountants to terrorists" or "Comparing surburban housewives to terrorists"; it's an attempt to link two utterly disparate groups in order to gain attention.

Oh well, I guess next up he'll accuse conservatives of being mean, liberals of being woollyheaded and Canadians of being anti-American. Could even go so far as to refer to artists as flakey, lawyers as greedy and jocks as dumb.

Sterotypes and far-reaching comparisons are entertaining but they're not terribly useful.

(Via POGGe)


A USB hub to die for...

01/31/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly


Sometimes the geek in me cannot be restrained. This has to be one of the best USB hubs I've seen yet.


Scott Loses A Lot Of Bets

01/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, People

Someone did us the honour of posting the video of our dear coworker and sometime bet-loser doing his strangely-appropriate imitation of William Hung's "She Bangs".

Scott, you're a good sport :)


Musings On The Far-Right-Wing/Fundamentalist Connection

01/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Politics, Religion

A thought struck me when deep in good conversation with a friend of mine the other day that the seemingly strong association between right wing philosophy and fundamentalist Christianity is one of a particular match-up with philosophy.

This is partly conjecture on my part, but I'm willing to predict that there's a kernel of truth...

Full story »


As the spam turns...

01/25/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology

We just got what appears to be our first denial of service attack today. Alas, we feel insulted: a mere 3700 hits in half an hour from distributed IPs.

More seriously, I have no idea why. This accomplished nothing. It's nowhere near enough to take out Nimblebrain. It wasn't sustained nor was did it involve enough simultaneous hits. I did get some spamverts sent via the blog mail system but that's about it.

The best I can think of is that some wannabe with a kiddie-script botnet decided to play with his new toy, but isn't all that clear on how it works.

Anyway, Ritchie's been IP banning so that should be it until the next round.


Sloan Digital Sky Survey Queries?

01/23/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science

I had no idea that the data in the Sloan Digital Sky Survey was open to the public, but it is, and you can put your astronomy and database smarts together to help them find things, as well.

Because of the way their program has been put together, it's great at finding many kinds of objects, but sometimes does not recognize larger objects properly. So they are asking for help in finding HII regions, regions filled with ionized hydrogen.

There's a tutorial on how to put together database queries for the data, here's the SQL query tool, and the schema browser lets you look at the table structure, which has tables for ROSAT information, measured spectra, etc.

There's also a sky navigation tool that you can explore the sky with, and where you can input some of the coordinates from your queries to try a visual identification.

I'm impressed with the accessibility of the tools.

If my brain were less addled, I could certainly help them out in their HII quest :)


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