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DMI News

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Spam. It's not just a tasty reprocessed mystery meat product anymore

September 16, 2005 16:12

As a few of you have most likely noticed, there is a spam problem on the site. Both on the referer page and selected comments. Although I block the addresses used everytime, the spammers are using proxies and as such the abuse continues. I will therefore implement some new countermeasures and other prevention measures.

For starters, I will now require people to first register an account before they can leave a URL in a comment. Since 99% of legitimate comments don't require a URL in the body, this is unlikely to have any signficant effect, but for the rare few of you whom this will present an inconsiderate nuisence to, I am deeply sorry. My heart truely bleeds for you.

Since I suspect there will be people creating accounts for the purpose of getting around this, I will require accounts to be created at least 24 hours prior to the comment in question being posted. I may also require, either in addition or in leiu to, having accounts validated before that account is able to post URL laden comments. Having accounts validated before they show up on the visitors page would also probably be a good idea. In any event, checking that the account wasn't created from a proxy will assist in maintaining some degree of maintainability. Remember, you'll still be able to post comments normally. The only comments that will be affected will be those that include a URL. This might expand to ALL comments if I'm not able to keep up with crafty ways of forming a URL. Still, there are only so many ways the search engines will pick up the URL, so faking it too excessively won't help.

An alternative is to detect the urls and remove them from comments of accounts not yet validated. I will also add code to delete all comments created by a bad account.

As for the referer links, I'm building up quite a dictionary of words that will not be allowed in a referer's url. This could potentially eventually impact a legitimate referer, but since this is more of an amusing novelty than a critical service, I'm not too concerned about cutting out 2% of the legitimate links if I can cut out 99% of the spam.


Social Maps

August 14, 2005 16:38

I'm currently debugging social maps, which you can access and work with here. This is designed to show the relationships between the different people who visit this site. Feel free to play around and enter any data you please. In a few days I'll clear the database and attach it to the accounts as intended.


The Quest for More Air Conditioning. The Final Chapter (Hopefully)

August 02, 2005 20:05

So this morning the repairman comes by to service the air conditioner. In reality, he understood that it would cost more, and take longer to repair it than to just replace it and send the old one back. So after hearing my description of the problem, he calls his manager and tells them that it's going to need a new coil, knowing full well that the manager would just authorize a replacement instead of repairing it. And so it happens. He calls back an hour later telling me I just need to box up the old one, take it to Sears, and they'll give me a new replacement. Good so far.

We get there, they're expecting us, pick up the old unit, give me a receipt for an identical replacement and we get over to appliances. I hit one of the sales people up, he finds a few in stock, rings up a replacement, and calls over a manager to authorize the replacement. This is where it gets fun.

During this time, Gertie has been scouting out the floor models and discovers that all the air conditioner units are currently on sale, or at least the Kenmore units such as I had, and all of them are marked $30 off. The in store units were priced $10 more than it had been paid for, so that makes $20 difference in the price paid for this unit, and the price they're currently selling it for. So Gertie decides to take advantage of the price difference to push a refund of the $20 difference. It's debatable if it should even matter since we're getting the exact same unit, and it's not costing us a penny to do so, but seeing how we've spent a month messing with this, there should be SOME type of compensation.

So Gertie gets the store manager involved, and she and another manager are getting into it over proper course of action involving price differences with regards to warranty exchanges, and the store manager's take on it was that since we had to box it up and bring it into the store, we should be able to take advantage of the difference in price. Ok. Now, keep in mind, the price difference was actually $20, but the sale discount was $30, and therefore they "refund" us $30. Their words exactly "If we give you $30, will you be happy?" So fine, she's happy. And I go to pick up the unit over at the warehouse. It gets better.

Turns out, the salesman who initially rang up the exchange discovered that they didn't in fact have any of our units in stock, but since everything was on sale anyway, figured the difference in price and keyed in a larger model such that the prices closely matched up. When the managers showed up, they were confronted with Gertie and thus got confused into thinking the replacement was the exact model. As it happens, they gave us a model that is twice as large, and $40 more expensive. The salesman that finally rang it up seemed to notice the discrepancy, but since two managers above him had ordered him to pay out, he paid out without objecting.

So, in the end, we ended up with $30 in cash, and a Air conditioner worth $40 more and twice as powerful as the one we started with. And this one works too. It's the gift that keeps on giving. Thanks Dustec. :) Gertie however is considering returning the $30, although we're as of yet not sure exactly how to do that, and what they'd do about it if we did. I'll post an update about that event once it occurs.


The Quest for more Air Conditioning. Book 2

August 01, 2005 16:18

Just a small update. Apparently, amazingly, there has been an openining in the repair schedule and now someone will be able to come out tomorrow to fix it. How unbelievably lucky for us that this turn of events has taken place.


The Quest for more Air Conditioning. Book 1

August 01, 2005 12:31

Dustec, as all of you know, is a great guy. Just to prove it in fact, he sent us an early wedding gift in the form of a window Air Conditioning unit. As Gertie put it, it's the best gift she's ever received, and certainly the most useful at this time of year. We were just finishing up the room that we planned to put it in, so it stayed boxed up for a week after receiving it, and then we installed it. It worked perfectly except for the simple tiny little fact that it didn't actually expell any cold air, which being an Air Conditioner... well, suffice it to say, they get more love when they do.

No problem, it's covered under warranty for a year after purchase, and I call up Sears to have them come out and fix it. After getting the appointment bumped once, the repairman shows up late one afternoon, determines that it has no coolant in it, and puts coolant in it. He gave me two possible explainations. First, they failed to put any in at the factory, which they do sometimes. Second, it might have a leak. For the time being though, it's blowing cold air, and everyone's happy. It works GREAT.

A few days later however, we notice that it's not blowing cold quite as much as it was. The compressor would run for a few minutes, then shut off before cooling the room down. Then a day later, it didn't cool at all. Upon shutting off the unit, you could hear a tiny leak. So the leak idea is starting to have merit now. Very well. It's still under warranty, so I call Sears again. This time, it's going to take a little over a week to get someone out to fix it. Gertie decides this is unacceptable and has a chat with them and gets them to agree to replacing it instead, which they will do by sending us a new one and picking up the old one. Should only take a couple days. No problem.

Problem. Sears sends an email to Dustec letting him know that we returned the AC unit. Well, that WOULD be true, if it weren't still sitting in my window as I type this. And it's only accurate in that they leave out that they're supposed to be REPLACING not RETURNING it, but it gives us an excuse to call and check on the status of the replacement. As it turns out, they HAD put it in as a return instead of a replacement, and the UPS guy keeps trolling around wanting to take our old one away. Riiiiight.

So Gertie got on a tear with Sears this morning and ... well, she's still tearing away, but she's currently on a 2 hour mission to obtain a backpack which likely costs less than the gas spent to obtain it, but I fully expect when she returns we will have a new air conditioner being shipped pronto... and I wouldn't be surprised if we don't have a few extras being sent, just to save them the agony of having to deal with us again.

To be continued....


Site Changes

July 31, 2005 14:04

I've made some layout changes to the site recently, mostly on the classic theme sidebar and I've added advertisements. Yes, I know, I'm a sellout. If it doesn't draw any significant revenue, I'll probably dump them, but I'll try it out for now. The howto page has been updated, although it still needs some work. I've also made a few modifications to the why page.

Coding wise, I'm planning a database update to the cam and visitors databases to enable some new features. I also want to clean up the coding for the layout of the pages. Right now, I'm using extensive SSI to display the main page which causes excessive load on the server when there are a lot of hits. The classic theme at least can be incorporated almost completely into a single cgi program. I also plan to put in some custom layouts for the cam icons instead of displaying them in the order they were added. For instance, cams with lamps will get higher priority than those without, and those with no motion will be moved to the bottom of the list.

The house is coming along slowly but surely. We hope within a week to be starting on the downstairs rooms, at which time we'll have an idea of when it will be completed and will schedule a housewarming party, which will basically be a warmup for the wedding party. Invitations for those will be going out soon too.


Slowly Creeping Back

July 23, 2005 15:43

As you may have noticed, there's a new device on my cam, or more like an old device reborn. The puppy works again. The bear would be functional except for some reason it hasn't seemed to have survived the last few moves.

I've updated the lampmaster software, so everyone using it needs to grab it again at Each device now needs a: camname "mycamname" line. This lets the programs know which cam the device is attached to. If that cam is offline, the lamps won't show up. If the lamps for that cam aren't available, the Interactive marker won't show up. And when someone is looking at a cam with active devices, those devices will have a red bar under them. I'm working on code for mouseovers on the cam icons to show which lamps are visible from that cam.

In the next few days, I plan to get another cam functional in this room, likely the one with zoom capability. I'll be running network cable up to the attic so I can have a working network connection in the girls' room upstairs, and they can camp out in there and play on the computer if they're camera shy.


I've Been Invaded!!!

July 18, 2005 08:26

They came bearing weapons...

They filled all empty space with all sorts of strange objects...

The abuse was relentless

They deprived me of my identity. My dignity!

Somebody help me. :(


Book Sale and other stuff

July 16, 2005 18:05

Lately almost everything has been house related, and as such, all news has occured on that page. However, a few things have happened lately.

Earlier this week I did my typical volunteering at the Plano Book Faire and this year I took pictures of the event.

Skeetz got married, and there are pictures of that too.

Gertie and her daughters have moved in. The two upstairs bedrooms are nearly complete. Our wedding has been set for October 29, 2005. Probably some more stuff to talk about, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment. So more to come.


She said YES!!!!!!

May 06, 2005 10:47

And only hyperventilated a little bit.

The chat log of when she found the page.