Site Update

I am looking into changing the site’s theme. Right now, what you see is something I came up with using bits from two other basic themes. While I like it a lot, I’m no longer fond of the colors. I strive to make this site (and the main one) as accessible as possible and colors are the most difficult. “Web safe” seems to equal “boring and plain”.

So, anywho, if the site seems wonky with odd errors here and there, it’s ’cause I’m mucking about.

If the site doesn’t even load, it’s because the webhost is wonky. Again. I’ve been with them a loooong time (2002 or ’03?) and would rather not move. The price is good. I like the flexibility. But….come on, enough with the crashing!

Mike’s Website/Blog

I have too many websites. Really, I do.

Anyway, Mike’s website/blog/whatever (aptly named Mike’s Doghouse) is alive again. He and I are going to re-try our training for him to be my service dog. We had so many delays earlier but it worked out in the end. He needed time to mature, to find himself I guess. He’s still young but the time is right. I won’t post a note here every time I post a note there but I figured I’d tell you here that I was also back over there as well as here. You get all that?

Post Notification Subscriptions

If you are already subscribed to be notified of new posts, you will need to re-subscribe using the new method.

In two weeks (or whenever I get around to doing it), I will delete the database section for all current subscriptions registered with the old form (the one that was in the sidebar). If you do not re-subscribe, you will no longer receive notifications. Basically I am switching from a non-WP plugin form to one that is a plugin and easier to manage spam (yes, the bastids get me that way, too).

New subscription page link

As always, if you have any difficulties with either process, just let me know.

Spam River Dammed Again

I tried using a new comment form that included a “human verification” bit in it. But, for some reason, it wasn’t working. The form works well as a Contact form, but I couldn’t talk it into being a comment form. I tried to fix it but decided, for various reasons, that it wasn’t worth it.

So I dumped that and now have am trying a new plugin “Math Comment Spam Protection“. It doesn’t seem to be supported very well by the designer but it does work. The idea is to stop spammers from even submitting a comment and clogging the database and site resources.

As an example of this, I took down the cforms version and put up the one I had been using for years. I uploaded and turned on the new plugin. In that span of time, maybe two minutes tops, I got THREE spams. THREE. What a mess. Luckily, SpamKarma caught them and dumped them with glee but still, geez people, get as freakin’ life!

Please let me know if the form works for you or not. If it does not, use the contact form to, well, contact me about it. Or email me if you know the address.

Dam the Spam River

Okay, what happened the other day tried to happen again today. But, I happened to be one step ahead of the bastids!

I had already changed the comment form over to one that has a simple pre-filter installed. In the midst of making it look purty, I got the File 500 error again. I checked the webhost’s resource chart and while it said it was still within limits, the time-stamp said it was 45 minutes old. So I went to the database and SpamKarma’s log was stuffed full again. Nearly 700 spam just in the past 24hrs. So I deleted them all and the File 500 errors went away. Yay me!

I set the Settings>Discussions to turn off all Trackback/Pingbacks but all that does is uncheck the box for all future posts/pages. I went to WordPress’s Extension list and found what I needed. “Auto-Close Comments, Pingbacks and Trackbacks” is a plugin that allowed me to turn off ALL comments and trackbacks to ALL posts and pages. I could even leave open one that gets regular valid comments.

The comment form I am using now is called cforms and while the look of it is kinda gross, I do like the built in pre-filter. By pre-filter I mean it stops spammers from even submitting a comment. It doesn’t make it to the comment moderation where it clogs up the pipes. I opted to not go with the captcha images because I hate them myself and wouldn’t want to inflict them on others. Instead, it has a set of simple questions that the commenter must answer before the comment will move on. The questions are simple stuff (what is two plus two?) BUT they work. Yes, spammers can make their way around it eventually. But Shirley To Shit they aren’t that driven for this little known blog!

If anyone has any trouble with the comment form, let me know. I’ve not checked the accessibility issues of it (Elena?) yet and hope all is well on that front.

Oy! What Happened?

I don’t really understand what happened. All of my sites are on a private server with my webhost. It makes tracking problems down quite simple since errors mean it is either on my end or theirs. No middle folks to deal with. One of the things I can do with the server is set the amount of space my websites can use. More space than it is using means the sites run faster. Less space and everything slows to a crawl or stops altogether. My space prior to yesterday was a mere 235mb. The most I had used was around 150 or so but with Mike’ new site, that had been slowly rising. But at some point yesterday, the memory usage spiked to over 450mb. And the sites shut down. All of them. But I didn’t even think to look there when I first found out the sites were down.

I contacted tech support and checked out the forum and some other places but really had no clue what was wrong. I put up a “site down” message so that folks wouldn’t wonder if they had a problem on their end. I got an answer from tech support and he pointed out the memory usage as well as a huge memory usage within the databases. Spammers were smacking one or two of the sites hard and all their blocked messages were being stored in the database. I raised the memory usage to 500mb, made some changes to the .htaccess files (which I had never ever touched before), and made a “robots.txt” file and put it on all the main directories. I went to the databases and “dropped” all the stuff in the SpamKarma tables. I left the blacklist alone, though.

Within a few hours, the extra memory was gobbled up. I waited. I checked the error logs again. I added another IP block or two to the .htaccess file. I waited and finally gave up and went to bed. We had things to do today and I didn’t get a chance to check anything until this afternoon.

So now, there it is. Everything is working. And I learned a few things. While the problem was with just one site (this blog, actually), the memory usage downed them all. I now know that when all of them is down, then there’s a few places to look first.

Spammers are the armpits of the internet, aren’t they?

UPDATE: Holy shit! I just got finished deleting well over 10,000 spam comments! All of them porn crap (surely Asian teens have more to do?) or prescription meds for men.

Contact Form Updated

I had been getting a plethora of spam via the contact form. I’ve had it turned off for several months now.

On Mike’s site (“Mike’s Doghouse“), I’d started using a plugin called “cforms” and decided to do the same here. It looks ugly at the moment but making it look pretty is not a priority at the moment. For now, it works so, hey, there you have it.

I’ll be putting up the same thing over at the main website, “It’s Only Words…” later today.