Thursday, May 17, 2018

Dealing with spam

What is spam and why is it called that?

'spam' is any message you are sent from a person or business who you have not given permission to contact you. The message being not relevant to you and unrequested. It was given it's name by computer geeks after watching a Monty Python sketch about a cafe where meals included SPAM (the SPiced hAM canned meat). Effectively spam is something unwanted.

When was the first spam sent?

Even before the advent of the World Wide Web spam was becoming an issue. The first spam email was sent out  by Gary Thuerk on ARPNET, a predecessor to the Internet, on 1st May 1978. It's been with us ever since. At first, it didn't seem an issue but now the majority of emails sent are spam and comments posted on blogs are often flooded with spam. A huge amount of time is wasted just deleting spam and time costs money.

Is spam illegal?

That depends on your countries laws. In many - it is illegal to send spam. Certainly the majority of spam is sent from places which have laws against it. The trouble is that spam is effective because people have a problem:
People are gullible and can't resist clicking something which looks interesting.

So what can we do?

No laws will ever stop the spammers. It's up to you to minimise the impact of spam.

Email

Set up mail filters in your email program. I use Outlook. I right click a spam email, select 'Rules' then 'Create rule'. I can then add the sender to a blocked list, select unwanted words or phrases in the email subject or body and tell outlook to automatically delete the email or put it in a spam/junk folder.
  • NEVER follow a link in a spam email - no matter how tempting.
  • NEVER buy anything promoted by spam. They are already breaking the law so can you really trust them with credit card details? For the same reason never buy anything from someone who cold calls you to sell items.

Blog comments

The situation here is more complex. You usually invite comments on blogs. The trouble is many comments are unrelated to the blog and there either to get a link back to a website which helps their search engine ranking. You need to weed out these comments. 

Here's a selection from one of my blogs:

I want to show my appreciation to the writer just for rescuing me from this dilemma. Because of exploring through the search engines and obtaining ideas that were not pleasant, I thought my life was over. Existing without the presence of approaches to the problems you have fixed as a result of your main article content is a crucial case, as well as the ones which may have adversely damaged my career if I hadn’t come across your website. Your primary understanding and kindness in controlling a lot of things was excellent. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not encountered such a subject like this. I can also now look forward to my future. Thank you very much for your skilled and amazing help. I will not be reluctant to propose your web page to anyone who would
like recommendations on this issue. [web link to boneoakforskolin]

Comment: All this text just to get a link to a website!

Frгeelancing also can result in an еnormous “plus” concerning your income.
As a suƄstitute օf having to acⅽept the precise salkary thats provided by the one rеgulation firm that you simply worқ, you mіght ave a sbstantial amnount of leeway iin setting your ownn payy rɑtes.
Comment: Notice all the typos? Not accidental - they are there to stop automatic spam detection from picking out spammers favourite terms. The sender of course provided a web link.

This issսe may end up in considerɑbly more moneу for ʏou.
Grow your online community with voice comments. Let your readers voice their opinions in a fun, fast and easy way. Improve your user retention, website SEO, and get more conversions. Get the Free Plugin here, [Link to Voice-Comments plugin]
Comment: Not at all relevant to the post but a spam promoting a wordpress plugin (which I don't want).

WordPress has now enabled voice comments for websites. Bring your website up to date and get the free plugin here, [Link to Voice-Comments plugin]
Comment: More of the same on a different post..

What’s up friends, its impressive post on the topic of educationand entirely defined, keep it up all the time. [link to malware infected sites mentioning jimgriffin]
Comment: The provided link led to a site offering software cracks. Nothing at all to do with the post. It originated from the same computer as the following spam. Download any of the cracks and you can be sure to infect your computer with malware.

Thanks to my father who shared with me about this web site, this blog is actually awesome. [link to malware infected sites mentioning jimgriffin]
Comment: This link lead to a site which immediately tried to infect my computer with malware.

Hello! I know this is kinda off topic howeveer , I’d figured I’d ask. Woul you be interestted in trading links or maybe guest autuoring a blog post or vice-versa? My website discusses a lot of the same topics as yours and I believe we could greatly benefit from eahh other.
If you are interested frel free to shoot me an email.
I look forward to hearing from you! Awesome blogg by the way!
[link to where you can buy silicone wristbands]
Comment: Yes it is off topic and spam, even if apologised for, is still spam.

Give Your Website Users a Voice. Let your readers voice their opinions in a fun, fast and easy way. Improve your user retention, website SEO, and get more conversions. Add Voice Comments to your Website for Free Today, [Link to Voice-Comments plugin]
Comment: Yet a third advert for that unwanted plugin.

Have you ever wanted to work from home or just top up your earnings ? This tried and tested system teaches you how you can make a small fortune from the comfort of your own home. [Link to Work-from-Home site]
Comment: Dummy! I DO work from home and I'm not interested in get rich quick schemes. If you are so concerned about my fortune - just send me the money.


It's worthwhile checking the links commenters provide. However make sure you have up-to-date anti-malware software and I suggest you use an incognito browser window to check them. If the comment adds no value to the post and doesn't actually refer to it, then delete it even if it is full of praise.

Some blogsites use CAPTCHA to reduce the number of comments made by spambots. Unfortunately, although they are getting better, they are still a deterrent to genuine people and don't stop those humans whose purpose is simply to get a link to their site. How many times have you got one of these words in weird fonts wrong or failed to spot that corner of a road sign?

If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Is social media ruining people's lives?

Good
  • It allows people who are otherwise isolated to communicate. Examples of this would be the elderly and people who are autistic.
  • It can act as an outlet for expression thereby relieving tension.
  • It can relieve boredom.
  • It can allow you to make new contacts.
  • It can inform you of new events, opinions and products.
Bad
  • Many accept things on social media as true without checking. Some then make bad decisions based on this.
  • It can expose people to trolls, cyberbullies, liars and groomers. Particularly a problem amongst the young.
  • Some people get too involved to the exclusion of all else. You need to get out, exercise and talk to people also.
  • It can destroy contact in the real world.
  • Advertising can be obtrusive.
The jury is still out on this question. I would suggest that it’s one of those good things 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

The best lie I ever told

A while back I developed a skin cancer on the end of my nose. It was a small whitish patch which disappeared and reappeared and which I eventually mentioned to my doctor. Tests confirmed it was a basal cell carcinoma. I went to a hospital in Newcastle for treatment.

Treatment involved surgically removing the cancer which is then sent to the lab to examine the edges. If the edges prove cancer free the wound will be stitched up. If the edges are cancerous, back you go for further surgical removal of the area. It's all done under local anesthetic and I didn't feel any pain.

The Surgeon who did my operation was treating a number of us on the same day. After the operation I was bandaged and sent back to the waiting room - a room full of people with huge bandages on their nose. We were told that it would be an hour or two before our results came back from the lab so if we wished we could go for a walk, have a coffee or a meal in the hospital restaurant.

Coffee! It was three hours since I had coffee and I was willing to brave the restaurant  despite the huge bandage. I made a quick trip back to my car to make a phone call and took this picture first.
Off I walked down the long hospital corridor to the restaurant and walking towards me the other way was a small boy and his mother.
"Mam! What's wrong with that man's nose?" he asked loudly. I could see his mother cringing in embarassment. I stopped.
"My name is Pinocchio. You might have heard of me. I grew up." I said.
"Yeess..."
"I've always had this problem about telling lies and every time I tell one it makes my nose grow a little bit. So every now and then I come in here and get a bit chopped off."
"Oh. I see." said the boy looking worried but apparently quite satisfied.
Mum entered into the spirit of the story and turned on him, "And that's why I keep telling you not to tell lies!"
Off I walked trying to keep a straight face and it was only afterwards that I remembered that I had nightmares after seeing Pinocchio as a four year old.

Anyway, the cancer proved to be gone and the surgeon stitched up the end of my nose leaving it a better shape now than it was before. I spent two weeks looking like Gonzo though before all the bandages came off.

I'm still proud of that lie but I hope he didn't get nightmares.

Monday, August 28, 2017

You can't hide the truth (but you can obscure it)

Greenpeace is upset about Donald Trump after he pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord and now says "Climate change is a hoax"

Who is right? - Neither of them.


Donald Trump is wrong - there is absolutely no doubt that the climate is changing. Average temperatures are creeping up, the jet-stream is not following it's 'normal' route and we are experiencing extremes of weather with violent storms, heavy rainfall and droughts becoming ever more common.

Greenpeace is wrong in blaming climate change entirely on the actions of man and suggesting that we can legislate to sort this out.

So what are the facts?

  • The earth has been getting steadily warmer for the last 12,000 years
  • Carbon dioxide is NOT the most powerful 'greenhouse gas'
  • The amount of carbon dioxide in dry air is rising. It was 0.03% when the chemistry books I studied in the early 1970s were written. It's 0.04% now. Some of that is due to industrial emissions, some to vehicles, some to forestry, some to pollution of sea water, some to volcanoes. Global engineering projects could reduce it but we are scared of the impact that could have. It may make things much worse.
  • Computer models of climate have been most unreliable so far with up to 400% variation. 
  • Even if every bit of ice in the world melted there wouldn't be enough water to create a 'Waterworld'. Sorry Kevin.
  • Our method of measuring average temperatures leaves a lot to be desired.
  • Cities are warmer than the countryside but most of the temperature gauges are in cities. They apply a 'correction' to allow for this - largely guesswork.
  • The places most prone to flooding in the world are also the places where the land is subsiding.
  • It's easier to build on a flood plain than on a mountain
  • Cow farts produce more greenhouse gases than cars do. So do termites.
  • Volume for volume, water vapour produces four times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. There is on average 25 times as much of it in air as there is carbon dioxide. That means water vapour has 100 times the effect of carbon dioxide
  • In the northern hemisphere if the jet stream is north of you it will be hotter. If it's south of you it will be colder and if it's over you it will be windier and stormy. Slight changes in average temperature can make the jet stream move like a rope being shaken.
  • When sea ice in the arctic melts it has no effect on sea levels. Only ice and snow melting on land changes that.
  • In the antarctic, when it gets warmer you get more snow. This increases the amount of ice there as it packs down. The antarctic is normally very dry - an ice desert. Wind does blow existing snow about there though.
  • Sea levels are rising. They've been doing that since the last ice age by about the same amount each year. We have great difficulty in measuring this since land levels change up and down too. You never hear of that though.
Global temperatures follow patterns of long cool spells - ice ages followed by rapid temperature rises. We've been on a temperature rise for the last 12,000 years and are approaching a peak.
At the peaks climate becomes very unstable for a while before plummeting into the next ice age. We have a record of this available in antarctic ice cores.
Click the graph to see it more clearly.

The ice cores also provide a record of carbon dioxide in the air. In the past there was a much greater amount of it in the air but life survived.

We still can't say with certainty what caused ice ages but suspect variation in solar output and interstellar dust clouds.

Carbon trading won't reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we emit but will make some rich people richer.

If we take care of the environment we'll get:
  • Clean water
  • Clean air
  • More jobs
  • Better food
  • Healthier
  • Fewer extinctions
  • Lower cost of living
  • A nicer place to live
Have you heard about aerogel insulation? You can put an ice cube over a blowtorch and separate the two with a quarter inch of aerogel. The ice won't melt.
In hot areas we can use air conditioning to cool us down and get higher fuel bills and more pollution OR we can insulate our houses, pay less for cooling and reduce emissions.
In cold areas we can use heating to warm us up and get higher fuel bills and more pollution OR we can insulate our houses, pay less for heating and reduce emissions.
Which do you think the fuel producers want you to do? If governments really want to take action against global warming why don't they help people insulate their homes? Instead of researching new power stations it would make sense to invest in new insulation methods to reduce our power requirements.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

The Ultimate Minecraft Survival cheat

How would you like to go into Minecraft in survival or even hard mode and be able to survive attacks, collect resources easily and never run out of food? Oh - and you can breath underwater!

Here's how to do this.
  1. Create or have available a world. Before you enter it you'll need to allow cheats to be used in it. To do that choose that 'More World Options…' button when you create the world
    and in the next screen turn 'Allow Cheats: ON'
    If you've already created the world in single player mode, press ESC, Open the game to LAN and you can then turn cheats on.

  2. Before you create the new world  copy the following lines of text into your paste buffer:
    give @p diamond_pickaxe 1 0 {ench:[{id:32,lvl:8},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:35,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
  3. Enter the world and immediately press '/' then Ctrl V then press Enter. You'll get an enchanted diamond pickaxe.
  4. If you've spawned into the world on top of a hill or side of a mountain use the pickaxe to work your way to a low lying area. If you are attacked you'll find it's pretty effective as a weapon of defense too. Your pickaxe will dig through everything except bedrock and a few other blocks. I spawned in on the side of a hill and I'm going to move to that low area.
  5. Use the pickaxe to dig straight down four blocks deep. You should now be safe from attacks.
  6. Hollow out an area around you three high, five wide, five long.
  7. It will start to get dark so give yourself some torches by using this command in the same way as you got that pickaxe by typing in:
    /give @p torch 64
  8. Off one side of your area create a tunnel three high and three wide. It needs to be 13 blocks long. Light it with torches as needed. Obviously - dig it away from any cliff. Place a single row of twelve blocks down the middle of this tunnel. There'll be a gap at the far end.They will be removed later so can be any material. That green block at the top of the picture is where I started digging down.
  9. We now need some command blocks. Command blocks can only be placed in Creative mode so you'll need to switch to that mode by typing in /gamemode c
  10. You'll need to type in a command to get the command blocks:
    /give @p minecraft:command_block 1
  11. Jump onto that row of blocks and turn round place a row of command blocks on the top of the row. Because you are in creative mode they won't be used up. When you place them make sure you are pointing down and not at the previous command block you placed.
  12. You can now remove the row of blocks under the command blocks


  13. Next we have to configure each of the blocks in turn. This is done in creative mode by right clicking the block. You'll need to change each command block.
  14. Change each block as in the table below. You'll find it easiest to rightclick the command block then copy the command from here, change to the minecraft window and paste the commands in that.
  15. Block:  1
    Type: Impulse
    Power: Needs Redstone
    Command: /give @p diamond_helmet 1 0 {ench:[{id:0,lvl:1000},{id:1,lvl:1000},{id:3,lvl:1000},{id:4,lvl:1000},{id:5,lvl:9},{id:6,lvl:1000},{id:7,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    The id:5 value can go up to 1000 but unless you have a clarity mod or something similar all you will see is a white blur. A value of 9 will greatly increase the time you can spend underwater though.
    Block:  2
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_chestplate 1 0 {ench:[{id:0,lvl:1000},{id:1,lvl:1000},{id:3,lvl:1000},{id:4,lvl:1000},{id:7,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  3
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_leggings 1 0 {ench:[{id:0,lvl:1000},{id:1,lvl:1000},{id:3,lvl:1000},{id:4,lvl:1000},{id:7,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  4
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_boots 1 0 {ench:[{id:0,lvl:1000},{id:1,lvl:1000},{id:2,lvl:1000},{id:3,lvl:1000},{id:4,lvl:1000},{id:7,lvl:1000},{id:8,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  5
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_sword 1 0 {ench:[{id:16,lvl:1000},{id:17,lvl:1000},{id:18,lvl:1000},{id:19,lvl:1000},{id:21,lvl:1000},{id:22,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  6
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_pickaxe 1 0 {ench:[{id:32,lvl:7},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:35,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    The id:32 value can go up to 1000 but it becomes difficult to mine a single block at 8 or higher. If you wish, set this value to 10 and get an un-enchanted pickaxe for mining single blocks (/give @p diamond_pickaxe 1 0).
    Block:  7
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_axe 1 0 {ench:[{id:16,lvl:1000},{id:17,lvl:1000},{id:18,lvl:1000},{id:32,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:35,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  8
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p diamond_shovel 1 0 {ench:[{id:32,lvl:1000},{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:35,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block:  9
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p golden_apple 64 1 
    Block: 10
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p arrow 64 0 
    Block: 11
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p bow 1 0 {ench:[{id:34,lvl:1000},{id:48,lvl:1000},{id:49,lvl:1000},{id:50,lvl:1000},{id:51,lvl:1000},{id:70,lvl:1000}]}
    Block: 12
    Type: Chain
    Power: Always Active
    Command: /give @p torch 64
  16. While you are still in creative mode I suggest you make a small area with a 2 x 2 pool of lava, also place a bed in your 5 x 5 area and add a button to your inventory.
  17. You are now ready to go back to survival mode. Do that by typing:
    /gamemode s
  18. Now place that button on the first command block and right click it to press it.
Wow - Look what you get! And that doesn't show it all…
Pressing E will show your inventory. Hold down Shift and click on each of the armor items to wear them.
The armor you are wearing is extra strong and has the same effect as touching a cactus. You can breath under water. Anything attacking you will be repelled. Even if a creeper blows up next to you you should survive.
Eating one of the golden apples you have quickly restores your health if it drops
Your sword, pickaxe, axe and shovel are extra strong and deadly. Hit any food animal and you'll get LOTS of cooked food! Hit a spider and you'll be inundated with spider eyes and string. It's the same for any mob. If a mob does attack you they'll be killed by the thorns applies to your armor.
Your bow and the arrows are extra powerful. Even hitting something with the bow itself is deadly.
Your problem will now be, not getting killed, starving or drowning but having too many items. That's why I suggested making that lava pool to get rid of the excess. Oh - and if you accidentally fall into it, you'll have plenty of time to get out. The same is true if you accidentally embed yourself in sand or gravel.

By now it's probably night so use the bed and you'll reset your spawning point. If you should manage to get yourself killed by forgetting to eat apples when your health is low, you can quickly restore your equipment by pressing the button.

Over time your tools, armor and weapons will wear out but when that happens, just press the button to get a new set. Dispose of the old set in that lava pool

Of course you can now make yourself a storage area and an exit staircase to go explore your world.
If there are problems they will be having tools and weapons which work too quickly and collect too many resources but you can fix that by editing the enchantments in the command blocks. To do that requires another blog to show you how.


If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Grrr Twitter. You've made things much harder and less useful.

Twitter has stopped sending out individual notifications of replies, favorites, new followers, mentions and retweets. Instead they send a daily email 'Check out the notifications you have on Twitter.'
Their idea was to stop email accounts being flooded with Twitter messages. For some people that may help but for those who use mail filters to sort the former messages and keep a record of who followed you on which date the new daily email is useless because it simply opens the notification area of Twitter where you'll find the notifications unsorted.

  • Before I could quickly get a list of who had replied to my tweets and determine if action should be taken. Now I have to sort through the notification area.
  • Before I could see who retweeted something and retweet something of theirs. (Much more difficult since Twitter's last change when they stopped including a link to the tweep's page.)
  • Before I could quickly get an idea of which tweets were popular (OK I can use Twitter analytics to do that too)
  • Most importantly, before I could see who followed me and on what date. A week later I could visit their page and see if they still follow me. Those who unfollow within that week seldom make useful Twitter contacts. The previous emails from Twitter had a button 'Following' or 'Follow'. I could use email filters to mark 'read' those who I already follow and concentrate on new followers who I don't follow. Now I can't do that.
Thanks Twitter, in trying to be helpful, you've made things much harder which means I'll use Twitter less. 

Here's a suggestion for Twitter—give people the option of choosing the old individual emails OR the new daily notification in Twitter's settings. Default to the new settings and let the people who read instructions either choose no messages or detailed messages.

Here's a work around for recording your followers—Each day Twitter will send you that useless 'Check out the notifications you have on Twitter' You'll find it says something useless such as '@joebloggs and 48 others followed you on Twitter' If you are lucky you'll see icons for 14 of these people with no clue about the remaining 34.

I've found that I can create a 'Following' filter in ManageFlitter's Power mode to keep tabs on new followers. ManageFlitter costs $12 per month but I find it's worth it. It's possible the same sort of process could be set up with Crowdfire.

Here's what I set up with ManageFlitter power mode:
ManageFlitter now not only records who follows me but tells me how many hours/days/years ago someone followed me and also filters out a lot of those I wouldn't follow anyway. Since I never follow back until at least a week later it filters out all thos who follow and within days unfollow thosewho don't follow back. That means I now spend less time sifting through followers and Twitter's change might have done me a favour by forcing me to come up with a better method.

Maybe I'll withdraw that Grrr then Twitter.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Are there alien species in the Universe?

On earth there are many species of animals with varying degrees of intelligence. In the past there were several species of intelligent anthropoids. All evolved from a common source. The animals and plants too, evolved from a common source.
Experiments have shown that given the earth’s original atmosphere of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide  and a source of energy such as lightning, solar radiation, hot rocks or maybe even radiation from other stars then complex molecules such as amino acids will be created and interact.
Given enough time and enough interactions simple forms of life may be created. The first would find conditions very hostile today and would quickly be consumed. In their time, however, there was no competition and a soup of food they could feed on. Here was your common source.
The sun and our solar system are probably very ordinary. Probably very common in the Universe which has an uncountable number of such similar systems. If a planet is the right distance from it’s sun for water vapor to condense to liquid water and is big enough to retain an atmosphere then it’s almost inevitable that life may be produced. Such life will evolve. Life may also evolve on planets which are very different to our own. It may even evolve using liquid ammonia instead of water. Perhaps life may even evolve in the atmosphere of some stars!
Wherever life evolves it will face multiple challenges. Extinction Level Events (ELE) such as impacts, solar flares, nearby supernovas, and now we've detected black hole collisions which are even more violent. All may kill life off but the process will start again. In some cases intelligent life may evolve and be lucky enough to survive long enough to ask this same question. 

“Are there alien species in the Universe?”