Monthly Archives: August 2008

Scrabulous is dead, long live WordScraper

Even though the official Scrabble isn’t available outside North America, Scrabulous has disappeared for all Facebook users.

The Scrabulous guys have thrown the game through the mixer and come up with WordScraper… which, to be honest, looks pretty similar, and may be almost as much fun.

Second Life heading down the gurgler

Didn't I say Second Life was a waste of time?

The companies that rushed to set up bases within the cult virtual world of Second Life appear to have wasted their time as many have shut down and others are “ghost towns”, an Australian researcher has found.aquaponics fish food cost2008/08/20/1218911810203.html?page=fullpage”>The Age: Few lives left for Second Life

As one of the pundits in the article says, “If you're looking at real numbers of people in terms of brand engagement, Second Life is really not the place to be.”

Can't argue with that. I reckon SecondLife is the 21st century equivalent to the original MSN.


Spam bounces

I’ve been getting an extraordinary amount of spam bounce email. One mailbox got thousands and thousands over the weekend, and I know I’m not the only one.

Which means of course that my address is being used in vain by some git of a spammer.

Unfortunately my spam detection software isn’t so crash hot on zapping the bounces, because it’s a bounce, not an actual spam message. And there’s probably not much to be done about spammers forging my address.

After trying in vain to keep up with it all, I eventually blocked the common bounce From address, by adding them to the Plesk blacklist:


Hardly ideal, since I’d never see genuine bounces. But it has slowed the flow.

What’s annoying is that about 10-20% of bounces come from a myriad of other addresses. These include the intended recipient’s address, and a variety of apparently semi-random addresses set up as support emails or automatic bounce processes.

There’s also a smattering of “MAILER-DAEMON@” — which isn’t even a legal address. And a lot of them come in with no date field. Very dodgy!


And maybe it’s time someone came up with a viable way of verifying sender addresses, and stopping From address fraud.

Twitter shuts down outbound SMS

Twitter shuts down outbound SMS updates for all users except in Canada, India and the US. Inbound via the UK number still works.

Understandable I suppose, given the huge cost they must incur from it. But must be annoying to those who use it.

A lot of Aussies in the initial comments, probably due to the timing of the announcements. Introducing an Australian inbound SMS number would have cushioned the blow.

Bigpond selling MP3s

This should be welcome to Aussies who can’t buy DRM-free music from Amazon, who want to be free of Apple’s iTunes DRM and don’t want to delve into the shadowy world of AllOfMP3(*): Telstra’s Bigpond Music has started selling DRM-free MP3-format music. It only covers certain artists at the moment, but here’s hoping it expands rapidly, as they appear to have lined-up deals with most of the major labels:

The agreements will see BigPond offer music from record labels Sony BMG, Universal Music, Warner Music and EMI, as well as leading Australian independent record labels and distributors including MGM, Inertia, Liberation, IODA, and AmpHead.

Tracks are A$1.69 (the same as iTunes); albums are A$16.50 (slightly cheaper) — or A$15 for Bigpond broadband subscribers.

(*) I don’t know for sure if AllOfMP3 is legit or not, but I do know this — for the amount of money they’re charging, no way is any money getting back to the artist.

GMaps parseable locations

Trying to make location descriptions parseable in Google Maps (eg for putting in Google Calendar)?

Include the state and country, even abbreviated, so it doesn't default to DefaultTown, USA. And put the human-descriptive bit of it in parenthesis. After the computer-parseable bit of the address works okay.

So even though the locals will know exactly what y

ou mean, don't use: Parliament House, Melbourne

Instead do something more like this: Corner Bourke and Spring Street, Melbourne, Vic, AU (Parliament House), which GMaps can accurately map and point to — and nicely puts your (Title) in a big font.


One third party: a tiny bit more complexity; Many: :-(

I didn’t find the most interesting part of the StackOverflow podcast #16 to be my question. I direct you to 17:06 in, where Jeff discusses the pros and cons of using OpenID as the authentication mechanism for StackOverflow:

Atwood: Granted, there’s a third entity here so there’s going to be a tiny bit more complexity.

What Jeff’s overlooked here is the Combinatorial Complexity; he’s not hooking up with an OpenID provider, he’s hooking up with all OpenID providers, which he acknowledged earlier can be a bit of a problem [34:48 in podcast #7]:

Atwood: Well you can, I found that Yahoo doesn’t really do attribute exchange very well.

If you look at the uservoice… forum… bug-reporting… suggestion-y thing for the StackOverflow beta, you see a lot of people complaining “my OpenID provider doesn’t work [at all]/[properly] with your site”.
OpenID has a spec, but given the difficulties being experienced, it mustn’t be terribly tight or there’s no reference implementation to validate against.

Having said all that, guess what I’m going to be using as my authentication process on my next website?

Google Streetview in AU

Google Maps has launched Streetview for some Australian cities.

Flinders Street Station, Melbourne

View Larger Mapaquaponics aquariuma>

Age story

PS. Japan just launched too

Looks like the Citylink tunnels caused some GPS glitches — it thinks there are little bits of road way in the middle of The Domain.

Google blog announcement


Oh no…

If you are a member of one or more Yahoo Groups, and dread the newbies who unwittingly send through humongous attachments, then watch out.

Just a heads up that the maximum file size that can be attached to a message has been increased from 1.5 megabytes to 15 megabytes. — Yahoo Groups blog

15 megabytes?! Why on earth would they want to allow attachments of that size through email, particularly when YG has

shared files functionality? Ironically the shared files can only be up to 5 Mb.

God help you if you're on dialup.

And we know that YG already has reliability problems. Who knows what'll happen when people are regularly emailing through 15Mb video files.

Of course, group moderators can flick the switch to filter out all attachments, but it's a case of all or nothing.

(Nice to see Yahoo keep a tight lid on people leaving comment spam on their official blogs. heh.)


Flash crash

Is it just me who's having stability problems with Sometimes when I'm loading pages, it crashes the browser completely. Locks it up. It happens at home, on both my PCs, in both IE7 and Firefox on XP SP2, and appears to be linked to a video player Flash applet displayed on some pages, particularly at night and weekends when they appear not to have other content such as adverts to show.

Age crash

Oddly it doesn't occur at work, but it causes big problems at home. I've up

dated to the latest Flash plugin and that doesn't seem to help. I haven't found any other Flash applets that cause the issue.

I've put into IE's Restricted Sites list. That neatly zaps the use of plugins like Flash.

There appears to be no equivalent method in Firefox. Flashblock would do the job, but is a little like a sledgehammer to crack a nut. AdBlock Plus should do better.

Of course, none of this solves the root cause. I wonder if it's just me.