Category Archives: maintenance

Server overloaded by moronic spammers

I got an email this morning noting that my blog was taking “forever” to load a single post.

A quick check, and I found that it was running 70x overloaded, due to a vast number of spammers trying (and, in every case, failing) to submit wordpress comment-spam.

No spams will get through, because wordpress is set to only allow comments from people who’ve commented before – that’s a chicken-egg scenario that spammers can’t escape. (I wonder. Would the scourge that is “wordpress comment-spam” be reduced easily, instantly if Automattic (the people that make WordPress) had this as the default?).

…but at 2,000+ spammers a day, it was bringing the virtual site down. Server was fine, but I had the site limited precisely so that *it* would die instead of the server, in cases like this.

Now we’re going to try something new, since Automattic’s Akismet is pretty much useless these days. Anti-Spam, let’s see how you do…

T-Machine *may* briefly disappear…

T-Machine.org is up for renewal, Joker.com won’t accept credit and debit cards any more, so I’m having to remote pull everything to a new host. Hopefully this will work first time, without screw-ups…

(Joker.com doesn’t take any other form of payment – PayPal, bank transfer, etc. They used to do plain Credit/Debit, until recently (that’s now been removed) when they switched to the “insecure password and spam email account” system that Visa/Mastercard are pushing)

This Visa/Mastercard system is not only a joke, it’s also a great way to lose business: moving to the new system just cost Joker.com a 5+ year customer – and I’d have continued to be a customer for decades to come, I’m sure. Web 0.1 triumphs again …

A polite request from a wishes-to-be sponsor …

Notes to advertisers: checking the author’s name, email address, and what the blog is about, and acknowledging how odd their advertising attempt is – these are all good things. You’d be surprised (or depressed) how often people cold-contact me without doing any of the above. I almost feel sorry that I had to refuse…

“Hello Adam,

My name is [] from []. I was just wondering if you can write a short review about our site. Although I know your site is about Video Gaming, everybody needs car insurance, and I hope a short article in between your main content would not be a big deal. As a ‘thank you for your time’, we’ll give you a $25 gift certificate to GameStop.

Look forward to hearing back from you.”

…but given my day-rate is well over $1500 (and I’m working flat-out already) … a $25 gift cert isn’t really appealing. Sorry!

PS: the *webserver* (not the blog) is configured to block + redirect any traffic coming from insurance sites, so I’m not concerned at the impact on SEO traffic flowing this way for the fact I’ve now quoted those (bad) magic words. They’ll be a bit surprised – the current redirect code is (indirectly thanks to my Alma Mater) “[this webserver] is a teapot” (an obscure reference to the web-server that *was also* a filter-coffee machine, many years ago)

PPS: most sites about SEO are also blocked + redirected, so I’m no longer afraid of those 3 letters either…

PPPS: I post these emails mainly because so few normal people talk about this stuff (as opposed to adsense “professional” web-marketers, who talk about nothing else), and I think it’s an important topic. What’s “good” advertising? What’s “bad”? How should you approach a website when cold-calling about ads? What should a site-owner consider acceptable terms? etc…

Why am I ignoring you? (Sorry, I didn’t know you’d called)

I just discovered something rather annoying: people have been leaving voicemail on my cell phone. Please don’t. I can almost guarantee that I’ll never receive the message.

Normally, this doesn’t happen: I have a recorded message explaining:

  • don’t leave a message – I won’t receive it. No, really. Don’t leave one “just in case”: you’re being self-delusional. I WILL NOT receive it. (It’s amazing how many people struggle with this concept :)).
  • if you need to contact me, you should already have my email address; if you don’t even have my email, then you shouldn’t have my phone number in the first place
  • if it’s urgent, you can try sending an SMS, but if I wasn’t answering the phone, it’s probably switched off or out of cell reception, so I might not see the SMS for a while either (but at least I’ll see the SMS as soon as I’m back in range / switched on)

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Web 0.1: Feedburner + Google say “F*** YOU”

Today, I attempted to login to Feedburner.

I had to go through not 1, not 2, but three different adverts for “here’s why we’re forcing you to create a new Google/Gmail account, you really want to do it, it will be good for you”.

The third one has a link “ignore this and login to feedburner anyway”.

That link redirects back to the adverts. It didn’t last time I logged in, a mere week ago – back then, it did what it claimed to do: logged me in to Feedburner.

This time, I clicked a dozen times, with waits in between, just in case it was a momentary glitch.

Nope – Google/Feedburner is engaging in some kind of sadistic schadenfreude designed to make Feedburner users collapse psychologically, and give-in and create Google accounts. Or, if like me they already have a Google account, to delete their Feedburner identities and throw away privacy, personal data, and any semblance of control of their online personas to instead merge their account IDs.

(in some kind of surrealist nightmare, the final ad opens with the words “Moving to a Google Account is easy” (no, actually, it’s enforced), and finishes with the line “You don’t have to move today, but we’ll remind you each time you visit feedburner.com” (um, no – you’ve placed an auto-redirect that does, in fact, force me to “move today”. Bastards)).

So. Feedburner? Google? You say: “F*** YOU”? Well, then, I say: “F*** you too; harder”.

Question for RSS readers: replacement for Feedburner?

Hey, guys, I need some help!

Feedburner will be removed from the internet in 20 days time, which means I will no longer have an RSS feed.

Because of the way Google works (they do not allow multiple Google accounts to be simultaneously signed-in on the same computer), it will be physically impossible for me to use the “replacement” service from Google (I believe google thought this out very carefully indeed, and is very well aware of the consequences, but I won’t hit you with the conspiracy theory today :) ).

(and, in case you hadn’t noticed, Google has forcibly removed some of the features from Feedburner in the process, including the single most valuable one – the count of how many people are accessing your site through RSS)

Worst case scenario, I’ll go back to wordpress-managed feed, but someone with a misconfigured feed reader killed wordpress the last time I had that on, so I’m not sure how long it will stay up. I could install a cache server purely to cover the RSS feed, but that’s going to be a bunch of hassle I could do without (and I might well get it wrong, it’s been a while since I’ve configured Squid). I’ve looked at the WordPress Cache plugins, but they all have major incompatibilities / conflicts with other common plugins.

So … if I can’t find a replacement before 28 February 2009, the RSS feed may well magically disappear. Suggestions greatly appreciated!

Dear weer001 @ yahoo.com…

Please stop spamming the blog, not for me, but for yourself. There are multiple layers of spam filter (you may have noticed that none of your fake posts has got through so far), so I have the luxury of having the few “uncertain” hits emailed to me, because there’s so few. If that changes, I’ll just add another filter. I wouldn’t normally call one person out, but … your comments keep getting sent to me for moderation, and it appears you are actually *writing them by hand*.
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What topics do you want to read … followups

Thanks for everyone who voted in the survey (What topics do you want to read more about?) – very helpful.

You can help by rating the posts from now on whenever you see one that you greatly prefer / greatly dislike (I’ve added a plugin that lets you rate each post from 1 star to 5 stars without reloading the page or having to login etc).

Your top votes:

  • MMO operations issues / running online games (80%)
  • MMO programming (75%)
  • MMO design issues / inventing online games (75%)

So, you all want to know more about how to make and then run an MMO, huh? :)

But … don’t want any more Casual MMO analysis (15%) nor anything to do with Social Networking (5%), even though MMOs are really the world’s most advanced Social Networks and depend upon it for their revenue. Interesting.

So, I guess this reflects an interest in more of the MMORPG / $50 million budget side of the MMO industry? a.k.a. “how do you even spend that much money in a sensible way”?

A few generic areas there I’ve long been meaning to write about:

  • Mistakes in MMO design
  • Mistakes in MMO programming
  • Classic (and not-so-classic) MMO server architectures
  • What “running an MMO” looks like (staff, job roles, hardware, software, processes)
  • Better ways of running an MMO (mostly: different approaches to process and to software)

Is that along the right lines? If not, let me know (comment on this post, or grab my email from the About page) – suggestions / requests welcome too, although do that for information only, don’t expect me to automatically fulfil them!

And, as mattb pointed out, there’s at least one person wanting more on Component / Entity Systems. That’s tricky. The ES posts so far took a very long time to write (contrary to what some people have said, an awful lot of research and cross-checking went into them, in an attempt to clarify what has historically been a very murky and poorly-described subject, and prone to confusion and misinformation). Until recently it also looked like I was going to have an opportunity to see another ES go into production for a major MMO, and I was hoping to wait and see how that went before coming back to the topic. That ain’t going to happen now, which leaves me with several directions I could go in. Feedback needed, guys – what needs saying that isn’t already said? I’ve got one interesting post left that explains the whole “Future of MMO” part (although I think it’s pretty obvious already what that will contain), but I’m sure there’s a lot more advice and thoughts I could throw out if there’s specific areas people are looking at (except not source code – I’ve tried blogging source before, this is the wrong medium for that).

What topics do you want to read more about?

Inspired by Andrew Chen (whose question I’ve copied exactly :)), here’s a poll to find out what YOU, thre readers of this blog, would like to see more of.

(tick all that apply; if you tick the “something else” option, please comment on this post and say what’s missing)

[poll id=”2″]

If you believe in metrics, user-interaction, and sampling your userbase, doing something like this is a no-brainer :).

Ugh. VWFE post (show us the money) now fixed

A missing ” killed it. I *do* have the “correct missing tags in XML” box checked in wordpress, but apparently it doesnt go as far as to check one of the most common typos. Sigh. Would all be OK if they had a working text editor that allowed you to put source code in your posts, but they don’t, so everything has to be hand-edited in HTML. Anyway, fixed now! Sorry!

What happened to this site?

Hard disk failure. The nice people at Bytemark got a new hard disk installed within a couple of hours, and I had practically everything backed-up, but the restore process turned out to be harder than I expected.

In particular I’ll mention (because it was the only one I couldn’t solve on my own – wordpress authors don’t seem to be logging error messages for catastrophic WordPress failures, I’m not sure why!) – WordPress displayed a blank page for every URL because if WordPress can’t find the theme it thinks it’s using, it silently – no errors, no messages, no hints – just displays blank pages everywhere. Not even any HTML. And I had forgotten I was using a custom theme that I hadn’t restored :) – doh!.

Also, for some reason the last 3 weeks of posts are missing. I was sure I had a backup from last week that should have had them, so I will continue to investigate.