Atom

Blogwise has just added its support to the Atom project.

In fact, I’ve already written support for Atom into the version 2 code. As many of you will know, it’s my medium- to long-term goal to make the most of metadata when submitting blogs. In my humble opinion 🙂 if the blog provides metadata in the form of RSS; RDF; Atom, etc any directories listing it should make maximum use of this information – otherwise, what’s the point?

Anyway, the Atom project looks like a bloody good attempt to standardise the standards! Good luck to them.

Another one bites the dust

Bugger. Onyx RSS has gone 404. The author’s website is no more.

Onyx RSS is a very handy RSS parser for PHP, with no external requirements. I use it to read RSS feeds in Blogwise. Now it’s disappeared I don’t suppose there’ll be any support for Atom 🙁

Anybody know of any other similar scripts? If none are around I’m tempted to either write my own (eventually) or contact the Onyx author and ask to take control of it, although I’m not the most able of people to manage it time-wise it really plays a key part in Blogwise ergo I’d need to put some time into it anyway!

Spam Wars

Microsoft are apparantly considering using memory-intensive puzzles to help fight spam. The principle being that for every email sent, the sender is required to use up a certain amount of their computer’s time to prove that resources have been spent on that message.

The BBC report suggests that when the sender starts the email process, they’ll be asked to solve a puzzle. Interestingly Microsoft have noticed that Moore’s Law – which would mean that in a few years time the cost would be significantly less (as CPUs are faster) – can be avoided if they use memory transfers instead, since memory transaction speed grows at a lesser rate.

In the meantime, Freeserve employ an interesting tactic for their users. They automatically force all port 25 (SMTP) traffic through their own mail servers, so effectively all outgoing mail is logged. This caused me all sorts of problems when I was testing a remote server’s SMTP but for the 99% of dial-up users this could generally be a useful move. I’m not sure precisely why they do it. Maybe they want/need to log all outgoing mail traffic, and any mail traffic originating from a Freeserve dial-up account can be accounted for.

Sounds quite sensible. Perhaps if all IP addresses using DHCP were forced to use their local ISP’s SMTP server it would be much easier to find the origin of the spam – fixed IP addresses would have an owner (somebody would be paying for it somewhere), and dynamic addresses would be attached to a username at any particular time. But I doubt that’s going to happen soon! There’s always tunnelling too, but by the same system you’d be able to identify those computers that were breached. Wouldn’t necessarily solve the spam problem (only stem it?) but would certainly help trace the source.

That gets me thinking – if Freeserve are routing all SMTP through their own server, and Microsoft reckon that a 10-20 second delay will mathematically throttle spam, what if Freeserve (and other ISPs) put a delay on the SMTP server themselves, and prevent multiple connections? Surely that would have a similar effect. Any mail then seen to go through Freeserve’s servers (might need certification?) could then be given a more positive welcome in the recipient’s inbox.

More Bloody Exams

Yes, it’s that time again. I found out today I have all three exams in two days. E-Business Techniques is Friday 23rd Jan 9:30am, Scripting Languages is same day from 2:30pm. AI is the 24th at 9:30am and yes, that’s a Saturday too.

I like the way my exams are very nicely consolidated, but I also am really not looking forward to that sort of intense, multiple-theme revision. Argh.

In other news apparantly all of Southampton University’s exam papers will now be printed in Comic Sans. At first I thought this was a joke, but apparantly it’s true. The University cite legibility as the reason for the font-swapping, but I’m sure these people would disagree with such use.

Paperclip Diagnostics

The trusty paperclip. Man’s best friend. I’ve been having a minor fault on my car (Vauxhall Omega) for a while now. The ECU (computer, basically) will light up on the dashboard with a fault and sometimes the car will stall. If you take the car and a loaded wallet to your nearest Vauxhall garage, they’ll diagnose it in return for lots of money. You can get it diagnosed with any garage that carries a small testing kit (about 50) too.

Today, I looked on Google and found this PDF that instructs you to put a paperclip between two pins in your car. The dashboard will then indicate, through a series of flashes and pauses, which fault(s) have been logged. Amazing and free!

Turns out that I have a high voltage on the oxygen sensor circuit. Google once again comes to the rescue; this means that there’s too much oxygen in the system! Hooray, fixing can now commence.

The next stage would be a car that self-diagnoses itself, then repairs itself automatically – if the oxygen intake is too wide why can’t it just close itself a bit, or am I being naive?