Tag: website

Putting captcha to work

Quite a long ago, an unfriendly Mr. Spam exploited my blog system to put his (maybe her) unwanted advertising into my website. I resorted to a CAPTCHA (Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart), but also found that the test was harmless for the clever and determined spammer.In fact such a guy could forward the CAPTCHA test to another website so that clueless users could put their brainpower to unlock the test. Let’s rephrase that. A clever spammer could set up an high traffic website (such as something with pictures… you guess which) where users are requested to solve the CAPTCHA in order to access the content. This website doesn’t forge CAPTCHA tests, rather it forwards the tests from a target site that the spammer want to access. Once the CAPTCHA is solved by the unaware gif-watcher, the spammer’s system is able to spam the target site.
Fortunately this solution is limited by the number of people willing to solve CAPTCHA to access a content that has as a stringent requirement to be cheaply collectible. I guess that that constraint limits the application of this solution just to a few, high traffic, blogs or websites.
I read today on slashdot that not only spammers are that clever. At Carnegie Mellon University researchers have found a way to exploit CAPTCHA to data-entry large volume of ancient manuscripts. The CAPTCHA proposes two handwritten words. The first is already decoded and is the real locking system, the second is a word to decode. The result, if confirmed by other users of the system, is then turned into the manuscript digital translation.

Time awareness

I find extremely difficult being aware of the time required for various activities. I usually underestimate the time it takes to do stuff. Maybe the trouble is the delta between the speed of though and the speed of life. Usually life is slower and much more troublesome.An interesting technique for dealing with the troubled nature of real world is to add a margin to you planning. In “Game Development and Production” Erik Bethke suggest to consider a day a week as non-working in the planning so to get estimations that can survive to occasional disasters the universe is so generously filled. I usually do this and I find it is good, nevertheless my estimations tend to be optimistic.
One of the point of being aware of time is to recognize when using something pre-made is faster than rolling your own solution. So at last I have to admit that rewriting a new version of my website software from scratch is not something I can do now.
It is true that since I changed my job I have more time at home, but it is equally true that my main source of development time was in train commuting (notebook PCs rule). And I can’t do software development while driving car (apart from the travel to be much shorter).
So at last I resorted to look around what ready made software could do. I found two package that look promising: Drupal and phpWebSite. Unfortunately both require an SQL database which is not available in my current provider subscription. So I spent a bit of time and found pDB a complete SQL database implementation in PHP.
So now it is only a matter of making one of those package to use pDB and I should be done, fast and easy… wishful thinking 🙂


I didn’t think my blog was so worth of spamming effort. Nonetheless my dear spammers got across the barrier I have placed on their way. I thought it was enough to remove the “add comment” form from the website. Unfortunately this proved inadequate, in fact the spammer went directly to the “add comment” URL. I had to disable this feature more thoroughly.Also I reckon I understand what’s the goal of spamming a blog. Actually their spam stays in the comment, but suppose I had an email notification to be sent when a new comment is added to a blog entry…


Someone spammed my blog comments. Ah-ah very funny. I had to clean up everything and to disable the option of leaving comments to my blog entries. Sorry for that, I hope to come out soon with a viable solution to let comments in while leaving the spam out.

Photoalbum Ready

The photo album brought a little trouble. In fact the photoalbum index page is buried in the image subtree and this causes some problems with the relative reference schema I used for the site. Anyway I mastered the trouble. I don’t like too much the solution since I feel it’s not so clean, but it works.Also it is time to rewrite the indexing pane in order to improve the navigation and the consistency with the content.

Yesterday I finished the book “Bread Alone”. I found it nice and intriguing. It is the story of an American young woman with a passion for cooking bread. The book starts with her first serious boyfriend, going on with the marriage, how it broke and the way she walked to find herself.

Hidden Mail Working

The hidden mail mechanism is working, thank to Alberto who provided a solution for making it work on Internet Explorer. I trust that mail collector crawlers don’t execute the Javascript contained in a page, anyway I let you know. I’m preparing the first photoalbum (pics taken during the last fall in Trentino).
Thank you to all of you who gave me advices on this site. I’ll try to: add some colors, add some pictures, reduce the text size, change the first sentence (the one of “being an engineer”).
Those who are engineers will understand me… you’ll be able to master engineering studies only when your way of thinking change. Once I dreamed about being an inertia ellipsoid, if you managed that without getting mad… well you ARE an engineer 🙂
Therefore yes, I’m joking, but not too much (Haha only serious).
BTW this site is not valid HTML 4.01 Transitional, at least this is what the W3C Validator says. I’m working to make everything compliant, but it is not a priority and it’ll take time.