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Oops... Lost Comments

Somehow, an empty pattern got into our URL spam blacklist, so the blog was discarding everybody's comments for the past couple hours. Sorry about that. It should be fixed now.

Note to anyone using the WordPress blacklist plugin: I don't recommend using their "Delete & Add" or "Harvest information from deleted comments" features.

The End of Comment Spam?

I've installed the "WordPress": "NoFollow plugin": in order to discourage comment spammers. Basically, the plugin adds an attribute rel="NoFollow" to all links in comments and trackbacks, including author links. This prevents search engines from counting a link in their ranking algorithms, making comment spam useless to the spammer. Read more »

Technological Solutions 1, Legislative 0

Graph of spam since passage of the CAN-SPAM actAccording to "The New York Times": (use "BugMeNot": if it prompts you to log in), the amount of spam has increased to an all time high in the year since the passage of the CAN-SPAM act. At best, the act has done little to nothing to curb spam on the internet. Read more »

Open source antivirus for Windows

Recently I got a new laptop for work, so I gave my old one to my wife. Since she didn't want to learn two new OSes at the same time (she was on a Mac) and she did want to play World of Warcraft, I wiped Linux off the machine and left only XP. Since I had only used XP for the rare occasions where I needed to walk people through XP things or I needed to run Office for those documents that OpenOffice doesn't handle yet, or to build Windows executables of Python apps, I didn't have a virus scanner installed. Read more »

Rating Inflation on eBay

While looking for an atomic analog alarm clock (an exceedingly rare item), I came across a few auctions from a couple of sellers. I noticed that both sellers had 100% positive feedback (a surprise because I don't usually use eBay), so I browsed through the text of the feedback. On each seller the vast majority of the feedback included ridiculous superlatives and lots of exclamation marks and plusses. Buried among the comments I found a couple of clearly neutral or negative texts, but each with a positive rating. Read more »

Illinois Governor Launching Program to Reimport Windows

Despite opposition from Microsoft, Illinois will soon become the nation's first government to help residents buy cheaper software not only from India but from Russia and Malaysia as well.

Microsoft has forcefully objected to efforts to formalize software purchases from India and elsewhere, saying it cannot vouch for the quality of its software once it leaves the country. In addition, according to a Microsoft spokesperson, if everyone purchased the low cost version of Windows, they would not be able to pay their huge R&D costs. Read more »

Is pay per click a sustainable business model?

When a client of mine took out ads via Google and Overture, one thing the marketing guy told us was not to click on the links, because they were charged per click. The first question that came to my mind was, "What's to stop a competitor from making fraudulent clicks?" I figured that Google and Overture must both have ways of filtering out those clicks. It turns out "they don't.": Read more »

Since when does \"open source\" mean \"volunteers only?\"

LinuxWorld seems to think that hiring employees is "antithetical to the open source philosophy":;1522300181;fp;2;fpid;1. I would think they would know better. Since when is being written and marketed entirely by volunteers a requirement of open source? Is "MySQL": not open source software?

It's kind of amusing that many open source advocates fail to realize that open source and capitalism go hand in hand, even while they themselves practice capitalism in their own open source related operations.

British regulator to free the spectrum

from "Techworld":

bq. Ofcom is planning the biggest shake-up in telecoms regulation since it began 100 years ago. For most of the radio spectrum, users currently hold pre-defined licences to operate specific technologies. Now, Ofcom has decided that market forces can do a better job: by 2010, companies will be able to trade spectrum without reference to Ofcom, and also change the use of that spectrum as they please. Read more »

Satellite radio: the future of mobile broadcasting or an interim technology?

Imagine having hundreds of channels of music, talk, news, comedy, wherever you are in the country, at least if you're in your car or you have a standalone receiver. This is the concept behind XM and Sirius Satellite radio. With Howard Stern's "switch to Sirius":, it would seem that this medium is about to take off, just like cable and satellite have been taking viewers away from terrestrial broadcast television. Read more »

Space, here I come!

via "TCS":

bq. The vision is enticing but the facts suggest that space tourism is not ready for market. Read more »

The Economist names Ireland best country to live in

via "BBC":

bq. Ireland is the best place to live in the world, according to a "quality of life" assessment by Economist magazine.

bq. The country's combination of increasing wealth and traditional values gives it the conditions most likely to make its people happy, the survey found.

bq. Ireland was followed by Switzerland, Norway and Luxembourg. All but one of the top 10 were European countries. Read more »

Reframing the public support/patent debate

When it comes to lowering the high cost of drugs, most of the debate seems to center around whether it's better to fund drug research through government-granted monopolies or by using taxpayer dollars to fund the research directly. Having been exposed to some of the grant writing process and the patent process, I can't imagine how anyone can think either of these two alternatives is a good idea. Perhaps there's an alternative other than using government force through either monopoly granting or taxation that will get us the research we want. Read more »

In defense of eliminating loopholes

via "Mises": Read more »

The American <strike>Scheme</strike>Dream

Low interest rates, mortgage guarantees via the "private companies" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and tax incentives have led to a housing market that is growing at a "significantly faster rate than the CPI":

While inflation is generally seen to transfer wealth from lenders to debtors, one thing that seems to have gone mostly unacknowledged is that inflation in the housing market results in the transfer of wealth from the young to the old and the poor to the rich, as well. Read more »