December 31, 2003

RSS to NNTP gateway

Filed under: — 4:46 am

Gary Lawrence Murphy points to a beta RSS gateway that will allow you to read RSS feeds in an old-school NNTP newsreader. If this caught on, he points out that NNTP would solve many of the bandwidth problems of RSS.

My problem with the whole idea is that there isn’t a single Windows NNTP newsreader with a decent user interface. RSS readers, on the other hand, are getting better and better – I’ve recently been very impressed by FeedReader and FeedDemon. (I never actually use either one, but that’s a topic for later.)

December 29, 2003

Avoiding phishing scams

Filed under: — 4:26 am

A particular type of spam/scam called phishing is making the news more and more lately. This is a new cute name for the classic impersonation scheme where you get an email claiming to be from Paypal, eBay, or your bank and asking you to verify your username and password.

Right now these scam emails are pretty obvious to the informed–they make spelling and grammar mistakes the real company never would, include obvious fraudulent links, and ask for information no real company would ask for. But eventually one will be professional and subtle, so I thought I would share my strategy to guarantee these scammers can’t reach you. (More inside)


December 26, 2003

December 23, 2003

December 19, 2003

December 18, 2003

December 16, 2003

December 14, 2003

December 13, 2003

CSS and JavaScript development bookmarklets

Filed under: — 6:29 am

I ran across this commentary by Simon Willison on using bookmarklets to experiment with CSS. It points to Jesse Ruderman’s excellent collection of bookmarklets, which includes some great examples of what a line of JavaScript can accomplish.

The Web development section includes features like test css, which lets you type CSS rules to apply to the current page, and edit css, which lets you edit the current page’s styles and see the results in realtime. They both work on Mozilla browsers only, but it’s worth installing Firebird just for these – they’ll help greatly with my next CSS project.

There are also several useful bookmarklets for script developers: You can open a JavaScript shell that has access to the current page and view the scripts and variables on the current page. Be sure to check out the other categories of bookmarklets, such as the comprehensive list of search engine tools.

December 12, 2003

December 9, 2003

December 7, 2003

Why RSS isn’t always a good thing

Filed under: — 4:45 pm

Via Doc Searls: Gary Lawrence Murphy’s The End of RSS complains about the excessive bandwidth used by his RSS feed. Dan Sugalski also complains. They don’t know the half of it.

The Quotations Page offers RSS feeds to syndicate daily quotes. My logs show 74,257 requests for these files on a single day last week. Most downloaded the entire file despite the fact that it changes only once every 24 hours. Based on this, the RSS feeds use 157 MB of bandwidth per day. This is negligible to me (the rest of this busy site uses almost 5 GB per day) but I’ve had to do quite a bit of tweaking over the years to keep the sheer number of RSS requests from overwhelming the server.

In my case, a large part of the problem is Ximian Evolution, an information manager for the GNOME linux desktop. My feeds are included by default in every installation, which resulted in an effective distributed DOS attack against my site until I took measures against it. Thousands of sites using this software poll my site every 5 minutes.

Nearly 65% of my RSS requests are from Evolution. I have configured Apache to return a 403 error code to these requests. I hate to make the feed useless for these clients, but I had no other choice since my bug reports to the Evolution coders have been consistently ignored, and it will cut my RSS bandwidth in half.


December 5, 2003

December 1, 2003

(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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