Someone listing themselves as "jonny" and leaving bogus gmail accounts has started dropping redirect scripts into my comment threads. Right now it just opens Google, but it could have been used to launch malicious code for all I know. I added a line to Pollxn that destroys script tags, and searched for the relevant comments, so it should be safe now.
Anyone else seen this kind of behavior pop up?
The scripts are hosted at usuc.us, which is listed as belonging to a James Sullivan living in Colorado Springs. He runs designcolorado.com--don't visit, it's a porn gateway. Looks pretty seedy to me. And now I'm paranoid about leaving security holes in Pollxn's code. I hate being paranoid.
So I did what everyone should do when a spammer is dumb enough to leave their tracks out in the open, and I called him. A woman answered the phone, said he's out of town until Thursday. I'll try again then, and ask him why he's trying to obstruct my content and mess with my server. I'm sure the answers will be enlightening.
I just got off the phone with Mr. James Sullivan, whose name has been used to plaster malicious cross-site scripts across the Internet and especially on Movable Type-based blogs. Unless he's an exceptional actor, Mr. Sullivan is not actually responsible for this spam. He's a victim of a particularly vicious identity theft, one which he seemed barely able to comprehend.
I introduced myself as a tech journalist from Washington, DC--technically true, and it's much less confrontational. Do you own usuc.us? I asked him. "I don't even know how to put up a web site," he said. "Why are all these people calling me?" Briefly, I tried to explain what was going on, including the porn site. "Don't visit it," I said, "it just opens straight to dirty pictures." Mr. Sullivan noted that he had no intentions of visiting a porn site--although, granted, his wife was in the room.
This led to the question of how he was going to fix this. He's going to the cops tomorrow, he said. "Well," I said, "this may be a federal matter, to be honest with you." "The feds?" he exclaimed with a big-government skepticism that I'm sure does Colorado proud. Yes, the feds, I said, and also said he'd probably have to check with InterNIC and ICANN.
"I thought I was going to have to call Al Gore!"
"No, Mr. Sullivan. He only invented the Internet, he doesn't fix it."
So there you have it. I'm sure it's a small consolation for the people who, unlike me, faced serious problems as a result of the scriptbots working in Mr. Sullivan's name. But at least all the scripts did is mess up a few web pages. Mr. Sullivan will probably be getting phone calls off and on for a while to come. I think he's gotten the shorter end of the stick.
I did this on TW.net once, before I had a blog and I would just change the front page randomly. I think it was inspired by an old post at Emma Story's blog. It's better than just saying "I'm busy."
Last week and the next, I am:
Updates as events warrant.
Okay, the lights are back on, and everything seems to be where I left it. Guess Neureal fixed their DNS issues. Now, who's got an opinion?
Oh, yes. I do.
I'm typing from a Konsole window on my first Linux installation. I'm impressed by how slick the GUI is, and a little bit amazed at how unhelpful Linux still manages to be. Would it kill you guys to write just a paragraph on (for example) the four different partition formats I'm given? Sure, I can google it, but I probably shouldn't have to.
Also, the live CD (try out the whole OS from a bootable CD before you install) is really slick. But you can't tell me that most people really want to go around downloading a 700Mb ISO before they install. It's such a weird mix of technical savvy and personal cluelessness.
More than a year now, I've been writing here. I still couldn't tell you why. But I remember thinking that at some point I'd want to use it as a way to chart my obsessive cycles. I haven't quite figured out how to gather that information from the filesystem, but I have managed to create a category count, so at least we can see where I'm focusing my time.
Here's a handy visual guide:
Obviously, this doesn't tell us actually how much text I've written for each category (although I could measure that by kB if I needed to), and if we looked at it that way the slice for Random entries would be far smaller. But I do think it's interesting to see how I spend 1/5 of my time writing about music, almost as much about games, and almost 1/10 each on fiction, the World Bank, and the medium itself.
I also think it's interesting to look at this and think about how much the categories actually overlap. After all, a significant number of those gaming posts are actually linked to music (at least 11 of them, by the extended count), and it wouldn't surprise me to find other ways that the categories are really just a starting point for organization. A lot like my desk, this is a messy system. I think that's one of the reasons I like it.
You may have noticed that there's been a variety of poorly-behaved commenters frequenting Mile Zero lately. In response, I'd like to make my comment policy perfectly clear, so that trolls can find the line.
What makes a good commenter? I follow a simple rule before I click the submit button. I ask myself: "Does this comment really help explore the original post? Does it give other people something interesting to which they themselves can respond? Or is it just that I want to hear myself talk?" Too many people will leave comments when they don't have anything to say, just because they can. These are especially frustrating, not only for curious visitors, but for the original writers, who feel like their time is being wasted.
It's important to remember that a good commenter faces the same challenge as a writer. They must build credibility and show that they're worth the attention--and if they do so, people will notice. The flip side is you don't start with any credibility at all, which trolls usually forget. Words may sound cutting from that side of the monitor, but to everyone else they're just another anonymous voice with an axe to grind.
So... slow month, huh? Sorry about that. But I've got a few good excuses for the cobwebs in the corners around here. The results of a lot of work are really starting to pay off:
When I went on my first job-interview blitz, right before I graduated from college, I had one interviewer ask me the difference between a degree in communication and one in linguistics. I tried for about five minutes to explain, using all kinds of metaphors and examples, but I'm not sure the point ever made it across. I'm not going to try again. If you are confused, trust me. They are very different fields.
In any case, I absolutely do not have a degree in linguistics, and although I mumble my way through a couple of different languages, that doesn't necessarily make me any kind of expert. Example: in a previous post, I referred jokingly to openmikes.org as "incorrectly spelled." The site's developer (Paul Roub) has written a quick post, in which he refers me to this unbelievable smackdown by an actual Ph.D. in Linguistics, detailing why the spelling "mic" is an abomination before god and country.
Wow. As is only right and proper, I acknowledge my mistake--open mike it is.
And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go spend some quality time with my AP Stylebook. I'm feeling a little faint.