Morning Rant #2: Spam Frustrations

I have a Wiki that I set up to try to stimulate some discussion about some sort of replacement to the DAFIF data that is going away in October. So far, it’s been pretty much a bust – nobody has contributed anything in months, nobody has done any of the grunt work like figuring out a database schema or XML schema or even the user interface, and so I’m thinking of forgetting the whole idea. I don’t have the time to do all the work myself, and if nobody else is going to do any, it isn’t going to get done. But that’s not what this rant is about.

This morning, I get a notification from the Wiki software that somebody has edited nearly every single page in the whole damn Wiki. Needless to say, it was all spam. It took me nearly two hours of messing around in RCS to get rid of every instance of the spam. But even worse, is that it turns out that somebody had already inserted the same spam into the navigation bars of the wiki months ago, and I hadn’t noticed. So my Wiki is actually showing up quite high in Google searches for certain drugs. ARGGGH!

Also, a while ago I mentioned that this blog tends to get spam in brief spurts of a few dozen spams over the course of a weekend, and then nothing for weeks at a time. Well, that seems to have ended – I’m getting spam every day now. I knew it was too good to be true. Fortunately SpamKarma2 is doing a great job of finding it and quarantining it so I don’t have to continually check. And it’s pretty good about not having false positives either – comments that it thinks are borderline spam are given a chance to fill out a captcha and then that comment gets through, and subsequent comments from the same user are given a few positive points. So I’m actually relieved that the expected has happened, and it hasn’t inconvenienced me much.

Morning Rant #1: Work Frustrations

A couple of weeks ago, my work computer froze up hard while I was copying the source code tree to my thumb drive so I could do some work at home. (Yes, probably a gross violation of security rules, but it’s either that or do a lot less work.) Afterwards, I’ve had nothing but problems with ClearCase – I had to toss out a couple of the views I had, and make new ones, and even with those ones, about once every two days I’ll get some sort of I/O error and have to do a “ct recoverview -f -tag tomblin_DCOS6.0” to get it working again. There were other problems on that machine. Plus it’s running on a 2.4 Linux kernel and RedHat 8 and all our new stuff is being developed on 2.6 and CentOS 4.2.

I decided the time had come to reformat and reinstall CentOS. The install went relatively smoothly, except at one point in the sequence I saw a message about a problem on one of my hard disks flash by too fast for me to read. Of course now that I’ve got the OS installed, I have to find and install Clearcase, Java, Jikes, Eclipse, Crossover Office, Microsoft Office, and Notes. But first I want to test that drive. I told smartctl to start a long test on both drives. I got Clearcase, Java and Jikes installed (the others can wait) and tried to do some work. And found I couldn’t, because one of my cow-orkers, who loves to “refactor”, managed to refactor a couple of files out of existance, so I can’t do a top level build successfully.

While that was going on, I tried Firefox. The Firefox that CentOS installed was 1.07, rather than the 1.5 I had been using, and I got a strange thick gray bar at the bottom of the screen below the status bar. It’s about as thick as the navigation toolbar up top, with a tiny red caret on the left side, but nothing else. I can’t seem to get it to go away, even by switching themes.

Ok, next up was Thunderbird. It opened up, and for my normal mail account, it showed “Drafts”, “Sent” and “Trash”, but no “Inbox”. I checked in the directory, and there was definitely an Inbox there. I sent myself a test message, it sent, but still no Inbox. I tried “Create a new folder”, but it wouldn’t let me create an Inbox because one already existed. Ok, I said to myself, obviously Thunderbird is hosed. How about Evolution. I opened up Evolution, and set up an account. It showed a couple of folders, but no Inbox! So I said “to hell with this”, and exited Evolution. But when I tried to blow away my .evolution directory, I got a bunch of NFS errors and some of the files wouldn’t go away.

That’s when I chucked it all and went home. I figured somebody on Monday can help me, or get me new hardware.