You must log in to comment on SEB.

For the first time in 12 years I’m requiring folks who wish to leave a comment to log in before being able to do so. The primary reason for this change is comment spam. Even though Akismet catches 99% of comment spam it only automatically deletes them on posts more than 60 days old. Any entries newer than that and it goes into a spam queue which I need to clean out periodically lest the database grow to unreasonable size. For the past several weeks the comment spam on newer entries has reached a rate of almost 4,000 comments a day. It actually takes several attempts to clean the queue because it takes so long it times out and it’s not unusual for there to be 4 or 6 new spam comments as soon as the screen refreshes on the last attempt to empty it. I tried looking for some form of unintrusive captcha that might slow the pace and nothing seems to work and if I’m going to have a more intrusive captcha I may as well just have you log in and be done with it. Since making the change several days ago there hasn’t been a single spam comment to delete.

The other reason why I’ve gone with this option is the fact that you don’t have to register an account on SEB to log into it. You can use any of a half-dozen other accounts you may already have to verify who you are. You can log into SEB using your credentials from Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Twitter, Tumblr, and even Steam. If you don’t use any of those services then you can create an account right here on SEB. All that’s required is a username, email address, and a password. I will not sell your email address to any third party, ever. One advantage to logging in is a much simpler comment form.  Just one box for writing the comment.

Hopefully this won’t be too much of a burden for the regulars who drop by. The amount of comments from non-regulars was low enough as to not be an issue in this decision. I’m sorry to have to go this route, but the amount of time I was spending trying to keep comment spam at bay makes it a necessary change.

A belated 12th Blogiversary to SEB.

It’s probably a sign that I’ve been at this blogging thing for far too long that I forgot, again, my own blogiversary. As of December 2nd, I’ve been running this blog for a full 12 years. You’ll forgive me if I take a moment to be impressed with myself.

There’s been more than one occasion in the past where I came close to packing it in — one of them not so long ago — and somehow I ended up changing my mind or finding a way to keep it going. This despite many lean years where employment was infrequent or non-existent. There’s been a lot of folks who have stopped by and hung around for awhile that I don’t see much these days, and there’s a few faces that have been here almost since the very start. To this day I am still humbled and amazed that folks drop by regularly to see what nonsense I’m babbling on about at the moment. I don’t have as much to say these days as I did in the past, but I still enjoy sharing whatever comes to mind.

Thank you for dropping in and participating. There are few other things outside of breathing that I’ve done for longer than this blog has been around. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll still be here pecking away at the keys in another 12 years.

And now here’s a completely unrelated picture that I thought was funny as shit:

Snape-candles-floating

The secret to prolific blogging is small, bite sized chunks.

I’ve been trying to get back into blogging more regularly in part so that the folks who still come here often have something to read and in part to try and build up an audience again. So I decided to take a look at my archives at the early months where I had lots of entries such as March of 2002 (50) and January of 2003 (71). What struck me about the vast majority of those entries is that they are very small. Often just a handful of sentences in a single paragraph with a few consisting of as little as two sentences. There’s also a dearth of pictures of any kind and when I wanted to point out an interesting article I’d read someplace else I often just linked to it saying “go read this” instead of quoting sections of it.

This picture has nothing to do with the article. I just thought it was funny. Expect more shit like this.

This picture has nothing to do with the article. I just thought it was funny. Expect more shit like this. It’s hard to see, but that’s Christopher Walken. Get it?

I skipped around over the months and could slowly see how my blogging style morphed into longer pieces filled with blockquotes and pictures, but fewer and fewer entries overall until we get to the situation we have today where I’m lucky if I have more than 7 entries in a month. There’s a couple of factors that contributed to this that I can see.

First is the fact that the longer a blog post is the longer it takes to write. It’s not uncommon for a post like the one I did on the so-called atheist megachurches to eat up several hours of effort spread out over the course of a day. I might start writing it before heading into work, adding pieces during short breaks at work (over lunch or while waiting for a laptop to stage), and finishing it off in a couple of hours after I get home in the evening. Part of this is rewrites and editing in an attempt to get my message across clearly and part of it is research that I’ll do while writing the entry itself. Sometimes I’ll destroy whole sections after coming up with a new point to make during the periods when I’m not actively working on the entry. The atheist megachurch entry flowed out of me pretty smoothly taking a mere four and a half hours total to write, but those hours have big gaps between edits.

The second factor is the rise of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ which are perfect for blurting out a couple of sentences about something you thought other people would be interested in knowing, but that you don’t have a whole lot to say about. While my Twitter and Facebook accounts don’t tend to be particularly active (I find 140 characters to be very limiting and I generally just don’t like Facebook), my output on Google+ is as prolific as ever. I posted 10 items yesterday alone; almost all of which fit the style of blogging I did in the early days. The vast majority have a sentence or two and then the link to whatever it is I’m sharing. If I’m really worked up there might be a full paragraph and, rarely, there’ll be a posting that has three paragraphs of ranting. In fact, looking over my G+ timeline it’s clear that I’m sharing on average 10 to 15 items a day there. Even my Facebook sharing has gotten more frequent with items I think friends and family members would want to know about, though most of what ends up on my FB profile is still just Tweets imported in. My blog ends up being left to the longer posts which I write much less frequently due to amount of time they take. I tried to solve this problem in the past by using a plugin that would import my Google+ entries into SEB so folks could see and comment on them, but some folks thought they had to be Google+ members to see the entire entry (they didn’t, it was all imported into SEB) or leave comments (they didn’t, the comments worked the same as before) so I dropped it. These days my shortest SEB posts tend to be for YouTube videos I found that I think my mother would love to see so I post them here instead of Google+ where I would normally share them. My mother reads my blog, but she refuses to join any of the social media websites so anything I share on G+, FB or Twitter she’ll never see.

Looking back at the archives I’m amazed at some of the very short entries I wrote. There’s more than a few that are a single sentence consisting of some random thought that would’ve fit perfectly into Twitter. There’s even a few that consist of sentence fragments that tie into a sentence fragment used for the title of the entry. I can remember a time when I felt a little guilty about those short entries because folks would come by the site and there’d be a couple of tiny entries and I’d worry they’d felt it wasn’t worth the effort of launching their browsers, but it seems most folks didn’t mind. So I’m going to try and regress back a bit and start sharing some of the stuff I’d toss up on Twitter or G+ here on SEB instead. SEB is my home base on the Internet and there’s no good reason I shouldn’t do the majority of my sharing here. I’ll still probably post a shit ton of stuff on G+ with occasional spurts on Twitter and Facebook, but I’m going to make more of an effort to share stuff here at my virtual fortress of solitude. So expect more frequent, if smaller, content on SEB. Some of the entries might even be tiny or consist entirely of a funny picture. It worked in the past and perhaps a return to my blogging roots is just what SEB needs.

SEB is going on hiatus.

I mentioned previously that I was once again considering shutting down SEB due to various factors including the cost, the impact it has on the shared hosting service I’m using, and the fact that I’m just not blogging much at the moment. Well, that day has come.

After 4,294 days — or more specifically 11 years, 9 months, and 2 days — I’m going to shut things down until I can figure out a cheaper hosting solution or our finances improve. Right now we’re surviving on just my income and I get paid twice a month. The majority of the first check goes towards rent and with other expenses coming out before the next paycheck arrives, the choice came down to spending $120 for the next three months of hosting or using it to buy groceries. While I am trying to lose weight, I still need to eat something.

I did look at several suggestions for cheaper hosting, but after contacting several of them and discussing how traffic heavy SEB can be most of them didn’t think they’d make a good home. Dreamhost’s WordPress virtual server seemed like the best bet, but they’re not setup to support multi-blog installations so I’d have to also have a shared hosting account for the other blogs I host and that drove the cost back up.

That said, I am making backups of SEB and the other blogs so that if I do manage to find a new home for them I can drop everything back into place. Hopefully. Perhaps I’ll get lucky and win the lotto soon and can afford a really nice dedicated server. Until then you can keep up with my blatherings on Google+. It’s been a great almost 12 years. I’m sure I’ll be back sooner or later in one form or another. Thanks to all of you who dropped by regularly to see what thing I was ranting about.

It might be time to pack up SEB and call it a day.

popequitSo the site’s been running very slow the past day and a half and today I put in a ticket with EngineHosting.com’s support to ask them to look at it. They said that my site (I host several blogs for family members, but SEB is the most trafficked of them all) was using a lot of RAM and CPU time and was impacting the shared server it was on. They restarted Apache on that server and it appears to have solved the problem for the moment, but they suggested I consider upgrading to one of their virtual server offerings. I’m sure the increased utilization is from the recent influx of visitors we had from Reddit the last week or so since I wrote the “miracles” rebuttal. It also appears to have attracted even more attempts at comment spam and WP hacking.

I already pay around $120 a quarter ($480 a year) for the hosting account I have. Moving up to the virtual server they recommended at EngineHosting would run $270 a quarter ($1080 a year), though they did say I might be able to get away with the smaller option that would only raise my costs by $15 a month ($135 a quarter) to begin with. If I were still blogging as regularly as I used to I would be very inclined to try at least the lowest level of virtual server, but I often go a week or more between posts. The majority of my traffic these days is from spammers and hackers trying to spam or brute-force their way into SEB. Most of the regulars have drifted off because I simply don’t update as much as I used to. Spending $480 a year is already hard enough to justify especially when I could be putting that towards a down payment on a house, or paying off a college loan, or having a second vehicle. I’ve been at this since December of 2001. It’ll officially be 12 years this coming December. The only things I’ve done longer than blogging are playing video games and watching Doctor Who.

I still enjoy getting the occasional entry up, but it’s very hard to justify the cost anymore. Perhaps I’ve dragged this out for as long as I can. Perhaps it’s time for a change.

SEB has officially been around for 11 years now.

bird-hawk-looking-at-clock-timeIt just occurred to me that I missed SEB’s 11th anniversary. On December 2nd, 2001 I launched what would become SEB thinking I’d give it a shot for a few weeks and then it would slowly fade away as I lost interest. Over the years I’ve come close to shutting it down a couple of times after frustrations with maintaining it or periods of inactivity and yet here we are still spouting out the occasional missive on the Interwebs.

I’m not as prolific as I once was (and I’ve never been particularly prolific at the best of times) and some of the projects (SEB Podcast) have progressed in spurts, but considering how it’s not made me rich and famous yet I think it’s not too shabby an effort. I can’t promise you it’ll last another 11 years, but there’s still some bits and bobs left for me to pontificate upon before I call it quits for good. My beard — though oddly enough not my hair — is a little grayer than it used to be and I’ve added a few wrinkles from when I started. I don’t know if I’m any wiser, but I’m certainly more experienced. It’s weird to dig back into the archives and read some of the stuff I wrote years ago. There’s only a handful of articles that I can remember off top of my head which makes reading some of the stuff that captured my attention fascinating.

So I’m a little late in announcing it, but here it is. Happy 11th Blogiversary to Stupid Evil Bastard!

SEB user accounts should be working now.

If you’ve tried to login to your SEB user account recently and found it wouldn’t let you, well, I’ve fixed that. I had turned off new user registrations back when I had to uninstall all the plugins to stop the recurring malware infection and when I turned them back on a week or so ago I installed the Sabre anti-spam bot plugin so I wouldn’t be flooded with fake accounts.

I forgot one thing in doing so. I neglected to tell it to accept all of the current accounts as legit. So if you’ve tried to login and got an error message of some sort, that’s why. You should be able to login to your account once more.

SEB site notes.

Just a quick blurb to mention that I appear to have finally gotten rid of the malware that was randomly inserting Viagra spam into the entries. It took removing every single plugin except for Akismet along with every theme, turning off user registration, and reinstalling WordPress, but I’ve not seen the files show back up since so it appears to have worked.

Now I’m slowly adding plugins back in and watching to see if the spam returns. The podcasts should be playable once more as I put the Blueberry PowerPress plugin back in yesterday, but user registration is still turned off until I test the plugin that helps to cut down on bots making accounts. I had quite a few plugins installed so this will probably take some time and I’ll be evaluating alternatives to many of them while I’m at it.

In the meantime, if the spam starts showing up again be sure to let me know.

Anyone else seeing Viagra spam being inserted into SEB posts?

A user contacted me through ***Dave to let me know he was seeing extra content in SEB entries that didn’t look like it belonged there. He sent along a screenshot and a copy of the HTML source and, yep, there appeared to be extra paragraphs with spam links being inserted among the other text.

Here’s the screenshot:

Click to enlarge (ha!).

Awhile back there was some WP hacks going around (mainly through compromised plugins) that would insert hidden spam into a template that only showed up when you did a Google search for the blog in question, but otherwise didn’t show on the live site itself. This, however, appears to be something totally new.

I’ve checked SEB pretty thoroughly and it doesn’t appear to be anything generated here. The reader who reported the problem has since followed up saying that it only happens on his work laptop and not his personal machines at home. ***Dave also verifies that he doesn’t see it on any of his machines. I check SEB on a number of different PCs and smartphones regularly and I’ve never seen this happen so I’m assuming it must be something on the user’s laptop, but he says it only happens when he views SEB which seems oddly specific.

I can’t find anything on Google that seems to match this odd situation so I’m turning to you guys to see if anyone else has experienced this with SEB or something similar with some other site. Anyone else seeing this happen or know anything about a possible hack or virus that could cause it? Let us know in the comments.