Pattern Recognition

I don't often mention my reading habits these days (books are best read in the wee hours of the morning, as far away from a keyboard as possible and my iPod pumping out ambient dub), but I've spent the morning engrossed in William Gibson's Pattern Recognition. Gibson writes about a "here and now" that is an intoxicating blend of globalization, media-borne memes, brand encroachment and recent events, with just the right smattering of tech. If you liked Naomi Klein's No Logo, you are going to find echoes of it here - but Gibson puts his unique twist on brand awareness by rolling it into his central character and using them in his well-balanced, rythmic prose.

A must read.

Why The G5 Cube Won't Happen

Over at kuro5hin, another article that explains why the G5 Cube is a myth that won't happen anytime soon, and that the NeXT's Second Coming is unlikely to have anything to do with the Mac's 20th anniversary...

Transparent Backgrounds in

Now here's a neat effect, way beyond what you can usually do with terminal windows in other UNIX variants...

Desperate Spammer Stupidity

Well, referral spamming is back. Again, I made a point of blocking the offending IP address (, in Everyone's Internet allocated address block) and complained to the ISP's abuse address, but it's amazing how people keep doing it. Or that they have customers stupid enough to pay them for spamming, in whatever form.

Update: the folk at Everyone's Internet (hi guys, thanks!) were quick on the uptake, and I have provided the relevant server logs to them (I'm also unpacking the week's logs and grepping them for bogus URLs, just to see what else happened earlier). I wonder what sort of reply I would have gotten from a Portuguese ISP, though... Most likely none.

Nevertheless, it just goes to show that the Referrers page will have to go. I had already removed all the per-page referral listings (which were rather fun), and shortened the Referrers page to lower the likelyhood that it could be used to increase link-based rankings (like Google's), but they keep on coming. And now we have (after all the porn sites and casinos) spammers using referral spamming: (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here) (3 from here)

I mean, how desperate can you get? And why do we have to put up with this? Wasn't trashing our inboxes enough for them? Why trash our server logs and our search engines too?

Oh well. I hope they get a lump of coal for Xmas, at the very least. In the meantime, here's a new HOWTO: Block Spam Referrers in PHP.

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