Decided to give Defensio Anti-Spam a shot… over Akismet

Fighting SpamRight since the beginning of my blogging career, I’ve been using Akismet in conjuction with Bad Behavior to weed out spam from my blog. Akismet is as a natural choice since it comes parcelled with WordPress installations. As for Bad Behavior, I decided to use it after reading plenty of articles on effective spam filtering.

Akismet has worked just fine for me so far. It has it’s occasional false positives (marking legit. comments as spam) – but I’m all right with it, since I don’t get much of spam everyday (at the most a 100). While Akismet may be very good at catching spam, there’s one quarter it needs to be revamped big time. The list of spams in Akismet is presented in a paginated manner while displaying the full body of each spam, making the list unnecessarily large and extremely tedious to go through. As I mentioned earlier – I don’t receive much of spam everyday. So, it’s relatively easy for me to wade through the list and pick-out any false positives. However, imagine what a pain it must be for the larger blogs receiving thousands of spam comments everyday. There are big chances of a good amount of legitimate comments going down the drain along with the spam flood. To make the situation worse, lately there have been a lot of complaints about Akismet producing more and more false positives.

Defensio LogoAfter going through a bunch of reviews – both positive and negative, I decided to go ahead and give Defensio a try. For those who didn’t know, Defensio is a community-based anti-spam service similar to Akismet – but with certain added enhancements. They offer anti-spam solutions for a wide range of blogging platforms. It’s free for personal use while for commercial usage a nominal charge is levied on a per month basis.

Defensio sorts your quarantined comments by their “spaminess” value. This means that finding the occasional legitimate comment buried in your spambox (aka false positive) becomes dead easy: with Defensio you simply need to monitor the top portion of your quarantine to be confident that there’s no ham amongst your spam.

After I installed this plug-in, the first few spams that were caught were arranged into two distinct groups – Somewhat Spammy and Moderately Spammy. I’m yet to see the Super Spams… but I get the general idea.

A really nice feature of Defensio is that only the first line of the spam comment is shown (along with a link to display the full content). This makes for much better readability and sifting through the list. If you recall, I was grumbling about the lack of this in Akismet towards the beginning of this post. Score 1 for Defensio.

Before I forget, I’d like to mention one more contrasting point. When I had first installed Akismet and got my API key from WordPress.com, it gave me an insane amount of trouble to validate the key. This has been the same for any new blog I’ve helped install. For some reason, the validation wouldn’t go through for at least an hour following the registration at WordPress.com. However, with Defensio it was just click-and-go. Score 2.

Another distinct advantage of Defensio is that apart from the community anti-spam fighting feature, it operates on a blog-to-blog level.

This means that no two bloggers will see Defensio react in precisely the same way, even for similar comments, which is a good thing – because one person’s ham might be another person’s spam. And our continuously evolving set of algorithmic tricks ensures that we’ll never let spammers gain the upper hand.

Also available are RSS feeds of your comments and spam – which makes the monitoring less painful by curtailing the need to login into the Admin Panel on a regular basis. The Defensio site keeps track of your spam statistics and presents nicely decked-up charts that summarizes the evolution of spam and performance on your blog – a cool eye-candy feature to while your time away and “satisfy your inner bean-counter“.

Keep in mind, this is NOT an Akismet bashing post. I really respect the work of Matt and his team. They are the pioneers in this and without them – more than 80% of the WordPress based blogs wouldn’t see through a single day of Spam Attack. However, Defensio does offer a wider range of tools and features and that makes it a more viable option.

Now all I got to see is how well it handles my spam. On the initial try, it did get two false negatives – i.e. spam comments which passed through as legitimate ones. But since this is its teething phase, I’m going to overlook that and give it a chance to evolve according to my comment preferences. Will report back in a couple of weeks time (or two) on how well it’s performing.

Dumpr: Another great addition to your online graphics toolbox

Dumpr LogoThis seems to be the era of online graphics tools. As computing power and  coding paradigms (read software capabilities) evolve, online tasks that were earlier deemed next to impossible are being delivered right to your doorsteps – most of them at the single click of your mouse. Just last week, I had reviewed this online tool named beFunky, that helps you cartoonize any given still picture and video. Today I came across another one called Dumpr – that adds a horde of PhotoShop like filters (effects) to your toolbox.

Generating any of the effects is a 3 step process.

  1. You select the desired effect (some of which are reserved for the paid Premium Membership level) from a pretty large library.
  2. Upload your image & specify the effect variation you want (if applicable). You can also pull in images directly from other URLs and a couple of Social Networking / Image Sharing sites like MySpace, flickr, Picasa, Zoomr etc.
  3. This is the step – where you are handed out the final image (with the effect applied). You can either download the image or use the provided code to embed it in other sites or even re-upload a whole range of Social Networks.

Here are a couple of examples (different effects applied on the same starting image)…

Dumpr Effect - Cellphone CameraDumpr Effect - Museum
Dumpr Effect - Easter EggDumpr Effect - Rubik's Cube

Pretty slick, eh? The coolest part is that if you decide to sign-up for the service (registration is FREE), all the resultant images are automatically saved in the space allocated to your profile. The only thing I found lacking in their service is the ability to re-use these saved pictures for application of a different effect (you need to manually re-upload the image again). That would have covered all the aspects.

If you decide to opt-in for the Pro / Premium Membership – which, at $3.99 / month is quite cheap – you get added benefits…

  1. A larger selection of effects are made available to you.
  2. You get to be the first one to be able to use any new introductions (effects).
  3. All advertisements are taken-off your account.

Found via: JeetBlog

BlogRolled: A brand new cashcow for your blog

BlogRolled LogoThere’s a brand new money earner for your blog up and about – BlogRolled. If you just made a wild guess regarding their modus operandi, you’re right! It’s a service that pays you for placing the advertisers’ links in your blogroll. At this point of time, the site doesn’t offer much information regarding the company.

The site itself contains a barebone outline of how their service is going to operate along with a sign-up section for both bloggers and advertisers. I came to know about it through this mail from ReviewMe, which stated that this service is brought to you by Shawn Nafziger, the president of Page1Promotion, LLC, an SEO consulting firm serving small business clients across the USA.

Blogroll overview

Now the first thought that pops in your mind when you hear of this service is – BLOGROLL !! That’s like prime real-estate. The average blogroll appears in the sidebar and nowadays it’s common practise to display the sidebar on all pages – whether on the blog index or along with individual posts. In effect, the links placed in your blogroll are highly visible to all Search Engine spiders, irrespective of the part of the site they are crawling. My point is, that each of the paid links must bring in a decent amount of cash in lieu of such high visibility (as opposed to text link ads placed on single posts). It’s pointless to give up such prime location to low paying advertisers.

I’ve signed-up with them and intend to have a deeper look at it. More on it later. Meanwhile, has anyone else out there started availing this service? If so, care to share your experience with us?

How about a personalised Firefox 3 Download Day Certificate?

Hopefully, by now you’ve grabbed your copy of Firefox 3 and consequently played an active role in helping our favourite browser set a new Guinness World Record. Here’s an added perk for being such an avid follower of Firefox – a personalised Firefox 3 Download Day Certificate stating your role in helping Firefox achieve the world record. I got mine just now and here’s what it looks like…

Firefox 3 Download Day Certificate

Getting the certificate is as easy as filling up this form (with just your name) and grabbing the generated PDF File.

Incidentally, I managed to grab my copy of Firefox 3 only today morning – almost 12 hours after the official release. Last night it was literally impossible to access any of the Firefox download sites due to the initial download rush.

Installation went smoothly and all my earlier settings & bookmarks were preserved – though a couple of extensions failed to work (Fasterfox, FEBE and TabMixPlus). None that I will sorely miss, (for the time being) except  for FEBE.  On the good side, FF3 DOES take a shorter time to fire-up. How about you? How was your initial experience with FF3?

Get yourself a free domain name from DomainLagoon

Free Domains from Domain LagoonToday seems to my lucky day at digging up really free stuff 😉 On a sudden impulse I decided to check out on my old habitat, The Astahost Forums from where my blogging career had taken-off. And that’s where I came across this thread which talks about a new registrar called Domain Lagoon which gives you domain names for FREE.

The folks at Astahost were pretty skeptical of this service (even I would be) – but according to those who reported back in the thread, it really works! What you need to do is sign-up with DomainLagoon and complete some absolutely free offers (or some paid ones which are priced as low as $1) and earn credits for each action, which can then be exchanged for free domain names. According to the site, one can earn up to 100 free domain names per year. Alternatively, you can also follow the Referral approach, in which you’re rewarded bonus points for getting new members to sign-up with the service.

The domain named are made available to you for free for a period of 1 year following which, you can once again avail some more free offer to renew it for another year or opt for direct payment.

However, there are a couple of limitations / restrictions of this service:

  1. This offer is open only to the residents of the USA, Canada and UK.
  2. You have to be over 18 years of age or at least 13 years old with parental permission.
  3. Multi’s are an absolute NO NO, i.e. one account per person per household.

For further information and trial, visit Domain Lagoon. And in case you do manage to get a free domain, do leave some feedback here.

Hurry… Get a Free Membership at a Premium WordPress Themes Club

WPDesigner Premium WordPress Themes Club - Free Membership

BlogAdda – an Indian blog showcase (directory) is giving away 100 free memberships to the Premium WordPress Themes Club of WPDesigner.

Normally, a one year membership of the club costs you $5, for which you get access to 12 premium themes (1 every month). As long as the offer from BlogAdda stands, you can get this for free. No sign-ups with BlogAdda are required. Simply read this post at the BlogAdda Blog, and leave a comment there stating your name & email correctly and include a link to the most popular post on your own blog.

They’ll get back to you in a day or two with a promotional code which you can use at the WPDesigner site to alleviate the charges for the first year.

Alternatively, you can follow BlogAdda on Twitter to claim your free membership.

I had left a comment there yesterday and by today noon I had my promotional code delivered to me. Last I checked, they have around 48 comments on that post (including comments from those who’re following BlogAdda on Twitter). If you hurry, you may still be accommodate in the last 50….

15 feet away

Here’s something really cool that came to me by mail today. Take a good look at the picture below. It’s none other than the Father of Relativity, i.e. Albert Einstein.

Albert Einstein transforms to Marilyn Monroe

Now unglue yourself from that chair and while keeping your focus on the picture, start moving back. About 15 feet / 5 meters should do good. And… What the heck !! 😮 What’s Marilyn Monroe doing in there?

LC ISO Creator: Probably the smallest (and portable) no-frills ISO maker

Here’s a quick pointer. If you want an CD/DVD ISO Image Creator that does just what it’s intended to do, you should try this fantastic freeware named LC ISO Creator.

It’s this incredibly tiny download (14kb compressed) and runs straight out of box – i.e. no installation is required. It doesn’t require any crappy driver installation either. This can make it an invaluable addition to the PortableApps Suite.

LCISOCreator Screenshot

The interface is very minimalistic and doesn’t sport any Settings or Options dialog. It took me around 9 minutes to convert a 3GB DVD into it’s ISO counterpart – pretty good for such compact coding. It even support Unicode. Your only qualm might be that it cannot handle copy-protected disks. Who cares! There are plenty of specialised tools for that.

This one’s headed straight for my PortableApps folder on my USB key.

Your last chance to help Firefox set a new Guiness World Record

Firefox 3For those who didn’t know, the guys at Mozilla are reaching out for a new Guinness World Record for the most downloaded software in a span of 24 hours – with the support of it’s million plus fan base.

The software which will strive for this record is the all new Firefox 3 (with more than 15,000 improvements), which is being launched on the 17th of June, 2008, i.e. tomorrow. This day has been named the Download Day and the guys at Mozilla want to see the download counter shooting through the roof, far surpassing the 2 million plus downloads of Firefox 2.

In the wake of this launch, quite a few authors have updated their extensions to work smoothly with this new release (for example, Google Toolbar). That’ll ensure that you aren’t left stranded with just the browser minus all the enhanced functionality.

If you’re a fanatical Firefox follower (like me), make sure you drop by the Firefox 3 Headquarters and pledge yourself for the download. They’ve got this cool interactive flash-based World Map there, displaying the number of pledges on a per country basis.

goosh: The Shell Lover’s Google

UNIX ShellThis one’s for all the Unix geeks and shell lovers out there… Goosh is a cool new service that lets you access a large selection of the Google applications through a command-line interface. The hardcore techies will definitely love the look and feel (and functions) of Goosh. The author, Stefen Grothkopp made it pretty clear that it’s not an “Official Google Product” – but is there just for fun.

When you first get to the site, there’s not much to meet the eyes except for some barebones instructions and a shell prompt. But then again – that’s how the real shells are. To get going you’ve to call-up the help page and get a list of available commands. The author had the foresight to implement bash-like aliases – thus cutting down on a lot of typing. The alias for help is h and here’s a screen-shot…

Goosh Screenshot

To perform a simple Google Search, you key in search {searchterms}. For example, if you’re searching for pages on AdSense, you’ll have to key in search AdSense. The actual command to perform a Google Search is “web“, “search” being an alias for it. Apart from normal Google Search, you can also fire away shell commands that call-up the I’m Feeling Lucky function, Google Image Search, Google News + Blog + Feed + Video + Map Search and even Google Translate! That pretty much covers the most utilised Google apps. As an added perk, you can perform Wikipedia searches too. Good job Stefan.

And yup, there are localization commands too – allowing you to change the default language of the interface. Also supported are command history and tab completion.

Goosh is based on Google’s Ajax Search API and is one of the best implementations of it I’ve come across so far.

Found via: My SysAd Blog