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open computer

Written: 18:34 on April 30, 2008  |  By: anthony  |  MORE…
If you've been hiding under a rock the last week (or just don't follow technologically by repeatedly refreshing 20 different tech-blogs, you might now have heard of Psystar, but if you have, you no doubt have heard about the companies new, ultra-cheap Mac.

Yup, somebody finally flipped ol' Jobs the bird, and is selling a Mac computer. Originally dubbed the OpenMac (Psystar has since changed it to the Open Computer to avoid a potential copyright infringement suit, ironically). Psystar argues that they are not selling anything illegal; all the copies of Leopard are authentic and purchased from Apple or a licensed Apple Vendor and the machine itself uses a clever series of emulation layers to run Leopard (the fact Apple switched to Intel chipsets probably helps, too).

While Psystar has been in various forms of trouble all week; they were dropped by their payment processor for a Terms of Service Violation (more than likely with some added pressure from Apple's lawyers), and the store is now mysteriously down, it brings to my mind one critical idea:

Apple software can run on any machine, and the fact that you need to shell out $1299 CDN for a base model Apple-brand machine is ludicrous (Psystar was selling their Open Computer for $299 + Leopard Licensing Costs). Apple maintains a small market share, and perhaps most of this is caused by price. I know that, personally, I wouldn't mind a Mac, especially as my gaming needs shift away from PC and towards consoles. But there is no justification for the price tag when I can go spend a few hundred dollars on a system and stick a legal copy of XP on it, or a free copy of Ubuntu.

For the time being, I'll wait and see if Psystar comes back, and maybe I'll order a machine from them, it's still cheaper than the real thing, even if it's not as sleek.

Update: http://gizmodo.com/380488/psystar-exposed-looks-like-a-hoax - contrary to the URL string, Psystar is proving to be legit, customers are receiving the Open Computers as ordered and Psystars store has come into existence. (Thanks Lawrie for the link).
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blog spam, captchas and ways around

Written: 10:45 on April 25, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
I really really hate blog spam. I get so much of it as well, despite all my little modifications to the forms such as adding a simple arithmetic 'CAPTCHA' (I didn't want to go down the image route because I find them intrusive) and testing against known spammy URLs. We even have an XML-RPC service checking the comments. Yet they still get through. How?

Interestingly, a lot of the comment spam I have been receiving lately contains spammy qualities, but the content (i.e. the the links that they are trying to embed) are useless. They are all made up of a random composition of URI-legal ASCII characters, with a '.com' suffix slapped on the end. I've been trying to think of a possible reason why this is happening. My first thought was that somebody was using my blog as a 'test bed' for some automated posting software, using my form to help the bot 'learn' how to overcome my CAPTCHA (solving the problem would be very easy once a human told the bot what to do). It seems viable, although I'm unsure why somebody would bother with my blog. It isn't really read heavily, has no 'subscribers' per se, and doesn't rank highly in google for many common search terms.

I'm not sure what to do now. Lawrie kindly pointed out that we'd had a bit of spam via SMS a couple of days ago, so I've tweaked it a little bit. Has anybody got any ideas of more unobtrusive ways to cut out this crap? Integrating Akismet into my blog looks like the only way…
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lazy programmers

Written: 15:08 on April 17, 2008  |  By: jon  |  MORE…
Lazyness; It's something of a habit of mine. I will start coding a website and purposely leave out making the administration area just because it takes an age to write. But I've finally done it! It's only taken over a year, but in an effort to get people posting more regularly to this blog I bit the bullet and wrote some code.

What you readers don't know is that half of the reason for writing this blog is for test purposes. So, essentially you're a guinea pig within my internet laboratory. How does that feel? Pretty neat, huh. I've had to delete this blog about fifteen times now, since I'm trying to perfect the XML-RPC 'ping' mechanism that tells blogs aggregation sites around the world that little ol' dovka.org has updated. I think it's just about working now. Although there is one site that is persecuting me for pinging it due to me not being of Indian decent…

Interestingly as well, it appears that 3/4 of my links out of the site are now dead! Congratulations to Lawrie for being the only link to survive! Looks a little lonesome over there now with only one link. Anybody have some recommended reading material, eh?
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