Monthly Archives: July 2009

Back from Vacation
Scala, Twitter and Crashed WebFaction FTP

So, I’m back from vacation today in this beautiful cottage I was at and there’s nothing like waking up to the smell of a shiny new article about Microsoft and Yahoo making a partnership… Great, I missed a lot during those 5 days (couple of hours of reading on TechCrunch that is). Anyway, while listening to this Floss Weekly podcast that featured DHH from 37 Signals, the creator of Ruby on Rails, my interest for Ruby and Rails naturally rose, kind of like back from the dead.

I’d previously given up on Ruby, and I think I’ll be doing exactly the same thing again, while not actually having picked it up again *. Why? This whole Rails thing and DHH’s “FU” humor prompted me to do a bit of research on to where Twitter was with all their Ruby problems. And so, just when I thought a language didn’t really matter anymore and that a database was the only real hog, boy was I proven wrong by this brilliant article Twitter on Scala.

Yes, I did read all the criticism towards this article, but, really, who do you trust most: angry Rails fan or Twitter developers? As for me, I decided I was going to place my bet on the Twitter developers and I am once again throwing Ruby out the window, and at the same time, throwing any dynamic language too. Ironically this blog runs on PHP, but let’s say I never expect it to really have a need for scaling beyond a simple single-core server and WP Super Cache, for which WebFaction provides ample solutions.

Oh, talking about WebFaction, there’s currently an FTP outage on my server there. Hurray, not even a week and I’m already having problems. Ironically my (mt) account’s FTP still works very well, but I can’t say I haven’t seen hiccups there either. Fortunately my sites are in top shape, but it’s already been 37 minutes since I’ve posted a ticket, and with no response and an FTP still down, it’s not cool.

The only critic I would have to make about Scala applies to every other language that’s not out-the-box like PHP or that isn’t tied to an IDE; that is, the installation process (symbolic links to your compiler, etc.) can be rather shady and is very often not explained in books. In fact, to learn it, I’ve had to figure out myself what was going on, both on Windows and Unix systems, which both have very different ways of doing it. Frankly I think Windows’ way is more simple to comprehend albeit less powerful, but really, I’m thinking of making a well-explained tutorial about that.

Edit: WebFaction finally responsded, although a bit late, but the issue has been fixed before they responded. I’m guessing they had more than me notifying them.

* Edit: I actually just did so, I picked up Rails and threw it away again. Despite having learned quite a bit of Ruby, which I did enjoy, I don’t like Rails as usual

phpBB spam no more!

Since our inception of the visual antibot and the question antibot plugin on AMV-Canada’s phpBB board, we’ve completely eliminated the bot problem. Quite simply, since May 4th 2009, we haven’t had ANY bot come through. We’ve even reduced the complexity of the captcha, and eventually disabled it completely, but to no avail, spammers haven’t come back.

Yes, I mentionned the visual antibot, basically an upgrade captcha almost impossible to figure out even for human (puts random pictures in the background, making it REALLY hard to read, we’ve actually had some people complain to us that they couldn’t legitimately register), but we got rid of that. The only thing we have to protect ourselves on top of the default installation is this: The Question Antibot

That thing is holy. Basically it’s question you make up and provide the answer for. Example, a mathematical question. It’s also super easy to set up and change everyday if you want. One big advantage is it putts off just about any bot, because they don’t know what to do with it. And if you have a large traffic site and some body programs the bot to answer the question, just change the question! It’s so efficient you don’t need a captcha.

Unless computers become sentient, I believe this should put off just about any spam bots.
Hit the link: http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=69&t=645075&start=0