Akismet Just Broke Another Record

Over the course of the last few days the comment spam has been increasing at a phenomenal rate. I worked out that by this afternoon I was receiving spam at a rate of one every 15 minutes. Not much you might say. But you would think so considering these are the “comments” that make it through Akismet and into moderation! Not the total volume.

This for me is a real issue as I have all comments moderated. So I am getting a bucket load of crap with some that might be legit comments.

The reason for this sudden spike is unknown. Did the spammers find a new exploit, their pay rate go up, bots smarter? Who knows. But you might like to know that I am not the only one. Seems that Akismet broke a few records today:

Akismet Graph 310507

This Graph represents the Spam to Ham ratio since the beginning of Akismet.

So far today 8,818,521 and counting, it is only going to get worse. 95% of all comments today are spam. At least that explains that the spammers are working harder than usual. I was beginning to think it was just me.

Interestingly, ham has seen a jump in the last few days as well. Might have something to do with the fact that there are some big stories breaking. Or is it that people are getting more involved in the conversation? I hope that it is the latter.

I can sit here and moderate my comments and train Akismet to be able to better identify spam. But it must be worth their while to keep doing this despite the fact that most bloggers are doing the same. So really one of the best weapons is our readers!

If you notice that a blogger has missed some spam and it has ended up in the comments. Don’t click it! Leave the blogger a comment or email and let them know; so they can remove it. If no one clicks the damn stuff then there won’t be any point in spammers trying to post it. Only a fraction of it gets through, here: make that none. So all that effort for bugger all success, make no mistake they are making money (a lot of it!) and you the clicker are paying them!

Akismet is a great service and it 99% effective, check out the stats for it. But not perfect, I don’t think one thing on it’s own ever will be. Just do us all a favor: if you are looking for porn, Google it and don’t click comment spam. Thanks.

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The Problem with Transcontinental Podcasting

RSS HeadphonesI am not sure if anyone else has to manage audio files that have been .mp3 encoded prior to editing but for the podcast it has been causing some issues. This week however, I made a few changes to the encoding and it appears to have made a significant difference. Here is what I have done and if anyone has any further suggestions I would appreciate it.

The background of this whole saga is that I used to record the podcast using Hot Recorder. Since the release of Skype 3.0+ this has failed to record anything but silence. Although he website claims it does work with 3.0. So we had to look to an alternative. Knightwise has a Mac so that made it a lot easier for us to decide what to do but our decision then presented a few things we had to work around.

For some reason recording Skype on a Mac is relatively easy compared to a Windows based machine. Not sure why. It might be the way that Mac handles audio or that there has been more development on the Mac in this regard. So we decided to record the show on Knightwise’s Mac. He uses Call Recorder to record Skype, which by the way has excellent results. Far superior to what I was getting with Hot Recorder. But now we had a great recording of the show in .wav which is generally about 1GB in size… +2.4GB but it was on the other side of the world! We needed to get it to Oz in one piece and in good enough quality to work with.

A great supporter of the podcast donated a server which has excellent speed and storage in addition to as many FTP accounts as we needed. However sending a 1GB file across the world is out of the question, even zipped up it would be huge! The only answer that we could see was to encode the .wav as an .mp3 in as high a quality as possible. So Knightwise encodes the file raw as a 192 kbps, CD quality. The result is about 100MB, which is very manageable. He then sends the file to me via FTP.

I download the file and convert it to a .wav and edit the show as per usual. When finished the file would be encoded as an .mp3 at 64 kbps at 44100 khz. We dropped the bps a while back to give us a smaller file size, which we thought would be appreciated. However since we swapped to Knightwise recording the show the 64 bit quality has been giving us poor results. I have tried to optimize for quality in the encode but it has made no difference.

The problem is that .wav files loose certain frequencies when they are encoded to .mp3. You can’t get them back they are gone forever. Sure I do everything that I can to get the best results. But the 64 bit rate was stripping more of those frequencies out of the final file than I would like. This resulted in some rather strange sounding ambient sounds and hissing when there was talking in addition to making the music tracks terrible. There was only one thing for it.

This week I increased the bit rate. Although in the beginning the show was encoded at 96 kpbs; I thought I would take the intermediate step of 80 kpbs. The result was a file that was only about 4-5 MB larger but the pay off in quality I think was worth it.

The conclusion is that when we changed the way the show is recorded and then encoded before transfer, we should have decided to increase the bit rate. The 16 bit increase in quality has compensated for the lost frequencies the first time it was encoded as an .mp3 making the file resilient to being decoded to .wav and then back to a .mp3. A few further tweaks at the recording end will give us some further head room as far as quality.

I would remind all podcasters out there of one of the golden rules of editing, never edit a .mp3, always convert it to a .wav. I hope this hack helps anyone else faced with the same problem of transcontinental podcasting and file transfer. Check out this weeks show and compare the difference.

UPDATE: Hot Recorder has been updated to version 2.14, which I am told does work with Skype 3.0+. I am yet to test it but I will let you know the results. Thanks to mswiczar for the tip in the comments.

I have a Problem with Goats

So I was looking at my stats page this morning and I came across a refer tag that has me stumped. This is all about goats, something I have never said in a blog entry (until now), I have never used the tag in a post. So why am I getting referrals for the tag: mocks-goat-farm?
Here is what I see in the dashboard it is the start of the stats day so it may have slipped my attention before but today it is the top referrer:

mocks-goat-farm tag screenshot

This page has the tag references for mocks-goat-farm on WordPress. As you can see the posts listed have nothing to do with goats or farms and who the heck is “mock”? The other thing is that they are all my posts. Who is the real blogger that used the tag? This is driving me absolutely round the bend so I have started to unravel the goat mystery, so far without success.

A search for the tag on Technorati got one blog in the result. The result was one blog post which appears to have been removed. It might have something to do with a screw up in the database or something like that. Either that or someone is playing a big joke at my expense.

As everyone knows that has a blog here on WordPress the support is taking a break so right now I am hoping that some of the users on WordPress might have some answers. This problem is definitely a WordPress issue as there are none of my posts showing up on Technorati for the tag.

So there you have it, my goat problems. But this is the only post that you will find anything to do with goats so sorry to the disappointed the tag surfers that might be here looking for them.

I refuse to use the tag in this post, that would not be cool… Although in posting this I will successfully be indexed by Google, but what choice do I have? I might laugh when it is all sorted out.

UPDATE: The goat problem has been resolved.

Support Firefox 2.0

Firefox 2I already knew about this website but until today I did not know they had updated the buttons.

Spread Firefox is a promotional site for Firefox or more to the point it explains and provides resources for you to spread the word about Firefox and in part Thunderbird. Thunderbird is the email client from the Mozilla people.

One of the ways that they assist people is to create buttons for you to use in your blog or email signature. I was posting about Firefox 2 on the podcast blog and I looked to see if there were any Firefox 2 buttons, there was not. But today I notice that they are now available and the one you see here is just one.

The HTML code is provided for you on the page. Just copy and paste the text provided into the HTML where you want to display the logo.

There are some other very cool projects that Spread Firefox is involved with and they have a very active user base, so if interested then head on over and sign up as an affiliate.

By the way the page that the link redirects you to has yet to be updated with links to the new version, patience. As I said in my previous post, the final version has only just hit the Mozilla FTP 24 hours ago.

Cameron Needs a Floor

Just a short note to head over to Cameron Reilly’s Blog for G’day World. Cam as I said in a previous post is heading over to the US to see about some VC (venture capital) for The Podcast Network.

Cam is traveling light and on what he calls an “extreme budget”, which sounds worse than a backpackers budget. So in that light he is looking for a “floor” in San Fransisco with WiFi, from the 25th of October to the 15th of November. He does not state a preference for the type of floor. But the WiFi is a must as he will still be running The Podcast Network. So if you think you or someone you know might be able to help Cam out then see his blog for details.

Also check out the latest Bulletin Magazine for this week (Australian Publication) as it talks about the investment situation here in Australia. It sums up the questions that I have been asking. They also chat with some other Aussie entrepreneurs talking about similar circumstances, interesting read.