Archive for October, 2007

Akismet Failing

It is without a doubt that one of the few anti-spam measures in place on my blog that has stopped me disabling comments is Akismet. The service catches literally thousands of spam comments on a daily basis. The problem is that while I used to get absolutely no spam through to my moderation queue such that all I had to decide was if I wanted a comment published, I’m now getting spam through as well and I’m having to mark various items as spam for submission to Akismet.

Critics will no doubt point out that this quantity of spam can’t be numerous and they’d be right, but as the solution didn’t previously let any through and Akismet is a continuously evolving anti-spam solution its worrying that its effectively getting worse over time as it means spam is evolving better than the defenses of Akismet.

Spam is without a doubt one of the biggest issues on the world wide web and while it hasn’t yet caused me to disable access to anything on my sites, if too much spam gets through to my blog moderation queue then I will be disabling comments. You might argue that disabling a feature is letting them win, but my take on it is that if I end up reading spam then I’m letting the spammers win because they have reached me as a reader. Likewise if there is a possibility that the comments might reach my blog then I’d be letting the spammers win by allowing the comments to reach a global audience.

Here’s hoping that Akismet doesn’t get any worse at blocking spam, or even gets better, as that way the comments can keep on flowing and I can be safe in the knowledge that I’m not in any way helping spammers reach their audience.

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Careers Fair

On Monday and Tuesday this week the university are holding a careers fair. This is the first point in my university life where I really feel like attending such an event, not to mention feeling that it would significantly benefit me, what with being in my third year and all. Only problem is I have a solid day of lectures on both of the days.

This is just sods law at its best really. I mean of the 2 days they hold a huge fair I can’t go to a single hour of the 8 on offer in total. Luckily the major players in IT do visit the school of computing specifically, but its really not that brilliant that I have to miss out on meeting representatives from companies that won’t. If it had been any other year I’d probably have missed the lectures, attended the fair and caught up on the work later but being third year I really don’t wish to do this, nor do I think it would be advisable.

What I’d like to know is which person in the careers service organises these events without checking to make sure that the majority of third years can make at least an hour of the proceedings. Assuming they don’t miss lectures, I can’t name a single computing student who can go to any of the fair, and that makes a fairly large number of people missing out which one would imagine the careers service should endeavour to avoid.

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Facebook, what have you done?

Around 4 years ago I created a fully featured content management system for Halifax College to ensure it had an online presence to be reakoned with. This system included a forum to enable past, present and future students at the college to communicate with each other, and in paticular for freshers to ask questions about the college and its accomodation before they arrived so they knew what to expect.

Year on year the site has seen over 1000 posts from eager and nervous students alike in the run up to freshers week asking many questions and conversing with people before they got to meet in person. This year this traffic has gone. Students start arriving tomorrow and while in previous years we would see over 1000 posts on the freshers sections of the forums we see a mere 81. Who do I blame for this decline? Facebook.

All of Halifax Online’s wonderful freshers traffic is now locked up behind the closed doors of facebook, offering insight only to those that wish to part with personal information and get in there quick enough to find their answer in the first 10 posts (after that the lack of message board search function renders posts and content impossible to find). Is this the future of our forums? Why do students settle for an inferior product, even when they don’t yet know anyone? (facebook may hold your friends but when you’ve yet to arrive in a new real location mirrored as a network on facebook, what can it’s inferior facilities possibly offer you? You don’t know anyone there yet!)

Facebook, you’ve stolen the traffic that belongs on the Halifax College forums and reduced the potential for a great college spirit to exist even before students arrive. I’m very proud of my old college and today facebook has not made me a happy ex-student.

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Back to work

I really am back in the swing of “proper” work now, having enjoyed a jaunt to IBM in Hursley, Winchester, where we took part in the student challenge (sadly not winning for Leeds but having a great time in the process), and having spent an enjoyable Saturday in York with Heather.

Although I’m certainly ready to get back into the academic work cycle it feels odd to say the least. I’ve grown almost accustomed to rushing around the country to different business and socials engagements and now that I’ve got my two feet back on the ground with no where to go except lectures and the library I’m almost at a loss of what to do (except of course I have plenty of reading etc. already!

Luckily along with a new term comes many student gatherings and nights out to complement the drive to work hard and true to form my time spent in the pub is most certainly on the high side. Who said the start of term had to be all bad? ;)

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