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Updates, spam and translations.

Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?   🙂

Today’s image is taken from my travels through South Africa way back in 2008,  gee was it really that long ago?    This is one of numerous images that I have recently reviewed and reprocessed.

Semi submerged hippopotamus, St Lucia Wetlands, South Africa.

Rebuilding the blog.

There are several reasons why I’ve spent so much time recently retracing my steps.  Firstly I’ve now got quite an archive of images on the computer which need to be properly reviewed and processed.    Secondly,  my approach to my image processing has changed gradually (matured?) over time so that I’m now not satisfied with how I presented some of my images a few years ago.   And thirdly,  a change of website structure about 12 months ago scrambled or lost a great deal of my content forcing me to rewrite and reconstruct many of my earlier blog posts.   Currently, I have almost 400 blog posts on the system with over 100 draft posts still awaiting rewriting and republishing.    Not all of those drafts will make it back onto the site.

One implication of the restructure/rewrite is that there is a considerable amount of updated material in the archives,  I hope that readers may explore them.    Some examples of the recently reviewed and updated include;

Check them out!

Inside the mind of a spammer.

There are numerous frustrations involved in maintaining a blog such as this.  High on the list of irritations is dealing with spam.   I’m currently using the Akismet spam filtering plugin for WordPress and consider it an absolutely essential blogging tool.    The system automatically deals with hundreds of spam items monthly and in doing so helps to preserve what’s left of my sanity!   However,  as good as it is,  Akismet doesn’t pick up everything.

A recent spam comment that got through was rather instructive in showing how some of these comment spammers actually work.    These spam comments are quite generic in form and no doubt exactly the same messages are sent en-mass to hundreds or even thousands of websites whose URLs have been harvested in an automated way from the web.    It seems this particular pest works from a template where different options can quickly be cut and pasted,  just to give some variety to his/her gibberish.     In this instance the entire template was accidentally sent,  here’s part of what it looked like;

{Hello|Hi|Hello there|Hi there|Howdy|Good day}! I could have sworn I’ve {been to|visited}{this blog|this web site|this website|this site|your blog} before but after {browsing through|going through|looking at} {some of the|a few of the|many of the} {posts|articles} I realized it’s new to me.

As can be seen,  there are options just to mix things up a bit, it may well be that it’s part of an automated system where a program actually selects the options in a randomized way.    The program randomizes “Hello!  …I’ve visited this blog…”    to    “Howdy!  …I’ve been to this website…”     etc.

I’ve only reproduced a small snippet here,  but the full document ran to a total of 2800 words.     If printed out,  with normal print settings,  it would have required 8 A4 pages.

Facebook translations.  Say what?

Recently whilst looking through my Facebook feed,  I noticed a post by an overseas-based friend,  that post being in his native language,  not English.    Valuing his opinions,  I was of course interested in reading it in English and so naturally hit Facebook’s “translate” button.    I then read the translation 4 times over before guessing at what it might mean.   I then read and translated about 8 or 10 (non-English) comments made by other readers to the original post.    I was still trying to read between the lines trying to figure it out.

Still struggling,  I opened a second tab in my browser where I went to Google Translate and copied and pasted my friend’s post into it.   Although the translation wasn’t perfect,  now the meaning was at least clear.

Because of the corporate relationship between Facebook and Microsoft,  it appears that Facebook relies on Bing translator.   The problem is that Bing’s (and therefore Facebook’s) translator, at this time, seems to be a poor substitute for Google translate.

Sounds obvious, but it’s worth bookmarking:    Google Translate

Feedback Thanks

Thanks to those people who responded to the online survey that I ran a few weeks ago.    I got some constructive criticism,  which was the whole point of the exercise,  and some useful suggestions.   (Special shout out to Simon Garvey for his detailed response!   thanks, Simon).    Whilst I won’t act on all the suggestions put forward (there were varying opinions on some issues),  I do now have a helpful “to do” list!

Finally,  I do rely on your feedback so do leave a comment if there is anything you wish to say or suggest.    Can’t let the spammers have the commenting system to themselves!  🙂  ~KD

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