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Back, in the flurry of a mini-tornado

Meta: Back. Not even ‘mini-tornados’ at Dublin Airport can keep me away — although it gave it a damn good try, with a 3 hour delay, a missed connection, and an overnight stay in Chicago. Arggh.

Mail: I generally leave the laptop at home when on vacation, to do some proper winding down. Not sure it was a great idea this time, since I was joe-jobbed by some pretty extensive spam runs recently, resulting in over 30,000 bounces sitting unread in my email when I got back.

Thankfully, Tim Jackson’s SpamAssassin ruleset (with a few updates) got most of them, with only a few hundred getting past. I should really hack on making those more complete, but some of the bounces are really obscure; along the lines of ‘Hi from J Random Luser, Esq.! I no longer use this address because it gets too much spam! Please send to this new one instead: [email protected]!’, generally without any obvious identifying headers that indicate it’s an autoresponse.

Sigh — each of those messages is just utterly random, and I can’t see much recourse but to come up with some nasty phrase-based content filtering rules, which I was hoping to avoid. But 29,500 hits isn’t bad ;)

I’m not sure they’d be suitable yet for use as default SpamAssassin rules, since they now generally just match any kind of bounce message, not specifically joe-job or virus-forgery blowback. But that suits me just fine — I can live without bounces, as long as I don’t have to suffer the bounce blow-back.

Science: Good news from New Scientist — they’re opening up their archives! NS has consistently the best science journalism around, and I’ve been a subscriber for years. But until recently, they had a lousy approach to their website — most of the useful stuff, like the archives, were walled-off, subscriber-only features; a classic case of missing the Clue Train. Well, here’s an archive search for ‘spam’ — pretty impressive, and most of the short articles are available in full, with only the full text for features and opinion pieces requiring a login.

In addition, they’ve added a massive batch of RSS feeds. Sadly, no full article text excerpts, however. But still — getting the clue, eventually — this way they may actually get links on the web, in place of the mangled and chinese-whispered versions of their articles republished in the UK newspapers…

Ireland: Due to monopolistic pricing of Irish GIS data, consumer GPS maps of Ireland’s road system are appalling, and this page collects a few great demos — for example, MS Autoroute quintuples the distance from Galway to Roundstone! That’s a major tourist route, BTW. I knew it was bad, but not that bad…

Anyway, I’m still waaay behind, but slowly catching up.