OlinData are awesome

I received an unsolicited email from Walter Heck and his team at OlinData. Before I’d even read it, I had another email apologising for the mistake. Then I actually got a second mistaken email, but at this point, I’m so grateful for the apology and the responsible attitude, I don’t much care. To make matters even better, Walter posted on their blog explaining the mistake.

I decided in contrast to previous rants, it was time for a praising post. Thanks Walter for your responsible email behaviour, I salute you sir.

Micha Dettbarn / Offtime is a spammer

I’ve no idea how he got my email address, possibly through BeWelcome, it seems we might move in similar circles. But somehow, I’ve been added to his mailing list talking about some nonsense product I have zero interest in, never signed up for, and don’t ever want to hear about again.

Ladies and gentleman of the internets, be warned, Micha Dettbarn is a spammer, don’t ever hand over a business card to this person, that’s my best advice.

Oh, and if you want to tell him what you think of spammers, he’s on twitter or you can email him directly to micha.dettbarn@gmail.com. Rest assured, I already reported the abuse to MailChimp, who will hopefully block his account.

Kevin Gao is a spammer

Apparently some dude named Kevin Gao, having taken my email address from this web site, has decided it’s ok to spam me until I respond. Not only that, he’s sending me 5.3MB attachments every time.

Kevin Gao, stop spamming people. You suck dude. Seriously.

I encourage you to email Kevin at kevingao on the domain comm100 dotcom and tell him what you think about spammers. Ask him to give it up. Ask him to go legit.

Deleting WordPress spam comments in MySQL

Working on a project with more than 200k spam comments in the WP database. Trying to use the “empty spam” button in WordPress just doesn’t work, it deletes a few tens of thousands before hitting the 30 second PHP timeout.

I searched around and found a few suggestions to delete from the wp_comments table. However, that ignores the 3x as many rows in the wp_commentsmeta table if you’re using akismet. This query does the job, although for 200k comments it does take a while!

DELETE c, m FROM wp_comments AS c LEFT JOIN wp_commentmeta AS m ON m.comment_ID = c.comment_ID WHERE c.comment_approved = 'spam';

Unsubscribing from AirAsia

I cannot unsubscribe from AirAsia’s email newsletter. They say email unsubscribe@fly.airasia.com to be removed from the mailing list. That email address is dead. Likewise unsubscribe@airasia.com is also dead.

I’ve tried contacting their customer support department, nothing.

AirAsia’s emails appear to be handled by dartmail.net. Whois shows that this domain is owned by Google. The first result in a scroogle search for dartmail is a service from ClickZ / Double Click.

All in all, I’m feeling some frustration. If it comes to it, I can simply block all email from AirAsia, but that would mean I cannot fly with them. Not ideal. Does anyone out there have a suggestion or solution?

Update at 15 Jan 2009: ccd5 said the unsubscribe address now works, I tried again and it worked for me.

Degree spam – fight back

Whack-a-Spam by jwol3I just received an email offering me “Bacheelor, MasteerMBA, and Doctoraate diplomas”. Somewhat ironic that there’s spelling errors. They’re probably to try and fool the spam checkers.

I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of buying qualifications. I opened the email expecting to find a web link, but no, instead there’s a phone number. +1-801-504-2132

They ask you to call and leave a message with your name and phone number. It costs 1.2p per minute to call from Skype. Does anyone have any premium rate numbers? Preferrably the really, really expensive ones? I’ll happily waste some time and money leaving a few messages for them. 🙂

Regex spam prevention

I have been receiving large volumes of spam to random, numerical addresses at my domain. For example 48321819.1928382@, and so on. It’s not practical to block a single address. The spammers make up new addresses at random.

I wanted to block addresses using wildcards. For example, anything that starts with a 4 and ends with @domain.com. I use postfix, so I did some research. I didn’t find much, so I asked on the #postfix FreeNode channel. The very helpful sysmonk introduced me to regex tables in postfix.

So, I have now managed to block a whole bunch of addresses using a few simple regex patterns. The amount of spam I receive has dropped by almost 90% already. Yay! 🙂

Sophisticated Spam

I received the most sophisticated spam email I’ve seen this weekend. The text of the message was:

Man you have got to tell me where you picked her up. I saw this on the web, it has to be you. see for yourself… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKfyzCIq1ls

Cunning readers will notice that although it looks like a link to a YouTube video, it is in fact a link to another web site (an IP address), which is presumably the spammer’s site. I came very close to clicking the link, but something about the message seemed a bit off (the fact I had no idea who the sender was maybe!).

Spam is getting smarter. I think the solution lies in trust mechanisms and authorised emails.

Scuttle Spam

I installed Scuttle a few weeks ago to take my bookmarks online. I logged in for the first time in ages and discovered I’ve been spammed. I’ve had hundreds of user registrations and a bunch of links submitted. After a little database cleansing the spam has now been removed and the registration closed. No more Scuttle spam I say.

Evolving Spam

In my view, spam has reached a new low. I now receive fake e-cards with a generic message like “You have received an e-card from a family member, click here to see it”. If the click here address starts with an IP address (a bunch of numbers) I delete immediately.

I’m also getting spams with PDF documents attached. The email is blank, but the PDF contains the spam message. I opened the first one out of curiosity, now I delete immediately.

It’s getting harder and harder to separate genuine and spam emails. Particularly as some people are not very precise with email (blank subject lines, irrelevant subject lines, and so on).

My advice is thus, please use BCC instead of TO when mass emailing. I think this is the single, simplest thing people can do to cut spam.