Tag Archives: google

Google block spam, instead of marking it as spam?

I have a number of virtual servers, and they run Logwatch.  They mail the daily Logwatch reports to a local user which forwards them to my gmail account.

Sometimes, Google marks them as spam because sometimes they contain spammy URL’s, source domains, etc.  Recently however, they stopped arriving from one server, and following the rejection note, it appears Google has started blocking spam at source.

host gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com[2607:f8b0:400d:c02::1b]    
said: 550-5.7.1 [******] Our system has detected that    
this 550-5.7.1 message is likely unsolicited mail. To reduce the amount of    
spam sent 550-5.7.1 to Gmail, this message has been blocked. Please visit    
550-5.7.1 http://support.google.com/mail/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=188131    
for 550 5.7.1 more information. 7si10895397qeh.110 - gsmtp (in reply to end    
of DATA command)

Google isn’t blocking all the mail from my server, and it sends quite a bit to various destinations, so this is just because of the content of the message (which is a standard Logwatch formatted text e-mail).

I guess it was inevitable, and maybe they’ve been doing it for some time, but now you can never be sure that your mail is arriving at Google, and you’re not longer sure you’re seeing everything even if you check your spam folder.

Victory!

When we got our Windows 7 PC’s earlier in the year, I was really careful to take backups of absolutely everything before we wiped our old PC’s.  In fact, I ended up with about 3 backups of everything in several locations.  However, due to some issues with hardware, messing about, and frustration, I ended up losing my Picasa albums.  Not the ones on the web, but the definitions of albums on local disk.

I wasn’t too worried initially, I had all the photo’s.  Over time though I got more and more annoyed that there’s no easy way to re-link a web based album with Picasa on the PC.  No way to say – import this album and it’s settings, and relink to all the photos.  Very annoying.

Every time I start up Picasa I get a little twinge of annoyance.  Since I was painting some mini’s today and taking pictures, I’ve been starting Picasa a lot.

So I finally knuckled down, ransacked Google and my backups, and have restored all but one of the albums! Yay, success.  Picasa backups up the .pal files which represent the albums, and with some arcane copying too and fro you can convince Picasa to recreate them, although the behaviour seems inconsistent.  No idea why one of them didn’t work – but much easier to rebuild one album manually than 10, and now they’re all back fully synced and online.

Google alerts, rss, google reader = recipe for awesome

Leigh recently blogged about Google Alerts.  I’d seen Google Alerts when they first came out, and I’d tried a few different alerts but the e-mails bugged me.  I spend a lot of time dealing with e-mail already, and getting random mails from Google wasn’t that interesting to me.

But, when Leigh blogged I thought I’d check them out again – and I found you can set the alerts to be read as an RSS feed.  This is awesome, if you use Google Reader the feeds show up automagically in your list of feeds, and every time the search finds something it creates a new entry.

I’m really used to using Google Reader now, and I find it really convenient to just pop in, read a few posts from a few feeds and pop out again, knowing anything I don’t read will still be there later.  Combining that with Google Alerts basically let’s you create your own RSS feeds for any topic you like, if you can narrow the searches down enough (which is the main issue).

Just thought I’d mention it, since I know a few of you use Google Reader (I’m sure it works fine in other feed readers too, but Google Reader just makes it even easier).

Hmm, Google SearchWiki, cool or chaos?

Wiki’s are cool if everyone buys in and collaborates in a compatible manner.  Google is adding collaborative ‘editing’ of search results with SearchWiki.  It looks like the changes are specific to your own Google account, but you can also see what other people have added if you like.  You can add notes and promote or remote search results (using little icons next to each search result).  The little video says it won’t directly affect how others see searches or even how you see searches if you’re not logged in.

You can add websites you expected the search to return, but didn’t – which seems like it might be an interesting addition.

Is basic searching dead?  Is this really a Wiki (since it only truly affects your search results when you’re logged in) or just an attempt to hijack a currently popular terms?  Who knows.   But the little icons have appeared on my Google searches, and I plan to have a play and see how effect it is.

Maybe it’ll turn the entire Google search engine into the biggest set of bookmarks I ever had?  I guess at the back end, Google is collecting which results are removed and which are increased in rank and maybe using that to tune their pagerank algorithm?

I promise, no more Google posts for a few days from me.  Just wanted to let you know in case you don’t normally log in to use Google searches since you won’t see the little icons if you don’t.  It took me a few moments to realise there’s no new search page to go to – this stuff has been added to the main Google search pages.

Update: Thinking about it a bit more, this could be quite exciting.  It’s a bit like Reddit or Digg, but with all the world’s URL’s already submitted.  I guess it depends on whether the promotion or removal of URL’s eventually affects pagerank and if the notes people are adding become useful.

GMail Themes

I love GMail, I’m man enough to admit it.  When all around me WebMail providers were doing horrible things and making stuff huge and ugly Google gave us small, quick (at the time), simple, IJustDoMail GMail.

And now they’ve added Awesome Sauce by adding GMail skins.

As usual, Google are rolling this out slowly, so the option may not be there for you yet, I’m going to go with Terminal for a while!  Story originally found on Life Hacker.

Google Insights

I posted recently about why search means something, and about Google tracking the Flu.  Here’s another site from Google that’ll waste three weeks if you’re not careful, Google Insights.  It lets you see who’s searching for what and how it’s changed over the years.  There was one fascinating search that amazed me.

And that was “apple in the Food and Drink category in the US“, over time you can see people are more interested in Apples during the end of Summer and the start of Autumn, and that it’s the same every year.

In case the link doesn’t work or the info goes away, here’s a screenshot (click to bigginate it).

Why ‘searching’ means something

Google have unveiled the Google Flu Trends website.  Basically, if you start searching for ‘aching muscles’ or ‘flu symptoms’, and lots of other people in your area are doing the same thing, it’s an indicator that people are starting to feel ill.

Using that, Google is predicting how much flu activity there is in certain areas.  If we assume people aren’t cynical on a big enough scale to ruin the data, this is a pretty amazing example of why searching isn’t entirely passive.  Why collecting data about what people are searching for is an active thing.  If you know what people are interesting in finding out, and you know what they’re finding, you can fill empty markets or predict trends.

Google – it’s the beginnings of a collective conciousness, a gathering of minds all asking the same question.  A billion people all pondering vital questions.

Like, “Is Angelina Jolie still as sexy as ever?”

A month with WordPress

It’s just over a month since I left Blogger and started running my own WordPress site.  I’m not new at hosting sites, I have several (some phpBB, various custom stuff, previous goes at CMS’s) and I’m comfortable with apache and mysql.

Here’s a few random thoughts about WordPress.

  • Easiest, cleanest and best ‘default settings’ install of just about any web-app I’ve installed.  Really impressed with the ease at which it goes on, and how it works out-of-the-box without having to worry about any settings.
  • Solid and robust plugin architecture.  It’s a constant battle when you host your own sites to keep the number of plugins down while still adding some stuff to the site which makes it easier to use.  WordPress handles the plugins really well, I’ve not had any conflict with each other yet and I’ve not had any cause any weird issues.  I’ve added one or two that I think really add some value and I’ve added a few that are just fun stuff for me (like Pull Quotes).  Overall I’m really impressed, and the automatic one click upgrade for plugins rocks.
  • Because WordPress is popular, there are a lot of templates and I was lucky enough to find one which is basically bullet proof and ideal.  I usually have a lot of problems with templates and CMSs, either having to do a lot of customisation or losing out on features because the templates are old.  This isn’t really a WordPress ‘good point’ since it’s the template designer who’s done the hard work, but I guess the popularity and template system in WordPress helps.
  • The actual process of writing posts is pretty easy.  Sometimes I find the editor a bit clumsy, and having to flick between HTML and Visual editing mode for the more complex post styles can be annoying.  The built in media manager seems powerful and I’m probably only just scraping the top of that but it does what I need (allowing me to upload images and then including them in posts without having to FTP them to my hosting provider and work out a URL).  Compared to Blogger it’s far more flexible and powerful.
  • I like the pages feature – I felt it was a major issue that Blogger didn’t provide a built-in method of including non-dated pages/posts.
  • Managing posts / tags and categories is a pain (in 2.6 you have to edit a post to change the category / tags).  I think they’re changing this in 2.7 or later.  But, a simple plugin fixed this for me anyway and made it a lot easier.  Blogger’s tagging / category feature was reasonably limited and although I don’t think I’m benefiting yet fully from WordPress’s tagging / category system it is far more flexible.  I love the tag to category and category to tag feature, which has saved me a lot of work in restructing the posts.
  • Overall page views are down a great deal since leaving Blogger.  This is party because of the (bizarre) popularity of my posts on my thumb pain / tendonitis and party because the site doesn’t rank as highly in Google for other random topics.  Generally, I don’t mind.  This is a personal blog for me to vent and my friends to read, so how highly it ranks on Google isn’t an issue.  I could have spent a lot more time with the redirection from the Blogger blog, sending visitors to specific posts on this site, but I decided it really wasn’t worth it to preserve the people reading about thumb pain.
  • I think i already blogged about the fantastic seamless import of Blogger content into WordPress.  If not, it was fantastic.
  • I like trackbacks.  I like sending pings when I link to another blog.  Part of the reason why I left Blogger was a lack of trackbacks / pings.  If I link to someone’s blog I want them to know it, so they feel like their blog is valuable and being read.  Even if they don’t display the pings / trackbacks on their site, it’s just a nice easy way of letting people know they’re being read.
  • I never did find a plugin that worked as well as the Blogger blogroll one (which shows the last post in an rss feed you choose, for each entry).  Which is a shame.  There are some, but they seem over complex.

Overall, I’m more than pleased with the move.  I feel more in control of how the blog looks (even though I’ve hardly touched the template I’m using) and I have direct and immediate access to the content (I back the mysql database tables up each night).  WordPress itself performs flawlessly, and there aren’t any major features that I wish it had.