Archive for the 'Internet' Category

Anti-Spam Update - Knuj0n and Boxbe

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Some up and coming anti-spam services I’ve heard about recently…

On the technical side, KnujOn offers a method to help identify the folks sending fraudulent email. As an end user, all you do is register your email address with the service so the address can be whitelisted and then send your email to KnujOn. The father/son team behind KnujOn collects the data and invites Web hosts, Credit Card investigators and law enforcement to use the collected data during investigations. As a bonus, the service sends participants weekly progress reports as to how many fraudulent sites have been taken down.

More information about Knuj0n can be found at Castle Cops and there’s even a Thunderbird extension for the service.

Aside from reporting spam, for inbox protection why not take a look at Boxbe? Boxbe is all about giving you a forwarding email address that you can share with others without the hassle of receiving spam. In order to reach your your pre-existing email address inbox, advertisers have to pay you a price you specify. As a value proposition, Boxbe protects your inbox and pays you for your attention.

The service is not without drawbacks, however. For example, when you set up a profile on Boxbe, you’re asked to divulge interests and other profile data, which Boxbe anonymously shares with advertisers. In addition, there could be problems with senders. If the sender doesn’t want to work with the Boxbe system (either by refusing to complete the sender test or refusing to pay to send to you), the email in question would land in your quarantine.

[tags] Email, Email Deliverability, Spam, Email, KnujOn, Boxbe [/tags]

Jesus 2.0

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

MyCCM bills itself as social networking for Christians and it bears the hallmarks of a true Web 2.0 space - RSS feeds and RSS search capabilities, blogs, podcasts, personal profiles and the ability to join a community.

I had a referrer from the site and I had to go and click around. The site design looks fine. But I have one question about the site, it seems that you can see a great part of the site without needing to log in. I was able to click around to each section of the site - myRSS, Blogs, Tags, Search, Groups. Community and see the section pages in addition to searching for profiles. To me, it appears that this site allows way more unfettered unlogged in access than a MySpace, Facebook or Linked In and some of those profiles looked young, even though the registration process doesn’t allow birthdays later than 1993.

[tags]Web 2.0, MyCCM, online communities [/tags]


Sunday, November 12th, 2006

I still have hope for the killer munged RSS app. What do I mean by munged? I mean RSS that has been somehow used or manipulated to do something else…

With this idea in mind, I think that ZapTXT holds some interesting possibilities. ZapTXT is a service which will monitor RSS feeds to you and send keyword search alerts to your email, IM or phone. While there’s both Google Alerts and Yahoo Alerts, along with some other services that does RSS to Email or RSS to IM or RSS to Phone, I’m hoping that ZapTXT can capitalize on its promise and continue to innovate.

As for look and feel, the ZapTXT site is extremely well done. I especially like the hidden div sign up process on the front page. How clever is that? Going through the site, the look and feel remains (for an example, take a look at the widgets page). Markup is XHTML transitional with some very clever uses of CSS. The only feedback I have for the site, really, is the fact that their images need alt tags and maybe, just maybe I would put a little more text in the page footer.

Good job ZapTXT folks, and after I post this I should be able to see how fast your service works.

Http Code: 200 Date: Nov 12 21:53:05 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 30833
Referer: -
Agent: ZapTXT bot;;

[tags] RSS, RSS search, RSS Alerts, RSS to Email, RSS to Phone, RSS to IM, ZapTXT, Web 2.0 [/tags]

Podcast via cellphone - Podlinez and Fonpods

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

TechCrunch covered two new podcast via cellphone services - Podlinez and Fonpods and out of sheer curiosity, I just had to investigate how such services would be executed. What’s interesting is the difference in the technology running each site.

Podlinez, the service which provides a phone number for each individual podcast (the cleverhack podcast number is +1 (818) 688-2726), is built on a LAMP infrastructure and the HTML markup is XHTML strict. As you can see, the site design is very simple (there’s a front page and podcast directory pages) and as the service grows, I would hope the design would become a little more sophisticated. No associated blog or FAQ or any other extraneous pages. There’s no description meta tags nor a descriptive title tag either. As you can see, the User Agent is perl based - and a URL to the Podlinez site would be useful.

Http Code: 200 Date: Nov 12 11:52:18 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 34556
Referer: -
Agent: CheezIt/0.1 libwww-perl/5.805

On the other hand, there’s Fonpods, which I think I’ve actually seen a few months ago. To use Fonpods, you create an account on the Fonpods site, choose the podcasts you want to listen to and then dial into the central (712) 432-3030 number (For reference, here are the cleverhack podcast codes).

As for technology, Fonpods uses the ASP .Net platform, and while they are using XHTML Transitional markup, their markup is commented. As a plus, the site looks pretty good (with the exceptions of the javascript button on the front page and the misaligned search button) in Firefox - it looks like most of the pages have text within images - which is fine for layout but you lose something in terms of SEO. If I were them, I would delete the extra meta tags in their page mark up…and add a meta description tag. Since Fonpods is dependent on one main phone number, I’d make sure that phone number was everywhere - for example in the page title tags, on the page banner alt tags, in page copy and on the page footer.

Http Code: 200 Date: Nov 12 12:12:04 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 34556
Referer: -
Agent: Fonpods

[tags] Podcast, Podcasting, Podcasts on cellphones, Podlinez, Fonpods, Web 2.0 [/tags]

ThePort Network

Saturday, November 11th, 2006

ThePort Network, a company based in Atlanta, Georgia offers a turn-key hosted Web 2.0 platform including a Web-based Newsreader, Desktop Newsreader, Blog Publishing, Social Networking Tools and RSS Desktop Alerts.

The say they have a few corporate clients, including a certain Philadelphia football team. At this writing, I can’t say anything about their Web 2.0 tools, since a demo isn’t readily available on their site - which isn’t very Web 2.0, is it?

The most ironic thing about ThePort though, is how I found the company. Their feed aggregator user agent appeared in my logs, so of course I had to take a look to see what they were about. I went to their corporate site front page, only to discover that they have no copy on their very important front page and instead are using Flash to mock up a tag cloud. Aside from the usability issues, that’s some terrible SEO. For a start, get some copy on the front page. (And instead of Flash, if they need to mock up a tag cloud they could have used an image and used image maps with some ALT tags for the links.)

I sure as heck hope they’re not trying to pull traffic from search engines.


Http Code: 304 Date: Nov 11 11:25:48 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: -
Referer: -
Agent: ThePort Web/1.0; subscribers 1

[tags] ThePort, ThePort Network, Web 2.0, Web 2.0 tools, Corporate Web 2.0 tools, turn-key, SEO [/tags]

My agent/1.0

Friday, November 10th, 2006

A user agent which appears to be someone’s handrolled RSS feed reader or feed aggregator, this visitor came from a Comcast IP somewhere near Boston. I will have to watch to see how often he’s hitting my feed.

Http Code: 200 Date: Nov 09 23:22:34 Http Version: HTTP/1.1 Size in Bytes: 4464
Referer: -
Agent: My agent/1.0

[tags]RSS, RSS feed, RSS reader, RSS aggregator, user agent, Why don’t my readers provide some sort of technical documentation to satisfy my curiosity? [/tags]

One thing I learned at Ad:Tech

Thursday, November 9th, 2006

I learned there is a professional organization for Search Engine Marketers.

[tags]Search Engine Marketing, SEM, SEO, SEMPO[/tags]

Hacking MyBlogLog

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

I’ve been using MyBlogLog heavily for the past week and there’s a few interesting things I’ve noticed about the service.


  • Since being active on the site nearly a week ago, I’ve had over 460 new visitors to cleverhack, with 56 viewing my about me page (which, if I think about it, is probably as many clicks as I get to my about me page in 90 days).
  • I have seen a number of visitors who, in marketing parlance, have converted to regular readers and RSS users.
  • I’ve noticed two types of accounts on MyBlogLog, your normal user accounts and accounts representing a Web site or brand ( I’m thinking Zillow, Buzz Tracker and Dogster and the like…)
  • This blog is in the Top 50 “C” Communities.
  • I’ve seen some good SEO from MyBlogLog (the cleverhack MyBlogLog page is currently #4 when searching on cleverhack.)

What I’d like to see and other issues

  • I like using the My Communities page to browse blogs. What I’d like to see is if you’re logged in, and looking at your “community” of blogs, to be able to click through to the blog rather than to the blog profile page.
  • User profile page should have RSS feeds of the users blog(s).
  • The Hot In My Communities widget on the user profile page doesn’t seem to update all that much.
  • I don’t understand why I would have to manually create a screenshot of my blog’s page to update the screenshot on the service.
  • Blog profile page should have RSS feeds of the blog higher in the right hand column. (Right now, the RSS feeds are shoved down at the bottom).
  • I’d love to see some sort of random show of blogs on the MyBlogLog Community page.
  • I’d love to see some sort of random show of members on the MyBlogLog Members page.
  • I don’t know what exactly makes a member “hot” or a blog “hot”.
  • The blog stats features are kinda cool but are dependent on javascript (meaning that people using non-javascript enabled browsers won’t be counted).
  • Aside from the extra blog stats features, what is the value proposition for a Pro Membership?

How to take advantage of MyBlogLog

  • Click through to the MyBlogLog front page often, that way you show up in the Recent Readers widget. I do see traffic coming in that way.
  • Check out other people’s profiles and their blogs. They will usually reciprocate.
  • There is some traffic value in belonging to the hot communities, although I’d expect the advantage to diminish as more people belong to those same communities.
  • Be female. (Whoops, my bad, said that out loud.)
  • Use a photo of yourself as your avatar. The better the photo, the better the response.
  • Join communities but avoid becoming the dude who joins everything.
  • Feel free to ignore contact requests if they aren’t a good fit.

Oh, and googling for mybloglog brought up this 10 Hottest Clicks map.

Yahoo gets snarky with postmasters

Saturday, November 4th, 2006

So, this morning I was clicking around on the Web, trying to find more information about the Yahoo mail server problems (i.e. the 451 Message temporarily deferred errors). There’s been some talk about it on NANOG and other sources, and I was hoping to see some more information about it.

As it turns out, I visited the Yahoo Mail Postmasters Help page this morning to find some newly updated information about the deliverability problems. This updated Postmaster’s page could be a resource - if the main links weren’t all broken. I kid you not — the links in the body of the page all have quotes…for example,”defer-06.html”

But, there’s more… if you’re clever enough to remove the extraneous quotes on the “Does Yahoo! use “greylisting” to reject messages?” link…this is what you see as of 10:17am EST on 11/4/06.

Yahoo! Mail Help
Yahoo! Mail > Yahoo! Mail Help > Yahoo! Mail Postmasters Help >

Does Yahoo! use “greylisting” to reject messages?

The most commonly understood form of “greylisting” is where an SMTP server will reject every message the first time it is attempted, and then accept it if the sending server retries later. The theory is that spammers won’t retry messages, while legitimate senders will.

Yahoo! does not utilize this method, and we have no intention of doing so in the future — no matter what you may read on some random blog.

Nice. Not only does Yahoo continue to have problems with email deliverability, that their main postmaster page has broken links but now they’ve got some snark in their corporate voice when communicating with outside postmasters. Good going guys.

Oh, and another thing… I am more than happy to submit the URL of the page with the broken links to someone at Yahoo, but their Postmaster pages “Contact Us” button links to their form for submitting technical feedback for mail. Not very helpful.

Previous posts about Yahoo mail deliverability issues: Tuesday and Wednesday.

Update: 11/4/06 4:02pm EST A Yahoo Postmaster contact just stated the following on NANOG

The issue some of you are
seeing is that your mailserver IPs are being grey-listed after a certain
number of emails and being traffic shaped. To have your legitimate
mailservers added to a white list, please refer to the following info.


So, a postmaster contact is directly contradicting what is on the official Yahoo postmaster pages. Nice.

Update 11/6/06: Yahoo has fixed the broken links on their postmaster page and has edited their “Does Yahoo! use “greylisting” to reject messages?” page. Yahoo now says that they do not “greylist” as understood to be rejecting every message initially and then accepting later. So basically, their postmaster contact’s statement still stands.

corporations paying attention to bloggers

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

It’s kind of interesting, these past few days I’ve been getting visitors from corporations or organizations that I have blogged about, most recently a certain shipping company whose name starts with U, a certain major Internet portal whose name starts with Y, and a band with the initials of DCFC.

An earlier example of corporations monitoring blogs was during the Dell Battery Recall. My post about the recall was one of the earliest on Technorati, and sure enough, someone from Dell had seen my post and blogged their response - including some issues I raised.

Who says blogs haven’t gone mainstream? Or that corporations don’t pay attention? This holiday season, you may just want to blog about how Aunt Mabel’s package arrived late.

[tags]corporate blogging[/tags]

Yahoo Email Deliverability (update)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Chuq blogged about the Yahoo problems, and happened to solicit a good comment from an ISP admin who is active on NANOG.

With some testing today, a Yahoo account I have was accepting email from a domain that doesn’t mail all that often. Some mail that I receive on a daily basis which usually gets routed to the spam folder made it to the spam folder at the usual time.

However, mail that I sent from a domain which has significant volume…well, I sent the mail at 9am this morning and it still hadn’t made it to Yahoo by the time I left work this evening.

From what I understand, it seems that part of the deliverability issue concerns how Yahoo mail handles messages sent from a particular mail server. From the mail admin’s side, the outgoing messages are held back in queue for hours at a time and are only accepted intermittently by Yahoo.

For background, read yesterday’s post.

[tags]Email deliverability, Yahoo, Yahoo mail, spam filtering[/tags]

it’s not you, it’s Yahoo

Tuesday, October 31st, 2006

For those of you who are not on the email deliverability front lines, you may have been wondering why your email to Yahoo addresses hasn’t been getting through all that reliably recently.

As it turns out, the folks at Yahoo Mail apparently changed their spam filtering system sometime mid-October. Here’s a great blog entry detailing the Yahoo issues.

Of course, I’ve been hearing that mail admins haven’t been getting helpful responses from Yahoo about this, in addition to the complete lack of documentation about the problem.

Personally, I’ve seen emails sent during the past few days take around 24 hours or so to reach the Yahoo mailbox I was sending to.

[tags]Email deliverability, Yahoo, Yahoo mail, spam filtering [/tags]