Archive for February, 2005

Spamming problems on Del.icio.us; you don’t really need to validate your account

I was surprised to see, this morning, a sort of bookmark spam attack in one of my Del.icio.us feed (tag:writing). I had around 30 bookmark entries with user names like: rollofle500, rollofle502, rollofle503? etc. All the messages have been sent at a minute of interval with different tags, different topics and all linked to the same website: http://torrents.on.nimp.org/?u=rolloffle that redirect us to http://www.gnaa.us/. I think the attack have been performed with an automated script that worked like this:

  1. He creates an account with a random name and a random email address.
  2. He login to this newly created account.
  3. He post a bookmark with this newly create account and put random tags that he get in a special word dictionary created for this effect.
  4. Finally he restarts the whole process.

It seems that the administrator of Del.icio.us had deleted these users and entries. They probably have been alerted of the situation and deleted them on the spot.

The problem is that erasing all the entries hadn’t repaired the entire problem because their feeds have been infected and distributed to hundred of subscribed users.

We are in right two ask this question: Why this situation happened? The answer is ease: because their authentication is not working properly. You can post bookmarks without validating your account. This is the real problem and why the spammer had been able to perform this sort spam attack. Even if you see this message:

ยป A verification email has been sent. Please check your mail. If it does not arrive shortly, go to the settings page and ask for another verification email.

You can do what you wish with your account.

What’s the solution to prevent future bookmark spam attacks on Del.icio.us? They will need to upgrade their registration and validation system to prevent the new users to be able to post bookmarks without being validated by the system.

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Web texts editing: bold your key words term to increase the scannability of your articles

A trick I read in a Sun Microsystems article

79% of web readers scan pages instead of reading them word-for-word. How to increase the scannability of your blog’s posts? By bolding the key term of each paragraphs. This is an editing trick for web texts that I read in an article of Sun Microsystems.

It’s a really simple and evident thing to do when you think about it. So, I’ll start to apply the principle in my posts. The bold key words will be an addition to the new Technorati tags I added to each of my posts. Then my readers will be able to find where in the text these tags refer.

I wish that this new editing trick will be helpful to my readers. Personally I think that the text is really simpler to read. Now we know, in a second, what the post is about by reading the title, sub title and bold terms. Do you have the same feeling? Do you think that this is a good addition and will be helpful for you? Please leave me your feelings about it! The principle will be better with time because I’ll learn how to spot and bold the best terms.

So enjoy it and share your feelings about it!

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It seems that there are fewer connections between languages and mathematics understanding in our brain

How our brain seem to understand these two syntaxes.

I just finished to read Mathematics is a language of is own pointed out by MathForge. “A team of scientists led by Rosemary Varley at the University of Sheffield, UK, studied three people who had extensive damage to the left hemisphere of their brain, the so-called Apollonian half that includes linguistic skill areas”. They observed that those people were able to understand the difference in mathematical sentences of the type “7 – 2″ and “2 – 7″ but were not able to understand differences in language sentences like “The boy chased the girl” and “The girl chased the boy”.

The experience is really interesting. It seems that the brains zones involved in the understanding of basic mathematical sentences are not the same as the one of the traditional, written, languages. Good; but what about more complexes mathematical sentences? Everybody who tried to demonstrate theorems of any sorts in algebra or set theories know that this is not just a question of syntax understanding but more a question of imagination.

By example, if you work in the field of computer sciences, you know what formal specifications of software are. This is a method used to prove that your software is consistent with himself, it help to clarify, without ambiguities, the specifications of your software (it help for many other things but I’ll not discourse on the subject of software format specification in this post). Basically, formal specifications are a way to write a software program (his specifications) in a formal mathematic syntax. Now, my question is: if I got these brains damage cited up there, will I always be able to read and understand a specification wrote in Z (a formal specification language)? Personally I have doubts because I think that there are more things involved then just mathematical syntax understanding.

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This blog is a regularly updated collection of my thoughts, tips, tricks and ideas about my semantic Web researches and related software development.


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