Fight Spam – Mercury/32 New Release

Since running my own mail server I am bombed with SPAM. With the newly released Mercury/32 v4.61, I also decided to install SpamHalter. If you have never worked with this before, you might be as lost as I was in the beginning. So, here a few tips to get started easily.

After installing the latest Mercury/32, the setup will probably ask you to install SpamHalter among other plug-ins. To get it running quickly, get the words4.zip file from the SpamHalter web site. Start the SpamHalterTools.exe from the Mercury directory and import the database.

SpamHalter: Merge Word Database

At first you have to enable the ‘+’ forms within Mercury. You’ll find this option at the ‘Advanced’ tab at the ‘Mercury Core Module Configuration’.

Mecury Coe Module Configuration

Now, you define two local mailboxes for SPAM and NOSPAM corrections:

SPAM/NOSPAM Correction Mailbox

The correction mailboxes must be specified within the SpamHalter settings on the ‘Basic Setting’ tab.

SpamHalter Basic Settings

I actually was not sure, so I created also the corresponding aliases for those two mailboxes: Maybe this might work without, but since I am running this mail server for multiple DNS entries, I wanted to be sure.

If SPAM is detected by SpamHalter, you’ll get the corresponding header information that can be evaluated, e.g. using Rules within Microsoft Outlook.

Message Header Information

The mailboxes you’ve created before are used to correct false positives or missed SPAM. Some accidentally as SPAM classified mail can just be forwarded to the NOSPAM mailbox created before to teach the system about this mail. Not recognized SPAM mails are sent to the SPAM mailbox to get processed. Simply add the password you have chosen before to enable the remote

Correct False Positives

Following these steps you get a quite reliable system within a few minutes. After sending couple of SPAM mails to the system it already started to recognize German SPAM.

There is much more to tweak on the system, but this should be enough to get a fast start with SpamHalter. To get a more detailed instruction read the original documentation and the web page.

Sick about URIs? My Wishlist URI

Following the idea of having clear HTTP URIs, I now extended my list of http://www.aheil.de/freebusy and http://www.aheil.de/software with my wishlist currently being with amazon: http://www.aheil.de/wishlist. What’s cool about this approach? At first it looks much better than http://www.amazon.de/gp/registry/Z5LA1EEWOT64 and is far more intuitive. Second, when moving to another country my wishlist URI stays the same, even when changing from amazon.de to amazon.co.uk. Finally, whatever happens to Amazon – I don’t care about my wishlist – my URI just stays the same. About 10 years ago, in 1998, I was a quite good customer of Telebuch.de, one of the very first German online bookstores before Amazon bought them and consequently all the URIs changed.

The Quartely Software II/2008

I am currently asked a lot what tools I usually use on my machine. Finally, I thought of starting making an regular inventory on my software base. I’ll try to update this list somewhat regular.

Research

EndNote – currently I run Endnote X, however, meanwhile there is Endnote X2 available. There have been various issues getting the version working with Word 2007. Since it works I haven’t upgraded.

PersonalBrain – which is a mind mapping tool. In contrast to MindMap it provides some dynamic flow of information. Once you got used to it, you maybe don’t want to miss it again. The Core Edition I run does not provide Outlook support and multiple attachments. But I am not sure if these two functions I miss are reason enough for spending 100 more bucks. Beside the price it’s a great tool.

Coding

ReSharper – a valuable add-on providing a bunch of functionality you miss in Visual Studio. On-the-fly code analysis, extended highlighting, automated brackets and parenthesis are only a few things that come along with this plug-in.

Notepad2 – I am not sure, but I think this thing is not developed anymore. Provides highlighting for various programming languages including XML, starts rapidly and has a small footprint.

TortoiseSVN – almost perfect user interface to Subversion, providing Explorer integration and context menus for direct access to Subversion commands.

Imaging

SnagIt – one of the coolest tools I have ever bought. They just upgraded to version 9 an I immediately got the update. Provides great screen capture functionality.

Microsoft Image Composer 1.5 – a long long time ago, this came with Microsoft FrontPage. I still provides me most of the imaging functionality I need during a day. Frankly spoken, it’s the only imaging tool I can really work with. Photoshop or stuff like this is way too complex for me. And for a imaging tool it starts right away. 10 years old the footprint of this app is literally nothing.

Microsoft Digital Image Suite 10 – unfortunately, Microsoft has discontinued this product line as some of the features went into Windows Vista.

System Tools

Daemon Tools – somehow usually the first tool I install right away on a fresh system. Gives you everything you need when dealing with ISO images.

Acronis TrueImage Home – my weekly backup of my laptop. Furthermore this tool helped me already twice moving my current HDD to a new one. I still run version 10 that works perfectly with Windows Vista.

DU Meter – A small tool providing exhaustive network traffic overview with a great logging functionality. The new version 4.01 works even better under Windows Vista. Haven’t seen anything better for 25 bucks (or 21 €). The new version also supports e-mail notification when a certain traffic limit is exceed.

Networking

Vistumber – a free monitoring UI for wireless networks under Windows Vista – as NetStumbler is not supported under Windows Vista at all.

TabletPC

InkSeine – while trying out some new concepts using digital ink, this app is great if you look for something to draw a quick sketch on you TabletPC.

Blogging

Windows Live Writer – what can I say: THE offline blogging tool. I think I would even pay for this one a few bucks but it’s for free.

Rss Bandit – More likely some kind of reverse blogging – reading blogs of others. I tried some tool in the beginning and stuck one day with Rss Bandit. Quite good but takes ages until it starts.

twhirl – a lightweight twitter client created with Adobe’s Air. Rich functionality and the best twitter client I’ve tried so far – and I tried a lot of them.

Tools

Xobni – I usually don’t like Outlook plug-ins, maybe because I don’t Outlook that much. Anyway, with Xobni, Outlook got a 150% productivity boos. Outlook search is indeed slow -Xobni search is great and even runs if the Windows indexer is stopped. I like the attachment list of previous conversations and was recently pointed out on the statistics when people write to you. Why this is cool? Because when the have a peak at 2 p.m. writing emails, there is a high probability you might reach them also on the phone.

SmartFTP – that’s the FTP tool you should use. I have never tried anything else. But the splash screen sucks when using the personal version that comes for free. Maybe I will spend the 37 bucks one day to get rid of this annoying dialog.

WebComposition/DGS Core Architecture

Ok, how would you describe the core architecture of your current project? Inspired by Ralf’s idea, I really thought about the WebComposition/DGS architecture. What are the e core concepts and the key ideas of it? If everything has to fit on a napkin, you really have to restrict yourself in drawing different components. The interactive NapkinNotebook thus cam in very handy. Let’s look at the first try of the architecture sketch?

WebComposition/DGS Core Architecture

What are the core components we find in the WebComposition/DGS? Well, there is the Data Grid Service (DGS) as central entity? What else? Some storage solution for data and some other storage solution for metadata. Ok, here we have to think the first time? Two of them? Definitely yes. Metadata might be saved a completely different way than the data itself. You don’t think so? Let’s see, think about our images as digital photos and the metadata created from the EXIF data extracted from the imaged. The EXIF data is stored as RDF in some triple store, the images are stored on the file system. Consequently, we need two storage solutions.

OK, next component on the diagram: Users; do the interact directly with the DGS? No, usually the use a Web-based application. The user also might be another application or a service – but that’s no information to be on this sketch. The important thing is: there is usually only interaction through some other component – usually a Web-based application.
After some feedback from Ralf, I’ve updated my sketch using another software cell for the Web application. Makes much more sense though, what do you think?

RESTful .NET

There is an upcoming book I am looking forward to: O’Reilly’s RESTful .NET by Jon Flanders.

That’s what the cover text says so far:

“RESTful .NET is the first book that teaches Windows developers to build RESTful web services using the latest Microsoft tools. Written by WFC expert Jon Flanders, this hands-on tutorial demonstrates how you can use WCF and other components of the .NET 3.5 Framework to build, deploy and use REST-based web services in a variety of application scenarios. No prior knowledge of REST or WCF is required to get started.”

I am thinking about the REST concept now for a while and I am really interested in the way Jon is going to address some of the issues such as secure REST endpoints. He will also address the ADO.NET Data Services which follow the REST principles quite well. I am not to optimistic right now about it, since REST is not as easy as it is commonly thought.

The book is scheduled for October and so I just added it to my wish list, not to forget about it.

Fight Back SPAM

For some days, it looks like there are some issues with the Akismet API. A couple of SPAM entries found their way into my blog not being monitored by the service at all. Now I decided to give ReverseDOS a try.

ReverseDOS Homepage

It’s a small HttpModule developed by Michael K. Campbell. Let’s see what he is going to say about ReverseDOS:

“ReverseDOS is a very simple HttpModule that checks various parts of incoming requests against a list of crap that you don’t want pushed on to your site. If ReverseDOS detects a match, it attempts to stall the requesting client for a number of seconds (specified in a .config file). During this loop, which uses virtually no server resources – and only a tiny smidgen of bandwidth, ReverseDOS checks every .3 seconds to see if the client is still connected. If the spammer disconnects, good riddance. If the spammer sticks around, they’re finally rewarded with the Response Headers – containing an HTTP 403 – Access Denied Response Code.”

Does not sound too bad, does it? Since I run my own server now it is a cinch to get it run. Deployment is quite easy, copying the bits, the configuration file and adding one line to your Web.config. Following the installation instructions, it took a few minutes to get everything set up. So far, it looks like it runs fine with dasBlog 2.0. I’ll give the default configuration file a try, before I see what to add there.