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The Internet is at war. Please read this if you run a DNS server.

A Dutch ISP that acts as a spam haven is DDOSing Spamhaus, and they’re using DNS to do it. The attack is using spoofed DNS queries to create, basically, a smurf-like attack. And the sheer volume of traffic is likely to affect the Internet as a whole.

That might explain why my recruiters were complaining that it was taking forever to look up job postings today. (Yes, I can publicly admit that I’m talking to recruiters. That’s another story.)

But basically, if you run a DNS server, you need to check your configuration to keep lowlives from using your DNS as a weapon. Here is a useful page for those of you running BIND, the one of the most popular DNS servers.

This was the most common type of attack in 2012; it looks like some people are trying to up the ante in 2013. We can make it stop, but every sysadmin running a DNS server is going to have to pitch in to help.

SSD write endurance (aka longevity) vindicated

I found this chart earlier this week regarding SSD write endurance. Basically, it plots out how long an SSD would last if you set out to deliberately destroy it by writing to it continuously.

You could expect a mainstream 128-GB drive to last 4.7 years under those conditions, which is longer than a platter hard drive would last if subjected to the same kind of abuse. Other studies have similar results.

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Making gradual improvements, starting with whatever bugs you the most

A long project can be paralyzing at times, making it hard to figure out where to start. A trick that I learned in model railroading is to just work on whatever small percentage of the project that bothers you the most. Then, when that’s done, cycle back, create another subproject that fixes whatever bugs you the most now, and keep making incremental improvements like that until you get where you want.

I’ve used the same trick on home improvement projects, and I applied it to this web site over the course of the last few weeks, doing a series of incremental improvements. It led places I didn’t expect it.
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Beware of unexpected links in e-mail messages

Hackers are stealing Yahoo accounts by sending messages containing malicious web page links.

The message looks like a link to a web page on MSNBC. But if an unsuspecting user clicks on it, it redirects to another page that steals the e-mail account, allowing the hacker to use the account to send spam, or grab the account’s contact list.

The gory details are here.
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Four simple steps to optimize WordPress

A couple of years ago, I stood up a WordPress server. I made no effort to tune it, let alone turbocharge it, which is a decision I later came to regret. If your site gets more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it. If you want to get more than a few hundred hits per day, you need to tune it because Apache and MySQL’s default settings are by no means one-size-fits-all. And you can never have too much speed. There are two reasons for that: Google favors fast sites over slow sites, and Amazon found that a one-second delay in page load drops traffic by 7 percent.

There’s a lot of advice out there on tuning WordPress, some of which seems to be good, and some of it not so good.

Here are four things that I know work. I run Apache and MySQL under Linux; these tools may run under Windows or OS X too.
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Stopping spambots cold with Botblocker

I’ve been absolutely getting pounded lately with spam comments from spambots–to the tune of one spam comment per minute. That’s filling up and slowing down my database and consuming CPU resources that I want for human readers.

So I resorted to installing Botblocker. All I can report right now is that it seems to be working–no spam comments for several hours.

I can’t guarantee it will work forever, and I’ve got Akismet to hide whatever spam gets through, but so far my server seems less busy and more happy, which is good. Things had gotten so bad for a while that I was getting timeouts when trying to post, which is ridiculous.

Testing my new Facebook plugin

The plugin I was using, FT Facepress II, decided to quit working, so now I’m trying to get the official Facebook WordPress plugin working.

If it does all it says it does, Facebook comments about blog posts will also show up here (and not just on Facebook), which would be nice.

Update: It appears to have worked, but it also appears to have replaced the comments engine. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. That option is easy enough to disable; I’ll give it a trial period and see. The new engine can authenticate against Facebook, AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail, so it does give some options for those who don’t have Facebook accounts.

The upside is that this may significantly reduce the spam comments. I have a good anti-spam engine, but the comments still clutter up my database.