By the Sea

Pam and I are spending the time in our favorite ocean-side place, Oceanside CA. We are here for the month of April to give Pam a break from needing supplemental oxygen 24 hours a day back home in Utah. Pam only needs oxygen at night while sleeping, which is quite the break for her.

I am fortunate that my employer is letting me work remotely this month. I’ve got a two-monitor set up on the kitchen table (laptop and a 19″ LCD). A good interwebs connection and VPN access to the office workstation is working well. We were able to do this last October. It has been good for  Pam to not have to wear the oxygen tube all the time.

And the view from my office here is much nicer than my normal workplace in the basement of the County office building. Here’s the view this month (click the picture to embiggen): 20140402_081907

Even with that view, I have been productive at ‘the office’ since we got here. And the commute is much shorter.

We’re in a condo that we have been in before. A nice one-bedroom, a small deck overlooking the ocean, and a short walk to the beach. We went to Ruby’s (a restaurant at the end of the Oceanside Pier) and had some fish and chips that were quite good.

So, a change in workplace this month. And a break for Pam. All around, a good deal.

No Form Spammers Here

I’ve developed an anti-form spam technique, which I’ve discussed before here and on my Security Dawg site. It works with PHP-based sites (so can work with just about any blogging platform with a bit of customization), and also works with WordPress sites. It’s quite easy to implement, and very effecting in stopping form and comment spammers.

I hadn’t gotten around to installing it here, but today brought a form spammer who was using the Contact form to send me spam. It wasn’t really bothersome, since the spam just goes to my spam folder automatically. And it’s not very effective for the form spammer, since one of their objectives is to make their form spam visible.

But since the form spammer found my site (which is difficult, based on my readership count which could be counted on the thumb of both hands), I decided to implement my anti-form spammer technique here.

That didn’t take long. One file to change (to insert the appropriate email values), three files to upload into the theme folder here, and then editing the Contact page to use the anti-form spammer template. That’s all.

And then a “Huzzah!”

I got things done at 8pm tonight. Before then, there were about 10-15 spams per hour. After that, none. Zero. Zip. Nada. Not one form or comment spam message since then.

As I have mentioned before, it is easy to implement. And very effective. Whenever I put the technique on a site, form spam stops. Absolutely stops.

So, for all of you readers (yes, even you in the back), check out the links above. Or go to my site, where you will see what the form spammer sees. Then check out the info page there for details on how to get the code for your site.

And it is all free. No obligation. Open source.

As I say on the FormSpammerTrap site — it just works.

Defeating Form Spam

I create a lot of web sites, many for my own amusement, but sometimes the form spammers find the contact form or comment form and start emailing their spam. Now I have a solution to stopping form spam in it’s tracks.

The details are over on my new FormSpammerTrap web site. That’s where the automated form spammers end up when they try to spam my contact forms. The concept is quite easy to implement, and even works on WordPress sites without needing another plugin.

I also put the details about stopping form spam on my SecurityDawg web site. (That is another example of a web site that amuses me. I liked the domain name.)

If you have problems with form or comment spam, check out the FormSpammerTrap site.  The process works quite well. If one of my sites starts getting form spam, it will stop as soon as I implement my process.  And the whole process is absolutely free, open source.

It just works. And I am quite proud of myself for figuring it out. (I am, apparently, also easily impressed.)

Changes Changed

Since the last post, there have been more changes, including changes to the change. The Net Change is that we decided not to move, for several reasons.

Housing in CA is expensive, and with potential limits on income, there might have been difficulties in house affordability. Pam also decided that she didn’t want to be that far away from the kids and grandkids, and that she would deal with the 24/7 supplemental oxygen and stay here. And although I have good employable skills, being older would effectively limit my employment prospects. Even though age discrimination is not allowed, it is there in practice. So the move to CA was cancelled.

We did decide that we would take one-month trips to CA to give Pam a break with things. My employers are willing to let me telecommute from there (apparently, my claim about good employable skills are valid) during the trip. I will use up some vacation and comp time. But my job functions just require electronic access to the various systems I maintain; physical access is not required. My supervisor is supportive of this decision, as are his bosses.

So, next week off to Oceanside for a month. The alarm system in the house is working well, we’ve got some responsible neighborhood teenage boys to mow the lawn (if it doesn’t start snowing here) and watch out for errant newspapers and door flyers.

We’ll take a few days to visit Disneyland (we’ve invited our youngest daughter and her little family to be with us there), and probably a few other touristy attractions in between work. Pam is bringing some of her scrapbook stuff. Should be a good trip, and the break from 24/7 oxygen for Pam will be helpful to her health.

Changes Afoot

Major changes in store around here. Pam has developed pulmonary hypertension (high blood pressure in the lung to heart blood vessels) which requires her to be on oxygen full time, and results in decreased energy and stamina.

We took a trip to California a few weeks ago, and due to the low altitude, she was able to be completely off of oxygen, and had her normal energy and stamina. So, although it is difficult to leave the kids and grandchildren, we have to move.

So, the house is up for sale, and we will be moving when that happens. Our plan is to go back to the Rocklin, CA area, since we came from that area. I will have to quit the job, and then decide whether to keep working or collect Social Security early (I turn 62 in November). If the house sells fast, we’ll move into an extended stay hotel in SLC (cheaper than renting) until we move in the late fall.

Changes are afoot.

Something Old, Something New

New post on my Security Dawg web site about protecting web sites with a file hashing program I wrote.

Did a front brake rotor job on my car on Saturday.  Didn’t notice any leftover parts when I was done. The first test drive was OK, but heard some unusual noises from the front right this morning as I was leaving for work.

So I went back home, planning on changing my clothes to take it apart again. But Pam let me take her new ride instead. I’ll work on my car tonight; sounds like a bolt needs to be tightened. The lug nuts were tight, so perhaps one of the four brake pad mounting bolts is not tight enough.

Pam’s new ride is a 2008 Toyota Highlander Limited Edition. We’ve been looking for a replacement for her 1998 Camry, due to the need for extra cargo space and a trailer hitch for a trailer for the powered wheelchair that appears to be in her future. Went to the Hertz used car sale, and found this one at a good price (under blue book) with all the options we needed. It has just about every option you could get other than the back seat video display. Only 75K miles on it, and well-maintained.

We’ve had good luck with the Toyotas we have bought from Hertz before. No mechanical problems, no maintenance (other than the usual tires and oil changes and a battery or two). Two of the Camry’s have over 200K miles, and mine has 120K, and all are still running well. So we are pleased with the new Highlhander. It drives well, and according to the on-screen display gets about 25MPG combined city/highway. Comfortable ride and handling. We’ll be taking it on a weekend trip to California in a couple of weeks.

And Happy Birthday to my oldest daughter Christine!