E-Scribe : a programmer’s blog

About Me

PBX I'm Paul Bissex. I build web applications using open source software, especially Django. Started my career doing graphic design for newspapers and magazines in the '90s. Then wrote tech commentary and reviews for Wired, Salon, Chicago Tribune, and others you never heard of. Then I built operations software at a photography school. Then I helped big media serve 40 million pages a day. Then I worked on a translation services API doing millions of dollars of business. Now I'm building the core platform of a global startup accelerator. Feel free to email me.


I co-wrote "Python Web Development with Django". It was the first book to cover the long-awaited Django 1.0. Published by Addison-Wesley and still in print!


Built using Django, served with gunicorn and nginx. The database is SQLite. Hosted on a FreeBSD VPS at Johncompanies.com. Comment-spam protection by Akismet.


Pile o'Tags

Stuff I Use

Bitbucket, Debian Linux, Django, Emacs, FreeBSD, Git, jQuery, LaunchBar, macOS, Markdown, Mercurial, Python, S3, SQLite, Sublime Text, xmonad

Spam Report

At least 237132 pieces of comment spam killed since 2008, mostly via Akismet.

Summer Spam

Spam is occupying more than its customary share of my attention in recent weeks. I've long had a morbid fascination with sleazy human communication (hence Purportal.com). That makes the always-relentless stream of spam, though not exactly welcome, at least interesting.

Spam volume also seems to have increased during this period. The number of spam attempts my mail server rejects per day had been steady at around 3,000 for months. Now it's back up around 5,000 or 6,000.

I run my own mail server and fight spam via greylisting, blacklisting, and other strict technical rules. This setup rejects 99+% of the spam aimed at the domains I host, but some still gets through to me. Never enough to displace real mail, but enough to keep my little hobby-interest alive. Here are some of the spam highlights of my summer so far:

And finally, there was the phishing message I received today. It was a fake eBay notice, with the usual "click here to resolve the dispute" links. Those links were supposed to take the victim to a fake eBay page the scammers had set up (where the victim would type in all sorts of exploitable personal information). Looking at the message's raw source, I noticed something very odd -- the pages they were trying to link to were on an FTP server in Russia. Even weirder and better, the link code contained their FTP username and password! A minute later I was logged into their FTP server, looking at the one file there: the fake eBay page.

This was a darkly humorous reminder that the international spam-and-scam business is, from what I can see, a refuge for IT people (or wannabes) with poor skills and poorer ethics. So by this point I was kind of feeling bad for the incompetent underling who had put this thing together for his terrible boss.

However, I didn't let my compassion interfere with my sense of justice and fun. I replaced their fake eBay page with my own content, a much simpler message in plain text: "We are scammers."

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

1 comment

Comment from Paintball Kolbudy , 16 weeks later

I made my mail config as you pointed out in the first outline...great :)

But i cannot completely disable mails which come to me to free mail. Is there any way to block the adverts>?

And something new lately, mails with RE:RE in the subject, suggesting you mailed earlier eith the person...

And I received mail which said I am the beneficiant of my grand father in USA and they are looking for me to pay the will :D

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