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Louis Kessler's Behold Blog » Blog Entry           prev Prev   Next next

GenSoftReviews Glitch - Sun, 13 Sep 2009

For several weeks, noone was adding their program reviews to my GenSoftReviews site. I wondered what was happening, and last night I found there was a problem. It appeared that the Hashcash function that I was using to keep out spam comments was not working and was not permitting any entry, and that was after the person already entered their review.

It took me four hours today to track that down. It was strange. It had been working flawlessly for almost a year. I didn’t remember doing anything to cause it, I couldn’t find any comments of other people having similar trouble with Hashcash. Working through it, I did find that the problem was both on the live site and on the copy on my computer. I worked through the code bit by bit, adding debugging statements and exits to try to track it down. I went through the settings and they seemed okay.

Finally I got lucky, and saw something I had missed the 3 other times I looked at the Hashcash plugin webpage. It said “WP Hashcash relies on the presence of two hooks in your theme, wp_head and comment_form.” I took a look at the GenSoftReviews header page and I noticed a change date of August 5th. There was no “wp_head” call in that header. I added it back in, and everything worked fine again.

I can’t for the life of me remember making that change back on August 5th, but obviously I must have, since it was the same both locally and online. But I’m really glad I got this working again. GenSoftReviews would be too onerous to operate without it. I turned it off overnight, and the site got 6 spam comments. Yuck. Those are what Hashcash gets rid of so perfectly. It required that the user has Javascript on and does a javascript test that only real browsers with real users using them can pass. The only spam that can get through is spam put there by someone typing it from their browser. That is a slow and non-productive way to spam (one blog at a time) so it is rarely done. It’s really a great test, and the only downside is that it requires javascript, which only the paranoid people turn off.

So that’s now fixed, with an apology at the top of the GenSoftReview pages that I’ll leave up for a month or so. I hope people come back and start adding their reviews again.

On a different note, earlier this week we bought a new Vista computer for my daughter to replace her now underpowered and slowing-to-a-crawl XP computer that was several years old. We attempted to use “Windows Easy Transfer” to copy everything and the settings over. I won’t get into that horror story. Just search: “Windows Easy Transfer” Problems on Google and look through the 1,550,000 results.

Re the Behold Beta, a few niggling things that need to be done before it’s out.

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