By Collin Allen

Akismet Kills Comment Spam

November 6, 2005

Akismet is a new comment spam defeating system designed by WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg. Instead of filtering all comments locally, each comment’s data is sent out to the Akismet servers and tested among spam for other sites to create a far more accurate judgment of it’s validity. The only prerequisite is a API key, which can be signed up for at their site. Installation couldn’t be simpler, too. Per their public request, I’ve disabled other comment spam plugins such as Bad Behavior (which may or may not fix RSS issues a few people are having). So far, I’m quite impressed with how easy it is to use. Time will tell if it really works. If you’re interested in using it on your own site, you can check out their FAQ, or go right ahead and download the Wordpress plugin.

Update: It’s been 15 days since I activated Akismet and disabled all my other comment spam plugins, and so far I’ve seen only one unmoderated spam comment, while Akismet has blocked 1477 others. Those are impressive results! Also, is out of beta for those interested in getting an API key.

Can Open-source Outdo the iPod?

November 5, 2005

Wired is running an article on Neuros Audio, a company whose main product is an open-source portable multimedia device aiming for the iPod. The Neuros 442 is a very nice piece of hardware, including a 3.6” LCD, video input for recording, a 40 GB hard drive, and a dual core processor. However, Neuros is leaving the interface up to the open-source community. People are already at work customizing the media player, but it officially launches in January, according to Wired.

I think the idea of allowing the community to design the software how they please is a great idea, and it’s a huge departure from the hacked PSP and Linux-on-iPod options available today. I’m still very doubtful that it will ever come close to outdoing the iPod, as most consumers don’t care how the device works, they just care that it does so without hassle. Unless Neuros can come up with a way to package the software in easy upgrades, they won’t get far. Expecting users to download and flash firmware, compile software, or perform other technically involved processes is asking an awful lot of the general population. It’s the kind of thing I wouldn’t mind experimenting with, but not at $399.

Live Verification

November 3, 2005

I just read that Disk Utility in OS X 10.4.3 can now do live verification of the current system drive. Sound good, right? But what does it mean? Now you can check the current health of your hard drive and look for errors without the hassle of rebooting to the Mac OS X Install CD or DVD. Just open Disk Utility, select your main hard drive on the left, and click Verify Disk on the right. Apple notes that your system may hang for a few seconds while the disk is locked (and all processes, I presume, are temporarily frozen) and scanned.

The 10.4.3 update brings a ton of fixes, including security updates, Spotlight speed-ups, and notable Safari improvements. MacNN writes that Safari is the first non-beta, non-preview, publicly released browser to pass Acid2, which is a rigorous browser standards test. It exists to help ensure that browsers all conform to a unified standard, making it easier for developers and end users alike to get the results they expect. Undoubtedly, the open-sourcing of Safari’s WebKit engine has had a dramatic impact on it’s performance. Now if only I could get my site anywhere near standards-compliant! Also, Macsimum News has some worthwhile reading on the Safari updates.

Clear Cube

November 3, 2005

Flickr member macphile removed the metal RF shielding from the inside of his G4 Cube and reassembled it, leaving a crystal clear case showing the inner workings. Check out all the photos at Flickr under the Clear Cube photoset.

Despite the Cube’s shortcomings, I still think it’s a killer little machine. It doesn’t surprise me that many companies are producing upgrades for it to this day. It’s also great to see a dedicated circle of people making cool things out of almost collector’s item Apple hardware like the Cube, the Newton, and others.

Acquisition + BitTorrent

October 28, 2005

In a newly released beta version, the Mac P2P application Acquisition now supports the BitTorrent protocol. What this means is that you can use the gorgeous Acquisition interface for both Gnutella as well as BitTorrent file sharing. The new version also adds downloaded videos to iTunes along with your other videos. As the author puts it, “Acquisition now provides a seamless path from .torrent file to your iTunes Library.” I’ve been waiting for a really Mac-like BitTorrent application for a long time, and I’m not surprised it came from David Watanabe.