Geek Project: How to Drastically Limit Spam on phpBB Forums

phpBBSo, you run a phpBB forum… and you spend most of your time deleting spam, deleting bogus new forum members… and you are about to just give up and close the sucker down! WAIT! Try these steps first! It could drastically reduce the spam that you have to clean up! And THAT would be worthwhile! I sure do hate what spammers do to both e-mail and on-line communities… there outta be a law!

(Below info from the phpBB Anti-Spam Project)

1) Use spam blocking IP blacklists. Where do you get them? Check the link below:

The phpBB Anti Spam Project

2) Enable your forums Captcha -Turn on your captcha in your ACP, most bots work around this, but it may help eliminate a small percentage of older bots. “Bots” are spammer scanning software robots that spammers set up to spam sites.

3) Enable “Account Activation” (via the users email) – Using the Admin activation may eliminate spam however in the end it will be just as much work as deleting spam and your forums activity will most likely suffer as most users sign up because they wish to immediately and impulsively reply to something they’ve read… If you enable their account manually at a later time, they may not return.

4) Hide from spammers – Make it harder for spammers to find you, without sacrificing surfers being able to find you:

A. Do not use /phpBB2/ as a forum location. – If your boards address is sitename.com/phpBB move your board to another address such as sitename.com/widgets. – This takes less than 30 seconds to do (with the exception of changing links on any HTML pages and emailing your members about the change.
B. Remove phpBB text – Remove the “Powered by phpBB 2.0.21 © 2001 phpBB Group” and replace it with an image of the text (so that spammer scanning software passes do not pick up on the “phpbb”)
C. Use Robots.txt to block spammer scanning software from indexing non vital areas of your forum. If your forum url is http://yoursitename.com/widgets create a text file and place the following in it (substituting widgets with the forums location, name it robots.txt and upload it to http://yoursitename.com/robots.txt )

Other mods you can implement:

1) IP logged upon Registration – good for banning memberlist spammers who do not post, but continually rejoin (A recent study at the phpBB Anti-Spam site illustrated that 53.3% of signups were memberlist spam and that 60% of those that posted used a different ip address to post than what they used to sign up.)
A. URL Censor – good for censoring bad spam urls in posts, memberlist web addresses, signatures, etc.
B. AutoDelete Non-Activated Users – good for removing memberlist spammers who do not confirm
C. AntiSpam Question (easy to install and modify). We’ve made this mod more successful based on other antispam mods.. I would recommend that you change the default question “What color is a lemon?” and the answer “yellow” to something that requires thought. Using the default question and answer will not be as effective as more people use this mod. Better yet, if your forum is a regional forum change it to something users in your country or region would know the answer to, but foreigners most likely would not. If a spammer does figure out the answer and shares it with other spammers, simply changing the question 1-2 times will more than likely discourage them from wasting their time in the future.
D. either one of these:
* Deter Comment Spam adds a rel-nofollow tag to all urls so SE’s do not pick them up. This also includes an add-on mod separately that will allow you to configure it to make exceptions for allowed urls (this add-on is not needed). This is not a bot or spammer deterrent as spambots won’t know about this, however it prevents spammers from ruining your sites Google PR and eliminates the benefit of giving them SE link popularity, however they still can get surfer traffic. The downside is that good members will not have the benefit “spammer scanning software-wise” of posting their urls. If this is an issue, the next mod may be a better alternative.
* There is another mod out there that will restrict new users from posting urls until they have reached X posts and have been a member for X days. (This creates more work for spammer, most won’t go through the trouble. However this mod can be a forum killer as many new members may also become frustrated.)

You will be surprised how much following the above steps will reduce your forum spam content! And, I still say that spammers should be first up against the wall when the revolution comes!

Geek Project: Build a “Hackintosh Computer!”

Hackintosh PCWanna do something radical? How about building a “home-grown” Mac? “Not possible!,” you say? Well, here’s an article from someone that has “been there, done that!”

Build a Hackintosh Mac for Under $800

“If the high price tag for Apple hardware has kept you from buying a Mac but you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get adventurous, you can build your own “Hackintosh”—a PC that runs a patched version of OS X Leopard. What?!, you say. Apple’s move to Intel processors in 2006 meant that running OS X on non-Apple hardware is possible, and a community hacking project called OSx86 launched with that goal in mind. Since then, OSx86 has covered major ground, making it possible for civilians—like you and me!—to put together their own Hackintosh running Mac OS 10.5. Today, I’ll show you how to build your own high end computer running Leopard from start to finish for under $800. Right now the cheapest Mac on sale at the Apple store is a $600 Mac Mini sporting a 1.83GHz proc, 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard drive. For $200 more, your Hackintosh can boast a 2.2GHz proc with 4GB of RAM, a 500GB drive, and a completely upgradeable case for expanding your setup in the future. Building a DIY Mac requires some work on your part, so be ready to dedicate time to this project. To make things as easy as possible, I’m going to lay out how I built my Hackintosh from start to finish, from the hardware I used to the final patches I applied to the Leopard install. If you can build a Lego set and transcribe text, you’ve got all the basic skills required.”

By the way, add to that $800.00 price tag a LEGAL copy of OSX. We are not advocating stealing here! It is quite possible that a Mac Mini would be more cost effective at this point… but it is an interesting article!

Geek Project: Speed up Windows Boot Time by Tweaking the Windows Prefetch Cache!

[NOTE: the tweak outlined in this post has been called into serious question. It seems that it has been circulating around geek sites for a LONG time, and that there is a question as to whether it is valid. There seem to be good arguments FOR and AGAINST… as with any recommendation, I tried it myself and reported my findings… which appeared to be that it worked for me… BUT, YMMV (Your Mileage My Vary)… and, it is very possible that there were other factors that caused my apparent boot time speedup (from a minute to 30 seconds.) Now, 50% better is pretty impressive… but it could have been the result of other factors rather than the registry setting itself. I suggest that you read all of Andrew’s comments following this post… check out the sites he points to… and make up your own mind, based on the points made. I DO try and keep this a “fair and balanced” guide to user helpful hints… and now back to your regular reading….]

Original Post Starts Here:
Everyone wants a faster Windows boot time, huh? Well, here’s a cool tip! Clean out your Windows Prefetch Cache! A Geek Project for you!

In Windows Explorer, navigate to C:\Windows\Prefetch

Once there, delete everything under the “Prefetch” directory. (DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK! I ain’t responsible! REALLY!)

Now, reboot your system. This reboot will be very slow, because it will be “rebuilding” the system’s prefetch cache again. This is because Windows needs to “relearn” the prefetch for it’s system files. Subsequent boots will be MUCH faster! However, the Winodws Prefetch cache will soon “fill up” again as you use the system and it’s applications. Sooooo… let’s keep that from happening!

We will need to edit a registry key to fix that. (If you aren’t comfortable editing the Windows Registry, don’t do it… call your friendly local geek and show him this article!) If you are “down wit'” doin’ it… go for it! Open Regedit and browse to this Registry Key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\PrefetchParameters

Under this key you should see a value named: EnablePrefetcher

It has 4 possible values:

0 – Disabled : The prefetch system is turned off.

1 – Application : The prefetch only caches applications.

2 – Boot : The prefetch only caches boot system files.

3 – All : The prefetch caches boot, and application files.

Now, keep in mind, we don’t want to disable the prefetch entirely! This would actually make system boot times much longer! This is because this feature is used to speed up the loading of Windows boot files. So, let’s pick the number 2 option. It allows us to keep the advantage of caching Windows system files, without filling up the prefetch with application data.

Set the value to 2 and reboot your system. The next time that you boot it will be MUCH faster! Cool, huh? So, do this and, like me, you could do from over a minute in Windows boot time to 30 seconds! Very, very cool! You can also defrag your hard drive… that will help too!

Geek Project: Make Your PC Look More Like A Mac!

Here’s a new feature of the Blog! Every so often I want to do a “Geek Project” just for fun! Here’s the first in the series! Check it out!

RK_Launcher Desktop

Here’s how to do it! You will need the FREE, and very cool “RK_Launcher” software.

Download Site for RK_Launcher

How to use RK_Launcher:

Unzip the application, save to a directory like:

C:\Program Files\RK_Launcher

Create a desktop shortcut for:
C:\Program Files\RK_Launcher\RKLauncher.exe

Drag the shortcut into your Startup Folder:
(Right-click on “Start”, click on “Explore Users”, navigate to your startup folder, drop the icon there.)

Start the application, then position your mouse to the lower right of the separator line at the right of the Launcher bar, and right-click. Click on “Settings.” Set the settings as below, per tab in “Settings”:

Appearance:
Dock size 50 Pixels
Magnification 80 pixels
Items to manify: 7
Background theme: Default
Uncheck “Hide Indicators”
Uncheck “Hide Poofs”

Position:
Bottom

Behavior:
Uncheck “Automatically Hide”
Check “Always on top”
Check “Use Margin Hotspot”
Uncheck “Never take focus”
Uncheck “Locked add/delete/drag”
Check “Save Chnages on exit”
Check “Save items on change”
Check “Minimize to RK Launcher
Uncheck “Show new applications
Check “Hide the taskbar

Label:
Leave as is

Exclusions:
This will be done for you as you exclude items

Performance:
Quality: Normal
Other settings: Defaults are fine

You can get more cool icons for RK_Launcher from places like:

KDE-Look.org

Just be sure that they are .png icons, and at size of 128×128 pixels. I found and used a collection called “NuoveXT-kde-1.6” that had some great icons in it!

You can also “spice up” your desktop with Yahoo! Widgets (formerly called “Konfabulator”) if you want as well. (That’s how I did the clock and the weather widgets.) That software is available here:

widgets.yahoo.com

You can download and install the “Widget Engine” and then choose what widgets that you want (just be sure that you DON’T choose to install anything that you DON’T want! Pay Attention!)

Enjoy your cross between a Mac and a PC! Cool, huh?

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