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Housekeeping Announcements

1. I've killed CAPTCHA on my comment form. If you tried to use it recently, but it constantly spit out an error telling you your answer was incorrect, that was my fault. When I converted the scripts that pull post information from my databases to MySQLi, I forgot that a small snippet of the comment processor needed to be adjusted as well. PHP would throw an error saying, "WTF mate? You don't have a MySQL connection. What am I supposed to do with these queries?" And since the function calling the comment processor only expected one of two answers, "Success" or "something else," the error read as "something else" and the default message was, "Your response to the CAPTCHA was incorrect," whether that was the case or not.

Long story short, no comment submitted over the past month could get through. At all. And in fixing it, I decided to get rid of CAPTCHA entirely. I've had a devil of a time with some of the prompts on other sites, and there are easier ways to thwart spam bots. Sweetie and I brainstormed for questions that humans could answer easily but computers can't. We came up with some fun ones, but we ultimately decided on a simple format in which the answer is embedded in the question itself. Fancy AIs may be able to parse it syntactically, but your average bot programmed to fill in email and website fields will be at a loss. So from now on, you'll be prompted with questions like, "What is the first letter of 'California'?" You can answer upper- or lowercase; it doesn't matter. But that should make things a lot easier.

2. At the request of a new reader, Lara, who sent me a lovely message through Goodreads to let me know that I'm not as unpopular as I thought, I've put in an email subscription form on the right sidebar, under the old RSS link. It uses Feedburner, a free Google service, and I've set it to send out the full text of new posts each morning. Now you don't have to come back and check the website to see whether I've written anything.

There are some potential problems, though. First, images may not show up in the emails. I'm not sure how they'll show up—maybe as the alt text, or maybe as placeholder text like "[img here]," or maybe they'll just be missing entirely. Second, there are some unconfirmed rumors that Feedburner will soon kick the bucket. Google has killed the API, tech support, and international domains for it, but there's no word what they plan for the delivery service itself. It could just sit there, or they could phase it out. If that happens, I'll have to find a different company to do it, or code one myself.

I'd rather not go with the latter, but I could. I'd have to keep a database of all of my subscribers' emails and then make a cron job to check every morning for posts published over the past 24 hours and email each person. Programming-wise, it's simple. Security-wise, I'm not sure it's wise at all. I'll have to bicker with Sweetie about it later.

Comments

Lara Britt (September 30, 2012, 6:21 pm)

Woot! I find that those who subscribe to my Feedburner emails usually end up clicking over to the site to read more. It is just a great way to be alerted to posts from folks you don't want to miss. I would definitely put yours in that category. Now let's see if I can find the first letter in Idaho?

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What is the first letter of "Texas"?