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@akismet Just let me know (out of almost nowhere) how I could be using their API more effectively. Amazing support! http://mikeboers.com/blog/572/Cleaning-Comments-with-Akismet

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Cleaning Comments with Akismet

My site recently (finally) started to get hit by automated comment spam. There are few ways that one can traditionally deal with this sort of thing:

  1. Manual auditing: Manually approve each and every comment that is made to the website. Given the low volume of comments I currently have this wouldn't be too much of a hassle, but what fun would that be?
  2. Captchas: Force the user to prove they are human. ReCaptcha is the nicest in the field, but even it has been broken. But this doesn't stop human who are being paid (very little).
  3. Honey pots: Add an extra field1 to the form (e.g. last name, which I currently do not have) that is hidden by CSS. If it is filled out one can assume a robot did it and mark the comment as spam. This still doesn't beat humans.
  4. Contextual filtering: Use Baysian spam filtering to profile every comment as it comes in. By correcting incorrect profiles we will slowly improve the quality of the filter. This is the only automated method which is able to catch humans.

I decided to go with the last option, as offered by Akismet, the fine folks who also provide Gravatar (which I have talked about before). They have a free API (for personal use) that is really easy to integrate into whatever project you are working on.

Now it is time to try it out. I've been averaging about a dozen automated spam comments a day. With luck, none of them will show up here.

*crosses his fingers *

Update:
I was just in touch with Akismet support to offer them a suggestion regarding their documentation. Out of nowhere they took a look at the API calls I was making to their service and pointed out how I could modify it to make my requests more effective in catching spam!

That is spectacular support!


  1. The previously linked article is dead as of Sept. 2014. 

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The burrito guy in Toronto didn't recognize me... My world has collapsed!

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New Demo Reel

For the first time since 2008, I have a new demo reel. This one finally has a quick breakdown of Blind Spot, and a lot of awesome shots from The Borgias.

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Fangoria writes about "Blind Spot"

More love for Blind Spot, as Matt Nayman gave an interview for Fangoria that was just posted!

He spoke about me working on the film:

The most difficult part of BLIND SPOT to complete was postproduction. The movie owes a lot of its power to my wonderful postproduction supervisor and co-producer, Mike Boers. He’s a fantastic visual effects artist, and was integral to bringing this film to life even during the scripting stage. We spent about five months working together on the CGI and compositing, using some beefy home computers and a lot of state-of-the-art software. Five minutes is a long time for any visual effects shot to hold up, and ours had to fill two-thirds of the screen for the entire movie. I am very proud of the effects we achieved for BLIND SPOT on such a minuscule budget.

Thanks, Matt!

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Torontoist writes about "Blind Spot"

The Torontoist just posted a short article on the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, mentioning Blind Spot as "one of [their] favorites this year". They write:

[The] short speaks for itself: composed of a single shot, the film took a day to shoot at Pie in the Sky but post-production special effects took eight months to complete, between Nayman and his longtime collaborator, Mike Boers. Nayman hoped to keep the film ambiguous, as it grapples with a man so engrossed with everyday minutiae he doesn’t notice an apocalypse occurring outside his car window. “I’m hoping,” he says, “that some people read it as sci-fi and some people read it as darkly funny.” Sharp and aptly observed, audiences will read it as good filmmaking either way.

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Dennis Ritchie has passed away. printf("Goodbye, World\n");

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"Blind Spot" Festival Run

Blind Spot festival leurels

Blind Spot, a short film by Matt Nayman and I, has been accepted to a number of festivals to screen in the near future!

So far it will be screening on:

After the film's premier I will finally be able to publicly show the film (I will post it here) and make long overdue updates to my VFX demo reel. [edit: no longer the case]

You can watch the film on its website!

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The fog was so thick and so low this morning that it looked instead like 40 feet of snow had fallen overnight. #Vancouver

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Stuxnet

I recently watched a TED talk by Ralph Langner, lead of one of the teams attempting to reverse engineer the virus to determine its purpose. My original reaction on Twitter was:

#Stuxnet sent prerecorded status data to the engineers to hide how unhappy the centrifuges really were. Via #TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/ralph_langner_cracking_stuxnet_a_21st_century_cyberweapon.html

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The most terrifying part about this attack is that while it was highly targeted, all of the exploits and actions it took are remarkably generic and can easily be retargeted to many other types of systems. There are many targets, and they are very vulnerable. The community of engineers and developers working with these sorts of control systems have, up to this point, not felt the need for a level of security paranoia that many software systems presently require.

There is some good discussion in the comments on Reddit:

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