Aug 29

Golden 5th anniversary

Our first post here was on 26 August 2008, so we’ve made it to 5 years with 275 posts now in the archive here. I’d like to thank all my regular readers and subscribers for their support over the years. As I’ve said before, I run this blog in my spare time so page views, subscriber numbers and reader comments mean a lot. If you’re new here, have a look through the archives and categories in the side bar or search for a topic that interests you. Please subscribe if you can.

What sort of things are covered here? Well, I’m currently looking at moving to Linux from Windows 7. I’ve written three posts in that series and there are more to come. I have a Google Nexus 10 tablet and will probably soon change my HTC Legend smartphone for a Google Nexus 4 given the price drop announced yesterday so I’ll be blogging about that and useful Android apps for both. I chose the domain name Tech and Life so it allows me scope to cover stuff outside tech so you’ll occasionally get some posts about my philosophies on life.

Finally, just to leave you with something useful, what else was happening 5 years ago? I came across a post on Reddit recently about catching up on news if you’ve been away for a while. Just search your chosen month and year in Wikipedia. You can use this to check out what was happening for example 5 years ago as this blog was starting up. The Summer Olympics were on in Beijing, and Illinois Senator Barack Obama accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party, becoming the first African American to be nominated by a major party for election as President of the United States.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Aug 21

In this series of posts, I’m discussing whether I can move completely from Windows to Linux. In the last post in the series, I discussed why I’m sticking with Windows 7 for the moment rather than moving to Windows 8. It’s time now to look at some open source word processors and whether they can take the place of MS Word if I move completely to Linux. I’m sure many Linux users would say this is no problem but unfortunately it’s just not as simple as that for many of us.

I’m a freelance editor and spend a lot of time correcting the language of research papers for authors and publishers. The plain fact is that Microsoft Word has been around for a very long time (1983 to be precise) and is the established word processor. Kids, including my own, learn MS Office at school and go on to use it in business, academia and at home.  Although Google Drive is becoming more popular with some authors and publishers,  MS Word is the well entrenched standard in the publishing industry. Most publishers insist that documents are submitted in Word doc format (many publishers still can’t/won’t handle docx format). We have a situation now where authors worldwide have to fork out for a commercial product, or pirate it, because it’s the publishing standard. Many of these authors just can’t afford MS Office with its costly upgrades. And because they have to stick with MS Word and need a platform to use it, that makes it more difficult for them to move to a Linux OS. Or does it? There are several options to work with Word documents in Linux. The first would be to use open source, free software such as OpenOffice Writer or LibreOffice Writer to write or edit the article then save the file in Word doc format to send the document off to the publishers. But there may well be compatibility issues in the process. The second option would be to run MS Word in Wine on the Linux OS. I’ll look at OpenOffice and LibreOffice in this post and at Wine in a later post.

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Aug 7

This blog gets about 3000 spam comments each day. Akismet, the commonly recommended spam filter for WordPress, used to deal effectively with all spam but I’ve found that since about May this year, up to 15 spam comments are getting past Akismet each day. At first sight, many of these might seem genuine but I’ve written before how you can decide if they’re spam. Typically, they are just general comments about the blog rather than a specific comment on that particular post. If you google the comment, you will probably find it posted pretty much word for word on other blogs. Here’s a typical one:

I like the valuable info you provide in your articles.
I will bookmark your blog and check again here regularly.

I am quite certain I will learn lots of new stuff right here!
Best of luck for the next!

Commenter names or URLs linking to sites about weight loss, coupon codes, grey hair cures, etc., are also a giveaway. Every comment that gets through Akismet is emailed to me so I can moderate it and mark it as spam if necessary. But of course that doesn’t stop the spammers so I had to find a way to cut out these comments without having to waste time reading them. I don’t want to have to use a captcha unless I really have to as it may discourage genuine commenters.

Well I came across a blog with a similar problem but it was the comments that interested me. One commenter Ryan Hellyer recommended his plugin Spam Destroyer as an effective way to eliminate  spam. The blogger tried it and it seemed to work well. Apparently it works along with Akismet, so I tried installing it and after 3 days, no spam is getting through to the comments at all! I’ve also beefed up my comment policy message above the comment submission button as you can read below.

So I’ll see how this goes and thanks to Ryan for his great plugin. If spam starts to come through later, I’ll disable the URL field and I may have to resort to a captcha but so far, so good. How do you deal with comment spam? Drop a (genuine!) comment below.

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