another evening in the Rhinebeck simulacrum
Wednesday, July 27 2005
Rhinebeck, how I hate Rhinebeck, but Gretchen and I went back there again this evening to meet up with our friends from Tivoli A & C (and two of their young children) for the purpose of seeing a movie. Gretchen doesn't have a lot of friends with children, and it's on occasions like this when one of the reasons for this become clear. The movie we'd planned on seeing was the other one at Upstate Films, the child-friendly March of the Penguins. But we came just a little too late and it was already sold out to a theatre crammed mostly with children. But since our friends had brought their children, it wasn't like we could all go into Me, You, and Everyone We Know as an alternative, given its depictions of ritualized oral sex among teenagers. Gretchen and I would have loved to see it again, but we're not the ones who would have to explain to eight year olds why anyone would ever want to suck on another person's dick.
We ended up walking around the dreary simulacrum of Rhinebeck. It was the same walk as yesterday, only longer, and broken into two parts by a leisurely snack of french fries in a pub called Foster's. While we were there A told us about how he'd once been kicked out of Foster's for playing chess, probably (he suspects) because he was drawing attention to game playing in a place that serves as a meeting place for those seeking to place illegal wagers on sporting events.
Most of the time we were in Foster's the eight year old daughter kept drawing crude cartoons and passing them around for us all to see and gush our approval about. She seemed so genderless to me I accidentally referred to her as "he" at one point.
Today and yesterday I noticed I was getting a lot of spam from my web correspondence form and figured that somebody was harassing me, so I made some changes to the form processor to make it impossible for someone to effortlessly send me empty messages. But then tonight I noticed that my defenses had already been taken into account and the spam deluge continued, now with messages containing "Hello!" in the body. So then I looked at the message source to see if they were all coming from the same address and was amazed by what I found. In each message, a range of alterations had been made to the content of the subject and the body of the message in an attempt to fool my form processor (which sends me the email) into also blind carbon copying (BCCing) the email to a long list of people drawn from a spam list. I knew it was a spam list because all the emails were to addresses within the AOL domain and they were ordered alphabetically from a section of the c's. Apparently some spammer was seeing if he could tweak a script so it could use my form processor as a free spam relay! The easiest solution to this problem was to have the form processor confirm that the form sending it data was indeed hosted on asecular.com.
Once I fixed my form mailer, I went to all the other form mailers based on the same code and closed this evident vulnerability. It's possible that my form processor was never capable of spamming, but just closing off the source of the experimental spam arriving in my inbox was reason enough to implement these changes.
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