Google Apps (for domains)

I’ve recently had some difficulty finding an e-mail solution that works for me and my family. Until a week ago I had been using a Gmail account to manage multiple other accounts for myself. Since my primary address is a non-gmail address, I use the “send mail as” feature to use Gmail to send e-mail as a my primary account on nearbennett.com. The problem is that some clients receive my e-mails as “Sent on behalf of”. So people see both the Gmail account and my preferred account and aren’t sure which one is right. Replies come properly addressed, but I’m still annoyed by the “Sent on behalf of”.

I learned about Google Apps from Skippy a couple of months ago, and decided to give it a try.

Its an interesting concept that lets me manage various aspects of my domain through Google. Their instructions are complete and easy to follow for anyone who has heard of DNS. You don’t have to know the difference between a CNAME and an MX record. So I set up my Google account to manage e-mail and a “start” page. I expected they would be just like Gmail and iGoogle, respectively.

Unfortunately, the Google Apps versions of e-mail and iGoogle appear to be older versions. For example:

  • The UI for GA e-mail is about 2 years old, compared with the current GMail version
  • The GA e-mail client still has a bug that prevents users from editing imported contacts.
  • The GA start page doesn’t allow multiple tabs, whereas the current iGoogle does.
  • The GA start page doesn’t allow users (or admins) to customize the number of columns, but iGoogle does.

The other problem I currently have with my Google Apps is that it doesn’t have a version of Google Reader. So, to continue using Google reader, I have to maintain the Gmail account.

Oh well. So far, the Google Apps have been fun to experiment with, and functional enough. If Google Calendar had an off-line client, I might be able to convince my wife to use it.

A New Referrer Spam

I think I’m getting a new kind of Referrer Spam on my piddly liddle blog. Wikipedia’s entry describes referrer spam as aimed at sites who make their referrers public. I don’t. I publicize search engine keywords that people used to find me, but not the actual referrers.

What I’m seeing in my site stats is a handful of sites that claim to link to me, but are really porn sites that seem to be hoping I’ll click through. Have porm spammers figured out that bloggers tend to be a self-satisfied lot that want to know just how popular we are? Well then, what better way to fool us than let us believe we’ve been linked by some new web page.

Incidentally, I’m not going to mention the URLs in full because I don’t want them to see their site mentioned anywhere. If you are interested, the base of the URL looks like this, without the @ signs.
http://i@s@m@y@m@o@v@i@e@s@.@c@o@m
There was more to the URL at the end, but I assumed that the last bits were just for tracking who gets clicks through, kind of like embedding a special code in a graphic so that they know you viewed their spam e-mail. If someone clicks through, their site will suddenly be on the list of “suckers” who will click through anything.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s much I can do about it. I do look at my incoming links, but now I’ll have to be more skeptical if the name doesn’t seem to make much sense or have any relevance to my site.

Update: it turns out that every fake referrer that I’ve received has come from the same IP address: 87.118.120.23. I think my next PHP script will be a WordPress plugin to always give that IP address a 50 MB file of garbage….

My Influence on the World

I’m always interested to see how people come to find my site. Of course, nearly anyone who blogs is a link whore. I also like to monitor how people found me via search engines. The WordPress plugin Firestats does a very nice job of showing me the search terms used. But I want to brag to the world how other people are finding me.

My web host allows me to enable AWStats on my sub-domains. I have it enabled on journal.nearbennett.com, and I check all the stats periodically. For example, it was really fascinating to see a bunch of hits come from Stumble Upon for my hard drive clock post. AWStats has a lot of good information that I’m not sure I want to share with the whole world, so I have the whole directory structure protected. But I want people to be able to see what search terms are leading people to my site. So I created a very small PHP script to by-pass the protection, and allow someone to view My Influence on the World.

Here is that PHP code for you to enjoy.
#!/usr/local/bin/php4.cli
< ?php include_once("../../awstats/journal/awstats.journal.nearbennett.com.keyphrases.html"); ?>

Yeah, I know its not much to be proud of, but hey, it works. And its like the third thing I’ve ever done with PHP (the first was of course ‘hello world‘).

I’m pleased to report that if you search Google for hard drive clock, my post is the third on the list behind Make. Yes, I did that a while ago, but please allow me to bask in my glory a little while longer.

Oh, and now people are selling hard drive clocks on eBay. I particularly like this quote:

There are very few of these in existence, probably less than 20.

Yeah, right. I’ve made three my self. And considering this place sold out, I’m pretty sure there are more than 20 of these things out there.