Akismet

Thank you Akismet!

Akismet is a WordPress plug-in for controlling comment spam, if there are any questionable comments they will be held for moderation. While I do need to sort through a few junk comments every couple of weeks, there’s a bunch more I never need to even bother with. Any comment which is obviously spammy goes right into the junk folder and is never even presented for moderation. No muss, no fuss. You really should have Akismet enabled if you’re running WordPress… or Drupal, or Joomla, or Mediawiki or any other platform which supports Akismet.

Empty spam folder button
The “Easy Button” for managing comment Spam

Just how useful is it? This evening while I was reviewing some of the spam comments on my blog I took a look in the spam folder and was shocked to find that in the past week my blog has received almost 6,000 spam comments. Holy cow that’s a lot of junk.

In the old days I would have set commenting on old posts to time out and cull through new comments to delete the junk. The volume was never this huge, but it was still a pain. Thanks to Akismet I didn’t have to sort through a single bit of the garbage.

I started running Akismet a long time ago and only just now realized what a massive time saver it’s been over the years. Thanks Akismet and Automatic!

Four way light switch

The magic of 3 and 4 way switches

Our front hall light has three switches, downstairs, upstairs and on the landing by the front door. I finally got tired of having to run up and down the stairs to adjust the dimmer so this weekend up replaced the three rocker switches with some smarter components which allow me to adjust the light level from any of the three switches, no more running up and down stairs. Ah… laziness is such a great motivator.

Four way light switch

Replacing light switches is generally pretty simple… but replacing a four-way circuit was something new to me. A key thing to understand: the number in “3″ and “4″-way switches has nothing to do with the number of light switches, it has to do with the number of switched wires. In my entryway I have three light switches… the circuit is, however, made up of two 3-way switches and one 4-way switch. I wasn’t quite sure what makes a four-way circuit work but thankfully came across an excellent animation by Rick Mathews which completely demystified 4-way switches.

So, a bit of studying on the internet, a bit of wiring, a bit of testing, a bit of finding the lights don’t work and a bit more wiring… I’m now a happy, lazy nerd.

Light switches

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Security bits give you access

On more than one occasion I’ve wanted to open something up, only to find it has some weird fastener put in place to keep me out. I can understand wanting to keep thieves and vandals out, but I’m perfectly capable of fixing a rusted cable connection hiding behind my provider’s special box (and certainly don’t want to pay the cable company $120/hr to do it).

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I bought this set of security bits off Amazon about a year ago and it continues to prove useful again and again. It’s  worth noting that not all the bits are security bits. A nice surprise that came in the mix: a bit for turning wing nuts.

I highly recommend this set. Even if you never need the security bits, the hex bits make assembling Ikea furniture a snap. Your wrists will thank you.