I don’t mind admitting I could really use one of these right about now.

Quick script to add a rule to spamassassin

My spam volume has been ‘up’ lately, probably due to the holidays.

I find myself adding rules to match simple phrases that I seem to get a lot of  to my local.cf, and I figured I’d write a quick dirty script to make the process easier.

Feel free to copy/paste this into a new file in the same directory as your local.cf and don’t forget to chmod 755.  Execute with ./yourfilename (I used rule_creator).  There’s some comments in there to pay attention to, but as long as you place this into the same dir as your local.cf, and use ’service’ for spamd (typical for a qmailtoaster), there’s nothing to do.

Enjoy!

#$/bin/bash
#
# This script must be run from *INSIDE* the directory where your local.cf lives.
#

clear
echo “What should we name this rule? (ex. ‘RICH_DIRECTBUY’)”
echo “”
read RULENAME
echo “”
echo “Should the rule apply to the header or body? (enter: ‘header’ or ‘body’)”
echo “”
read RULETYPE
echo “”
echo “What phrase should the rule match? (ex. ‘get your free credit score’)”
echo “”
read PHRASE
echo “”
echo “How many points should I assign for this rule? (ex. ‘5.0′)”
echo “”
read SCORE
echo “”
echo “”

if [ $RULETYPE = body ]

then
RULELINE=$(echo “body $RULENAME /$PHRASE/i”)

elif [ $RULETYPE = header ]

then
RULELINE=$(echo “header $RULENAME ALL =~ /$PHRASE/i”)

else

echo “Ruletype entered wrong, exiting”
echo “”
exit

fi

SCORELINE=$(echo “score $RULENAME $SCORE”)

clear
echo “”
echo “Ok, I’ll add the following rule to ‘local.cf’:”
echo “”
echo “—————————————————-”
echo $RULELINE
echo $SCORELINE
echo “—————————————————-”
echo “”
echo “”
echo “** Press any key to add the rule, or CTRL+C to exit **”
echo “”
read
echo “” >> local.cf
echo $RULELINE >> local.cf
echo $SCORELINE >> local.cf
echo “”

# This section will restart spamd if you use ’service’ to control it.  If you don’t, you’ll probably just want to comment the whole below section out and restart spamassassin manually

echo “OK – rule added, restarting spamd”
echo “”
cd /service
echo “Stopping spamd”
svc -d spamd
echo “”
echo “Starting spamd”
svc -u spamd
echo “”
echo “Checking spamd status”
sleep 3
echo “”
svstat spamd
echo “”

Hey! Is that a tank on your speaker?

Epic.

Nik Nowak, German electronic DJ, built his own “sound tank” with 4000 watts of power and 13 speakers onboard.

Nik, I salute you, that is awesome!

(more info and vids after the jump)

http://dvice.com/archives/2011/09/the-sound-tank.php

Review: HP TouchPad – First Thoughts

Persistence paid off, and I was finally able to get an HP TouchPad at the unbelievable price of $99.99.

I got to use it for about an hour last night, so this review is truly first thoughts from a tech geek that swapped his iPad 2 for an HP TouchPad for one night.

The model I’m reviewing here is the 16GB WiFi.

Packaging: I’m only mentioning it, because it was impressive. I’d say it was on par with the quality of the iPad packaging.  An inner box slides out of an outer shell, and the TouchPad is well cushioned and separated from the accessories.  The accessories are under a flap, and also divided from each other.

Accessories: You get a USB cable and a power adapter.  The power adapter is big. . in fact, it’s a bigger then the old-style plastic 35-mm film canisters, and the same shape.  The outlet prongs fold into the cylinder, but it’s still BIG.  If you’re packing light, it’ll be frustrating that the adapter is this big.

The actual quality of both is nice, and it seems like they went out of their way to ensure this.  I bet someone in mgmt said, “OMG, we have to justify the cost of this mediocore product, make everything it comes with look like Bentley made it”.

Device: The TouchPad itself, in my opinion, is of a lower quality than both the iPad 1 and 2.  The chassis is plastic, and the buttons are “ok”.  It’s very similar to the design of the iPhone 3G, which, in my opinion, is also of inferior quality compared to the iPhone 2.5G, iPhone 4, iPad, and iPad 2.   I’ve heard rumors folks are having issues with cracking around the speakers and bottom port, and I believe it.  The design and build quality doesn’t instill the same confidence I have in other portable electronics.  That said, compared to Chinese import cheapo tablets in the $90 – $200 range, this thing is tank.

The screen is gorgeous.  No flaws here whatsoever in my limited play session.  Color rendition is good, brightness is good, viewing angle is good.  Job well done here.  The speakers are also pretty good.  I fired up Pandora and had no complaints.  I think the “beats” name is a bit of a stretch here, and I wonder how much better it could have sounded if they spent the money on the speakers instead of the licensing.  Regardless, it’s better than expected for the size of the device, and loud enough for quiet to moderately noisy environments if it’s right in front of you.

OS/Interface: Wow, such mixed feelings here. . .   I love the way multitasking is handled, and I love that it handles flash, but it feels sluggish and scrolling often pauses or stutters.  Speaking of flash, it did leave me thinking, “wtf Apple, just gimme Flash already”.  99% of the flash I  surfed to worked just fine and didn’t bog the device any more than other pages.  C’mon Apple, make it happen :)

Settings, App mgmt, and customization are all poorly implemented.  To be fair, some of the settings are easily adjusted, but most are buried intuitively leaving you feeling like you’re running Windows 3.11 all over again.  Seriously HP, is this the best you could do?

Media: This was a big fail for me.  Admittedly I spent very little time with it, but I copied an H.264 movie to it that I’ve successfully watched on my iPhone, iPad, Samsung Smart TV, Windows Media Center, VLC, etc., and the TouchPad choked.  I’m sure if I re-encoded it, it’d be fine, but that’s a real pain in the ass if you just want to get some movies on there for the kids before running out the door.  I hear there’s an app that’s a lot more flexible around media types, but I wasn’t dropping any coin on apps with Android on the horizon.

Final Thoughts: This thing is a STEAL at $99.99.  If you see one, buy it.  The original price tag was not realistic, not with the current polish of this device.  The most I would have paid if I was in the market for another tablet and it wasn’t fire-sale’d is probably about $250.  That’ll change if cyanogen is successful with their Android port.  It easily adds another $50 to $100 to what I’d pay, and I’ve got my fingers crossed I’m reviewing this same tablet again in a month or two with Android on it, much more favorably.

Strike Back! Report merchants for requiring a minimum purchase when you pay with your debit card!

We’ve all been there.  You need milk, bread, or maybe even just a drink.  You stop at a convenience store, stand in line, and when it’s your turn to pay, they won’t accept your debit card unless you spend $10 (or some other arbitrary amt. of money).

Beware that merchants (convenience stores, shops, etc.) *CAN* impose up to a $10.00 minimum for credit card transactions, but they *CANNOT* for debit cards.  You could use your debit card to pay for a single piece of penny candy if you so desired. Though, good luck finding penny candy anymore :)

Most debit cards can also be used as credit cards, but this doesn’t matter.  As long as you can use your card as debit, and enter a PIN for the transactions merchants cannot refuse to accept it for any purchase amount.

What can you do?

Strike back!  VISA has a form on their site to report merchants that impose minimums for debit transactions.  Even if your debit card is issued through another provider like MasterCard, you can *still* use the form on VISA’s site, as long as the merchant accepts VISA.

Here’s the link:

https://usa.visa.com/checkoutfees/contact.jsp

Tell your family, tell your friends.  Unless consumers report these merchants, their policies will never change.

I for one am TIRED of getting denied at checkout when all I want to do is pickup milk, and get home.

Want more info?

Here’s the bill that makes this federal law.  Page 698 has the relevant info:

http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-111hr4173enr/pdf/BILLS-111hr4173enr.pdf

HP TouchPad – ORDER FAIL, FAIL, FAIL, FAIL

So I ended up ordering . . I believe 8 total of the HP TouchPads from:

Barnes & Noble
CDW
Insight

*ALL* my orders ended up cancelled.  This is a bit surprising since my first order with Insight was placed within 1 minute of the price decrease.  I think they must have sold out BEFORE they decreased the price.  My guess is that all of the above retailers don’t deplete stock until a human verifies/releases each order, OR the system automatically POSTS the credit card transaction.  Given the ridiculous amount of transactions these companies were doing during the rush, what usually occurs automagically was probably stopped by safety checks on the number of transactions, or raw amt. of revenue etc.  Once humans are involved in moving things forward, minutes and seconds very easily turn into hours and days.

It looks like the best bet for getting one of these at this point is probably through HP Directly.  They currently show OUT OF STOCK, but based on their tweets and sign-up page, it seems they do expect to get more in.

So, do you trust their notify page?  Well, I honestly do believe when they get stock, and verify orders are able to be completed, they’ll notify everyone.  That said, you can’t just immediately send emails to hundreds of thousands of people, and even if you could, greylisting and other limiters can often prevent you from receiving the email for a while.

By the time you get your notification, stock may again be depleted, for good.

What I’ve done is put together a very simple shell script that checks HP’s site for changes, and notifies me via email.  The email address I’m using is a “pushed” Exchange email, so I get notified immediately.

I’m pasting the script below, but please understand I do so with ZERO warranty, etc.   I don’t claim to be an expert in bash or scripting, and I’m sure there’s a better way to accomplish the same task.  Feel free to share in the comments if you’ve got a better way, but for me, this script DOES WORK, so I’m happy with it :)

To use this, you will need a Linux box with a bash shell, curl, bc, and the ability to send outgoing messages with sendmail locally.  If you can’t send outgoing email, the script will still alert you via the terminal that something has changed.

Here it is:

#!/bin/bash

#The URL to check for change
URL_TO_CHECK=”http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/can.do?landing=rts_tablet&category=rts_tablet&catLevel=1&storeName=storefronts”

#Number of seconds to wait between checks
FREQUENCY=”20″

#The phrase to look for on the page
PHRASE=”outofstock”

#The number of times the phrase occurs on the page with no change
OCCURENCES=”4″

#The subject to use for the alert email
ALERT_SUBJECT=”HP TABLET PORTAL CHANGED STATUS”

#The email address to send alerts to
ALERT_ADDRESS=”youremail@yourdomain.com”

# DO NOT EDIT BELOW THIS POINT
stop=no
iteration=1

while [ $stop = no ]

do

status=$(curl -s $URL_TO_CHECK | grep “$PHRASE” | wc -l)

if [ $status = $OCCURENCES ]
then
echo Iteration $iteration: NO CHANGE
sleep $FREQUENCY
else
echo “POSSIBLE CHANGE DETECTED, RE-CHECKING IN 30 SECONDS”
sleep 30
status_verify=$(curl -s $URL_TO_CHECK | grep “$PHRASE” | wc -l)
echo $status_verify

if [ $status_verify = $OCCURENCES ]
then
echo “FALSE ALARM, RESUMING NORMAL CHECKS”
else

echo CHANGED STATUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
echo “Subject: $ALERT_SUBJECT
$URL_TO_CHECK” | sendmail $ALERT_ADDRESS
sleep 5

echo CHANGED STATUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
echo “Subject: $ALERT_SUBJECT
$URL_TO_CHECK” | sendmail $ALERT_ADDRESS
sleep 5

echo CHANGED STATUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
echo “Subject: $ALERT_SUBJECT
$URL_TO_CHECK” | sendmail $ALERT_ADDRESS
stop=yes
fi
fi
iteration=$(echo $iteration + 1 | bc)
done

The script goes to this URL:

http://www.shopping.hp.com/webapp/shopping/can.do?landing=rts_tablet&category=rts_tablet&catLevel=1&storeName=storefronts

and looks for the gif image names for those “Out of stock” buttons

They occur (4) times in the page, and it expects to see them (4) times.  If that number changes, it re-checks in 30 seconds, and if it’s still something other than (4), the alert sequence begins.  You can easily change the variables at the top to check other phrases at other URL’s, and make sure you replace the “youremail@yourdomain.com” with YOUR email address.

Happy shopping!

Get the BEST price for your used DVD’s and Blu-Ray’s online with this free tool I created!

I sold my DVD collection a little while back and was intensely frustrated by the WIDELY varying prices offered by various purchasers.

So, I wrote a tool to do all the hard work for me by heading out to each of the popular sites, poll their price, find the best, and report back.

I just customized it into something I can share on the web that does one disc at a time, based on the UPC code.  The form submits are all custom injected with curl, sourced from RAW capture between my testing browser and the purchasing sites.  Enjoy the fruits of my labor :)

If you have a ton of discs you want a report on, contact me and I’ll see what we can work out.

The site for the tool is:

http://dvd.netmagi.com

and the sites it checks at the time of writing are:

EagleSaver, DVDPawn, SellDVDSOnline, SecondSpin, MightyBuyBack, and Abundatrade

HP TouchPad 16GB $99.99 – if you can find one!

HP is ‘getting out’ of the tablet business and is clearing out their TouchPad’s for $99.99 for the 16GB version, and $149.99 for the 32GB version.  Even with no continued support, this is a great price.  It’s tough to get a digital photo frame at this price point in this resolution.  Even if ALL you use it for is a media player or mobile web browser, $100 is well worth it.

They actually dropped the price Saturday, and I thought I missed out, but Barnes and Noble now shows in stock for the magical $99.99 price.  I ordered one last night, but now it shows:

Unable to process order. Please

call 1-877-379-0036, or

212-414-6024, if outside U.S.

I called in, and apparently they have 2,000 in stock and they’re trying to sort it out.  They could not tell me if I’d be receiving one or not.

Try your luck and order here:

http://gifts.barnesandnoble.com/HP-TouchPad-Tablet-with-16GB-Memory-WiFi-12GHz-Black/e/886111788637?itm=2&usri=hp%2Btouchpad

UPDATE:

A bunch of the larger online retailers are still showing the old price and presumably do still have them in stock.  Newegg.com, for example, shows “in stock”, but has it priced at $399.99.  It’s the same story at buy.com, CDW, etc.

I guess if you’re daring you could buy one, and hope they honor the new price with a partial refund :P

UPDATE #2:

Now show’s out of stock on B&N. .  @9:45am (eastern)

UPDATE #3:

Tried to get another (since I highly doubt B&N will really be shipping mine), and ordered through CDW when they dropped their price.  I waited on hold for over an hour to confirm the order I made online (thank-you cordless speakerphone) to find out they sold out within a MINUTE of the price drop.  HA!

So, if you thought you were getting one from CDW, think again.  Someone else posted on a deal site saying one company accepted nearly 65,000 orders for the 10, ten, yes TEN they had in stock.

As usual, I wish I hadn’t wasted time on this.

Trial by combat!

Notch, founder of Minecraft asked for “Trial by Combat” in response to a recent lawsuit by Bethesda over the naming of their most recent project, “Scrolls”.  They feel it infringes on the name of their “Elder Scrolls” game.

Check out Notch’s recent blog post to see for yourself:

http://notch.tumblr.com/post/9038258448/hey-bethesda-lets-settle-this

I suppose this in itself isn’t that exciting, but it got me wondering,  and I did a bit of digging.  Check out these excerpts from wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_combat#United_States

“Because the British did not abolish wager by battle until Parliament’s 1819 response to Ashford v Thornton(1818), and because no court in post-independence United States has addressed the issue, the question of whether trial by combat remains a valid American alternative to civil action remains open, at least in theory.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwest_Airlines#.22Just_Plane_Smart.22

“Shortly after Southwest started using the “Just Plane Smart” motto, Stevens Aviation, who had been using “Plane Smart” for their motto, threatened a trademark lawsuit.

Instead of a lawsuit, the CEOs for both companies staged an arm wrestling match. Held at the now demolished Dallas Sportatorium (the famed wrestling facility) and set for two out of three rounds, the loser of each round was to pay $5,000 to the charity of their choice, with the winner gaining the use of the trademarked phrase. A promotional video was created showing the CEOs “training” for the bout (with CEO Herb Kelleher being helped up during a sit up where a cigarette and glass of whiskey (Wild Turkey 101) was waiting) and distributed among the employees and as a video press release along with the video of the match itself. Herb Kelleher lost the match for Southwest, with Stevens Aviation winning the rights to the phrase. Kurt Herwald, CEO of Stevens Aviation, immediately granted the use of “Just Plane Smart” to Southwest Airlines. The net result was both companies having use of the trademark, $15,000 going to charity and good publicity for both companies.”

Imagine if this became more popular?

Review: Top Gear US – Season 2, Episode 1

Top Gear US is back for season 2, and unfortunately, it still “stinks”.

Episode 1 was entirely taken up by a challenge:

Each host was to buy a “car”  to replace the staple Texas pickup, and then compete in various challenges around the state.

Those that follow Top Gear UK know that the challenge episodes are some of the best.  In fact, I’ve seen several of them several times like the Bolivia special, the Polar challenge, etc.

This US challenge just didn’t stack up.  The chemistry between the hosts just isn’t there, and it shows even more in a challenge episode where all 3 are front and center the whole time.  Tanner is probably the best, followed by Rutledge and Adam just doesn’t fit.  It’s not that the antics and style Adam brings to the show are wrong, he’s just the wrong person to do it.  99% of the time he’s downright annoying, but I’ll admit the 1% of the time I do laugh, it’s hearty.

The challenge builds up through some cattle herding where somehow we’re expected to believe Tanner fixes a fuel line with some tape, a manure-hauling contest, and finally ends in a “monster-truck”  race where they face off on a course full of jumps and banked dirt turns in their cars after a few modifications.  The modifications look like they just sat each car atop a toyota truck chassis (90’s era?) and called it a day.   Adam’s car catches fire, and Tanner cleans up on Rutledge after he loses a wheel.  Whatever. . ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz

I’ll admit I’m a hardcore fan of the UK series, and their chemistry is established over MANY SEASONS, but the US show needs help to succeed.

C’mon History Channel, get it right.  I REALLY want to like this show.