phpBB Forum Spammer Registration Mod – Kill the SpamBots!

I found a great mod for phpBB forum administrators. This particular mod will ban any user who registers for your forum from a particular time zone. I’m not sure if many newbies to phpBB are aware, but most SPAM registrations come from GMT-12 Timezone. If you can prevent users from registering from that zone, you’ll go a long way to stop these SPAM-Bots.

Ban User Registration Based on TimeZone aka. SpamBot Timezone Registration Mod

Just alter the timezone range to prevent bots and people from zones you don’t want them coming from.

#
#—–[ OPEN ]——————————————
#
includes/usercp_register.php
#
#—–[ FIND ]——————————————
#
$sql = “SELECT MAX(user_id) AS total
#
#—–[ BEFORE, ADD ]——————————————
#
if (($user_timezone < -5) || ($user_timezone > 5))
{
$message = ‘Sorry, you appear to have triggered our spam security system. Please go back and modify some of the information and try again.

To give you a hint, we only accept registrations from people based in (or near) the GMT time zone area.

‘;
message_die(GENERAL_MESSAGE, $message);
}
#
#—–[ CLOSE/SAVE ALL FILES ]—————————————
#

Thanks to InertaM for sharing this with everyone.

Need Money? ReviewMe Fails to Deliver any Cash

reviewme thumbs downBoy am I annoyed! I, like hundreds, if not thousands of others, was excited about the launch of ReviewMe last month. My first review request came in, and I followed all directions to the letter, posting my review of the company requesting it on November 23.

It is now December 18th. I have not recieved a check from ReviewMe yet!

I contacted the company on December 7th to find out how payment is handled and I was told after 2 emails that payment is calculated on the first of the month and will be sent out no later then the 4th of the month.

Did I Mention that Today is the 18th and I have not recieved a check from ReviewMe yet?

I wrote the company back on the 11th asking if I’d ever see my money, and was told to contact them if nothing arrived by the 15th. I have not heard back.

I’ve scoured the ReviewMe website and cannot find a contact phone number. I’m stuck waiting for them to email me back. Given the reputation of the site’s founders, I’d expect better service and support. Unfortunately, what I get is cold and impersonal service. The three emails sent to me have all been from “ReviewMe Support” – there is no one’s name affiliated with their support, and again, there is no phone number attached – just: support@reviewme.com.

I hope this is just an anomaly. Regardless, I highly recommend the folks of ReviewMe get their act together.

Anyone else waiting to get paid?

Are Blogrolls Dead or Do I Need One?

remove blogroll I haven’t heard much conversation in the blogosphere about the use of blogrolls. What I have seen is that the top blogs no longer use them. Is this a recent trend? I have my theories, but I think the blogroll is still important for newer blogs.

Today, one of my favorite real estate bloggers, Teresa, asked me about my blogroll, and it all came to me. For a while I had been thinking about removing my blogroll, but her email put me over the edge; I removed the blogroll on my real estate blog. In case you’re wondering, I’ve been averaging several hundred subscribers a day for the blog’s feed, and our daily site traffic is pretty decent as well.

Why Get Rid of Your Blogroll?
I regularly read hundreds of other real estate blogs and if I were to have an up to date blogroll of my favorites, there would be too many links to realistically keep. In addition, there is no longer the need to do “link exchanges” on my blog to draw traffic. It now has a life of its own and it gets most of its traffic organically.

I think that once your blog gets to this point, you can start to think about saying goodbye to your blogroll. You’d be better served focusing on selling advertising, as you are likely now getting enough traffic to make some decent money with your blog. The easiest way to do that is thorough a link broker like Text Link Ads.

Why a Blogroll is Important for New Bloggers
Blogrolls are still useful tools for newer bloggers. An easy way to build backlinks is to forge relationships with other bloggers and put their link on your blogroll; in exchange, they would put your link on theirs. These links will help you grow your blog and your audience. The blogroll’s purpose here would be to serve as a forum for you to do a link exchange. One of the most fundamental ways to start to get traffic for your site is to do this.

What do you think about blogrolls? Are they just another trend from the past?

How to Protect Your Website’s Copyright When Someone Steals Your Content

dmca-copyright.gifThere is nothing worse for a webmaster than finding out that your site has been copied. Every time I find out that someone has stolen my intellectual property my blood boils! Instead of just getting angry, there are steps you can take to stop the violations of your Copyright, which I’ve outlined in this article.

First, you should know that the US Government has written a law, the United States Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA), the content of which you can find on the U.S. Copyright Office‘s Web Site (http://www.copyright.gov). This law protects, amongst other things, intellectual property online.

If you are already aware that someone copied your site, you can just skip ahead to the section market “What to Do When You Discover Someone Has Violated Your Copyright and Stolen Your Website’s Content”. If you’re not sure if someone is copying your site, keep on reading.

How to Find Sites That Are Stealing Your Content

There is one tool that is essential for bloggers and webmasters called CopyScape. CopyScape allows webmasters to enter the URL of their individual pages, and will conduct a search for content from within those pages.

copyscape copyright

The site will show results indicating other websites that may have identical content. Depending on the popularity of your site, you may find that there are no copyright infringements, or you may find many (last night I found 5 sites that had stolen material from one of my sites).

Who Can Help Stop the Copyright Violators?

The first line of defense you have is the host of the site. Hosting companied do not want to be sued for letting one of the sites on their server violate your copyright. They usually act very quickly if you provide proper evidence.

Sometimes, you’ll find that the offending site is hosting on their own servers. If this is the case, you will have to go through the site’s Registrar. Registrars are also protective of copyright violations. A registrar will also be helpful in stopping the site from stealing your content.

The Search Engines (Google, Yahoo, etc.) are also helpful when it all comes down. They have the ability to remove a site from their results if it is breaking the law.

What to Do When You Discover Someone Has Violated Your Copyright and Stolen Your Website’s Content

Once you’ve discovered that someone is stealing your website’s content there are several things you can do. I’ll share what has worked for me.

Step 1: Find the Owner, Host, and Registrar of the Offending Website
You want to find out who runs the site that is stealing your content. Start by doing a WHOIS search of that site. I use whois.sc, but sometimes the site will not give you all the details you need.

whois

There are a few key pieces of information you want to look for, that will help you deal with the situation:

1. Registrant – This is typically the owner of the site. You will need this information.
2. Registrar – This is the company that the site is registered with. You will also need this information.
3. Domain Servers – This information will give you an idea of who is the host of the site
Although you have this information, you are still not finished doing your research. If there is not a lot of information about the Registrant, you may need to check another WHOIS site. I will look at the Registrar and then use their WHOIS tool (just do a search for “registrar name whois”).

You will need to do another whois search for the information listed as “Domain Servers”. If the servers end up being a webhost, you will need to keep their information.

Step 2: Visit The Offending Site’s Host’s TOS or Legal Page
If you’ve found that this site has a host (and is not hosting their own site), you need to visit that host’s Legal Page or Terms of Service (TOS) page. Here, you will find what their requirements are for dealing with copyright violations. Keep this page handy and write down any email address for the legal department for the host.

Step 3: Visit The Offending Site’s Registrar’s TOS or Legal Page
Most registrars like Network Solutions or GoDaddy wil also have requirements for dealing with copyright infringement. You want to keep their page handy and write down any email for their legal departments.

Step 4: Find a Contact Email for the Offending Website
Using either the Registrant info from WHOIS, you want to keep the email address of the site’s owner handy. You can also look around their site for their information.

Step 5: Take Screenshot’s of All Material That Has Been Stolen
Now you want to keep all proof that they actually violated your copyright. Use your computer’s screenshot capabilities to take images of their site with your material. I will also take shots of my site, including the places where this material was taken from. Keep this information in a folder on your computer and name the files so you know what is what. This info may come in handy down the line if there is any question.

Now that you’ve done your research, it is time to put together an email.

Step 6: Email The Copyright Violator, Their Host, Their Registrar, and/or The Search Engines
The next thing I recommend doing is contacting via email the owner of the site (if you can find their info), their host (if they aren’t hosting their own site), and their registrar. I also email my lawyer (and recommend you do the same) to be sure they are in the loop and that they have all evidence.

I have an email that I adjust for all cases, but you can use it as a template:

TO: COPYRIGHT VIOLATOR
CC. YOUR ATTORNEY, THEIR HOST & REGISTRAR’s Legal department

SUBJECT: Copyright Claim DOMAIN NAME OF COPYRIGHT VIOLATOR Is Violating YOURDOMAIN’s Copyright

Dear DOMAIN NAME OF COPYRIGHT VIOLATOR Owners, (or put their name here)

It has come to my attention that you, DOMAIN NAME OF COPYRIGHT VIOLATOR.COM, have made unauthorized use of copyright protected material owned by BiggerPockets.com.
Your page, located at: URL OF THEIR PAGE , blatantly copied our page located at: URL OF THE PAGE THEY COPIED

I have reserved all rights to the domain and registered the copyright. You are in violation of your host HOST’s NAME, your registrar, REGISTRAR’s NAME’s Terms of Service, and of The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA)

You neither asked for nor received permission to use the work nor to make or distribute copies of it. Therefore, I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 USC ยง 101, et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $100,000.

You are asked to immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from YOURDOMAIN.com, and all copies of it, and destroy such copies immediately, and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future.

If I have not received an affirmative response from you within 72 hours indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, I shall consider taking the full legal remedies available to rectify this situation. Please note, your registrar information is noted in the message below.

Your prompt reply is appreciated.

Sincerely,

YOUR NAME
Domain Owner of YOUR DOMAIN

So far, I’ve found over 10 websites who have stolen material from my site. In every case so far, this letter has worked. If either the host or registrar are not helpful, there is still hope.

In the event that it doesn’t work in the future, I plan on following up with my attorney and letting him take over, but I will not stop my efforts there . . .

Step 7: Contact the Search Engines
The search engines aren’t fond of people who violate copyright. Just follow the directions on their legal pages.

Google’s Intellectual Property Policy
It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. For directions and more information, please click here.”

Yahoo’s Copyright and Intellectual Property Policy

Conclusion
By following the above steps, you should be able to deal with those scumbags who think they can just steal your intellectual property. Although this is not “legal advice”, it should be very helpful if you’re having problems.

You should check CopyScape a few times a year just to make sure that no one else is breaking the law!

Please let me know if you end up following my advice and if it helps or not!

Need a Good Feed Reader or Aggregator for Mac

vienna_logo.pngI’ve been suffering a bit here with my new iMac. Everything is perfect, except I’m lacking an adequate feed reader / aggregator. I’m currently using an aggregator called Vienna, a RSS reader for Mac OS X, but it does not compare to FeedReader (the PC reader I’ve been using).

Vienna lacks the ability to easily recognize new feeds if you enter a website’s URL (not the feed’s). Every other good aggregator I’ve used has this functionality. There are a few other annoyances (inability to easily remove read articles quickly), but I haven’t found a suitable replacement.

BTW – I know everyone is raving about the web based reader from Google, but I prefer a stand-alone application on my desktop.

Anyone know of a good reader?

More Lemons from Apple

ipod.jpgWe’ve all heard about my lemon from Apple Computer. The very day I got my replacement computer I set my iPod down on top of my digital camera while sync-ing with my new machine, and destroyed it!

You heard me correctly!

The iPod (30GB Video) was fried by a digital camera. Actually, the camera was in a small leather case with a tiny magnet used to close the case. I guess this TINY magnet crushed the crap hard drive located within my shiny iPod.

While I’ve loved my iPod since I got it for my birthday this year, I have to say that if a POS magnet can fry the thing, then it is a real POS itself!

Back to the Apple Store . . .

Once again, I found myself at the Apple store — I think they know my name now — and they replaced my iPod on the spot! I do have to say that the customer service at Apple is tops!

Now that I can’t live without the crack-like devices from this company, maybe it is time to start looking at some shares of the stock . . . hmmm?

Apple Redeems Itself

Photo by Ernest von RosenThe iMac saga was resolved without a problem. I guess I know why everyone raves about Apple. I brought my brand new broken iMac to the local Apple store yesterday and was amazed at the service I got.

After the tech guy tried to turn on my machine and saw the problem, he told me he’d go get me a new one! He even asked if I wanted the model with the wireless mouse and keyboard for free for my trouble as a new Mac user. ARE YOU KIDDING???

He was going to give me $60 in hardware for my trouble! I choose not to get the wireless (I hate changing batteries), but within 25 minutes I was walking out the door with a brand new computer.

I guess someone just accidentally handed me a lemon instead of the apple I had paid for!

After one day with a Mac, I have to say I don’t why I ever used a PC!

Why Switch to a Mac? Reasons Why You Should Stay With Your PC

imac.jpgFor years I’ve been contemplating switching over to a Mac. I know that they are more secure and have less vulnerabilities to bugs and viruses, but it is hard if you’re a hard-core PC user. I finally took the plunge this week and bought a shiny new 20″ 2.16GHz Intel Core 2 Duo iMac!

What a surprise it was when I turned it on for the first time. It was beautiful . . . but, 5 minutes later the machine CRASHED! I was running the software updates and the thing just shut down. I was pretty annoyed, but decided to give the thing another try. I tried to turn the machine on, but nothing. To get my iMac running, I had to unplug it, wait 30 seconds, and then restart it. GLORY! It worked!

I was back on the road to happiness. I started to install some programs and personalize my computer. Everything was great . . . until I woke up this morning! I brought my Mac home last night, and this morning it is a pretty paper weight! The computer will not turn on. I tried everything. I’ve read forums and Apple’s support site. There was no help for someone with a 20″ iMac running OSX whose computer won’t start.

I got on the phone and called Apple Support, and we attempted to resolve the problem. There was no (as Borat says) SUCCESS! I was given a case number and told to bring it back to the store, or wait for a new machine to come in the mail. I went with the first option and got on the phone with the store I bought it from. I had to make an appointment to meet their tech guys this afternoon, where they would tell me if my computer can be replaced.

I JUST SWITCHED FROM PC TO MAC AND THIS IS WHAT I GET?????

I have to say I’m pretty pissed off! I did not get what the commercials promise – easy to set up and problem free computing. I’ve owned many PCs over the years, and I’ve also set up close to 100 PCs in my various jobs, but have never had a computer fail immediately after purchase.

I’m still looking forward to my (hopefully) new iMac, but I have to say that this experience has not been a good one. I’ll let you know what happens when I bring this puppy in to get replaced.