Friday, June 27, 2008


I haven't posted anything for a while. I hadn't realised it but I think I've been on holiday. Not that I've gone anywhere - although I have popped down to the seaside briefly - just that I haven't been doing any proper work. Which has been lovely. And probably much needed too.

There are a couple of things to say... one of which is probably quite boring so I'll start with the not-boring bit. Somebody sent me a link to this clip someone has made using the sound from one of the ideas on Genius... and I really like what they've done.

Maybe this is what we should do for the TV version. Instead of making it in a TV studio, maybe we should just get them to add still pictures to the audio. I really like it.

But then again, maybe not... I think people will have a reasonable expectation that they'll be able to see the actual show. The filming dates for the series aren't finalised but I expect it to happen in September/October. I'll be sure to let my mailing list know as soon as the tickets are released.

More importantly, we need more people like Stephen Elsby of Swindon to get in touch with their ideas. We can't make a series of Genius if potential Geniuses don't send in their ideas... personally, I think everyone has a genius idea in them, so visit and let us know about your particular brainwave...

Now... the boring bit.

I don't really understand how these things work but for many years there's been a forum on my website. I don't pay it an awful lot of attention but one of the things I like about it is that isn't meant to be a place for people to discuss me... it's just a place for people to chat.

But in the last few weeks it's been attacked by bots. Like I say, I don't know how these things work and with most things relating to my website my understanding expands to take in just as much as I need to know and nothing more. What I do know is that just as some people make a living by bombarding us all with spam, so some people make a living by trying to improve the visibility of their websites. I suppose that if your website sells something or makes ad revenue or whatever then the more people that find it the better. So they try to con search engines into thinking it's a more relevant page than it is by creating lots of pages full of links to their sites.

The forum I was using on my site was quite old and insecure and it meant that computer-bots could automatically sign up for accounts. Even though it needed a real life person to completely authenticate an account and post something in the forum, they could automatically get far enough to enable them to send messages to each other via the forum... and I suppose each message meant a new page of the internet existed.

So I would find these bots were signing up for 20 accounts overnight - all using e-mail addresses with Chinese domains, and then they would send hundreds of messages to each other... until the servers crashed under the weight of the activity.

I got quite good at fighting them off, blocking the IP addresses of the computers they were using and banning the domain names they were using to sign up but they would come back the next day with new domains and using different IP addresses. Mostly they were based in China or Korea but occasionally they were in the States, or Brazil or Holland or Germany...

While I could fight them off in the short term it got to the point where I was spending an hour each day tidying up after their little sorties and I simply don't know enough about the software to patch up the security holes. So eventually I had to nuke that forum and start another from a different company entirely. I'm quite amazed that I've been able to understand it sufficiently to set it up and transfer over all the existing conversations and usernames etc. So far it appears to be spam free. Famous last words.

Anyway... for those who are interested... the shiny new forum - or, as the regular users christened it - the Gorum - is here.

And with that, I'm back on holiday... which involves going to see a lot of gigs.
Two (admittedly London-centric) recommendations for your weekend:
Comedy: Todd Barry at The Soho Theatre.
Music: Dead Dog in Black Bag at the Monto Water Rats .


John Braine said...

That's funny I used the exact same knot image yesterday for the word not.

Hmmm more coincidental wordery. Your word verifcation just asked me to qnp4vd!

Ben / S2K said...

Ooh, I do hope Genius is filming in September... say, some time between September 9th and the 23rd. I'll be back in England visiting family and it'd be just cracking if I got to come down and watch the show being filmed.

Even better if Team Genius accept the idea I sent them, actually.

rileysaplank said...

That's good that you got all the info transferred across to the new Forums. I've seen too many forums disappear in the past due to the Linkbots.

Amanda said...

Your forum won't let me in, it says I am banned:-(

Dave Gorman said...

@amanda: can you tell me what it says when it says you're banned and how far you're getting before it tells you?

For instance, does it allow you to browse at all and only say you're banned when you try to register or does it say you're banned from the word go?

The most likely thing is that your IP address is blocked. This may be because your IP was showing up as active on the site at the same time as the linkbots and so got blocked in error.

It might be that if you try again another time you're using a different IP and you won't have a problem. Or maybe the whole range is blocked. In which case, using the same computer that you were told you were banned on... go to this site:

and it will show you your IP.
Let me know what it is and I'll unblock the range it's a part of.

Amanda said...

When I click your link a page appears saying: An Error Has Occurred!
Sorry Guest, you are banned from using this forum!

It won't let me do anything after this point. Maybe the evil bots have hijacked my ip address but I have no way of knowing. I'll try from the computer at work on Monday but I don't have a lot of surfing time there.

Amanda said...

My IP address: I think?

Dave Gorman said...

@ amanda: you (and lots of other people using Ireland Online broadband) are now removed from the ban list...

Amanda said...

thank you :-)

inkawasaki said...

Hello ^_^
I've just been reading America Unchained for the second time and enjoying it very much.
Unfortunately I can't access your website; every page of it gives me this message:


You don't have permission to access / on this server.

Apache/2.0.51 (Fedora) DAV/2 PHP/4.3.11 Server at Port 80

Cheers ^_^

Erika said...

Mr Gorman,

Please be so kind as to put me out of my misery and tell me if it really was you with a red suitcase on the eastbound Central Line train at approx. 5pm BST today (29th June). If it was, my boyfriend owes me a pound - if not, I hope your look-a-like one day stumbles upon this and accepts my apologies for the "is it him?"-esque looks and whispers!

Thank you,

- Erika

Paul L said...

You inspired me to submit my one genius idea to genius.

Basically - whenever i lock my door about 20 paces later I get a nagging feel - have I locked my door? Inevitably i have to go back and check...yes it's always locked. My genius idea, therefore, is a little 'tab' that when you lock switches from 'locked' to 'unlocked' - that way I know just by looking at my key. Obviously the next time i lock/unlock the door it switches (or stays) in the correct format.

A fancy wifi version that keeps you up to date of the latest status on your door, web enabled, with stats on who is least likely to lock the door behind them would surely add to the fun of a family debate about who forgot to lock the house when they went out.

Genius, or not?

Fosterface said...

hi dave - just read America Unchained. I must apologize for the Holly Springs, Mississippi fiasco. Not because I was part of it, but as a descendent of Mississippians (from Ripley, just down the road from Holly Springs) I was horrified by the yanging going on there. More horrified when I think that b/c my family has lived there for 150 years, those people could have been relatives.

ps I made it out. I live in Maryland now.

pps your description of Mississippi accents (drunk slow scooby doing an impression of elvis) is the most accurate ever.

ppps any guff from the nutjobs about the book yet?

Dave Gorman said...

@fosterface: oddly I haven't had one e-mail from an outraged nutjob yet. When I wrote about Creationism in my previous book I received quite a few e-mails from people who were upset about it. (And regarding the accent: thanks, that's nice to know.)