FC: Politech back from hiatus, and important list news

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Sep 08 2003 - 08:31:26 PDT

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    I'm back from five weeks of what seemed like non-stop travel and I'll start 
    going through the backlog of Politech submissions soon.
    Keep reading if you're interested in some significant changes I'm planning 
    for the list over the next few weeks.
    First, I'm moving the list and the web site from Rackspace to Rackshack -- 
    the company has a similar name but will give me a faster server for a 
    better price than Rackspace offers. What that means is Politech messages 
    should be delivered more quickly. If you'd like to donate to support the 
    hosting, I'd encourage you to do so here 
    (http://www.politechbot.com/donate/). If you have donated and I haven't 
    listed you as a contributor, please let me know and I'll fix my error.
    Second, I'm thinking of merging Politech with a blog utility such as 
    Movable Type, primarily to take advantage of RSS. One option would be to 
    keep the Politech home page the way it is but install Movable Type at a 
    second URL. That would let me auto-insert new list messages into Movable 
    Type's MySQL database and take advantage of its RSS capabilities. It would 
    also let me add additional posts to the web site that would not appear on 
    the mailing list, and enable comments from readers -- which would be a 
    serious change from the way Politech has worked to date. Alternatively, I 
    could use the RSSify utility or use Movable Type for a redesigned Politech 
    home page. Newsisfree.com currently makes a Politech RSS feed available 
    here (http://www.newsisfree.com/sources/rss/591/) but the terms are 
    annoying. Suggestions?
    Third, I'm thinking of shifting Politech from majordomo (the software I've 
    used to run Politech since 1995 or 1996) to mailman. Both are open-source 
    utilities used for mailing lists, but mailman has the advantages of more 
    active development, a digest mode, and modern upgrades like being able to 
    set a vacation option. The downside is that it introduces another level of 
    complexity because it sets a password for each list subscriber. Also, 
    majordomo may be old but it is fast enough and it works just fine. Any 
    Fourth, I'd like to include a better search engine for the Politech 
    archives. It's been three years since I looked at the state of the art of 
    search utilities, so I'm open to recommendations for a fast utility that 
    can build a date- and relevance-sorted index. When I last looked and did 
    some performance tests, the leaders were glimpse for date and Isearch for 
    relevance. Suggestions? The list archives are around 60 MB, not counting 
    the /docs directory.
    Fifth, I have to figure out how to spam-proof the archives. Thanks to those 
    folks who responded a month or two ago (including Earl Hood, the estimable 
    author of mhonarc, which is the utility that builds the Politech web site). 
    A newer version of mhonarc includes email address obfuscation, and I can 
    write a Perl script to obfuscate the rest.
    Sixth, because of the deadly combination of spam and viral spam, I'm not 
    sure how long I'll be able to keep the declanat_private address. I estimate 
    I've received over 10,000 spam/viral spam messages in the last month. I 
    dislike challenge-response utilities for the reasons we've discussed here 
    before, but without them my inbox may become unusable. For now I've 
    resorted to quadruply-filtering incoming mail using SpamAssassin, Eudora 
    6.0 paid mode's spamfiltering, Norton Antivirus, and a fat collection of 
    filters. One alternative would be to use a disposable email address each 
    month for Politech, such as disposable-sep03at_private and gradually 
    retire declanat_private, or move to a web form for list submissions -- but 
    those are last resorts. For now, do not send submissions to 
    politechat_private; the address is not spam-filtered, so I likely 
    won't see them.
    What I'm hoping to do is to make Politech a more useful and timely 
    resource. I'd appreciate hearing any suggestions or preferences you have.
    POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
    You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
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    Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
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