Category Archives: Commentary

Jim Mirkalami, The Lurking Spammer

Today I received a curious comment into #if debug:

Name: Jim Mirkalami
Email: jim@homenetmail.com
IP: 74.14.19.186
Comment: I have been visiting this site a lot lately, so i thought it is a good idea to show my appreciation with a comment.
Thanks,
Jim Mirkalami

Other than the fact it is a fairly standard useless comment, it perked my interest immediately when he mentioned that he’d been visiting the site a lot lately. While I’m sure my content has been nothing short of engaging, it’d be surprising given I’m using a standard WordPress template and the domain is only three months old.

For the sake of it, a quick investigation about Jim Mirkalami reveals that he has been using a lot of peoples sites lately. In fact, not only has he been using them – he has been leaving a similar or identical comment on them all.

I suspect that Jim is a clever sort of a bloke, looking for smaller gains than your average spammer. Instead of dropping a comment with a dozen or more links – his comments don’t include any links. The comment uses plain English, so it is less likely to get hit by a bayesian filter and polite enough that some people would let it through their comment moderation. Mr Mirkalami also appears to favour the highly visible domains such as Google and Yahoo!.

At some point down the road, Jim is going to return to the sites that he later found to accept his comment and is hoping to exploit a convenient option that most WordPress users enable. The option is related to comment moderation and allows someone to pass through comment moderation once they have had a comment approved.

If Jim is doing what I suspect he is, you have to give him a little credit for showing a small amount of patience with his spamming. Of course, that credit becomes completely invalid when you remember that he is nothing but a filthy filthy spammer.

Matt Mullenweg Changes Domain

Blogging master and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg has changed domain.

Matt has been blogging for the last seven years under http://photomatt.net, which was an appropriate domain at the the time. Early on in the piece, Matt would post photos regularly and any photos of him often included his own camera.

Since leaving CNet and founding Automattic, Matt has been fiercely committed to developing the blogging platform WordPress and its associated products Ping-o-matic, Akismet and recently Gravatar.

How times have changed for Matt, after taking the initial gamble of starting Automattic – the company has just closed a USD$29.5 million dollar series B funding. The new round of funding is going to allow the team to not worry about money for salaries for the next few years and really focus on enhancing their current product line and building out new ones.

With the change, the new internet home of Matt Mullenweg is announced http://ma.tt

Ruby On Rails & Mongrel Generally Slow

Rich Skrenta wrote an article recently about ranking web 2.0 sites by server performance, in which he talks about server response time and latency and how it impacts a site.

To see how everything stacked up, Rich decided that he’d profile over 500 of the top web 2.0 sites and throw in a healthy bunch of familiar faces as a yard stick. Some of the more familiar sites which were profiled were:

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • LinkedIn
  • MySpace
  • Reddit
  • Slide
  • Twitter
  • Yahoo!
  • YouTube

The average response times of the sites profiled varies wildly, ranging from a blazingly fast 6 milliseconds all the way up to a pathetic 15 seconds. It seems that for every 100 web sites you go down the list – it increases the average response time by approximately 75 milliseconds until you get to the outriders which skew the results.

Rich conveniently includes the web server used for the site if it was available, which as you’d expect features Apache and IIS heavily. What I found particularly interesting though, was to see where all of the super cool Ruby On Rails web sites sit within the list. You’ll notice that the programming language or platform isn’t specified within the list, so you’re probably wondering how I joined the dots – well it was the Mongrel web server which many Ruby On Rails web sites use.

Scanning down the list of web 2.0 sites, you might have noticed how many sites are running Mongrel:

  • 1 – 100, three sites
  • 101 – 200, two sites
  • 201 – 300, six sites
  • 301 – 400, four sites
  • 401 – 500, seven sites
  • 500+, two sites

The web 2.0 space has been dominated by people building out the next cool thing using Ruby On Rails, as it was the flavour of the month. Given that there are so few sites running Mongrel as a web site, either Rich happened to pick over 500 sites which generally don’t use Ruby On Rails or combining it with Mongrel isn’t the preferred mechanism anymore.

Everything else aside, the list does point out one really really significant thing; it doesn’t matter what web server or programming language your site or product is built in, poor design and architecture will lead to poor performance in nearly every instance. Apache delivering the fastest and slowest content within the list is evidence of this fact.