Friday, 14 October 2016

My Blog has moved

If you've been wondering why there haven't been any posts for a while on this blog, it's partly because we were away on holiday in September, partly because I've been a bit preoccupied with other things and finally because I've been reviewing my presence on the web.

Kilburnlad in Retirement was, as you might have guessed, set up when I retired, as a way of keeping friends and colleagues up to date on how retirement was panning out. That was in 2008, and I don't think many of those people still visit it, if for no other reason than with the advent of Facebook such a blog isn't really necessary. In recent times it's become almost exclusively a collection of my film reviews, with the occasional technical tidbit for good measure. So I've decided to stop adding to this blog and have incorporated a new blog on my personal website.

This is still a bit of a work in progress but the new blog is up and running and I've transferred the film reviews. There are feeds from the new Kilburnlad Blog above, and from my Film Reviews, my Golf Diary and my Fishing Diary in the right hand column.

I would like to thank everybody who has taken an interest in this blog over the years and invite you to visit my personal site, if only for the film reviews.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Spam update

In my last post, which was a while ago now (did you think I'd vanished), I explained how I had set up a new email address at my domain and was using Spam Assassin as part of the cPanel tool kit to reject the spam. This is still working and has revealed some interesting things.

There is also a Track Delivery utility within cPanel that enables me to see all the spam that's been rejected, which I've been monitoring in case any non-spam got caught. What it also shows is a plethora of attempts to piggyback my domain names as a way of sending me unwanted emails. The culprits add a name to the front of the domain name on the assumption that it will get through, choosing things like info@ domain, or contact@domain, or more bizarre things that were never going to succeed. Because I reject anything other than valid names against my domains none of these succeeded, but the quantity that is coming through is amazing.

Meanwhile BT have actually started to intercept an occasional spam mail, which never reaches my Spam Assassin trap, and therefore doesn't get rejected back to the sender.

People who indulge in this spamming really ought to get a life.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Latest instalment of Spam battle

Further to earlier posts it's now clear that the BT Mail spam blocking rules definitely do absolutely nothing. Filtering on my Mac works but equally does nothing to deter the spammers, since while the emails are automatically consigned to Spam, as far as the spammers are concerned they have been delivered, so they'll keep on sending them.

I don't like to be defeated on this sort of thing so I tried an entirely different ploy. As I have a domain that allows me to set up email accounts, I set up a new one and forwarded all the BT account mail to it. With the domain comes cPanel tools, which includes Apache SpamAssassin. I therefore set up a filter and waited to see what happened. SpamAssassin did a good job, readily identifying all the spam. Having proved this worked, I changed the filter rule such that the system discards the message and automatically sends a failure notice to the sender.

As things stand I'm not seeing any spam while if I send a normal email it gets through.

Could this be the solution?

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

BT Mail - spam unstoppable?

I posted recently about how one of my BT email addresses had become a spam target. A week on and I've made absolutely no headway in blocking this spam. As mentioned previously, the simple 'block' option in BT web mail invariably fails with an error. As for setting rules, what a waste of time. I had set many, identifying keywords, specific symbols (e.g. £) and senders from the mail header details, with the instruction to flag such messages as undeliverable. As I had no way of knowing if this was working, I set up a set of sub-folders within the Junk folder, each named to correspond with the rule that I had set. I then modified the rule to send any intercepted spam to the relevant folder. The result, absolutely nothing! So it seems that none of the rules is doing anything constructive.

I've had more success with Apple Mail on my iMac. By interrogating the headers (View/Message/All Headers), and taking the domain number that follows the final 'Received', I have set up rules that work (Mail/Preferences/Rules/Add Rule). First I needed to add 'Received' to the list of message headers that appears in the drop-down menu within the Rule dialogue. To do this open the drop-down (defaults to Any recipient) and choose 'Edit header list..'. In the Message Headers box that appears click the + symbol and type 'Received', then OK.

Now using the Rule dialogue add any domain number that follows the final 'Received' in the Headers and choose a mailbox to which to divert the messages. I created a new mailbox for this purpose. Be warned, some non spam messages my be diverted, but my experience is that these will be few, the majority being spam. This is fine as far as it goes, but of course it only diverts the spam, and doesn't allow you to send an undeliverable, for example, so it does nothing to dissuade the spammers.

In my case I'm lucky that the address being spammed is one I had been using only on my iPhone and iPad, and then only for new mail. I have been able, therefore, to disable it on these devices and use an alternative.

Back at base I can use the iMac to check the diverted spam and delete it en masse. Not a perfect solution but at least it's under some sort of control.

Monday, 25 July 2016

From Punt to Plough (Book)

I've just finished reading From Punt to Plough by Rex Sly, subtitled A History of The Fens. We have lived in the Cambridgeshire Fens since 2004 and I had previously read bits and pieces about the fens, but this book provides a much fuller history.

Written by a farmer, it takes a farmers point of view, which is fair enough as it was his ancestors who shaped the fens as we know them today. From the early days of scraping an existence from the land, which was invariably flooded, up to the present day when the area represents one of the most important agricultural regions in the country.

It is a story of man's battle with nature as he attempted to drain the fens to provide rich arable land, and how nature didn't concede easily. It's a story of engineering, of wind-driven pumps, steam driven pumps and modern diesel and electrical machines. It's a continuing story, as the drained fenland sinks and increased urbanisation increases the outflow of water into the catchment areas, requiring a constant re-evaluation of the capabilities of the pumps and the drainage system to cope.

And, of course, there is the more modern conservationist phenomenon of wanting to restore parts of the fens back to their original state, something a 'fen man' finds hard to understand given the efforts and sacrifices made by his ancestors to recover the land in the first place.

It is a very interesting book that explores the influence of the church in early management of the fens, then the crown, and then the 'adventurers', people who we would perhaps today call entrepreneurs, who were prepared to invest in schemes to release land where the risks of failure were always present. Unlike the modern day investors who often have little or no interest in what they're investing, other than whether or not it will offer a quick return.

The Fens may look plain and uninteresting, but they are far from it.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Martyrs - French Film

The Telegraph's headline for the review of this film is "Why Pascal Laugier’s Martyrs is the greatest horror film of the 21st century". Meanwhile other critics have not been impressed, the Observer dismissing it with only two lines. It is probably the most horrific film I have ever watched.

It's difficult to review as any spoilers will make watching it almost pointless, unless you just want to witness the horror. It starts with a young girl, Lucy, managing to escape from painful captivity in an abandoned building. She is sent to a Catholic orphanage where she is befriended by Anna, who quickly realises that her quiet new friend is haunted by her experience, believing that monsters are attacking her.

The film moves on and the girls are now young women. Lucy believes that she has tracked down her tormentor from the days of her incarceration and dispenses summary justice to the woman and her family. She contacts Anna and at this point, about half way through the film, one doesn't really know what is going to happen next. What does happen is both surprising and shocking, and the second part of the film reveals why Lucy was taken as a child, and this time it is Anna who is to suffer.

As with many horror films religion plays a part, a big part in fact, but not perhaps in the way you may imagine. This is religion at its most fundamental, reminiscent of medieval times, where its proponents seek the ultimate truth and are prepared to inflict great suffering to satisfy their curiosity. And when the truth is extracted? Watch the film, but not if you are of a nervous disposition.

There was an English language remake this year but it seems that it lost a great deal in the adaptation.

Warning - The following trailer is very graphic

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Legend of Tarzan (Film)

As someone who read all the Tarzan books when young, and was a member of the Tarzan Club (yes, it did exist), any new take on him is obligatory viewing. The critics have not been impressed but audience satisfaction at Rotten Tomatoes is higher.

As I've already said, I start off biased, and found the film to be enjoyable enough. After a plot-setting beginning, we move to London where Lord Greystoke (Tarzan) has been accepted back in society after coming out of the jungle. He is asked to return to Africa as a representative of the British government to meet an envoy of King Leopold II of the Belgians, the said envoy being the dastardly Léon Rom who has set the whole thing up to capture Tarzan. The plot setting at the beginning explains why.

Tarzan, however, expects foul play and leaves the ship early making his way overland to meet friendly natives. Unfortunately Rom and his mercenaries anticipate Tarzan's plan and make their way to the village, where Tarzan evades capture, but sees his Jane taken away. Thus the plot is set for a Tarzan saves Jane adventure.

There's a lot of the usual fare, fighting great apes and swinging through trees, all very realistic with GGI. In fact the CGI was criticised in some reviews, but having endured the total annihilation of American and other world cities so may times in the recent spate of disaster movies I think we can forgive Tarzan a bit of less than perfect CGI. I'll accept that the final sequence was probably a bit over the top, but cinema audiences seem to like 'big' events. The first half of the film was more constrained, and for me was more in keeping with my idea of a Tarzan adventure.

I'll always watch Tarzan, so am probably not the best person to critically review this film. I enjoyed it, as I was prepared to overlook imperfections and concentrate on what was done well. Alexander Skarsgård was a very acceptable Tarzan, while Margot Robbie was a better Jane than I perhaps expected. Samuel L. Jackson as the American who convinced Tarzan to return to Africa, and who was at first a bit of a thorn in Tarzan's side, came good in the end, but one has to ask whether his character was absolutely necessary. Probably a matter of a big name to satisfy the box office.

If you're a Tarzan fan, go watch it.