Killing Chinese Comment Spam

Is any body else suffering from considerable amounts of comment spam from China? Is Chinese comment spam managing to bypass your Captcha plugin? I seem to be getting an awful lot, most of it from Putian in China. I have 3 WordPress sites yet only one of them is really badly affected – this one! It’s as if it has managed to get itself on a list somewhere and just gets bombarded by up to several hundred spam comments per week.

Now, I have Akismet installed and believe me, if you don’t have it you must get it, it is just fantastic. All the spam goes straight to your spam folder and it misses very little. Plus it learns all the time from other WordPress users what is and isn’t spam. I have also been using SI Captcha Anti Spam which appears to have done nothing to reduce the amount of Chinese spam. Although Akismet firmly places it all in the spam folder, it is still a pain as it can quickly mount up to several hundred spam comments making it a bit of task to skim through to double check no ham has slipped into the spam folder.

I can only assume either the Chinese spam bots have a clever way round SI Captcha or there are people happy to get paid not very much for sitting there and manually commenting on blog posts.

chinese spamEither way, I think that I have found a way round most of it that suits me. If you rely on traffic from China, this method will not be so great. I installed Wordfence which is also a fantastic plugin for protecting your site. I won’t go into full details here as I am just focusing on spam but have a look, it has many great features and is a real doddle to set up.

Wordfence has a feature that enables you identify and ban individual IPs and even whole networks. Now a bit of patience and persistence is required initially but over just a day or two you can pull the IP addresses from your spam comments and either block individually or block the network.

To get you started, here is a list of Chinese networks that have been spamming me:

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 27.159.0.0 – 27.159.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

31 blocked hits
Last blocked: 5 hours 45 mins ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 27.153.128.0 – 27.153.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

12 blocked hits
Last blocked: 3 hours 43 mins ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 27.148.0.0 – 27.151.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

6 blocked hits
Last blocked: 12 mins ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 222.77.0.0 – 222.77.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

73 blocked hits
Last blocked: 26 secs ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 59.56.0.0 – 59.61.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

156 blocked hits
Last blocked: 25 mins ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 220.160.0.0 – 220.162.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

28 blocked hits
Last blocked: 2 hours 44 mins ago

IP Range: Block visitors with IP addresses in the range: 117.24.0.0 – 117.31.255.255
Browser Pattern: Allow all browsers
Reason: Spamming

58 blocked hits
Last blocked: 36 mins ago

All these hits were in the last couple of days. You could make things a lot easier by just paying for the premium version of Wordfence and getting the additional Country level blocking feature.

Anyway, I hope this helps and just to make absolutely clear, I have no connection with Wordfence and as far as I am aware, they don’t pay for referrals, I’m certainly not getting anything from them, I just like the plugin and don’t like people spamming my blog.

Good luck!


Epson Printer Service Reset

Apart from one Canon Printer I have always used Epson Printers. No specific reason but at the time of buying, reviews, prices, and my own increasing bias due to no previous problems led me to buy Epson. At the moment I have two; an Epson Stylus Photo PX700W and the more recent Epson Stylus Photo PX730WD. I think they’re called Artisan rather than Stylus in the USA but they are essentially the same. I use the PX700W for everyday printing and the PX730WD reserved for photo printing.

I don’t really do a lot of printing on either so I was a bit disappointed when I got an error message on the PX700W “ink pads are nearing the end of their service life” and indicating that the only person who could sort this out was an Epson Service Engineer. Do Epson really think that anyone is likely to call a service engineer for a several year old printer that cost £150! My guess is replacing the pads professionally would cost fairly close to the price of a new printer.

What are the ink pads? They basically sit under the print head and soak up any excess ink. More expensive printers will actually have a tank.

Anyway, before committing the printer to the recycling plant I did a bit of research on the error. The message is indicating that the pads that soak up waste ink are getting full. Only it doesn’t actually indicate that at all, the message is set to appear after a set number of prints. After a further pre-determined number of prints, bang, printer shuts down, no more prints… even the scanner stops working. This is in spite of the fact it is actually still a fully functioning printer and scanner.

Stylus Photo PX730WD
Stylus Photo PX730WD

Now I find this a bit annoying, especially when I’m paying in the region of £1,500 PER LITRE for ink! That’s right, work it out, what do they make that stuff with? The irony is that if the printer had just conked out, I’d have been perfectly satisfied that I’d had a relatively cheap item last as long as it did but having it shut down because it’s programmed to really sticks in your throat.

Anyway, a bit more routing about on the internet I found a piece of software designed to reset the counter in Epson printers. In fact it will do a full service check and make adjustments of just about every parameter of your printer. I know for sure it does 700 series because it reset my PX700W in 20 seconds and the printer is now running fine again. It may do 800 series and possibly a lot more.

So, here’s the software exactly as I downloaded it. Before you do download it, be aware that it is NOT Epson software, I have no idea of its origins and it is entirely your responsibility to make sure it is virus free. I’ve obviously checked it and it has caused me no problems whatsoever but just making it clear that whatever you do with it is your responsibility. If your printer is still within warranty, get it fixed by Epson. Any damage caused by this software is down to you.

Click here to download Epson Reset Program

Once extracted, double click the .exe file, select your printer (it needs to be switched on), select ‘Particular Adjustment Mode’ then ‘Consumables Maintenance Counter’ from the list under ‘Maintenance’. You can then load up the current counter values and then reset them with the ‘Initialization’ button, done!

The pads obviously do actually get full eventually causing ink to saturate the paper on both sides. However, Epson err on the side of caution and commerce and mostly you can reset the counter and carry on printing no problem at all. I’ve hard of people re-setting 3 or 4 times without problems. Theoretically it is possible to wash the pads but it’s not something I’d want to try after going to work for a week with a black thumb just replacing a black ink cartridge, I can only imagine the mess!

Remember, all at your own risk!


Domke F2 Rugged Wear Shooter’s Bag Review

The Domke F2 Rugged Wear Camera bag evolved from the original F2 Camera bag which is billed by Domke as “The bag that started it all. Jim Domke had the first one custom made for his own use in 1976, and the F-2 is still one of the most popular Domke Bags today. Designed so that the photographer could get at equipment instantly, without having to take the bag from their shoulder.”

The bag I’m reviewing here is the the Domke F2 RuggedWear version, made from waxed cotton canvas, which I have owned for just over 12 months, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to put it through its paces. Continue reading Domke F2 Rugged Wear Shooter’s Bag Review

How to Add Light Rays to Photos

By Mark Kneen

I little while ago I mentioned the Digital Film Tools plug-in for Photoshop and Lightroom that will create light rays in your photos. Now this is a good application and gives you plenty of control over the finished look. However it does of course cost and if you have already splashed out (a lot) on Photoshop you may be wondering if it’s possible to do the same sort of thing from within Photoshop without the plug-in, Continue reading How to Add Light Rays to Photos