Open source user registration/listing software?

I have this grand idea to start a second blog, called simply enough, Questions. It’s where I’d put all those random little questions that I’m curious about, but don’t necessarily have the time or impetus at the moment to track them down.
I’m tempted to keep it in this blog, but I’m not sure I want to bore all my readers with my zillions of little punderings, like why is the sky blue (I know that one, actually), how come my WordPress setup doesn’t quite do X right, and why does Domino insist on doing Y even when you tell it not to. See, most of them are pretty geeky, and not terribly interesting.
They are, however, interesting to me, and I figure I should give technology a chance to help me answer them. Heck, even without trying I have a fair number of readers. And that includes people beyond old friends and PlanetApache feeds – just look at the comments on my Major Mudd post. So why not take the one in a million chance that one of my readers happens to know the answer to my Questions off the top of their head?

Oh, I see you’ve noticed that I haven’t given you any details about the actual Question I’m meaning to ask in this post, haven’t you? Well, here goes:

I need an open source data driven website ‘thing’. Basically, I run, and have long wanted it to serve as a homepage for Curcuru’s worldwide (there aren’t that many of us). I figure the simplest thing is a basic web form where anyone can register themselves as a Curcuru, including their name, a short paragraph about who/where they are, and an optional URL. I should also have a checkbox for business or personal listings.
Obviously, it’ll need a CAPTCHA or similar spam-defeating technology. I’d also love a simple way to plugin the URLs that are submitted to be checked against obvious spam sites, like Akismet does so wonderfully for WordPress.
Then there’d be a simple administrative page that let’s me mark entries as accepted or not. Accepted entries then get displayed in a simple list page, that can serve as a home link page for anyone named Curcuru. Hopefully this might engender a few familial contacts between our far-flung relatives – we’re pretty sure we’re all related through common ancestors in the Mediterranean.
I have MySQL, PHP 4 & 5, Perl, python, and some other basic Unix stuff available on my hosting account. Given all that, do any of my readers have great ideas of some turnkey system I could install to do the above?
Yes, I know, I’m supposed to have a little geek cred, and while I do know how to read PHP (one of the more obvious solutions), I really don’t have the mental energy to go build this myself right now. And I do have this strange need to host the solution myself, so I don’t just want to build a Ning or other insta-social website from any of the many great providers these days.

What’s up with registering .name addresses? lists plenty of registrars, but the majority of them either don’t actually support .name registrations, or don’t support third-level registrations at all.
I’d love to get my wife and in-laws their names, but isn’t available at second level, so I need a reputable third-level .name registrar. Any suggestions?

(Hmmm, I should really put this into my new Questions blog once I get that started. Keep me aggregated for more!)

How can CreativeCommons help combat splogs?

Perhaps a naive question, but I was thinking about legal and social ways to combat splogs and blog scraping (since even with my limited scope, I’ve been scraped at least twice). In particular, I was wondering: do CreativeCommons NC licenses prevent blog scraping?
There are a number of detailed questions I haven’t investigated, but I figured I’d post this now to see if anyone comments. Personally, I chose the CC BY-NC-SA license because the human-readable version seems to be closest to what I want my philosophy to be for much of my content. That is:

  • BY – By attribution. This means anyone who uses the license must attribute the work to me. It’s the least to ask that if you’re going to use something I create, that you let the world know I created it first.
  • NC – Non Commercial. It’s my work; I’m certainly not going to give it to you for free if you’re making money off of it. If there’s money to be made in what I create, it’s mine!
  • SA – Share Alike. Although I am not a Free Software type (a’la FSF) for code myself, for personal writings like my website and blog, I want to ensure that others who re-use my content will allow their versions of my works to be shared alike.

My question to my legal and geek readers is: can CC NC licenses help combat splogs? Splogs being original-content-free sites that simply copy other people’s feeds, and have lots of AdSense or other advertising links on them. The more content they steal, the more search hits and therefore ad revenue they make from the site.
Either on legal theory, or technical issues, does the CC NC license prohibit this use? Have any of the CC licenses been tested in court? And where is the current legal line on commercial use? The whole fact that splogs are original-content-free would point a reasonable person to say it’s purely for selfish commercial use, but I’m sure that some tricky splogger has an argument about how their feed search terms constitute something original or such bull that it would take a number of cases to have anything effective.

Yes, I realize this is all very theoretical. For practical solutions I should download a WordPress plugin that poisons my default feeds with copyright notices or faux content. But with the relative popularity of CreativeCommons I was wondering if they’ve been thinking about this specific issue – of the EFF or some of the other great online legal sites out there.

When will DNS change the dict.ion.ary?

This is one of those muses I’ve had for quite a while. Earlier, I blogged about googling, and I was surprised myself to be reminded that it had turned into a verb long ago, back in ’01. (Ah, that makes me want’a’dopt an old-timer accent and talk about how ‘mazing that new Jaquard Loom is…) And it’s obvious that computers have changed the speech of many human cultures, both colloquial and academic. But I’m pondering not on specific words that have been invented, passed around, and come into wide acceptance with a speed rarely seen before, but rather on the styles of words themselves.
For my non-technical reader, I’ll spell out DNS: Domain Name Service. You can go look it up on Wikipedia or Google it or something; you’ll find a ton of references. If you want technical specifications (always a favorite of mine), look for RFC’s 1034 and 1035. I’ll wait.
With a huge wave of the hands, DNS basically takes the part of the URL that you type in your web browser’s address bar, and translates that string into the computer-readable address of the computer my website lives on. It serves as the glue between human-readable website addresses, and part of the information your computer needs to actually get you the website you asked for. But that’s not the interesting part for humans.
What’s interesting is how marketers – and plenty of Jane/Joe website makers – are playing with words in their hostnames. One of the great early examples to become popular is It’s delicious! It’s a study in using the TLD – Top Level Domains – to create readable words that are actual hostnames. TLDs are the .org, .com, .us, and so on parts of the internet.
One of the issues is that there are a strictly limited number of TLD’s allowed to exist. This is controlled by standards bodies, and each of the TLD’s has a theoretical purpose for being, however many people ignore these. .com stands for commercial entities, which means basically anything goes. .org is supposed to be reserved for non-profits and the like. .us is meant for websites based in, and about, entities in the US, or USA (depending on if you like 2 letter or 3 letter ISO codes for countries, a separate topic).
So we have – a social bookmarking site, who’s only reason for being in the .us domain is because that way, the whole website name is a simple english word! All you have to remember is that their bookmarks are deliciously good, and you’ll be able to remember how to get to their site. See why the marketers are excited? They get simple brand name recognition, and still theoretically play by the geek’s DNS rules for the internet. Theoretically, because the vast majority of .tv websites have absolutely nothing to do with Tuvalu, the owner of that ISOP 3166 country code (and hence the corresponding TLS), except that they’ve cut a deal with domain name registrars to make a profit from all .tv domains.
How long will it be before we have a word – a dictionary word, maybe even an O.E.D. one – that describes this technique? How much of our pop culture is being de.fined by br.ok.en up words? How many etymologists shudder every time they see a new word broken up with periods using the wrong syllable bo.undar.ies? And how prevalent are domain hacks in non-english languages?

As Pascal said, this post is too long for it’s core concept because I lacked the time to make it shorter.

I am…

Goo-goo-ga-joob!  Many thanks to Sam’s instructions and CJ, I’m now running my own eponymous OpenID server.  Whoo-hoo, I am me!

OK, I haven’t finished the YADIS stuff yet, but hey, it works to sign in to various places.  I simplified the URLs a bit, and I think the best identity is your .name domain, instead of your blog address.  But that’s just me being all canonical about myself.

Hey – anyone have a way to login to your self-run WordPress install using an OpenID or the like?  One of my issues is posting to my blog securely.  Without buying an SSL cert for this specific domain name, I don’t think I can securely post entries without effectively sending the blog password in the clear.  Any tips?  (hmmm, should look at 2.1.2 release notes too).

Wifi quietness atop the hill

Reading RoUS’ latest Wfi note, I double-checked the wifi status in my neighborhood.  I’m almost at the top of a prominent hill, mind you, so in several directions should have quite the range.

Two.  Two measley other wifi signals.  That’s it.  This is a pretty nice neighborhood, too, so just about everyone has broadband. At least I have 50% secure neighbors: one of the two signals is security-enabled.

Hmm, the one neighbor who I know has wifi (I used to borrow it, with permission, when our ISP service was bad) isn’t detected.  Wonder what’s up with them.

Calling Akismet/WordPress Gurus: fight evil trackbacks

Apologies if I’m overreacting – it’s been a long day.

Has anyone else seen wierd trackbacks from elliottback dot com show up on their blogs, esp. WordPress ones?  I just got an odd one, which simply led to a WordPress blog with zero original content – just trackback’d entries, which are all posted to that blog as if they were the other person’s blog post.  Oh, sorry, they’re all credited as:

“Original post by blah blah and software by Eliott the Google Adwords shyster”

Of course, this guy apparently runs a bunch of other no-original-content blogs (from my admittedly 5 minute searching) which all include only targeted trackback posts from other blogs – and of course, a huge Google AdWords install.

Is it just me, or do I have some backing in being a mite pissed off?  I mean, really, I’m totally small potatoes in the blogosphere, so I really don’t expect to be the target of leeches.  (And Akismet makes spammers work invisible, which is perfect – thanks, Akismet-folk!)