// Internet Duct Tape

Free WP Plugin Idea: Use Referrers Instead of Trackbacks

Posted in Free Ideas, Technology, The War on Spam, WordPress by engtech on March 19, 2008

Free Ideas

Blogs have a way of keeping track of who is linking to them using trackbacks or pingbacks. It’s a good idea in theory because it helps you follow the discussion as it spreads to new areas, but in practice it is mostly filled with spam because getting a well-placed trackback on a popular website can be a good source of traffic.

Trackbacks were designed without any kind of authentication mechanism whatsoever, not even the most trivial test that the person who is says they are linking to you really is linking to you. So screw spammy trackbacks. Screw them in their naughty place. Take them out of your blog themes and blog engines and let’s build something better.

Here’s the idea: instead of showing a list of trackbacks for spammers to abuse, show a list of referrers.


Free Idea: Outlook Calendar Screensaver

Posted in Free Ideas, Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, Technology by engtech on January 23, 2008

Free Ideas

People often guard their ideas thinking that if they let the word get out people will steal their golden shot at success. What they don’t realize is that idea are worth nothing. Implementation is the only thing that matters. Here’s an idea I had for something I’m not planning on building. Like it? Take it. Does it already exist? Let me know.

Microsoft Outlook is still the de facto email and scheduling application in most businesses. Smart managers know to make their calender public so that people can see when they are available at a glance — unfortunately its only the die-hard meeting goers who use that feature. Your average Joe Engineer still would rather drop buy every thirty minutes to try and catch him. One of my co-workers has a bad case of meetingitis and I see an average of 5 to 8 people drop buy his desk in the vain hope of finding him every day. One poor fool even tries to camp out at his desk like it’s a Star Wars movie.

The solution is simple enough: he needs a screensaver that displays his Outlook calendar for today so all the poor sods walking by can realize that he won’t be around for hours.

I haven’t found a full solution to this, but I know I’m not the first person to think how great of a screensaver your Outlook calendar would make.

  1. Almost but not quite: old screensaver that shows your Outlook tasks
  2. Hackers do it better: A trick to run DeskTask free software as an Outlook screensaver
  3. Great minds think alike: source code to a C# .NET version of the screensaver for Outlook 2000 and a how-to tutorial of how he did it.
Microsoft Outlook Screensaver

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