Category:Not wine related

Anti-spam software

And it ?s free! And it works! Maybe I can make it an honorary member of the $10 Wine Hall of Fame.

The Wine Curmudgeon has been inundated with spam, even with my Outlook 2007 control set to high. But SpamBayes, in a matter of days, has sent almost all the spam to my junk mail folder, and I don ?t have to spend my morning cleaning out the mailbox from the night before.

SpamBayes uses a statistical anti-spam filter, with new-style algorithms to detect spam. Plus, as near as I can tell, it learns from its mistakes. Plus, did I mention it ?s free?

SpamBayes installs as an add-in for Outlook (and apparently works for Thunderbird, Gmail and Mac). After installation, it will ask how to configure it. Just use the suggested method. The software will set up a junk suspect folder, and if it isn ?t sure what to do with email, it sends it there. Then, you can click on a button on the toolbar and send the file to the correct folder. It ?s that simple. I don ?t know that it has sent any legitimate mail to the junk mail folder without me getting a chance to identify. And almost all of the spam has gone directly to the junk email folder.

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Wine Curmudgeon gets all squirrelly

image As in the American Squirrel Wine Blog Awards.

I got an email this morning from a friend who told me I had been selected, and sure enough, there I am — Best Use of a Hat as a Prop in an About Post. (You have to scroll down toward the end to see it, right after the self-loathing award and just before the lifetime achievement award.) My thanks to whomever nominated me, which is all it took to get in. These are not quite serious, which is much welcome in the all too serious world of wine blogging. Next year, I want to win the award for best punk rock obit. Seriously.

And, as regular visitors here know, my hat is no prop ? I wear ?em all the time. Own almost a dozen ? fedoras, straws, you name it. And I have even written about them on the blog.

The Wine Curmudgeon enters the 21st century

image Yes, the Wine Curmudgeon is on Facebook, and has entered the world of social networking. I am told it is a key part of the future, and the people who have told me that (and you know who you are, dammit) usually know what they are talking about.

So look for me there ? my account is Wine Curmudgeon. We ?ll see how this works, part of my never-ending attempt to negotiate the marketing environment in the New Millennium. The catch, of course, is that I have to post updates, which I have not been very good about doing in the short time I have had the account.

And I can tell everyone right now that there is no chance ? ever ? that the Wine Curmudgeon will ever Twitter.

More changes at the blog

Those of you who subscribe by email and RSS feed (mostly if you use Google Reader, I think) may notice advertising in the email and on the RSS feed. This is a test, and I ?m not sure if I ?m going to keep it. Like the advertising on the site, it ?s more an opportunity to see how this works.

The third-party vendor that does the feeds was bought by Google, and it ?s now easier to add the ads. Besides, I want to see if the ads are the usual sort of Google mix or if they take a step up for a classy site like this one. Let me know, either in the comments or by sending me an email (that ?s the link on the top of the page), what you think.

I have also added a Facebook link to the posts. This is a major step for someone as cranky as the Wine Curmudgeon, but one must adjust to an ever changing world. It also means that the Wine Curmudgeon is probably close to appearing on Facebook. How will the cyber ether deal with that?

Donald E. Westlake, 1933-2008

image In the early 1990s, during one of my other careers, I moderated a panel about mystery writing. It was my great good fortune that Donald Westlake was on that panel. I barely had to moderate at all.

Westlake died last week, and the obituaries described his talent and his proficiency ? more than 100 books since his first novel was published in 1960. But what struck me about Westlake in the couple of years we kept in touch was how much he enjoyed actually being a writer ? not the seeing your name on a book or signing autographs part, but the staring at the typewriter or going to the post office to see if a check had arrived part. To this day, I can ?t believe that Westlake, who got movie money (a huge, big deal, which made him more secure than the rest of us) would come home and bellyache that some publisher had not sent a promised payment.

Westlake was also incredibly gracious and generous with his time and knowledge. He told about working with director Stephen Frears on The Grifters (Westlake got an Academy Award nomination) and his less happy experience as one of the writers for a TV disaster called Supertrain (he said he got fired). He also shared writing advice and recommended agents, neither of which he had to do.

The author Jo Walton put it best: ?He is a writer that writers like. ? There aren ?t many better epitaphs than that.

Happy Holidays from the Wine Curmudgeon

The blog is mostly off the next couple of days. Enjoy the holiday with people you care about and your favorite wine.

And take a listen to this, from Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (courtesy vinylman86 on YouTube). With apologies to Bing Crosby and White Christmas, this is the greatest version of a Christmas song ever. I still have the single — vinyl, of course, the B side of My Hometown — and I play it every year.

Happy Holidays.

Blog housekeeping: Ads and comments

I wanted to keep everyone posted on the two major recent developments, the appearance of advertising and a new comment format.

So far, the ads seem to be what they should be. I ?ve had to block a couple, but even they weren ?t tremendously inappropriate. A friend of mine gets sex ads on the site he runs for his college journalism classes, and he spends as much time blocking ads as he does writing, I think.

My blog is part of an ad network put together by Six Apart, the company that owns TypePad, the blog platform I use. I ?ve been quite impressed, though the money I get won ?t do much to feather the Wine Curmudgeon ?s retirement. A good day brings in about a quarter, though I set a record yesterday with 37 cents. And don ?t worry ? I ?m not going to write something here about how you need to click on the links to save me from penury (or drinking poorly made cheap wine). The ads are more about seeing how the system works than making any money. For instance, I don't get paid until I accrue $200 in earnings — which should take about six years.

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