Recently, a company called “Semlat” has software bots crawling websites all over the world. They state that you can remove yourself from their list, but so far I’ve not heard of anyone actually getting off the list. They claim to be an SEO company, but their practices of getting to the top are somewhat black hat.

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Even worse, they are no longer the only ones. The list of “companies” that do this has grown huge in just the past month! A partial list of these companies is:

  • buttons-for-website.com
  • 7makemoneyonline.com
  • darodar.com
  • semalt.com
  • ilovevitaly.co
  • myftpupload.com
  • econom.co
  • iskalko.ru
  • ilovevitaly.ru
  • ilovevitaly.com
  • o-o-8-o-o.ru
  • o-o-6-o-o.ru
  • cenoval.ru
  • priceg.com
  • cenokos.ru
  • seoexperimenty.ru
  • gobongo.info
  • vodkoved.ru
  • adcash.com
  • websocial.me
  • cityadspix.com
  • luxup.ru
  • ykecwqlixx.ru
  • superiends.org
  • slftsdybbg.ru
  • edakgfvwql.ru
  • socialseet.ru
  • screentoolkit.com
  • savetubevideo.com
  • There is some speculation that these bots are also looking for weaknesses on sites to exploit. Even if it’s not true, it’s still a good idea to block them because it messes up Google Analytics reports and puts an unnecessary load on your server.

    There are a number of ways to block these, or filter out their traffic. But the best two methods both involve adding fields to the .httaccess file on your server. Do this by:

    1.) Log into your host’s cPanel.
    2.) In the Files section, click on the File Manager icon. (you may have multiples)
    3.) Check the box for Document Root for and select the domain name you wish to access from the drop-down menu if there is more then one.
    4.) Click the box that says “Show Hidden Files (dot files)” – this is the critical step
    5.) Click Go.
    6.) Scroll down to .htaccess in the list of files.
    7.) Highlight and click copy at the top of the screen
    8.) Type in .httaccess.back and hit enter (this creates a backup, just in case)
    9.) Highlight .httaccess and click “edit” at the top of the screen
    10.) Paste one of the two following sections of code into the file, typically at the bottom.
    11.) Click Save
    12.) Access your site in a separate browser or browser window to make sure you can still access the website. If you can, all is good. If not, edit .httaccess again and remove that parts you just added.

    Code #1 – this is a bit less elegant but is very direct:


    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer semalt.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer buttons-for-website.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer darodar.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer 7makemoneyonline.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ilovevitaly.co spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer myftpupload.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer econom.co spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer iskalko.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ilovevitaly.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ilovevitaly.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer o-o-8-o-o.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer o-o-6-o-o.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer cenoval.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer priceg.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer cenokos.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer seoexperimenty.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer gobongo.info spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer vodkoved.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer adcash.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer websocial.me spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer cityadspix.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer luxup.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer ykecwqlixx.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer superiends.org spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer slftsdybbg.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer edakgfvwql.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer socialseet.ru spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer screentoolkit.com spambot=yes
    SetEnvIfNoCase Referer savetubevideo.com spambot=yes
    Order allow,deny
    Allow from all
    Deny from env=spambot

    New SPAM bots can be added easily to this list by just cutting and pasting the domain name.

    Code #2 – Little more elegant. This is the one I went with. It is provided by Perishable Press.


    # 5G:[WordPress]

    RedirectMatch 403 /\$\&
    RedirectMatch 403 (?i)/\&(t|title)=
    RedirectMatch 403 (?i)/\.(bash|git|hg|log|svn|swp|tar)
    RedirectMatch 403 (?i)/(1|contact|i|index1|iprober|phpinfo|phpspy|product|signup|t|test|timthumb|tz|visit|webshell|wp-signup).php
    RedirectMatch 403 (?i)/(author-panel|class|database|manage|phpMyAdmin|register|submit-articles|system|usage|webmaster)/?$
    RedirectMatch 403 (?i)/(=|_mm|cgi|cvs|dbscripts|jsp|rnd|shadow|userfiles)

    This second version should work a little better since instead of blocking the bots, it gives them an official 403 not found. That should keep the bots from hitting your site at all in the future and reduce load even more.

    Since I’ve implemented this method, I have seen Semalt (and all the others,) go away completely. I still get an occasional iffy one but it’s not as bad as the 10-15 (per a site) I was getting before.

    Do you have another solution that works better? Please comment below!

    02 - 1V9R5kH

    One of Portlands biggest downsides lately has been the sheer number of bike thieves. Bikes have been stolen from racks all over town, from locked garages, “secured” spaces in apartment buildings and office buildings and directly off porches. Bike thieves have even graduated from cable clips to using portable battery powered angle grinders to cut through heavy duty U-Locks.

    This has been a very lucrative practice for a few years now because a lot of people don’t write down the serial numbers of their bikes to get them back if they are recovered. News articles around the internet talk of people having to bypass the police, or setup their own sting with the cooperation of the police just to get their bicycles back. And the Stolen Bike Listing has helped reunite quite a few riders with their bicycles.

    In addition to that, many of these bike chop shops run openly at the Eastbank Esplanade and the Springwater Trail. Luckily concerned citizens have finally gotten the police and other groups to start cracking down on bike thieves.

    Below are the mugshots of 13 of Portland’s most well known bike thieves. Everyone of these people have been charged by the Portland Police for multiple counts of bike theft (note the multiple mugshots under most of them from repeated bookings.) If you see one of these people hanging out suspiciously near a bike rack, please call the Police immediately.

    RPG Scenario: Dead Ship

    The following scenario came from a suggestion I made on Reddit a while ago. I decided to keep it and flesh it out a bit. This is meant to be for a Space based game, but could be modified for a Modern game.

    Setup
    The characters are crew members of the EDFR Rainier (Earth Defense Force, Reserve,) a Fast Combat Supply Ship. The FCSS is meant to accompany Naval Combat units and support all their supply needs. It provides fuel, ammunition, and all other supplies a ship in combat could need. In addition it has space to provide some man power transfers, mail deliveries, prisoner transport, and even other live cargo as needed.

    The ship itself is heavily automated with redundant systems. In dock the ship is setup to automatically load and store supplies throughout it’s hull. A Fast Combat Supply Ship can also take supplies off of a variety of other transport ships as needed. This allows it to detach itself from the fleet, meet a supply convoy to load up, and then rejoin the fleet.

    Supply transfer is partially done via automated lifters that can access any part of the ship as needed. For instance medical supplies will automatically be routed to the medical facilities storage, ammunition will be sent to weapons systems, fresh food will be sent to the galley.

    The automated lifters are roughly man sized but can carry a ton each. They will gang up for heavier loads such as missiles and large equipment transfers if the direct connect automated systems are damaged. Anti-gravity propulsion systems allow them to work both in a gravity well and in the vacuum of space. The lifters are unarmed, but have enough armor to withstand minor damage.

    The EDFR Rainier is designed to nestle directly against combat ships to minimize potential for enemy damage during combat. Armored cargo ports automatically connect each ship to allow the liters to travel between each. Fuel supply, and large ammunition transfer systems connect automatically through similar heavily armored and protected connections.

    While the EDFR Rainier is armed, it’s weapons are purely defensive. These are antimissile, anti-air/fighter, and basic counter-measures. These systems automatically tie into those of whatever ship it is currently servicing to protect both ships while in combat and reloading. The crew of the ship being supplied has complete control of the EDFR Rainier during this time. They can designate priorities on supplies being transferred, initiate and stop transfers, and provide complete defensive needs in combat.

    Crew members of the EDFR Rainier are mostly technicians. Their job is to get the Rainier to it’s destination and to service and repair the Rainier’s automated systems. They have basic weapons training, but much of it is out of practice. All crew members are well versed in Zero-G and EVA operations. In a pinch they can help load/unload.

    Mission

    The EDF Keiko Akane is a slightly out of date battleship. By modern standards she is only a destroyer. But sometime in her past she was heavily modified with faster engines and the latest in anti-detection systems. As such she still remains in service as a transport for Special Forces units being deployed directly to combat. The Rainier is sent to supply her while on mission.

    As the Rainier approaches the rendezvous location they have to wait a couple of hours, deep in hostile space. Finally they get the automated message from the Keiko Akane, and both ships start the docking procedures. The Keiko Akane sends in it’s “order,” all routine for a ship that has been operating on it’s own for a while, and the Rainier obediently starts fulfilling the order as soon as the docking is done.

    Everything is 100% as expected and routine. Until it comes time to undock. The EDF Keiko Akane never sends the final “go ahead and undock” order to the EDFR Rainier. Any automated or manual queries to the Keiko Akane about what the problem is go unanswered. Trying to manually undock is futile, the docking protocol is designed to work during ship to ship combat and is near impossible to break. Until the docking protocol is initiated, both ships will act and perform as one.

    After 4.6 hours, the EDF Keiko Akane puts both ships on high alert and in defense mode. After 27 minutes both ships start accelerating quickly and firing weapons. This lasts for 18 minutes and then ceases. 85 minutes later the EDF Keiko Akane puts in another request for ammunition and fuel which the Rainier dutifully carries out. This pattern repeats every 4.6 hours down to the millisecond.

    Characters should note that during combat, Fast Combat Transports are programmed to send over their own fuel reserves if necessary.

    That will be necessary after this happens 7 more times.

    EDF Keiko Akane
    Characters can gain access to the Keiko Akane several ways. They can use the cargo ports at the same time as the automated lifters. They can spacewalk over to the ship and break in through personnel ports. Or they can take the Rainier’s Collier over. If either of the last two happen, they will have a chance to notice the damage to the Keiko Akane.

    The port side of the Keiko Akane looks untouched. This is the side the Rainier approached from and docked with per the Keiko Akane’s orders during the docking protocol. The starboard side of the ship has been heavily damaged. At least three quarters of it’s weapons systems are destroyed. A large section of the hull looks like it’s been carved away leaving half the ship’s decks open to space. At least one of the ship’s reactors was jettisoned into space after it went critical.

    If they board the ship they will find signs of battle. The red alert signal comes up at the 4.6 hour mark and continues until the acceleration and firing cycle quits. Ship readouts show that most systems are functioning somewhat but she has been so heavily damaged that it’ll be cheaper to build a new ship. Every fire door has been closed. Many compartments are full of radiation or worse. The forward computer room is completely gone as is a major portion of crew quarters, the galley, the forward missile bays, and half the ships sensors.

    The computer is still somewhat operational. It does suffer from a multitude of glitches and reports that the galley is ready to serve food anytime they wish. It shows both that the life boats were launched and that they are still onboard. It is as helpful as it can be, but that is not much. It continually warns them away from the Secondary Computer room to the aft of the ship due to immense radiation.

    The compartment has been sealed due to a massive radiation link from the jettisoned engine from the nearby compartment. In addition to the automatic seals, the former crew attempted to erect additional protective barriers. The radiation levels are so high even someone in a protective suit will become so radiated that they’ll be dead within a week. Scans of nearby corridors back this up by showing they too have lethal levels of radiation.

    No remains are left on the ship, but signs of personnel abound. Pools of blood from wounded and killed have been hastily wiped up. The surgery shows sign of heavy use. Consoles and chairs are smashed from where bodies hit them. Equipment is strewn about after use or ripped from it’s storage by impact. Any weapons found are fully loaded and functional.

    Eventually the characters will figure out how to get to the secondary computer room as it’s obvious that a glitch is causing the problems. When they do get there, they’ll find that it’s been gutted by the same thing the caused the engine to go critical.

    At this point, the computer goes silent. All the while, the countdown towards the next rearming cycle continues.

    Possible Scenariors
    The “computer” is actually a sentient being that accidentally ran into the ship, causing the massive damage. It’s mental capacity is pretty low, but it somehow managed to merge with the ship’s A.I. systems.

    There is actually a third computer system on the ship. It’s much smaller, and was meant to only control the engine systems. The crew desperately pressed it into service to replace the two main systems. But it’s hopelessly underpowered and is suffering a number of minor glitches.

    The EDF Keiko Akane’s mission failed. To make matters worse, it’s victorious opponent just showed up to take possession of the remains of the ship.