Want Akismet? Then download Flock. Huh?

(Note on 11/10/05: getting the API key was mildly painful, but Akismet is doing an EXCELLENT job of catching spam. I have zero problems now — it was well worth it!)

I ran across a mention of Akismet, the WordPress spam blocker, on the BusinessWeek blog and since I’ve been seeing a bit more spam these days, I decided to try it out. WordPress has been good to me, and this sounded like just the thing I needed to make my experience almost perfect.

I clicked over to the Akismet site, and see “Akismet is free for personal use.” Looked good. “All you need to start using it today is a WordPress.com API key. Sign up on WordPress.com to get an API key.” No big deal — I sign up for API keys all the time.

I followed the “Sign up on WordPress.com to get an API key” link over to WordPress.com and saw this message: “Want WordPress.com? Then download Flock. . . .”

want wordpress? download flock

Huh? I just want an API key so I can try out Akismet and I followed a link that promised me just that. What does Flock have to do with this? Why should I have to download Flock?

Frustrated, I downloaded Flock, but it was guesswork from there on how to get an API key. I clicked around on the “Five ways to. . .get started” on the Flock startup page (with the Flock app) and chose #2, “. . . get yourself a blog.”

five ways

I was presented with three choices: WordPress, TypePad, and Blogger. I chose the WordPress link and filled in the requisite information (note that “chad” was taken, so I used “chaddickerson,” but didn’t do another screen shot).

wordpress signup

At that point, I got an e-mail with my username and password to login to my WordPress.com blog. Yay. So I logged in to my WordPress.com blog, still not sure where this elusive API key existed. Randomly, I clicked around until I clicked on “Profile” in the main admin menu. And there it was! My API key!

WP API key

This process makes almost zero sense. I expected a lot more from WordPress, and getting siphoned through Flock to get an API key smacks of some backroom arm-twisting marketing deal. Getting an API key has never been so convoluted.

Fortunately, installing the Akismet plugin was as easy as any other WP plugin and I got it installed in a couple of minutes. I entered the API key with no problem. Whew. Now I’ll see how Akismet works.

Oddly enough, it wasn’t until the plugin was installed that I came across a reasonable link about the API key, found on the plugin manager page (yes, it’s a little hard to see below):

plugin manager

For those who don’t want to go through the aggravation I just did, here’s the text:

Akismet checks your comments against the Akismet web serivce to see if they look like spam or not. You need a WordPress.com API key to use this service. You can review the spam it catches under “Manage” and it automatically deletes old spam after 15 days. Hat tip: Michael Hampton and Chris J. Davis for help with the plugin.

What a strange process. I sure would like to know the thought process that went into it, because I certainly can’t make any sense of the actual process.

Update: Michael Hampton responds in the comments, and this post makes things clearer:

Last week I told you all about Automattic Spam Stopper, the new anti-spam solution for WordPress from Matt Mullenweg. There’s been some new news, and you’re going to hear it here first.

First off, the plugin has been renamed to Automattic Kismet, or Akismet for short.

Second, it now requires a WordPress.com API key, which you can find on your WordPress.com Profile page. (Click My Dashboard, then Profile.) If you don’t have a WordPress.com account, you won’t be able to use Akismet at this time, until you somehow finagle yourself an account. The fastest way is probably to use Flock. You don’t actually have to blog at WordPress.com to use Akismet, you just need the account to get the API key. You can use the API key at more than one blog, too.

Adium rocks!

Quack! Tim wasn’t kidding — Adium for OS X (based on Gaim) is awesome. I had been using iChat on my OS X box at home until I picked up a bunch of Yahoo! Instant Messenger pals in my new job. I tried Fire for a few weeks, but it left me cold. Honestly, I never really liked iChat that much either, even after exhaustively going through its preferences and stripping it down interface-wise as much as possible (getting rid of the text bubbles, the sounds, etc.)

That being said, I hadn’t spent any time looking for alternatives, but two minutes after reading Tim’s post, I was up and running with Adium. Easy switch, and totally worth it, though I recommend disabling the sound effects immediately — I jumped out of my seat when the first IM came through with a loud “QUACK!”

iChat and Fire are both gone from my dock now.

Backing up a Mac with rsync

If you want to avoid using all the goofy backup software that come with firewire drives these days, but you haven’t gotten around to reviewing the rsync man page and you’re starting to get a little worried about your backup situation on your Mac, this is the page for you. Rsync has always been a mainstay in my tools arsenal, but mostly on Linux and Solaris. This set of detailed instructions will clear any rsync cobwebs quickly, and throws in a few Mac-specific details to boot. I’m running my backup now. . . . looking good.