This happens every single time I write a blog post on WordPress

Has this happened to anyone else? I swear, it happens every single time I try to write a blog post on WordPress.

  1. Type most of a paragraph
  2. Try to switch to another tab by pressing command-2 or another number
  3. The WordPress text editor interprets that to mean, “Convert this paragraph to a level-2 heading”
  4. I press command-Z to undo the accidental formatting
  5. The WordPress text editor interprets that to mean, “Undo the accidental formatting as well as the last 30 seconds of typing”
  6. I try pushing command-shift-Z to redo it
  7. Command-shift-Z does nothing
  8. Angrily re-type what I already typed, 30 seconds ago

It’s pretty standard across browsers that the keyboard shortcut command-[1–9] selects the [1-9]th open tab in that browser window. This is a bug, not a feature.

Answering my readers’ questions

Everyone gather ’round. It’s that time again! It’s time for me to answer my readers’ questions!

And by that, I mean, it’s time for me to see what strings of words people have typed into Google that brought them to my blog. Then I look through the search keywords that are (more-or-less) well-formed questions and answer them as best I can. It’s the least I could do, since they took the time to visit my site with these questions on their mind.

“Why can’t the space shuttle leave conventionally from an airport?” (July 26)

Mostly because it’s not an airplane. Those booster rockets that the space shuttle normally uses for take-off are not decorative.

“If I fired a laser beam at my hand would it come out the other side?” (Aug 4)


“How to castle in chess with friends?” (July 31, Aug 7, 14, 17)

Begin a chess game with a friend, castle normally.

“How do you move your king and castle at the same time?” (July 26)

You probably meant “How do you move your king and your rook at the same time?”

“Rook” is the name for the pieces that start at the corners of the board.

In chess, “castle” is a verb. It’s the verb that means to move your rook and king at the same time, two spaces toward each other, provided that the intervening spaces are not occupied and that neither the king nor rook has been moved before in the match (and that you’re not trying to castle out of check).

“Cheat on MCAT tips?” (Aug 1) / “How to cheat the MCAT?” (July 30)

Are you really asking me to help you to cheat on the MCAT? Get out.

“Has anyone ever cheated on MCAT before?” (July 28)

No. No one in the history of mankind. No one whose motives were so pure as to aspire to medical school has ever even considered cheating to attain such a goal.

“Grammar is one of the greatest joys in life, don’t you find?” (Aug 8)

Actually, now that you mention it, grammar is the greatest joy in life.

“How to avoid getting your bike stolen [in] Montréal?” (Aug 25)

Sell bike, and buy Bixi pass with the proceeds.

“How to get your thesis bound at McGill” (July 27)

You gotta do it yourself, I’m afraid. You can get Acco-Press binders at the bookstore.

“How to take someones fortune?” (Aug 21)


“I bought wrong grammar?” (Aug 10)

You sure did.

“I might have strep throat I don’t got insurance?” (Aug 7)

That’s quite the predicament! Are you a Canadian citizen?

“Is there a Montréal métro pass for mature students?” (Aug 19)

Nope. No such thing. Once you’re 25, you pay full price, whether you’re a full-time student or not.

“What happens after you accept a TA-ship offer?” (Aug 4)

Heh … Do you really want to know?

“What is giving you the most problems with Microsoft Word?” (July 26)

Thank you for asking! Mostly crashing, interface glitches and the fact that there’s no separation between content, formatting, comments and meta-data.

“Where can i get hasperat?” (July 28)

Bajor, if you want it authentic.

But if you would make the brine for a really strong hasperat—I mean eye watering, tongue searing strong—you’d make an old man very happy.

Comment spam in WordPress

Something that shocked me when I first started blogging was the existence of “comment spam.” I had no idea that spam existed outside the world of emails. But then, every day there’s roughly 50 comments for my blog that aren’t real comments from real people.

They have different levels of sophistication, too. The simplest ones are just extensive lists of URLs for places to buy drugs online. Those are easy to pick out.

However, the majority of them look, at first glance, like an actual comment. They don’t have any links in the body of the comment, and many of them just have (usually) flattering but unspecific comment.

For example:

Essentially, the article is actual the sweetest on this noteworthy issue. I consent with your consequences and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. With your authorization allow me to grab your feed to be up to speed with future articles. Thank you a million and please keep up the fabulous activity.

This is an actual comment spam that is pretty typical of a lot of spams that I receive. And of course, there would be a link to some site that they would put in the “website” field, so that they can get some links from my blog to theirs. (Being linked to gives one a higher spot in Google search results, and of course just makes it more likely that someone will click the link in error, which is why there’s so much spam of this type.)

Then, there are also comment spams that are just weird or ungrammatical:

I not to mention my guys were found to be looking at the good hints located on your web blog and so immediately got a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the web site owner for those secrets. My young boys appeared to be totally stimulated to see all of them and now have certainly been using these things. Thanks for truly being really thoughtful and for making a decision on this kind of important guides millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. My honest apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

My temptation is to remove the back-links, but keep the vague and flattering comments and respond to them all as if I actually believed that these spammers found my website helpful in such a nonspecific way.

Here’s an interesting and somewhat related question:

Recently, I went to my (actual, physical) mailbox in my apartment, and found an unsolicited print advertisement had been delivered there. I took it out, and remarked to my friend that I had only received spam. At that point, we both wondered whether something can be spam if it is in print, or if that appellation is suited only for emails? Can I get spam by post?