August 19th, 2004


The latest failure in spam personalization

Okay, someone decided to write a spam program that makes up the sending user name from random name elements. So far, so good. Problem is, they used the entire dictionary as the namestock.

The message starts out:
My name "Jockstrap E. Storybook", and I working at Oem-Soft representative office.
It goes downhill from there -- I think English was their fourth language or something...

[POLITICS] Hitting Bush in his base

Y'know, sometimes I think that the Democrats are way too nice for their own good. I mean, think about if someone in the Bible Belt hit Bush with the sort of nasty tactics that the Republicans have been tending towards. You point out that Bush is a skilled and masterful liar, plus
  • He has fomented wars deliberately, and done so in a way that's almost guaranteed to start more.

  • He is blighting the environment.

  • He has quite carefully and intentionally tweaked the economy of this country so that the poorest are left to starve.

  • He has caused the needless deaths of thousands through his blunderings in other countries.

You don't have to call him the beast of the Apocalypse. Just present those facts in that order, and plenty of people (most of them Bush's core supporters) will see the conclusion. Some of them would be offended, of course (so this really couldn't come from anyone anywhere near the Kerry campaign), but it would set the conspiracy theorists and hardcore fundamentalists a-buzzing, introducing doubt among his surest supporters...

Three very different links -- one philosophy and two programming

I happened upon today more or less by accident, because they've come out with a Firefox plugin to use it. It turns out to be a system for "social bookmarks" -- basically sharing and categorizing bookmarks in the large scale. I'm not sure that I'm completely convinced of the value of the idea, but a random wander through the "active" list turned up an interesting trio, very different from each other but each intriguing to me in its way.

How we confuse symbols and things is a fairly long essay on exactly what it sounds like. The high concept is that mankind tends to develop symbols to represent ideas, then invests those symbols with far more constancy and importance than they deserve. While I don't agree with everything the author has to say, I think it's a very cogent analysis, and worthwhile reading simply to help perceive the unwarranted assumptions that underlie modern life.

CobolScript is, frighteningly, not a joke as far as I can tell. "Anyone who already knows COBOL can easily use CobolScript to build server-side scripts with virtually no learning curve." You know that you're a veteran of the computer industry if you find this whole concept truly disturbing. I get a frission of fear just looking at the code samples.

Wotsit -- The Programmer's File Format Collection is one of those sites that is stunningly obvious and necessary once you find it. It's exactly what the title implies: simply an entire site of file (and protocol) formats, of everything they can get their hands on. (It appears to have about 900 documents so far.) I can't count the number of hours this site probably would have saved me over the years. This goes into my key technical-reference bookmarks...