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Journal: Work sucks.

Journal by Crash Culligan
Don't get me wrong, because it's not a tremendously bad kind of suck. I mean, I am getting paid for my meager efforts, and I get something to put on my résumé beside dust.

But the commute would be, by most peoples' standards, murderous. While I'm working as a full-time temp for one company, serving at another company, I am essentially the oil companies' bitch.

And the work? At a previous "job" (it was more like manning a mail-drop), I joked that I was either underutilized or keeping two monkeys out of a job. The current job I rate at about five monkeys instead.

I need a more challenging job closer to home. Self-employment may be an option, except then I'd need to whore^Wtart^Wsell myself to employers who may not even need my services, and I'm decidedly bad at that.

Any suggestions?

Spam

Journal: How Not to Get the Point

Journal by Crash Culligan
"Reformed spammer says he may relapse"

In response, I have only one word: "WTF??" And in the words of AdBusters, "how much damage must a company do before we question its right to exist?"

Summary of article: a man, who has taken legitimate pains to spam responsibly and comply with all legislation like CAN-SPAM, confesses that he may have to turn back to illegally spamming and trying to defeat filters if service providers don't stop blocking his messages.

Prize quote of the piece:

"When I'm forced into a situation where I cannot do legal business because other people are interfering with it, I will go back to spam," he told Reuters after the hearing.

Okay, one more time, all businesses consist of three distinct parts: a buyer, a seller, and a product or service. In that context, let's take a hard, careful look at the average spammer's business model:

The Buyer: The person who wants to find buyers for a particular product or service of their own.
The Seller: The spammer^Wadvertiser.
The Product: Here's where things get ugly: the product is the general public, who the Seller tries to drive to the Buyer by whatever means necessary.

The problem with this business model is that 99% of the populace (and that's a conservative estimate) aren't interested in the products the Buyer is trying to hawk. They especially aren't interested in being the product of someone else.

And the thing which so many people don't realize is that most advertising works by this exact same model: the advertiser promises the buyer exposure, and what this means is that the advertiser will do whatever it takes, up to and including sucking up bandwidth and polluting the environment, to get the buyer's name recognized by the general populace.

If advertising doesn't seem to work, it's because people mentally tune advertising out to avoid the onslaught of half-hearted glad-handing condescending and sometimes infantile attempts to sell other peoples' crap. Putting it more in their faces may give people urges, but it won't be to buy stuff -- more likely to pummel the living fertilizer out of the seller.

Internet service providers realize this because they depend heavily on customer satisfaction, which goes down if they get bombarded by advertising. And trust me, nothing but nothing pisses off a customer like downloading 60 junk mails over a dial-up connection.

I think the spammers try not to realize this because, if they did, they'd have to get honest work.

Comments? (They're turned on and everything this time!)

Spam

Journal: The Sticky Static Spambot-Stopper Problem

Journal by Crash Culligan
Thus far I've had little problem with spam. But I know that the spambots are out there and ready to sniff my email address off of any web page that I put up.

And as I plan to start freelancing to make some money in my meager spare time while job-hunting, I need to maximize my presence, up to and including putting information and particulars up on the web.

So I have a challenge: how to put my email address up on my web site so that humans can read it and even click on it as they were meant to without falling prey to the spamspiders.

Here's the catch, and it's a doozy: the web space my ISP provides me is completely static. Frozen in ice static. No PHP, no Perl, no Python. I count myself lucky that the damned thing even serves up HTTP.

Can anyone recommend a solution which will prevent that sort of harvesting when I have no interactivity or control over who accesses it?

(It's a pity my situation is too specific for an Ask Slashdot.)

The Almighty Buck

Journal: A new perspective on evil

Journal by Crash Culligan
"The love of money is the root of all evil."

If this is the case, then surely the necessity of money is the potting soil of all evil, and the utility of money is the fertilizer of all evil.

Put them together and evil will bloom, preferably in a warm place with a little water and moderate afternoon sunlight. Evil is a hearty perennial which is very difficult to remove once it gets in place, prompting some to call it a weed. The weed's lawyers strongly discourage this attitude.

By the same token, the modern corporation has the greatest necessity to gain money (the most potting soil) and gets the greatest utility from it (the most fertilizer). And anyone who is insufficiently in love with money has no business there, so they either dry up and go elsewhere or they actually get pulled.

And in order to keep this evil from encompassing the earth like some mutant kudzu, we have Michael Powell, who is essentially the ornamental ceramic snail.

We're doomed.

Anime

Journal: Anyone else following the .hack saga?

Journal by Crash Culligan
Haven't heard of it? I wouldn't be surprised. It's an odd little fairy tale for the modern age.

Oh, wait... you think I'm talking about the .hack mythos itself, aren't you? No, I'm talking about the production company that's trying to drive the game (as both a playable game and several anime series) into the public consciousness.

The synopsis of their creation, in case you don't want to read up on it yourself, goes something like this: in a near future where one operating system has finally won over all the desktops and networks of the world (they call theirs "ALTIMIT"), there's trouble brewing on a worldwide MMORPG called "The World": areas within it are appearently being ravaged by viruses or something. The wrinkle is that some of these viruses seem to have their own intelligence. And are capable of putting people into the hospital or worse.

(One could say that when there are hazards out there like that, it's mind-numbingly stupid to tighten the user/technology integration to the point where accidents like that can happen. But then I realized: the stuff doesn't exist, so people will continue tightening. Then someone will develop the hazard as a countermeasure. Or for fun. Think virusing someone's computer is fun? It doesn't compare to the challenge of virusing someone's head!! Suddenly the script kiddies could become dangerous...)

As science fiction goes, a lot of it is old hat. Or old chestnuts. Or old somethings. AIs, global networks, multinational conspiracies, and killer viruses are pretty much the stuff of classic William Gibson when it comes down to it. And I've heard people complaining that the anime series has not enough action and too much of what could be considered the "talking heads" style of storytelling.

What I find more interesting is that there is a group of people (the .hack group) who has a story to tell, and is trying to tell it in this roundabout (and somewhat novel) way.

The anime series .hack//SIGN is playing Saturday nights on Cartoon Network. I have to imagine that it played first in Japan because it does show signs of dubbage.

If you have a PS2, then you can follow the other chapters as they're released. The first game, .hack//INFECTION, also came with a 45-minute anime presentation on DVD, .hack//LIMINALITY (at least their naming convention is easy to follow), which parallels the events in the game with investigations outside by a few concerned people. There's going to be three more after that. What a clever trick! Take one very large game and break it up into four smaller games, and make people who want to follow the story every step of the way pay for each chapter! Brilliant! Incredibly cheap and cheesy, but brilliant!

It's not quite a vertical monopoly; they still have to resort to other companies to actually present their content to the masses. But it'll be interesting to see how their story (and their story) will unfold. Could this be developed into a paradigm shift in modern storytelling?

All that said, if you don't have a Playstation 2, I wouldn't say .hack is a reason to run out and get one. But between setting the VCR and toying with the saga on a friend's machine, there is ...something fascinating about the story itself. As if the medium is part of the message?

And as for the "talking head" complaint, that's the nature of the story. It's not really about the action and adventure, but about figuring out what's going on. It's a tale squarely set in the psychological domain, and in a world obsessed with flash and bang, perhaps I find the cerebral story to be refreshing.

If anyone else has any theories, I'd love to hear them. (Provided anybody actually reads this thing.)

User Journal

Journal: Okay, so what does this button do?

Journal by Crash Culligan
Journal, eh? Izzis something like LiveJournal? Hey, I could get behind this. It could even be fun...

...if I had enough interesting stuff in my life to report. Let's face it: I'm between jobs and not enough is happening at home to really justify me keeping logs. I'm just testing this out now to see how easy or hard it is.

I might log the occasional thought up here, but that's about it. Unless I really get rolling on it, at least.

There's stuff relating to MUSH code that I could talk about, but few enough people know what that is, and of those who do, only 2% would read this, and of that group 60% would laugh. Still, I have to start somewhere...

"It's my cookie file and if I come up with something that's lame and I like it, it goes in." -- karl (Karl Lehenbauer)

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