Zone38 Presents...
Letters to the World


Taking AIM at bad ads

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 6:07 pm

To whom it may concern at America Online:

Apparently, you have recently begun testing video ads, with accompanying audio, in the AIM client. It would have been nice to have a place where we users could offer feedback on these ads, however, because I have quite a bit of it… and most of it isn’t positive.

First, let me mention that I’m not against advertising in general in AIM, unlike some people seem to be. Indeed, I’ve seen a few clever or interesting banner ads that actually interested me and that caused me to follow through to the advertiser’s site. The ads needn’t even be simple and static; I’ve seen a few interactive ads that were incredibly clever.

However, forcing full-motion video with accompanying audio upon a user, especially in a program that normally tends to be relatively quiet, is a bit on the intrusive side. Many AIM users use the product at work, in a computer lab, or in some other environment where such audio messages may be unwanted. In addition, some people can be rather sensitive when it comes to unexpected audio playing for no apparent reason; I don’t know how many times I’ve recoiled because some website somewhere on my desktop decided to start playing music unexpectedly.

Indeed, I didn’t even realize at first that these ads were coming from AIM. Several times lately I had heard an ad for CareerBuilder playing through my computer’s speakers– usually on top of the MP3 I was listening to at the time!– but I was unable to actually track down the source of the ad until this week, when I happened to notice a video clip synchronized with the ad in my AIM buddy list. I was quite disappointed when I discovered that AIM was the application that was drowning out my music with these audio ads; I would have expected that AOL would know better than this.

But their intrusiveness isn’t the worst part. Even on my two-and-a-half-year-old machine, these video ads seem to use up an excessive amount of system resources for something as simple as an instant messaging client, causing the system to become a bit sluggish. And if that wasn’t bad enough, these rich-media ads have also had the rather unfortunate side effect of crashing certain people’s computers!

I’m clearly not the only one upset by this decision, judging from commentary at WebSpiffy and Doug’s Random Thoughts, among other sites.

Please, AOL. If you’re going to foist video and audio ads into our buddy list, at least give us an option to choose a more “lightweight” form of advertising instead.


Details are always nice…

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 11:17 pm

Um. If you’re having trouble downloading something from my site and decide to e-mail me, it would probably be a good idea to write something a bit more specific than “i cant download it”…

…and yes, someone sent an e-mail of which that was the entirety. Why else would I be ranting?


Lord of the *what*?

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 9:30 pm

Via, here’s a really baaaa-d translation from French regarding Tolkien’s famous fantasy trilogy.

(And for those who are wondering how that mistranslation could possibly have been made, it helps to know that the French word for lambs is agneaux…)

[Edited to add: Also, tours can mean either “towers” and “turns”. Naturally, the translator made the wrong choice there as well.]

Spellbound hitting DVD next month

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 12:50 am

Spellbound, the National Spelling Bee documentary, will be coming to DVD on January 20 of next year according to

Mark your calendars, spelling bee geeks. And I mean that in the nicest possible way; of course, what would you expect since I fall into that category myself? 😉


Birthday musings

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 3:19 pm

Well, yesterday was my birthday. I’m now officially 21 years old. And somehow, I didn’t manage to find any time yesterday to write a blog entry about it.

Why? If you thought I was too busy getting drunk… BZZT! Wrong answer.

I was too busy playing Dance Dance Revolution on my new dance mat (eating cake in between rounds, naturally). My friends and I also went out last night to watch The Last Samurai, which we all thoroughly enjoyed, even if they did fudge a few details regarding Japanese traditions.

It wasn’t a very eventful birthday, to be sure, but I got a rather good amount of exercise on it…

And no, I don’t feel even remotely like I’m 21. I still feel like I’m, oh, about 16 or so. I swear, one of these days it will hit me that I’m actually this old, but I’m not sure when exactly that will be…


A bit of self-mockery…

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 10:50 pm

Admit it: we all say stupid things from time to time.

For instance, I was just talking to a friend about a final I just took, and I attempted to say that the test was shorter than I had expected it to be. Apparently my brain has been fried as a result of taking all these finals, because what I ended up saying was that “it was shorter than it was”.

::slaps head:: I’m not quite sure how that would exactly be possible


Fun with Bandwidth Theft

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 12:33 pm

In the tradition of the Deuce of Clubs’ Switcheroo, the Image Lifting Imposter Prank, and Heather Champ’s “queen of the known universe” image swap, I’ve thwarted yet another bandwidth thief.

Some guy on Geocities did a site on Internet advertising, and pulled images of ads from various sites. The thing is, however, that instead of mirroring the images in his own web space, he simply hotlinked directly to the original domains. One of those images that he had hotlinked just happened to be my own local mirror of a particularly annoying ad that I had seen; and naturally, the hits from this guy’s site were showing up quite a bit in my server logs.

So, without further ado, I decided to use the opportunity to get some free advertising for my own site. 😀

The result can be seen at:

And if the designer of this site happens to discover his mistake, well, I’ve taken a screenshot of the site, both pre- and post-switcheroo, for posterity.

Let this be a warning to anyone who tries to link directly to images hosted on my domain…


Will the doublespeak ever end?

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 4:02 pm

It’s official: Britain’s Plain English Campaign has given its “Foot in Mouth” prize to U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. And I quote:

Rumsfeld, renowned for his uncompromising tough talking, received the prize for the most baffling comment by a public figure.

“Reports that say something hasn’t happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know,” Rumsfeld told a news briefing.

“We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Wow. I’ve got to admit, that makes my own incoherence sound strangely coherent…

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