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Letters to the World » 2004 » February

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Letters to the World


Finally, a ‘reality’ show for us geeks…

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 12:13 pm

(Edited 2003-02-11 to fix the “celebrity spelling bee” link, which originally had a line break in it that caused it not to work.)

I am not making this up: Fox will be airing a celebrity spelling bee starting this Friday (yes, Friday the 13th– how appropriate…), with semifinals on the following Friday and finals in two weeks.

Gimmicky, you say? Sure, it is; and there couldn’t be a better time for it, what with the hit documentary Spellbound just having been released on video. Ridiculous as the idea of a celebrity spelling competition may seem, I still think I’m going to watch it; first of all, it sounds like there’s a potential for hilarity, especially among some of the more… dense… celebrities, and second, having participated in the National Spelling Bee myself, there’s a certain nostalgia factor to be found in watching such competitions.

A browser by any other name…

Filed under: General — codeman38 @ 10:30 am

Version 0.8 of Mozilla’s standalone browser, formerly known as Phoenix and Firebird and now known as Firefox, is finally out. Mozilla’s site seems to be overloaded today because of it, but the download mirrors in California and Britain seem to be surviving all the hits…

Edited 12:00pm to add: There’s also a new release of the Thunderbird mail client. Again, here are the mirrors in California and Britain. Also, I changed the second mirror from one in Spain to one in Britain because the latter site seems somewhat faster.


More fun with spam

Filed under: General,Spam — codeman38 @ 3:54 pm

I know, I know, I’ve been posting a lot about junk mail lately. Hey, it’s not as if much has been going on in my life that’s worthy of note, so I figure I might rant about the mess that clogs my inbox every morning. Admittedly, the spam problem is made even worse by that stupid MyDoom virus. Although I have a server-side filter on my zone38.net mail accounts set up to block the virus based on certain strings found therein (see this F-Secure virus profile for the regular expressions to use), I still have addresses at other providers that are getting hit by it several times a day, and in addition I have to deal with the delivery failure notifications that are getting sent back to an innocent third party who happened to be in someone else’s address book.

Anyway, I found a couple of amusing spam-related weblogs while I was searching for posts about MyDoom-related annoyances. Because these involve subject lines found in actual spam, there are bound to be occasional entries that are in somewhat questionable taste, but in all honesty, I’ve seen far worse spam subjects in my own inbox than are mentioned on either of these sites…

First off is Kristin Thomas’ Spam Poetry, a reasonably successful attempt to assemble random quotations from the subject lines of junk e-mail into somewhat coherent verse. A bizarre idea, to be sure, but the results are actually quite interesting to read.

If poetry isn’t quite your thing, you might enjoy Good Things from Spam, an attempt to make sense of– and snarky comments about– the often incoherent and occasionally nonsensical non-sequiturs that are frequently found in the subjects of spam. Many of the comments on this site literally had me laughing out loud; if your sense of humor is anything like mine, you’ll probably find it hilarious as well.


More from the spamonym front…

Filed under: Spam — codeman38 @ 9:29 pm

Via the New York Times:

Yours Not So Truly, J. Goodspam

PURPOSES L. XYLOPHONIST sounds like my kind of man. Unique. Creative. Focused, with a hint of formality.

There is no way to be certain that Mr. Xylophonist is, in fact, a mister. Actually, it is a pretty safe bet he is not a person at all. The fact that his name appeared in the return line of a piece of unsolicited e-mail almost assures that he is not.

Mr. Xylophonist wrote trying to sell some pamphlet about maximizing profits on eBay. Or maybe that was what Beiderbecke P. Sawhorse was pitching. It was definitely not the one from Marylou Bowling; she wrote to tell about “Government Free Cash Grant Programs.” Then again, that might have been from Elfrieda Billman. As for Usefully T. Medicaids and Boggs Darrin, they both wrote about cheap drug sales, no prescription needed. (Of course.)

Incidentally, for those not keeping track, “spamonym” is, of course, a term I coined in a 20 January blog post to describe the phenomenon of weird sender names in spam.

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