Team Murder No Brain No Headache.

29Jun/07Off

Because ‘Bad Enough’ Can Always Be Made Worse

So, this is my last day here and I'm thinking that more companies should just allow people to silently disappear after they've given proper notice and whatnot. Apparently, the thing to do is to actively make sure that all aspects of a job that made it miserable and unbearable are stacked up sky high. It seems like leaving would not be enough. Perhaps I will need to have my brain extracted, scrubbed, and reinstalled. I'm guessing that twelve hours of sleep, 400 cups of coffee, twelve bacon cheeseburgers, and a few pitchers of cheap beer will likely fix everything. Until then I will just sit here in agonizing silence and wish it was over now.

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18Jun/07Off

Discussing A Problem That Has Absolutely Nothing To Do With An Erection Lasting More Than Four Hours Really

I've always been fascinated by the rapid adaptation of spam 'bots to get past most of the common spam filtering techniques. I shudder when I hear about people using the old 'block sender' and then wondering (and, believe me, I hear about this at least once daily) why that methodology is not only less effective as time, in seconds, passes. The randomness injected into the messages has always amused me at least while the technique is fresh and it isn't the typical tedium of waiting for enough pieces of spam to be correctly tagged in order for filters to start picking them out predictably.

The semantic war between spammers and filtering is more than a little viral in nature which makes this article about the 'mutation' of spam and immune response to it pretty interesting stuff if a bit on the bionic dodo bird side of theoretical. One thing about the theoretical approach is that the author actually spends some time thinking about how spam could be more intelligently constructed:

Something else to keep in mind is that spammers could choose to improve quality rather than increase quantity. One conclusion I took away from my sodden experience of reading 10,000 spams was that if we can't have less spam, we really need better spam. And there's no reason why it all has to be so monotonous and unpalatable. Just because someone is selling a sleazy, counterfeit and probably illegal product doesn't mean the advertising has to be verbal and visual sludge. On the contrary, it's the worst products that need the best marketing (think of cigarettes). I suppose this is a way of saying that the end of spam is not death but transfiguration.

This at least brings back some measure of competition between spammer and filtering software whereas the canonical approach these days, other than trying to poison Bayesian filters by filling them with suspicious garbage, is to flood every available opening with the hope that in an instance or two there will be no filtering or that they'll hit retiree gold.

The whole thing does make me wonder though after all of the combat with filters that requires huge amount of gibberish, special characters, and spelling reconfigurations just to emerge from the other side unscathed who actually responds to this crap. I'd love to see a study of that: who merrily clicks through a link that is completely encapsulated in trash text and other typographical litter? Obviously it works for someone and the cost of entry is next to nothing but still...

14Jun/07Off

Partnership As A Euphemism For ‘You’re Going To Be In Our Donkey Show And You Don’t Get To Be A Donkey’

For a company (at least back in the Lindows days when Opie Taylor was still running the show) that set out to seemingly compete directly with MSFT Windows I'm amazed at how weirdly Linspire has shaped up as both a company and a distribution if you can even call Linspire a distribution. Obviously, the fact that their name even crossed my mind was due to the recently announced 'partnership' (grab your ankles and grit your teeth, partner) between MSFT and Linspire in order to add value and obviously to protect you, the innocent customer with your hands wrapped tightly around your ankles and your billfold clenched between your teeth, from becoming another casualty of the patent wars, and to make either side of the equation look like a little more than what they actually are.

The somewhat redeeming part is actually written into the press release like so:

Linspire customers only receive these three technologies (instant messaging, digital media and TrueType fonts) if they purchase a patent SKU. The technologies are not shipped with all Linspire 5.0 distributions.

And just when you think that Linspire might come out a winner in all of this take a quick gander at the statement that follows it:

Web search. Linspire will select the Live Search service of Windows Live as the Linspire 5.0 default Web search engine, allowing Microsoft to bring Live Search to a broader set of users and providing leading search capabilities to Linspire customers.

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14Jun/07Off

With Our Sacred Remedy

Some more ingenious spam phrasing that cracked up a couple of people around when it was read aloud:

It will make your squib a real space rocket that will raise you up to the seventh sky of the sexual satisfaction!

Good work, robots, good work.

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12Jun/07Off

It Is Hard Not To Notice

Joel Spolsky has a nice examination of why exactly the fonts look so weird on the Windows beta of Safari 3 or at least the technical reasons behind the font rendering looking so odd on Windows boxen. I'll admit that it was the first thing I noticed when I installed it on one of my work machines. To me, it looked less blurry than a little bit on the greasy side, like the 'ink' had saturated through the surface of the window and pixel hinted by soaking in. Yeah, I know, that does sound like an idiot's description of what it looks like but that is the reason I'm linking to Joel's post.

I think what really makes it fail in terms of seeming like a native Windows application is that it looks completely different and doesn't behave like a MSFT application. Try resizing the application and you'll notice it immediately. I dunno whether this will improve in future versions (one would hope that it would before it hits an actual release but we are talking about sleeping with the enemy here) and that some of holes caused by the cross-platform port will be addressed as well. I'm not sure that it will be the expected coup that Apple anticipated. Shit, I spend the majority of my time on an Apple machine these days and I use Safari for testing only.

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10Jun/07Off

Open And Unavailable

Ian Murdock has a great post on his weblog about the promise of OpenSolaris, as a project, versus its failure as something that someone without prior experience and access to Sun 'ware has any opportunity to mess around with which has needed discussion by someone inside of Sun for a long time now. I'm glad that he brought it up although I'm unsure if there is any history behind this. I haven't eyeballed much about OpenSolaris since I figured out that it was not distributed in any useful format. I was initially pretty excited about the announcement of the project until I realized that it meant utterly nothing to me as someone who no longer owns any Sun hardware. In that sense it works less as a promotional tool (assuming that the promotion of Solaris use or familiarity is the purpose for its release) and more as a toy for current Solaris users. If that is the case, then Sun should just lock the sandbox and let the discussions about how enterprisey Solaris is with no outside intervention.

The comments attached to Ian's post raise some good points although many of them are more a matter of semantics than anything else. One that came up over and over again was why Sun should develop a distro given the handful of smaller distributions based on the OS kernel already. I think that is pretty obvious: if Sun is going to benefit from the time and effort shoveled into assembling a sane installation path then they should help, either financially or with man hours, to make that a more straightforward process. Then maybe they could work on supporting hardware...

8Jun/07Off

Post-Notice Doldrums

I gave notice at work a week or so ago and as is typically my habit I gave it over a month in advance. This is nearly always a mistake as I think of it terms of allowing them to find someone else to fill my position with someone suited for it. The unfortunate part is that no one would really be suited for my job that has any kind of technical background (excepting the possibility that they might be slightly more adept at reading, understanding, and following instructions/documentation which most people find next to impossible) and it doesn't pay enough to attract a career bureaucrat that could handle the work environment and the 'procedure goes before else' spirit of the place. So, I just keep limping through the days, dealing with the same bullshit that I despise, and watch my workplace retain the same aversion to common sense that made me want to flee it like a burning building in the first place. The other problem with giving that much notice (and being neurotic enough to do so) is that I'm perpetually poised to chew my own leg off in order to escape. Keeping my teeth away from my ankle is almost harder than pretending that I foster some deep and empathic identification with day-to-day busywork. You think you know exactly how much you dislike a job until you give notice and then it becomes obvious that you should leave immediately with as much of your sanity as you have the back to carry and that you still have three fucking weeks to go. Stupid fucking Protestant work ethic...

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7Jun/07Off

And Absolutely No One Cared…

I really tried to be interested in the new release of Netscape but couldn't really get excited about excepting that it was the first OS X release in quite a while. I'm not sure that anyone is terribly excited although some some of the features are kind of cool though implemented in other browsers either natively or through plugins. Exporting OPML bookmarks is a nice feature but it really makes me wonder who the target audience really is for a new version of Netscape. From my relatively limited experience I've found that most people who stick with Netscape are hangers on from the early 1990's (pre-Mozilla) who are terrified of interface changes and hold the same old version of the same old browser in a death grip. Are other people really using NS especially one that does not include the mail client? I'm not convinced...

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7Jun/07Off

Blogsnow Back

Lucky us. Blogsnow is back in business and suddenly looks really good. This may or may not have anything to do with the fact that practically anything that lists links of interesting sites and doesn't look exactly like Digg is a pleasure to the eyes comparatively. Nonetheless, it looks better and, according to Andreas, is dealing with spam more effectively now due to some modifications to the code. That is also good news because the less time spent by humans dealing with comment (and other kinds) of spam then the more cool things will come out of the user end of the pipe. Go check it out.

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5Jun/07Off

I’m Pleasantly Surprised (Nearly Startled) And Have Almost Nothing Critical To Say

Wow. So, there will be a GPL version of Movable Type sometime in the future. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this. This is a wise choice (albeit a little late for me since I migrated to WordPress the day Six Apart announced the initial change in licensing) that will be beneficial for everyone involved. The GPL-ness means that everyone is protected and ambiguity won't wreck the party again. Thanks. This is going to make the weblogging software world that much more interesting.

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5Jun/07Off

Begin Rant Against Itself Here

As always, I'm about three days behind in reading worsened by a day off when all I had to do was pay a visit to the dentist for fillings and do laundry. This nugget about the MSFT retaliation against a MVP who scored the honor as a result of developing the same extension was one of those things that I vaguely remember from the various headlines that trickled through my feed reader with nary a word read but didn't actually think about until today. I don't mean 'think about' in the sense that MSFT is flying black helicopters over your compound/ranch because you've got something against them. The feeling I came away with after reading this is that MSFT really needs to reel itself (hydra-like as that self may be) and make some kind of decision about whether the monkey boy 'developers' dance really was a product of a hallucinogenic energy drink or whether they are actually interested in having people write real software for their platform that isn't a fucking game or, more profitably, spyware.

The truly confusing part is what damage this developer is really causing MSFT? The downloadable versions of Studio are there for what reason? To win karma back? To woo the kids? Free promotion on the old Thetan levels? No, it's a gimme to convince people that Studio is worth the investment in time and the learning curve in order to use/learn. By making the freebie more useful you have injured the beneficiary of the promotion how? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

1Jun/07Off

The Musical Fruit

Okay, so I was reading a Lifehacker write up of a new word processor that had a lot of features but was slim and fast and had to check it out. It’s called Bean and I am digging it a whole lot already. I’ve written a couple of short things using it and I’m pretty amazed at how quick it is without being completely bare. I reset all the color options (black background and amber text, of course) and it is rapidly usurping Emacs for my text editing needs and is a whole lot more pleasant to use to just read a bunch of text. I’m not sure that it’s completely a keeper but I’m impressed after using it for a single day and how closely it straddles the line between a full-on (and intrusive usually) word processor with all of its formatting capabilities while staying lightweight and non-annoying the way a text editor should. Don’t know that I would do much code editing in this mode but it certainly makes text editing on this machine much more by simply being less.

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