500 Words Per Day

Monday, October 31, 2005

Blog Spammin' Mofos

We all know and love spam. Spam, that insidious, all-pervasive intrusion into our daily lives. It has become such a constant of modern existence that we may as well rank it up there with death and taxes.

There was a time not so long ago when it appeared that greater minds had prevailed and figured out a way to halt the ever-increasing barrage of spam hitting our e-mail inboxes. Corporations got wise to the idea of erecting aggressive firewalls and e-mail filters and soon enough all the free web-based e-mail services were following suit with their own spam counter-measures. Sure there was, and still is, an inconvenient transitional period when legitimate mail from friends and relatives would get flagged as unwelcome solicitations, prompting repeated trips into the Junk folder to sniff out that precious chain mail your buddy so eagerly wants you to see. In the end, we could all agree that despite their flaws, spam filters were a necessary evil, lest me all be drowned in penis enlargement offers and pleas for financial advice from deposed Nigerian kings.

To their credit, spammers the world over have tenacioiusly continued their noble mission to profit from humanity's basest instincts and choke the global network with their crap. They know it's a numbers game and sure enough, I'll have some half-credible piece of spam slip through the gates and into the safe zone. Now I say half-credible because spammers, ever resourceful, seem to have gotten wind of the banks I use, along with other Internet services like PayPal and eBay. Most of these clever fakes try and alert you to something going wrong with your account, whether it be an out-of-date password or a bald-faced warning against fraud and security breaches. Of course the call to action in all these phony notifications is to get you to click some bogus link, which will either trigger a nasty series of trojans to infect your computer or take you to a web page pretending to be PayPal, your bank or what have you, where you will be asked to enter in your password for authentication.

They've gotten a bit more sophisticated haven't they? The golden rule is to always, always, always, DELETE the offending messages. There is no security breach and there is no need for anyone to e-mail you to verify a password.

What really irks me about spammer now is they have mnaged to infiltrate every other sub-sector of the Internet experience. ICQ and other instant messaging programs are prime spam targets. They've even started getting in on the community and personals websites. My Friendster account had been sitting unused and stagnating when I received an e-mail message from a girl out of the blue. I thought, "Wow, I thought I'd scared away every single female in my social network" and eagerly opened the message, hoping to read about how she noticed my profile among the millions posted on the site and wanted to get to know me better. Ah, how I got suckered in there. Well. not completely suckered. The message was obviously a fake... the "girl" wrote some drivel about not having filled in her Friendster profile yet but she has a page on another site (a Geocities page no less) and won't you come by and visit? Bah, the message stunk to high heaven and I prompted deleted it in disgust. Oh and I blocked that user from ever contacting me again, which is an important thing to do too.

And what is the newest frontier for spammers? Well, lately every time I've started a new blog I get a rapid hit of 3 or 4 comments on one of my posts, which naturally gets me excited to think that more than 1 person passes by my in any given month. When I look at these comments, my heart sinks. Blog spam comments typically read something like this: "Hey I love your blog. Wanna buy this? Click here!"

Oh, would you please go somewhere and die?

Thankfully, Blogger has acted quickly to curb this blatant abuse of the comments feature and implemented an optional word authentication test whenever someone tries to publish a comment on one of your posts. The logic behind that is driven by the assumption that most spam is generated by autonomous programs or bots and these things can't read twiggly, wiggly text generated as a graphic. So far, it seems to work pretty well, although it is one more little annoyance to the honest people who just want to write a few words to you.

Spammers, screwing it up everyone one e-mail, website and weblog at a time.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Dressing Up for Halloween

Forget about donning your ghoul or vampire costume, or even taking the whimsical route and dressing up as a pop culture icon or robot. If you're like me and you enjoy expending the least amount of effort at annual celebrations, you simply visit a friend and borrow any hats that he may have on hand. In my case, I got lucky, as my friend had in his possession an assortment of interesting hats. I counted at least three flavours of cowboy hats, including one that was adorned with a pimp-like feather, a sombrero and what looked like a hat a matador would wear.

Taking no chances, I borrowed the sombrero and the pimp cowboy hat just in case I needed to be versatile at the Halloween party I was attending.

I don't have much interest in getting into the detail of that party, mainly because it wasn't much of a party to begin with. Sure there was music, scary decorations and many people in the spirit of dressing up but I think I was too tired to really appreciate any of it. I also didn't really know anyone, except for my date who I dragged along sans costume. Speaking of which, I was glad that no one scoffed at my very blatant I-Don't-Give-A-Shit costume a.k.a. my friend's sombrero. There was maybe one fella who gave me a good stare down when I first arrived, although I'm sure he was just trying to ascertain just what the heck I was supposed to be. There's no theme, buddy: I just don't care!

On a final note, I must say that I did not hold exclusive rights to lack of effort and imagination. There are a few girls in attendance - who I might go out on a limb as labelling as skanks - who really thought outside the box this Halloween and all decided to dress up as... well, Skanks. I could not for the life of me pick up on the theme of their dress. There was a bit of '80s in there, but I couldn't be sure. What I did pick up on was the skankiness of costumes. It was almost as if they didn't want this cumbersome Halloween business to put a damper on their usual style of provocative dress. And oh, it was quite provocative, at least for me. A fair bit of leg was on display, with nice sexy shoes to match. It took a concerted effort on my part to pry my eyes away as my date and I followed the fearsome trio of leg-bearing Skanks into the party. Oh, the glorious female leg. I love legs.

Where Have All the Good Men Gone?

The scene is a familiar one. You're sitting by yourself at the eatery, muching away at your overpriced bowl of chicken teriyaki rice and your ears begin to perk up to the conversation two tables over. Two young Asian females are gossiping about their love lives. Sure enough, they begin to bemoan their poor relationship choices and the dearth of fine, young gentlemen with whom they would rather meet.

And you sit there and eat and continue to listen. The noise level of the eatery pitches up and down irrgeularly, so it gets difficult to follow the girls' conversation track completely. You just manage to pick out the main talking points: girls keep hooking up with losers, the losers burn them, the loser dumps or gets dumped and on it goes. After a few minutes you wonder if you should walk over to introduce yourself as the antidote to their problems. They're both attractive girls in their early twenties. Articulate, educated, full of youthful vitality and just a bit bubbly in their reality show-esque style of candid conversation. The more attractive of the pair has a great face, soft skin and a long, shiny black hair tied back suggestively into a neat ponytail.

You really just want to help them out with their relationship problems, to alleviate their regrets about the past and have them look towards a brighter, more sex-filled future with you.

Alas, you stay rooted to your own table and eventually the girls pay their bill and depart.

The city, you realize, is full of women who don't know what you have to offer. They go on from relationship to failed relationship, oblivious to the joy and happiness they could be experiencing with you.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Going for that Job You Don't Want

They say opportunity knocks when you least suspect it. How about when opporunity knocks when you least desire it? Just two days after I officially abandoned my active job search in the web development field, a recruiter calls me in to interview for a 3-month design contract.

Were you not reading my thoughts, World? I have no interest in web design anymore. At least not as a career, day in and day out. I could care less about web sites. Really.

But there I was this afternoon, sitting in another wood-panelled conference room with this recruiter and wondering if I could pull off the minor miracle of getting a job without really wanting it.

There are also some externals both holding me back and drawing me in. First the pay isn't anything to sing about, but on a full-time basis without any deductions, it isn't bad and lack of funds is rapidly becoming as issue for me. Would the pay, however, make up for having to commute into the suburbs? I used to grind through a traffic-congested 45km commute for two years. This new gig is more along the lines of a breezy 25-30km motorist's hell, each way of course.

What to do, eh? I have at least until Monday afternoon before I fully commit to the job if in fact I am selected. I dislike being tempted by money... and when I'm not even desperate yet, should I even succumb so easily? I only bothered with the interview because I was going downtown anyway. How's that for a drive to succeed?

Ugh. This probably doesn't clock in at 500 words, but I'm sitting here mooching another office's computer and I really should hope on a bus soon.

Lime Green Bad

I've decided that the lime green template is perfectly ugly and needs to go. If I had any interest left in tooling around with CSS on my free time, I'd perhaps try composing my own little look amongst a sea of look-alike blogs. For now I'll just have to settle for choosing another prefab design. Hey, maybe I'll return to the look of my old weblog about DJing...

500 Words a Day, or Nothing!

This is not entirely true. I was quite ready to commit to writing 1,000 per day and record it into this blog for my own edification. A thousand words seems like a tall order, doesn't it? That probably just covered the opening argument of those great English Lit essays you used to write (gratuitous supporting quotes included, of course). And to produce that volume each and every day... is it sustainable? Is it?

Until very recently, I had enough swagger to convince myself that yes, I could expel enough random gibberings to meet this lofty quota. I believe (and still do) that if people can switch off their internal editing machines when they write, they can write for hours. Maybe even churn out a tome to rival War and Peace every few months. It wouldn't likely be half as readable, but my point is most people have no shortage of material to write about, especially with a navel-gazing-friendly medium like the weblog.

So I really was going to title this blog, "1000 Words Per Day" and totally hold myself accountable to my mandate. One thousand words or nothing. If I fell short on my task or skipped a day, punishment would follow in the form of guilt soup and delicious self-flagellation. But wait, I hear you say. Don't go down that path, Mr. Blog Guy.

Well as luck would have it, I didn't have to. I was given an easy out. 1000words and 1000words.blogspot.com were convenient taken. Not by the most worthy possessors, I might add, but that is beside the point. The important thing was I was able to compromise and cut myself some slack.

A word of warning about this new blog of mine: it's going to be rough. When I say rough, I simply mean the editor part of my brain is intentionally going to be shut off. Completely. The point is to let the verbage flow freely and if I constantly have my internal editor doing its job on the fly, writing 500 words every day would certainly become a chore very quickly. Obviously there will be times when I will need to make some concessions. Ther will be the odd time when i will be clear that my grasp of English has completely failed and will need to go back in for reassembling so that it makes sense to the sane and lucid instead of the drug-addled and semi-conscious.

If I was more vulgar, I might have named this blog "Spew".

I really just want to get comfortable writing again. If you want a peek into the dark playground that is the mind of a 28-year old Asian man, then you just might like what you find here. Stay tuned, sickos, because there's more to come.