Thursday, July 31, 2008

In Spamalot!

Today's spunky spam that eluded the filter and made it into the mailboxes I monitor at work included three of the "breaking news" subject headings I noted in the previous post. This time I looked at the content shown in the box to the right of the mailbox, and noted the following interesting interfaces.

Subject: Private plane travel to be banned. Content: "New laws legalize gun ownership for teenagers in US," followed by a link with transex and video in the address. Comment: They need a marketing director: they probably would get more readers of the message if they went with teen gun ownership as the subject.

Subject: Google Knol threatens Wikipedia. Content: "Madonna seduced Timberlake on set," with a link that includes video in the address. Comment: Somehow the overlap between tech battles and Madonna/Timberlake seems limited, although I will admit I'm ashamed to know Timberlake's first name (Justin?) without knowing much more, so maybe we have reached total celeb saturation.

Subject: Cambodia attacks Thailand in Asia War. This at least got me to check just to see if in fact a war had broken out. Nope. Content: "How you can save your home from foreclosure," with a link that includes "watch" in the address. Comment: Given the periodic head-shaking story about the lack of geographical knowledge in the US (which is nothing new: Ambrose Bierce said "War is God's way of teaching Americans geography") this subject seems unlikely to draw in any substantial number of potential foreclosees, even with "Asia" in the title giving a hint as to location.

Subject: Robert Novak diagnosed with brain tumor. This, in fact, is true. The content, however, is a quite funny disconnect between at least the on-screen persona of Novak as a combative consevative: "Cute ducklings following in a line behind mother duckling, cute." Not quite what one connects with Novak. The link is to a site with "watch" in it, and has "de," for emails from Germany. Who says Germans have no sense of humor?

I looked in the mailboxes' junk mail folders to see what hadn't made it past the filter, and it was all the usual stuff about sexual enhancement (just how paranoid are men about their favorite body part?) and sex videos (probably including Madonna and Mr. Timberlake.) So at least the pseudo breaking-news subjects are meeting their probable goal of eluding filters. Whether that translates into any clicks on the links is anyone's guess.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Breaking News on Spam

I'm responsible at work for two email accounts, and both get plenty of spam, not all of which winds up in the spam files: a fair chunk winds up in the inboxes of each account. There's always a lot to delete on Mondays, and I have to keep half an eye on the subject lines of those in the inboxes, as a real message can be sandwiched between spurts of spam.

Today, July 28, I noticed something new: some subjects now consist of breaking news: McCain drops out of presidential campaign! Beijing Olympics cancelled!

At least it wakes me up a bit as I scroll through various intentional misspellings of Viagra and euphemisms for /intentional misspellings of a gentleman's favorite body part.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

"Google Dilemma" by Grimmelmann

Jessamyn West, whose website proclaims that it "[puts] the rarin back in librarian," linked in her July 15, 2008 post to lawyer/law professor James Grimmelmann's talk on "The Google Dilemma." While fully footnoted, the talk is not a legal quagmire (which is even murkier than a doctoral dissertation swamp.) "The Google Dilemma" is a good introduction to Google-bombing and the mysterious workings of that search engine's ranking system, and the social/legal ramifications of both. There's a brief summary about the deletion of results based on a nation's laws -- China, Germany, and France being the example. The last two, like some other countries on the European continent, have anti-hate-crimes laws which require the deletion of any search results which link to hate-sites. In the case of Germany, the original laws (that may have been amended since first enacted) were mandated by the allies after World War II as an attempt (successful) to protect against the resurgence of the Nazi Party. I hadn't known that France had similar laws, and I don't know when they were enacted, but I wouldn't be surprised if at least some of the statutes had the same motivation as the German ones, although without a mandate from other countries.

China, one is tempted to say of course, requires the deletion of sites with certain political content. Grimmelmann has an interesting display of the results of searches for Tiananmen in Google Images and in the Chinese Google Images site. The results from the non-Chinese site include the by-now iconic image of the individual protestor facing down the tanks as well as other images from the protests, but the Chinese results do not.

Title of this post: just having fun with double letters.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Getting Crabbier about Tom Sawyer

In my previous post I commented on ways in which a wiki/blog site (I call it Tom Sawyer's site) used by my library is unsatisfactory compared to this site. I now have another complaint about that other site: I'm getting email from it. My email address was required to register as a user in order to make a post -- fairly standard. Unfortunately, I've been spoiled by this site, which doesn't send out email.

Some of the email from Tom Sawyer is to announce a new post to a thread I am following: that's mildly ok, although in most cases I am following it because "following" is the default setting when one posts something. My fault for not changing the status to un-follow. As the threads all deal with a conference that has now ended, I figure I won't get too much email in the future on that account.

Today's email, however, is inviting me to vote on the most popular wikis on that site as a whole. This I find annoying. Why not just have a pop-up on that site? Either way, I'd be ignoring it, but at least I would have one less spam in my inbox.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Spoiled rotten and so happy

My library system recently set up an intranet for in-house communication. The home page has a link to a wiki intended for posts by our system's employees who are at conventions or conferences. It's set up on a commercial site (let's call it Tom Sawyer's site) and boy, is it a pain in the neck.

While it's called a wiki, I don't see it as that different from a blog -- individuals are posting about presentations, and others can respond. I hadn't realized just how great this site is until I used Tom Sawyer's site. My single biggest problem with that site is that you cannot edit a post after the fact. So there are all my typos, plus, rather embarrassingly, the wrong name for a speaker, out for public view for all time and eternity. I had to respond to my own post to announce the speaker error.

I spent a lot of time searching for help from Tom Sawyer to see if there is, in fact, a way to edit a post. I managed to come up with a huge number of posts on another part of the site itself, not my system's part, commenting on that lack. A number of them mentioned Blogspot as one site having that feature.

I now recognize that I am quite spoiled -- and I'm very happy that's the case.