More lost mail

A few more messages sent to my gmail account that were presumably intended for someone else:

September 25th
hi i have lost you number im in dub ? wanna catch up... xxx vinny ..
sorry for not chatting to you prop in the g was with friend

September 27th
hi its vinny ... sorry but i have lost your number im just trying to
get in touch with you so we can catch up !!! im in dublin for a while so
just mail me your number so i can call you ..

Poor Vinny.

September 14th
Alan ABC Parcel Back-up

Please pull CMAs on the attached property numbers.


More info to follow.



And here's the attached spreadsheet in full. Maybe it's a secret code.
1 Parcel Number Address City ZIP Owner Appraised Value 2006 Appraised Value 2007 Lot Area Zoning Improvements
2 Number Street Land Improvement Land Improvement SqFt Acres Min Building Size Dimensions Sewer Water Power
3 Parcel A
4 O185000100 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $2,000 $0 2000 0 6,000 0.14 5000 R-6P
6 Parcel B
7 3750605520 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $4,000 $0 4000 0 4,800 0.11 5000 R-4
15 Parcel C
17 3751606809 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $25,000 $0 30000 0 114,127 2.62 1 acre R-1
18 3751606811 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $37,000 $0 45000 0 118,274 2.72 1 acre R-1
19 3751606817 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $31,000 $0 38000 0 78,843 1.81 1 acre R-1
20 3751606821 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $37,000 $0 33000 0 30,600 0.70 1 acre R-1
21 3751606823 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $28,000 $0 33000 0 30,720 0.71 1 acre R-1
22 3751606825 Vacant Julio G and Bella F Martir $34,000 $0 39000 0 25,938 0.60 1 acre R-1

Veronica is back

Just watched a rather fuzzy version of the first episode of the new season of Veronica Mars (try this link which may or may not work). It's superb; all the best characters are back (Mac is now a regular), and the best part is that new viewers can just jump right in. New year, new start. Sure, regular fans will be well rewarded. But this is something that everyone can get into. And then realize that they should rush out and buy the first two seasons on DVD (only $30 for season 1 on amazon.com) and catch up.



I've probably posted versions of this before, but now thanks to Flash and youtube, you can view the wonderful Blue without leaving the comfort of your browser.

Opera users: must remind you to install the script on this page to get embedded youtube videos to work...

Useless Gadgets

I've long been a fan of silly gadgets, but during my visit to Korea I think I managed to find the most useless gadget yet. It's a solar powered LCD keyring. Basically, it's a tiny LCD screen that displays a small picture of a korean flag. It's powered by solar panels on the side. If it doesn't get enough light, then the picture goes off. When it is on, it never changes. So, most of the time it shows a static picture, and occasionally it goes blank. So slightly less effective than a coloured piece of card, then...


Bad Dreams

For a long time, I've had the occasional (maybe a couple of times a year) had an Exam Dream. The situation was usually that I had to take an exam, but for whatever reason I was unable to do it -- not because I didn't know the material (it never even occurred to me that I wouldn't. but rather for whatever reason external factors meant that I couldn't get started: maybe there was something distracting me so I couldn't begin, or I didn't have any pens that worked, or something like that. These have become more infrequent over the years, not overly surprising since I haven't had a real eam for many years.

I had an exam dream at the weekend. The twist was, this time I was giving the exam. I needed to get the exam papers out to the students. But, I hadn't finished putting the questions together. Or the photocopier wasn't working properly. Or something. And time was running out!

Plus ca change, as they say in Nice, plus c'est la meme chose...

nicholas adds the following:

I tried to post this on your web log but it kept demanding that I type
in the words displayed in an image that it refused to show me, so I
thought I'd email you instead.

About a fortnight before my MSc exams (nine and a half years ago) I had
a dream where I'd overslept and missed the beginning of an algebraic
topology exam. (In my dream) I leapt out of bed, hurriedly got dressed,
and legged it across campus to the Paranoia Room. I burst in through
the door just as Colin (who, six months later, was to become my PhD
supervisor) said "OK, everyone stop writing now, please". I did the
whole slow-motion "Nooooo!" thing as I rushed into the room, at which
point Colin turned to me and said "Oh I wouldn't worry about it - nobody
else could do the exam either", and I woke up.

Post your own scary exam dreams, if you can get past the evil comments system.

Who's been joining their databases?

My local supermarket and my favourite airline write to tell me that if I use their new supermarket loyalty card, I can earn valuable miles on the airline. Well, that's nice and creepy. Now my airline knows what I eat, and my supermarket knows where I fly to. How long before everyone just merges all their databases together into one giant blob of sinister privacy violating orwellian nightmare?


Killed and Injured

I was working at home the other day. The nice thing about working from home is that one avoids the distractions of people stopping by to ask questions, or loud speakerphone conversations from the office next door. The downside is the occasional distracting phone call.

I got another call from tin rattlers. They zipped through their script at high speed: regaling me with an impassioned plea to support the "Police Officers' Benevolent Fund" or something similar. They began by explaining that many policemen are killed or injured in the line of duty, leaving loved ones uncared for. Or somesuch. "Do you still live in [my town]?" I was asked, "if so, you'll soon receive our donation kit. How much should I put you down for -- $100 or just $50?".

I hate this shit. I hate people ringing me up unbidden and begging for money. I hate people reading off scripts designed not to let you get a word in edgeways. I hate charities using the name of the police to intimidate you into giving. I hate loaded questions like "would you like to give $100 or just $50" that pressure the weak willed into donating without really being sure what they are supporting.

Normally, I just get them off the phone as quickly as possible by saying something like "I'm sorry, I don't respond to unsolicited phone calls". I always try to be polite, since usually the poor person on the end of the phone is being paid minimum wage to do this work, and also if I just hang up they might ring back.

This time, I was somewhat prepared, since this "charity" rings regularly. I asked "can you answer a question first? How many policemen have been killed or injured in [my town] in the last five years?".

To explain, [my town] is a ridiculously well to-do commuter town. The police exude the aura of smug contentment at all times. The main impact they seem to have is to creep round the streets in the middle of the night, putting a $20 parking fine on any car parked on even the quietest side street due to a town-wide "no street parking 2am-6am" rule that seems to serve no other purpose than to bring in extra revenue and irritate the citizens. There's virtually no crime. So the chances of any cop getting shot is spectacularly small. Hence, I have no idea what this "charity" actually does: for all I know, it could just be a front for some kind of bribery.

There was a confused pause, a request to repeat the question, and then a response of "I don't know". If I was in more of a antagonizing mood I woul dhav epressed the point, but I had other things to do, so instead I replied "OK, well, thanks for you help anyway. Goodbye!" and hung up. Best not to prolong these things.

For some reason, I was reminded of this call this morning, when I heard good old President Clinton talking about torture. He seemed to be rather against the idea. In the context of torture, those who think that brutally abusing captives is a good idea often wheel out the familiar thought experiment of "the ticking bomb".

It's a very compelling argument. There's a time bomb about to go off at any moment, and the person who absolutely certainly planted it is in captivity but refuses to disclose the location. Do you torture them to extract the location? Well, as we know from everyday life, these ticking time bombs are a serious hazard on a regular basis. It is so frustrating to the police in London and New York who each day have to deal with literally dozens of suspects in custody who, without a shadow of a doubt, planted the bomb, as seen by hundreds of reliable witnesses, yet no one seems to know where it is and the bomber won't say. The only way to guarantee finding the lcoation and saving the city is to hold their head down the toilet while flushing it repeatedly. Would you pull the chain? I know I would.


There were plent of nice examples of Engrish to be found (I came back with a nice little mirror with "Happy Panda" all over it). This was my favourite, although it might just possibly have been intentional. I think not. So, next time you are in Korea, you too could own such a 'box of happiness' for only 6USD. I decided that I could live without one.  Posted by Picasa

This might be a little hard to see, but this gentleman in the middle of the picture is standing half way across four lanes of traffic and selling snacks and water to passing drivers. Often the traffic moves along at a slow crawl, so this is a feasible venture, but when I took this snap, the rate of travel was at least 40mph. He wasn't the only one. There were also a couple of folks with a trailer in the middle of the road, but at least they had a small painted traffic island to stand on.  Posted by Picasa

The conference center was huge! My conference was able to fit into a tiny corner on the third floor.  Posted by Picasa

I was also intrigued by the Center for Training in Important Intangible Cultural Properties, which was right next to my hotel.  Posted by Picasa

The contents of the "Giant Big Man Club" were the subject of much speculation, but no one who went in ever came out again to give an account of what was going on inside.  Posted by Picasa

What a load of balls! There were loads of other conferences going on in the huge conference center at the same time. One of them was the "Color Expo 2006". I thought about sneaking in and finding out what colors were going to be hot this season, but never got around to it.  Posted by Picasa

In the Coex Mall, under the conference center, were some great shops. My favourite eating place was JugJug which, you can tell from the sign, is a "beer and salad bar". Of course! Beer bar, and salad bar! What could be more natural? Posted by Picasa

Welcome to Seoul. I took loads of pictures of the mysterious and intriguing signs and objects that intrigued me. "Hair virus" was barbers near my hotel. Posted by Picasa

I was in a shop in Korea and saw a CD that looked interesting. I didn't feel like buying it without hearing a little of what it sounded like first, so I very cleverly took a photo of it, with the aim of looking it up when I got home. Alas, as you can see, the photo didn't quite come out right, and cut off the important information: the name of the CD and the artist. So I throw this out to the collective intelligence of the Internet: anyone have any idea what band this CD is from? Posted by Picasa


Milky Milky

More records that time forgot: "Milky Milky (Take Me to the Fridge)" by Mr Strange and the Lactose Bortherhood. A novelty record based on the popular Mary Whitehouse experience character, and promoted by Hugh Dennis and Steve Punt. It featured an actually quite accurate Pet Shop Boys parody, and a less good techno bit. As far as I can tell (according to sources http://www.everyhit.com/ and http://www.polyhex.com/music/chartruns/chartruns.php/), it failed to chart.

To follow up on previous postings, the fevered interest in LG15 is thankfully dying down (if I have to hear one more ill-informed MSM report that claims it was the "web diary of a 15 year old" on "a website that aroused suspicions for being too well designed", I may well scream). For those that were not paying attention, LG15 is "a series of youtubes", but was recently discovered to be the work of west country prankster Justin Lee Collins. So that's what his Friday night project was all about.


Seoul Recipient

Back from South Korea and more or less whole again, although about 4 hours out of phase with the rest of the world. A complete report of what I did on my travels will be forthcoming soon, unless I forget or never get around to it.

Meantime, mugwump2 completed his repairs and arrived home before I did after his trip to "triage" (that's really what they called it). Yay!

Unfortunately, while typing away at some stuff this afternoon, mugwump2 suddenly died again, just as before. Boo!

Thinking more about the problem, it seems it could just as well be an overheating problem (mugwump2 was running a fever at the time of failure, and had just been charged with some particularly complicated computations). So maybe it's a cooling issue. I'll see how often it reoccurs, and whether it gets annoying, before thinking about whether it's time to start planning the purchase of mugwump3 already...



I'm writing this in Tokyo Narita airport where the local time is 2.20pm, the time in NJ is 1.20am, and the time in my head is ouch. I'm jotting these notes in Wordpad, of all things (who remembers wordpad? the smarter, more talented younger brother of notepad that somehow no one ever took much of a liking to). Another temporary holding pattern since I can't be bothered to work out how to register for the internet in the departure lounge, and I'm still using my new friend, T42p. Anything to say today, t42p?


Fine. Anyway...

With all the excitement engendered by international travel, I spent a reasonably chunk of the flight contemplating the mounting excitement surrounding various recent internet phenomena. Prime amongst these is "lonelygirl15". I'm loath to spill too many pixels on this, but there are some staggerignly obvious points that no one seems to have bothered to think about. Firstly, it is quite remarkable that more people will have read about this in traditional media (newspapers and, can we even count websites as traditional media now?) than have actually seen the videos. For all the "hundreds of thousands of hits", hundreds of thousands is still much less than the circulation of old wood and ink newspapers which are printing breathless stories about this series which we are all supposed to be hanging on.

The current excitement revolves around a message board posting which supposedly outs the whole affair as an elaborate film project. This is the latest in the ongoing "is it a hoax?" debate which is really quite a disturbingly simplistic dichotomy for this century. It's not a case of real versus fake; anyone even remotely schooled in modern media knows that there is an entire spectrum of truth values in between real and false. There are "reality shows" that are carfully manipulated, scripted, provoked and edited to tell a story. News stories where the collection of the news becomes the news itself. Pop stars "discovered" on the internet who turn out to be carefully promoted by wise management. Autobiographies that make the truth more gut-wrenching in order to bully the reader into sympathy. Postmodern comedy shows that satirize current politicians by masquerading as retro clip shows from the future. To pigeonhole a series of videos posted on youtube into categories as simple as just real or fake is to miss the point entirely.

Because nothing is really "real" anymore. The nascent and mostly tedious videobloggers edit themselves constantly, both with ProTools and with their own choice of what to post. The "lg15" sequence of films could easily have been real, or a couple of kids choosing to tell a story about themselves that isn't literally true.

So what is "lonelygirl15"? Well, trying to put it into terms that are easily understood, it's basically a horror movie told in the style of videoblog. Nothing particularly shocking there: Dracula was told in the form of Jonathan Harker's diary and letters. This is just the 21st Century equivalent. What made the films more interesting is that this wasn't made clear from the start. We are too used to being pampered with our media: with trailers, blurbs, reviews and spoilers ahoy, it's rare to go into a movie or start reading a book without any idea what it is about. The difference here is that no one told us "go watch lonelygirl15, the slow-building thrillfest of the summer".

I admit, it takes some time to work out what's going on with lg15. But just forget anything else you have heard about it, and watch this recent segment in isolation.

Now tell me: mysterious religion, chosen to participate in a secret ritual that her parents aren't allowed to attend, special exercises and diet?


If that doesn't scream low-budget horror plot, I don't know what does. I mean, have you never seen the Wicker Man? (the original, not whatever lame hollywood remake starring Sylvester Stallone is about to pollute the screens).

To be fair, most of lg15 has been beautifully done. The horror plot has only loosely been present in the background for the most part. It took an army of millions of internet freaks to spot some of the other clues: a poster of Aleister Crowley in the background; a secret message of 10/12/06 marking Crowley's birthdate (and sure to mark a climactic point in the storytelling in a month or so). Many segments have had no overt plot development in them at all (which, if you think about it, is classic horror movie: spend a *long* time building up the characters at the start to make them as engaging as possible while slowly building the tension, then kill them off nastily in the last half hour. In fact, the annoying thing about the whole affair is that the character development has been done delightfully, while the plot has always seemed quite clunky in comparison: the constant references to her parents' religion that she doesn't want to talk about; a scene where daniel tries to light a candle in the crowley shrine is just jarring in its obviousness (around the 2 minute mark): it screams out "this is going to be significant later" like the hero of an action movie secreting a seemingly innocent item in his pocket in an early scene. If it were not significant, then the scene should have been edited out -- part of the charm of the posts is the heavy editing and soundtracking. There's a huge subplot about daniel not wanting to shoot a video of a play put on by bree and others from her religion (which all sounds very bohemian grove if you ask me), but we never get to see any of the footage of this play -- not even a brief shot -- despite the two protagonists' apparent willingness to put every other aspect of their lives on screen. That makes no sense, unless showing the play would give away the sinister nature of the secret religion that is constantly discussed.

There's a lot of discussion about whether this is a viral marketing campaign, as if this is the only possible thing that lg15 could be. No one seems to want to admit that lg15 could just be an attempt to tell a story in a new medium. Viral marketing never really works in the way it has been tried so far: someone tries to draw you into a seemingly real story, then pulls back the curtain and shouts "aha! fooled you! now buy our stuff!". Can't the telling of the story be an end in itself? Likewise, the word 'hoax' is being bandied about a lot. But a hoax is a deliberate attempt to mislead, and while this series of films tried to give the impression of being a genuine video diary, 'hoax' is much too strong a word.

There's one thing that's still bothering me about this, though. How can this end? Let's assume that it does end in some sinister Wicker-man style sacrifice ritual. Everything so far has been internally consistent with a teenagers videoblog. But there has to come some climactic scenes of horror that still have to be uploaded to youtube. How to make that consistent with the story? The precursors to this story are many: inevitably, The Blair Witch Project, and its predecessors -- various low budget "cannibal" horror flicks from the 70s -- will be raised, which used "discovered" footage shot by the victims. The equally important "Ghostwatch" from the BBC masqueraded as a live broadcast with the cameras still rolling. But how will the presumably disruptive events which must conclude the lonelygirl15 story be fit into this? Something which purports to show some scary, lifethreatening demonic vision would just not make sense to be uploaded, especially if one or more of the characters doesn't make it to the end of the series.

So I'm not sure how well this will end. And it's not clear that it will be particularly fun. But it will happen in the next month or so, and hopefully be more satisfying than the tedious dragging out of nonsensical drama Lost. I'm somewhat hooked, which is a shame, since I'm no particular fan of horror. But at least they tried.


The Replacements

Right, the big pile of clothes in the corner will shortly be stuffed into the small bag, the slides are about as finished as they are likely to get before I end up several timezones away, and the in-flight line up looks about as a tedious as you'd expect it to be. Tomorrow, early (possibly as early as 8.30 in the morning) I'll be off to Seoul, South Korea so, er, take note all you would be housebreakers.

Since little mugwump2 was packed up in a cardboard box and shipped off to the RMA department, quite possibly never to be seen again, instead I will be taking my new (temporary) friend, who goes by the imaginitive name of T42p. Say hi, T42p!


Well, OK, be like that. This yields a related question to one I have asked before. Instead of asking how much time it takes to take a fresh windows boxen and configure it into something usable for indefinite use, I now wonder what is the least one can do that make XP just tolerable enough that I don't through T42p out the hotel window when I get there. So far, I've concluded that Firefox and Putty are absolutely necessary, and everything else can wait till I get home. Quite possibly I'll discover that flash and something that allows real player content to be played in a browser will also be necessary, as I will inevitably find myself waking up at 4am local time unable to get back to sleep. Further updates are not likely to follow.


What a Thrilling Weekend

I spend most of the weekend reorganizing my stuff, with the result that everything is all neatly tidied away and thus impossible to actually find anything. I've also boxed up little mugwump2 for its trip to Texas to have a power supply issue repaired. Hopefully I'll manage to get a temporary replacement for my trip to Seoul next week, but I could possibly live without for a while. But, most of my chat and talk applications live on mugwump2, so don't expect to see my online on skype, irc, chat etc. for a while. Oh. You don't.

Well, in that case, send me your details so I can add you. Honestly.

More Mail Mishaps

Note: I have changed some details in this story, but for no particular reason. All the quotes used are verbatim.

As I mentioned before, I keep a Google-email address which is virtually my first name (plus one extra letter). As a consequence, I sometimes get messages that are not intended for me. Today's was probably the best so far.

I received an email from "Mature Mate Meeting" (not its real name), thanking me for registering with the website. How peculiar, since I had not registered with the site and indeed had never even heard of such a website. It must be, I imagined, given the name, a place for the more mature members of society to encounter personable companions for intellectual conversation and discourse, in an environment separate from the migraine inducing flashing colours that seem to delight the childish denizens of MySpace.

I debated whether to investigate further. Perhaps this was just a phishing style spam intending to get me to visit the site to disavow having enrolled. But, if it was then I was happy to doff my cap to these wily cheaters, and allow myself to be gulled just this once.

You can imagine my surprise when I connected to this web site to find that this site which claimed to allow Adults to Find new Friends turned out to be, in its own words, "The World's Largest Sex & Swinger Personals Community. Not so mature after all!

Going back to the email which had landed in my inbox, it congratulated me on allegedly joining this website (let me emphasise, in case there is any ambiguity, that I had not), and confirmed my username and password. Again, I pondered the possibility that this was all a very elaborate scheme to verify that a live human was reading the email (if someone were to attempt to log in with the details provided it would confirm human involvement and potentially launch a deluge of spam). But, my curiousity was piqued -- I am by nature a very curious person, as people who know me have often commented -- so I went ahead and logged in with the details given.

It turned out to be a sort of dating site, but with a rather different list of hobbies and interests to those one is wont to find on more mainstream sites. And the account I had appeared to be real: some idiot had set up an account on this website, but given my email address instead of his own. Of course, I had no choice but to ferret around for salacious details of this individual. Thus, for your delectation, I give you every detail I can find about this person (warning: contains some strong language and some unnecessary censorship of identifiable details).

The user name used is "gmoney" followed by four digits.

He describes himself as a man who wishes to meet a woman, or a couple (of two women) for "a discreet relationship".

He has filled in a profile, which reads as follows:

Looking for some new lady friends

Hey there! I'm a hard working man, enjoying what I have but looking for more. I'm your typical down-to-earth man, always treating people with respect and honesty. I get along best with people who want sex 24-7. For me a perfect date is one where we wake up even hornier than when we fell asleep. The philosophy I live by is always keep striving. Goals are checkpoints, not finish lines. I want to fuck all the good looking women in sight without worrying about what happens next. My friends call me a charmer who's always dependable. If you contact me bear in mind that I'm just looking for a fuck buddy, not a soulmate. I look forward to setting up our first rendezvous. I'm not changing my life, I'm just trying to make it more interesting.

Got that ladies? Sounds like a real catch! Just in case it's not clear what he wants, he helpfully clarifies:

Looking for someone to have fun with at dinner and out and about and have some great sex

Onto the physical details. He's very coy, preferring not to divulge any personal details about how to contact him. But we do learn that his birthday is in December, he was born in 1982, and he is 6 foot tall, and he lives in Snoqualmie, Washington State. Nice! Alas, he has not yet posted a photo, so I'll just have to log back in later to see if anything new develops there. In fact, apart from this, it seems that there is no further information about our new friend Gmoney.

But what's this? Despite only joining this afternoon, he already has some messages from other users. Both are automated replies from other users. I wish that I could recover the messages that he sent, but these do not seem to show up. So instead, I can tell you only that "amatuerporngrl (23F)" said "I wuill reply may not be today or even tomorrow but gimme some time". And "Shaved_001 (30F)" sent back "Thank you for your interest and response! I understand your anticipation....
I will reply back to you as soon as I can!
". How tantalizing! I guess I will have to keep logging in again for further updates.

Well, I must be supposed to read this, after all, the log in details were sent to my email account. Good to know that the Internet is being used to help all kinds of people get together and find new interests.