I’m working on a web project that requires a little teeny “warning” icon for users who don’t enter their credit card information properly. Lacking such an icon, I did a cursory search of the web and got a kick out of the Big Scary Laser warning sign. Too bad I can’t use it on the site…


The airlines suck.

Everyone knows that their pricing model is some form of black magic that no mortal can comprehend, and the prices you get for tickets vary based on, I don’t know, rainfall in Peru or something. But this was a first for me: the price of my ticket jumped $25 while I was purchasing it!

I was in Travelocity, making my reservations for a jaunt to a business meeting in California, and got the message shown below. Holy cow.


Today’s fun spam subject line:

Database containing a list of every registered domain and email in the world for sale!

The message goes on to brag about how they have every .com and .net domain in a big list (generated with their special “whois extraction software”) and of course some 600 million e-mail addresses. Whee!

1) It’s illegal to extract information from the Whois database for marketing purposes.

2) It’s illegal to run repeated, automated queries against the Whois database at all.

3) The 600 million e-mail addresses are undoubtably generated by adding common names to the domain suffix, such as “info@domain.com”, “webmaster@domain.com”, “jeff@domain.com”, and so on. In all likelihood, a huge majority of them are going to be invalid… not that spammers really care.

4) The message comes from someone named Mike Luthan, whose e-mail address is roy.durrands@telinco.co.uk, and who tells me in the message to write to him at sales@bulkemailmarketing.org. Hmm, I wonder if Mike is his real name?

Argh. The whole spam thing is so idiotic, and so wasteful of time and bandwidth. One wonders if these guys really think they’re doing the rest of the world a service peddling their wares. In the end, I suppose the people who we should really blame are the scores of morons who actually buy the stuff… without them, the business model would collapse. But when one of every hundred thousand spam recipients buys the product, the other ninety-nine thousand of us have to suffer.


Alex got a really cool toy from Aunt Kathy. It’s a set of little colored magnetic rods and a box full of marble-sized steel ball bearings. The fun begins when you take them and assemble them molecule-style into all sorts of fun shapes. The kids and I spent a solid hour tonight building and having fun with the magic of magnetism.

Of course the mathematician in me came out, and I built a little icosahedron. Sweet.


Last night we went over to hang out with some friends in the neighborhood. Since they live about three streets away, it seemed reasonable to walk (which we always do). Unfortunately it was a bit chilly last night: below zero, in fact.

In scientific circles, this is known as “booger freezing cold”.


‘Tis the season for Christmas cards.

As usual, Laralee and I are sending cards to pretty much everyone who’s anyone, which includes about 150 friends and family. I’m also sending the usual cards to my clients, and this year that’s about 40. Yikes.

Of course, when you’re looking at making and mailing nearly 200 cards, you’re also looking at pretty much anything that will streamline the process. Instead of buying cards at the store, printing a Christmas letter that no one really reads, and then writing in all those cards (even if it’s as simple as “Hey, Bill, hope you have a good one!”) we decided to print our own cards. No letter this time– just lots of fun pictures. No signatures– they’re scanned. Buy some card stock and some half-page-sized envelopes, and you’re in business. Print, fold, stuff, stamp, send.

It’s sort of sad, really, to consider how much of an assembly-line process it’s become. But at the same time, there’s simply no way to give all of these cards the personal attention I’d like. Thus, when I was stuffing all these cards late last night (Laralee was feverishly wrapping gifts), I felt a twinge of guilt. But only a little twinge.