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24 May, 2004

The Spam Market Report

From the East Bay Business Times: New spam trends detected.

Financial spam is close to overtaking pharmaceutical spam as the most common form of junk e-mail, according to figures compiled by Clearswift, Ltd., a UK-based anti-spam software company with U.S. headquarters in San Ramon.

Spammers appear to be abandoning porn for more profitable offerings, Clearswift says. Pornography spam continues to decrease, reaching its lowest level since Clearswift began assessing the types of spam clogging mailboxes in June 2003 when it accounted for 22 percent of all junk e-mail. Now it accounts for only 5 percent of total spam, Clearswift clams.

Healthcare spam dropped from 57 percent of unsolicited mail in March back to 40 percent in April, with financial spam growing from 26 percent in March to 38 percent of total spam in April. It is the second straight month financial spam has grown -- it only accounted for 11 percent of spam in February.

Stay tuned for the latest spam market report.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Clapton's Guitars For Sale

If you've ever wanted to own one of Eric Clapton's guitars, this is for you. Crossroads Guitar Auction.

Following the legendary sale of Eric Clapton guitars in 1999, Christie's once again offers at auction a group of fine guitars that Clapton describes as the "cream of my collection." Proceeds from the sale are to benefit the Crossroads Centre that Clapton founded in Antigua in 1997. About Crossroads Centre >

Highlights include 'Blackie', the unique composite Fender Stratocaster, circa 1956, that Clapton played throughout the early 1970s until the mid 1980s; the 1964 cherry red Gibson ES-335, the second electric guitar he ever bought and the one most associated with his days with Cream; the 1937 Martin, 000-42, used extensively on The 'Unplugged' recording; and the Fender Stratocaster 'Crash 3' designed by famous street artist Crash and the first of Clapton's graffiti guitars to be offered at auction.

"Blackie," shown here, is expected to sell for $100,000 - $150,000. I would have thought it would go for much more than that!.

If a Clapton-owned guitar is out of your price range, consider buying the Christies auction catalog for $40. I bought the catalog from the 1999 auction, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's a very high quality 180-page book, filled with photos and descriptions.

I think I'll buy this one too.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Mother Maybelle's Guitar

From Reuters: Guitar Owned by Country Music's Carters for Sale.

One of the most famous guitars in the world of country music, owned by Mother Maybelle Carter and then her daughter, June Carter Cash, is up for sale.

The asking price is $575,000 -- quite a markup from its original cost of $275 in 1928, vintage guitar expert George Gruhn, who is arranging the sale, said on Monday. The seller is a relative who has chosen to remain anonymous.

The Gibson L-5 acoustic guitar was played by Mother Maybelle Carter on the classic "Can The Circle Be Unbroken."

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Menu Spam

One more reason I'm glad I don't live in New York City. From NewYorkish: What to Do About the Menus.

Those delivery menus under your door: They're there when you come home from work and when you wake up in the morning. And every local restaurant seems to have an army of menu guys, people who sneak up and down hallways to insure that your doorstep is covered with the colorful stacks of paper.

For most of us, it's a minor annoyance (most of us have more important stuff to worry about) but to others it's a major affront: A few years ago, the police had to intervene after a guy punched a restaurant worker in the face after he caught him slipping a Chinese menu under the door.

I thought we had it bad here in San Diego, but at least we don't get menu spam -- yet.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Top Referrers

Here's a list of the top 20 J-Walk Blog referrers so far in 2004. These are sites that have (or had) a link to this blog. Search engines, RSS feeds, and referrer log spammers are excluded.

  1. PC Magazine
  2. The Presurfer
  3. Geisha Asobi Blog
  4. Whole Wheat Radio
  5. Incoming Signals
  6. Burp
  7. Speedzone
  8. Singlung
  9. Oink!
  10. City Lights
  11. *.*
  12. Robot Filter
  13. Corsinet
  14. Grapevine
  15. Off On A Tangent
  16. Right Wing News
  17. Urgo.org
  18. SoAndSo.net
  19. The Dax Files
  20. In4mador!

Those who are inclined to do so, can compare this list to the list I compiled for 2003.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Japanese Handstands

Here's a Japanese site that has a collection of photos that depict people doing a handstand. The point? Your guess is as good as mine.

(via Octopusdropkick)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Art From Junk

Masks and sculptures at the Hypoint Gallery.

Jim Libby says:

The material in my masks consists of found objects. I only use weathered metal items that once were parts of implements used in everyday life, such as farm machinery, buckets, feeders, rusted metal from barns and various other types of scrap metal. The items are disassembled and the parts used to construct masks for aesthetic enjoyment and amusement.

Shown here is "Miss Firecracker," a $500 piece made from an old lard can, pie tin, scrap metal, wire and nails.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Increasing Lottery Ticket Sales

From the Watley Review: Virginia Schools Cut Math Classes to Increase Lottery Sales.

Current math requirements will be eliminated from high school in a bid to bring the overall level of math competency down to a point where purchasing lottery tickets would seem more attractive.

"Math skills are problematic," said Virginia Lottery Director Penelope Kyle. "Obviously, the ability of our population to understand the odds of winning and effectively manage their personal spending hinders the sale of lottery tickets

Thanks to Jan Jan Nordgreen for turning me on to the Watley Review -- a most excellent satire site. A few other goodies:

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Photoshop Tutorial

From Twisted Tree Photography: A Photoshop tutorial for photographers.

This is a very good tutorial. I use Photoshop Elements (the less-capable version of Photoshop), but everything described in this tutorial is exactly what I do to my photos.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Arizona Monsoon Photos

After experiencing about 20 years of boring Southern California weather, I'm looking forward to weather like this: The Arizona Monsoon, photos by Gene Rhoden.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Best Visual Illusion?

Here's my vote for the best visual illusion ever.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Impossible Objects

Photos of Impossible Objects.

Is it a puzzle or is it a magic trick? Impossible objects are difficult to classify. They really aren't mechanical because they don't move (usually) and you don't manipulate any of their parts to solve them. You just look at them and think. And they aren't really a magic trick. There's no performer, at least not when you're dealing with the object. But they have the same "how did they do that" quality that a magic trick has. The puzzle is to figure out how they were made.

For example, the one-gallon jug shown here contains...

...a pair of tennis shoes, a pocket dictionary, a tennis ball, a large pair of scissors (hidden from view), a pack of cigarettes (hidden), a large Turk's-head knot, a deck of cards with a rope through a hole in the center and a padlock going through a loop in the rope.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

The Office Weblog

For Microsoft Office fans: The Office Weblog.

Apparently, it's a new blog, and it started up on the 19th of May. I'm not impressed. Not a single word about Excel.

(via Scobleizer)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Tiredness

According to Knackerfactor, here is the formula for tiredness:

CDA + CD +KF = TMT

Pro Plus have taken time management to another level today by providing a new mathematical formula to predict the time of day when we will feel most tired. All you have to do is HONESTLY answer the following questions to find out the exact time you will feel tired at work and get a profile of your alertness throughout the day.

I took the test, with these results:

You will start to feel noticeably tired at 12:00 and you will feel most tired at 13:00.

According to my chart, I am never alert.

(Thanks Shallow)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Why Is That Baby Crying?

This little device will tell you why your baby is crying: Why Cry?

Why Cry is the first Baby Crying Analyzer that will s how you in a few seconds what is happening to your baby. Why Cry analyzes different crying patters and it shows you the prognosis when one of the faces on the front becomes illuminated.

This product was probably inspired by the amazing Bow-Lingual dog bark translator.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Gas Prices

Timothy Noah, at Slate, explains Why $2 Gas Is Amazing: Three reasons it should be cheaper.

Amazing Part No. 1 is that this is happening during the first time in history when the United States belongs to the international cartel that controls gas prices.

Amazing Part No. 2 is that this temporary colony of ours sits atop an estimated 115 billion barrels of oil, which, depending on who you ask, constitute the world's second- or third-largest oil reserves.

Amazing Part No. 3 is that, before the war began, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the debonair Saudi ambassador, assured President Bush that "the Saudis hoped to fine-tune oil prices over 10 months to prime the economy for 2004," according to Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack.

$2.00 per gallon isn't too bad. In San Diego, it's about $2.40. But it's still priced much lower than most parts of the world.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

100 Faces

Arturo Brachetti, born in Italy, is the "master of metamorphosis." And these photos of 100 Faces prove it.

Brachetti is considered the greatest quick-change "actor" in the world. Unlike a quick-change artist, Arturo incorporates reciting, magic, singing and dancing into his performances thus creating complete character interpretations with each transformation.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

The Sears Archive

Come see the older side of Sears: The Sears Archive.

For the first time, Sears has opened the doors to its vast archival collection and invited the public to peek inside. More than 100 years of stories, product and brand histories, photographs, catalog images are now available online.

Did you know that Sears used to sell homes?

From 1908-1940, Sears, Roebuck and Company sold more than 100,000 homes through their mail-order Modern Homes program. Over that time Sears designed 447 different housing styles, from the elaborate multistory Ivanhoe, with its elegant French doors and art glass windows, to the simpler Goldenrod, which served as a quaint, three-room and no-bath cottage for summer vacationers. (An outhouse could be purchased separately for Goldenrod and similar cottage dwellers.) Customers could choose a house to suit their individual tastes and budgets.

The Newbury model, shown here, was priced between $1,791 to $2,042.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

The Data Protection Act

Amateur photographer Sensiti, writes about his run-in with the cops regarding the Data Protection Act.

...You can't take pictures of people in the street.

Yes I can. Interestingly enough that is the law in France, but here in the UK I can.

It's against the data protection act. You must display a sign saying what you are doing.

What? Have a sign hanging around my neck?

What you are doing is against the data protection act.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Make Bill Gates' House

Print two pages, do some cutting and folding, and you have a model of Bill Gates' House.

Disclaimer: The model that you build may not look exactly like the photo shown here.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Get Motivated!

Steven Winn writes about his experiences at a motivational seminar: Overcome that gnawing fear of success! Seize your share of the American dream! You -- yes, you, ma'am -- can do it, at a one-day gathering that's equal parts boot camp, tent revival, pep rally and group therapy.

Apart from being the longest headline in history, it's an interesting read.

By serving up a self-referential belief system that was finally about nothing other than its own miasma of "success," the day radiated that gnawing sense of unease so many people feel now. These market-minded Get Motivated! hucksters were selling what people were ready to hear, at least for a day off from work in San Jose -- an escapist fantasy of personal empowerment and consumer comforts that would somehow create a shield against the very real and vividly imagined terrors of life in 2004.

Here's some free advice for real estate agents:

Never say "down payment," he instructed a class of 12,000 prospective real estate agents. Say "initial investment." Buyers instinctively balk at "signing" a "contract," he advised. But they're pleased as puppies to "OK, approve, authorize or endorse" the "paperwork, agreement or form."

Said one of the participants (who paid between $49 and $89 to attend the event):

"I feel like I've been trapped inside a live infomercial."

Yes folks, hucksterism is a live and well in the U.S.

(via Information Junk)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

A Check For Zero Dollars

Yesterday I was wondering what a bank would do if I deposited a check for zero dollars and zero cents. As it turns out, Snopes has an article about this: Zero Dollars and Zero Cents.

A zero-dollar check isn't going to cause any financial institution's computers to crash. If that were all it took, people looking for a few extra days before checks they'd written cleared their accounts (or pranksters merely seeking to wreak industrial havoc) would routinely deposit zero-dollar checks in order to bring banking systems to their knees.

What if you deposited a check for a negative amount? Would the money come out of your account.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

KaleidoDraw

I'm not sure why, but I like these type of things. This one is better than most: KaleidoDraw.

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Traffic Light Simulation

Control a small traffic light system.

Would you like to engineer the traffic light system for a one-way street that consists of several lanes along which rush-hour traffic flows?

How would you time the onset of green lights at the various intersection? How to promote the traffic flow? This java applet let you play with it.

I played around with this, but I couldn't figure it out.

(Thanks John Fleming)

Posted on 24 May, 2004

Ripping Off Ringtones

From The Mercury News: Do-it-yourself ringtone software encroaching on potential profits, some record labels say.

New software that lets anyone create unique cellular phone rings for free has some record labels worried it will kill the cash cow that is the ringtone.

The software, called Xingtone, evokes the same "oh wow, oh no'' reaction from the labels that greeted the original Napster. The fear is that people will make ringtones out of pirated songs, thus compounding the file-sharing problem while robbing the music industry of a new source of revenue.

I guess I'll never understand the fascination with ringtones. On my cell phone, I just pick the one that sounds most like a regular phone. Whenever I hear someone's cell phone ring with a song, I usually think, "what an idiot."

Posted on 24 May, 2004