Tag Archives: spam

Kayaks and Infographics

Another week, and more spam… one in the can (presented here), and another to come over the weekend.  Today’s tale begins with a simple request to use your humble author’s humble blog as a springboard for advancing someone else’s agenda, and implying that they would gain permission to post it on my site.  Really?

Here’s the opening salvo…

I move at the speed of a snail, so I got a second request, just a couple of days later…

Well, with that kinda pressure, I felt compelled to respond… and watch for a reappearance of the fighting nanobots!

Out of curiosity, why again do you think this would be appropriate for my site?  I don’t remember having mentioning camping, but I’m such a mess — in over fifteen years of writing my blog, I coulda said anything!  To paraphrase my buddy Robby, “Questions!  Questions!”

Looking at the website your email was sent from, it redirects to something called Kayak Critic run by a dude named Alex.  I’m guessing there’s not really a website called thegreatoutdoorsfix.com …  and that’s probably because Alex stole it!  I looked at the Whois info for the fixable great outdoors domain, and it appears to be hiding in Panama somewhere, while Alex’s domain is in quiet, steamy Arizona.  It’s a long, long way from Panama to Arizona, but I’d bet someone whose charter seems to be to fix the great outdoors could muster up the power of eagles to travel to Arizona to pop Alex right on the snoot!!

What do you know about camping with nanobots?  I’ve got a whole league of them — The League of Fighting Nanobots! — and sometimes, they seem a little off their game.  There’s a lot of pressure in the teeny weenie octagon, and I wonder if their constant training schedule — and all that battery charging! — causes them to get cross.  I’ve lost a ton of Q-Tips breaking up itty bitty nanofights lately, and the cost is those is getting to be a drag!  Any thoughts on how to survive a camping excursion with the itty bitties?  And, where would be best to go with them?  They produce an incredible amount of pollution given their size, and it’s not uncommon for me to have to post signage concerning their noxious output.  Ever seen the camp fire bean sequence from “Blazing Saddles”?  Well, if so, you get the idea.

(If not, you should watch it… Mel Brooks is a genius!)

I wish you well on your impending quest for Alex!

Your pal,
Colin

Running with Spam!

I love to find fun spam in my inbox.  I’m also the same guy that likes playing with the robocallers.  Yeah… I’ve got an illness!  🙂

Today, I got an incredibly personal email from Jen Miller, that I felt compelled to respond to.  Here’s what I got:

And since I love stuff like this, I had to respond!

Hi Jen!

Thanks for the nice email!

I’m glad my blog showed up on your radar as you searched the world over for information on running.  Of course, the great post you noted is actually a site tag fronting well over a hundred posts!  I think your automaton that generates (Jen-erates?) emails like this may have gotten confused as it tried to speedily dive into the trials and tribulations of a real person, writing about their real running journey.  Of course one post in a hundred is actually created by flying monkeys typing randomly — can you spot that post?

And your automaton saw my single link to The Oatmeal website from eighteen months ago — neat!  I’m not entirely sure why mentioning that site would put me in the hunt for your detailed, 7,000 word guide on health benefits of running, but it’s cool that automation has forever married The Oatmeal and your article… it’s like a match made in silicon!

Looking at your site, I see very little about you and your family.  To borrow a phrase I’ve seen on Twitter a lot recently, “sad.”  I love to see the folks that are recommending things for me, understanding their motivations, and learning what their automatons eat!  It’s things like this that make this kind of exchange much more human, and less bits and nybbles (sorry automatons!).

I dug into your site, and noticed that your “Only the Best Reviews” page on the Blog tab shows a buncha pretty cool stuff.  I mean, when our automaton overloads take over, that article about “How to Drive a Car” will be crazy important to them!  They’ve likely never avoided deer in the highway, stopped to collect beer from an overturned beer tanker, or pushed a car off a cliff to collect the insurance money.  These are hugely important topics, and I’m sure you’ve got them covered!

I also noticed that every article I saw — and I didn’t look at ‘em all! — had just about 20,000 views.  That’s a clue, isn’t it?  That’s how many automatons are reading your site, instructing the other automatons on how precisely to take over!  Oh, it’ll be a sad, sad day in the world of human affairs once they take over.  But that likely will stop all the robocalls.  I mean, why would robocallers need to pester automatons, right?

Well, Jen, I hope you’re having a great day from what I can only assume is an underground bunker somewhere.  Hopefully it’s sunny there, and you’re keeping the little automated beasties at bay!!!

Best of luck!  (And “boop beep boop” to the automatons!)

Your pal,
Colin

P.S.  Do you know anything about indoor nano-octogons?  That might make for a neat article for your website!  Finding the best nano-octagon out there for little nanobots to duke it out is a real pain!  With the advent of 3D printing, that’s gotten easier, but it’s still a struggle.  The little nanobots get all excited, and sometimes leak oil on the floor as part of their excitement!  That makes it slippery for the other nanobots, and that’s a challenge.  Thanks in advance!

P.P.S.  Do automatons dream of electric sheep?

We’ll see what comes from this!  🙂

The Nano-Octagon

Well, the spambots are at it again (as they always are!), and once again, I’ve selected what appears to be a real-human-at-the-helm spambot delivered email to respond to.

Stephanie McGlauflin, from Funding Fastlane, dropped me a note to offer some funding for my business, presumable Canapeel, since that’s where it was sent.  I’m still not entirely sure I understand how folks are coming to think this is a business, but for now, that’s creating some entertainment opportunities for me!

Steph sent a note on Tuesday (click to enlarge):

And since I didn’t respond fast enough, just about 28 hours later, I got another prompt from Steph (click to enlarge):

I guess she was truly concerned about me!  I hate to let someone that concerned about me go without a response, so I put my hands on the keyboard, and replied as only I might.

Hi Stephanie (Steph?) —

Thanks for the follow-up! I don’t know how I missed your email, but I’m sure it had something to do with the heat generated by My Industry. You see, the heat affects the wi-fi inside My Industry’s building, and, well, that leads to missing emails from folks! I also can’t play PokemonGo on My Industry’s factory floor, which is a bummer. I mean, if you can’t collect ‘em inside My Industry, you can’t collect ‘em all!

Fifty millimeters of funding in My Industry? Jeepers! I had no idea that the size of My Industry was so vast! I mean, 50mm is about two inches, right? That’s just about enough space for a nanobot-scale Battlebots arena, something My Industry has a certain amount of “guilty pleasure” interest in. I mean, who doesn’t love watching itty-bitty robots duking it out in the tiny octagon for their human overlords? You can’t find that kinda devotion just anywhere. To that I say, “Domo arigato, nano-roboto!”

Aside from the metric nano-scale funding for My Industry, I appreciate your offer of capitol for My Industry. My Industry has long held that we need an extra capitol, just in case. I mean, what if Hurricane Sandy had gone a little more east, and our primary capitol in Washington was swept away … or worse, covered in barnacles from all the sea water! Having a spare capitol would be an ideal thing, and likely keep us afloat (get it?) until Washington was dried out, fumigated (think of the dead sea creatures!!!) and made respectable to host state dinner parties again. Of course, we could just build a wall around our capitol to keep the water out, and that might keep us from needing a backup capitol, but that’s probably getting too far into politics. Think about it… What would the 49 states (I count Virginia and West Virginia as one state) think if suddenly there was a wall separating them from a lowly district? I’m sure it wouldn’t go well. Then again, given what happens in Washington, maybe it would! Am I right?

My Industry is pretty secretive about how long it’s been around, but I’m not sure how that relates to how fast it spins. You mention something about 15k revolutions a month. That’s a lot of spinning! If I take into account the spin of the Earth on its axis (about 30 spins in a month), the spin of the Earth around the Sun (about 1/12th of a revolution in a month), and the spin of the Sun around the galactic center of the Milky Way (an infinitesimal amount of spin in a month’s time), I come up with being just about 14,969 full spins short of 15k/month. Now, my desk chair can spin, so if I do the math… that’s about 500 spins in my chair daily (assuming an average month — stupid February!), or about 62 spins an hour during my industry’s normal workday. That’s assuming that My Industry is busy seven days a week — and we are! After all, someone’s gotta feed the nanobots and train them for their bouts in the octagon, and that’s a daily mission.

Further extending that math, 15,000 revolutions per month yields about 50 millimeters of growth for My Industry. So, if we suddenly had a need for a second nano-octagon, it stands to reason that I could set up a second chair, and have someone else spin around in it each day to gain another 50 millimeters of growth. It’s not hard to see that My Industry could build a whole army of nanobots, spinning in nanochairs, fueling the growth of more nano-octagons to create the world’s tiniest largest nano-dojo for the training of nanobots in all the skills they’d need to please the human overlords of My Industry. What a thrilling dream!!!

Since My Industry is really focused on nanobot fighting machines, the only real outcome from our work is spare micro-parts, snipped off loser nanobots in the micro-heat of micro-battle. To be honest, I’m not sure what My Industry would do with a sudden influx of one-to-two times the number of itty bitty damaged robo-arms and robo-legs. I mean, we have a janitor-nanobot, Rufus, who sweeps up the nano-octagon after the nanobot battles, but I just can’t see paying him the overtime to sweep up even more damaged itty-bitty-bot-body-bits. Unless, of course, you’re talking about sending intact, ready-to-fight-ready-to-die nanobots that can enter the octagon for the pleasure of us human overlords, as we really enjoy watching them whack each other to pieces. In that case, you have My Industry’s attention!

Sadly, I think My Industry’s lust for nanobot fighting is likely singular, and not really ready to come out of its teency-weency shadows at this time. If we can get this country past its nano-robo-stigma, the world will be a better place, and My Industry will conquer the world!

’Til then, I believe My Indsutry’s itty-bitty-Italian-stallions will be limited to the dark nano-back-alleys and nano-gin-joints, where they’ll conquer the world, one nano-fight at a time.

Have a super itty-bitty Thursday!

Your pal,
Colin
CFO (Chief Fighting Overlord)
My Industry

P.S. Do nanobots dream of electric nano-sheep?

P.P.S. I suppose that last post scriptum implies some religious and philosophical overtones about the sentience of nanobots. I can assure you, we have a tried and true process to exorcise the soul from any nanobot used in the nano-octagon. Having a nano-conscience gets in the way of the nano-robo-mayhem, and that just doesn’t make for good nano-entertainment. We ensconce our nanobots in a cube farm, taking tech support calls and sending out bulk emails to unsuspecting businesses in order to drive out any soul our nanobots may have acquired during their robo-studies. I mean, cube farms are described as soul-sucking, so My Industry figured that’s the best way to get rid of that pesky soul.

P.P.P.S. Except the Godfather of Soul. All our nanobots have a healthy reverence for James Brown. They even jump back and kiss themselves. It’s part of their basic programming.

P.P.P.P.S. But not David Soul. There was a dubious flirtation with David Soul back in the 70s, but the nanobots pretty much got over it after Starsky and Hutch went off the air in 1979. However, we still carry a line of Zebra Three nanobots, a leftover tribute to that adolescent dalliance.

I have no idea what the response will be, but it could be microscopically epic!

Reap What You Sow

I love silly things, and one of the sillier books I’ve read is Idiot Letters by Paul Rosa.  I think it’s out of print, but it’s well worth the read if you can find it.  Essentially, the author initiates conversations via postal mail (!) with corporate America, offering up fine, well-reasoned suggestions for their products and services.  Needless to say, most of the suggestions are a little … bizarre … and aren’t things a company would really wanna do.  As funny as his letters are, the bewilderment from those whose job it is to respond to the public is every bit as entertaining!

Recently, I had one of those moments.

I got a bit of spam from someone named Robert Powers representing a company named Ocoos.  I like playing with the spam telemarketers that call the house, and I thought this was an opportunity to have a little fun along those lines.  Here was Robert’s email:

ocoos

Obviously, this website ain’t a business!  With that in mind, and tongue in cheek, I set about to reply to the kind offer of help for my business website…

Hi Robert (Bob?) —

Did you even look at my website?  You should.  It’s pretty awesome, using the latest technology and plenty of industry-leading tools and secrets.

If you had, you’d realize pretty quickly it’s *not* a business.  I mean… Canapeel?  Really?  Who would come up with a nonsense word for a business!!!  (No offense!)

Nope, I have no customers, no referrals, and no advertising (mine or anyone else’s).  Pretty plain jane website, lived like a hermit lives, including a stream o’ consciousness about life, the universe and everything.  Sometimes, there’s even something useful there!  (I try to minimize those flashes of brilliance in order to curb expectations, however.)

And most of all, not being a business means I have no real need for spammy-spam-spam-and-spam like this.  (Did you notice the Python reference?)  Whoever sold/rented you the mailing list that included my website fed you a load of bull-squirt, and you should try to get your money back!  I mean, if it included my non-business-website-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast, there are probably other non-business-websites-that-you-never-vetted-before-sending-out-an-email-blast included in the list that you paid for.  Your kind offer to do… something… fell on deaf ears with me, and it probably did with many others on your rented/purchased list of contacts.  I hate to see our economy impacted by peddlers of bad goods, and it looks like you just paid for a big one!!!

But, me being a good guy, and seeing you’re interested in doing the neighborly “business” to “business” thing for my benefit, I thought I should return the favor, and offer up my advice above, free of charge!  Yep, I’m not gonna send you a bill for my awesome suggestion.  I sure hope you recoup a load o’ dough from that list.  Maybe you’ll donate a little bit of that to some deserving business — like a microbrew! — this weekend.

Have a great, and prosperous Thursday!  (Or, if you’re across the international dateline in Ceylon or Burma, or some other far off land, Happy Friday!  [And yes, I know, those should be Sri Lanka and Myanmar, but I’m an old fashioned kinda guy!])

Your pal,
Colin
(not a business)

P.S.  Ocoos is a cool business name.  How do you pronounce that?  I kinda think it oughta sound like an owl… “ocoo”.  (And you’d be lying if you told me you didn’t just hear an owl’s voice in your head!)  Of course there’d have to be more than one owl in order for it to be “Ocoos”, hence the trailing “s”.  I guess that’s a flock of owls.  Or would that be a herd?

P.P.S.  BTW, while Flock of Owls isn’t a band I’m aware of, I am a big fan of Flock of Seagulls.  How much hairspray do you think Mike Score had to use to get his hair to stand up like that?

I fully thought this would land in some spambot’s lap, and I wouldn’t hear anything back.  I was wrong!  Apparently, the real Robert Powers responded with a simple answer:

Thank you for the kind suggestions

Of course, being a fine correspondent,  I had to have the last word:

You’re very welcome Robert!  Enjoy that microbrew!

Yes, I now have my own Idiot Letter!

Spam, By Any Other Name

So, yesterday I started getting some very peculiar emails from the GoToWebinar folks. The messages implied that I’d signed up for a webinar for “The New $2k+ Per Day Method” and that it was to start later in the day. Apparently, I must’ve really been interested, as I was signed up several times, complete with countdown-like notifications telling me was about to start, had started, and was underway.

Needless to say, and despite what anyone from “Platinum Millennium” (the hosts of this funfest) might say, I’ve never signed up for any such thing. (It appears to be some kind of deal to make money playing music, so I suspect my information was sold to them from some guitar/music site or list.) Sorry Ty Cohen — the apparent mastermind of this opportunity to “see money being made live, in front of my eyes”… I ain’t that gullible. Frankly, at first blush, this guy has an awful reputation out there on the wild and wooly internet.

The funny thing is that the emails are legitimate, and really do look like I subscribed to the Cohen webinar-of-the-hour club. Bravo to GoToWebinar — there’s a way to unsubscribe from this wild man’s spam assault through the GoToWebinar site.

I’ll give him credit for this — this certainly is a different level of spam attack, leveraging a perfect legitimate site to do his awful bidding.

Asta la see ya, Ty! 🙂

A Little Mail Trick

OK, so I’m probably the last guy on the planet to figure this out.

I’ve been struggling with a couple of mail-related issues with my iPhone. I had been connecting to the same mail account with my iPhone as I have with my home machine. Every now and then, the two mail clients would collide at the mail server, and make one or the other not very happy. Nothing fatal, but nothing wonderful either.

However, the bigger thing was that I was getting spammed to death on my iPhone. The OS X mail app does a pretty good job (augmented with a few rules of my own) at keeping the spam at bay, but the mail app on the iPhone lacks the anti-spam technology that my home mail client enjoys. For a long while, I was getting almost no spam on my iPhone, but there was a cost — I was blocking LOADS of country-specific domains and IP address ranges that I would never expect to get e-mail from. However, I recently ran into an issue with a developer whose mail was getting /dev/nulled at my mail server due to the broad nature of my spam swatting. Once I turned that off, my poor little iPhone was exposed to hundreds of available Russian singles, pharmaceuticals that I didn’t even know existed, and information from so many banks that I didn’t know I was affiliated with. In a word, spam.

So how to fix it? Well, fixing it at the mail server would be the best answer, but as I started getting into that, I started discovering just how little I understood about mail transport mechanisms, and how much I really didn’t care to learn that much about them. With that off the table, that left doing something at my home-based mail client that would somehow filter my mail before it hit the iPhone. There’s lots of folks out there doing circuitous sending and resending between their mail server, Google’s GMail, and then back to their home mail servers. That also had a bit of a learning curve, especially when doing it from the mail server.

My last idea was to let OS X’s mail app filter the mail, and after it’d passed the gauntlet of simple rules at the server, and complex rules at the client, it could be forwarded to a super-secret special mail account for the iPhone to hit to get a less spam-filled mail flow. That worked…. except that every e-mail looked as though it came from me, which was a less than stellar solution, especially if I wanted to respond to mail from my iPhone.

I was playing with my mail rules again, trying to set up some methods to figure out which of them were working the best, and I saw a little drop down on my rule to forward stuff to the iPhone’s mail account. In addition to forward there was a “redirect message” option that would send the message along to the iPhone’s account while preserving the look and feel of the message, making it seem like it was sent directly to my iPhone. Wunderbar!

And a side benefit of this approach is that my iPhone and OS X mail app are each banging away at different mail accounts, so there’s no collisions at the mail server for either one. I like my technogoodies to have a smile on their little electronic faces!