Spam Names

I get a lot of spam emails. A lot. Most of them I never see due to my spam filter, but recent email problems meant I had to sort through them by hand. During this dull process I noticed that, as always, spammers disguise their real names with phony ones. But I also noticed that some spammers are getting a bit more creative and apparently using some sort of random access to a database of names/words to make up an endless variety of fake names.

Some of the results are quite goofy and Goonish/Pythonesque. Some recent ones were:

  • Eight R. Straggles
  • Stratagem B. Shipyard
  • Fatalist H. Faraway
  • Grunt P. Foreclose
  • Beards T. Lively
  • Gamma F. Transfusion
  • Constance V. Barrage
  • Swooned H. Stimson
  • Resettle D. Outrigger
  • Dogcatchers G. Abbess
  • Checker G. Canards
  • Balminess Q. Crawl
  • Threatenings L. Chortle
  • Sandy L. Gasping
  • Flap C. Kerouac
  • Nonfiction H. Miraculously
  • Shrieking P. Delano
  • Superficial I. Incumbent
  • Dillydallied H. Yevtushenko
  • Heliport S. Persecuting
  • Handgun H. Deficient
  • Churlishness H. Folk
  • Striker M. Vistas
  • Denver G. Commonwealth
  • Discotheque H. Artificer
  • Appeasement E. Percolated
  • Injection V. Brenda
  • Projectile S. Scuzzier
  • Feting U. Deleterious
  • Stereo Q. Sectarianism
  • Infringement R. Swampiest
  • Hesiod A. Probationer

The ones in bold are the ones I like so much I’m going to try and use them in a script or even in conversation. Such as “Wasn’t that written by the poet Grunt P. Foreclose?”, or “Wasn’t he killed by the gangster Shrieking P. Delano?”.

Multi-Touch Interaction Research

When two friends on opposites sides of the country independently emailed me links on the same day to the same cool video clip, I knew it must be worth checking out. And it is – it’s a demonstration of “Multi-Touch Interaction Research – a touch-screen technology based on a “frustrated total internal reflection sensing technique” (no, I don’t know what that means either). But check out the video demo at either of these two links (same demo, just different pages).

Multi-Touch Interaction Research at their NYU home page (its downloadable there), or:

Streaming version at YouTube.

The future of computing? Maybe – It would breathe new life into the tablet PC market I bet. Especially if they can get the system to be able to determine which finger you are using at any time, so that commands/modes can be mapped to certain fingers. I can see this one day making the computer mouse look as cumbersome as punched paper cards.

UPDATE: But not everyone agrees that it is a useful technology – see the discussion on the demo here. Personally, as a Wacom tablet user/lover, the uses for this are quite obvious to me,and there will doubtless be less obvious uses and improvements over time (the computer mouse did not always have a scroll wheel).


Oh. My. The TACMAV. Oh. Yeah.

A foldable, electric model aeroplane that can both fly around under direct remote control or fly itself guided by it’s own GPS, while filming its surroundings using two colour video cameras, all fed back to a toughened tablet-based computer.

I want one!

Note, the first image on the page, despite its size on the page, is actually a very large image and will take time to download on some connections.

Google Maps

Thanks to slashdot I’ve just discovered Google Maps. An amazing repository of digital satellite images that cover the whole globe (not all of it in great detail). You can zoom in, drag the map around with your mouse, and it all seems to load pretty fast.

Searching for Australian cities and areas seems broken, but manually dragging the map around can find some interesting (to me) locations. Such as my old school, where I live now, where I teach, my favourite Brisbane park, and, just for kicks, some pyramids. If this sort of information is available for free to the general public, what must the military and secret services have access to?

Make Your Own South Park Character

Click for a larger image of South Park SkevHeh – a website where you can make your own South Park character. Lots of options for customising your character, and the results really do look like they came from an episode of the series. I guess the image at right is what I would look like if I was a child character on South Park. (click the image for a larger version)

UPDATE: Please note – the link above leads to an external website. I have nothing to do with that site and I did not create the South Park Character maker flash program. I just thought it was cool, so I linked to it.
To be able to save images of your south park creation

  • press the “PrtSc” key on your keyboard. This takes a screen shot of your screen and places it in memory.
  • Then paste the screen shot into your favourite image editor (photoshop, Gimp, etc), or even into your favourite word processor (Word, Open Office Writer, etc).
  • Then crop/trim it till you just have your character.
  • Then save it to your hard drive.

There does not appear to be any built-in saving feature on the site.

1 September 2005: Link updated.

22 April 2006: Update added.

19 September 2007 : Link updated again.

Time Travel Convention

Here’s a cute idea from one of the boffins at MIT – hold a time travel convention! After all, you only need to hold one convention as time travellers from all ages could attend the one event, as long as they found out about it. So now everyone is supposedly spreading the word so that one day in the future, time travellers will see the invitation and decide to pop back to 2005 to attend. I found the link via Instapundit.

Here’s an idea – anyone with an identical twin sibling could have some fun. One of you show up ot the time travel convention looking normal and sane, but complaining about how few people there are attending. Then your twin rushes in wearing a futuristic suit and tells there other self “You fool, the convention is in another parallel universe, not this one, they are waiting for me… us!”, and then rush out.

Fascinating Election Maps

After the US election, I looked at the numbers for the results and saw that they were actually quite close, then looked at the results shown on a colour-coded US map and saw a lot of red (Republican), especially if the map was colour-coded by county. I knew that many of the areas where Kerry won (blue) had a denser population, but it was hard to see this on the maps that every TV station, newspaper article, and web site were showing.

These US election result maps are different to the ones you’ve probably seen. They scale the actual shape of the US to reflect each state’s or county’s population. All of a sudden the closeness of the election is made clear in a simple, if twisted, graphic.

One Map and One Cart of the 2004 US Elections

I wonder if anyone did anything similar for the Australian election?

Super Nerd

I like The Onion, it’s a funny site. But when I read this short article entitled “Nerd Has Most Obscure Crush Ever” it caught my eye. The article starts:

    JACKSONVILLE, FL—The unrequited nature of area nerd June Manzo’s crush on actor Peter Tuddenham, who provides the voice of piloting computer Slave on Blake’s 7, is only slightly more agonizing than the process of explanation she must put herself through every time her media obsession is discussed.

And at this point I thought to myself, “Surely, if she had a crush on Peter Tuddenham, it wouldn’t have been for his Slave voice in particular, as that was only one of the characters he gave voice to, a character that only existed in the final fourth season. Surely she would have developed her crush because Tuddenham also, and more famously, did the voices for the original ship’s computer, Zen, in the earlier seasons, as well as the voice for the portable super-computer Orac throughout the whole series (well, except for Orac’s first episode, where the actor who played Orac’s creator did the voice).”

Then I started to wonder if the author of the piece knew of this error and only put it there to entice B7 fans out into the light. At this point I realised that thinking all this, even knowing this information, meant that I was a bigger sadder nerd than the fictional Ms Manzo, so I went to bed.