To all spammers: GET A CLUE!!

This is an amazing time in the technological world.  For the first time in presidential elections, the internet allows you to fact-check almost as soon as the words are out of the candidate’s mouth.  No more can politicians say something really dumb and then try and deny it was ever said (since the mp3, YouTube clip, and numerous Twitters have spread it across the web).  Public records are not only available to the public, they are finally accessible!

And, like with everything else that hits a massive surge, we have moronic advertisers who try and cash in on it.  That in itself isn’t so bad (hey, it’s capitalism!).  What’s bad is the fact that they try and do it with automated scripts.

Just a few years ago, the public was all in a tizzy because of browser cookies; little files that save on your computer that track where you’ve been.  The fear was that if sites know where you have been, you’ll have no privacy.  This was by design, as cookies help your browser remember your passwords, form data, and personal settings.  However it also meant that anyone with advertising related cookies could also track what you were looking at the post and target you for specific email and banner based advertising.  If you went to a lot of gaming sites, you’d start to get gaming e-mails.  If you went to a lot of porn sites, well, you know.

In the end, people gave up on the fight against cookies when they realized how much easier they made web browsing.  Fast forward to today, and we have Twitter.

Twitter is a service that allows people to sort of just shout out into the internet whatever happens to be on their mind at the time.  You can follow just a few select people, or you can view the entire worldwide queue as it updates (sort of like the “Party Line” of the 80’s, where everyone is all talking into a phone at once).  It’s a fun little service that can be relatively harmless, so long as you don’t start broadcasting really personal info.  However, somewhere, some marketing exec had the idea that they could get free market research by simply filtering through the Twitter queue and looking for specific keywords.

Makes sense, in theory: You want to know what people are saying about the new Toyota Prius, so you search for the word Prius.  That in by itself is actually really smart; you’re not bugging me with a survey, and you’re likely to get more accurate information!

Then someone in advertising got ahold of the idea and gave it to their evil half-brother in the spam industry.  Suddenly you have these scripts scouring EVERYTHING on the web and linking your Twitters, blogs, MySpace, Facebook, forum posts to whatever crap they are trying to sell.

Anyone who can read knows that these links are automatically generated and have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand.  Schmidty gave me a perfect example when he looked up his own daughter’s name.  Not a single one of those “reviews” has anything to do with the actual product!  Stolen Droids’ own spam queue is perpetually filled with horribly coded comments from bots who try and pass themselves off as interested readers (if I approve the comment, they link back to their host site to provide potential traffic).

Some of these are pretty well worded:

“Hey, I found your post when I searched for {whatever}.  I’ll look around the rest of your site, but it looks really interesting.”

Those I have to actually follow the link back to what they list as their homepage before determining if they are legit or not.  Others are a little more obvious:

“I loved your post on %subjectname% here on %blogname%!  Can you tell me more?  Come visit my site %authorname% and we can talk about it!”

What, is the web suddenly a Windows environment editor?  

Currently, SD seems to be permanently linked to a site is about “Adult Party Games” simply because of our post about Never Winter Nights.  Simply by having the word “game” in the title, it somehow qualified to be added to their list of “friends”.  

So, in an attempt to hit as many lists as I can think of (in an effort to both annoy spammer scripts and maybe generate hits) I’ll be filling my tags for this post to see what we get!

Really Good, but Overrated

Recently the film Righteous Kill was released in theaters. Now let me start by saying that I’ve not yet seen it, I’m planning on it, but not yet. It stars two actors you may have heard of; Al Pacino and Robert De Niro. These two are widely acknowledged as two of the “greatest” actors of our time. Since this movie was announced I though, “Yeah they’re good, but are they really the greatest?” I’d have to say no.

As I write this I have IMDB open in another window and am looking at their filmographies. While both have some truly brilliant films in their repertoire; Raging Bull, Serpico, Godfathers 1-3 (yes I count 3 as brilliant), Awakenings, and Scent of a Woman etc etc. I probably didn’t list some that you may enjoy, but between the two they’ve acted in round about 100 movies. However while they have many great films, there are lots of bad movies among the list where they both seem to only be playing themselves, or some variation on themselves. I realize that many actors, in fact many of my favorite actors regularly play the same character over and over again. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but if we are going to call someone “Greatest” then they should really earn the title.

Now if I’m going to say they are not, as any strongly opinionated geek should I’m going to give you my pick for “Greatest” His name is Gary Oldman. Now stop and think about this for a second…….. Have you thought? Good. He has himself been in, according to IMDB, 59 films. These cover a wide range, and in each he plays a totally different character. Off the top of my head I don’t think I’ve ever seen and interview with him, and thanks to his wide range of work I have no idea who he actually is. Think about these films; Harry Potter, Batman Begins, The Professional, The Fifth Element, Immortal Beloved, Romeo is Bleeding, True Romance, Dracula, J.F.K., and Sid and Nancy. Some you may have seen, and some not. But think about the films that I’ve listed and for one try to think about who he played in each film, then compare them and see how many similarities there are. You won’t find many.

Here is his IMDB page for reference.

If variety is the spice of life, then it should also be a good measuring stick for greatness.