Sometimes I just don’t understand

What is with people and “reply all?”

I’ve been using email for quite some time, but I wouldn’t say I’m an email expert. In all of my years, I have never mistakenly “replied all”. Somehow many of my peers, sometimes even tech-savvy role models are able to send a private reply to a public mailing list.

I just don’t get it. In Eudora there are three buttons: reply, reply all, forward. Are people just not dexterous enough to hit the right one? Am I missing something? I’m just irked for humanity.

Perhaps nothing more than noise

A few nice points about the ongoing (monotonically increasing?) epidemic of spam (thanks Tom). Two notable quotes:

  • Seth Godin, marketing guru, at an event organized by DoubleClick: “spam is spam, and spam has no future.” But banner ads are the path to enlightenment? Wha?
  • David Ritz, an antispam advocate: “If you say something once, it’s speech. If you say the same thing a few hundred times every day, it becomes nothing more than noise.”

I think a more appropriate statement is: if one person says something a few hundred times a day, it’s nothing more than noise. If a hundred people say the same thing one time, it’s a contagious meme. Google taught us that.

Use the blog, Luke

They’re challengers to the throne of Google“: a nice slant on weblogs taken by Emergence author Steven Johnson, heading in many speculative directions that I’ve been considering lately as well. Webloggers are organizing the web, but we have yet to take full advantage of their work. It’s just a matter of time before we figure out how to take weblogger’s work ethic and translate it into a tool for the masses (link courtesy of Nick, discussion at

Scavhunt 2002.. get it on!

Assemble a group of your friends, and try to collect as many items on this year’s Scavenger Hunt List as you can. Every year I went to the University of Chicago, I watched my friends renege on their lives for 72 continuous hours, only to come up 15 points short of the winning team.

Sucks for them!

Among my favorite items this year (thanks Cory):

10. The destructive power of rock: have a guitar ensemble play any of Slash’s 3 solos from “November Rain” in perfect unison (personally, we prefer the third solo on the album, but we’ll settle for the first). [60 points per guitarist; 5 guitarists maximum. 10 bonus points will also be awarded on the basis of your destruction: in other words, your ensemble must rock so hard that they break open some sort of glass container with their sound waves. It will not count against you if your guitarists are dressed as ninjas, which are cool. And by cool, we mean totally sweet]

31. Passport stamped by all three axes of evil. [333 points. 33 bonus points if it also contains a stamp from “occupied territory”]

36. Fuck this “liberal arts” hippie shit, I want practicality. Bring us diplomas from Comiskey College, Hamburger University (bonus for a major in hamburgerology), Clown College, Digipen, Hard Beat University (bonus for specialty in bass), and of course, the School of the Americas. [50 points per school]

177. Three members of your team must attend the Blue Man Group performance disguised as your choice of either yellow, green, purple, or orange men. [30 points. 145 bonus points for getting on stage]

Wireless ethics

So I took this apartment thanks to good wireless capital in the neighborhood, and now that I’ve got an antenna, I’m leeching bandwidth from someone on my block. It’s not new to me; I’ve been stealing wireless since I plugged in my 802.11 card one day and discovered that I could.

But at my last apartment, in the student slums of Cambridge, the wireless network was named Nethack Inside, which I took to be some MIT students (or local anarchists). No harm done, right? I’m using up a bit of my wireless karma, but in the long run, I’ll probably give it back.

The ethics here at my new place aren’t so simple. The network is named default (which is better than My Network, I guess) and the street is populated with beautiful Victorian houses. With families. I’m not so sure Mr. and Mrs. PTA would be so excited to know that I’m stealing packets from them.

So here’s the dilemma: is it better to speak up now, or just cry a lot if they find out? Approaching them might ensure me access indefinitely, but it might also freak them out. I can just picture their faces when the cops raid my place and find antennas and wires and pringles cans. “Yes ma’am, it appears you’re the victim of reckless wireless larceny and network trespassing. Don’t worry though, we’ll toss the book at this one.” Ugh.

Gettin’ crunk, sponsor style

It’s sponsor month here at the MIT Media Lab, which means bringing out the dog and pony for all of our corporate benefactors. If I was paid by the number of times that I said “blogdex,” “news” or “weblog” today, I’d be on a plane to Cuba right now counting my retirement fund. But no, I only get paid a flat fee to say these words a million times a month.

Well, at least we get free beer. At least three times this month. Mmmmm.. free beer.

A Reminder in Disguise

I support public radio. That is to say, I listen to it, but in my tax bracket find it hard to give anything back. Whenever my local NPR station is pledge-driving, it irks me to listen to them repeat the same lines over and over:

  • “This station is funded by you, the listener”
  • “This is just an example of some of the quality programming on this fine station”
  • “For a pledge of $x, you will receive a complementary y”
  • “Supporting community radio is supporting the community”

And the list goes on. The uncanny familiarity comes from research in the area of effective pledging, and NPR stations are proof that the techniques work. But WBUR here in Boston is using a new tactic: piggyback on a popular holiday.

Every time they come on the air to distract you from your intent radio listening, the preface their practiced pledge-jargon with “This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and what better than to support your mom (and public radio too).” At first I was appalled and the underhandedness.. I mean, taking advantage of helpless mothers? But after an entire weekend of relentless pushing, I see the light: for those of us who can’t pledge, we get free reminders, every hour, on the hour, that Mother’s Day is next Sunday. 6 days until Mother’s Day. Don’t forget your mom, she’d be sad. Thanks WBUR, I won’t this time.

First blog in my new home

Just unpacking things here at my new house. It’s my first time living alone, quite a liberating feeling really. Unfortunately, the wireless isn’t as good as I thought it was; I have to hold my laptop above my head at a 45° angle to get any signal at all. Until I get an antenna, that is. Muhahahaha.