Category Archives: Asides


I was recently in Las Vegas for a library conference. “Gaming” means something rather different in Las Vegas than in our world. One of the evening events was about (tabletop) gaming. I wonder how many people were disappointed after arriving at an event labeled as a night of gaming at Caesar’s Palace.

: Zubon

…and whether that was intentional.

Vocabulary 2

This comic happens. There was an old Gen Con sketch from decades ago in which a couple of gamers get arrested after recounting their game of Top Secret (an old spy game) without considering their surroundings.

In Ingress, folks occasionally need a reminder to watch how they phrase things. You are not going to “go blow up the Capitol” or some churches. Leading “an attack on campus” is borderline. Going on a “gardens (or zoo) raid)” is probably abstract enough to be safe.

: Zubon

Vocabulary 1

In the Plants vs. Zombies games, you use walnuts in place of walls (pun intended), with variations like tall-nuts and infi-nuts. You will see other vegetables like butter-flinging corn (kernelpults).

This leads to odd descriptions of games. “I was flinging so much butter, they never even touched my nuts.”

: Zubon


xkcd explains how a fake entry in Wikipedia gets repeated elsewhere then cited as support for the fake entry. There is, you might guess, a Wikipedia page on this phenomenon, although it does not cite xkcd. It does, however, cite an article just published on the subject. This article links and cites the Wikipedia page on the phenomenon.

I really want that to be a prank at a higher level of recursion.

I would also like to note that “circular reference” references circular reporting, which references circular reference. Disappointingly, self-reference does not reference itself.

: Zubon

Spam Update

The flood continues. I was gratified to see spam comment from a gold-selling site, which is at least on-topic. If you post a comment that does not appear for a while, feel free to shoot me an e-mail, because we may be getting trigger-happy on the “yes, that’s spam” button.

This week, one of the spammers must have noticed that none of the comments were making it through, so they tried to brute force through the login link until I was locked out. And if the default for suspected spam were not “wait for approval,” that might have even let some spam links get through.

It annoys me at times that links from posts on this site to other posts on this site require approval as possible trackback spam, but given the ratio of real comments to spam seeking moderation, I am becoming tempted just to have all comments require moderation before appearing.

: Zubon

I cleared out the “potential spam” folder before writing this post, and more arrived before I was done with the first paragraph.


We have been getting a flood of comment spam lately, and I am tempted to post about how we, in fact, have the lowest prices on the assorted products being advertised, but I’m scared that having those keywords in a post will summon more comment spam seeking SEO links. Heck, I’m scared that “lowest prices” will do it, the way that old posts observing that people found Kill Ten Rats through Google searches for porn led to more people finding Kill Ten Rats through Google searches for porn because “porn” was in a recent post.

I just did it again, didn’t I? Maybe the spam will become more interesting.

: Zubon

Automating Your Intelligence Away

Or, “An Open Letter to Bill Carr, Vice President at Amazon Prime Instant Video.” I woke up to the following e-mail:

Make the Most of Your Prime Membership

I’m sending you this e-mail because you are an Amazon Prime member who has not yet used any of the video benefits that you’ve already paid for. …
[explanation of Instant Video]
Bill Carr
Vice President
Amazon Prime Instant Video

This is one of the dangers of using automated algorithms and letting your staff sign your name to form letters. From the first sentence, this is false. I am using Amazon Prime Instant Video. I have not used any of the paid rentals, which is presumably what their algorithm keys off, but I have watched several movies and TV shows using Amazon Prime. So their algorithm is broken and is sending false messages that condescendingly explain to customers how to use a service they are already using. That’s amusing or annoying, depending on your mood at the time, and I hit “reply” to let Amazon know they have a problem with their algorithm.

Greetings from

You’ve written to an e-mail address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. …

Hmm. Mr. Carr, not only is your staff signing your name to form letters from a broken algorithm, they are then sending them from an account that does not accept replies, creating an informational black hole that keeps people from correcting the problem. You have an “unknown known”: your customers are e-mailng you to let you know about a problem, and your customer service system rejects it unless they follow a link to a web form, and I don’t know what happens from there because why would I go through extra work to help when they just rejected my help and I could just hit “delete”?

Okay, one last try, let’s forward the whole exchange to “”:

Greetings from

You’ve written to an e-mail address that cannot accept incoming e-mail. …

A hard part of working for a large organization is that someone else’s division can sabotage yours in ways you won’t even find out about through normal channels. And sign your name to it.

: Zubon

Accessibility and Excellence

Popularity is not a guarantee that something is either good or lowest common denominator crap, but it sure is profitable.

Pop music is heartbreaking cuz I’ll write a lovely visual poetic piece and then have to tear it apart and dumb it down. Writing for the masses is a bitch sometimes.
Bonnie McKee

Bonnie McKee’s first album was surprisingly sophisticated and had almost no commercial success. It remains one of my favorites. She then went on to write pop hits for Katy Perry and others, with sales four or more orders of magnitude higher than her own. Ms. McKee learned something that Blizzard did: accessibility drives sales.
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