October 8, 2004

Bulk view

Typhoon

A typhoon is supposed to hit our area tomorrow, so I’ve taken the
precautions of removing my clothes from the balcony. There’s no use
leaving them out to dry in a storm, after all. =)

I’m glad a few teachers live close by. Our Saturday morning classes
will push through. All of the students and at least one teacher are
residents. Productive use of one’s time.

I just hope the weather clears up in time for our Fuji trip.

Halloween coming up

Looks like people are gearing up for Halloween. I’m looking forward to
seeing the costumes. Fortunately, the 31st is a Sunday. I think I’ll
go to Harajuku. Heck, people cosplay there on _normal_ days.

I was tempted by some of the costumes in the shops, but I don’t think
I’ll be able to justify that expense to myself. I don’t want
to have to find ways to fit a frilly Chi dress into my luggage, no
matter how much my Chobits-loving friends would like to see me in
something like that…

LAZYBONES

The lambanog-soaked farmer snored, lulled to sleep by the carabao’s
steady rhythm as it navigated the muddy trail home. The coarse, broad
neck of the carabao pillowed the man’s head as he mumbled insults and
curses at drinking buddies now far away. The carabao plodded on.

Sleepily swatting the hitch-hiking flies away, the man shifted onto
his side, for a moment dreaming that he was at home on a nice soft
bed—which is why he was unable to avoid an undignified fall when the
carabao tripped on a tree root.

Covered in mud, he shook a fist at the carabao. “Watch where you’re
going! Worthless piece of… If you don’t shape up, I’m going to eat
lengua!” With that, he clambered back onto the carabao and nudged it
with his knees.

The carabao refused to budge.

He nudged it again, sharply. “Move! I’m going to give you a kick in
the behind if you don’t!”

The carabao took a few steps backward.

“Lazybones!” He jumped off with a muttered curse. The carabao munched
grass, unconcerned. He drew back to deliver a powerful kick, but
missed. Alcohol-addled senses may have failed to register the
carabao’s snort, but bruises showed the carabao had much better aim!

(In response to flashxer prompt “Motivation”: You want motivation?
Okay, okay. How about a kick in the behind if you don’t get it done?
Is that motivation enough, or do you need even more vigorous
persuasion?)

On obfuscating e-mail messages

Responded to a thread on PLUG with http://lists.q-linux.com/pipermail/plug/2004-October/037001.html:

> Unfortunately, there is evidence that spambots have gained in
> 'intelligence' (if one may call it intelligence), and can interpret
> or somewhat be able to decode text-spoofed email addresses-- hence
> the 'last resort' of using images and/or JavaScript encoding.

Bah. Then let them decode said text-spoofed e-mail addresses. We're
the only ones suffering from this arms race as the Internet becomes
harder to use. ;) For the record, I don't mind simple CAPTCHAs, but
(a) sometimes the image versions are so distorted I can't read them,
(b) sometimes the implementation is just plain buggy, and (c) the
audio version usually sucks.

I still hold that obfuscation is relatively useless unless you're
_really_ sure that your e-mail address will never be posted anywhere
in public.  That means making sure _everyone_ who knows your
e-mail address is well-protected against viruses and worms, will never
send you e-postcards or sign up for those birthday services, will
never post your e-mail address on an unprotected site, and will never
To: or Cc: you on mail for people who can't be trusted to follow the
same restrictions. So now we're back to the social problem. Similarly,
you also trust that sites with your plaintext e-mail (they have to
have it _somewhere_) won't get compromised.  Bit of a long
shot, isn't it?

Incidentally, wouldn't hex be ever so easy to decrypt? Here, let me
demonstrate that in Emacs. url-unhex-string is in url-util.el, but you
might be able to find another function somewhere else.

(url-unhex-string "%53%65%65,%20%45%6d%61%63%73%20%63%61%6e%20%64%6f%20%65%76%65%72%79%74%68%69%6e%67%2e")

Arms race. Bleah. 

> I agree. In a spam-ridden email world, however, accessibility is a
> tough thing to fit in.

I'd say that accessibility is more important than spam, and shouldn't
be left as something to "fit in".

I'm probably just spoiled by Jijo's excellent spam-handling, the
ability to do really funky scoring and filtering on my computer, and
the calm assurance that mail was never meant to be a lossless medium
anyway.

E-Mail%20to%20Philippine%20Linux%20Users%20Group

More uncharacteristically business-y thoughts

The inner marketing geek resurfaced in an e-mail to Sean.

By the way, I’m not recommending being insincere. I’m just
recommending looking for good stuff. =)

Tip for effective selling, which you probably already know but which
I am writing down anyway because it’s good exercise for me: =)

Make the people from the other company believe they’re special. Make
them feel that you’ve heard about them before and have been looking
forward to working with them. Of course, you don’t want to be _too_
much of a suck-up, because then the deal might become disadvantageous,
but a little flattery doesn’t hurt. =) Check out the company’s
reputation. Companies like thinking that they have a reputation (good,
of course). This kind of background research also helps you figure out
what designs might appeal to your clients, what kind of information
they need posted.

It’s hard to do that kind of research on the Net, considering your
clients usually haven’t gotten around to making a website yet. So how
did they find out about us? Probably through good old-fashioned
networking. Because of the high turnover in the advertising industry,
some of the people working at the web design company I recommended had
probably worked with us on projects before. They might’ve looked
through our promotional literature, or at the very least know people
who know us. They mentioned stuff that wasn’t on our website, but
which characterized the company. That was their edge. Adphoto didn’t get a
generic presentation—or at least Adphoto didn’t get a presentation that
_felt_ generic.

If you have a particularly important deal to close, learn as much as
you can about the other company. That way, you can make them feel that
you aren’t just giving them a generic template. You’re custom-building
something that fits their company. You understand how they think, how
they work. You know what they need. They can trust you.

Your research doesn’t have to be exhaustive. You just have to know
more than they expect you to. Find out what they’re proud of, and
bring it up. Find their good points. Who are their clients? If you can
find out without them knowing that you found out, well and good. If
not, you can ask them if they can name a few clients so that you have
an idea of their audience. Remember to be a little impressed. =) It’s
easy to be impressed when your client has big clients, but don’t
forget to look for something to compliment even when you’re working
with a small company. <grin>

This is like the magic a good cover letter can do for a resume. It
probably won’t save a horrible resume, but a good, _personalized_
cover letter can make a difference when two people’s qualifications
are roughly equal. Make your clients feel good. =)

In the end, you _can_ still base your designs on generic templates,
but I suspect that a few well-placed compliments and mm hmmms will
make your clients feel they’re special. When you have happy clients,
they’ll not only use you for larger projects, but also happily
recommend you to their friends. <grin> You know that already, though.