I get a lot of spam. I'm on a lot of mailing lists. My email address is very public. I can't change it because its my primary way of getting work.
Over time, you get to see the spammers try new tricks. More and less text. Misspellings. Ads that look like text but are a big image.
The latest trick of the spammers is to put much extra text into the mail message.
The goal is that the message payload (you know, "penis enlargement", "viagara" or
"business proposition") are invisible to spam filters, since there's so much more distracting text to get in the way of the bayesian analysis. It's a kind of weak steganography.
For a while, the spammers were using just random free association, but today I've started receiving a whole lot of spam that contains excerpts from Cryptonomicon. How did this choose that particular book?
A few movie reviews
While Suzy was in Florida, I decided to catch up on a few movies. In addition to a few decent Samurai flicks, I finally checked out Jet Li's Unleashed. If you are a Jet Li or martial arts fan, check this one out. The action sequences were brutal and energetic, and the editting allowed you to actually see what was going on ... nice long takes that rely on Jet Li's incredible abilities. Jet Li's character, Danny, fights completely differently than Jet Li in other films ... less aristry, more craziness, and startling speed. It also had the biggest fight in the tightest space I've ever seen. Sure the movie had weak points ... the plot was outrageous, it had the ultimate action movie cliche (the fight-to-the-death gladiator gambling club) and was really two movies shoehorned together (the middle half of the movie, where Danny is "adopted" by a family and comes out of his shell). Still a fun watch.
Another top flight martial arts movie is Ong-Bak: The Thai Warrior. This movie's star, Tony Jaa,combines Jackie Chan's acrobatics with the speed and power of Jet Li, and is a credible enough actor for the non-fighting scenes. Definately up and coming. This was a low budget film shot and editted with a lot of nerve.
A follow up for Tony Jaa, Tom yum goong, has a small number of great action sequences, but misses the mark. It is tricky pushing the level of excitement without passing that point that undermines the suspension of disbelief. Long, long, long takes are great, but it is nice to have story to link them together.
Meanwhile, at the local martial arts film revival, I was able to catch
The New One Armed Swordsman and
Legendary Weapons of China, two
films featured in the documentary Chop Socky. Alas, they looked much better as highlights than as full movies; tedious, silly, poorly scripted, badly editted. Especially in Legendary Weapons, the skills of the performers were completely undermined by every other aspect of the movie.
Finally, I rented Requiem for a Dream, which was very well shot, well acted, well scripted, well editted. Just plain powerful. It's a big cautionary tale about drugs destroying several people's lives, but was put together with a real nervey edge to it.
I've finally gotten around to uploading a huge backlog of photos over the last four to five months. I'm only part of the way in. I'm using flickr, and only uploading medium resolution shots (though I may upgrade to "pro" and start uploading the full size images).
Flickr organizes photos into "sets" and uses a very nifty Flash movie to display each set as a slideshow. Click on a photo to interrupt the show and see some details.
Long time ... no blog
Been a while since I've posted on this blog; things have been oh so very busy in Howard-land. First, some quick movie reviews:
V for Vendetta: Well, of course it falls
apart in the last reel, and of course they weren't true to the book, and parts are just silly, and V isn't crazy enough, and ... it was still good. Natalie Portman is honest to god good in this movie (in fact, she's been good in the few non-Star Warts things I've seen her in).
Inside Man: Spike Lee manages to make a straight forward bank heist movie into something quite unexpected. Yes, there's the expected resentment of Powerful White (Wo)Men but Spike keeps it tense and interesting. Strangely, "flash forwards" to the aftermath of the heist manage to not unravel the tension. Also, the movie's title turns out to be dead accurate, and not in the way you'd think.
Other news ... I'm speaking at this year's JavaOne conference again, but from there Suzie and I will be travelling on to Hawaii's Big Island for two weeks. It's actually our first non-work, non-family vacation since our honeymoon (outside of a week in Portland a year ago that kicked off our move).
We'll be in Boston for my cousin's Bat Mitzvah; arriving on April 27th and returning to Portland on the 1st. Catch everyone then!