September 2003



Downloadable movies payable by SMS

Netkino offers movie downloads from the Web that are paid for with a text message. Sounds cool, huh?

A movie costs just over five euros and is viewable for only 48 hours. I don’t know what I was thinking to be so disappointed—that you could keep the movie forever?—but still, five euros? For 48 hours? Blah.

Ilya

Scrambling the letters of words

Joi Ito notes that English is readable if the letters of words, except the first and last, are scrambled. It works in other languages, too, but nearly as well. English is also quite legible even if vowels are dropped. Finnish, which relies less on whole word recognition, is much harder to read when scrambled or vowels are dropped. Jamie Zawinski has written a perl script that scrambles words.

Ilya

Q&A’s are bad

Interview of Douglas Coupland in The Morning News. And another one in Guardian. I just recently discovered author interviews on the Web. They’re more interesting if you’ve read the author’s works. Powell’s collection is great. I especially enjoyed Chuck Palahniuk’s interview.

It’s funny to see so many interviews conducted in Q&A format. A journalism teacher of mine once said to me that the Q&A format is garbage. That anyone can do it and that it’s pretentious. Journalists shouldn’t write themselves into their stories, she said. Not unless they’re Hunter S. Thompson.

Ilya

Orwell says

Reading up on William Gibson’s blog archives—I haven’t been following any blogs and only just today heard (well, read) that he’s kicking the habit to (be able to) begin real work—I chuckled at Orwell’s rules. Very strict. I wonder what Orwell meant by “sounding outright barbarous.” Is he talking about four-letter words or everything that sounds inane? His rules remind me of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style.

Ilya

General semantics

When perusing through Helsinki’s second best used book store this summer, I picked up slim paperback called The Use and Misuse of Language, edited by S. I. Hayakawa. Paging through it quickly, I assumed it was about English usage and grammar. When I started reading it today, I was surprized to discover it’s about general semantics. Read more

Ilya

ICQ and evidence of infidelity

I’d rather not, but I do finally download ICQ. I check out the reviews to see if anyone complains about this version of ICQ killing their computer. These things do happen, from time to time, on Windows computers. I have painful experiences.

Instead of warnings of PC-killing tendencies, I find a brief but heart-warming exchange of two strangers, one in need, and the other reponding.

PHYLLIS In NY: “I want to catch my boyfriend cheating online! Anyone know of a good spy software??? HELP!!! I need a spy software that will secretly logg what my boyfriend does on ICQ...”

LOISLame69: “SPY SOFTWARE they have a cool program called "ICE Remote Spy" on download.com!”

This is what the Internet is all about.

Ilya

WAGNC#7 slammed by critic, loved by this would-be editor

Jack Saturn’s book-length issue #7 of his zine We Ain’t Got No Car is reviewed by a local Portland newspaper. The review slams the book, but it did offer up a few placating words of Saturn’s “obvious talent.”

I thought the book was great. The writing could’ve been tightened up in places—this was clear even to my soft eye—but as a whole I found it both entertaining and inspiring.

I have to admit: that I noticed phrases and sections that could have been polished and hardened was in itself a joy for me. I identified with “lower-case jack”—the name the reviewer gives the main character—and I like to think that he’s taught me something, too.

Ilya
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Beared souls

caught together