The ISA-Bus

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Weirdest Spam Ever

Thank you for your letter of April 17. After careful consideration I regret to inform you that I am unable to accept your refusal to offer me employment with your firm. This year I have been particularly fortunate in receiving an unusually large number of rejection letters. With such a varied and promising field of candidates it is impossible for me to accept all refusals.

Despite Acme Inc.’s outstanding qualifications and previous experience in rejecting applicants, I find that your rejection does not meet with my needs at this time. Therefore, I will initiate employment with your firm immediately following graduation. I look forward to seeing you then.

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Forget Steampunk, here comes Electropunk!

It is astonishing how close to a functioning computer our ancestors were in the 1830s. It is known by now that Charles Babbage‘s concept was sound, that his computer would have worked if he had had the necessary funds. His “Difference Engine” would have been mechanical, but electricity, too, was known far better than we are aware of. The electriy relay was invented in 1835, it was essential for the development of a world-wide telegraph network (morse code was developed soon after, the first transatlantic cable was laid 1858). In 1832, Hippolyte Pixii built the first dynamo based on the concept most electrical generators and motors still use. And in 1833, Michael Faraday first discovered the semiconductor effect.

There was a long time between this discovery and the first semiconductor diode, more than 70 years. But on the other hand, working vacuum tubes took something like 50 years too. If you’re into alternate history, it is not so entirely unthinkable that semiconductors might have been developed earlier and vacuum tubes skipped completely.

Another alternate history potential: Railroads. By the time Hippolyte Pixii built his dynamo, railroads were few and far between. They usually covered very short distances and were often mixed traction, both horses and steam engines. A bit less enthusiasm for building railroads, a bit more research into electricity, and steam engines might have been a footnote in engineering history, with electricity ruling the rails a century earlier. (An interesting side note: In 1903, an electric railcar set a speed record of 210.3 km/h. It was never broken by a steam engine.)

Forget steampunk, here comes electropunk!

The End of Minitel

I didn’t even know about it. A precursor of the Internet, sort of, launched in 1982 using standard telephone lines, it once had 25 million users in France but remained unknown outside. Now, it’s getting shut down.

On the Term “Mook”

Mooks were one of the new races introduced to the Wizardry series in Bane of the Cosmic Forge. In their outward appearance, they are shaped on the wookiees in Star Wars, otherwise they are a highly intelligent, technically advanced, curious and gentle race.

The term “mook” was not invented by the Wizardry team. It seems to have entered American vernacular with the Martin Scorsese movie Mean Streets in 1973, roughly with the meaning loser, someone who doesn’t count.

According to the Wikipedia disambiguation page, the term is used in game development for a group of enemy characters that are insignificant to the plot and simply there to be killed by the player. The difference to “mob” would be that mooks are specifically after the player, while mobs are often just roaming monsters. I’m not sure if this is true. In Daggerfall, for example, such groups of monsters are a side effect of many quests, but they are always referred to as “mobs” in the game data.

In Earthbound, the American SNES localization of Mother 2, there are monsters named mooks. They are stereotype 50s aliens with tentacles and eyestalks. This is a direct transcription of the original ムーク and may be unrelated to the American slang term.

In the year the Wizardry series came to a close, 2001, the term was somewhat revived by Douglas Rushkoff in an episode of the TV series Frontline entitled The Merchants of Cool for self centered simpletons in their teens or early 20s who live a drunken frat-boy lifestyle. The female equivalent is midriff. It seems that the term has been used more often since then.

Google is Great

Elsewhere, I wanted to make a post about Michael Moore but couldn’t remember his name. So I googled “fat liberal filmmaker.” The very first result was his Wikipedia entry.

Only 1.5 GB

I just got served an ad for some MMORPG saying, “Only 1.5 GB. Free download!”

And I remembered, how ten years ago, I sat up a whole night through, seven hours, to download Enemy Nations, a bit larger than 300 MB.

Another six years earlier, Blizzard had found it advisable to warn potential downloaders of the Diablo demo: “The demo is just over 50 mb in size. At 28.8k, it will take approximately 5 hours to download.”

Only 1.5 GB.

Times sure are changing.

The Origins of the Polandball Language

The origin of the Polandball language lies probably in reverse krautchan. It has long been a habit of krautchan users to translate common English phrases word for word into German without regard for grammar or semantics. “Deal with it” for example becomes “Handle mit es”, which in German makes no sense whatsoever.

The famous “Poland cannot into space” seems to have sprung from the reverse process. It is the word for word translation of a German phrase commonly used if somewhat colloquial.

Later on, however, Polandball language mutated into something more akin to what a Slavic native speaker with poor grasp of English would actually say. Just now I found this phrase on the English FAQ of a Russian site:

“What are you use to made it?”

Polandball lives.

A new flavor of the Nigerian scam

Okay, we’ve all got lots of these. But this one has a few new aspects:

Dear Friend

I know that you might be surprise on this mail, but I am telling you the truth. I know that it is against my official duty to release confidential issue like this to an outsider. There is nothing I can do to help you beside this, I am taking this bold step because of my belief as a Christian.

What I want to tell you is about your contract/inheritance and lottery payments with the Federal Government of Nigeria, there are a lot forces working against you right from the last CBN Governor Chief Sanusi and the immediate past Governor Prof Charles Soludo, they have been frustrating you by demanding upfront payment from you constantly, If I tell you that they are using all these money you sent to them to work against you, you might not believe it. But it is reality.

The rest is business as usual. But I don’t think I’ve ever had “forces working against me” before.

Facepalm, text mode

You’re familiar with facepalm, I suppose: Posting a picture of someone covering his face with his hand to indicate that you or someone else has done something incredibly stupid.

Captain Picard facepalm is popular facepalm

Now suppose you’re not on an image board, but on some forum where posting images is too much hassle or even impossible, think Facebook. Wat do?

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‘And Then There Were None’ by Eric Frank Russell

Came across this story again that I read a long time ago: And Then There Were None by Eric Frank Russell. Highly recommended if you like “alternate society” science fiction.