May 26, 2004

Cecil Adams on Dim Mak

Is the "Ninja Death Touch" real?
Someone got around to asking big cheese Cecil Adams about dim mak. Looks like Cecil found the same sources I talked to back in 2002.

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Googlephrasing in Spam

I got a spam email this morning that made it past Yahoo Mail's pretty-good filtering. The email took the "insert random words to fool the filter" idea one step further and inserted seemingly random phrases:

>Decide that you really want to achieve the goal...
>INNOVATION is the process of turning ideas into manufacturable and
marketable form.
>Perfect behavior is born of complete indifference.
>No answer is also an answer.
>We enact many laws that manufacture criminals, and then a few that
punish them
>An honest man can never surrender an honest doubt.
>Weave in faith and God will find the thread.
>Sooner or later everyone sits down to a banquet of consequences.
>Government can be bigger than any of the players on the field as a
referee, but it has no right to become one of the players.
>We know nothing of what will happen in future, but by the analogy of
experience.
>Harsh counsels have no effect they are like hammers which are always
repulsed by the anvil.
>It isn't so much what's on the table that matters, as what's on the
chairs.
>All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.
>It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it
isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it.
>The essence of knowledge is, having it, to apply it not having it, to
confess your ignorance.
>You know more of a road by having traveled it than by all the
conjectures and descriptions in the world.
>I don't care how much you know until I know how much you care.
>Mere flimflam stories, and nothing but shams and lies.
>The original ''crime'' of ''niggers'' and lesbians is that they prefer
themselves.

Turns out these are all famous quotes. Do we have to stop parroting the work of great writers in our emails now, or risk getting flagged by an updated spam filter?

That last one caught my eye -- Google told me it's from the pen of Alice Walker.

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May 25, 2004

Hey, that was my idea!

My best friend and I are always concocting wacky business ideas. We've been doing this since grade school--although my ill-fated attempts at entrepreneurship back then were rather short-lived.

Like in the 4th grade, when my friend and I sold pencil drawings of TIE fighters and R2D2 to other kids for a quarter each. Nothing like capitalizing on all that Star Wars hype, right?

We made about $1.50 until the principal (I still remember her name: Elizabeth DeGarmo) made us stop. Our teacher, a really strict bastard who no one would fuck with because he could kick anyone's ass (he would show off TKD moves at recess) argued with her to let us continue. He figured, it wasn't like we were selling drugs, right? And, if other kids thought our Rembrandt impressions were worth 25 whole cents each, why not let them pay the money? Free-market capitalism lessons on the schoolyard. Funny how I don't remember the teacher's name, but he was right.

So anyway, Joe starts talking about how he wants to start up an online garage sale service--you'd go to people's places, pick up the shit they want to get rid of, give them an ok price for their stuff, then sell it all on eBay for more and pocket the margin. Uh, I say--that's being done. It's called AuctionDrop.com. :-(

Then I launch into my idea, which was to make knock-offs of the fantastically popular Design Within Reach inventory. Something that would be better than Ikea, but nowhere near as expensive as DWR. Like how much does it really cost to make a Noguchi-esque coffee table? It's just two pieces of wood and a piece of glass, right?

And of course, someone's beaten me to it. And they got a ton of free publicity for peddling Dreamweaver too.

Daaayyyyaaam!

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May 19, 2004

War Games

Guardian Unlimited - Chess! What is it good for?

Hit first, hit hard. That's what all martial artists strive for, isn't it?

These games, and other variations on regular play, led the team to a clear conclusion: being stronger and having more "battlespace information" than your opponent are both less valuable when there is little information available overall to both sides - but the advantage of a fast pace remains. "The value of information superiority is strongly tempered by uncertainty, whereas the value of superior tempo is much less affected," says Kuylenstierna.

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May 14, 2004

Sticky sites in Brick and Mortar Retailing

When I was a dot-com consultant, "sticky" was still an in-vogue term. What would keep a visitor coming back when there are just so many other cool things (Paris Hilton, beheadings, rotting meat) to view on the Web?

A couple of California retailers are taking the "sticky" idea a bit further--by handing out stickers to customers. Kudos to Trader Joe's and In-n-Out Burger. (Yum! Meat!) Nothing like free stickers to keep this dad coming back to the same store.

I'm sure many of my former dot-com Colleagues (capitalized to emphasize Scient-speak) wouldn't care, but for the father of a 2-year old, stickers are the bomb! It never fails to amaze me how a graphic on a slip of paper with some adhesive can keep a kid busy for so long.

And of course, each can be a self-contained advertisement that will be conveniently tacked up somewhere by the little kiddies. Not a bad way to get cheap dissemination and placement of an ad message, huh?

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May 11, 2004

Cool stuff: SAK with USB Memory

Image of Victorinox Swiss Army Knife with USB memory

Victorinox's new SAK with its built-in USB memory is going to be the geek keyring accessory of choice here in the Valley.

Most of us aren't taking the nerd birds to Seattle or Austin every week anymore, so we won't have to worry about giving up our knives at the security checkpoints. (Ok, maybe we're flying to Bangalore these days, but not every week like during the Boom).

I like the quote from Victorinox marketing director Urs Wyss:

We have about 35 mechanical tools on our different knives and it is becoming increasingly difficult to come up with new ones, he told swissinfo.

New electronic technology gives us more possibilities to develop our product line further.

What's next, Tasers? Boy, when teledildonics start getting better, watch out...

The Victorinox Web site has a great page on this new product, but uses an annoying keep-on-top JS function. I never knew the Swiss were so insistent that people conform to doing things their way. Click at your own risk: Victorinox press release.

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The Drug Delivery Man

Back in school I had a classmate who worked at Alza, the folks who developed the patch method of drug delivery--now commonly seen in Nicoderm. Sylvia, can you still dunk?

I was reading a lot of cyberpunk back then, and Bill Gibson was writing about patches used for all sorts of drugs--legit and illicit. I found Sylvia a cartoon for the "Weed Patch." Too funny.

I've always been facinated by this stuff. It's like a whole different side of engineering; the interface between man and machine and technology. Science fiction always picks up on these things and postulates how they could be used for good or evil.

Like in Kim Stanley Robinson's The Gold Coast, where the drug dealer character dispenses his designer drugs via eyedroppers. For someone who grew up watching kids get high smoking joints, this was out-there stuff.

So it was with more than idle interest that I saw Forbes' profile of the drug delivery man, Alejandro Zaffaroni. I knew about the guy from Alza, but Forbes described how he's now working on a "cigarette-inspired" inhaler for fast-acting drugs.

A quick Google search led me to Zaffaroni's "hysterical letter" warning Ronald Reagan of the dangers of smokeless cigarettes. Now this pro-tobacco site might consider Zaffaroni hysterical, but I say, the dude is probably right. His new drug delivery device kind of does the same thing, except with Maxalt or whatever migraine drug. But what if it could deliver ice or crack?

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May 10, 2004

Dude, where's my Spyderco?

photo of black-bladed Spyderco Delica folding knife title=
While on vacation last week I lost my trusty Spyderco Delica. Man, I felt naked. Luckily, we were just a couple of days away from returning home, so I didn't have to go Spyderco-less for that long.

Looking online, I see that Delica's have gone up in price. Almost fifty bucks? Sheesh! I should've stocked up when the old Zytel clip models were selling at $20 closeout prices. I like the Zytel clips better anyway, because unknowing folks always think it's a pager--not the telltale steel clip of a "tactical folder".

So I'm now on the lookout for cheap replacements. Something that if lost won't bother me (as much!) but would supply 80% (ok, 50%) of the Spyderco's utility. I'll report back when I get some samples.

In the meantime, I'm now trying different knives to rotate some of the lesser-used ones into circulation. Today it's the Endura. Tomorrow, probably the Ryan Model 7. Kind of weird, though.

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