Discover cards

On May 13 last year, we got a fairly hefty packet of junk mail inviting us to apply for Discover cards. Inside was a plastic replica card. We got another one on May 18. And two more on May 25. And another on May 27, followed by one more on May 28. After that, things settled down a bit. Another offer on June 15, then a final one on August 8.

AOL patent IM

AOL patented Instant Messaging. In 1997. It is hence painfully obvious that the US Patent Office either isn’t concerned with prior art, or lacks anybody with any knowledge of computer systems before 1997. I’m not sure which is more depressing.

Army Of Losers

I’m getting increasingly annoyed by the amount of money and resources AOL wastes trying to get me to subscribe to their service. The latest gimmick is that they’re not just sending me CDs… they’re sending me CDs in a metal tin, decorated with an American eagle and a border of stars, styled like a US coin or something. It’s the most appalling waste. I mean, let’s be clear about something: If AOL was the only Internet Service Provider in the world, I’d set up a BBS for my friends or arrange a UUCP feed for my e-mail.

Bizarre viruses

I just got e-mail from a random AOL account containing nothing but a small JPG of a woman giving some guy a blow job. Looking at the raw text, it claimed to be a .WAV file, but had a .SCR extension; and it was sent by some sucker on a cable modem in Canada. No virus code, as far as I can tell. These viruses are getting downright bizarre.

Brill’s Content

[Inside] reports that it and Brill’s Content are to close. Blame is assigned to personality clashes, economy downturns, too many editors, and so on. The simple truth, however, is that Brill’s Content sucked. It was a great idea, and the first few issues were good. Before long, though, it became obvious that it was a big club newsletter for Steve Brill and his friends—there was a fawning interview with Steve Case of AOL, MSNBC was picked as Best Internet News Site (a truly laughable assertion), and so on.

An insane day

I got in to work, and my boss passed me in the hallway and said something about terrorist activity and a plane hitting the World Trade Center. I thought he was talking about a little Cessna or something, so I got in and sat and started on my coffee, glanced over my e-mail, and then hit the BBC News web site to see what was going on. I soon had the live BBC News video stream going, and sat watching it in disbelief.


Banner ads don’t work. Everyone knows it. The online advertising industry, however, doesn’t want to admit it. Just a few days ago there was a big meeting of members of the Internet Advertising Bureau—a self-selected group of big web sites and ad banner hucksters, including Yahoo, AOL, DoubleClick and Excite. These towering intellects have decided that the reason ad banners don’t work is that they’re not big enough. So they’ve decided on some new standards for ad banner sizes.