Always Learning!

The world through the prism of my mind

Archive for the ‘Weird Stuff’ Category

Spam comments in esperanto?

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on December 28, 2006

Most of the comments to this blog are – unfortunately – spam. WordPress’s Akismet filters them out and I periodically review and delete them all. I don’t know why I bother, but once I had a real comment black-listed, so I keep making the effort. It is also semi-interesting to see how the spam attacks changed over time from automatic to semi-manual looking efforts.

Today’s  collection had a comment that gave me a double take. It went like this:

–strange junk–
vi fartas?
–spam links–
G^is revido

Which is obviously esperanto for ‘How are you’ and ‘See you later’ (though I prefer x notation myself in Gxis revido).

So, what happened there? I can see three options:

  1. Esperanto speaking spammer who decided to switch the ‘hello’ text upon seeing an Esperanto category in my blog
  2. Automatic software that looked for all blogs that mentioned Esperanto with hopes that the ‘less frequent’ language will not trigger spam filters
  3. Some sort of automatic spam algorithm picking out greetings based on the content of the blog; if that’s the case, the fact that somebody bothered adding Esperanto to their list is – in a perverse way – a cause to celebrate

I don’t think I will ever find out what happened, unless the original spammer comes back and comments on this post with the answer. Still, it is a food for thought.


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Borders’ confused attempt at selling Russian books

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on October 13, 2006

A new Borders bookshop opened near me. Just for fun, I decided to look at their Russian books section (in original Russian). I expected to find none. The result was much stranger.

There were two books on the shelf. One was something non-memorable. The other one, however, was Nobokov’s translation of Alice in Wonderland. So, what’s the problem? Nabokov is well known and Alice in Wonderland is always a great read in any language.

The problem is that Nabokov wrote this book using old Cyrillic alphabet that has letters not in use since 1918. I remember being told of those letters as part of school education, but have never met anyone actually able to read a book using them.

So, given that the book can only be read by researchers studying old Russian, why would Borders chose to use its shelf space for it? Was it trying to out-compete Amazon in the long-tail strategy? Not likely. My guess is that somebody in Borders’ sales office was tasked with chosing Russian titles to put on display and – not knowing any Russian – decided that one cannot go wrong with Nabokov/Alice.

The funny thing is – I was tempted to buy the book, exactly because it was such a non sequitur in the context of maximising profit in the already-failing physical bookstore business. So, maybe this was a brilliant decision after all, given the lack of shelf space to appeal in any other way.

I just wish I knew what really happened there.

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Strawberry Fields Memorial for July 16th

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on July 25, 2006


I don’t normally go very far uptown in Central Park, but this time I did. So, I discovered the Strawberry Fields Memorial to John Lennon. Aparently, it often has flowers and candles. This time (July 16th), it also had muffins.

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Music making machine

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on June 26, 2006

If you like programming and/or pattern-based music, do not follow this link.

I had ignored someone’s identical advice and 20 minutes of my life is now gone. So, I pass on the advice, in the hopes that others have more resistance than me. 🙂

If you are week of spirit however, make sure you are alone in the room or at least have the headphones on. And do try all the buttons and switches.

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Umlauts can crash and burn your (virtual) world

Posted by Alexandre Rafalovitch on March 21, 2006

A pretty funny story from the game Second Life illustrating what happens when the USA-based virtual world developers only think they know the issues of internationalization (i18n for the geeks in you).

Next time I am logged-in, I will try typing in Russian and see whether that will do the trick as well. I wonder what the good phrase will be? Maybe ‘Проверка боем…..’

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