TV shows about computer games are, as a very reliable rule, terrible.

So when I read on Rock, Paper, Shotgun that "X-Play's review of X3: Reunion single-handedly validated that show's existence", I had to check out said review.

I wholeheartedly agree that X-Play did not miss this wonderful opportunity to grab the Kha'ak with both hands.

(The people who made that game are German, but the game has voice actors in it, for Pete's sake. So I can't help but think they must have done it deliberately.)

Animatronic Austrade oobleck

I recently had to edit my Firefox persdict.dat file to remove a misspelled word which I'd added to the dictionary by mistake. It's not very hard to edit the dictionary, but Firefox apparently provides no graphical-interface way to do it. This is a bit of a pain for "normal" users.

(Note: If Firefox is still running when you edit the dictionary, it'll keep rewriting the old version of it over the corrected one.)

Aaaanyway, this gave me the chance to view my personal Firefox dictionary. I found it entertaining:


Full disclosure: The above does not include several Commonwealth-spelling words which I'd added to the dictionary because I hadn't yet switched to the English-Australian dictionary.

Changing dictionaries in Firefox is another thing that's not as simple as it ought to be, but it's still pretty easy. If you want a non-US-English dictionary, you just download and install it, like any other add-on.

I like how the Australian dictionary shows up in the add-on list:

Australian English dictionary add-on for Firefox

As regular readers will know, I'm actually pretty much on the fence about Commonwealth/Australian versus USA spelling. This ambivalence extends to language usage in general.

"Pretty much", for instance, smells American - so, often, does "pretty" by itself - but I'd much rather use it instead of "by and large".

(And, conversely, "much rather" is a Commonwealth-smelling term. "Rather" by itself is pretty darn English, even if you don't split it into "rah-THERR!")

I spell "humour" and "valour" and "colour" with a U, but not because I think it's some sort of badge of, um, honour. And I often write "I guess" instead of "I suppose", because I think "guess" conveys the meaning of the term more effectively, even if it's generally agreed to be a distinctly American coinage.

There are also several Commonwealth spellings that're simply ridiculous. Like "programme", which England adopted in the 1800s because, at the time, it was cool to sound French. America never got that memo, so they stuck with the older, far more sensible, "program".

Likewise, "analogue" pains me every time I write it.

Feel free to paste your own amusing user-dictionaries, or heretical personal unpatriotic usage preferences, in the comments.

Needs another apostrophe

I passed a junk shop today - the same one where I bought my cheap Curta, actually - which had a display of cheap scarves outside.

After what I can only imagine was long cogitation, the proprietor of the shop decided to render the name of these items on the sign thusly:


(Quotation marks mine. "Misused" quotation marks would, of course, have iced this particular cake very nicely. But you can't have everything.)

Rivalrous and commercioganic for Christ Ma'x!

I get a lot of commercial spam from Chinese manufacturers who're under the impression that I'm a "reseller" of just about anything I've ever reviewed. And then some.

These e-mails are usually not very literate, but sometimes they break through into unintentional poetry.

I just got two copies of this one:

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 12:45:22 -0800
To: <> [I presume my address was way down in the BCCs somewhere]
Subject: Christ Ma'x Promotion MP4

Dear Friend,

How are you doing? I hope that everything is good!
Are you searching the rivalrous and commercioganic products? Please have a look our this new model mp4 player, it has some rivalrous features in market:
1 : 1.8" TFT display + card reader function .
2 : Built in outside speaker
3 : Built in RF function(optional).
4 : With the good handle housing which use the flash metal facture.
Its picture and details information is as below,please reference:

[A picture of a Keepin' It Real Fake version of an iPod Nano was meant to be included here - but I had to dig the file out of my embedded directory and rename it to be able to see what the heck it was. It was originally called "ui=1&amp;attid=0.1&amp;disp=emb&amp;view=att&amp;th=1168aff0f2e8de23".]

Main Function and features:

* Exquisite & fashionable flash metal and thin design;
* 1.8" TFT screen, 260K TRUE color display;
* Built-in FM radio & With FM recording function (optional) ;
* RF(Radio Frequency) transmit function ,the sigBnal can be accepted by your car FM, etc.(optional)
* Built-in outside speaker (optional);
* Support card reader function;
* Support DRM(digital right management)(optional).
* Built-in lithium battery .
* Capacity supported: 128MB to 4GB;
* Supports MP3, MP4, WMA, WAV, etc;
* Supports TXT electronic text reading ;
* Supports WAV recorder format;
* 7 EQ modes: moral , rock, pop, classic, soft, jazz, bass;
* Supports ID3 synchronous lyrics display;
* Support Multi-languages.(more than 20 kinds).

It went on, but that's the end of the funny stuff.

What do you imagine "moral" EQ does? I wasn't aware that you could make NWA sound like Perry Como just by changing a frequency response curve.

Another glimpse of the Dark Side

My spam had two high points today.

One of them was not the terrible news that the invaluable link directory at was REMOVING MY LINK OMG from their site because I had failed to respond to their repeated unsolicited requests for a link from this ancient motherboard review to, with the title "Buy Sell Refurbished Cisco".

I simply cannot figure out why I haven't done that. Too late now!

Spam high point one was brought to me by the new wave of random-subject-lined replica watch ads, which seem to be sourcing their random words from a much more awesome dictionary than most.

My favourite so far is today's masterpiece, "Rainbow Kaleidoscope Ice-cream Egg Magnet".

I opened that message, hopeful to be given the opportunity to purchase this wonderful-sounding product. But all it contained was the usual link to an odd-named and inaccessible server where, I fear, no Rainbow Kaleidoscope Ice-cream Egg Magnet would be on sale anyway.

(The next one to arrive had the subject "Solid Prison Post-office Necklace Fan", which sounds much less appealing.)

Later in the day, I received this pearler:

Date: Sat, 10 Nov 2007 19:04:47 +0200
From: "Igal K." <>
Subject: Article contribution proposal to

I've stumbled across your site - and
I want to make you an offer regarding contributing uniquely
written Insomnia & Sleep Problem related articles to your site.

As you know - Creating unique content for your site is the only
way to get high rankings in Google and other Search Engines.
Copying Articles from Article Directories became obsolete
now that Google is penalizing sites with Duplicate content.

This is where we can help each other in a win-win partnership - I
have a staff of skilled writers creating articles about subjects
such as ( Just to to name a few ) :

      Insomnia Treatment Tips
      What Are Sleep Disorders
      Chronic Insomnia Treatment
      Sleep Aid Guides
      Sleep Disorders
      Sleeping Pills Help

The articles that I'm offering will be unique and were never
published on any articles directory or website, therefore you will
have the full benefits of a unique content that is published only on
your website - in Addition you have full rights to edit and tailor those
articles to your own liking and your website needs.

The only thing I want in return are 2 links pointing back to my
Insomnia Related site at the bottom of each published article.

So if you're interested in my unique win-win proposal please let
me know so we can start helping each other get Higher Rankings
in Google.

Igal K.

You know how sometimes you click on a result for some obscure search or other, and then find yourself on a site with a buggerload of Google ads and some real actual readable text... but that text doesn't contain any valuable information at all?

In fact, the text looks as if it could be customised, with a quick search and replace, to apply to any subject?

I'm betting that this is the sort of "content" that Igal's "staff of skilled writers" are offering my poor little site, which with its miserable thousand or so articles and laser-like focus on sleep disorders is clearly in need of Igal's assistance.

(Amazingly enough, I don't think contains even a passing reference to insomnia at the moment. Usually, subject-specific spam like this comes to me because someone found the word "sauna" on my site somewhere and decided that I therefore must be interested in ordering a few container-loads of Chinese pre-formed hot tubs. Heaven knows how Igal came up with the insomnia connection, in the absence of such an obvious link.)

I suppose it's possible that Igal really does have writers on staff. If that's the case, I imagine they're the inexpensive and quirky kind.

Igal's a wily one, too; he doesn't mention the URL of his special insomnia site in his spam.

But I'll betcha any of you unfortunate enough to be searching for information on sleep disorders will be seeing Igal's site soon. At least until Google catches on, yet again.

Spam-lessons update

Another of those thesaurusised porno spams arrived, with the puzzling subject line "lascivious yez Cyprians rmpp Masturbates!"

So now I know that "Cyprian" is not just an archaic word for a resident of Cyprus, but is also an old term for "a lewd or licentious person, esp. a prostitute".

It's not, I grant you, as useful a word as "catamite" for everyday abuse of the deserving, but it's diverting nonetheless.

(Modern definitions of "catamite" are a bit colourless, if you ask me. I much prefer the succinct old Oxford definition, "a sodomite's minion". The 1913 Webster's opted for "a boy kept for unnatural purposes", which left the details of the poor fellow's everyday life alarmingly hazy.)

The author of a different spam was pleased to inform me that after using certain suggestively-named pills for seven months, "now my shaft is extremely weightier than civil".

I think there's something in that for all of us, don't you?

Spamwords: The Saga Continues

In celebration of the first new Spamusement for ages (if you don't count the tons of fan-made strips in the forum), I present another Word Only Found In Spam These Days, On Account Of How Gangsters Outside David Mamet Movies Don't Use It Any More:


A Usenet search does not turn up the string "doxy" as 100% indicative of spam, but that's only because the word is short for doxycycline. I still think "doxy" counts, though, because if most people get e-mail mentioning an antibiotic then it's probably spam anyway.

The subject line of the porno spam I got this morning was, somewhat disappointingly, "second-best whhi Ladys mtfi sucking icw dick!"

Honestly. The very idea. If I'm going to download Ladys mtfi sucking icw dick, I will not settle for anything less than the best Ladys.

The content, before the URL (for a now-broken site) and a further line of pure gibberish, was "fascinating lxnt Doxy bxa ass bmnd banged by rkkw Man!"

I note that the super-heavy obfuscation in these sorts of spams is now leaving the actual "content" words alone, and just inserting random characters between them. This is a great disappointment for those of us who appreciated the random-second-character blank verse of such deathless classics as "Clhica sjucking her first ANEIMALS pgenis" and "Bvabe In Cfute Lkingerie Skuck BHLACK & Fyacial".

In the face of this terrible change and decay, so cruelly forced by the continuing spam-versus-filters arms race, it's good to see that some hardy perennials survive unchanged, like crocodiles.

Yes, that's right: "She wants a better sex? All you need's here!" and "We cure any desease!" are still going strong.

God alone knows why, of course. These spam subjects have remained unchanged for almost two years now (according to Google Groups, anyway - I can't remember how long I've been seeing them for, though it feels like forever), so they're probably the two most-filtered strings after "Make Money Fast". But their senders keep on trucking with those distinctive slightly-wrong subject lines, bless 'em.

I presume it's some sort of dada art project.

Crucifixion howdy!

To continue my occasional series on Words (And Word Combinations) Found Only In Spam, allow me to submit "Calvary Greetings".

I've had many "Calvary Greetings" 419 messages, and just got my very own copy of the "Lady Victoria Amin" version.

Apparently "Calvary Greetings" is actually a normal, if somewhat gruesome, salutation among some African Christians. This explains its popularity as protective colouration for those who hope to break the Eighth, or possibly Seventh, Commandment.

Since people in the English-speaking world don't typically receive a lot of mail from pious Africans, though, "Calvary Greetings" currently stands as an almost perfectly reliable indicator of scam-spam.