Friday, April 25

Status epilepticus: the 50 funniest instant messenger statuses

In 2001-2003, back when instant messaging was young and social networking was something we did in bars, I was working at Yahoo! and had a lot of fun trying to write wittier status messages for Yahoo! Messenger than the 500-odd other employees (see, this is why the company is now in the toilet. Too much time being clever in Yahoo! Messenger.)


I was cleaning out some cruft on my web host today and came across a forgotten list of some of the best IM status messages I'd seen while working at Yahoo!. Some of them may be too 'insider' (e.g. "Venkat" was senior engineering manager at Yahoo! and it was always a battle to get some engineering resources from his team) but many of them have universal appeal. Where known, I've credited their author by their Yahoo! Messenger ID. Many of those people still go by the same IDs, so if you're interested, try googling them (oops, I mean "yahooing" them.)

However I think I speak for all the original authors when I say: please go ahead and use any of these you wish. Enjoy!


  • 10,000 Leagues Under The C++

  • Now featuring multi-redundant links!

  • Wireless and clueless

  • All your engineers are belong to Venkat

  • Disk space, the final frontier

  • Do, or Ctrl-Z, there is no 'try'

  • Home is where the base href is

  • There's no page like home

  • About to be replaced by a shell script

  • On the internet, noone knows I'm a parent


  • Living la vida Yoda

  • Is anybody out there?

  • On Messenger, nobody can hear you scream

  • The less i know the more i appear to understand

  • Phasers set to stun

  • Savaging the soothed beast

  • Filmed in Cinemascope

  • Communication creates the illusion of progress

  • Not at your desk

  • But more, much more than this, you'll do it my way!

  • I am a work of speculative fiction

  • Luck can't last a lifetime unless you die young

  • Conan the Humanitarian (naikrovek, 2002)

  • Let the Wookie win (naikrovek, 2002)

  • Stigmata - high-five gone awry (karen jackson 2002)

  • Winona, if you don't steal, i'll go out with you (naikrovek, 2002)

  • Only the young die young

  • It hasn't been your day, your week, your month, or even your year

  • My PDA says it's your birthday, but it cares more than I do
  • When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When all you have is nails, it's Hammer Time.


  • Advertising is 85% confusion and 15% commision


  • Pull apart my buns and smear them with butter (Easter)

I Hate Work

  • Capitalisation is in the eye of the shareholder

  • What if the Hokey-Pokey IS what it's all about? (Stephanie Snyder, 2001)

  • Camel, eye of needle... grease...

  • 99% of the game is half mental

  • All I want is a warm bed and a kind word and unlimited power

  • Like a snowball gathering steam (the_bigtee 2003)

  • Busier than a leper in an all-hands meeting (goonker 2003)

It's 80s month in my iPhone ringtones!

It's 80s month in my iPhone ringtones!
Originally uploaded by thatjonesboy.

...except when it's '60s and '70s. Thanks audiko!

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch

Please, don't put your email address on a web page

Despite evil bots hovering out there waiting to scrape up every email address that is published on the interweb and add it to a spam database, people still put their email address on web pages everywhere. I guess the need to be contactable outweighs the pain of more spam.

wufoo rocks

There are a number of ways to hide or encrypt your email address when it is published on a web page, but many of these methods can be decrypted to allow a spambot to snag it. I figure: why put the email address on the page at all? Why not use a form and a database?

I'll tell you why not: forms and databases are dry, unleavened developerness - I fall asleep every time somewhere between "records" and "fields." Life's too short. has many superpowers, not the least being some of the zushiest dynamic interface you'll find on the interweb, making it a snap (dare I say... "fun"?) to design a web form and the database that sits behind it. You can build something as simple as an email feedback form (so that your email address remains unpublished) or something as schmancy as a 15 minute online survey form. Good CSS support means you can customise a form so that it looks like part of your website, but if that's all a bit too hard, it's really easy to use a pre-designed template and copy-and-paste the resulting form code into your web page.

Here's one I built earlier for my work blog at Doing Words. Any time someone fills in the form, the details are taken down in a database I can access at the Wufoo site, and then the database emails me the contact request.

Believe me: absolutely no programming required. Sure, I still get spam, but mostly from my family!

Monday, April 21

From little purchases, big things grow

Too much Kevin Rudd and not enough Paul Keating for my money, but other than that, this is a cracking tune. If you purchase the full track, the entire proceeds of your sale go towards a campaign to close the gap between white and black Australia, achieve parity in healthcare, education and employment, and recognise our nation's original inhabitants in our constitution.

You don't even have to buy the track if you don't want to. Make a donation or just forward it to your friends and family.

Monday, April 7

Age shall not weary them, just make them pudgy and bald

Loverboy, one of the many Canadian pop rock bands that were popular in Australia when I were but a lad, always used to get my blood up with the rather explicit (for the times) lyrics of their song, "Turn Me Loose".

Mid-career, they were looking pretty tragic...

And now? Sheesh, they ought to be taken to the vet and put to sleep humanely...

It's been three months, time for a new iPhone/iPod

It wasn't that long ago that 1,000 songs in the first 5Gb iPod was a revolution. Now my 16Gb iPhone carries a bazillion times more songs, and plays them with cover art, as well as videos, TV shows, even full-length movies. Oh, it has a great web browser, an email client and makes phone calls.

My iPhone is actually my second (I had the 8Gb first) but even my 16Gb is about to be superseded by a new 3G version in the next couple of months, according to Walt Mossberg. 3G will make a huge difference to using an iPhone, so of course I'll have to get one, even though I'm not very keen on the unsubtle Apple logo and the shiny plastic look of the 3G iPhone in this photo from Ben Barren...


Friday, April 4

If you're brave enough to give a little, you get a little back

It's important to consider the privacy of others - particularly children - when posting photos to the interweb.

Early in the history of Flickr I got a little freaked out when a friend's photos of her kid were snagged by an unknown woman who built a scary blog using the photos and her own stories to make like the kids were hers and not my friend's. Scary stalker stuff.

A while later, a naked photo of my son on Flickr received some unwelcome attention. Ick. But the sensible solution was not to post naked pictures of my kid - or anyone else's. Problem solved.

You'd think anyone managing a young sports star these days would either ban or closely moderate their entire participation in online social networking, but this week we saw controversial photos from members of the Australian Olympic swim team that had been snagged from their Facebook profile. Can't blame the journalists: need a photo to accompany a story, the choices are (a) pay $10,000 to a paparazzi and wait 24hrs to receive it, or (b) look up their Facebook profile and snag the photos they've added, free of charge? No brainer.

facebook swimmers.jpg

I could have over-reacted to the Flickr experience and never posted another photo of my son to the interweb, but then my gypsy family would never get to see their cousin/nephew/grandson at all. I could password-protected everything, but then family would never remember the password and never get around to asking me for it.

If I'd done either, I never would have seen this cool line art done by someone on Flickr, based on a photo I'd taken of my son:

iBoy on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg

Which was based on this photo of him grooving on his iPod while we were camping last year:

DSC02168.JPG on Flickr - Photo Sharing!.jpg

On the interweb, I think it's worth giving a little in order to get something back, and this is a great example.

For that reason, I make my photos on Flickr available on a Creative Commons "attribution-non-commercial" licence, meaning you can use them for anything non-commercial as long as you attribute them to me with a link. I'd be stoked if anyone else created good art out of something I just opened a shutter on for a fraction of a second.

Thursday, April 3 affiliate program can't pay a bank outside the US affiliate program can't pay a bank outside the US
Originally uploaded by thatjonesboy.

"Prohibitively expensive"? Not any more it isn't. Google manages it very smoothly. Long past time to glocalize, Amazon!

Uploaded with plasq's Skitch

Tuesday, April 1

Did you know watering your garden can be geeky?

Micromet online report on my garden watering
Originally uploaded by thatjonesboy.

Oh, this is so geeky I'm all a-shiver! This is a report on my garden's water situation over the last month, as measured by the little black box on the wall next to our garden watering system, installed by as part of a 3-month trial by Sydney Water.

The little black box controls the drip irrigation system, and receives its instructions over the pager radio network from a central system monitoring rainfall, cloudcover, evaporation etc in each part of the Sydney metro area.

Basically, the little black box makes sure our garden is only watered when it needs to be, and only delivers as much water as our garden needs.

...which leaves SO much more water for me to have extra baths in!


OK, the graph and the website could benefit from slightly less data density for consumer users like myself, but that's to be expected from a system developed for large irrigators like councils and businesses. It's a great start for saving water!

Your tax dollars at work: Powerhouse Museum promotes Hotmail

Initially I assumed the Powerhouse Museum's plan to print out and archive hundreds of the 'best' emails from around Australia was just an April Fool's joke.

After all, it's never easy to sort the real news stories from the pranks on April 1st. Journalists have too little time between deadlines and too many pages to fill to check all of their facts, all the time. And we in the blogosphere, squeezing our blogging into thin slices of our day jobs and housekeeping, have even less motivation to think before we speak. Meanwhile, those of us with time for mischief, such as the most excellent Darren Rowse, keep coming up with plausible prank stories.

In the end, a lot of April Fools prank stories to go press online these days.

Sadly, the Email Australia campaign, announced by ninemsn, Microsoft and the publicly funded Powerhouse Museum, is not a prank. Even worse, it's a thinly-veiled marketing exercise for Hotmail, designed to temporarily inflate the user registration numbers of Microsoft's webmail product.

It seems like a prank because the museum is asking everyone in Australia to send in their 'best' emails and enter them in one of eight categories (Life and Laughter, Touching Tales, Family, Love and romance, E-mails, Embarrassing typos, Current affairs and Complaints.)

Wouldn't that be a fun job, sorting through all the entries in each category to decide which were worthy of archiving, which were the best, and which were least likely to lead to get the original author, ninemsn, Microsoft and the museum sued for defamation? That's not one I'd be putting my hands up for.

Yes, the terms of the promotion state that you not only take on liability for establishing copyright of the material, but also take on the risk of any legal action arising from, say, using someone else's forwarded email which then turns out to be a snippet from a novel or something that the subject of the email decides is defamatory. Good luck with that.

You'd expect the Powerhouse Museum to choose the best emails in each category, but no - it's a ninemsn/Microsoft promotion, and ninemsn gets to do the selection, thanks very much. Here's a tip for contest entrants: try inserting a few references to how great Hotmail is these days, how much you enjoy using MSN Messenger on your new Windows Mobile phone, and how amazing Windows Vista is these days since they shook out the last remaining glitches. Now you know who'll be judging the entries!

The final pinch-and-a-punch for this particular first day of the month is the news that all emails must be sent from a Hotmail account. And if you don't already have a Hotmail account, a handy link is provided to allow you to sign up for one.

So now what might at first glance appear to be a misguided but worthy effort to capture a little online culture for prosperity is revealed as a grubby attempt to artificially inflate ninemsn's Hotmail subscriptions for a month or two.

Not very many people are likely to use that new Hotmail account for anything other than entering the competition, since Hotmail is indelibly stamped with the spammer's seal of approval. Even if Hotmail is less prone to spam than it has been in the past, most of these casual one-time users won't stick around to find out.

How sad to see a major Australian museum involved in such a thinly-veiled marketing promotion.  "Marketing is punishment for a bad idea" said Andrew Hyde on Brian Burns' blog the other day. How very true. If only it had all been an April Fool's joke.

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