Mount Sutro: An Electronic Periodical

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Television Ratings

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


Has anyone else noticed that within the past few weeks the on-screen television ratings — meant to help enable parental control over programming in concert with v-chip technology — have increased in size? Additionally, on some networks they seem to appear at the start of each show's segment after a commercial break.

I apparently need to do some reading to see if the FCC regulations have been modified recently to affect this change.

Fiery Spices. Juicy. Crispy.

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
I just heard a Wendy's advert for their spicy chicken sandwich. The voice-over stated, "If you can't take the heat, stay out of the chicken." I immediately thought about the scene in Girl, Interrupted when Daisy has a Freudian slip and says "eat-in chicken" instead of kitchen.

Yes, that is the same film wherein the character Susanna — played by Winona Ryder — says, "Have you ever... stolen something when you have the cash?"

The irony makes me giggle.

For Sale: Talking SpongeBob Quarters

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
I made a promise to myself that I would try to restrict the number of occasions I would express amazement at how search engines bring traffic to Mount Sutro. Search engines do appropriately usher visitors looking for topics and content that are relevant to articles posted, but here and there the results are unexpected.

Often more astounding to me is how deeply people will go in search results. I may go through 20–40 pages of results (depending on the particular search engine and my ambition to locate something specific) but some people crawl through hundreds — yes, hundreds of pages of results.

But I digress. The point of this article is to point out one particular irregularity brought to me by the Google shopping engine, Froogle and the user in Omaha, Nebraska who initiated the search. If you search for the term "talking spongebob patrick" in Froogle and browse to results 41–70 you will find the following entry:



Yes, the Google back-end took three completely different and unassociated items and assembled them into a product that does not exist. Now obviously nothing further can happen due to this listing, save bring a few additional disappointed visitors, but the scenario leaves me wondering what other anomalies like this exist.

Update! Another search phrase results in the same faux-product listing, the curiously offensive "spongebob squarepants condoms."

For completeness, the three articles sampled to create the above oddity are "Every Quarter Gets His Day," "STS-114" (in the Linkage section) and "Attack of the Homosexual Agenda!"

A Postal Experiment

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help


I mentioned previously my plan to put the United States Postal Service to the test with regard to the way mail could be alternately addressed so that it still arrives without issue to my rented USPS Post Office Box.

My theory was that I could address correspondence to the physical address of the post office itself and include my box number as a suite. To test this I addressed an envelope in this manner, included my home for a return address and just for fun sealed inside my friend Doug's business card.

As soon as my postal carrier arrives this afternoon, the text package will be on its way. I will post an update when — as I hope and expect — the envelope arrives at my Post Office Box. Otherwise, I figure it will take a week to bounce and be returned to my home address.


UPDATE

I checked my Post Office Box yesterday, 25 June 2005 and lo and behold my package had successfully arrived! While I am beyond entertained that this little experiment proved my theory correct, I have to admit to being just slightly surprised that it worked so quickly and without incident.

The envelope had the normal ZIP code barcode printed on it, but it was marked-out with a black marker. On the back of the envelope was yet another ZIP code barcode, unaltered. Perhaps it is a result of one being the ZIP code for the post office itself and the other for my box. Either way, it was the only unusual markings on the envelope. Absent were any messages from the postal service.

Experiment complete!



Ex Compendium, Amentia

by Archived Article (2001–2014) Help
Sending meaningful communications using the SMS text message standard is like trying to write the next great American novel with an extremely inky pen on two-ply toilet paper whilst shrouded in the wet darkness of an alley behind a club.

Alright, perhaps my comparison is a tad harsh, but from where I am sitting there is no technological reasoning for having such small character limitations on SMS messages. The magical number of characters permitted per message seems to be a standard one hundred sixty, independent of service provider. Can anyone supply me with a reason why this is the case?

While it is true that longer messages can be simply broken into smaller 160 or less bursts, the recipient then has to wade through a choppy message, often backwards — as a result of people naturally sending the beginning of a message first and then continuing chronologically. The recipient's mobile operating system will display the last message received first, which would be the conclusion of the message.

The one thing this phenomenon does force me to do is come up with more creative ways of sending messages. But there is a caveat: I object to abbreviations. Even in daily life I cannot stand abbreviations of any kind. Emerging methods of technology have unleashed an entirely new realm of abhorrent signifiers on our society and especially those of the IM and SMS generation. So-called "TXT SPK" (text speak) is one way around both the time necessary to input a message into the often clumsy and restricted keypads of mobile telephones and avoid problems with the character limits.

So I suppose until I can get over my objection to abbreviated messaging — an occurrence I can virtually guarantee impossible in this lifetime — I will simply have to make due.

Could you pass me another cocktail napkin to scrawl upon?


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