This Saturday (March 24), says an ad on Craigslist, the publishers of Harlequin romance novels are holding a “huge casting call” in Toronto for book cover shoots. They’re not looking for models or actors but REAL PEOPLE JUST LIKE YOU … if YOU happen to be “in great shape, attractive and outgoing.” Can you set yourself up for a more crushing rejection?

Actually, yes. Anything the real world can do, the online world can do better. To wit, a new dating Web site called This is no run-of-the-mill search-for-a-desperate-enough-potential-partner portal. According to MSNBC, potential members must submit a photo; existing subscribers rate the pic, and only those who score an average of eight or more get past the virtual velvet rope for $9.95 a month.

Prepare to have your self-image destroyed. One blogger who thought of herself as an eight or a nine was rated a 5.7. Ouch.

To quote aphorist Mason Cooley, “After rejection, misery, then thoughts of revenge, and finally, oh well, another try elsewhere” – in this case, one supposes, a less discriminating site that’s really more interested in your “personality.”

Will the litigious circle be unbroken?

Uber-litigant Viacom, whose shotgun approach to DCMA enforcement has blasted 100,000 YouTube clips (and counting), has been caught in its own crossfire like a Dick Cheney hunting buddy (does that joke ever get old?). Online liberationistas at the Electronic Frontiers Foundation have flung a sack full of lawyers at the entertainment giant reports Ars Technica. (That means “the art of technology,” you there with the dirty mind.)

The clip in question is a Stephen Colbert parody produced by political organization Viacom says the video’s use of clips from the pseudo-neocon’s Colbert Report violates Viacom’s copyright. The EFF says as parody, it’s exempt, and Viacom knows it, since it’s the very MO that Colbert and Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show use in the first place.

It’s time for the truthiness.

The Big Oops
You’ve been working on an important project for hours. You exit your application, then realize you haven’t saved the last two hours work. You sigh, maybe curse, then try to reconstruct the deletia.

You drag a bunch of files to the delete bin, then empty the trash. Half an hour later, your boss urgently needs to consult a year-old spreadsheet you’ve just turfed. You sigh, maybe curse, then run a utility to try to recover the file.

You’re a techie doing routine maintenance work. You realize you’ve just formatted a disk drive containing all the applicant information for a US$38-billion (US) oil fund. And its backup. You sigh, certainly curse, then spend $220,000 on a six-week effort to re-input the information from 300 cardboard boxes of paper records.

Where was MySpace when I was a kid?

Did your parents have to tie a pork chop around your neck so the dog would play with you? So socially inept you couldn’t even buy a friend? Now, apparently, you can. A MySpace account whose owner claimed 100,000 friends was auctioned on eBay and sold for $2,125.

You can tell by the garden gnomes and cheesy used patio furniture

A street in Rackheath, Norfolk, has been named Britain’s busiest eBay street, with two-thirds of the residents trading on the site, to the tune of 2,000 transactions a year.

When (former) pets attack
A Hailey, Idaho, woman was hospitalized recently after her pet cat went berserk, biting and scratching and leaving her with more than 20 puncture wounds. In related news, get out the iodine for Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, whose glib dismissal of Google prompted drawn claws and bared fangs from a top tech blogger and former Microsoft evangelist.

Robert Scoble blogged from inside the castle Gates for three years. His Scobleizer blog was scathing after MS honcho Ballmer said Google had one solid business, and everything else was “kinda cute.” Scoble wrote that Ballmer obviously don’t know Jack about Google.

“Google’s secret weapon? It controls the entire stack in the datacentre. Google writes its own hard disk drivers. It has its datacentre hardware built to its spec. Ever wonder why (Microsoft’s search/blogging/etc. platform) is slower than Google? Hint: it’s ‘cause Google is out-executing Microsoft in the datacentre.” (Insert hissing noise here.)

BTW, the Idaho woman is dropping her tom off at the pound. Apparently, it’s not the first time she’s been attacked.

Perhaps it’s overkill for a word processor

This article on The Register takes me back to an old editorial in satirical online newspaper The Onion, in which a fictional Gillette exec harangues his employees for falling behind in the razor race and demands the company come up with a five-blade razor (warning: foul language alert).

Enjoying your dual-core or quad-core processor? Intel’s talking terascale processors, with 80, 100 or even 120 cores. Great for servers. For desktops, a bit much. But those spreadsheets’ll go like snot.

The Onion article appeared in February 2004. In September 2005, Gillette announced Fusion, a five-blade razor.

I can’t drive 155

Germans know from aggressive driving. They practically rioted in the streets when authorities attempted not to lower speed limits, but actually impose them in the first place on sections of their Autobahn, which bear a “recommended speed” of 130 km/h. I suppose police hand out suggestions rather than tickets, if they can catch drivers in the first place.

So when German researchers say they’ve spotted a correlation between playing racing video games and aggressive behaviour behind the wheel, one should buckle up and take notice. According to a report in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, men who’ve been playing racing games display more risk-taking behaviour in a real-world simulated driving situation (if that makes any sense) than those who’ve been playing more benign fare.Curiously, women don’t seem to be affected. The aggressive driving only manifests in male subjects, which surprises no one who’s ever driven with, well, a man.

Herr Potatohead

So, Klaus angrily returns the computer he just bought from a store in Kaiserslautern, saying it is packed with potatoes, not parts, says Dave’s Daily. A short time later, he returns his replacement computer, again complaining that it’s simply a spud container. This time, he decides he doesn’t need a computer anymore, and asks for his refund in cash. Hilarity and a fraud investigation ensue.

First, let’s define ‘relations’

A Montana deputy sheriff has been canned after the MySpace site he created to “improve relations between law enforcement and the public” was allegedly used to initiate suggestive and outright sexually explicit chats. (First clue: His browsing criteria included “swinger” and “women.”)

Pretty much all the trolling took place while the Missoula County officer was on duty. Web monitoring software documented one seven-hour session. Comparing the logs to 911 records, investigators found instances where he delayed responding to disturbance calls for up to 10 minutes to continue, um, relating.

Then again, do you want someone stupid enough to chat up strippers, prostitutes and porn stars on a monitored county computer to be the first responder at your emergency? Thought not.

Note to self: Check the browser cache on the wife’s laptop
Questions about offing your significant other? Google may have the answers, but be careful of the digital trail.

A New Jersey woman on trial for the April 2004 murder of her husband queried the online search engine for “how to commit murder” 10 days before he was shot at least twice and distributed in three suitcases off the Virginia coast, reports.

The woman also searched on various poisons, fatal insulin doses, how to find chloroform and where to buy guns without a permit, according to the expert who examined her seized computers.

Prosecutors will claim this is evidence of premeditation. Lawyers for the accused are expected to counter with the “oh, like you‘ve never searched the Internet for tips about how to murder your spouse” defence.

Shortly after which someone ‘corrected’ the etymology
Wiki is now a word, according to the online Oxford English Dictionary, reports The Register. Wiki joined the Queen’s English on March 15, along with such neologisms as Bikram yoga, claymation and garburator.

Every once in a while, I freeze and my face turns blue
Austrian company g.tec has demonstrated a thought-controlled computer interface, because it’s so much easier to attach electrodes to your skull than actually type something.

Sing to me, Mario!
If you’re a 30-something nerd with fond memories of Mom’s basement, then you’re probably familiar with the infectious plinky-plinky tones of the Super Mario Bros. theme music. Ahhh . . . memories. Insider remembers the warm glow of a 15-inch TV set, the polygonal wonder that was a short, fat plumber with a jaunty moustache, and the MIDI symphony that made all those high school blues fade away. Ahhhh . . .

Well, there’s at least a few people that share those sweet, sweet memories. How else do you explain this article?

Finally, some security we can get behind
Since the dawn of PC computing, poking Microsoft in the eye with a sharp stick has been a pastime that has kept the bulk of the hacker community entertained. Why would the appearance of Vista be any different? The OS with the mostOSest is more locked down than your average maximum security penitentiary, but that doesn’t stop people from trying to subvert the system. What’s the best way to get this done? Well, how about you don’t activate the software? Well, duh. Sure, it sounds too good to be true, but there it is. Apparently one small change to the registry will keep the MS hounds at bay for an entire year.

That Larry and Sergey are just a couple of punks, I tell ya!
Winner of Microsoft’s most likely to have a heart attack due to cheeseburger-induced exuberance award Steve Ballmer has taken another potshot at Google, dismissing the company’s growth strategy as “insane.” Now, Insider isn’t exactly sure if losing one’s sanity is the path to ruling the IT universe, but it bares some investigation. Ballmer lost his sanity years ago and it seems to have worked out pretty well for him.

Unpremedidated pre-texting
More from the “what the frig?” file: HP walks away legally unscathed from its pretexting high jinks. “I have always had faith that the truth would win out,” said an obviously penitent Patricia Dunn in a statement. Insider guesses that makes sense if the “truth” is an 180-lb. chimpanzee with a cattle prod and the legal system is a one-armed man carrying a bunch of bananas.

Hoist a virtual brew

St. Patrick’s Day is nearly upon us, and with it the attendant threat of wobbly wannabe once-a-year Irishmen barfing “Molly Malone” into the planters outside the local tavern with the pseudo-Gaelic name and … what was my point? Ah, yes. You can avoid the noise and mess and kiss-me-I’m-Irish come-ons and still celebrate the occasion by nipping off to what claims to be the world’s first online pub. officially came out of testing on Feb. 5. (I’ve always wanted to beta-test a pub.) It’s aimed at 20- and 30-somethings who “are sick of the MySpace rat race” and “need to escape the teenyboppers,” according to the Web site.

So. It’s designed for people who are sick of not really meeting people to not really meet other people who are sick of not really meeting people.

As our friends at, manufacturers of fine demotivational art and paraphernalia, like to say: If you find yourself struggling with loneliness, you’re not alone. And yet you are alone. So very alone.

Enjoy. And stay hydrated.

Share on LinkedIn Share with Google+