7/29/2009

We're Running Out Of Time, Chloe

Seen in my Spam filter today:

You received this email because you are a client of, or expressed interest in, Uxoqcqvo Solutions.


I don't recall expressing interest in Uxoqcqvo Solutions. But then again, I express interest in a lot of things. Important things, mostly. So I don't want to ignore this e-mail. If I expressed interest in something, it stands to reason that I should follow up, even if I don't remember when or how I did so, or why.

But what to do? The e-mail contains no other information. This is therefore quite a quandary. I wonder: What would Jack Bauer do? Without Chloe, I mean. Maybe a query on the Internet's most popular search engine will turn something up.



Well, I most certainly did not mean "Uxocqc"; what kind of retarded gibberish is that? Maybe that one hip new search engine that I have been hearing a lot of buzz about will be able to find something.



Nothing, and no suggestion either. Microsoft Fail.

You know, I did recently get an iPhone, and I have noticed that because the touch-screen keyboard is so hard to use, their autocorrect function is quite smart. For example, it knows that when I type "hsppem" I really mean happen, and when I type "kosets" I really mean losers. You know, like the San Francisco Giants.

So maybe someone just types really sloppy and thought that spellcheck or autocorrect would fix the problem. Maybe it's not Uxoqcqvo that I expressed interest in at all. Maybe it's really one of the following:

Yzowcwvo
Uxiwvavo
Uxowvqci
Uzowcqvo

But none of those terms get any hits on Google whatsoever. Jack Bauer has been foiled!

7/16/2009

I'm A Celebrity -- Get Me Out Of ZoomInfo!

So I was googling some other dude today at work, and landed on his ZoomInfo profile page. It was pretty lame, but inspired me to see if this "vertical search engine" (as Wikipedia calls it) has created an automated profile for me. Well, yes, it has:



In a word, AWESOME. Perhaps it has listed me as a celebrity because my name is cited in 374 "sources" -- links that ZoomInfo has gathered from the Internet. By comparison, the other dude I was looking for had a measly 25 sources attached to his name, despite his pathetic attempt to enhance his image by insisting people write "M.A." after his name -- because he has a master's degree, putting him in an exclusive club of merely more than 10 million Americans.

But which sites specifically led ZoomInfo to its conclusion of me being a celebrity? Let's take a closer look at some of these sources.



Aha, it's because I pal around with Sara A. Carter, star reporter for the Washington Times. Here's a pic of Sara with Rob Lowe at the White House Correspondents Dinner (and some other chick's face in the way).



Eh, still not sure that really qualifies me as a celebrity, however. Lots of people know journalists. Some of my best friends are journalists. There must be more evidence to solidify my celebrity status.



This one is no help. While it's true that a TV station having your cell number makes you relatively important, I find it highly unlikely that WCBS-TV would be revealing celebs' digits willy-nilly on the Internet like that. Disclaimer: that's not my number any more, and in fact it's not yet been reassigned. Besides, what celebrity would live in 510?



That's more like it. In this one, it appears they're so excited about spotting me, all they can do is yell my name over and over again, like a four-year-old girl at a Wiggles concert. Or, conversely, a 46-year-old paparazzo at the premiere of 17 Again ("Zac! Zac! Zac! Over here, Zac! Zac! Zac! Zac! Zac!"). Or an animated boy excited by the new afternoon puppet show.



Anyway, this is proof positive of my celebrity status. Who could doubt the judgment of a professional operation like phillyburbs.com? Just look at their website.


(click for the full-screen monstrosity)

ZoomInfo is a website that purports to be a collection of people's business info, like LinkedIn, but is not really a social networking site per se. ZoomInfo puts together its profiles and info on people based on what is written about them on the Internet. If the only time your name appears on the Internet is on a few websites listing your record-setting time in the 110 Hurdles at Ohanapecosh High School, then ZoomInfo will create a profile of you called "Sarah Palin: Track Star."

As far as I can tell, their business strategy appears to be using spiders to comb the web, categorizing the info they find based on people's names, jamming their made-up profiles as far up the Google results as possible (at least for people whose names do not get bandied about the Internet very frequently), and selling ads on their site based on the fact that their system is designed to land at the top of Google search results and therefore theoretically get a lot of page views.

In my opinion, this has a societal value of zero (out of 10), and a clogging-the-Internet-with-worthless-and-redundant-info value of 10. Cigars all around.

However, I still need to do something about my profile. I need a proflie pic befitting of my status as a celebrity. Something that says, "You want me," "You can't have me," and "I am so awesome that I don't care if I look like trash" all at the same time.



Bingo.