The Null Device

2003/8/5

I'm Wayne Kerr, and if there's one thing I hate... it's Movable Type weblogs demanding that one enters an email address when posting a comment. This, I believe, is a useless requirement, and serves no purpose except to make posters jump through more hoops; it's the equivalent of useless bureaucracy.

Why is it useless? Well, if you submit your email address, it will either be displayed on the web or it won't. If it is, then, sooner or later, a spam spider will come along and harvest it and the address will be inundated with advertising for dodgy debt-elimination/penis-enlargement schemes until the end of time. If it isn't, then why bother collecting the email address? It's not actually used to send a password to the user or anything like that. It's like the "Anonymous login OK, send email address as password" thing FTP servers send, only even less sensical, as back when FTP came about, some human may have conceivably looked through the email addresses thus entered and gotten information out of them. (And that's not counting the sites which don't show addresses in their HTML but leak them in their RSS feeds, but I digress.)

So you decide to write 'none' or something. No dice; Movable Type has ways of making you submit something that looks like an email address (or, to be precise, that is within a Perl regexp's distance of one). Not that it does much to defend the MT email address collection system's integrity against spam-wary users; something like 'a@b.cd' fools it. In other words, the enforcement mechanism is strong enough to be annoying, but utterly useless against someone determined not to comply. It's not a huge effort to remember to type dont@spam.me or something in every time you post a comment to a blog, but that's not the point. The point is that there is no logical reason to enforce this requirement, and a very good reason for not entering one's real email address on any such form. It is also impossible to verify whether the address coerced out of the users is valid or just looks like it might be. As such, the decision to require email addresses in comment posting forms is bad design, and does nothing other than annoying users and filling databases with garbage.
</RANT>

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2003/8/4

Über-misanthrope Jim "Answer Me!" Goad's new contribution to underground comics: Trucker Fags in Denial, co-authored with Jim Blanchard. With other episodes linked to from here. (Apparently it's soon to be a comic book from Fantagraphics, assuming they don't go under.)

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It looks like Phony Blair has drunk too much of the Camp David Kool-Aid; he's now establishing a top-level working group to bring religion into policy-making in Britain. Atheist scum are complaining as expected.

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I just came back from seeing Interstella 5555, and it rocked. It's a collaboration between more-interesting-than-most French vocoder-house outfit Daft Punk and an anime studio, and is essentially an animated feature whose soundtrack is the entire last Daft Punk album, with a few minor edits. The story involves an ancient villain turned pop-music svengali abducting the Biggest Rock Band In The Galaxy from a concert on the Planet of the Smurfs and pressing them into work as a manufactured pop sensation on Earth. The imagery references a lot of classic anime (for example, the spaceship control room and spacesuit designs borrow from 1970s anime series Battle of the Planets, and that's not to mention the shape-shifting spaceship); most of the characters are drawn fairly naturalistically, except for the band's drummer who is a goofy, smurf-like munchkin. Anyway, hopefully this will end up on DVD; it certainly made me see Daft Punk in a new light.

(The feature which came before it was Kaidohmaru, another anime set in feudal Japan. It didn't really grab me; also, the video seemed very washed out. I'm not sure whether this was a technical problem or some anime idiom alien to me.)

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