There’s a sucker born…

P.T. Barnum is credited with the quote “There’s a sucker born every minute” though supposedly he never said it. Well, guess what folks, you’re not getting the whole story. What story is that? The HTML email story that is! Gather round kids…

See, like most people, I get a lot of what we call spam. Unsolicited commercial email, as it were. Now as a reasonably intelligent person, I don’t like HTML email much, over 95% of the HTML email I get is spam, so I generally ignore it. Now, I use Mozilla for Mail (and Thunderbird as well) and they let you easily toggle between seeing an email as plain text or HTML, or viewing the source if you’d like to do that. Now, those familiar with email, Content-Type, and multi-part messages know that you can have a section of your message show up to plain text folks, and another version show up to HTML folks. So I got curious when what appeared to be spam by the subject, showed the following message in plain text.

In 1835 he removed his family to New York, taking a house in Hudson street. For a time he tried to get a position in a mercantile house, not on a fixed salary, but so as to derive a commission on his sales, trusting to his ability to make more money in this way than an ordinary clerk could be expected to receive.

I mean, at least some spam makes sense, I want a better rate on my mortgage, don’t I?

So I figured I’d view the HTML part of the message, and sure enough, it was spam about what else – getting a better rate on my mortgage.

I had to know what that plain text was all about though, which led me to learn a little bit more about ol’ P.T. Barnum, and in doing so, discovered the quote is from The P.T. Barnum of the Barnum and Bailey Circus
by Joel Benton.

Thinking about the relation between P.T. Barnum, suckers, and spammers, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry…

(Oh, I did recently get a better rate on my mortgage, and it’s due to my neighbor, not to some random email I received…)


Want to learn what “user experience” is all about? Read this account of using (You can also find the article on

And still, companies still think they can just take a quick look at things that Apple produces and make a cheap copy and somehow make a killing financially. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen things that are modeled after Apple products that miss the little things, the details, and those details are often what it’s all about. Those details are things like the user experience, things you don’t see listed alongside RAM, megahertz or drive capacity in those Sunday ads. When people say they prefer to use a Mac it’s usually because of those unmentionable reasons, the pure joy of using something that just works and is a pleasure to use. Usually when people ask why they chose a Windows machine over a Mac it’s because “it’s cheaper” or “they have more games” and while those might be valid reasons for some, I don’t play enough games to care, and my time is more valuable to me than the frustration of dealing with Windows.

Here’s my side note, I titled this ‘’ because I thought I was being witty with my commentary and all that, but you can of course visit or if you are so inclined… And if you are not so inclined, just look around, and you’re likely to find more criticism of out there.


A List for Everyone!

I plan on starting a new mailing list, and since I want this list widely used, it will address subjects that everyone is familiar with. Here are some of the topics we will be discussing:

  • HELP!!!
  • Out of Office
  • emacs vs. vi
  • RTFM
  • Re: Re: Fwd: Re: Please trim the subject line of your posts!
  • Doesn’t work!
  • How do I???

I’m sure we’ll discuss other things, but this is just a short list to get us started…


Drupal is Wired

I missed this Wired article that mentions Drupal a while back. The Drupal site also has a mention of the article: Drupal empowered US presidential candidate Howard Dean, as well as a mention of another Drupal powered site for some guy named Bush.


Prevent Kicking

Favorite mailing list message excerpt of the day:

could you please, for the love of god, help me, my boss will kick my ass really strong if i don’t fix it rapidly