Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
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Monday, January 24, 2021

are eye pee
The past week saw Regis Philbin and Keith Olbermann abruptly quit their TV shows. If you subscribe to the belief that these trends come in threes, you’re probably wondering when the third shoe will drop.

Well, you can stop wondering: It’s now, and it’s me. I’m quitting this blog.

All joking aside, this is the last post on Population Statistic — for now, and most likely, for good. I’d hinted at this back in August, and the reasons I set out then apply now. I’ve done all I care to do in this space. I’ve enjoyed using PopStat as a daily creative outlet for nearly seven years (and blogging as the format for nearly nine years). And now, it’s time to stop. When squeezing out one measly post per day becomes a chore — contrasting with the effortlessness I once had in cranking out four or five posts daily — it means that there’s nothing left to do but to end it.

In my typical fashion, I am hedging on this, slightly. The site will remain up for a while, with all content archives intact (although comments/pings will be disabled soon, to save me from daily spam maintenance). The domain is registered until this summer, so I plan on keeping the lights on until then. There’s always the possibility that I’ll recharge and restart the blogging sometime between now and then. But right now, I don’t see that happening, and basically, as soon as the domain registration expires, so too will this blog.

To the handful of regular readers that have haunted this space over the years, thanks. I’ll still be around online, and very probably will find another corner of the Web to express whatever communication talents I possess. For the time being, though, the plug is pulled.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/24/2011 09:17am
Category: Bloggin'
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Friday, January 21, 2021

drafting
There’s certainly some inverse energy in the champion of ESPN.com’s nationwide fantasy football competition being homeless:

Obviously, Nathan Harrington, 33, of Salem, Mass., knows something I don’t. Harrington ended up homeless after needing back surgery, going on medical leave from his job, and being forced to leave his home because it was condemned.

And still, he was better than over 3 million people at fantasy football.

He used computers at his father’s nursing home, his mother’s house, and the library. He knocked on neighbors’ doors and asked if he could use their computers.

When real life is falling apart, you might as well focus on Sunday’s stats.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/21/2011 08:00am
Category: Football, Internet
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Wednesday, January 19, 2021

For the shadow-government conspiracy theorist in you:

See how itanimulli.com automatically redirects you to the dot-gov home of the U.S. National Security Agency, i.e. our nation’s espionage-level cryptologists. Furthermore, notice how “itanimulli” is The Illuminati spelled backward.

My God, the Bilderbergers have been right all along!

Yes, this is a fun bit of webfoolery. Of course, all us grownups know how effortless it is to set a URL redirect script to any old where, including to official websites, thus crafting the illusion of something nefarious. Certainly, this dork in Utah knows how to turn that trick.

(Via @AaronRFernandes)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/19/2011 08:24pm
Category: Comedy, Internet, Political
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Monday, January 17, 2021

It’s a given that an ad’s purpose is to pry money out of your pocket. So where better for a marketer to place an ad but right in your online wallet?

As banks test new ways to make money and attract customers, they are tucking ads onto the list of recent purchases on consumers’ online bank statements. The charge for your breakfast at McDonald’s, for example, might be followed with an offer for 10 percent cash back on your next meal at the Golden Arches. There’s no need to print a coupon — just click the link, and the chain will recognize your debit card the next time it is swiped.

“The one thing these debit programs have is a significant amount of transaction and behavioral data,” said Mark Johnson, president and chief executive of Loyalty 360, a trade group for marketers. “You’re going to see a big push to make that insight more sellable.”

Behavioral datamining at the source. Might as well direct-deposit your paycheck straight into your favorite retailers’ coffers. Unless you’re laboring under the delusion that you’re making a conscious choice most of the time…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/17/2011 09:19pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Business, Internet
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Thursday, January 13, 2021

I have no use for non-standard top-level domains like .biz or .travel — and neither should you — but here’s one URL that I can get behind:

http://rim.jobs

Yes, pun intended.

Go ahead and click through. The pornish-sounding name actually redirects to something eminently banal: Research In Motion’s corporate job board. Just why the Blackberry folks felt the need to claim this corner of the help-wanted Web remains a back-door mystery. (Yes, I do believe I’ve exhausted all permutations of the ass/anal jokes.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/13/2011 09:25pm
Category: Business, Comedy, Internet
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Thursday, December 30, 2020

While there’s no shortage of Nigeria-based web domains ending in the standard “.com.ng”, the present shortlink-craving environment is prompting the imminent availability of branding-friendly .ng top-level domains from the African country.

Whilst it will be great for companies within the country to advertise shorter domains and work with an easy suffix, the real value is going to come from internet startups and established internet services that which to turn their company names into verbs.

Oo Nwoye, a Nigerian entrepreneur, spotted the domain registration, proposing that companies like Facebook and Google will move quickly to register domains like Googli.ng and Facebooki.ng.

Good to know that the registration land-rush will predictably proceed. I’m sure that the established Nigerian association with the Internet won’t dissuade anyone from signing up for the online verbi-dot-ng…

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/30/2010 10:36pm
Category: Advert./Mktg., Internet, True Crime
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Monday, December 27, 2020

lawsuit in a can
Dan hates spam, so much so that he’s made a going concern out of suing the spammers:

From San Francisco Superior Court small claims court to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, [Daniel] Balsam, based in San Francisco, has filed many lawsuits, including dozens before he graduated law school in 2008, against e-mail marketers he says violate anti-spamming laws.

His many victories are mere rain drops in the ocean considering that Cisco Systems Inc. estimates that there are 200 billion spam messages circulating a day, accounting for 90 percent of all e-mail.

Still, Balsam settles enough lawsuits and collects enough from judgments to make a living. He has racked up well in excess of $1 million in court judgments and lawsuit settlements with companies accused of sending illegal spam.

In a sense, this is email spam begetting litigious spam, in that Balsam’s suits are essentially court-clogging maneuvers, regardless of merit. Plus, consider that the spambots are generating revenue not only for their parent spam-scammers, but also, indirectly, for Balsam. Amid all that irony is, perhaps, a new business model for online commerce…

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/27/2010 08:39am
Category: Internet, True Crime
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Thursday, December 23, 2021

tword
To my dismay, I unintentionally used the IM/texting slang “IOW” not once, but twice in one day:

@popstat: IOW, like every other day for most of us RT @ElanaRoth: I’m working today, but so in vacation mode. But I also like money, so…toss up.

@popstat: IOW get a blog RT @tombiro: Pro tip: 99% of people aren’t reading your tweets consecutively. they’re not really threaded. just sayin’

Obviously, I had to resort to the abbreviation, as “in other words” never would have fit into Twitter‘s 140-character limit. Still, looking back on both tweets, that three-lettered opener seems to give my comments even more snark than they already carried. Such are the perils of social media communiques.

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/23/2010 10:59pm
Category: Social Media Online, Wordsmithing
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Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Because old-fashioned electronic mail doesn’t support the Texting Generation’s “social intensity”, online communication is structurally streamlining:

[Facebook] is rolling out a revamped messaging service that is intended to feel less like e-mail and more like texting.

The company decided to eliminate the subject line on messages after its research showed that it was most commonly left blank or used for an uninformative “hi” or “yo.”

Facebook also killed the “cc” and “bcc” lines. And hitting the enter key can immediately fire off the message, à la instant messaging, instead of creating a new paragraph. The changes, company executives say, leave behind time-consuming formalities that separate users from what they crave: instant conversation.

“The future of messaging is more real time, more conversational and more casual,” said Andrew Bosworth, director of engineering at Facebook, where he oversees communications tools. “The medium isn’t the message. The message is the message.”

“More casual” is the key. It’s important to remember that the users here are interested exclusively in one-time instant communication — no one is looking through IM archives for a message to reference back to. Email is suited for information that you might want to preserve, so the formal trappings of that medium make sense there. But for chatting within social networking and mobile contexts? It’s overkill. Naturally, users want to bypass that.

But speaking of overkill, why dismantle email strictly to accommodate chit-chat behavior? The inbox still has “official” utility, and that shouldn’t be impacted by preferences in the social media sphere. I’d think there’s room for both channels.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/21/2010 10:56pm
Category: Social Media Online, Society
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If you’ve ever pondered how superheroics and supervillainy would translate into real-world collateral damage, Law and the Multiverse provides legalese as applied to the comic-book context:

The answers are dry, technical and funny in their earnestness. The Second Amendment, [co-blogger James] Daily suggested, would protect many powers, but “at least some superpowers would qualify as dangerous or unusual weapons (e.g., Cyclops’ optic blasts, Havok’s plasma blasts)” that are “well beyond the power of weapons allowed even by permit.” Those super-duper powers would be tightly regulated, if not banned outright.

Then there’s this jurisprudential nugget: When Batman, the DC Comics hero, nabs crooks, is the evidence gathered against the bad guys admissible in court? Not if he is working so closely with Commissioner Gordon that his feats fall under the “state actor” doctrine, in which a person is deemed to be acting on behalf of government and thus is subject to the restrictions on government power. In fact, he might be courting a lawsuit claiming violations of civil rights from those who were nabbed.

Leave it to a couple of blawging lawyers to suck all the fun out of superpowered mayhem. On the other hand, it’s good to know that supervillain-insurance residual pools would keep a lid on premium payments.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/21/2010 10:33pm
Category: Bloggin', Creative, Pop Culture, True Crime
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Saturday, December 18, 2021

The backend of this blog regularly alerts me that I have three updates available for installation: Two for plugins, along with the latest version-point-nth bug fix for WordPress.

On my iPhone, the App Store icon sports a “4″ in its upper-right corner, indicating the presence of updates for four apps.

Screw email bankruptcy. I’ve got a case of update-alert bankruptcy brewing, similar to others who’ve applied this nuclear option outside of the inbox.

Why don’t I download all these upgrades, and rid myself of those pestering reminders? In general, the credo “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” overrides any potential performance improvement. That’s especially the case with the WP code; the lack of quality-control encourages update submissions on a whim, regardless of actual usefulness (think added Bulgarian language support, etc.). Frankly, if something’s not working properly, I’d be more likely to uninstall it long before any fix came down the pike from the developer. But in cases where something’s working well enough to not risk any snafus with an “improvement”, those reminders are annoying fixtures.

I’m sometimes tempted to click on the “update all” button (or equivalent) just to get the subtle nagging to stop. Is it worth it to screw up my finely-humming website and device, just to erase those number-bugs? No. So I’ll just have to develop a blind spot and plod along with my outdated versioning. There are worse fates.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 12/18/2010 03:22pm
Category: Bloggin', Tech, iPhone
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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

In northwestern Connecticut, the small-town Torrington Register Citizen is going the distance in public-collaborative online journalism:

Speaking of the paper’s 34-year-old publisher, Matt DeRienzo: “Matt’s taking his audience and making it a colleague. A building with open doors, with no walls, is the brick-and-mortar metaphor for how the Web works.”

So the idea of the cafe, public lounge and free Wi-Fi isn’t to make money on coffee. It’s to let the public see The Register Citizen as its space. The same thought underlies the public meetings and open newsroom, the opening of the company’s archives, the public spaces for bloggers and the meeting room that will host courses on blogging and journalism, so residents can write and link to the site. The company put together an advisory board of the most enthusiastically pro-digital industry thinkers and actually listened to them. All the printing and traditional nonnews operations like circulation are being outsourced.

Wonder what it’s like plugging away on deadline, while some random “collaborator” wanders through to ask what’s going on…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/15/2010 11:28pm
Category: Internet, Publishing
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Thursday, December 09, 2021

What happens when you start typing in the names of all 50 States (plus the District of Columbia) into Google? You get autocomplete drop-down results that may or may not jibe with the proper map labels.

The results of the top autocompleted phrases indicate that big-time college football programs, especially in the South, have a strong online presence. No surprise, considering how much sports drives search activity.

The surprise results are more fun, of course: The historical-reference “Missouri Compromise” for the Show-Me State (bordering, comically, on Kansas’ misplaced “Kansas City Chiefs”, to boot). “Delaware Water Gap” is an odd one. And let’s not even go near “Montana Fishburne”

(Via Flavorwire)

by Costa Tsiokos, Thu 12/09/2021 08:29am
Category: Comedy, Creative, Internet
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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Talk about instant karma, or near enough:

Last month, DecorMyEyes.com owner Vitaly Borker bragged openly to the New York Times about how he aggressively cultivates negative feedback, which paradoxically boosts his eyewear business’ Google rankings and clickthru rate.

Today, we find out that those cultivation methods are criminally aggressive: Borker was arrested in Brooklyn on harassment and cyberbullying charges.

Online, his threats were “absolutely unspeakable” and “bone-chilling,” the prosecutor continued.

A pregnant woman was threatened with “physical and sexual violence” and a Colorado customer who complained was told: “I pee on your negative (comments). Now you lost your glasses b—h!”

Too bad Borker can’t claim to have been framed — pun intended…

It’s a measure of rough justice, assuming he gets what’s coming to him. There are scores of online con artists waiting to fill the void left by Borker, but so what — at least he’s out of the equation. (And yes, I halfway do expect to hear from Borker at some point over this very post, given his established Web acuity. So be it.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 12/07/2021 10:37pm
Category: Business, Internet, New Yorkin', True Crime
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Monday, December 06, 2021

With so much of social media geared toward the shortest of short-form communication (status updates, tweets, etc.), it’s nice to see something like Figment inviting digitally-bred teenagers to expressively stretch out:

Figment.com will be… an experiment in online literature, a free platform for young people to read and write fiction, both on their computers and on their cellphones. Users are invited to write novels, short stories and poems, collaborate with other writers and give and receive feedback on the work posted on the site…

The young people on the site weren’t much interested in “friending” one another. What they did want, [founder Jacob Lewis] said, “was to read and write and discover new content, but around the content itself.”

It’s essentially a peer group centered around a common activity: Writing. As sociable a networking purpose as any — and better than most.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 12/06/2021 10:36pm
Category: Publishing, Social Media Online
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Sunday, December 05, 2021

In a digital domain where people have no problem getting poked, friended, and liked, apparently dating is off-limits:

In theory, Facebook should be a mecca for singles looking to connect. The site already contains pictures and relevant information on hobbies, occupation and location that romance-seeking men and women could use to determine their interest in an intriguing stranger. Moreover, it allows people to see their ties to friends-of-friends, adding a level of familiarity online dating sites can’t offer.

In the past few years, dozens of services and applications have been built to capitalize on the opportunity. But as [would-be dating service provider Sunil] Nagaraj realized, most of them failed to consider one factor: Not everyone wants to broadcast to the world that they’re single and looking for love.

“I wouldn’t mind telling my five good friends that I’m dating, but I don’t want my loose connections to know,” Nagaraj said. And Facebook, unlike predecessors such as MySpace, has moved away from being a site where people cruise for dates by allowing users to shield their profiles from public view.

So the most ubiquitous of social networks is considered to be incompatible with perhaps the most social activity of all. This would be ironic, except that it’s par for the course when it comes to online interactions.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 12/05/2021 03:53pm
Category: Social Media Online, Society
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Friday, December 03, 2021

If, as per celebrity tweet-advisers Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian, mayonnaise on a vagina makes it shiny… Then what does mayo on a penis make it?

Answer: Fattening.

There’s tongue-in-cheek advice for you. Or something-in-cheek, anyway.

by Costa Tsiokos, Fri 12/03/2021 01:26pm
Category: Comedy, Social Media Online, Women
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Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Is Facebook too behemoth-like for your friending tastes? Then maybe you should give Smiley a try.

Sure, Smiley. Why not? I know, it looks pretty cookie-cutter and amateurish. That’s because it is. I only found out about it from a subway-plastered flier, which consisted of nothing more than long run-on text in all-caps, exhorting anyone who bothered to read it to join up. Oh, and that this little site supported videochatting, pointing out that Facebook did not. As hokey (and even suspect) as the pitch was, I couldn’t help but be a little touched, and even more curious.

It’ll be the miracle of the century if Smiley ever grows to challenge Facebook. But who knows — with the do-it-yourself social networking sites and software services out there, the odds are that some homegrown walled garden will achieve some measure of success. Unless the concept of decentralized social networks is inherently unworkable — which it probably is.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 12/01/2021 10:31pm
Category: New Yorkin', Social Media Online, Society
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Sunday, November 28, 2021

in con-text
For whatever reason, someone decided to transcribe the entire run of Calvin and Hobbes onto a blog. All crammed within two posts.

I’m assuming that all those words are, indeed, the sum total of the daily/Sunday strips. Each page is certainly long enough to contain the ten years’ worth of word-balloon contents from Bill Watterson‘s creation. I’m not going to dig through my old trade paperbacks to verify the accuracy; some of the missives certainly seem like the real thing, and bring back warm memories of the manic four-color humor.

I’m just wondering what prompted this project. I’ve transcribed similar content myself, when I felt that the image-born words needed to be preserved in more hypertext-friendly form. But the sheer volume here is astounding. And let’s face it, without the accompanying artwork, the scripts — as humorously sharp as they are — are less than satisfying. Unless you want to continually envision a spikey-haired boy and his toy/imaginary tiger delivering the lines…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 11/28/2010 10:02pm
Category: Bloggin', Comedy, Pop Culture
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Saturday, November 27, 2021

tweet-tight
This is hardly a scientific sample, but I’ve noticed a peculiar trend today in my Twitter stream: Multiple references to jeggings. Yes, all in tweets from women.

Since “jeggings” isn’t showing up in the trending topics list, I’ve gotta believe this phenomenon is strictly localized to my Twitter experience. Obviously, I follow some like-minded fashionistas.

I wonder if there’s a distinct connection between this musing and the just-completed Thanksgiving festivities. Is the level of snugness in these go-to denim leggings an indicator of holiday overeating? Maybe it’s something to look out for in a month’s time, when Christmas indulgences will prompt a similar skinny-pants body-fat index. For ladies only, of course.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/27/2010 08:06pm
Category: Fashion, Social Media Online, Women
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Saturday, November 20, 2021

dreaming
It’s been a while since a user-submission gimmicky website caught my interest. Damn You Auto Correct! has managed it, with its seemingly endless supply of unintentional mobile-device typographical humor.

Although, while the above “lobe-live-libe-love-fyck” example above surely rings true, I wonder about some of the other submissions. For instance, this alleged flub where “going to divorce” subbed in for “going to Disney”. I’d be willing to bet that that one was staged.

The underlying joke, of course, is that by this point, the auto-correction technology still can’t work out context to avoid these errors. Or that the keyboards on most phones, including the iPhone, aren’t better suited to human communication. But I guess we could still have a good laugh over the results. Either that, or else we can all go to “ducking he’ll”

by Costa Tsiokos, Sat 11/20/2010 06:16pm
Category: Comedy, Internet, Tech, iPhone
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