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Sunday, I took my roommate Eriko on a record-shopping spree in Shibuya.

The principal goal of our expedition was not for me to pack up on yet more records that I will probably have to leave behind when I move, but rather to help her get started with her career as a world-renowned DJ.

People coming over and asking you to “teach them how to DJ”, is pretty much par for the course whenever you start playing outside of your bedroom. This is how everybody get started, this is how I got started… You pick a DJ you know or that you particularly like and humbly go asking for advice and guidance.

DJ’ing, in that respect, still holds much of that old “master-apprentice” tradition that you get, both in western and Japanese craftsmanship.

But enough with the Mr. Miyagi bullcrap: Eriko didn’t turn to me because she was blinded by my turntablism wizzardry and had a striking revelation in the middle of a dancefloor. Rather because we live under the same roof and she couldn’t help but become increasingly curious about the pleasure I seemed to draw from playing with all these colorful knobs in my bedroom.

Note: If you didn’t grin stupidly upon reading that last sentence, you are way too pure to be reading this blog and have probably lived a very sheltered life so far.

Anyway, after explaining that she probably didn’t need to get the full Midi keyboard and TB-303 kit just right now, I gave her the usual drill. In a nutshell: “Sure, go for it, but not with my records, please”.

Hence the trip to the store, hence the last two days spent enduring the same continuous soundtrack of mismatched beats from the same two records for hours on end…

Damn, I was hoping to get out of the damn topic for a while, but my baldness-induced striking cold precluding most other activities worth narrating here, I might as well, give my two cents about the no follow “anti-spam” tag…

In a nutshell: it’s very cute, but it won’t do much to help major existing platforms (might help smaller ones, but they weren’t really concerned with the spam problem in the first place).

Yea, me too.

As I mentioned many times before, recent development and support on both Spam Karma and WPPM have taken a serious toll on a schedule that certainly didn’t need the extra excitement.

On an average, I receive over a dozen emails/comments a day regarding SK or WP-related support. A good 90% of which are usually RTFM-related and not in any way due to a bug in SK. Lately, I have spent upward of two hours, every single day, dealing with plugin development issues (mostly SK). Very often to come to the conclusion that the bug I’m going after has been introduced by some changes in WP’s code, user hacks, exotic server configurations or any of the hundred parameters I have little control over.

And this, of course, for the mere glory of it all. Because it is doubtful I will ever make a buck off it (and that’s really not the goal), nor is this type of development ever likely to impress anybody reading my resume (the kind of people who employ me usually, ignore until the very meaning of the word ‘blog’).

But this is quite alright.

The many thank-you notes, sincere props, pitches in the tip jar, as well as the personal benefit from using these tools on my own blog, definitely go a long way toward making it worth my time. And I am certainly not gonna start complaining because a project of mine gets some amount of popularity. User adoption is indeed the greatest form of appreciation for one’s work.

Why am I putting Spam Karma’s development on hold, then?

From my childhood readings I remember this particular chapter off Jules Verne‘s visionary masterpiece From the Earth to the Moon.

The first volume would go over the fabrication of a humongous cannon being built to send a few adventurers on the Moon (yea, this is 19th century science-fiction all right, but not as far off as one would think) and included an historical background of both the main character: Impey Barbicane, founder of shots during the Civil war, and his personal nemesis-turned-ally: Captain Nichols, founder of armored plates. That one chapter described extensively the armament race that opposed the two men through their new inventions on the battlefield.

Every time the cannon grew bigger, the armor became thicker, and vice-versa.

Anyway, spam strongly reminds me of that. Just when everybody started enjoying a deceivingly quiet reprieve in the Spam Wars, the filthy baboons come back and hit again, harder, and nastier. This time using a different angle.

Having spent a sizable share of the past few weeks writing and supporting an anti-spam plugin for WordPress, I have been extensively reading and cogitating on the issue.

While I am ashamed to say that I have not come up with any magic answer to the problem (and don’t think anybody ever will), I nonetheless have lots of remarks and ideas I’d love to share. And given the appallingly low level of certain discussions on spam I have read lately, I figure it couldn’t hurt.

Given that I’ll soon be traveling, hanging out in airports, seeing family, all that… I really had to get my shit together.

And so yesterday I made the painful decision. The trip to that hip Ginza clinic was a difficult one. Coming back to an empty home, even more so.

But it had to be done… lest my warranty runs out before I had been able to get all the crappy pieces of my Powerbook fixed.

Yoshiko gave me back the old G3 I had loaned to her last year when I got my G4, but it’s even more broken than it used to, basically won’t even start (although this would not be the first time and can probably be solved with a bit of soldering iron here and there), but anyway: I could barely stand its excruciatingly slow CPU a year ago, I can only imagine how bad it would be now.

As for the old PC laptop: I gave it to a church months ago. Wasn’t a donation, just a routine exorcism. Unfortunately it didn’t survive the bath in Holy Water.

Which is why I am typing these lines on Eriko’s old piece of junk, running XP Personal Edition…

And God does this thing suck.

Entering acute phase of withdrawal tonight…

In BoingBoing tonight: “Cubase plugin makes music sound like it’s played by cellphone

60 years after everybody else, Nokia (and Xeni Jardin) discover the breakthrough concept of… Vocoder


What’s next? some crazy device to make your music sound like it’s being played in a concert hall?

And do not come telling me this is news because it is being brought to the public at large: for chrissake, it is a Cubase plugin.

Update: Please note that this was originally written for Spam Karma v.1 and therefore some elements (licensing especially) no longer apply to SK2. Same spirit overall though.

OK, so before I go any further, let me make things as clear as I can:

Spam Karma is and will always be absolutely free. Free as in beer, free as in love.

So free, actually, that you could practically take it, change twenty lines and start selling it as yours. Except your own karma would probably shrivel as a result.

Anyway, the gist of it is that you are under no obligation, legal or moral, to pay anything for its use. In fact, you are entirely welcome and encouraged to use it for free. Though a supportive e-mail or comment is always nice too.

Now that we got that part out of the way:

First thing: there is now a static page entirely dedicated to Spam Karma. Among other things, it will always contain the current version number as well as links to other relevant piece of information.

Now that we pretty much got Spam Karma 1.x nice and stable, it’s time to get ready for 2.0!

Below is what I have more or less already planned for it, please feel free to add your own wishes, desires and suggestions in the comments.