Spam on the Internet is a reality. It’s all automated these days; computers crawl the net looking for places to post their garbage. Most of it is related to drugs. You usually see it in your e-mail or in the comments section of some blog articles you happen upon. I get a bit of spam on this blog but, thanks to WordPress’ Akismet plugin, you guys never have to see it.

Every day I log into my blog’s administrator console and see a summary of what has happened. Who’s visited, who commented, which posts are popular, etc. This morning I cracked up when I saw this one in the spam queue:

Subject: Mexican valium….

Lethal dose of valium for dogs. Xanax valium. What is valium used for. Injectable valium. Valium patient advice including side effects. Buy valium online save wholesale price yep. Valium liquid form. Valium….

Are you kidding me? Dogs?! And Mexican valium, nonetheless! That’s hilarious! The spammers will try anything to get past the spam-detection filters. I wonder if a human helps them come up with those wacky ideas.

Also, I had three others in the queue regarding valium too. Do people really buy this crap online? Wow…


If you have a relatively-new Nokia phone it should be able to play videos, which is totally sweet. Any video that you can play on the computer can be converted to a format that your phone can play; videos from YouTube, VCD, SVCD, DVD, XviD, etc. All you need is FFmpeg (I use GNU/Linux, but FFmpeg also runs on BSD and apparently Windows). I’ve tried Nokia phones running Symbian S40 and S60, but it should work on other phones too (the 3gp file format was designed with mobile phones in mind).

If your phone has a bit of horsepower (tested on Nokia 5130 XpressMusic and 5320 XpressMusic), you can convert using the following command:

ffmpeg -i all_shall_perish-eradication.flv -f 3gp -vcodec mpeg4 -b 150000 -s 320x240 \
-r 18 -acodec libfaac -ab 64000 -ar 24000 -ac 2 all_shall_perish-eradication.3gp

Note: the “-r 18” sets the frame rate. The video skips on some phones if they can’t keep up with the frame rate (even with the bit rate set lower, like 100000). You shouldn’t notice any loss of quality with a setting like 18 (most videos are closer to 30), but the video will be much more pleasant to watch. Play with the settings and pay attention to video/audio synchronization when people are talking, for example.

Phones like the Nokia 2630 and the 3110c use more-conservative settings, such as:

ffmpeg -i all_shall_perish-eradication.flv -f 3gp -vcodec h263 -b 100000 -s 128x96 -r 12 -acodec\ 
libamr_nb -ab 12200 -ar 8000 -ac 1 all_shall_perish-eradication.3gp

The difference between the two is:

  • Video codec
  • Video quality (-b, “bit rate”)
  • Audio codec (AMR was designed specifically for voice data)
  • Audio channels (-ac, stereo sound needs left and right!)
  • Frame rate


Food, Kenya

Haha, actually, computer bugs suck, and even Linux crashes. Anyways, the ATM in Tala had this error on the screen the other day when I was getting some money. It was working fine, just a little slower than normal. I even got a chance to practice Swahili with a mama (mama is a respectful word for a woman, pronounce it like in Spanish, with the accent on the second “a”). When I left the booth I tried to explain to her that it was broken, but only a bit, and that it was still working: imeharibika kidogo, lakini inafanya kazi. She looked a bit puzzled so I reassured her that I had withdrawn money, but that the machine was working slowly. She seemed relieved, so I hope it worked… I didn’t stick around to see if she was successful.

On a side note, I’m cooking some fried rice with enough cilantro to kill a horse. Just another Friday night alone in Tala… good thing I have Linux and death metal.