Saturday, April 11, 2009

Heavy metal is too loud for wimps

It was too loud for me, my right ear still rings irritatingly and hears a bit less. Now you are probably gonna say "What the hell!? You went to EasterMaster without earplugs!!!???" And you are right. It's insane to go there without earplugs.

But I had earplugs; the music was so damn loud that I got hearing damage even with them. Logical deduction: I'm becoming a wimp.

There were 4 bands. Diablo and Amorphis were the big names. However, the previously unknown bands made the best performances.

Profane Omen had two musicians playing topless. The guitarist had a sixpack, something I notice and envy now after starting the gym hobby. Like this video shows, they have a sense of humor, the singer displays moonspell-scale showmanship in gestures and their songs push through all obstacles like diesel engines.

Callisto was the polar opposite. The music was quite weak (in the Portishead sense, weakness as conscious choice for self-expression) and bordering on sleepy. This made the parts with some rhythm and growling singing to stand out even more. First I was disappointed, but the band sounded the better the more I listened it.

Callisto didn't even attempt any contact with the audience, and it was sometimes even difficult to notice where one song ends and another starts, so people were clapping in wrong places.

Didn't talk to anyone nor attempt to. Went there because had nothing else to do.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Crystal ball 2012: The history of stranger chats

It all started in March-April 2009, when the first stranger chat, omegle, gained enough users to become an internet fad. The UI at the time was minimal, it just connected random people to chat with each others. It suffered from many problems: trolls, quick disconnects, drunks, people having different expectations about goals of chatting, etc. Because of these problems, many people didn't yet realize how big thing it was going to be. But some did.

Since many chatters seeked contact with the opposite sex, it was the first market which got split away. In July 2009, came online. It filtered chat partners by sex. When the user count increased, it was possible to do more fine-grained filtering by country and age, as large number of users ensured that connect times were reasonable even after filtering most people away. also had mail: after disconnecting the chatters could send anonymous private mail to those they really liked, and just as easily ignore private mail from others.

At this time, the movers and shakers of the web industry realized that stranger chats were a natural oligopoly: The more users you have, the heavier filtering you can do, and the better match you get between the conversants. There is room for only a few megachats who can do heavy filtering to match like with like. The big players started to implement their chat engines, but it took years before the effort bore fruit.

1.7.2009 - 31.12.2010 was time when many small stranger chats surfaced and different methods were tried. The major features that developed were:
  • Filtering matches.
  • Soft matching based on optimizing large amount of lesser criteria.
  • Anonymous mail after discussion.
  • Ignore features for excluding creeps and too enthusiastic private mailers.
  • Reputation points. Machine-rated reputation points excluded quick disconnecters and copy-pasters, while peer rating effectively removed overly rude talkers.
  • Option to reveal full identity during chat.
  • Visually themed chats.
Also, specialized chats for specific target audiences mushroomed. The long tail behind the few big filtered megachats surfaced.

Two business models emerged. Big chats brought ad revenue. The second model was to commodize the stranger chat engine. StrangeWays, Inc. and ConnectBox were the biggest players. They started with very simple, omegle-class engines and kept adding features as time passed, copying and integrating the most successful features which surfaced in various stranger chats. StrangeWays was an offshoot from a web design company and it specialized in flash/silverlight clients and visually impressive chats. The revenue came from customization. ConnectBox was easy to install and scaled well, and was the engine of choice for smaller communities. Also open-source chat engine development started, but as always it was years behind the commercial offering.

Just like peer-to-peer networks beat video stores by instant gratification, stranger chats started to beat traditional dating sites when users got fed up with writing 20 mails without a single response. Stranger chats were a way to ensure that the other side was at least minimally interested.

Nowadays, all big dating sites have stranger chats, but true to their roots they are a bit different. has the biggest user base. The user chooses a set of strict criteria (sex, age, country) and further soft preferences (hair length, eye color, hobbies) from traditional dating criteria. also has strict criteria, but it uses keywords in user's profiles to do soft matching. puts once again quality over quantity: They use exactly the same algorithm to calculate compatability, and the users tell the server how much they are ready to wait. If they are ready to wait 10 minutes, they can expect pretty likeminded company.

All big webhosting companies offer stranger chats as extra service for any customer, just like they have offered web stores for ages. Smaller chats are commodity, and the open-source engines do the basic service well. Some big companies have tried stranger chats to promote common company values, but fears about spreading trade secrets and rumors have made them rare.

Once again the big companies which integrated the new innovation into their basic business model collect the biggest bucks, and a few quick entrepreneurs got rich during the time it took for engine commodization to run its course.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

I'm getting married

At eight o'clock, the doorbell rang. Behind the door were 3 dark-skinned men. When I instinctively pulled the door shut, one of them put a shotgun in the gap. Boy was I frightened! But when they said "You're getting married." I realized it was something worse than a robbery or a quick death.

In India, there was a girl named Smita in the next cubicle. Pretty face, young body, the stress of working a long shift in the middle of an alien culture in an officially certified shithole country, lack of other things to do; all these factors combined into an volatile coctail which made me to stupid mistakes, and now I'm going to pay full price for them. She's now pregnant.

Her relatives knew people in Finland, and they made it clear that they won't hesitate to use force against me to maintain her and the family's reputation. So I'm not sure how much longer I'll be here in Finland before going back there. The ultimate threat is not what happens to me but what happens to her if this is not solved.

Initiative of the day

Being untrained in quick talk, all I could say was "Oh, they started this kind of campaign!" when I entered gym and noticed a new "exercise 30 times in 90 days" campaign. Two girls were recording their gymgoings to the public tables.

It took some time to find the humorous angle. After exercise I went to sauna and commented to the other person there "Now they have started a public humiliation campaign! If you don't come here for 90 days, they are going to write your name on the table: Simo, 0 times." The other person expressed disbelief, after which the conversation quickly petered out.

Last week was tired and uneventful.