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This is The 38th Signal, a weblog about design, coding, design, experience, design, constraints, cookware, and so much more. Established 2007 in Angola.

The Dictatorial Philosophy of North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong-il posted by Justin Sep 28, 2007


This profile of Dear Leader Kim Jong-il briefly summarizes his dictatorial philosophy on running North Korea:
  • Listen to what the people want. Nuclear weapons and a state-run economy.
  • Hire good people. “Our chief concern is obtaining top-of-the-line physicists and technicians.” It pays off: North Korea has maintained a 100% retention rate for over a decade.
  • No meetings, ever. “I find them stupefying and useless. Besides, so far, I’ve never been wrong.”
  • No liberal education. “I’ve always thought this was baloney. It doesn’t take a college degree to realize North Korea is perfect.”
  • Forget the figures. “We consistently outperform last year without even trying. Our economy has been expanding at a high double-digit rate since the fifties!”
  • Occasionally, give people “a very gentle nudge”. Usually, the imprisonment or execution of a family member is sufficient.
  • He doesn’t reply to any UN Resolutions. “I’m not that talkative outside party rallies. Besides, my silence generally just increases the size of my aid package.”
  • Put speed over perfection: “It doesn’t matter that my missiles can’t make it more than a couple hundred miles. Crashing them into the Pacific creates as much buzz as Southern China.”
  • “Don’t screw up by doing things that let people realize South Korea is right across the border.”

Hey, you! Wake up! Or else! posted by Brad Sep 27, 2007


Sleepers. Customers who signed up for free accounts, but never upgraded. In fact, their accounts have gone completely idle. You had them briefly ensnared, visions of dollar signs dancing in your head. But, for some reason, they didn't need or like your product. And they jumped ship.

Those bastards.

We have been thinking about how to wake these idiots up, how to snap them out of their drug-induced stupors. Why try to win a new customer -- someone with no preconceptions, someone who might actually like your product -- when you can annoy the folks who have decided your services simply aren't worthwhile? You don't deserve to be treated like this. After all, you have expensive toys to buy, don't you?

It's time to get even. Harangue these people. Shout in their ears. Harass and annoy them. Punish them for trusting you with their contact info, but not their money.

That's right, baby. Spam them into the next time zone.

Spam reminds these people that you're in the driver's seat, that you're not afraid to bring out the big guns. It says, "Fork over the dough, fools, or our relationship is gonna be nothing but a slow tango through a vat of marketing slime! We've got all the time in the world, and an SMTP server to match! Let's dance!"

If they still don't respond, pull a fast bait and switch. Tell 'em you'll cut the price for a little while. Then, two months down the road, they'll be right back where they started -- thinking you're product sucks -- but they'll be paying you, too. Now that's customer service.

So that's how it's done, kids. Profit at all costs. Your customers don't know what they like, so take what's yours: their inboxes, or their money.


I'll Buy!!! I'll Buy!!! Please don't hurt me... posted by Tony Sep 24, 2007


The internet is full of people that, for whatever arbitrary reason, don't want your product. That's unacceptable. They can't be trusted to know how to spend their money. They need education. They need direction. And if that doesn't work, they need a little "help" making the decision to buy.

There's always one more reason not to buy, like "It's not in the budget", or "Your product is terrible", but you know best about your product, not them. Objections like "I really don't ever need to do what your product helps people do" are uninformed at best. The proposition is always clear: "Make something I want, and I'll give you my money for it". There's always that one more thing to do before customers will part with their money. Maybe they have some interesting points, but you can't sit and wait for that money to come to you, you've got a business to run.

That's why we've taken to contracting with an outside agency, The Vito Gambrese Family, to help us educate customers about the value of our products. Tony "Knuckles" Cinzetti has done wonders for our customer loyalty. The technique: Get a few key objectors "on the bandwagon" and the rest seem to fall in line. Listen to these customer endorsements:
  • This product is great. I'd never even think of being disloyal to the company ever again.
  • I love this product *wimper*. It hurts me to think of not buying another one every week *sniff*
  • Not the knees... oh god, please, not the knees...
So, let that be a lesson. There's a whole world of potential customers out there with a ton of reasons not to buy. Perhaps you just need the right kind of persuasion.


Secrets to Ninja Assassin's Success posted by RJ Sep 17, 2007


Low Fidelity offers a some secrets to the success of Ninja Assassins based on the interviews and writings of (now dead) early defectors. Some of the choice bits are below.

Teams are small. Large groups of black-pajama-clad men tend to attract attention, while two or three can slip past guards like a tigress through the meadows of the Xinjing-Jan province.

Focus on the customer. Memorize every aspect of their movement and learn to think as they do. They may become your next target.

Less is more. Customer satisfaction means limiting your attack to the target in question. And possibly anyone who may have seen the crime. And the guards. And anyone who may have seen the guards. And their families. Truthfully, anyone within a 2 mile radius is probably fair game.

Strictly enforce company standards. Let your team know that certain tools and practices, like five-pronged shirken or fluffy-dice nunchuncks, will not be tolerated. Enforce these policies with a public shaming ceremony in which the offending ninja is forced act as the foot stool of a sweaty sumo during his seventh evening meal.

Take it for granted that missions might fail - that's reality; embrace it. Embrace it with the quick and bloody death that failure deserves, but embrace it.

Advertise by not advertising. Let drop a few whispers that perhaps ninjas are killing people, and soon every death in the city will be blamed on ninjas. Use the money you would spend on services like Google AdWords and TV spots to buy more shirkens.

Protect your secrets. Make sure that anyone caught revealing your techniques is quickly dispatched without warning or cause fo


Been highlighted lately? posted by Brad Sep 11, 2007


My patience is wearing thin on this one. There's this super annoying trend on web pages these days -- especially web pages trying to sell you something. You'll be reading along, trying to figure out if a product or service matches your needs, and then it happens: the text's background turns a mucusy shade of pale yellow. This gleaming stain stares you in the face, mocking you, right in the middle of the copy. That's right -- you got highlighted.

Here's a time-lapse of my experience scrolling down a site that uses this effect:

You know what that looks like? A bad trip, that's what.

There's more than the hallucinations, too. Highlighting distracts you, and worse, it makes you feel dumb, like they think you can't read -- it's like the <blink> tag all over again. Every piece of highlighted text is the same, condescendingly coughed up in the same sickly yellow, sucker-punching your ego, cut off and disconnected from your copy, your site, and your design. Using this technique makes everything look splotchy and erratic.

So next time you're hawking a product, stop insulting me and think twice before you start playing with the highlighter. I'll take notes for myself, thanks very much.

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