Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994

Archive for the ‘Technology’

Monday Morning Vent: How to deal with spammers

January 18, 2016 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Technology 1 Comment →


Each day we are deluged with spam, which sounds like meatloaf is falling from the sky. If only meatloaf were falling from the sky, preferably not in cans because that would cause mass concussions and property damage. We mean texts, emails, messages from strangers with designs upon our money.

Some of them are only annoying—real estate offers, no-collateral loans, etc—and easy enough to delete, unless they have the nerve to call you when you’re busy, in which case you are within your rights to yell at them.

Some of them are pathetic little scams aimed at robbing you of 300 pesos. They tell you that you’ve been sent MMS and in order to get it you have to reply by to a certain number with a prefix. It’s a trick to make you send money (pasa-load) to the conmen.

Some of them are messages purportedly from your friends or relatives who have been mugged and left stranded in foreign countries.

Some claim to have stolen large sums of money from their governments, and need friendly bank accounts to hide the money in. Resist the urge to tell them to go fuck themselves—why should they have any fun?

Some claim that you are entitled to something you never signed up for, and if you actually turn up to claim it, reveal that you have to pay. Other spammers prey on the credulous, the uninformed and the greedy, but these are particularly scuzzy because they take advantage of people’s real needs.

Got any scam stories? In the meantime, here’s a guy who’s done what we’ve always wanted to do: reply to spam and string the spammer along. His book wrote itself.

Dino Ignacio leaves Dead Space for Oculus

September 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Technology No Comments →

Dino Ignacio, creator of the proto-meme Bert Is Evil (and designer of our first website, has left Electronic Arts, where he was User Interface Director at Visceral Games (developer of the survival horror game Dead Space).

Photo from

He has joined Oculus VR, maker of the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. Facebook bought Oculus last year for 2 billion dollars.

Oculus Rift photo from The Guardian

This is a shocking development because Electronic Arts is doing the new Star Wars games and Dino loves Star Wars so much he used to go around in an imperial stormtrooper uniform. For all we know he still wears it to do the groceries, because we haven’t seen him in over a decade.

While watching the very gray trailer for the Batman vs Superman movie, we remembered Rex Navarette’s stand-up routine, Maritess vs the Superfriends, which Dino illustrated and animated.

Since we only do antisocial media (i.e. actual conversation over a meal), we only heard of Dino’s career movements two weeks ago when we saw Budjette and Joey.

Mr Robot: The show that hacked the news

September 11, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Technology, Television 2 Comments →

The revolution is being televised, in the form of a cyber-thriller on the previously unheralded USA Network. Written and produced by Sam Esmail, Mr Robot is so plugged into the zeitgeist that you could watch it instead of the nightly news. In the series premiere, an anarchist group called fsociety hacks into a conglomerate’s systems and makes confidential information available to the public. In the real world, a website for cheaters was hacked and sensitive personal information made available to the public.

The airing of Mr Robot’s season one finale was postponed because of its distressing similarity to an actual event: the on-air murder of two journalists in Virginia. This is not the first time that the real world has borrowed its script from television. Sixteen years ago, an episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was pulled from the air because it featured a student who was apparently planning mass murder. The episode had been shot before the Columbine massacre, but was delayed due to concerns about school violence.

Read our TV column The Binge at BusinessWorld.

Artificial intelligence for writing interactive stories

September 10, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Technology No Comments →


First the monkeys and now this.

Thanks to Juan for the alert.

Uber is the new lechong manok

August 09, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: In Traffic, Technology No Comments →

Edsa photo from InterAksyon.

You know how, in the Philippines, when a small enterprise becomes successful, everyone rushes to get into that line of business? It happened with lechong manok, shawarma, pearl drinks, milk tea. All the neighbors dreamed of being hot pan de sal magnates when I was a kid. Now I think it is happening with Uber.

Uber is the ride-sharing app that puts car owners together with people in need of transport. Essentially it’s a taxi service minus the franchise and the aggravation of haggling with taxi drivers. (Taxi apps actually legitimize the “kontrata” system—passengers offer the drivers tips even before they’ve entered the taxi. It’s a bidding war, and the result is to reward asshole behavior.)

Read our column at InterAksyon.

This is the new pillory: One stupid tweet can ruin your life

February 13, 2015 By: jessicazafra Category: Technology No Comments →

Remember: Not every thought that crosses your head is for public consumption.

Photo illustration by Andrew B. Myers. Prop stylist: Sonia Rentsch.

As she made the long journey from New York to South Africa, to visit family during the holidays in 2013, Justine Sacco, 30 years old and the senior director of corporate communications at IAC, began tweeting acerbic little jokes about the indignities of travel. There was one about a fellow passenger on the flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport:

“?‘Weird German Dude: You’re in First Class. It’s 2014. Get some deodorant.’ — Inner monologue as I inhale BO. Thank God for pharmaceuticals.”

Continue reading How One Stupid Tweet Ruined Justine Sacco’s Life in the NYT.

This is the old pillory.

John Waller in pillory. Image from Wikimedia Commons.