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  Awoooo 10:05 AM -- Wed February 1, 2006  

Big nature note, wow! I ran to grab the camera, but wasn't quick enough, especially since I sat staring with a cat in my lap for a while first. There was a coyote in our yard this morning! It was cute. We have some holes under our fence we really need to fix. So that's our first coyote, hoorah.

On the topic of less-cute predators, something really awful is being discussed on Penny Arcade. You know how you sometimes think this or that is a conspiracy, and then you go "that's silly, people can't be that evil!" and such? Only, it always turns out there really is a conspiracy, because people are seriously evil? Here's an excerpt of a message they got after having posted about dirty PR tactics of game companies:

I have in my possession a marketing plan for NBA LIVE 2004 (don't ask how I got it... ). This marketing plan actually refers to "Hiring viral specialists to advocate NBA Live online via chat rooms targeting gaming fan sites" and "Placing offensive, defensive and PR shills into common gaming chat arenas." It goes on to outline a full page of tactics for said "Guerilla Online Marketing for Core Gamers."

So there you go... don't believe the hype! About anything, ever. What they're talking about is people being paid to hang out in chat rooms and forums and advocate their products subtly. The earlier message a few days ago talked about how they were required to sign up at tons of different forums (with different names) and act normal, insinuating themselves into the community as a trusted member, and then come out with the spam. And of course, phrasing the spam as an honest recommendation from a friend. And they basically have a whole 'farm' of people doing this, like a telemarketing center, only secret.

Does that give you the heebie-jeebies too? I mean, word of mouth is almost a sacred thing. When some average joe says "Hamumu rocks!", you accept that. It has value, it's not an advertisement. But now... how do you know he wasn't paid to say it?

Well, I guess one hint would be that if he's saying Hamumu rocks, you can be quite sure he wasn't paid. I can't afford that kind of PR!
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