To infinity and beyond

c: | f: /

Despite spam filters and increased public awareness of scams, it must still pay for companies to employ mass-mailouts. I want to know who falls for such emails. And why.

I’ve had a few spam emails recently offering incredible deals. The one just now had the tantalising subject line:

How would you like unlimited hits to your website 15 minutes from now?

Wow! Just think, if I bought the proposed software, in just fifteen short minutes, an unlimited number of people will read this post. Analysing that concept in a little more detail:

  1. The definition of “unlimited” is “Having or seeming to have no boundaries; infinite”.
  2. Thus an infinite number of people will read this in fifteen minutes; or shortly thereafter as word spreads.
  3. As all good mathematicians know, as a value tends to infinity, 1/∞ → 0.
  4. It follows that in order to fit an infinite number of people into approximately fifteen minutes — oh, let’s call it a day to be generous — my hosting company is going to receive an awful number of http requests in a very short space of time.
  5. Further, the time between requests is going to approach 0 as the number of people reaches infinity.
  6. The upshot is that each request is going to happen with a shorter gap between it and the previous one: half a second, quarter of a second, eighth of a second… a squillionth of a second…
  7. Net result: the server will crash and my hosting company won’t be very happy with me. I’ll be off air and all the work I’ve done garnering my infinite fanbase will be lost.

All of a sudden, what started out as a fantastic shortcut to boost readership and make me off-the-charts famous was shattered. Damn you mathematics and your impervious logic.

Only mildy deterred, and being a curious sort of fellow, I clicked the proffered link anyway. My cats were instantly microwaved and my underwear caught fire, which was wholly unexpected given that we don’t own a microwave.

Within the next few seconds, Jehova’s witnesses knocked at the door offering me salvation via an amateurish-looking leaflet (a fire extinguisher would have been more appropriate, I felt) and my car melted in the driveway.

Hurriedly I rushed back to the desk and clicked the unsubscribe link in the email, whereby everything immediately returned to normal except for the trifling matter that an infinite number of other spam emails descended into my inbox and the server crashed anyway.

I’ve learned my lesson: Internet speak with forked tongue.

I want your brainjar

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