The Web Designers – Pointless Letter #4

Pointless Letter

I receive a lot of emails from offshore web design companies asking if we would like to outsource our work to them. Normally I send the emails straight to the virtual grey, round filing cabinet without reading them. However, for some reason I read this guy’s first email and it irked me a little (always a bad thing). And he then followed it up with two more emails, which irked me a bit more. So I decided to hit him with one of my Pointless Letters. Here’s the thread, with his emails appearing first…

His First Email...

Dear Sir/Madam,   I am Peter, Business Development Manager,   We are an INDIA based Web Services Company with primary focus on Website Designing & Development.

We have our competency in CMS (Joomla, Modx, Mambo and other quality Content Management System) and e-commerce website.   As many as 90% websites do not bring business to their potential because they do not appeal to the target audience. And the reason most visitors leave a website is because of a complex design and navigation. So is your website really customer-ready? Not really, if we go by the analysis of our experts.   With an experience of developing more than 2500 websites successfully, we can help you earn more business from your website if you are ready to redesign your website.  Most of our clients have benefited from our expertise. Most firms from UK, USA, Canada and Australia overseas have achieved a significant amount of savings by outsourcing either complete or part of their work to us in India.    We wish you the best of luck and looking forward to a long and healthy business relationship with you.   Getting started is easy. Just mail us and we will definitely help you to achieve your business goals and objectives.   I look forward to your reply.

Peter Business Development Manager   Disclaimer: The CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act) establishes requirements for those, who send commercial email, spells out penalties for spammers, and companies whose products are advertised in spam if they violate the guidelines, and gives consumers the right to ask emailers to control it.

His Second Email...

Hope you are doing well. Haven't heard back from you, just wondering if you are interested in our services. Let me know if you are interested and we can discuss this further.   I look forward to your response.

His Third Email...

I am Waiting for your response yet…… Kindly let us know if you are interested in our services, so that we can discuss it further. We will be happy to assist you and looking for your positive response.   I look forward to your response.

My Response...


I hope you don’t mind me calling you Pete. Actually, I’ve changed my mind. Can I call you Greg? Thanks Greg.

Having read your response regarding my non-response to your response to your original email, I feel duty bound to respond. I am the Response Manager and my responsibility lies with responding to responses questioning lack of response. I do hope that makes sense.

Anyway, I reviewed your initial email and you’re absolutely right. Award yourself a big gold star and stick it to your handsome forehead, Crazy Chops. Our website is not ‘customer ready’. However, I’m sure that when I make you aware of our very niche target market, you’ll sink to your knees in amazement and realise the genius behind our work. We are actually the leading website in the world for meerkats with drink problems. That’s right - LEADING!

Now Betty, I know what you’re thinking (I hope you don’t mind the name change. I hate the name Greg - every Greg I’ve ever met in my life has been a crazy, deluded psychopath!). You’re wondering how you might be able to help us become EVEN BETTER. Well, let me lay it out for you big boy…

I believe that we could utilise your skills in Wordpress, Joomia, Modx, Jamiroquai, Scrabble and Deal Or No Deal to help us reach out to other possible target audiences. For example, elephants with halitosis or chipmunks with a gambling addiction. I’m sure you’ll appreciate that these are big markets with the potential to earn us millions of jelly babies every month.

As you can imagine, I look forward to seeing what proposals you might have for us. Not marriage ones though - we’re not in to that, unless you’re prepared line our hands with gold (or our stomachs with Gummy Berry Juice)

Anyway, I await your email with bated breath. However, with that said, I won’t be holding my breath for a response.

Yours truly, forever and ever, ‘til death do us part.

Bruce Picklebottom

Disclaimer: The Can Of Spam Act of 2003 requires me to recommend to you a pre-cooked meat product after every email. I would like to assure you that spam can be delicious, especially when served in between two slices of pre-toasted bread, perhaps with the addition of an optional slice of cheese (note that cheese is not automatically included). If you wish to opt out of eating said pork product, you can do so by choosing not to open your mouth.

The Fun Of Online Customer Services

Customer Services - Help

This afternoon, I had an online chat with a customer service representative from a well-known software company. Often chats like this can be dull, so I was determined to make it a little more interesting. However, he partially managed to do that himself with his incompetence at clicking wrong buttons for set phrases. Here’s the script of the chat…

You are now chatting with William from Customer Services.

William: Is there anything else I can help you with? William: Hello! Welcome to Customer Services. William: Sorry for the first statement.

Robert: No worries, you must have clicked the wrong button. These things happen.

William: Hi Robert.

Robert: Hi.

William: May I please have your email address registered with your account while I review your request?

Robert: Yes, it’s …@…. (but only on weekends)

William: Thank you. William: I understand that you have ordered the software and did not receive the download link to your account. Am I right?

Robert: I’ve received the link to the login page but, I don’t know what to log in with…

William: I am sorry to hear that.

Robert: Thank you, that means a lot.

William: Welcome, Let me see how best I can help you with this issue. May I place you on hold for 2-3 minutes while I check for the information.

Robert: Sure, please go ahead. Am I allowed to hum the theme to Two And A Half Men whilst I wait? Robert: “men men men, menmen menmen men, men men men…”

William: Thank you for waiting. One moment please.

Robert: You’re welcome. I hope you don’t mind, but whilst I have been waiting I’ve been vacuuming and dusting (this office needs a damn good clean, I tell you! Are any of your friends cleaners, by any chance?)

William: Thank you for the patience.

Robert: That’s what my Doctor said yesterday when I took some of my ill friends in for their flu inoculations…

William: Sorry for the wait. Please do stay online.

Robert: I’m quite happy to do that, so long as I don’t have an urgent need to pee, bake a cake or polish my wok…

William: Not to worry, I will send you the reset password link to your email address. please login to this email and click on the password link to reset the password. Is that fine with you?

Robert: Yes, please do. Thank you. How long is the email likely to take? Is it going to be instant or should I get a sleeping bag?

William: Thank you for the patience.

Robert: That’s what my Doctor said this morning when I took some of my ill family members in for their flu inoculations…

William: I have sent you the password link. Please login to this email and click on the password link to reset the password.

Robert: Ok. I’m waiting for the email - do you know how long it might take? (I’m just wondering if I have time to hang the washing out?)

William: Let me check information for you.

Robert: Thank you.

William: Here’s the link: please click on the link to reset the password.

Robert: Perfect - that’s worked.

William: That’s great! Is there anything else I can help you with?

Robert: No, that’s all. Thanks William. If only everyone in the world was as helpful and efficient as you. May you be blessed with happiness, good fortune and a large tub of cottage cheese…

William: You may receive an email survey in reference to this interaction. Your feedback is very much appreciated.

Robert: Sure. I’ll suggest they give you a big, gold star and promote you to management. I think I’ve asked this before, but are any of your friends cleaners?

William: It’s my pleasure serving you. William: Since we have not heard from you for some time, we will now end this chat.  Please click to chat with us again if we can be of further assistance. William: Sorry for the last statement. William: Thank you for contacting us.  We are available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Goodbye!

Robert: The pleasure has been all mine. Robert: What have you done with my cat!? Robert: Sorry for the last statement (clicked the wrong button!).

The Email Suggestion – Pointless Letter #3

With the Internet businesses I run, I receive a lot of feedback emails. The majority are really pleasant and useful, and I reply in-kind. But, just occasionally, I receive one that gets my goat. I mean, it’s not difficult to be pleasant, is it? So, today, because I was in a funny mood, I decided to reply with one of my pointless letters. His email was about the search engine on one of my websites.

Here is the email I received…

I entered the sought after abbreviation with a few leading and trailing spaces. Your search engine failed to find any expansion. This is a very poor show on your part. It's the programmers' duty to remove leading and trailing spaces, Not the users'. Please let me know when this has been fixed.

My response:

Dear X,

Thank you for your email. Your suggestion to remove spaces is one of the best we have received this week, second only to the idea of strapping flapjacks to pigs, which we are currently looking into (you should see the prototype, it really is something to behold).

Far from being a company who simply jump in and adopt every suggestion that comes our way, we like to take time to assess the positives and negatives of every suggestion. Yours is no exception. I’m excited to be able to tell you that we only found one negative, and it is this. As I’m sure you’re aware, several spaces in a row can make an abbreviation in itself. It is commonly used for giving a person time to think and breathe. Without these spaces, people may be forced to not take pauses between words or sentences, whichwouldbeterribleandmakeitverydifficulttounderstandwhattheyaresaying.

Despite coming up with that particular negative, we can see no others. So, I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we have taken your feedback onboard and have updated our search system to include this fantastic new feature. Now, although I’d like to take the development of our search engine a step further in assisting you and make it prepare you a mug of Bovril, massage your feet at the end of a long day and wipe your bottom for you, i regret that I won’t be able to do that. Still, don’t let that stop you from doing those things yourself, eh?

Please don’t let what I’ve said detract from the fact that your suggestion was a very good one. I have no doubt that it will improve the lives of tens of people throughout the world, all of whom might have been unable to fathom the idea of removing a space from before or after their search term before carrying out their search. May they be eternally grateful and send you Christmas cards year after year… assuming they can lick their own stamp for the envelope…

Give Me Some Stick - Pointless Letter #2

Email Letter

I visited London today to meet up with a friend of mine, Marcus Oakey (Marcus - you owe me a tea for the shameless plug!).

On the train journey home, I was checking my work emails and, as usual, sifting my way through the spam that had somehow fooled my spam filter (possibly with some kind of cloaking device or tomfoolery) and made it to my Inbox. For some reason, one particular email tickled my funny bone and I felt obliged to respond in the most stupid way I could think of. Here is the email, together with the message that I sent back in response…

Spam email (from ‘Wooden sticks for ice cream’):

Wooden sticks for ice cream, medical sticks and sticks for coffee.. (Birch, alder) Origin- Ukraine
94x10x2, 114x10x2, 150x16x2

My response:

Dear Mr Wooden Sticks For Ice Cream,

Thank you for your email informing me that you sell wooden sticks for ice cream, coffee and medicinal purposes (presumably for jabbing into people’s mouths, ears and up people’s bottoms - although, one hopes, not at the same time). I’m delighted to tell you that your email couldn’t be better timed. I have an urgent requirement for a wooden stick for soup - do you do those? Do you? I hope you do. Do tell me you do do do do do those?

No, seriously, do you?

Before you respond, please allow me to explain a little more about my enquiry. I am, very shortly, due to undertake a world record attempt for charity that involves swimming in a gigantic bowl of soup and I will be needing a robust, unyielding stick to stir said (tomato and basil) soup. The stick will need to be approximately 20 feet long and strong enough to take my weight as I lower myself in (I will be dressed as a crouton for added flamboyance).

The aim of my world record attempt is to raise money and awareness for the WWF (it’s an animal charity, I believe… I can’t say I’ve ever heard of it… I’m only really doing the challenge because I love soup). With that in mind, I am therefore wondering whether it would be possible for you to make the stick fatter at one end and sculpt the end of it for me? I know what you’re thinking - this could all too easily end up becoming a spoon - but ‘stick’ with me on this! Anyway, I was thinking about making the end of the stick resemble the shape of an extinct animal - a Dodo, Tyrannosaurus Rex or Goldfish would be perfect! Is it possible to construct, carve and fudge together such an amazing masterpiece?

Moving on to available budget, I have worked hard to put together as much money as I can for this spoon stick. I’ve emptied every savings account (including those of my elderly neighbours), sold my mother-in-law and scavenged the backs of every sofa in every Costa coffee shop south of Birmingham. I hope you’ll therefore appreciate it when I tell you that I have raised… and I think this deserves a drum roll… £1.42. Yes, THAT MUCH!! :-)

Please give time to think over my proposal. I look forward to hearing your response, oh kind and honourable stick man.

Bruce Picklebottom

Funny Slogans In Online Dating Profiles

Online Dating

Ok, I admit it, I’ve been dabbling in the world of online dating. It’s been an interesting and, occasionally, eye-opening experience.

Earlier today, I was looking through a few online dating profiles and the following irritating phrase came up several times:

“I’m a lil like marmite - you either love me or hate me."

Ah, ok, so you’re not a “lil like marmite” because you’re thick, pasty and smell like shit? Why include such an inappropriate and over-used slogan in your profile? If you do include one, at least use something interesting, like:

  • "I'm like Gillette - the best a man can get"
  • "I'm a bit like your MasterCard - I'm your flexible friend"
  • "I'm a bit like Kelloggs Frosties… I'm grrrrrreat!"

Anyway, this observation got me wondering what company slogan comparisons I could use in my own online dating profile. I think I’ll include some of the following:

I am like:

Sony: Stella Artois: Reassuringly expensive Britvic: Simply the best there is Greggs Bakers: Ready when you are Burger King: The home of the Whopper KFC: Finger lickin' good Milky Way: I’m the sweet you can eat between meals (without ruining your appetite) Energizer Batteries: I keep going, and going, and going Martini: Any time, any place, any where Sainsbury’s: Try something new today Peperami: I’m a bit of an animal Nintendo DS: Touching is good Pringles: Once I pop, the fun don’t stop Rennie: Powerful relief in just two minutes Burger King (2): It takes two hands to hold a Whopper Rowntrees Fruit Gums: There’s juice loose aboot this hoose Opal Fruits: Made to make your mouth water Smarties: Wot a lot I got Hewlett Packard: Expanding possibilities Shredded Wheat: Bet you can’t eat three

and finally, my favourite: Wagon Wheels: It’s so big, you’ve gotta grin to get it in

Are You A Facebook Addict?

Facebook Addict

Are you addicted to Facebook - the social media website? Do you find yourself logging on whilst at work, at home in bed, on the toilet and in the bath?

Following on from my popular article, The Self-Importance of Facebook & Twitter, I aim to find out just how addicted to social media you are, using this simple story test.

Select the options that best apply to you…

1. It is 8am on Monday morning and you wake up feeling weary, having ended a late-night Facebook Poker game at 5am. You lost $8,456,947 to a guy named ‘Billy J’, who you’ve never met (it’s a good job the money isn’t real). You stare are your alarm clock in disbelief - in 10 minutes the bus leaves for work. Which of these best applies to you?

  1. You get dressed quickly, grab a piece of toast and scamper to the bus stop, with your shoes on the wrong feet and your underwear sticking out of your trousers.
  2. You log straight on to Facebook to check your messages and your poker balance (hey, they give you $10 worth of chips just for logging on, reducing your balance to -$8,456,937). You then post a message onto your boss's wall to say that you're going to be late for work (he'll forgive you because you can get him into trouble with his wife by tagging him in those 'Christmas office party' photos from last year, where he was caught in a compromising position with Angela from Accounts)

2. You feel unpopular, and it’s not surprising. Other than work, your only regular trip into the outside world is when you take the bin out for the dustmen. Your only offline friends are the bus driver (who you’ve known for ten years) and the rat that lives under your kitchen floorboards (who you’ve known for three months). It’s time to think seriously about changing your life to increase your social circle. Do you:

  1. Make a resolution to make changes, find a local club to join and start a gym membership (a good way to meet new people).
  2. Start a Facebook group called "If I get 1,000,000 followers I will get a tattoo of Barack Obama on my bottom" and wait for lots of people to join (which, inevitably, they will).

3. You go to the cinema with your friend (the bus driver, not the rat). Which of these applies to you?

Cinema Screen
  1. You relax and watch the film, enjoying the great plot, dialogue and scenery.
  2. You sit in your chair, posting the plot twists onto Facebook every 5 minutes, thinking you're great. However, in actual fact, you're just ruining it for anyone wanting to see the movie themselves and pissing off the people sitting around you, who think you're a moron.

During the movie, a drunk guy, sitting two seats to your left, passes across a beer label with the following words scribbled on the back: “You have received a friend request from Billy Johnson. Accept / Decline.”

4. It’s your Mum’s birthday tomorrow (a handy message came up on your Facebook sidebar to remind you). Do you:

  1. Visit the shops to buy her a present and a big bunch of flowers, taking time to choose a present that she'll really love.
  2. Send her a 'virtual gift' bunch of flowers, costing $1, and then post "hpapy brithdy" on her wall (mis-spelled because you get distracted by an incoming chat request from a Russian hooker).

Musical Note Icon

5. Musical Interlude…

“If a picture paints a thousand words, then:"

  1. "why can't I paint you?"
  2. "I'll stick it onto my 'super wall.'"

6. You haven’t heard from your brother in a couple of weeks. He has been going through a terrible time recently. He lost his job, his girlfriend dumped him and his goldfish died (of neglect, but that’s not the point!). Do you:

  1. Give him a call, check he's ok, have a long chat and invite him over for a meal.
  2. 'Poke' him.

7. Your best friend, the bus driver, has just called. His wife has just given birth to a little baby girl. Which of these applies to you?

  1. You visit the hospital to congratulate him and see the baby (you'll have to get a taxi, as there is no bus today and the rat has eaten through your only pair of shoes)
  2. You sit there shocked - you didn't even know his wife was pregnant… in fact, you can't even remember him being married. You then do him the biggest favour that any best friend could. You go onto the Facebook website and set his day-old daughter, Dorkis Clapsaddle, up with a new account.

8. You hobble into town, to buy a rat trap and a new pair of shoes, and you spot a man on fire. His drunken attempt to juggle fire has clearly backfired, and now he is well alight. His trousers have burnt away, revealing a tattoo of Barack Obama on his bottom. Which of these applies to you?

  1. You rush towards him and help put the fire out (using your coat, bag or the little old lady standing next to you)
  2. You rush towards him, retrieve your phone from your pocket, take a photo (making sure to include the tattoo) and share it with your Facebook followers (ensuring you caption it with "look, a man on fire!") Then, not wanting to waste the opportunity, you take a quick video and upload it to Facebook and YouTube.

The fire is finally extinguished. Lying on the ground with second degree burns, the guy hands you a beer label… on it is scribbled “Billy Johnson has invited you to join the Facebook group ‘Learn How To Juggle Fire Without Getting Burned.’ Accept / Decline.”

9. You have decided to throw a party at the weekend. You’ve invited lots of people from work, including your boss and Angela from Accounts (you’re hoping to get some new blackmail material). The bus driver will be laying on transport and Billy Johnson and friends from your fire juggling Facebook group will be providing entertainment (you’ve ensured you have a ready supply of fire extinguishers). However, you don’t know what to wear. It needs to be something nice, but also something that allows you to hide in corners and take embarrassing photographs. Do you:

  1. Go out to the local shopping centre and look for a nice outfit that will give a good impression to guests.
  2. Take photos of your current wardrobe and then set up a poll, inviting the current 999,956 followers of your 'Barack Obama tattoo' Facebook group to vote for their favourite outfit.

10. A week after the party, you’re cooking in the kitchen with your brother (the good news is that he is still alive… unlike his poor goldfish!). He makes the suggestion that you might be addicted to Facebook and suggests a ‘Social Media Detox’. Do you:

  1. Agree to it - it can't do you any harm and it'll prove that you can live without social networking. Hey, you might even enjoy it!
  2. Shout at him "I'M NOT ADDICTED," before bludgeoning him over the head with the only thing you can reach - a fire extinguisher.

So, are you a Facebook addict?

Rat on Mouse

Right, it’s a simple calculation. If you have answered with mostly b’s then you have a Facebook addiction, which can probably be sorted out. If you have answered with ALL b’s, then you should proceed directly to the lunatic asylum (that’s not a Facebook group, by the way) for a ‘digital cleanse’ (similar to colonic irrigation, but the other end). Oh, and before you go, don’t forget to update your status to let all your friends know where you’re going…

If you have answered with mostly, or all, a’s then congratulations, you’re not addicted. Send yourself a ‘glass of champagne’ Facebook gift, in celebration.

Funny Google Search Suggestions

Google’s Autocomplete service has provided some fun and quirky suggestions since Google fully launched the service back in 2008. For those who don’t know what Google Autocomplete is: when you start typing words into the Google search engine, Google provides a list of possible suggestions to complete your query. I tried a few searches today, using, and here are some screenshots of the funny results…

Today’s health and safety tip…


I’ve been wondering a lot about this lately…


Well, it’s a good question. There’s something else I really need to know…


Whilst I’m on the subject…


I’m desperate for the toilet, but my friend’s flat has triple velvet toilet paper…


I know 3 people called Paul… now, that’s what I call choice!

Hang on, what’s this little round sweet I’ve just found? There’s a note with it…


I really love my cat. But he has a very unusual appearance…

Google - My Cat

Listen, I’ve got a friend who is vertically challenged. We are planning a late night burglery, so I really want to know…

Google Autocomplete - Midget

Enough of this nonsense. It’s time we asked some important questions. As someone who uses Facebook, I feel I must find out…


That seems rather harsh! I’m also a fan of Twitter…


Well, I’m not sure which of those applies to me… ah, yes, all of them.

Let’s finish off with a comparison. I know a lot of American and British people. So, Google…

why-are-americans why-are-british-people
Other websites: Laura's List
Autocomplete Me

So, what causes these spurious suggestions to appear when you type a search into Google? Well, it’s all down to their algorithms finding these phrases in pages throughout the Internet. That’s right, somewhere on the Internet the phrase “I want to do a poo at Paul’s” has been mentioned a large number of times.

What I am now wondering is whether a new phrase could be added to Google Autocomplete if it is mentioned enough times. Shall I start a campaign for people to add the phrase “I want to lick Barack Obama’s armpit” into their blogs and web pages?

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The Self-Importance Of Facebook, Twitter

Self Important Flag-Bearer

Is Social Networking Breeding a New Culture Of Self-importance?

So, you’ve got 200 Facebook friends and 20 Twitter followers. You feel important - right up there, in celebrity status, alongside Tom Cruise, Pope Benedict XVI and… Susan Boyle. People seem to want to follow your every move - and you oblige by telling them when you eat breakfast, visit the toilet and wash your best pair of pants.

Then, one day, you go through your friends list and it hits you - 195 of your 200 Facebook friends are actually made up of the following:

1) Former classmates from school (who you didn’t really know because you were busy studying in the library or hiding in the janitor’s cupboard whilst they were fighting, smoking and having teenage sex behind the lockers)

2) Old work colleagues (who regularly taunted you for your unusual dress sense and over-large nose).

3) People you met once at a social occasion, but never really spoke to. You just remember their name and the fact that they like bird watching.

4) People who mistake you for someone else (well, you did put a picture of Scooby Doo as your profile photo) and then can’t be bothered to remove you when they realise you’re not who they thought you were.

Despite discovering all this, you still find yourself needing to log on to Facebook and Twitter at every available opportunity to check whether someone has written on your wall (technically, graffiti), posted a follow-up to your comment, or to see if someone has re-tweeted your earlier 140 character creation of genius. Later that day, your only real friend goes through your Twitter followers list and breaks some extra bad news to you: 18 of your 20 Twitter followers are actually just porn pedlars.

The Lives Of The Self-Important

Social Media - Holding Hands

So, why do social networking websites make people think that they must share everything with the world? Perhaps it is down to the questions that they ask: “what are you doing?” or “what’s happening?” (Twitter) or “what’s on your mind?” (Facebook). It’s a dream come true for people with over-inflated egos.

I’m amazed when people tweet that they’re sitting in traffic on the motorway, washing their hair or about to go out and buy a new pair of knickers. Now, if they were about to meet Pope Benedict XVI (or Susan Boyle, I don’t mind which) and present him (or her) with the fore-mentioned pair of knickers, I would be interested (and would probably even re-tweet it to my own tens of ‘interested’ followers). For me, these people put the “twit” into Twitter.

When out in public, the behaviour of the self-important is extraordinary to watch. I observed one such person on Friday night. I was in a busy cocktail bar and as it got towards the end of the night, I glanced to the side of the room to observe a rather inebriated man sit down at a computer screen and log in to Facebook. You could tell he was drunk - it was a real struggle for him to locate and type each letter of his username and password. If that wasn’t a complete giveaway to his drunken state, his next action certainly was, as he got up shouted out “I’ve got my lasagne” and then proceeded to pull a small plastic bag out of his pocket (containing said lasagne) and whirl it round and round his head in celebration…

Now then, at that point I could have considered it to be a monumental moment worth sharing with the Internet world, taken out my iPhone and tweeted ‘just stood in a cocktail bar and watched a man whirl lasagne around his head". Did I? No… damn, why didn’t I?

To conclude this rant, an idea: Perhaps Twitter should change its initial question to say: “so, what makes you think you’re so bloody interesting today?”

Maybe someone should also start a list of ‘self-important people’ (not to be confused with ‘self impotent’ people - that’s a different blog post altogether), gather them all in the same place, with their computers and mobile phones, and see what happens. Forget the Hadron Collider and the Maya 2012 predictions  - this idea could really cause the destruction of mankind!