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Comments on Monday 23 February 2004:
Computer scent technology isn't a new idea - there was a company working on it for games, at least a year ago - but I don't think it was proposed as an email thing at that time. Why not pay to receive scented email - it'll be great for spam and, er, more spam. Oh, and idiots could use it to spice up their emails, like they do with stupid emoticons. At a cost of only 250 quid plus refills when supermarkets and travel agents spam away your entire stock of scent, who could resist? At least the game idea was slightly compelling - that adding the scent of grass and trees when you're outside in an RPG, and the scent of blood and metal in a battle, would make it that little bit more immersive. But who wants to be immersed in spam? Sure, that's a great title for a gameshow, but it's not a very compelling offer. Even internet weirdos don't seem to be taken with the idea.

They haven't really explored all their options, either - email is perhaps the single least useful place to embed scents. Imagine the web! People could add stupid smells all over their websites. There would be websites offering thousands of free scent combinations. Best of all, there would be scents that don't occur in nature, which people would plaster all over their stupid geocities sites, which would ever after be thought of as the smell of animated gifs. You could judge websites inane without even opening your eyes - and even with the midi sound muted! And spyware could record which smells you seem to like, and pump those smells at you when you're looking at spyware sponsors' products.

Best of all, "Telewest says its 'scent dome' ... would only work with a high-speed, broadband connection." Even though "a scented e-mail would contain electronic signals that would tell the dome to release the smell of flowers, perfume or coffee." How can this only work with a high-speed connection? They're mixing 20 base scents. You can't possibly require more than a few hundred bytes to encode that, including foolishly verbose header information.

My guess is the whole thing is just a scammy exploitation of news for free brand-name-awareness advertising. And thus I am helping, by linking the article and mentioning Telewest. Twice. [13:44]

Frogg
I dunno, it's quite possible for a scent-thingy like you describe to require a high-bandwidth connection. See, there's two aspects you forgot. Sure, there's only 20 scents, but there's amounts of those to be mixed. .5A + .3B + .1C might be the smell of freshly cut grass, while A + B + C might just induce sneezing in people with hay fever.

The second thing you missed was that large corporations like to pad their coding with large amounts of bullshit code: resetting variables to what they were initialized as, or using if-then-else statements instead of switch-case statements are two examples.

Not to mention that these manufacturers would want their scents to be dynamic, so that the rotten food at the beginning of the commercial would smell different from the restauraunt advertiser's display of wondrous foods at the end of the commercial.

RavenBlack
No, I forgot neither of those aspects. The *code* wouldn't be in the email at all, that would be in an external driver or near-driver piece of software, so would require at most a large hard drive or memory.

And the first thing I didn't forget at all - if the signal were in binary, and there were 4 billion possible amounts for each scent, that would still only require 80 bytes of data. Since email isn't binary I was allowing that to be written in hexadecimal, making it 160 bytes of data. Since they might want their device to be future-proof, I was allowing for the same 8-byte codes for each quantity plus a stupid header for each scent in addition to the code, ie. "X-scent-ammonia: FFFFFFFF" or "<SCENTDOME AMMONIA-VALUE="FFFFFFFF">", ie. a lot fewer than 50 bytes per scent even with a header for each part, ie. not more than a few hundred bytes for the whole lot. In the largest feasible case.

Frogg
True enough, I suppose. But you have to remember corporate stupidity probablywound't send it as that, they'd probably send it as something like "Telewest's Copywrighted Scent Number 35: Moldy Feet Mixed With Lemon. Copywright 2004 Telewest". And then the program would have to look it up from a table, do calculations, and then proceed to lag your computer further.

RavenBlack
But it still wouldn't be high bandwidth. There is no conceivable way to make a scent require high bandwidth, short of encoding the individual molecules, which is too stupid even for corporate stupidity.

James
Streaming scent?

Frogg
Or just streaming stupidity.

Frogg
Oh god, a horrid thought occured to me as I was perusing the Telewest site. What happens if you get barraged with three dozen popup windows that send signals to the little Net-Scent box (or whatever the hell it's called)? Olfactory overload.

AttackOfTheSpam
I don't think they'd be able to make it foolproof, anyway - it'd be way too easy to market Internet inhalents. People could snort white-out from the privacy of their own cubicle.

Digi
I have several things to say. Lovely.

Ms. Spam: the pseudo-psychoactive properties of Tipex arn't in it's scent. You can't actually download scents, you can only download data, that's then interpreted by software, which controls hardware, which releases substances that're sitting right next to you anyway. But even if that wern't the case, wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to just buy some Tipex, and sniff that in your cubicle? Seeing as, you know, it's a perfectly innocent-looking lump of office mess anyway?

Next thing (no longer speaking to/about Spam): I'm more and more noticing a trend of the form:

Person 1 "This, this, and that."
Person 2 "No, that isn't right. This is why."
Person 1 "America/large Corporations/people in general are crap, and stupid, which makes me right, and we agree!"
Person 2 "But that has nothing to do with..."
Person 1 "AMER1CA SUX!!!11"

And not just here.

Another point: why would an ISP, an ISP well known for it's particularly nazi attitude to throughput, make something that was stupidly high bandwidth?

And the last: Golly, computers releasing vapours. What's next, programs that install webcams in your monitor, so that pee-douf-isles can spy on your kids?

Frogg
Digi: Quick, patent that idea.

AttackOfTheSpam
Ooops... not being acquainted with the techniques and/or substances associated with any inhalents whatsoever (except that video they show everyone in seventh grade of people doing drugs and then dying dramatically) I really had no idea how they worked or how easy/difficult it would be to procure them.

Your next statement is disconcertingly correct. However, is it really a bad thing, apart from occasional shaky evidence? I mean, all things considered, the debates here are nice. I rarely come into contact with anyone who uses four-syllable words on a regular basis and doesn't insert 'like' or 'umm' or 'ya know' every three words.

Back to the shaky evidence. Can you supply an example? I can't from memory and lack the motivation to sift through archives.

Frogg & Digi: I think someone already did. There's a daycare somewhere here in America that has webcams installed all over, so parents can check up on their kids. Unfortunately, there's no password to the cams, so it's pretty much open to anyone who wants to stare at two-to-eleven-year-olds.

RavenBlack
...but then, so are playgrounds.

Frogg
Except playground stalkers are creepy. Webcam voyeurists are just sick and twisted.

AttackOfTheSpam
And now they can be sick and twisted from the privacy of their own cubicle while happily inhaling the scents of flowers, perfume, or coffee! They could pretend they were sniffing coffee-scented toddlers!

RavenBlack
Ooh, nice segue back to the original topic. And quite amusing too.

AttackOfTheSpam
I do so love a good segue. What would one call a segue back towards an original topic? That's a bit of a paradox, but only sort of... It's a segue segue! Whoa.

And now I've segued back from the original topic to something totally random and stupid. Tear.

Brian
I think digiscents.com was the company that was trying to do it for games... but they're no longer around.
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