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Amihot? Our Computers Are Still Smoking After Voting Marathon

April 05, 2001

Unbeknown to our reporter, we decided to check the sophistication of Amihot's technology by stuffing the ballot box with a few "10" votes. Actually, make that a few hundred votes.

We--the editors at Tech Times--believe that our reporters are solid 10s in all the important areas--spelling, punctuation and writing style. Thus, we didn't see this as cheating, but rather, merely illuminating the truth.

So when our reporter began to tank in the ratings, it was time for us to step in.

Starting around lunchtime, we clicked away for a few hours, easily raising our reporter's rating a few tenths. It soon became clear that the process lent itself well to mass production, so we ordered several other reporters to start clicking or face the possibility of writing briefs for the rest of their lives.

We became frighteningly proficient at stuffing ballots, able to cast several dozen votes in a matter of minutes. We had become an Amihot machine.

Our clicking actually began to be enjoyable in a mind-numbing kind of way, similar to chopping wood in the Internet game Ultima Online (http://www.uo.com).

It took only 80 votes to raise our reporter's tally from 7.2 to 8.0. Not bad, but we knew we could do better. Must . . . find . . . more . . . slaves.

The solution was clearly to apply a higher level of technology. We went over to CNet (http://download.cnet.com) and downloaded EZ Macros, which allowed us to dump the cranky human factor in our system and automate the voting process.

Hmmm. . . EZ Macros didn't work as well as we thought. We discovered there actually are several anti-macro features built into Amihot. For example, only six consecutive votes can be cast from an open browser window. In addition, the changing banner ad at the top of the page made it difficult for EZ Macros to put the cursor in the right voting spot every time.

A small problem. We debated the issue for several hours before deciding to download yet another program--WebWasher (http://www.webwasher.com), which automatically eliminates all banner ads.

They don't know who they're dealing with here.

With our macro program purring along, we could finally relax. Oh wait . . . why run just one computer? We put two on the job, and within an hour we had our reporter's rating up to 9.5.

We ran in this mode for several hours while pondering the possibility of setting up a distributed computing system, in which all of the computers in the building could be put to work voting for our reporter--a kind of home-brew SETI project (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence at http://www.seti.org).

But we didn't need this extra horsepower. By the afternoon, the macro test had pushed our reporter's rating up to 9.9, placing her well into the top 10. We thought about pressing on for the No. 1 spot but decided that would be overkill.

After 1,600 votes, we ended the test with our reporter solidly in second place. In the ensuing weeks, she gradually dropped in the standings until she was buried in the mass of bikinis, halter tops and hot pants.

But we had confirmed our thesis that with a high-speed Internet connection, several top-of-the-line computers and the latest in software utilities, anyone can be "hot."

--THE TECH TIMES EDITORS

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