Lots to write, including "the last sixteen or so overseas holiday cards"; last posting date from the UK to the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and Eastern Europe is Friday 12th. (Western Europe: 15th, inland: 18th or 20th.) Accordingly, I'm going to keep this pretty short and write other things when the cards aren't forcing a deadline.
Incidentally, it's very difficult to find packs of cards in the UK which deliberately don't say "Merry Christmas" but instead say something religiously neutral like "Season's Greetings". Even mention of New Year is overtly Gregorian; I look forward to being wished a Happy 5765 on Tishri 1.
I accept the point that trying to get away with something secular and avoiding the C-word is a bit of a half-measure; if you know that some of your friends celebrate Hanukkah, it's most thoughtful to let them know you're thinking of them in that context at the time. (A clue for the Gentiles: Kislev 25 = December 20 this year, I believe. Guidance about how this might most sensitively be treated from an outsider's perspective would be most welcome.) Nevertheless, it does seem to be a step in the right direction. If you're wondering, the "Season's Greetings" packs that I did find were packs of charity cards in W. H. Smith's - and, even then, they mention "Christmas" on the back in terms of recycling. Hey ho.
As an even more distant aside, I notice that the only place I saw Kislev mentioned in W. H. Smith's was on the front of White Dwarf magazine, where Games Workshop have inexplicably used the name for the latest army in their Warhammer miniatures war game. Kislev details the army of the north, staunch allies of the Empire and first line of defense against the dread forces from the Chaos Wastes; I look forward to Jewish comedians teaching us the one about the Jewish war gamer. I can't believe that nobody at a global company like Games Workshop thought of checking their latest arbitrary fantasy name on Google to make sure it wasn't something profane in another tongue, but evidently so.
As you may have seen in news, invite codes are about to die. A "trial account" scheme was mooted, but the moot proved unfavourable and free rein will once more reign. The account codes left over look likely to be turned into paid account time at a rate to be announced; this paid time is transferrable, so the likes of zorac can shunt the paid time some other direction rather than being a member until (the end of time + 2 months). I have some speculation as to what the rate is likely to be and how much the scheme will cost LiveJournal; I submitted it to lj_biz a few hours back, but I fear it has been declared insufficiently bizmunguous. Accordingly I shall air it here.
As for the exchange rate, I start the bidding at: first invite code = 1 month, second to fifth invite codes = 1 week each, sixth and subsequent invite codes = 1 day each. That's possibly a little complicated, but I think there has got to be a diminishing return involved otherwise people with scores of invite codes will unbalance the system. People are familiar with a chunk of paid time being two months, so getting about one chunk free is probably psychologically satisfactory (not too little, not too much).
I love LiveJournal and want it to make millions and millions, so anything which encourages people to pay for paid time is undoubtedly a good thing. Giving people effectively a free sample of paid time may inspire them to continue to pay for it in the future, if only for the extra icons. (Incidentally, sometimes expired paid accounts do not seem to revert to the lower icon limit immediately; perhaps this procedure needs to be considered again in the light of this development.)
People who are expecting three months per code are kidding themselves. Let's play with some numbers. Source: 75% the stats page, 25% my ass. Part of the reason I'm posting this to lj_biz is that the people who would know the figures more accurately might tell us them; I suspect the numbers are proprietary, but I'm sure some of you LJ veterans are likely to be able to make far more plausible guesses than I am.
* Free Account: 1327888 (93.9%)
I estimate that 30,000 of these (within half an order of magnitude) will be once-paid accounts. The rest are never-paid accounts.
Of those never-paid accounts, perhaps one third will have generated their free code; of those, perhaps one half will have used it. Thus there are around 200,000 never-paid free users with one code sloshing around, of whom perhaps 15% will find out about and about 10% will take up the offer. Result: 20,000 times "first code" free time.
Of the once-paid accounts, I would wildly guess that one third of them will be used again in the future - so there are about ten thousand people (again, within at least a factor of four) who have paid for LiveJournal in the past and continue to use it for free in the present. I would guess that half the active once-paid-but-no-longer LJ users have one or more invite codes left; of those who do, I would estimate the mean number at 2. Of those, perhaps 30% will find out about and about 25% will take up the offer. So we're looking at about 2,000 times "first code plus a few more codes" free time.
* Early Adopter: 14154 (1.0%)
I would guess that about 2,000 of these will be used again in the future and remain with this status rather than having moved to a paid account. I would guess that half the active LJ early adopters have one or more invite codes left; of those who do, I would estimate the mean number at 4. Of those, perhaps 90% will find out about and about 75% will take up the offer; you don't remain an early adopter to today without knowing about news. So here we're looking at about 750 times "first code plus a few more codes" free time.
* Paid Account: 69494 (4.9%)
I would guess that about 64,000 of these will be used again in the future. I would guess that 80% of active LJ paid account users have one or more invite codes left; of those who do, I would estimate the mean number at 4. Of those, perhaps 60% will find out about and about 50% will take up the offer. So here we're looking at about 25,000 times "first code plus a few more codes" free time.
* Permanent Account: 1600 (0.1%)
I would guess that about 1,500 of these will be used again in the future. It seems fair to assume that almost all of these will have invite codes left and I would, with very little confidence, estimate the mean number at 21. (20 yesterday, but 20% of permanent account holders will rush to generate this month's five extra codes based on this news.) Of those, perhaps 90% will find out about and about 70% will take up the offer - a low proportion because lots of permanent account owners will hear about this and actively decline the opportunity. So we're looking at about 1,000 times "first code plus lots and lots of codes" free time here.
Adding it up, I think we're looking at about 50,000 people taking up this offer. Perhaps half of the 50,000 would never have paid for paid time under any circumstances and half of the 50,000 will pay for paid time in the future after the free paid time has expired - so, we're looking at a financial loss to LiveJournal of 25,000 times the value of "first code plus a few codes". If the average value of free time awarded is, say, $4 (a shade under two months) then this represents a $100,000 revenue hit over the next year or so - hopefully, to be recouped by people who wouldn't have purchased a paid account in the past doing so in the future, as well as from the expansion attributable to the removal of invite codes.
All these estimates are within about a factor of five or so at best. Frankly I suspect that the amount of goodwill to be gained and lost by this exercise is probably pretty substantial in comparison and this is more a goodwill exercise than a financial one.
Also, the local dialect survey that was doing the rounds last week, in the style of the Two Ronnies' only funny sketch.
In the style of the two Ronnies' only funny sketch? What do you mean?
Er... and from whom did you yoink this?
Answering the question you asked before last.
1. A body of water, smaller than a river, contained within relatively narrow banks?
2. What the thing you push around the grocery store/supermarket?
Beck if it's really small, stream if it's bigger.
3. A metal container to carry a meal in?
4. The thing that you cook bacon and eggs in?
5. The piece of furniture that seats three people?
6. The device on the outside of the house that carries rain off the roof?
Most often couch, less often settee or sofa.
7. The covered area outside a house where people sit in the evening?
8. Carbonated, sweetened, non-alcoholic beverages?
9. A flat, round breakfast food served with syrup?
10. A long sandwich designed to be a whole meal in itself?
American pancake, but we almost never have them.
11. The piece of clothing worn by men at the beach?
12. Shoes worn for sports?
13. Putting a room in order?
14. A flying insect that glows in the dark?
15. The little insect arthropod that curls up into a ball?
16. The children's playground equipment where one kid sits on one side and goes up while the other sits on the other side and goes down?
Not sure which one you're talking about here.
17. What's it called when private citizens put up signs and sell their used stuff?
19. What's the evening meal?
Garage sale or car boot sale, depending on where the used stuff is being sold from.
20. The thing under a house where the furnace and perhaps a rec room are?
Tea until about 5:30pm, dinner until about 10:30pm, supper afterwards.
21. The bit of the street the people walk on?
More often basement, less often cellar.
22. The bit of the street the cars drive on?
23. What water comes out of?
*beep beep beep* Have I confused you all yet?