24 November 2003

Macs Better Than PCs

So says the Sydney Morning Herald.

Federal Spam Law is Evil and Useless

By a margin of 392-5, the House approved an anti-spam bill on Saturday. President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law.

This legislation will be most ineffective in curing the tide of spam, and worse contains provisions that make it outright evil.

This bill makes it a crime to use any false or misleading information in a domain name or email account application, and then send an email. That would make a large fraction of hotmail users instant criminals.

It also makes it a crime to remove or alter information in message headers in ways that would make it harder for a police officer to determine who had sent the email. Anonymizers will be illegal as soon as this bill becomes law.

There are MANY, MANY other things wrong with it -- including the fact that most of its provisions apply to *ALL* commercial email, not just BULK commercial email -- and that it takes zero account of the FirstAmendment, attempting to list what topics someone can validly send messages about, while outlawing all other topics that relate to commercial transactions.

If it passes, I think I can make a criminal out of just about any company. Companies are liable for spam that helps them, even if they had no part in sending it.

Read the bill yourself:

And weep. And then call your Congressman.

An important theme on the anti-spam campaign has not been discussed in the mainstream debate - that any measure for stopping spam must ensure that all non-spam messages reach their intended recipients.

20 November 2003

Autoresponders - what are they good for?

Just how good is your website?

I hate autoresponders. Not those generated when you indirectly request them via a web form. Like requesting a new password or for a notification message that you've preordained is important enough to warrant an incoming email message. The autoresponders that irritate me are those incoming mail messages that you didn't pre-approve. The mildest form would be someone informing you they are out of the office and list alternate contact points. More insidious is the "Thank you for writing me!" responders that tell you that your message is important and we love you. Then there's the "I'm too busy too read all of this filthy email but you can use a web form here to submit feedback". Here's one from Arizona Congressman JD Hayworth:

Thank you for taking the time to e-mail me. Hearing from my constituents is one of the most important and rewarding parts of representing Arizona’s 5th Congressional District. In order to provide you with a more timely response we have updated our constituent e-mail system. You can now e-mail me by clicking on and following the directions. Please note that I will only receive your e-mail if you send it through this web page. Again, your comments are very important to me and I appreciate you taking the time to contact me with your views.  

Best regards,  

J. D. Hayworth
Member of Congress

Others are too important to even give you a web form:

Thank you for emailing Vice President Cheney. Your ideas and comments are very important to him.

There's also automatic employment rejections, undeliverable mail notifications, and whole bunch of stuff from MSN Hotmail:

Si ya ha iniciado sesión en su cuenta de Hotmail, haga clic en "Ayuda" en la esquina superior derecha para poder acceder a nuestras instrucciones de ayuda automática y también a nuestro sistema de respuestas automatizadas. Si no encuentra la respuesta en ninguno de estos documentos, basta con hacer clic en un vínculo de la Ayuda para ponerse en contacto directamente con nuestro personal del servicio de soporte técnico de MSN Hotmail.

It's just gunk in the digital networks.

19 November 2003

Korea to build 100M bps Internet system

While the United States spends $87 billion on rebuilding Iraq, South Korea is earmarking the equivalent of $80 billion to build a nationwide Internet access infrastructure capable of speeds between 50M bps (bits per second) and 100M bps by 2010. By comparison, Cox Communications, provider of high speed internet service to Phoenix metropolitan area residents, offers a maximum of 3Mbps. Not that Korea wasn't already in the forefront of high speed internet availability:
South Korea is already regarded as the world's leading broadband nation, with 11.3 million broadband subscribers in a population of 48 million, and with 85 percent of new subscribers opting for broadband, according to telecommunication equipment vendor Alcatel SA.

An estimated 370,000 jobs will be created as a result of the initiative. Not too shabby in a nation with a population of 48 million. Should the U.S. be pursuing a similar plan, investing in its electronic network infastructure?