Snippets #58, Sunday, 11.Jul.2004 (ISSN 1530-9622)
_______________S N I P P e T S
_________________________from James S. Huggins' Refrigerator Door
___________________________________#58, Sunday, 11.Jul.2004
_____1. Snippets Is Returning
_____2. Snippets Changes
_____3. CAN-SPAM Is Stupid
_____4. Comdex Cancelled ... Looking Back
_____5. Your Messy Desk
_____6. Google Groups and GMail
_____7. A Special Offer
__________1. SNIPPeTS IS ReTURNING
Snippets has been gone too long. It is coming back.
To each of you who has diligently written me to ask me WHeN I would begin to write again, thank you. I appreciate your kind, gentle, persistent nudges.
__________2. SNIPPeTS CHANGeS
Over the past several months, I've made some changes to the Gammadyne Mailer scripts I use to process Snippets. In part, these changes were the result of the new U. S. federal law known as known as CAN-SPAM (http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.html) which became effective 01.Jan.2004.
This law is so very badly written, it makes most spam legal while threatening to make YOUR email illegal. Many jokingly call it the I-CAN-SPAM act. (See the next section for my CAN-SPAM rant.)
Anyway, what I did was to modify my scripts to process "confirmed opt-in". Now, when you subscribe to Snippets, I send you a confirmation email and you must reply to that to actually subscribe. That ensures that no one else is subscribing you without your consent.
I also now track the date and time of the original subscription request, the confirmation email and the IP addresses used. All of this is my way of being more thorough.
Many of you were subscribers before these changes. To accommodate these changes, at sometime in the future I will be asking you to confirm your subscription. I'm not doing it today, but keep an eye out. It will be coming in the next 30 days.
(How do you know whether you are confirmed or not? See your full subscription information in the administrative section at the end of this email.)
__________3. CAN-SPAM IS STUPID
Permit me a rant about how we write bad laws, particularly in the area of technology.
The U. S. federal law known as known as CAN-SPAM (http://www.spamlaws.com/federal/108s877.html) became effective 01.Jan.2004. This law is so very badly written, it makes most spam legal while threatening to make YOUR email illegal. Many jokingly call it the I-CAN-SPAM act.
Spammers won't have a problem complying with the law (http://www.spamhaus.org/news.lasso?article=150) and (http://www.wired.com/news/business/0,1367,62020,00.html)
Few anti-spam organizations think it is a good law, and most believe it is a bad law. For example, see http://www.spamhaus.org/position/CAN-SPAM_Act_2003.html, and http://www.cauce.org/news/2003.shtml.
Recent articles suggest that spam has actually increased since the law passed (http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article.php/3357141)
Not only that, but the law not only applies to bulk email, it also applies to a single emails. Many anti-spam organizations clearly require email to be bulk in order to be spam. For example see http://www.spamhaus.org/definition.html, and http://www.crynwr.com/spam/definition.html, and http://www.monkeys.com/spam-defined.
But with CAN-SPAM, if you send even one commercial email you could violate the law as a "spammer" and be fined (http://www.shapirosher.com/article/business/federal_spam_law.htm).
Do you know what "commercial email" is? Do you know that when you write your Sunday school class to tell them your daughter is selling Girl Scout cookies, you can be found guilty of violating the law and be subject to $250 fines for each person you sent it to.
But, there is a simple way to avoid that liability --- just stick in three "clear and conspicuous" notices. If you include these three notices, the CAN-SPAM Act says your spam is legal. I put my notices at the bottom of this email.
If you want to know more, here is another good resource in addition to those I listed above: http://www.gigalaw.com/canspam/.
__________4. COMDeX CANCeLLED ... LOOKING BACK
Several days ago, the computer exposition called Comdex, announced that it was canceling the 2004 show, hoping to return to Las Vegas in November of 2005.
This has everyone in the industry talking, and doing retrospectives.
At one time Comdex was the premier computer show. In 1998, at its peak, it attracted 220,000 attendees to Las Vegas. It has declined in recent years, with the November 2003 show bringing in 51,000 attendees.
But, it wasn't 1998 or 2003 that was the most interesting year for Comdex. That year might be 1983, about 20 years ago. In 1983, Bill Gates (then 28 years old) gave his first keynote address at Comdex. It was also the year in which Microsoft demonstrated the software called Windows.
In the SeattlePI.com Microsoft Blog, Todd Bishop gathered some interesting historical articles from that era. For example, the March 1984 issue of Creative Computing had an article in which Ken Uston described his attendance at the prior November's Comdex:
With Windows, you can process words with WordStar, calculate with Multiplan, store information with dBasEII, and design graphics all at the same time. I asked whether we would be able to transfer data from one program to another.
The demonstrator hedged. "Not yet."
The Lotus executive watching with me said, "Windows allows co-existence, not true integration."
Just then a Microsoft executive, spotting my press badge, rushed over to contradict, quickly adding, "We'll have true integration."
Today, WordStar, Multiplan, dBasEII and the others are gone. Microsoft has achieved "integration". They did it, in part, by replacing all the other software. We've come a long way in 20 years.
The SeattPI.com Microsoft Blog
__________5. YOUR MeSSY DeSK
Another of the articles, Todd Bishop cited was this one from the New York TImes ...
-----New York Times, Dec. 6, 1983----- Windows is the current (or soon to be so) buzzword in user-friendliness. They allow your personal computer to become the ultimate messy desk, at least metaphorically. You can pile all the paperwork in your drawers, files and shoeboxes into layers and layers of electronic papers on your screen. [end quote]
That one struck home with me. Today, as I work with many PC users, their common lament is that their personal computer has become their ultimate messy desk. They can now store gigabytes of "stuff". While I remember a 1984 PC with 10 MB of hard drive, and going, in 1998 from a 1 gigabyte laptop to a 2 gigabyte laptop, today's minimum PC comes with more than 100 gigabytes and 400 gigabyte drives are available.
Yet, while we can store more and more, we still haven't taught people how to organize it. Today's computer has truly become "the ultimate messy desk".
Some things just don't change.
__________6. GOOGLe GROUPS AND GMAIL
If you haven't noticed, Google is about to go public with their initial stock offering (IPO). As they do that, they are launching some new services. Two that you might want to watch are (a) Google Groups, a competitor to YahooGroups and (b) GMail, a competitor to YahooMail, Hotmail and MSN.
Google Groups are still in beta. I've joined a couple (including a Google Group that talks about Google Groups), and while they are still having some problems, it looks like they will be successful with this.
GMail, already being used by some people (I have a GMail account), is offering 1 Gigabyte of storage for emails. This was much larger than Yahoo, Hotmail and MSN, that even before GMail is fully operational, the other services have had to substantially increase their storage offerings as well.
GMail also has a new wrinkle. The computer scans your email and delivers ads based on your email content. This has some people just sending mail to test how the ad delivery works, trying different words to see what ads show up.
__________7. A SPECIAL OFFeR
Now, here is a special offer. GMail lets us invite other people to have GMail accounts. They only let us invite 3 or 4 at a time, but if you want one, and write me, I'll invite you. It will be first come, first served. If you get the invite, you'll know you made it. If not, you didn't. But I'll keep you in the list to invite you as I can.