the island of the week before: archives

category: tech
In which there is geeking.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The Web Standards Project relaunched today to the whirring sound of a thousand web developers thinking at once and a reassuring stillness in my inbox, indicating (one hopes) that Mr. Zeldman is finally getting some sleep.

10:55 AM (link)

Sunday, June 02, 2002

It appears that Amnesty International's e-mail lists have been sold to spammers. I'm waiting to hear back from Amnesty, but since I have two e-mail addresses (amint@ and amnesty@ that I've used exclusively for Amnesty's e-mail lists and both of those e-mails are now receiving a deluge of child porn and oter stomach-turning spam, I have to guess that the rest of their list has probably been compromised as well.

Most likely scenario? A temp worker sold the list or someone hacked into their database.

Most likely result? Every subscriber to Amnesty's e-lists, many of them adolescents and grandmas, will receive beastiality/incest/pedophile porn for a long, long time. Most people don't have the luxury of using a different e-mail address for every purpose, so I doubt most people will track the vulnerability down to Amnesty...but I can't really imagine a worse spam situation.

Point being? If you happen to have script-kiddie friends who'd like a couple of targets, I now have a list of IP addresses and domain names belonging to people who claim to be selling child porn and who are victimizing e-mail users whose only misstep was to try to help Amnesty. Also, if you're involved with a not-for-profit, please, please make sure your lists are secure.

Oh, for a moment in a room with the list-seller and a ball bat.

The end.

11:52 AM (link)

Wednesday, April 24, 2002

Best Buy reneged on a sale price they offered via their website, and then had the police arrest a customer who politely attempted to claim the card he'd ordered — on charges of criminal trespass and fraud. (You can read the customer's account on slashdot. I recommend that you set your comment threshold to five.)

They also had a customer arrested — twice — for comparison shopping.

Nice place not to shop.

08:08 PM (link)

Friday, March 29, 2002

So Yahoo, in its infinite quest for a business model, has reset the opt-out preferences of most of its members. So if you have an account for Yahoo mail or groups or anything like that, they have reset all of your no-span preferences to specifically request spam from Yahoo and their “partners” and to get telemarketing calls and postal junk mail.

The discussion over at Slashdot revolves around legal issues and mostly-incoherent rants about the ethics of opt-in/opt-out. The point is being roundly missed.

It doesn't matter if it's legal, nor if the company's actions are strictly ethical. What matters to Yahoo is that users don't a.) notice and b.) publicly protest this blatant, lowlife attempt to hoodwink them into accepting spam, junk mail, and more phone solicitations. They rely on us. We can use this to make them behave more decently. (This is true of many corporations.)

If you have an account with them, you can log in to your account, change your “preferences.” Even if you don't have an account, you can express your opinion of their dubious practices. Better yet, tip your friends in the media.

09:14 PM (link)

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Those concerned with privacy and/or stealing information might wish to note recent reports that information can be reconstructed from both the blinking LEDs on various pieces of hardware and from the reflected, flickering light emanating from a monitor.

Neal Stephenson fans will notice that Van Eyk phreaking suddenly seems quite modest.

01:37 PM (link)

Thursday, January 10, 2002

Brilliant, brilliant: a small but useful collection of direct links to the opt-out pages of several major pop-up and banner ad mongers. Some of these opt-out cookies only work for a limited time, but most can be hacked if you dont want to bother revisiting.

Textism's wee ad-blocking hack is still my standby.

12:47 PM (link)

Wednesday, December 12, 2001

Happy Birthday, SLAC website!

I recommend SLAC's online anniversary exhibition, which includes screenshots of the first US website and a chronology of the events leading to the site's release.

10:06 AM (link)

Friday, November 09, 2001

On second thought, the spam tactics below, while being a truly terrible marketing method, could be turned into an effective piece of anti-corporate mischief. All you'd have to do would be send an obnoxious email (perhaps one of the "package enlargement" ones I keep getting at work) to an enormous e-mail list, preferably sent to a number of people who don't speak English, and put an email address that hits the entire list in the reply-to field. Then you include a prominent message asking people who don't want to receive more information to reply saying "unsubscribe," and people who want more information to reply saying "more information."

The result? Ever-escalating chaos. Lost productivity. Clogged servers.

It's simpler than a virus, and runs on that most reliable platform, human stupidity.

03:49 PM (link)

The Korean Doom Spammers have struck again. They're typical corporate spammers, except for one key point: the use the address of their spam list itself as the reply-to address. Which means that when the Outraged! Citizens! begin to send their emails demanding to be removed from the list, they re-spam the whole group.

One reasonable person sent an email this morning explaining this, and providing instructions on how to set up a rule to delete messages from the spam thread. And yet, there are over twenty emails (and counting) sent (to the entire list) since that one, each along the lines of "REMOVE ME! NOW!! I NEVER WANTD STUPID YOUR THIS MAIL!!!!" (Update: as of Saturday, I had received 136 emails from this list.)

I am forcibly reminded that we have not yet evolved sufficiently as a species to handle the relatively simple logic of email, let alone the sophisticated moral and ethical dilemmas (dilemmae?) of, for instance, crossing the street without being hit by a bus.

02:06 PM (link)

Sunday, June 10, 2001

If you tilt a papasan so that it resembles an egg cup, you can balance a laptop on the edge of the cushion and the edges of your crossed legs and type effectively even with artificially stiffened forelimbs.

02:58 PM (link)

Wednesday, April 18, 2001

Black and White, by the way, really is that cool.

10:47 AM (link)

Thursday, February 15, 2001

Network Solutions is such a perfect example of a bloated, impossibly undersmart corporation. A typical basic DNS change here goes something like this:

1. Random person in my company emails everyone in my department to get a change made RIGHT AWAY. He or she is working on a project and they've already sent out press with the non-existent subdomain/whatever in it, so could we please set it up tonight?

2. I explain the process to the requsting person and give him/her/it an estimate on time (between two weeks and forever). I do a service order and fax it to our NS contact.

3. Two weeks later, I get a frantic email from the person in #1. Nothing has happened.

4. I leave a voicemail with the NS contact requesting confirmation and a time estimate. I hear nothing. I call again. A few days pass. I call again. That afternoon, I get a call back saying that NS needs another, new, never-before-mentioned set of signed papers to make this particular change.

5. I run around and get all the new info, have my supervisor sign the papers, fax them in. Call and request confirmation and a time estimate. I hear nothing for a few days. I check and note that the changes still haven't been made. I call again. A few days pass. I call again and get the contact live on the phone. He makes the needed change. 24 hours later, the change is live.

6. I receive notice that the project that required the change has been indefinitely postponed.

Network Solutions is obviously only one cog in a kludged-up system, but they're the most frustratingly inaccessible: I can walk over to my supervisor's desk and refuse to move until he gives me information. Network Solutions can just stop calling. Now, to cap it off, they're going to sell everyone's domain registration information to spammers.

Ig ub.

08:41 AM (link)