Be on the wave or under it
The News – 11/11/02
Outfit cons users into spamming their contacts
The second part of the Why
You Need to Get Hip to HIPAA series will appear in a future
At the risk of being annoying by running two successive stories
on new spam techniques, I nonetheless think this latest spam gimmick
is so wrong in so many ways that I have to spout off on it.
FriendsGreetings.com lures users into spamming all the contacts
in their Outlook address book by sending out emails containing
a link to its site. When a user clicks on it, they are invited
to install an ActiveX control in order to view their e-card.
Next, the users see two long End User License Agreements (EULAs),
which say that, by running the application, the user is giving
permission for a similar email to be sent to all the contacts
in their Outlook address book.
Talk about your viral marketing! This is more like flu marketing.
As if there aren’t enough viruses and worms out there that abuse
Microsoft’s overly-friendly Outlook email client, this unconscionable
spammer gets users to agree, unknowingly, to be their accomplices.
I’ve said it before and will say it again: Friends don’t let
friends use ActiveX. Companies should have policies that forbid
the installation of any mobile code from the Web. Also, it’s
a good idea to make your employees aware of this particular
- Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: Check out the article
I wrote for the Taylor Harkins newsletter entitled, Wherever they go, there you are about the wireless service
known as Short Messaging Service (SMS). The article points
out how marketers can use – carefully – this new way to contact
I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought
Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers
Finally, the CTOMentor wireless white paper, You Can Take
It with You: Business Applications of Personal Wireless Devices,
is available at ITPapers.
- Roscitt Gains Points: Yankee Group’s
Telecom Industry Forum keynote speaker Rick Roscitt, chairman
and CEO of ADC, got off a good criticism of the way the US
Congress makes policy. He compared the Telecommunications
Act of 1996 to the B-1 bomber, which featured at least one
component made in each Congressional district. “There’s something
for everyone, which is bad public policy,” Roscitt said. “It’s
been six years, and we’re not seeing any benefits from the
I’ve been kind of hard on Roscitt in previous SNS issues (here,
here and here), calling him a whiner.
Well, he’s still whining, but anyone who can get FCC Commissioner
Kathleen Abernathy to admit that the FCC’s structure “is not
designed for efficiency” is OK in my book. And I agree with
him that we’ve not really seen a tremendous amount of benefit
from the Telecom Act.
- Phone Pix Not Too Bad: If you’re like
me (and I know I am) you’ve been wondering how good those cameras
are that come with the new wave of cell phones. Well, take a
look for yourself. The pictures at the link below were taken
by a Nokia 7650 camera phone and I think they look pretty good.
Of course, we’ve no idea how long each picture would take to
send to a friend, or how much it would cost.
- MovieLink Update: In a previous SNS, I related
the sad story of Intertainer, which claimed to be forced out
of business due to collusion among the major motion picture
studios. Intertainer’s suit claimed, among other things, that
the studios delayed previously-agreed-upon licensing plans with
Intertainer to give them time to launch a competitive site,
MovieLink. The suit also claimed that two studios reneged on
deals in order to stymie Microsoft, an Intertainer investor.
Well, lookie here: MovieLink has announced that their service
will use Microsoft’s video-streaming encoding, decoding and
media player technology, and digital rights management (DRM)
technology. So I guess the software giant hops off the losing
horse, and comes home smelling like roses again.
- Musician Barred From Selling Own Music:
Once again reality has become a parody of itself. Musician
George Ziemann was barred from distributing CDs
of his band on eBay because of provisions of the truly horrific
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Ziemann, operating
on a shoestring, recorded his band’s music on recordable CDs,
known as CD-Rs. Turns out eBay runs an automated Verified Rights
Owner program that sweeps their site looking for miscreants
who are selling other people’s music on CD-Rs. Ziemann
was caught in the dragnet, several times, due to lack of coordination
among eBay’s minions. After much back and forth emailing, Ziemann
gave up in disgust, although he finally has made his peace with
eBay customer service. Only in America.
- NanoVoyeurism: You can watch an actual
nanoscale machine, known as a Micro-Electro-Mechanical System
(MEMS), do its thing live on
the Web. The microengine at Sandia National Labs is magnified
by a 200-power microscope to which an automated-zoom/pan video
camera has been attached. The gear teeth of the machine are
about the size of red blood cells and it is powered using electrostatic
forces. One really cool thing about small machines is, they
have virtually no inertia, and so Sandia has been able to attain
speeds of over half of a million revolutions per minute (RPM)
for up to 7 billion revolutions. As a comparison, your car engine
would turn about the same number of revolutions if you drove
to the moon and back 5 times. Your tax dollars at work!
- Wireless Mirages: IBM researchers
have described an effect they call a quantum mirage. Using a
nanoscale elliptical ring of 36 cobalt atoms, 5,000 times smaller
than a human hair, the researchers have observed that some of
the properties of a single cobalt atom (the tall purple peak)
placed at one of the two focus points of the elliptical ring
suddenly appear at the other focus (the purple spot in the lower
left), where no atom exists.
Researchers think the quantum mirage effect may lead to an efficient
way of moving information within future atom-scale circuits
and computers. The science behind all this is pretty dense,
but the scientists likened this effect to the two “whisper spots”
in the Old House of Representatives Chamber (now called Statuary
Hall) in the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, DC. Faint
sounds generated at either of the spots can be heard clearly
far across the chamber at the other whisper spot because the
sound bounces off the ellipse of the domed ceiling.
The speed of the quantum echo effect wasn’t reported, but it
made me wonder if this effect was at all related to the replication
of information encoded on a laser reported in a previous SNS. Australian
scientists recreated a laser beam from across a lab at 100 times
the speed of light.
- Shout Yahoo to AT&T Subscribers:
Users of Yahoo’s instant messenger (IM) application can now
IM subscribers on AT&T Wireless' network, even if they aren't
Yahoo registered users. The new Yahoo service is free, although
AT&T charges cell phone users every time they send or receive
a text message.
Perhaps this development will spur the adoption of cell phone
text messaging, known as Short Messaging Service (SMS), in the
US. Fewer than 10 million of the nation's 140 million cell phone
users use their handsets for anything more than voice calls
whereas Europeans send more than 1 billion text messages every
day. For more information on the SMS phenomenon, see the article
I wrote for the Taylor Harkins newsletter entitled, Wherever
they go, there you are.
The Wayback Machine
– A Year or Two Ago in SNS
Enlightening and Frightening for a Fifth of a Decade!
The lead article in the November
10, 2000 SNS was Convergence
to the Max. It told of Sprint and Samsung’s plans to release
a phone with a built-in MP3 player and access to music downloading
sites. The phone was later released on January 25, 2001 with
64MB of memory for songs. It appears to have been superceded
by the SGH-M188 model that only has 32MB. Sprint appears to
no longer offer the phone, so you’d have to say the concept
didn’t exactly take off.
Gateway-AOL: You've got Net appliance! Simultaneously
poked fun at laimo AOL article titles and at the fools who thought
the net appliance market still had some life. Gateway and AOL
announced a net appliance – a limited, thin client PC without
a hard drive – based on the then-new Transmeta Crusoe chip.
The $599 Touch Pad was intended to be the first product in a
line of Gateway/AOL Internet appliances. That didn’t really
happen, but Gateway did demo a wireless Web tablet with the
802.11 (Wi-Fi) wireless networking two years ago. We are only
now seeing such machines come to the market. Nonetheless, Gartner
hailed the Gateway, AOL, Broadcom, Transmeta partnership that
produced the machine. Shows what they know.
article, Swatch Redefines Time, explored the hubris of
watchmaker Swatch, who decreed that they would be the arbiters
of Internet Time (Internet Time® is a registered trademark of
the late, not too much lamented VirtualFund). The Swiss company
divided up the day into “beats” and somehow this was going to
be a lot better for people, or something. Swatch’s latest lame-brained
idea is Synchro.beat, described as a “watch which allows you
to interact and communicate with other people in both the real
and virtual worlds via sound transmission.” Sounds like a phone.
article in the November 8, 2001 SNS was Quality of Service
is in the Eye of the Beholder, about some interesting research
by Dr. Angela Sasse, an interaction design expert from University
College, London, UK into the perception of quality of service.
Dr. Sasse’s research indicates that there are many other, psychologically
based variables in a user’s assessment of Quality of Service
(QoS). In fact, many of these variables can be much more important
than raw measures of packet loss. Among her findings was the
astonishing observation that only 16 percent of subjects noticed
the difference between video streamed at 5 and at 25 frames
per second (fps).
Stupid Quote Alert, concerned the astonishing revelation
that the Queen was wireless. I always thought of Her Majesty
as kind of an analog bird. “If the queen is walking on a royal
estate, miles from a landline phone, she can stay in contact.
It was a bit of a novelty at first, but now it is second nature,”
said a senior courtier of Queen Elizabeth's court. Now if she’d
only gotten a PDA, she might have recalled what the butler
Ricochet Rebounds reported hopefully that Aerie networks
had bought the assets of defunct wireless network company Ricochet.
Well, Aerie’s still at it, although I can’t get coverage at
my house yet, since only Denver is live, with Dallas/Ft. Worth,
and San Diego planned. Looking at Aerie’s site brings to mind
a pet peeve: service providers who don’t tell you on their stinking
sites how fast their service is! Nowhere on the site is the
fact that Ricochet is limited to 128Kbps, although plenty of
times they refer to broadband speeds. I predict a short run
for this incarnation of Ricochet.
Just the Right Stuff™
If you subscribed to CTOMentor’s Just the Right Stuff™
newsletter, over the past few months, you’d have received news
nuggets like the following, along with expanded analysis. Your
personalized Information Needs Profile determines which of these
items you’d receive. For more information, check out CTOMentor. Although we usually include only
items that are three months old in this section, here’s an early
Thanksgiving present: These infonuggets are fresh, from a recent
Sprint backpedals on Handspring add-on
Sprint is going back on a promise to upgrade Handspring
PDA users who bought their phone add-on. There are only
1,000 of them.
Dell bearish on PDA sales potential
Michael Dell said his company would soon launch a personal digital
assistant in the United States but he sees limited near-term
growth opportunities in that market.
Bill paying online exploding
Jupiter Research says the number of households that view or
pay at least one bill online will grow 23% annually through
2006, to 50 million and 52 million, respectively. The total
number of bills paid online will balloon 41 percent to 3.5 billion
or 32 percent of all consumer bills. That’s up from last year,
when 643 million bills were paid over the Internet, 6 percent
of the total.
IDC Throws Cold Water on
While Web services may be useful for integrating heterogeneous
systems in decentralized organizations with multiple locations,
using them to deliver software as services will not be a mainstream
practice for at least a decade, according to IDC. IDC thinks
Web services may never be able to achieve the full-scale magnitude
envisioned by their proponents.
Still news to you? Get this Stuff as it happens, not
months later. Subscribe to CTOMentor
today. Charter subscription discounts still available.
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Jane C. Ellsworth
20, 1928 - July 20, 2003