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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 05/22/03

In this Issue:

Recommended Reading

I realize this is the only newsletter you’ll ever need, but if you want more in-depth detail, check out:

Stan Hustad’s
The Coaching Connection

Management Signature's
The Express Read

Law Enforcement May Lack Money to Pursue Some Internet Crimes

It’s no secret that most state governments are strapped for cash and running large deficits. One place they’re trying to economize is in law enforcement, by not pursuing non-violent crimes as strenuously as they may have in the past. I recently heard that at least one state is no longer prosecuting identity theft cases because they take so much time and money.

This is a sad, but understandable, result of failed government policy.

But what this means is that identity theft, if left unchecked, is likely to rise dramatically. While the states may be too cash-strapped to do anything about it, the feds are still serious about identity theft and other Internet-enabled crimes. One great federal resource is the
US government’s identity theft site.

The Feds are also getting serious about spam and other types of Internet fraud. Recently a group of law enforcement agencies led by the Federal Trade Commission filed 45 criminal and civil actions against Internet scammers and deceptive spammers. The agencies involved include the Securities and Exchange Commission, three United States Attorneys, four state attorneys general and two state regulatory agencies. In addition, 11 other federal and state law enforcers filed 37 actions. So it’s good to see that the States are still pursuing some kinds of Internet crimes.

This latest flurry of activity notwithstanding, I can’t say I agree with Howard Beales, director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, who said, “Today's Internet is not a lawless environment.” There’s little difference between having laws that are not and cannot be enforced and a lawless environment, in my opinion. Congress can pass all manner of stupid, clueless Internet laws (and Lord knows they’ve been doing just that), but the fact remains that spam and Internet-enabled fraud are global phenomena. Unless and until all nations have effective laws and effective law enforcement, there’s no real point in one nation’s legislation.

Cracking down on spammers and fraudsters in this country will simply force the miscreants to go elsewhere. Until there is effective global policy and law enforcement, the only result of new laws and new prosecutions will be to give US citizens a false sense that the government is doing something about the problem.

With Internet spam running at 50 percent of email messages, and with the majority of those spams being fraudulent, there’s no doubt we need to do something.

There is one effective move that the government is making: closing open email relays. (An open relay is a site that will allow anyone – not just registered users – to either create or forward a message using its mail servers.) The FTC said that it has joined 17 other consumer protection and law enforcement agencies in calling for organizations to close open relays. Using open relays allows spammers to disguise the real origin of their e-mails by routing their messages through servers of other organizations. Doing so also end-arounds spam filters that depend on black lists of offending spammers.

Is your organization running an open relay? Ask your local techie. If he or she says, “Huh?” call in an expert to ensure your company is not contributing unwittingly to the spam deluge. And if you are unable to get senior management to approve such an effort, remind them of the concept of downstream liability (discussed in a previous SNS.)

So when you look at the enforcement situation, it would seem to make better sense to pursue identity theft than spammers. If the result is that identity theft perpetrators move offshore – and target other countries – then that’s a good thing, right? It seems much more effective than tilting at the spam windmill, and a better use of federal and state tax dollars.

Sales and Marketing

Briefly Noted

  • Shameless Self-Promotion Dept.: My article, “Innovative Marketers Target Unwired Customers” was published in the NetSuds newsletter.

    Coming Soon: A new eBook, Be On the Wave Or Under It™ will collect the best of SNS’ insights over the last couple of years, along with additional material from CTOMentor white papers and new material. It will make a great gift (Father’s Day?) for associates and friends in need of a guide to the latest and greatest technology. Watch for more information in upcoming SNS issues.

    I was quoted extensively on eLearning in a recent issue of the
    Minneapolis magazine, Upsize, which is aimed at growing businesses.

    A couple issues ago I debuted SNS Begware, an opportunity for you, gentle reader, to express your appreciation by tipping your server via PayPal. See the sidebar for more info. Total in the kitty so far: $46.48. Thanks, Mike!

    I’ve reworked the TrendSpot and Opinion sections, adding a Prediction Tracking page to track the various predictions I’ve made, and also added a Stuff I Said page with some quotes of things I said a decade or so ago on the Net.

    I repurposed and adapted an article about the wireless service known as Short Messaging Service (SMS) for the Reside newsletter. It’s entitled, Wherever they go, there you are and it points out how marketers can use – carefully – this new way to contact their customers.

    I’m featured in ManyworldsThought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve done. I’ve also added their fancy icon to the StratVantage site.

  • Young Nano Scientists: Alert SNS Reader Roger Hamm sends along this link to an extraordinary program in the Wayzata, MN public schools: the Young Scientist Round Table. Funded in part by the General Mills Foundation (known locally as Generous Mills), the Round Table sponsors evening presentations for youngsters and their parents by local scientists. One speaker early this year was the CEO of Magenic Technologies (“Home of the .NET Superheroes”) and on May 6, the young scientists and their parents saw Dr. Steven Girshick of the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Minnesota speak on nanotechnology.

    While this is way cool, we’ve got a lot to do to catch up with German youth, who learn about nano on the back of their cereal boxes (see picture). 
    Young Scientists Round Table

  • The Continuing Saga of FeaturePrice: Regular readers may remember I recently had to scramble to find another hosting company for the StratVantage Website. I wrote in a previous SNS about the bizarre open letter that appeared on that company’s Web site and my frustration with getting any customer service from them. Well, it seems to be even more bizarre than I first figured. According to an article in The Whir, the owner of FeaturePrice turned down lucrative offers to sell his business and instead went out of business. Yet at least one of my old sites is still up. Very strange. The following paragraph from the article illustrates the weird (and unconfirmed) particulars of the situation:

[FeaturePrice owner Travis] Johnson is believed to have suffered an anxiety attack after Feature Price's merchant account holder, Nova Information Systems, alarmed by the number of charge backs on customers' credit cards, stopped processing new accounts for Feature Price, say sources familiar with the situation. Upon rejecting the offer to sell Feature Price in April, Johnson posted his infamous letter on the site, listing all five companies that did due diligence interested in buying Feature Price - GlobalHost, IPowerWeb,, SERVER4FREE and Affinity - and essentially outlined the acquisition terms except for the financial details. Johnson also wrote that customers had two weeks to leave, essentially trying to destroy the value of the company.

This incident underscores the need for businesses to select a reputable Web hosting company. I’ve gone with AdvancedRack, who, although small and new, are backed by a large successful Web design firm. So far, I’m pretty satisfied.
The Whir
  • Pull the Plug on PowerPoint: A recent article in Business 2.0 on effective (and ineffective) use of Microsoft PowerPoint let me to a truly hilarious PowerPoint purporting to be from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. The best part of this ersatz presentation is the slide entitled, “Not On Agenda!” It lists things we’re not going to do today – you know, “we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.” I about busted a gut laughing about it. The Business 2.0 article is good too, but be sure to read the “The Making of the Gettysburg PowerPoint Presentation.” It’s a good lesson not only on bad design and egregious PowerPointing, but also on the power of a good idea on the Internet.
    Business 2.0

  • I Want This Phone: At the recent Minneapolis meeting on International Entrepreneurs Meetup Day, new Alert SNS Reader Eric Strauss snapped a picture of your humble correspondent on his nifty new Nokia 3650 cell phone. This smallish unit integrates a VGA Digital Camera and full motion audio and video recorder. The resulting picture is nothing to write (or even phone) home about, but understand that it was taken – and emailed to me on the spot – in a dark bar by a cell phone, for crying out loud!


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About The Author

Announcing CTOMentor, a New Service from StratVantage

Can’t Get Enough of ME?

In the unlikely event that you want more of my opinions, I’ve started a Weblog. It’s the fashionable thing for pundits to do, and I’m doing it too. A Weblog is a datestamped collection of somewhat random thoughts and ideas assembled on a Web page. If you’d like to subject the world to your thoughts, as I do, you can create your own Weblog. You need to have a Web site that allows you FTP access, and the free software from This allows you to right click on a Web page and append your pithy thoughts to your Weblog.

I’ve dubbed my Weblog entries “Stratlets”, and they are available at Let me know what you think.

Also check out the TrendSpot for ranking of the latest emerging trends.

In Memoriam

Gerald M. Ellsworth

March 14, 1928 - July 5, 2003

In Memoriam

Jane C. Ellsworth

July 20, 1928 - July 20, 2003