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Be on the wave or under it™

The News – 11/11/02

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

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 SNS

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. 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 scam.

Briefly Noted

  • 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 their customers.

    I’m featured in Manyworlds’ Thought Leader Showcase, which lists a few of the white papers I’ve done.

    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 Act.”

    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.
    America's Network
  • 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!
    Sandia Labs

  • Quantum MirageWireless 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.
    IBM Almaden Lab

  • 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
SNS: Enlightening and Frightening for a Fifth of a Decade!

Two years ago

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.

The article, 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.

The final 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.

One year ago

The lead 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).

The article, 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 said.

Finally, 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 newsletter.

  • October 30, 2002
    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.

  • October 27, 2002
    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.


  • October 25, 2002
    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.
    Dallas Business Journal

  • October 31, 2002
    IDC Throws Cold Water on Web Services
    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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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