Friday, December 03, 1999
12/3/99 3:26:51 PM
An evil new spammer tactic.
Alan Wexelblat reports sightings of a new method spammers are using
to get their odious product through all the blocks ISPs erect
against it. Here's how it works:
- Create a million spam emails; for each one forge the From address
to be the address of one of your intended victims.
- Create a bogus To address at some well-connected mail site.
- Deliver your million pieces of effluvium to said mail site.
- Wait for site politely to bounce all your emails "back" to their
From addresses, thus doing your dirty work for you.
- (Optional) Laugh maniacally as the victims and the site engage in
rounds of finger-pointing.
This one's going to be hard to stop. It works because most sites,
when bouncing undeliverable mail back to the sender, include the
complete message in the bounce. From my vantage point running the
TBTF list I would estimate that 70% of hosts do this today. The
percentage has been creeping up as the ranks of mail servers come to
be dominated by "newbie" software. (I'm guessing that bouncing the
entire message is the default behavior in MS Exchange. Anybody know
for sure?) So spammers using this new technique will always have
a variety of mail hosts to choose from.
Also, unlike list managers, most Netizens aren't accustomed to
getting bounce messages. They'll probably read such a novel item
just to see what it's about, thus fulfilling the spammer's desire.
12/3/99 2:00:57 PM
12/3/99 12:52:53 PM
Wholesale price list declared copyrightable.
TBTF Irregular John Muller
notes a ruling yesterday by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals,
which covers California and other Western states. The court ruled in
CDN Inc. v. Kapes that a wholesale price list for collectible
coins contains sufficient originality to be copyrightable. The
decision is online
12/3/99 12:45:20 PM
12/3/99 12:24:45 PM
GPLTrans: can Open Source supercharge
We could define the Open Source meme this way:
Enlisting copious volunteer labor to contribute to and improve
upon an end product that is freely distributable in source form.
The term Open Source started out applying to software projects
and products, but the meme is lately being tried out in other endeavors.
Directory project was one of the first: before its acquisition
by AOL, Netscape enlisted thousands of volunteers to catalog and
categorize Web sites, instead of relying on a smaller paid staff, as
Recently an engineer named Mooneer Salem wrote a language-translation
program, called GPLTrans,
using the free PHP3 scripting language and an open-source database.
Salem hopes to enlist hoardes of volunteers to flesh out and correct
the database entries that represent the translation of a word or
phrase from English to another language. So far the project's
database contains a fair start on Spanish<-->English and
German<-->English -- about 30K words/phrases each -- and a bare
beginning on French and Portuguese.
I'm a little skeptical that applying Open Source methodology to the
problem of language translation will eventually result in a new
level of translation accuracy, as Salem hopes. But I applaud him and
everyone else who invests his own labor to throw the Open Source
meme against some new wall in order to see if it sticks.
Thanks to TBTF Irregular Justin Mason for the tip.
Thursday, December 02, 1999
12/2/99 12:13:40 PM
Judge enjoins Barnesandnoble.com from using copycat "One-Click" ordering.
Last October Amazon.com sued Barnesandnoble.com over what the
Seattle company claimed was infringement of its patented order
checkout, called "One-Click." The Wall Street Journal is the first to
that a federal judge has granted Amazon.com a preliminary injunction
in the case. (You can only access that URL if you are a subscriber
to the WSJ.) ZDNet's PC Week
the story as well. Here is Barnesandnoble.com's reaction to the
setback, as reported by the WSJ.
Barnesandnoble.com said it will accelerate the deployment of its new
"Express Checkout"... a significant improvement over the one-click
Express Lane process [that the judge has enjoined]. The retailer said
it had planned to roll out Express Checkout after the holiday season
but will launch the process in the next several days in light of the
Wednesday, December 01, 1999
12/1/99 11:54:02 PM
12/1/99 10:55:49 AM
Europeans mull blocking Pentium III.
The flap over the
Pentium III unique serial number may have died down in the US, but
it's just building in Europe. The Register
that the EU's Scientific and Technological Options Assessment committee
will recommend close study to determine if the serial number (PSN) violates
European regulations on privacy and security. According to a report
presented to STOA,
There is a prima facie case that the PSN breaches European protocols
Here is the
report (in German) that prompted the Register's piece.
12/1/99 10:55:22 AM
First-generation computer to compute again.
Australia's first computer,
last week celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first running
program. The 2-ton device, the world's only intact first-generation
computer, has been stored in a warehouse for decades. Beginning next
year the new Melbourne Museum will exhibit the room-sized computer; two of
its original engineers will help with its restoration.
12/1/99 10:55:07 AM