I noticed, from checking on MSGTAG's website that you recently did an article on MSGTAG's email tracking service.
I recently received several email in which the sender utilised MSGTAG’s email tracking service. I was completely unaware that there was even any type of "read receipt" tracking until I had printed out the email and noticed the MSGTAG's icon. This was because the icon and accompanying message was below the sender’s signature details.
Apart from the fact that our company has a policy NOT to allow read receipts, personally, I strongly object to MSGTAG’S email tracking service, as I have absolute right to control what does or does not leave my mailbox and computer.
The sender has no real right to know when and if I read his email, where will this go next...tracking how often the email is open, tracking to whom I on forward the email...the possibilities are endless and tantamount to spying and invasion of privacy.
MSGTAG also collects the recipients email address, email ID, IP address and email headers without the recipients authorisation or knowledge. This is in direct contravention to the privacy act and the rules governing the collection of personally identifiable information. We also feel that MSGTAG’s email tracking service is not only an invasion of our privacy but is also an infringement of the "Information Access" and "Computer Equipment Access" laws as their service provides "back-flow" traffic, without the recipient’s knowledge or consent, directly from their computer software and hardware.
Because of this activity, which for all intents and purposes (although stated to the contrary on the MSGTAG web site), the email tracking is a form of common spyware and we have therefore banned the use of MSGTAG services through our firewall and proxy services.
We will be taking every opportunity to make users aware of the infringement this product inherently has on privacy. We have contacted MSGTAG regarding their software and have not received any response to date, which to our mind, reflects on their business practices and ethic, as does their product.
I've passed this email along to MSGTAG for a response. Personally, while I can see some folk might have issues with this kind of tracking, I have been using it myself for some time and have very little negative feedback. Furthermore, after long discussions with them, I am willing to believe that:
- the folks at MSGTAG are not using the information they gather for traditional spyware purposes
- they have put safeguards in place to prevent it being used for spam purposes and
- it amounts to no more than a registered post service facility.
I'm ready to be convinced otherwise. Anyone else have any strong views? Write me.
A Web site called Trepia has begun to explore possibilities, and can find out who else is using WiFi in your vicinity, and thus can exchange personal profiles similar to an Internet dating site. Alex Studd, who works for Moving Edge, created Brighton's "Pier to Pier" network. (Thanks to the OnlineJournalism.com Newsletter, the daily news Weblog of the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review for this link)
The RIAA has served subpoenas to Internet service providers, which will ultimately end in lawsuits. TechTV has published a number of the P2P user names filed with the US District Court in Washington, DC, mainly Kazaa users. In the end this list could be massive, raising the possibility of a backlash and a half.
My tupennies' worth? I think the RIAA should have been more circumspect. My understanding is that the vast majority of mp3 files out there are from a small number of uploaders, and if they can be closed down, the file-sharing world will be less appealing. Get rid of them and you may have little more than an informal 'tasting net' where folk can check out music without having to pay for it first (a little like the old cassette days). Or am I being hopelessly romantic?
Credit-card skimming involves the unauthorised copying of electronic data from a legitimate card. It is often done by dishonest shop assistants. Stolen data can then be encoded onto a counterfeit card, with the original card holder none the wiser until details of unauthorised spending start appearing on his or her statement. Current laws still allow the importation of skimmers, embossing machines and credit card blanks, but the ACC is calling for closer co-operation with police.“From some of the material [the ACC] has gathered so far, it would seem that since 2001, the problem of card skimming and card fraud has migrated to Australia”, ePaynews.com quoted cybercrime co-ordinator Scott McLeod as saying.
With identity theft, a thief takes over a consumer's entire identity by stealing critical private information, such as the Social Security number, driver's license number, address, credit card number or bank account number. The thief can then use the stolen information to obtain illegal loans or credit lines to buy goods and services under the stolen name. Identity thieves typically change the consumer's mailing address to hide their activities.
The sick bit is this: "More than half of all identity theft - where the method of theft is documented - is committed by criminals that have established relationships with their victims, such as family members, roommates, neighbors, or co-workers," said Avivah Litan, vice president and research director for Gartner. I can't believe my own mother might do this kind of thing.
These restrictions were announced on 1 May 2003 under the presidential order “Rules of Traffic for Turkmenistan” but their release was delayed because the driver carrying the order from the Ministry of Defence was arrested for picking his nose on the way. (Actually I made that bit up. He was caught playing The Rubettes 'Sugar Baby Love' and singing the high bits, thereby also breaking another set of laws about mimicking strangled chickens while working heavy machinery. )
The government handout goes on (and all this is real if nCa is to be believed): These rules are meant to enforce contemporary world practices in Turkmenistan.
Part of the problem seems to be enforcement. The regular traffic police, which operated under the Ministry of the Interior, was liquidated last year for reasons I am not able to go into here, mainly because I am not an expert on Turkmenistan. They now work under the management of the ministry of defence which inducts military conscripts as traffic cops. This may not be unrelated to a new system of penalties to encourage people to conform to the laws. According to a system introduced in January, a traffic penalty must be paid within 12 hours, or by 8 am the next day if the ticket was issued after 6 pm the previous day. In case of failure to do so, the amount of penalty would double every 12 hours. After 72 hours, the vehicle would be confiscated and will remain in government custody until the fine is paid. “It has been noted with satisfaction that the [stricter] rules have brought good results; now there are fewer traffic incidents,” says the official statement. It probably also means there are no cars left on the road that don't belong to the police. That the traffic police are all carrying grenade launchers also probably helps. (I made that bit up too.)
Now it only remains to be seen what happens with these new violations. I have to say I'm all in favour. I hate people eating while they're driving, particularly if they're on the phone. And especially if they're drinking at the same time, AND listening to The Rubettes. You've got to draw the line somewhere.
This is all part of a battle over Digital Rights Management -- who gets to decide what kind of software is going to lock up your DVD or CD or whatever, so you can't copy it for any old Tom, Dick or Harry. Who owns the lock is basically going to make the money. Everyone else just puts the bits together.
- 52% of U.S. companies monitor incoming and outgoing e-mail
- Only 19% of employers monitor internal e-mail communications among employees
- 40% of employers use software to control employees' written e-mail content
- 14% of organizations have had employee e-mail subpoenaed by a court or regulatory body. That's an increase of 5% over 2001, when 9% of respondents reported employee e-mail had been subpoenaed.
- 1 in 20 organizations has battled a lawsuit triggered by employee e-mail
- 76% of e-mail users have lost time in the last year due to e-mail system problems
- 35% estimate they lost only half a day, but 24% think they have lost more than two days
- The average e-mail user spends about 25% of the workday on e-mail
- 8% of e-mail users spend more than four hours (half the work day) on e-mail
- 92% of respondents receive spam mail at work
- 47% say spam constitutes more than 10% of all their e-mail
- 7% report spam represents over 50% of all e-mail received
- 75% of respondents said they were fed up with receiving surveys like this via e-mail (I made that up, but they don't make clear how they did this survey, which involved 1,100 U.S. employers, or whether some of the surveys got mistagged as spam and trashed.)
I can well believe that folk would prefer to have a gadget that hooks up to the Net, or at least to the phone network. But I also think people need to differentiate between a phone and other stuff, if only because most of the time they just need the phone. See this posting for more.
From what I can gather it's exactly the same as GoTo but uses Java. I wasn't impressed by the look and feel of their website (and there are several broken links), but maybe I'm picky. It's also run out of Panama, so there may be some legal issues there for companies.
I'm pretty sure this kind of thing is not new, but maybe ManageDesk (not a name that slips off the tongue, guys) does it better. It could be useful if you usually have many windows open at a time, or are a messy eater, or something. Hell, I may try it.
Here's the survey link. "In general our study suggests that consumers want government to provide greater protection against spammers," commented Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of Ponemon Institute. "We hope our joint study provides insight on consumers' concerns about the growing frequency of spam and the role government and industry should play in curtailing abuse." The study was released at a press conference called by Senator Charles Schumer whose Stop Pornography and Abusive Marketing Act (The SPAM ACT) would create a do-not-spam list. (No really, that's the acronym.)
"The emailing public has been at the mercy of spammers for way too long. This survey confirms that people are screaming out to be empowered with the ability to stop the constant flow of unsolicited e-mails into their in-boxes," said Schumer. "My anti-spam bill fights spam on two fronts: It gives e-mail users the ability to put their names on a list to stop getting spammed and gives law enforcement the ability to go after those spammers that send this junk." Hurray.
comprehensive online spyware detection service. For free.
PestScan from PestPatrol is a web-based program that runs right from the PestPatrol website, downloading just a few small components to the user's computer. It is designed to provide a quick and easy way to scan Windows PCs for spyware, keyloggers, and other computer pests in the places they are most likely to be hiding. The PestScan results link directly to PestPatrol's extensive pest information database, enabling users to find out exactly what the threat level is.
I haven't tried this yet. Let me know how it works for you.
-- 32MB SDRAM (29.5MB user available) of memory for twice the storage capacity of the original Tungsten T handheld
-- Palm's sharpest color screen -- a high-resolution 320 x 320 transflective TFT display -- for better indoor and outdoor viewing
-- Built-in wireless communication suite -- Bluetooth, feature-rich email client, SMS, and web browser
-- The latest Palm OS(R), v5.2.1, with updated software features, including Graffiti(R) 2 and on-screen writing for input in the Tungsten T2 handheld's compact mode
-- MP3, video playback, and photo software for listening to music files, playing movie trailers, and storing photos(1)
The Palm Tungsten T2 handheld debuts at $399 (all prices estimated U.S. street price). Also effective today, Palm announced the price reduction of two current handhelds. The Palm m130 handheld is reduced from $199 to $179, and the Palm m515 handheld is reduced from $299 to $249.
Other key findings indicate current solutions to stop unwanted email, such as filtering and opt-out mechanisms, are not working. Many consumers spend 30 minutes or more each day just dealing with spam. On the hot topic of spoofed email, over 60% of persons surveyed had received fake or spoofed email from a trusted brand, with many reporting that such messages contained pornography, a computer virus, or a false message. Electronic copies will be available later today.
Well, this is all true, and some laws might be a good thing. But won't that just shove everything offshore? I hate spam as much as the next guy, but I reckon the secret is just to make it so unprofitable for them that they slink away and train spot, or whatever it was they did before. That means not just laws, but assiduous spam filtering.
netomat, "a pioneer in communication software and network-based art", has just released its new personal multimedia communication service. The beta (for both PC and Mac) is now available as a free download.
netomat allows anyone to "create and publish or send multimedia websites, emails and blogs using any combination of digital pictures, audio, voice, text, free-form drawing and animation -- all in just a few minutes". Looks intriguing.
This bit caught my eye:
Our study results also showed that mobile phones are perceived to be one of the least confusing technology products. We hypothesize this may be because cell phones are largely an extension of an existing technology ingrained in everyday life - the regular telephone.
While I agree 100% that phones have managed to keep folk not confused, I'm not sure it's because they're an extension of existing technology. It's because they're relatively simple. Maximum ten features, ten menus, that's it. Green button to call or receive calls; red button to hang up. I've seen people of all sorts -- and I really mean that -- using them and exploring their features. When a guy who never went to high school can change a ring tone, you know you have a technology that's up his street.
Anyway, the report goes on:
However, given what we’ve seen of consumer reticence to adopt complicated high-tech products such as digital cameras and PDAs, consider what might happen as mobile phone manufacturers incorporate these potentially confusing functionalities into their phones.
Once again, right on the money. I'm not convinced a Smart Phone is a great idea if you can't answer it easily, or make an emergency call with it without some fiddly stylus, or earpiece, or if the software reboots. If you add features to something that's successful because it's simple, is it successful anymore?
Microsoft has just released a new version of its Money software, 2004. New features:
-- An extensive Credit Center provides a free credit report and one year of ongoing credit monitoring, in addition to a summary of debt accounts, educational content, access to "what-if" scenarios and information on credit protection.
-- Money 2004 Premium offers an exclusive collection of valuable financial services, a $365 value, including two years of MSN(r) Bill Pay, capital gains tax optimizer from GainsKeeper, one-time free federal online tax preparation and filing from H&R Block, one free credit report, credit alerts and one year of ongoing monitoring from Experian Consumer Direct, and a complimentary initial personal financial consultation with American Express.
-- Money 2004 is the only personal finance management software to offer the GainsKeeper service, which helps consumers better monitor and minimize the tax implications of their investment decisions.
The software further ties in with the MSN Money Web site to provide convenient, timely access to relevant and current information, including world-class financial news, information, tools and services.
You can download a trial version from here. I've been disappointed with previous versions which seem to add features but not to address existing bugs. Sound familiar?
Regular readers of this blog -- or folk who spend their weekends inspecting spam -- will be familiar with most of these tricks, but it's an education nonetheless. However, I am beginning to think that however clever spammers are, there's a point beyond which it's just not worth the effort for them. That's when we all get Bayesian filters running and tune them. The only spam I worry about these days are press releases like this one from ActiveState. I swear it's taken me longer to find the right link to their website than it would be to clean the one or two bits of spam that get past by my spamblocker (POPFile, in case you haven't been paying attention). Or am I missing something?
Expect to see the drive in products made by Fuji Photo Film Co. (Fujifilm), Ltd., Citizen Watch Co., Ltd. (Citizen), and Texas Instruments (TI) next year. No press release available yet.
The FlyFan? (between $10 and $20) plugs into a USB port to provide a steady stream of cool air. Er, that's it. (Yes, a quiet news day.)
This confidence trick has since been named "The Boiler Room scam" after a movie of the same name. The show, depicted "fly-by-night stockbrokers involved in shady dealings to rip off investors", the report said. In the movie, after buyers would be convinced to buy into shakey firms on inflated or made-up claims. Given the number of Brits who call me suggesting I invest in some offshore fund, I'm kinda glad I politely decline them.
Business Resource Center Services
Wells Fargo Bank
Anyway, the good news is that in its August 5, 2003 edition, PC Magazine named FinePrint Software’s pdfFactory Pro as its Editor’s Choice from the twelve applications it reviewed for its “PDFing Cheap”. Crack open the champagne.
it looks to me as if the whole thing is levelling off. After all, how many text messages can folk send? After all, there are less than 59 million people living in the UK, which means at the moment nearly every person is sending one SMS a day. That can't be right. My mother hates her cellphone and keeps trying to throw it on the compost. I'm no expert but it looks as if people haven't really been sending more text messages since last October. If that's the case, are they going to move to MMS?
In short, a bit of a scam. If you think it may be happening to you, check with the people running your webmail service.
The ExtremeTech website is updating its top tips of 2003, expanding it to 60 and giving some very useful advice down the way (not unlike the advice you'll find here, I might add). Check it out.
see below for subscription links -- sorry, but the columns are only available to subscribers.