In The News Internet Spam

Your not allowed to be guilty

Considering our overburdened legal system, and understaffed courthouses, this is really pretty wrong:

A federal judge refused to accept a guilty plea Tuesday from a former America Online software engineer accused of stealing 92 million e-mail addresses and selling them to spammers.

So he can’t plead guilty to a crime he admits to committing because the Judge isn’t convinced. Just makes you think. I’m curious what the judge gets out of it.

“I’m not prepared to go ahead, Mr. Siegal. I need to be independently satisfied that a crime has been created.”

[Source: @ 3:28 PME ST 12/21/2004]

As if the guy pleading guilty isn’t enough. If there was any doubt about a crime being committed, the guy would fight it. I’m sure some spammers will be emailing Judge Hellerstein to say “Thanks buddy”. I question the basis of his claim that he isn’t satisfied a crime has been created.


AOL Strikes again: WinAmp Dies

Doesn’t it seem like everything AOL touches dies? WinAmp is apparently the latest victim.

Tech (General)

My age in computer Years

Thought it would be fun to spend a few minutes looking at what technology I’ve ‘experienced’ over my years. Considering I’m a college student, I’ve had a chance to play with some old toys:

First Computers

IBM PC 5150Well, my first computer to the surprise of most was a the IBM 5150. Yes, shocking isn’t it? It was my father’s old computer he had from work, and served the family well until about 1995. Can you imagine being in 3rd or 4th grade pecking away on a spring-loaded keyboard? Oh the fun. And it wasn’t Microsoft Word, or Word Perfect, it was Professional Write. DOS Version? You had a choice. 2.0 or 3.11. It shipped with dual 5 1/4 inch single sided double density floppy disk drives. And there was still significant flipping disks when using programs. Lotus 1-2-3.

If you go to the Smithsonian, they have one of these bad boys sitting around. When I was there it was resting on a stack of books. Had them all. That IBM Basic book is sitting around somewhere as well (those hardcover books with 3 ring binding that come with a cardboard container).Oh yea, and with the monochrome display, you can delete characters and still see them burnt into the display for several seconds. Also had a wonderful Epson dot matrix printer that always got jammed.

I also started programming on this system using BASIC. It was bliss.

It also had a ridiculous excuse it called ‘games’. Written in BASIC they were so bad, they made Lotus 1-2-3 seem much more fun.

School had some Apple II, Apple IIe, Apple IIgs system. And an occasional Apple SE.

Performa 6220

Performa 6220Machine #2 was a Performa 6220. This 75MHz machine was a real ‘blast’. With it’s extremely slow graphics, and unusable PDS slot, it wasn’t going anywhere quick. It still got tons of use. On this machine I spent hours learning AppleScript, and the Mac OS 7-9 versions like the back of my hand.

Also the first computer to go online. AOL 2.7 was an interesting way to browse the internet. And I still have that 3.5″ disk hanging around somewhere. With it’s 14.4bps modem, it was blazing. This was back when AOL took 40 minutes to get a connection (I assume it’s improved since then). Not to mention constant disconnections. As a result of this, I wrote Keep Me Online. It also had video input allowing me to watch TV on the computer. Not sure what value it really had. But it was cool.

I wasn’t just starting to look at web development at this point. My primary interest was learning about operating systems, and client-side development. ResEdit was my best friend.

PowerMac G3

Power Mac G3 B&WDamn, I still love this thing, and it’s still my primary Mac. Ordered a few days after they started shipping. 400MHz, and just a beauty. This thing just keeps going. I’ve added an extra HD, more RAM, and a Zip 250, but other than that, it’s pretty original. Runs Mac OS 9.2.2, and 10.2 Jaguar. I learned shell scripting, PHP, and some C++ on this machine. It may be outdated by today’s standards, but it’s still going.

A few days after getting this system, Comcast HSI (then Comcast@Home), was setup. A blazing 400MHz system with a Cable modem. Imagine what that felt like after so long using a 75MHz system on 14.4bps dialup. This was 1999, so it was from worst-case scenario to best-case.

During this point I started learning about client side development, continuing with several small Mac Utilities, but eventually fell in love with web development. My ultimate pet-peeve was how different every end-user system was. The idea of a client-server application was much more appealing to me. Still is today. Web Development always has in my mind been the premier platform to develop. You know what you’re dealing with. The downside of course being some browsers suck 😉


Today, I’m mainly a web developer, and student. My laptop is an IBM Thinkpad A31, and it’s almost always with an SSH connection to a UNIX server. I guess that’s because I’m a Mac OS X fan, not a Windows Nut. My Mac(s) still get a considerable amount of use. Acquired a Power Mac G3 Beige system, now known as Bender, a fileserver/dev server. PowerMac G3 is also still going strong.

Over the years I’ve went from programming in BASIC on a processor less than 10MHz, to designing web applications that run on multiple processor Web Servers and tinkering with Mozilla.

So don’t think just because a guy’s still in school he hasn’t played with old technology. I had my hands on some of the old gear as well. 😉

Security Software

AOL to issue SecurID to customers

SecurIDAfter pestering AOL employees with the damn things for years, now they want to charge customers for the same pain in the butt.

I hate these stupid things. Keep them on your keychain, and you know it’s going to break, and your going to have login problems. Don’t keep it on your keychain, and you know you’ll forget, and be unable to login. No matter what, you loose.

I won’t say they are ineffective, since they do work. But they are the biggest pain in the butt.

Tech (General)

It’s time for an international standard on Instant Messaging

Well, actually it’s well past time. Instant Messaging has all the earmarks to be the communications of the future, and it royally stinks.

Problems today:

  • Networks don’t communicate together, hence locking users in (MSN, AIM, Yahoo!)
  • Phones don’t Text Message (same as IM essentially) across networks. Barely from net to phone.
  • Each has proprietary ‘extras’ (file transfer method, voice chat, web cam, pictures, etc). Far from standardized.

I think it’s time for the IETF to write up an official recommendation for Instant Messaging.

Here’s my wish list:

  • UTF8 encoding for all messages
  • XML messages. Adds capabilities to easily integrate with other systems (since XML is the way of the future). Stylesheets define how it appears.
  • MathML support – for those wanting to get geeky.
  • SVG Graphics – why not? Slim, clean, XML. This could be used for multiple things: Emoticons 🙂 for example could be sent via SVG. Things like whiteboard (which allow you to draw and have the other party see what you draw) could be done in SVG.
  • Of course, an open standard, like Email. Cross platform, many clients, no licensing restrictions. So everyone can enjoy it.

With this, there’s a lot of flexibility. Using XML as a message format, rather than HTML, allows for a stylesheet to render it pretty. A person with a vision impairment could have a product read the XML directly. You could honor a stylesheet provided by the person you are talking too, download them online, or create your own. Big text? Small text? Color contrast? All in your control. And with SVG emoticons, they can resize appropriately without losing quality. Phones can resize as necessary thanks to custom stylesheets.

It’s a real shame it hasn’t happened yet. There’s no great IM clients. The protocols all have their limitations (AOL stinks behind firewalls, Yahoo’s got minimal users, MSN is spam ridden). All the current systems stink. Their clients are even worse. AOL’s adware, MSN’s buggy client (and terrible Mac client), Yahoo’s terribly slow development.

Look at all the IRC clients available. So many, each with their own features, toys, ehancements. All working together.

Yes, I do hate IM’s as of today. But imagine what could be done? It could be as universal as email. Secure, fast, flexible framework. But instead, we’ve got garbage to date.

The time for standards in IM is now. It’s only going to get more proprietary from here on out. And lock users into their networks.

Oh… spam prevention built into the protocol would be nice. Lets avoid another Email like spam attack.

Just my $0.02


AOL to let users use Thunderbird

Well, somewhat…

CNET news is reporting that AOL is to announce IMAP access, as rumored a few months ago. This could greatly reopen the market on email. AOL has millions of customers, and has been fighting spam for sometime (Tbird has a spam filter). AOL customers

Also interesting is the announcement that Netscape (another member of the family) is hiring and an update to Netscape.

Seems like the new business plain is in full swing.


What’s on Netscape Today

It’s just wrong isn’t it?

IE on Netscape

From approx. 10:30 PM EST


Did someone leave the lights on?

In case the news hasn’t reached everyone yet, Netscape will update it’s release sometime early this summer, speculated to be based on Mozilla 1.7.

Personally, I wonder who will be actually coordinating this update? And secondly, why not wait until Firefox is released, and market it as Netscape 8.0 Light, and make a pro version for use with it’s new ISP. At least that makes much more logical sense from a business point of view. It would allow them to promote their new business model by using their old business model. They can also advertise their service as having all the wonderful feature Firefox has. Could release Mac/Linux version as well. Capture that part of the market.

Then again, who said AOL/Netscape made logical sense from a business point of view? After all, it’s now known as: AOLTW for a good reason.


Just in from Netscape

Just got this email from Netscape:

Coming Soon: All-New Netscape Internet Service!
As a Netscape Network user, we’d like to make you aware of a new Internet service Netscape will soon be releasing. With this new service you’ll enjoy unlimited internet access for a low price of $9.95 per month. Stay tuned for more details on this new offer. Or, if you want to be one of the first to try the new Netscape service, please go to the hyperlink below. You may either click on the link or copy and paste this address into your browser.

As mentioned earlier.


Netscape 8.0, an ISP

A report claims that AOL is planning to create Netscape 8.0. But it won’t be a browser. But an ISP. I’ve got some grief about this for several reasons:

  1. Confusing to the end user. Netscape was a popular browser. Then Netscape died. “Mozilla is Netscape, just better” became the cry. Now Netscape is an ISP. Very confusing. Not good.
  2. It’s expected to be strictly an ISP, no bloat. Not even AOL’s AIM service. Instant Messaging is considered to be the new golden child of the Internet. Yet not included into the service. Hmm? Granted they could just download AIM. Still got to wonder.
  3. Killing the little innovation. Lets face it, like AOL or not, they did innovate quite a bit. They managed to bring Instant Messaging to the masses for example. As well as many internet tools. Perhaps childlike. But they brought them.

My guess is that this will be somewhat successful, but I doubt it will save them from their present situation. Here is how I break it down: