Saturday, June 17, 2000
6/17/2000 9:41:18 PM
Key Ghost: a paranoid's nightmare.
This nifty little device comes
to you from New Zealand for $99 plus $30 shipping to the US. It
records 97K keystrokes from any PC on which it is installed inline
with the keyboard cable. It requires no external power and no software
installation. Type its password into a text editor and request
playback of the recorded keystrokes. More expensive models store 500K
keystrokes and/or come built-in to standard PS/2 or Microsoft Natural
keyboards. Here's an
Friday, June 16, 2000
6/16/2000 4:22:42 PM
6/16/2000 11:58:17 AM
Thursday, June 15, 2000
6/15/2000 4:18:24 PM
Takin' names ('n' sellin' 'em).
Just had an interesting phone conversation with one Gina Rizzi of World
Data, a marketing agency. She was contacting me on behalf of Ziff
Davis -- an organization that Ms. Rizzi says is famous in direct marketing
circles for never sharing, selling, or renting their database of
subscribers. Well, ZD is about to move on from that old-fashioned
policy. If Ms. Rizzi is to be believed, I was among the first to be
offered an exchange of names with Ziff Davis.
Relax: I declined.
Here's how it would have worked. We exchange name-for-name, so that
ZD sends my message to 14,000 people on their list. In turn I
send a message for them to TBTF subscribers. Theirs would offer a
subscription to one or more ZD magazines with a free trial
preceding. Mine would, presumably, troll for new subscribers to
TBTF. The ZD program is designed to squeeze by other lists' privacy
policies that promise never to sell or rent the names, because technically
the names would never leave he list-owner's hands. However, TBTF's
the list with an outside party. A grey area bordering on black, this.
ZD would charge me a "transmittal fee" of $75 per 1000 names --
let's see, $1036 to reach their subscribers. This is, Ms. Rizzi
says, a great bargain. Such fees usually run $200-300 per 1000
names, in addition to a transmittal fee of $100 or more per
thousand. But when I suggested I might want to charge ZD a
corresponding transmittal fee for access to my names, Ms. Rizzi
would have none of it. Go figure.
So let's see if I have this straight. I pay ZD over $1000 to add,
possibly, 50 names to my free newsletter's subscriber list.
Meanwhile, as soon as I send their message to the TBTF list, 7,000
subscribers resign in disgust, 1,200 flame me publically and
mercilessly, and 74 attempt to break into and trash my server. Four
Sounds like a fine deal to me.
Sunday, June 11, 2000
6/11/2000 7:02:05 PM
Intel strong-arms Harvard to hide iMacs. According to this
from ZDNet, Intel threatened economic reprisal against Harvard University
unless the school covered up all signs of Macintosh equipment for the
duration of a conference at which Intel exhibited.
ZDNet picked up the story from Harvard's Crimson Online. Here is the
article in printer-friendly format. The Crimson's reporter did
not suggest that Intel applied monetary pressure, merely that the
university went to extra lengths to accommodate Intel after a
last-minute change in conference arrangements. ZDNet's reporter dug
a bit deeper and turned up this account on a Mac-oriented message
My wife works at the Harvard Science Center in the media-services
department (which is 90 percent Mac-based). She was witness to the
harassment and rude attitude of the Intel representatives. They were
childishly demanding that the iMacs be removed from the premises or
they would have to be covered up. Harvard argued that they were in
use and wouldn't be removed. This escalated into a threat of Intel
not sponsoring Harvard's graduation week (and therby removing their
[monetary] contribution). Harvard finally agreed, and Intel also
covered up the signs and windows to the nearby Mac multimedia lab.
Monday, June 5, 2000
6/5/2000 4:24:41 PM
Free speech 1, privacy 0.
Today the Supreme Court acted
(by inaction) in a case pitting personal privacy against the free-speech rights of large
corporations. Privacy lost. A 1998 FCC regulation required telephone companies to obtain
customer approval before disclosing information about their customers' accounts for
marketing purposes. A Denver-based US appeals court had struck down this regulation on the
grounds it violated the rights of telephone companies to free speech. The Supreme Court
justices declined to rule on the case, letting the phone companies' victory stand.
I have a proposal. Let Congress pass a law, by a veto-proof majority, that declares
unambiguously that a corporation is not a person for any purposes whatsoever. All
Constitutional rights that have devolved onto corporations would be rescinded; all federal
and state laws that conflict with the new order of business would have to be brought into
compliance within, say, 5 years. During this interim, no action could be brought under the
Note added 2000-06-06:
Jacob Galley writes to point out this opinion
piece on the subject of denying to corporations the rights intended to apply to humans. A good