25 July '06 - 10:33
Is the DSL meltdown starting?
About a year ago the FCC ruled that the phone company's DSL circuits were not techincally part of the telecommunications network and not subject to the same regulations. The net result was that DSL was no longer tariffed and that, like the cable TV companies, they were under no obligation to provide access to 3rd-party providers.

At the time many of us were predicting that the phone company would take advantage of this ruling to gain complete control over all Internet traffic flowing over phone company circuits and kill off the 3rd party independent ISPs. The FCC asked for a one-year waiting period before the phone company took any action. That year is now almost up. (more)

Wordcount: 866 words.
21 October '05 - 10:21
Don't Be Stupid
Most of the complaints my kids hear from me these days all seem to belong to a single theme - Stupid People. They hear about them all the time - people who walk across busy streets at night wearing dark clothes, drivers who cruise down a 45 mph road at 30 mph in the inside lane lock-step with the car in the outside lane so no one can get past, people who drive six feet from the car in front of them on the highway in the rain (drivers seem to be the subject of a lot of my complaints), etc., etc.
I drill one theme into my kids over and over: Don't Be Stupid! (more)

Wordcount: 288 words.
21 June '05 - 12:06
The End of Civilization as We Know It
There are days when I feel guilty for having children. It's becoming apparent that the world we're leaving them is not going to be a pretty place, and there doesn't seem to be much that you or I can do about it.
Several months ago I was surfing the TV and came across one of the local cable access channels. Normally I skip right past, but something about this one made me stop and watch. An elderly gentleman was giving what appeared to be a lecture on economics, population growth and resource consumption, and his presentation caught my attention and held it for the next hour. The gentleman was Dr. Albert Bartlett, and the show happened to be a taped presentation of a lecture he's been giving for over twenty years. It was so well thought out and insightful that I went searching to see if I could find the parts I'd missed somewhere online. I found the entire lecture here. (more)

Wordcount: 783 words.
13 April '05 - 16:33
The Customer Is Never Right
It seems that for a brief period in history, not too long ago (at least, recent enough that I can remember), companies built successful businesses by appreciating their customers and treating them with respect. Attitude and customer service were important differentiators when marketing commodity products or services. But in today's environment of low margins and fast profits companies, especially large corporations, don't have the time or money to invest in developing a loyal customer base. Clever business strategists instead look for any way to manipulate their market, and in their battle plans the customers are just numbers in a spreadsheet that can be manipulated and exploited to squeeze a little more profit from the bottom line. (more)

Wordcount: 888 words.
29 March '05 - 17:10
The Temptation of Greed
Many of us receive an astonishing amount of spam every day. I happen to use a very effective blocker called Spasm that integrates with Sendmail and keeps a large percentage of it from ever getting inside. Nothing is perfect, though, and some small amount still trickles through. Surprisingly, in spite of the effectiveness of Spasm I still get a significant amount of spam that appeals to what must be a basic and universal human attribute - greed. (more)

Wordcount: 435 words.
07 March '05 - 13:23
Does Security Matter?
It seems to be very difficult these days to get users to follow even basic security procedures. To most people who never see beyond the screenful of icons and menus the computer is just a tool, and basic security just gets in the way. I have to admit they make a compelling argument. It's not unlike a cook keeping all of his spices and pots under lock, and having to dig out a key just to prepare dinner. Most users have desktop systems that never move outside their den or office. Physical security should be enough, right? (more)

Wordcount: 934 words.
20 February '05 - 00:48
Why The Bad Guys Are Winning
It suddenly dawned on me the other day. Why the Bad Guys are winning, I mean. Why, after years of chasing spammers, patching systems, updating servers. writing filters, installing anti-virus software, scanning for ad-ware, purging, cleaning, fixing, re-installing, re-booting and otherwise pulling my hair out the spam levels are at their highest ever and systems get infected faster and more often than at any time in history.

People just don't care. (more)

Wordcount: 528 words.