Please Direct Your Bile, Loathing, Venom and Displeasure at SBC
They've got to be kidding:
SBC Communications Inc is enforcing a patent it owns that, it claims, covers the use of frame-like user interfaces in web sites, it emerged this week Kevin Murphy writes. . If your web site uses a frames or a persistent user interface, then you could be in infringement.
Using SBC’s interpretation of its patent, hundreds of thousands of web sites, including those of many SBC’s own hosting customers, many of the web’s biggest sites, and the United States Patent and Trademark Office itself, could be in infringement.
"SBC Intellectual Property currently is working with several commercial web site owners regarding patent licensing agreements related to specific techniques for enabling consistent navigation features from different pages of a web site," SBC said in a statement yesterday.
It is believed that a small number of sites have so far been contacted, likely in the tens. SBC is asking between $527 and $16.6m per year to license the patented technology, depending on the annual revenue of the company concerned and what kind of license they sign up for. [_Go_]
Well if you haven't come up with a reason to remove frames from your site yet then here it is. It does make me wonder about Open Source projects like SquirrelMail and PHPMyAdmin that use frames extensively.
5:37:42 PM Google It! comment  IM Me About This
Smooth Move or "Can I Have 86,000 Email Addresses Please?"
Sigh. You have to wish for 1,358,012 Garden Gnomes to be thrown at the management and operations team of NetSol. "Help we're being stoned by Gnomes!". What idiots:
The consolidated e-mail addresses of many thousands of .org Web site owners has accidentally been included in a mass customer-notification missive from NSI to each address included in the list.
A 1.7 MB text file forwarded to us by a number of moderately displeased NSI customers lists every contact e-mail connected to .org sites from R through Z. These are believed to be public contact addresses for the Web site operators, not confidential contact addresses.
It's common for site owners to keep several of their addresses private to maintain a few spam-free lines of communication with the outside world, and domain providers are expected to guard these jealously.
Unfortunately, the addresses are now neatly consolidated so that any spammer on the list will have received a collection of addys suitable for easy insertion into his spam-o-matic. [_Go_]
This strongly makes me think of the need for common sense heuristics to be applied as an content check on outbound email. Something like:
Does it make sense to send this large a file via bulk email ? (1.7 mb? I mean come on)
Are there lots and lots of @ signs (say more than 100) within the email? (Clear sign of address disclosure)
Have you contacted this customer recently ? (within the past few weeks)
There are lots more but this is a good start
We've gotten excellent at building software systems which can do pretty much anything within reason. And we remain pathetically bad at encoding a degree of "wisdom" in how they are used. I've never seen this kind of feature in an outbound email system and that astonishes me since it is just so needed. People make mistakes and software needs to be flexible enough to allow for it.
5:33:17 PM Google It! comment  IM Me About This
Freudian Slip Anyone?
The lead developer (Brian) of Inbox Buddy and I are grinding down the path to our 1.004 release and, as always, you find different things as you go through the product (big) N times before ship, testing, trying, testing, trying, praying, ..., until release. This one just struck me as a major freudian slip and amused me tremendously.
One of the single best features in Inbox Buddy, at least IMHO, is our color coded email1 which adds color to different groupings of email organized by your "relationship" with them. For example Spam is light silver while mail from a friend is dark blue, client email is bright red and email from your boss is green. So there I was, trying the different views out, classifying different relationships and seeing the result when I realized: We never set up any colors for the "Significant Other" relationship !!! Oops. DOH! I'm a dummy.
Now I could point out that Brian works from home and his wife is at home right now also so they don't need to email each other. Or I could point out that since I don't have a Significant Other relationship, there wasn't any real reason for me to easily notice this. Or I could say that we didn't do a good enough job testing it.
Or I could just say "Yes. Freudian slip indeed".
1I feel pretty good saying that it is one of our best features since I managed to break my own copy of Inbox Buddy's color coding for about two days during this release and it was all of a sudden like going from DVD to black and white TV -- just night and day.
Bias Note: I'm one of the founders of Inbox Buddy and have a definite economic relationship to it.
4:28:59 PM Google It! comment  IM Me About This
The Best Fortune Cookie Ever
"If you can't decide up or down, try moving across."
It's a damn search algorithm!!! I don't think this would have been even remotely as funny if I hadn't gotten at at the classic MIT hacker chinese food restaurant during the Spam conference at a table with 7 other email geeks.
9:42:32 AM Google It! comment  IM Me About This
The Economy -- Here's A New, Very Real, Long Term Issue that No One is Talking About
I had a very interesting chat with my father yesterday and it pointed out to me an aspect of our current economic woes that no one seems to even be aware of much less have a solution. My father runs his own company doing industrial marine machining -- things like straightening propeller shafts for the Coast Guard, creating shafts for boat manufacturers, manufacturing zincs for boats, etc.
His company employs between 50 and 100 people and is a classic small manufacturer -- good products, great service, close customer ties with long term industrial customers that date back years. The company is 70 years old and while most of the customers haven't been with him that long, they have been with him for a long time. This is the classic scenario where you would think that you wouldn't be pressured by your customers about price, right?
Wrong. Dead wrong actually. One thing that is happening to his business in these bad times is his best customers, the types of customers that you always have done a great job for, been with you forever, etc, are heavily pressuring him for discounts. So just to keep the work he's having to drop his prices -- and not just a little, quite a bit. For one of his best customers he's had to cut his prices 28%. That's right -- 28%.
And I don't think he's the only businessman out there who is willing to cut prices to keep the business. As any small businessman knows, profits are nice but cashflow, keeping those $$$ flowing in the door so you can pay your staff, is king. As I look at my own clients, I can definitely see that I'm underbidding things just to make sure that we get the project. And I've heard it from others as well.
So here's the issue -- even when the economy comes back up, are those prices going to come back up? I'd have to say No. Once customers get used to a lower price, they don't willingly go back to higher prices. Or to put it rather indelicately, you never a virgin again. Once you give that discount, the customer is going to see it as a new "standard" and your ability to raise the prices will be quite limited. You can probably eke out 3% to 4% annual increases tied to inflation but that's about it.
Comments? Thoughts? Definitely curious if others are seeing the same thing.
9:37:03 AM Google It! comment  IM Me About This
Wanted: Boston Office Space for a Good (And Cool) Cause
Sooz and I met Anne Fitzpatrick of Rock Library at a recent Ryze event. I suggested to Sooz that we both blog about Rock Library's need for office space. She wrote the entry and posted it initially and I'm reprinting it here. If anyone has ideas for space, contact Anne below.
Last night I met up with Anne Fitzpatrick, executive director of the Rock and Roll Library. When she was eight years old she had an idea that the world needed a library for popular (rock) music. Three years ago she started to put her idea into action.
The Library needs donated office space. Since they are a non-profit the donation would likely offer tax benefits to the company helping them out.
Their basic needs:
- A room that can fit one or more tables
- 1-2 phones
- Internet access
- MBTA (T or Commuter Rail) accessible
If you know of a company in the greater Boston area that has a room (large or small) that can fit a table or two and comes with Internet access and phones please contact Annefitzpatrick AT rocklibrary.com. An office that is T or commuter rail accessible is preferred. [_More_]
9:12:24 AM Google It! comment  IM Me About This