Ten years ago, Ted Bahr and I decided to launch a company together. That company, of course, is BZ Media. Today is one of our two key anniversary dates.

April 30, 1999: We decide to start a publishing company. We didn’t know the name of the company. We didn’t know what we’d do — whether it would be print, online-only, events-focused, or what.

February 23, 2000: The cover date of the debut issue of our flagship publication (and first product), SD Times.

What a wonderful decade it’s been, and business keeps getting better. Here are some historical documents:

July 30, 1999: Experienced High-Tech Publishing Team Launches New Media Company

October 7, 1999: SD Times Brings Immediacy to the Software Development Marketplace

October 10, 2001: SD Times Honored for General Excellence

January 14, 2002: By Combining Print and Digital Versions, SD Times Makes Publishing History

The terrible picture is from March 6, 2000. (I’m the good-looking one.)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Are you all a-twitter about Twitter? Is your face on Facebook? Are you linked into LinkedIn? Is there space on your MySpace? Are you a-gog about blogs?

I’ve just come back from a publishing conference where a major topic of discussion was the use of social media, like those mentioned above, to help form communities. The feeling is that social media is super-important in today’s world.

At SD Times, we believe in social media – or at least, some of us believe do. Some of us are enthusiastic about social media. I’m one of those: I have pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, and am an active blogger and Twitterer .

However, others on our team are skeptical about social media as a concept. Some think that it’s a fad hyped by the more mainstream general media itself, who get all hung up on Oprah’s first tweet, or the explosion in Facebook subscribers. In other words, it’s a great story.

In that context, it’s unclear how to respond to stories that say that 60% of new Twitter subscribers don’t last a month. Does that mean that the service is a failure? That it’s not for everyone? Or that those individuals might come back later? Certainly my experience suggests the latter interpretation: I signed up for Twitter a long time ago, went dormant for many months, but then came back to it later.

Of course, our use of social media isn’t just personal. For example, we have an SD Times Facebook page and a Twitter account, which we use to tell you about newly posted stories, and also a blog where our editors share their thoughts and comments.

What do you think about social media? How important is it to you? How do you use it? How can we use social media to better serve your needs? Please leave a comment!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The press-release spam service, Vocus, pelts me with unwanted and irrelevant press releases nearly every day. There appears to be no way to get them to stop. Here’s their latest time-wasting message:

Subj: Dr. Khanna featured in highly respected trade journal

For Immediate Release

Recently M.D. Rajesh Khanna, founder of the Khanna Institute of LASIK, was featured in the highly respected trade journal, Cataract & refractive surgery today. In the article titled, “Advantageous in second-opinion patients.” Dr. Khanna discussed his newest technology PRELEX and his wavefront LASIK procedures.

PRELEX, one of the newest editions to medical vision advancements treats the condition of presbyopia. PRELEX can help eye patients with cataracts, nearsightedness, farsightedness, and those who don’t qualify for LASIK. The procedure is performed in the AAASC Khanna certified surgery center and takes just 15 minutes. The eye’s natural lens is replaced with an artificial lens. The natural lens is vaporized and replaced by FDA approved Crystalens or Restore Aspheric lenses. Through this procedure Dr. Khanna has restored sight to legally blind patients.

Dr. Khanna is also a skilled wavefront LASIK surgeon. Dr. Rajesh Khanna explains his thorough evaluation of the patient before surgery.” As a refractive specialist, I see a lot of patients who are seeking second opinions. I like to use the Galilei Dual Scheimpflug Analyzer (Ziemer Group, Port, Switzerland) to ensure that not only the patient’s central pachymetry spread is good, but also that the pachymetry spreads over the entire corneal surface. There are two subtle signs that LASIK may not be a viable option for a certain case: (1) there is a big difference in the pachymetric readings in the superior and inferior cornea; or (2) the thinnest point of the cornea is displaced inferiorly.”

Dr. Khanna is one of the top PRELEX and LASIK surgeons in Los Angeles. He has been recognized by the media and public for his top notch surgical skills. Among his clientele are many athletes and celebrities, most recently actor Corbin Bleu from High School Musical. He has been featured on the front cover of Life After 50, The Beverly Hills Times, Valley life and various publications, and newly awarded for his exceptional work by the Ventura County Star

Vocus’s pitch is that:

As part of our PR management solution, we provide an extensive database of over 800,000 records, including journalists, analysts, public officials, media outlets and publicity opportunities. Our database is integrated with our suite of on-demand modules that together address the communications life-cycle from identifying key contacts, to distributing information, to closing the loop with digitized feedback and management analytics.

The problem is, how can one get out of their stupid spam database? Doesn’t seem to be any way.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This scam spam — sent to one of our info@ mailboxes — was too precious not to share. Enjoy! (And as always, don’t respond, don’t be fooled, if you receive such messages.)

From: Anahita Mailbox

Subject: TRUST

Attention: Dearest Beloved


I came across your contact via international personal research profile in my earnest search for a trustworthy and honest person to handle my business and I apologize if the content hereunder are contrary to your moral ethics, but I had to reach you through this medium.

As you read this, I do not want you to feel sorry for me; because, I believe everyone will die someday. I am Lt. Leo Sura-Anahita (Retired) a Fire arm dealership around Eastern Europe/Asia and parts of Africa and I’m a widower and my late wife.

We (deceased wife and I) have accumulated a fortune for ourselves but never to enjoy peace and love of Children. Our only child died 2 years ago from the barrel of the gun which we sell and my beloved wife departed this World on the 24th of August this year from a plane crash in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek on an Itek Air Boeing 737 that was to take her to Iran on some business proposition and here i am dying from Cancer. I come to believe God is paying us back for all the pain and suffering our dealings must have caused to countries Gorilla fighters we sold arms to. I have been diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

It has defied all forms of medical treatment and right now I have only about a few months to live, according to medical experts. I have not particularly live my life so well, as I never really cared for anyone (not even myself) but my business. Though I was rich, I was never generous; I was always hostile to people and only focused on my business as that was the only thing I cared for. But now I regret all this as I now know that there is more to life than just wanting to have or make all the money in the world. I believe when God gives me a second chance to come to this world I would live my life a different way from how I have lived it.

Now that I have willed and given most of my property and assets to my immediate and extended family members as well as a few close friends. I want Our creator to be merciful to me and also accept my soul, hence, I have decided to give alms to charity organizations and less privileged Homes across the world, as I want this to be one of the last good deeds I do on earth.

Note: I will appreciate your utmost confidentiality in this matter until the task is accomplished, as I don’t want anything that will Jeopardize my last wish, due to the fact that I do not want the Devil standing in the way of my last wish.

Now my questions are:-

1. Can you handle this project?
2. Can I give you this trust?

If yes, consider this and get back to me as soon as Possible. Upon the receipt of this mail message, feel free to respond with your taught and ideas.


Thank you
Lt. Leo Sura-Anahita (Retired)
Secured E-mail: (address deleted)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Our friends at Hkitos are back with yet another domain spam scam. (See my post, “Domain scam pirates strike again.”) The spammer will make sure that bad guys don’t seize our domain names and Internet keywords. And golly gosh, they offer professional IT services too. Who’d have thought it?

I’ve substituted the word BRAND for the domain name in their email. Don’t respond, don’t be fooled, by these types of emails.

Subject: BRAND-About Intellectual property rights (TO Principal)

Dear Principal,

Super day for you!

We get your email address from the Internet . It is glad to write to you with keen hope to open a business relationship with you in the future.

We are professional IT outsourcing service company in HongKong. On the Apr.26, 2009, we received an application formally from our client. its name is Bristol lines Co. Ltd. They want to apply for the registration of the domain name and Internet keyword ” BRAND ” from us

After our initial examination, we found that the brand name and domain names applied for registration are as same as your company’s name and trademark. These days we are dealing with it. We need to know the comment of your company because the domain names and Internet keyword may relate to the copyright of brand name on internet. Now we have not finished the registration of them yet, in order to deal with this issue better, Please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

If you want to need professional IT outsourcing service, please kindly visit our website: www.hkitos.com

Have a nice working day !

Best regards,

TEL:00852 – 30723948
FAX:00852 – 30723948

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I hope the little boy is okay.

While I was sitting at the gate for my San Francisco -> Denver flight yesterday, a woman comes over and sits, a few rows away, pushing a stroller and carrying a crying boy. She’s a young woman, pretty, Asian, in her late 20s. The little boy is adorable, and looks about 18 months. He’s dressed all cute, with a little preppy sweater. He’s really howling.

A few minutes after she sits down, a couple of airport police come over to her, and start talking… and then paramedics arrive. And more paramedics. Soon there are two San Francisco police officers and six airport paramedics, all crowded around the young woman and her son.

It soon became clear that the little boy hurt his eye — whether he fell down, or got hit in the face with something, I don’t know. One of the paramedics fetched a water bottle, and they started washing the boy’s eye.

He’s really howling, and trying to push them away. The mother starts crying too. She’s very young and very scared.

One of the paramedics said that she should bring the boy to the hospital, there’s something in his eye. The mother said no, she just wants to get home and take him to the doctor there. Some of the paramedics leave after a while, but others stay, to keep her company. We’re about 15 minutes from boarding. The paramedics keep washing the boy’s face, and looking in his eye. They’re very gentle and calm. The boy keeps crying. A lot of people are watching.

One of the paramedics said, ma’am, he really should go to the hospital. The woman says no again, she just wants to get home, but then her phone rings. Maybe it’s her husband. She’s telling him that the paramedics want the boy to go to the hospital. She doesn’t want to miss the flight, she wants to get home. What does he think?

Meanwhile, one of the policeman comes back from talking to the gate agent, and says that they can rebook the family onto the next flight, which is in about six hours. The officer offered to accompany the family to the hospital, stay with them, then bring them back to the airport. The boy is crying, the woman is crying into the phone. It’s really sad.

The gate agent called for boarding, and I got onto the plane. The mother and child didn’t board the flight. I hope they went to the hospital, and that the little boy is okay.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It looks like Oracle is going to buy Sun Microsystems for $5.6 billion (net of Sun’s cash cache). Maybe the deal won’t happen. Maybe IBM will swing in with a counter offer. At this point, though, the odds are good that Oracle’s going to end up owning Java and all the other Sun technologies.

Oracle is getting a lot of very nice intellectual property. Whether that IP — as well as Sun’s product lines, maintenance agreements, licenses, consulting gigs and sales contracts — are worth $5.6 billion, that’s hard to say.

Overall, though, Oracle is clearly the biggest winner in this deal. It’s getting core technology that will cement its position in the application server market, and also give it obvious control over key industry specifications like the Java language, the enterprise Java EE platform, and the very important Java ME platform. Expect Oracle to exercise that control.

Let’s see who else wins and loses.

Loser: IBM. For years, I’ve speculated that IBM would purchase Sun just to secure a tight control over Java – which is a core technology that IBM depends upon. Now, that technology, as well as the Java Community Process, is going to fall into enemy hands. Bummer, Big Blue.

Winner: Java. Java is very important to Sun. Expect a lot of investment — in the areas that are important to Oracle.

Loser: The Java Community Process. Oracle is not known for openness. Oracle is not known for embracing competitors, or for collaborating with them to create markets. Instead, Oracle is known to play hardball to dominate its markets.

Winner: Customers that pay for Sun’s enterprise software. Oracle will take good care of them, though naturally there will be some product consolidation. Software customers may like being taken of by a company that’s focused on software, not hardware.

Loser. Customers that use open-source or community-supported versions of Sun’s software. Oracle is not in the free software business, except when that free software supports its paid software business. Don’t expect that to change.

Winner: Enterprise Linux vendors. Red Hat and other enterprise Linux distros will be dancing if Oracle decides that it doesn’t want to be in the Solaris business. On the other hand, this purchase makes it less likely that Oracle will spend big dollars to buy Red Hat in the near future.

Loser: MySQL customers. If Oracle keeps MySQL, expect it to be at the bottom of the heap as a lead-in for upgrades to Oracle’s big-gun database products. If Oracle decides not to kill or spin off MySQL, that’s going to mean disruption for the community.

Winner: Eclipse Foundation. Buh-bye, NetBeans! Oracle is heavily invested in Eclipse, and would be unlikely to continue investing in NetBeans. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would buy it, and the community probably couldn’t thrive if Oracle set it free.

Loser: Sun’s hardware customers. If Oracle stays in the hardware business, expect those Sun boxes to be only a bit player in Oracle’s product portfolio. If Oracle sells it, whoever buys it will probably milk it. How does “IBM System s (SPARC)” sound to you? Not very attractive.

Biggest Winner: Sun’s shareholders, including employees with options. After watching their shares plummet in value, and after getting a scare from IBM’s paltry offer, they must be counting their blessings right now.

LinkedIn has great customer service, but needs to fix its software.

I’m a heavy LinkedIn user, finding it invaluable for tracking down people when I don’t have their current contact information. In our industry, people move around a lot!

Every couple of months, something gets screwed up in LinkedIn-Land, and my address book disappears.

Each time, I report the same problem, they send me back the same workaround, and then a few days later, they fix the problem. (I’ve just compared the responses they’ve sent each time, and it’s the same workaround.)

Oddly, this workaround doesn’t seem to be in their user-searchable knowledge-base. I’m guessing that the “nojs” at the end of the URL means “no JavaScript.”

I’m sharing this in the hopes that it’s helpful for you. By the way, kudos to their customer support team: They responded in less an hour.

Today’s problem report:

Hi, folks,

For the past several days, attempting to look at my contacts brings up the error message:

We are sorry, the address book is unavailable. Please try again later.

Can you please fix it? (This problem occurs frequently in my account.)

Thanks! -A

Today’s reply:

Dear Alan,

Thank you for contacting LinkedIn Customer Support. We apologize for the inconvenience you have experienced. We are aware of the issue you are currently experiencing and we are working diligently to resolve it. In the mean time, please use the following link to access your connections and contact list: http://www.linkedin.com/connectionsnojs.

We appreciate your patience.

Thank you for being a valued member of our LinkedIn community!


LinkedIn Customer Support

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Network Solutions is about to lose my business. I believe they have engaged in unethical behavior.

Last week, Ted and I were bouncing around some project ideas, and as part of the brainstorming, I went and researched some potential domains names, uncovering five that might possibly works (and which were available).

We decided not to pursue the project, and of course, I didn’t purchase the domains.

Foolish me, I was “logged into” my Network Solutions account when I did the searches.

I’ve learned that the company tracks what you look for — and then throws it into the marketing grinder. Who knows how long it stores that information, or what else it does it it?

You can believe I’m not going to make THAT mistake again.

Here’s the text of an email I received a few moments ago.

Subject: Abandon – $19 domains

Register the Domain Name You Want! Only $19/year*

The domain name(s) you recently searched for
is still available! Register it today for only $19.00/year*. That’s 45% OFF of the annual purchase price!

Domain names available now!**

[the list of domains I searched for]

Register now!

* Discount applies to new domain name registrations of .com, .net., .org, .biz., info., .us, .name, .cc, .gs, .ms, .tc, .tv and .ws for terms of 1,2 3, or 5 years. Offer expires May 6, 2009.

** Domain names available as of April 13, 2009.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

The common “419” scams generally try to help you smuggle money out of a foreign country, in exchange for a hefty percentage. The writer often pretends to be the wife of a former dictator, a military officer, or a rogue bank executive looking to cash in on a huge pile of loot. A popular variation is where you are “identified” as the next of kin for a deceased relative, and the scammer offers to help you recover your inheritance.

This scam is different, because it pretends to be an official bank document. It even embedded a Bank of America logo. However, it’s a 100% scam. It is not from Bank of America. Don’t reply, don’t be fooled!

(I love the reference to the Telex department, how the author seems confused about the difference between Bank of America and Citibank, and the fact that the email originated at Polish host, onet.pl.)




This is to confirm the remittance advice received from the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) through the Citibank Nigeria (CBN), Foreign Remittance Department to Debit the Federal Government Account and Credit your Account with your Contract Entitlement. This is in line with our verifications and auditing exercise carried out by the TELEX DEPARTMENT of the Bank of America. It has been brought to the knowledge of the TELEX DEPARTMENT that your outstanding payment is presently On-Hold in our International Financial Instrument Facilities.

In order to release the fund and credit your bank account, you are hereby advice to contact the Citibank Nigeria, REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR (MR. KALU E. KALU) on Telephone No: +234-805-9769414 Fax: 234-1-7592514. On your contact with the Citibank Nigeria, you should request them to issue you the RELEASE SOFT CODE of your transfer and also to reconfirm your receiving Bank Account to avoid Miss-Accreditation of your funds.

The Bank of America will not be responsible for any consequences arising from the inability of the Beneficiary to contact the CITIBANK REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT DIRECTOR. More so, we are convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that you are the rightful Beneficiary of the amount as witnessed in the Telex Instruction. The liabilities, which the BANK OF AMERICA may incur, are hereby lawfully limited and we therefore reserves the right to cancel funds if the receiver refuses or delay to contact the Ordering Customer (CITIBANK REMITTANCE DEPARTMENT).

The above request detail should be forwarded to this office within 24 hours upon the confirmation of receipt of this message.

We count on your co-operation and understanding

Yours faithfully,


Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

They’re singing a familiar tune… this must be the 20th time this year that someone has gone after these particular domains. (I have substituted the word brand for the actual domain cited in the letter below.)

Be alert for these scams — and yes, they are scams. If you reply, they will try to sell you expensive (and unnecessary) services to “protect” your brands and domains. If you do not reply, they will not do anything at all. Don’t be scammed, don’t be fooled!

Subject: brand-Intellectual property rights (TO Principal) Urgent

Dear Principal,

We are a professional internet consultant organization in Asia, we have a pretty important issue needing to confirm with your company.

On the Apr. 22, 2009, we received an application formally. One company named Countsaltep Investment Co.,Ltd.wanted to register following

1.Domain names:

2.Internet Keyword:

through our body.

After our initial examination, we found that the keywords and domain names applied for registration are as same as your company’s name and trademark. These days we are dealing with it. If you do not know this company, we doubt that they have other aims to buy these domain names. Now we have not finished the registration of Countsaltep Investment Co., Ltd.yet, in order to deal with this issue better, Please contact us by telephone or email as soon as possible.

Best Regards,
Colin Lau
Hkitos Hong Kong IT Oursourcing Service

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I’m delighted that Smalltalk is still thriving. Back “in the day,” I experimented with Smalltalk, both in college and then later as the editor of AI Expert. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to build a production system using the platform. Too bad.

The news of the day is that Instantiations has updated VAST, its Smalltalk IDE, described below. If you’re not familiar with Smalltalk, visit Smalltalk.org or the Wikipedia.

The balloon is from the April 1981 issue of Byte devoted to the language. I was a subscriber in those days. Wish I’d kept my back issues, but they were tossed during a cross-country move.

If you find Instantiations’ Smalltalk a little pricey for experimentation, check out Squeak, a free, portable implementation.

Instantiations Releases VA Smalltalk Version 8.0

Incorporates new features and support for the latest Smalltalk technologies; modernizes the IDE; adds web services enhancements; new documentation; much more

Portland, Ore. —April 21, 2009 — Instantiations, Inc., a leading provider of software development and productivity solutions, today released VA Smalltalk™ Version 8.0. Updates in V8.0 include new, high-performance web application development functionality for Seaside Core 2.9, IDE enhancements including tabbed browsers and a new documentation delivery system, and enhanced support for industry-standard communications features such as web services to communicate with .NET and other non-Smalltalk-based systems.

“The new features in version 8.0 represent a major step forward in demonstrating Instantiations’ commitment to Smalltalk, and the team has done an excellent job in producing a very high quality and reliable product,” said Louis Andriese, Information Manager, Nationaal Spaarfonds (Delta Lloyd/Aviva PLC). “We are especially excited about the integration of Seaside. We have already developed a web application using v 8.0, and I was delighted to see the amount of functionality we could deliver within a short time. When it comes to serious enterprise development, VA Smalltalk provides the best balance between productivity, reliability and integration in today’s enterprise IT-landscape.”

VA Smalltalk V8.0 is a modern, high-productivity software development environment that is 100% IBM VisualAge® Smalltalk compatible. VA Smalltalk enables software engineers to quickly construct high quality software applications that are portable, high-performance, scalable, and simple to maintain. VA Smalltalk applications fit easily into existing infrastructures and support the latest web application, database and operating system technologies.

“Our customers are running mission critical systems on VA Smalltalk, and they demand world-class support and development to keep their applications operating at peak performance,” said Mike Taylor, Instantiations CEO and co-founder. “We frequently poll our customer base to understand their needs and they continue to tell us that their Smalltalk systems will be in production for years to come. Instantiations will be there to support their needs with continued innovation and strong support.”

Learn more about VA Smalltalk, and see interesting customer case studies during the 2009 VA Smalltalk Summit, a free web event going on today and tomorrow (April 21 – 22, 2009). See www.instantiations.com/VAST/more/st-news+events.html for more details and to register. Session recordings will also be available online after the conference.

New Features in VA Smalltalk V8.0

  • Support for Seaside — Support for the current Seaside 2.9 open source web application framework Core, including jQuery, Scriptaculous, RSS and development tools.
  • Enhanced IDE — Includes tabbed browsers, use of native Windows widgets, inspector improvements and more.
  • Expanded web services support — includes Document/literal wrapped WSDL style and a new web services “Cookbook.”
  • New documentation delivery system (web and local) with improved navigation, search, formatting and updated content.
  • Much more — VAST libraries have been updated to work with current IT industry technologies (such as Windows Vista®). The latest versions of popular mission-critical databases, such as Oracle 11 and DB2 9, are now supported.

Pricing and Availability

The price per developer for a new license of VA Smalltalk V8.0 is $6,995 and includes one year of support, maintenance, and new releases. Annual support renewals are $1,695 per license. Product upgrades are available at no cost to customers with current support agreements. For additional information and pricing please contact our sales department at (800) 808-3737 or +1-503-598-4900 (outside North America) or by email at email hidden; JavaScript is required. More information can be found on the company’s web site at www.instantiations.com/vast.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

There are good words of wisdom in this story, sent to me by a PR person. This is a copy/paste job.

Businesses Affected by Recession Should Guard Against Computer Havoc by Disgruntled Laid-Off Employees

Gary Kessler, a nationally recognized computer security expert and director of the master’s program in digital investigation management at Champlain College in Burlington, Vt. says that in a recession, small businesses are especially vulnerable to computer havoc by laid-off employees, and should take steps to prevent such situations.

If they don’t take action, says Kessler, they could find data files altered or destroyed, hidden logic bombs set to wreak computer havoc on a certain date and other costly computer mischief.

“Large corporations have policies, procedures and staffs to deal with this kind of situation,” Kessler says. “But small companies often are run like families, which leaves them susceptible because they don’t feel their employees would undermine them. But often when someone is laid off, through no fault of their own, they become angry and do things impulsively that they later regret.” Among Kessler’s suggested precautions:

• In a large company, a laid off employee’s computer sometimes is seized, or someone it waiting at his or her desk to collect keys and other items. They also usually change passwords and access to sensitive files. Small businesses should attempt follow similar procedures.

• The small business should consider asking the laid-off to leave immediately, perhaps with a month’s severance, so they can begin looking for a new job. This also allows the company to begin blocking access to computer files by the former employee.

• Treat information as if you do run a large corporation, assessing who should have access to what files, monitoring that access, and developing policies that will protect your business.

• Consult with your local small business administration office about computer security policies and procedures, especially as they relate to laid-off or fired employees.

Kessler is a member of the High Technology Crime Investigation Association (HTCIA) and frequent speaker at HTCIA events; he is also a technical consultant to the Vermont Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Digital Forensic Practice, and a principal in GKS Digital Services, LLC (http://www.gksdigitalservices.com).

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Sometimes a comment comes in that makes you feel good.

I’ve been asked by friends, “why do you keep blogging about spam?” Occasionally I wonder about that myself. After all, it’s not always very interesting (although it is often very funny).

Stephen from Maui posted a comment on my post “Domain scammers keep on scamming” that makes it all worthwhile:

Aloha Alan:

I received this e-mail today. Instead of responding I “Googled” it and saw your posting. As suggested I just trashed the e-mail. I never trust an e-mail that starts with the “Nigerian scam international greeting” of Dear Sir/Madam but since I have protected my domain name for many years I thought I would check.

Your posting validated my skepticism. There are good things happening on the internet!

Mahalo (thank you) for your vigilance & sense of community service.

Maui, HI

Mahalo nui loa, Stephen.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Nikon is paranoid that I might be an evil bad nasty pirate who will print an illegal copy of its Coolpix L18 owners’ manual, and presumably do something nefarious with it.

I own a blue Nikon Coolpix L18 (my wife has a matching red one). It’s a great camera, and lives in my briefcase most of the time. I wanted to look up something in the manual, so rather than look for the hard copy (buried at home somewhere), I went to the Nikon website to download it digitally.

The manual download page was easy to find, and here’s what it says:

To protect against Copyright Infringement, Nikon offers two versions of our current product manuals. A fully printable manual for existing owners (which requires a valid, North American, Nikon camera serial number and registration to download) and a non-printable version for others (no serial number required). If you need an account, click here.

Naturally, I downloaded the non-printable version. I didn’t feel like registering with Nikon and setting up an “account” with them, just to look up something in the owner’s manual.

Isn’t this ridiculous?

>> Update: Nikon’s lawyers may be paranoid, but they’re also incompetent. The non-printable version of the owner’s manual is ‘secured’ by a simple password against printing; it’s easy to circumvent this protection. The PDF file is also not locked against copy/paste! It would take less time to create a printable version of the manual than it would be to register for the printable version. Idiots.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Cable News Network believes that a Twitter contest constitutes important “breaking news” worthy of a special e-mail alert.

This is what journalism has devolved into? Stupid, stupid.

From: “CNN Breaking News”
Date: April 16, 2009 11:20:46 PM PDT
To: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Subject: CNN Breaking News

— Ashton Kutcher is first to reach 1 million followers in Twitter contest with CNN.

CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta follows a mother, a son, a daughter and a
husband — each an addict — on a journey through recovery and
relapse. Watch “Addiction: Life on the Edge,” Saturday and Sunday
8 p.m. ET, only on CNN. http://www.cnn.com/onair

One CNN Center Atlanta, GA 30303
(c) & (r) 2009 Cable News Network@mail.cnn.com>

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

That statistic — 97% of newspaper readership happens in print, with only 3% happening online — comes from a new report from the Nieman Journalism Lab. That’s a project of Harvard University. See more in their blog post, “Print is still king.”

Those numbers go against the conventional wisdom, particularly among Web-centric techie bloggers — especially when you consider the reality that many urban newspapers are in trouble.

IMHO, the decline in newspaper print readership isn’t caused only (or primarily) by a lack of interest in the product by subscribers. It’s caused by a decline in the quantity of advertising placed in the print newspapers.

The price you pay for an “ink on dead trees” newspaper or magazine, whether at a newsstand or in a home subscription, barely covers the price of smearing that ink onto those dead trees and getting it into your hands. (That’s what we in the publishing trade call “make and deliver.”) The other costs of producing that newspaper are carried entirely by advertising. Fewer ads, fewer newspaper pages, and ultimately, fewer newspapers.

The Web has destroyed the “make and deliver” equation. Pixels on LCDs are much cheaper than ink on dead trees. Web servers are cheaper than printing presses. T-1 lines are cheaper than delivery trucks. That part of the newspaper food chain has been revolutionized by the Web, and everyone wins. Newspaper publishers love the Web because it lowers those costs.

Of course, the Web has not eliminated the costs of content creation and production. The substantial expenses of running bureaus, and employing professional photographers, writers and editors, are unchanged by the Web. Web-centric newspaper publishers much to find revenue streams to cover those expensive: banner ads, paid subscriptions, etc.

Finding that revenue has proven challenging. That’s affected the quality of a lot of online journalism’s content, with the result in the decline in professional journalism and the rise of citizen journalism.

It is not clear to me, from my catbird seat at SD Times, that all subscribers prefer reading newspapers on the Web. It’s not even clear that a lot of them do. Demand for the print edition of SD Times is consistently high. Yes, a lot of readers go to our Web site, or read SD Times on RSS, or get it pushed out as a PDF. But yes, a lot of our subscribers prefer print. And that’s for a publication for the software industry!

Is print still king? Nieman’s numbers notwithstanding, I honestly don’t know. But I do believe many (or most) readers still want their newspapers in print.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

We’re going to see a number of new desktop, server and hosted applications coming through from Microsoft in the next 14 months:

• Exchange Server 2010 entered public beta today, and should ship in 2H 2009.

• Office 2010, including SharePoint 2010, Visio 2010 and Project 2010, should enter a “technical preview” period in 3Q 2009, and should “release to manufacturing” in 1H 2010.

Read the official press release about the Exchange Server 2010 public beta.

Also read an Office backgrounder Q&A with Chris Capossela, SVP of Microsoft’s Information Worker Product Management Group (pictured).

Oh, and there’s no more MOSS: The next rev of Microsoft Office SharePoint Server — code-named SharePoint 14 — is just SharePoint Server 2010. See the SharePoint Team Blog for the explanation.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Can you guess why this marketing spam, currently flooding my mailbox, failed to have the desired impact?

No, I won’t be attending their complimentary webinar.

From: “Lindsey Lischka”
Subject: AngelVision – Zeichick, Alan – Meeting Request

Hi Alan,

I’d like to invite you to participate in a complimentary webinar this coming week. It’s called “Coffee with AngelVision”. We’ll be discussing the Impact Movies we produce and how we’re helping companies like Zeichick, Alan increase sales despite the current economic conditions. Here’s our introductory Impact Movie: [link deleted]

The webinar will be held on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can register here: [link deleted]

Alan… I hope you get a chance to join us.

Thank you!

Lindsey Lischka
Client Services Manager
AngelVision Technologies

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Here’s the latest research from Evans. I’d say “Duh!” but of course it’s valuable to have primary research to back up the conventional wisdom.

SANTA CRUZ, CA – April 8, 2009 – Three-quarters of all software developers belong to at least one social network and two-thirds belong to multiple networks, according to the results of Evans Data’s Developer Relations Program Annual survey.

The survey of over 400 software developers was released to subscribers April 3 and examined the dynamics of evolving program sites for software developers.

“This latest research shows that developers are like most active Internet users in terms of having a very healthy interest in social networks,” said John Andrews, President and CEO of Evans Data. “Consistent with this the primary motivations for joining a social network is the desire to locate old friends and the need for general communications.”

Additionally, the top three things developers look for in a social network are profiles, an active community and high quality content. Tagging and access from mobile phones were the least important attributes of a social networking site.

Other highlights from this in-depth survey include:

· Over 90 percent of developers look at blogs at least some time, and seventy percent feel that blogs are credible sources of information,

· Microsoft has the best developers website according to 27.4% of developers, followed by Sun with 12%. IBM and Google tie for third place with less than ten percent of developers mentioning their site as the best developer website.

· Developers prefer community moderated forums to vendor moderated ones, and 88% think that community moderated forums are important in a community website.

The report can be accessed here: http://evansdata.com/reports/viewRelease.php?reportID=11

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

No wonder TechWeb whacked Dr. Dobb’s Journal, if this is what they think enterprise software developers care about. (“Intimidated by coding?” It’s revealing that TechWeb views Dr. Dobb’s readership as non-technical.)

However, I do want a neat Dr. Dobbs bobblehead for my extensive toy collection. (Yes, while the journal used to be named Dr. Dobb’s, singular possessive, the character is named Dr. Dobbs, plural.)

I received a marketing email from TechWeb today asking me, “Have YOU won yet?” and which directed me toward the challenge:

Play! Modify! Win!

Welcome to Dr. Dobb’s Challenge Deuce, a special game competition brought to you in association with the world-renowned Dr. Dobb’s for software developers and Microsoft Visual Studio.

Use Dr. Dobbs and his team of friends to play the game and collect Visual Studio power-ups — or team up with your own friends to develop your own games and levels!

You can win from a prize pool of $10,000 in two ways:

1. Use the “Create” option to make new in-game levels in the Silverlight application itself, and be automatically entered into a ‘best level’ competition, with Dr. Dobbs Bobblehead doll prizes given out weekly, plus monthly ‘best level’ prizes of $500!

2. If you really want to flex your creative muscle, download the Silverlight sample application and modify the code and art in a free trial version of Visual Studio to make your own completely custom game, then get it showcased on the Dr. Dobbs Challenge Deuce site. Intimidated by coding? There are a full set of tutorials on the site to walk you through your first steps to creating your masterpiece!

Use your creative side to make fiendish and cool new games — change the mechanics, add new levels, even change the entire game genre and win thousands of dollars doing it! Here’s all you need to know to participate.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It’s nice to know that the “Checking Department” is looking out for me. This is a scam: If you respond, they’ll hit you up for money to “protect” your domain. Just ignore them. Don’t be fooled!

Subj: Domain Dispute and Registration

Dear Sir/Madam 2009-4-13

We are a domain name registration service company in Asia,

Last week we received a formal application submited by Yadu Investment Co.,Ltd. which wanted to use the keyword “_____” to register the Internet Brand and with suffix such as .cn /.com.cn /.net.cn/.hk/ .asia/ domain names.

After our initial examination, we found that these domain names to be applied for registration are same as your domain name and trademark. We aren’t sure whether you have any relation with this company. Because these domain names would produce possible dispute, now we have hold down this registration, but if we do not get your company’s an reply in the next 5 working days, we will approve his application

In order to handle this issue better, Please contact us by Fax ,Telephone or Email as soon as possible.

Yours sincerely

Checking Department
Tel: 86 513 8532 2060
Fax: 86 513 8532 2065
Website: www.js-wifi.cn
Mail No.:1299807

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Apropos of nothing, here are some things you don’t want to hear:

Two points!
Swish! Nothing but net!
Didn’t there used to be two of these?
Does anybody know what this thing is?
Haven’t seen one of those before.
Does our malpractice insurance cover this?

Got any more?

(And can you tell it’s Friday?)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Hey, everybody, United Airlines is inviting its customers to “treat yourself to a first class seat.”

Sounds like a great deal. The offer says, in big text, “Experience first class, fares from $189* each way.”

Uh oh. There’s a little footnote marker. Read the fine print. Golly, this wonderful offer makes me want to rush out and buy a first-class ticket for the 360-mile flight between Chicago and Minneapolis. Not.

Terms and conditions
*Fare is based on one segment between Chicago and Minneapolis. Fares are each way based on required roundtrip purchase for United First® travel on United Airlines®, and United Express® carriers. For tickets purchased through United reservation offices or at airport ticket counters, additional reservation fees will apply: $25 for United reservation office bookings and $30 for airport ticket counter bookings. No reservation fees are added for tickets purchased at united.com. Fees are subject to change without notice. Other restrictions may apply. Fares purchased through other distribution channels may also be higher. When purchasing from United, always go to united.com to find United’s lowest fares. Seats are limited and may not be available on all flights/dates.

Additional Taxes/Fees: U.S./Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands fares do not include a $3.60 per flight segment tax. A flight segment is defined as one takeoff and one landing. Fares do not include the September 11th Security Fee of $2.50 per enplanement at a U.S. airport or Passenger Facility Charges of up to $18.00, which may be collected depending on the itinerary. Fares for Hawaii and Alaska do not include a $8.00 (each way) departure tax. For travel from Canada, fares do not include U.S. Inspection fees of $7, taxes/fees imposed by the Canadian government of up to $19.50, and a $32.20 international departure and arrival tax if outside of the 225 mile buffer zone. All international fares are subject to U.S. arrival and departure taxes and agricultural, immigrations and customs fees of up to $50. For travel to some countries, additional airport, transportation, embarkation, security, and passenger service taxes/surcharges of up to $250 (each way) will apply depending on destination. For return travel from some countries, fares do not include airport and/or departure taxes of up to $45, which may be collected by the foreign government. See complete terms and conditions.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

In the workplace, male software developers are treated as developers first, men second. However, female software developers are too often treated as women first, developers second.

This is a problem that affects every one of us, whether you’re a man or a woman, whether you report to a man or a woman, or whether you manage men only, women only, or a team of both genders.

What shall we do about this?

The women in our profession — whether programmer or tester, developer or admin, senior manager or new graduate — face this every day. Comments about their bodies or attire, either to their face or behind their back. Double standards in professional advancement, opportunities to take on new projects, business travel, and of course, pay.

Not all of the problems are created by men. I’m told that women are often pretty hard on women techies, too. It reminds me of a conversation between two Dilbert characters, Alice the engineer and Tina the tech writer:

Tina: One day I hope we can be judged by our accomplishments and not our gender.

Alice: I got my 14th patent today. I’m on my way to a lunch banquet in my honor.

Tina: And you wore *that*?

Is any of this new? Of course not. Women in “traditionally male” jobs have been disadvantaged forever. But that doesn’t mean that we have to overlook the issue, or worse, perpetuate it through our own actions.

These comments today are inspired by a blog post by Tech Republic’s Toni Bowers: “Sure she’s a good tech blogger, but what does she look like?” Thank you, Toni, for the blog!

I’ll also point you to a recent SD Times Guest View, “Sexist and Offensive,” by Lori MacVittie, an engineer with F5 Networks.

Share your thoughts: Tell me what you think.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This just in from BZ Media World Headquarters, in Huntington, N.Y.: The lunchroom fridge/freezer needs defrosting. You think?

I don’t know what’s more amusing, the iced-up freezer or the Official Memo sent to the staff this afternoon:

Subj: Important — Fridge!

Hey, gang,

The freezer has become inoperable due to ice buildup (take a look at it — actually pretty funny looking).

Stacy is going to defrost it over the weekend but this is a heavy duty job and requires that we EMPTY it Friday afternoon!!!!

Then we will leave it unplugged over the weekend — we’ll plug it back in Monday AM.

Please take note and help us out by throwing away your stuff. If you have any highly cherished condiments, take ’em home over the weekend.

As they say in the ads, “Everything Must Go!”

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Thanks to Ted Bahr (videographer) and Lisa Magrane (post-production), we have another wonderful SPTechCon video!

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Unnecessary email wastes time and productivity. We all know this. What are we doing about it? According to Folio’s Dylan Stableford, publishing giant Nielsen disabled Outlook’s “Reply to All” functionality to “eliminate bureaucracy and inefficiency.”

Read the e-mail message, sent out by Nielsen’s CIO, Andrew Cawood — and then read the scathing comments. Fascinating. What do you think about this?

By the way, at our company, we have the opposite problem. Too often, employees inappropriately use “Reply” instead of “Reply to All,” and suddenly cut their team or committee out of an important discussion thread, leaving everyone wondering what’s going on, if an action was taken, etc.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

If you’re looking for Myvu Shades or Solo Plus video goggles for your portable music player, the cheapest place to get them is from Myvu.com — not from retailers like Amazon.com or Best Buy.

That’s unusual, since manufacturers typically hold the line on “manufacturer’s suggested retail price,” and leave the discounting to their retailers. When a manufacturer wants to discount, it creates an “outlet store” for refurbished, old stock or second-quality goods (whether really refurb or merely marked as such varies from company to company).

I’ve been considering the purchase of iPod goggles so I can more easily watch movies on the treadmill or on an airplane. During my research, I encountered Myvu’s products, including the 640×480 Myvu Crystal and the 320×240 Myvu Shades and Myvu Solo Plus.

I was surprised, however, to see that Shades and Solo Plus each sell for $99.95 on Myvu.com. By comparison, Shades costs $199.99 from BestBuy and $173.37 from Amazon.com.

Note: I haven’t purchased the goggles, or even tried them yet. I’m still in the “research” phase. Comments regarding your experience with the Myvu goggles or other similar products are welcome.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

There’s no way you can keep an OS/2 Warp enthusiast down… and if you’re one of them, you’ll be pleased to learn that:

The Board of Directors of Warpstock Corporation is pleased to announce that Warpstock 2009 will be held Friday through Sunday noon, August 7th – 9th, at the University of New Mexico campus in Albuquerque, New Mexico. We hope to have cost details shortly and open Warpstock 2009 for registration.

The picture is from the Warpstock 2008 event, held in Santa Cruz, Calif.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick