A friend referred me a company that sells a vertical Lamborghini-style door hinge kit for Skippy, our little Miata. I dunno. The kit is expensive ($1,800), might void the warranty, and although lambo doors look cool, they’re not very practical. Safety is also an issue. What do you think?

Here’s a link to the company that makes ’em, LSD Doors.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This press release speaks for itself. Are you thirsty yet? The machines cost from $2,495 and up.


Contact: Damon
Company: American Soda Machines
Phone: 303-478-6193
Email: email hidden; JavaScript is required
Web: www.americansodamachines.com

Customized Vintage Soda Machines

For anyone who loves enjoys technology or makes their living in the digital industry, a tech themed soda machine makes great addition to your home or office. It provides a fun, offbeat way to keep beverages cold – no matter the alcohol content. These machines can alternately be adorned with any business logo, a favorite video game, or whatever the buyer wants.

In addition to restoring vintage soda machines with the familiar Coke and Pepsi motifs, Denver-based American Soda Machines (ASM) customizes these beverage icons into all kinds of themes for individual buyers. ASM fittingly refers to a customized machine as “re-made to order”.

Where the bespoke machines get installed is often a very fitting home…like an airplane themed machine being located in a hanger, or an equine decorated dispenser being placed in barn. Likewise, car themed pop machines often end up in garages, and movie tribute machines get placed in home theater rooms.

By customizing these machines, ASM is just further tapping into an existing love affair with these relics.

For over half a century, soda machines have been a fixture of American life. There have been multiple makes, models, and manufacturers over the years. The three primary classifications or styles of soda machines are sliders, round tops, and square top machines.

While the American Soda Machines restores and sells all three of these type machines, the square tops provide the best “canvas” for customization. There are also several makes and models of these square top machines. The one ASM most often uses is the Vendo 63 made by the Vendo company during the 1960s.

This Vendo 63 provides nice clean lines for the re-made to order creations. Its nice compact size (53”H x 27.5”W x 21.5” D) makes it easy to fit into a home, office, or wherever a buyer wants to put it. The machine can also be made to vend either bottles or cans.

The ASM art department can create just about anything a customer wants.

High resolution photos of this or any of our customized machines are available upon request. (We grant your art staff permission to further customize a machine in Photoshop with an image(s) that may have even greater appeal to your audience!)

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I don’t know who would be stupider: the people who sent out this incredibly poor attempt at phishing, or anyone who responds with a username and password. Needless to say, don’t respond.

The message was sent from a server in Papua New Guinea.

From: “Minson Peni – 1059175918 – WT”
Date: May 25, 2009 4:54:34 PM PDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Attention

Attention — email account user,

we are currently verifying our subscribers email accounts in other to increase the
efficiency of our webmail futures. during this course you are required to provide the
verification desk with the following details so that your account could be verified


kindly send these details so as to avoid the cancellation of your email account.

Technical Suppport.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Oh, my aching back! That’s what I was thinking while walking around Microsoft’s TechEd conference a couple of week ago. Perhaps I’m getting old, but a briefcase full of papers, plus a 5.5-lb Apple MacBook Pro, got old really fast.

I’d already lightened my load by picking up an Amazon Kindle 2 digital book reader in April. That meant no more heavy books when I travel; nowadays, I just take a few magazines and the 10.2-oz Kindle. That’s taken a lot of weight of my aching back, while also giving me a much wider choice of reading material. (Right now, my Kindle has about 150 books, nearly all of which were downloaded from Project Gutenberg.)

Often, even when my notebook is handy, I’m accessing data using my iPhone 3G. When it comes to checking e-mail, scheduling appointments, sending instant messages or checking the latest news from the New York Times, the 4.7-oz device is just as convenient as my MacBook Pro. Thanks to solid syncing technology, I can access the same e-mail, calendar, messages and news on either the notebook or the phone—and the phone is with me nearly wherever I go.

The message here is that for business users, the days of the standard notebook PC are limited. Multi-purpose devices, like Kindles or iPhones, aren’t just consumer electronics toys. They’re business machines, and software developers and IT professionals should be thinking about those devices in addition to standard browser-based clients. If you’re creating reports, for example, think about making those reports accessible on smartphones and eBook readers. Is that more work? Yes. Is that good for your business? Yes.

Finally, for those days when I truly need a large screen and full keyboard, I’ve purchased a new back remedy: an HP Mini 1120NR, a Linux-based netbook that weighs only 2.45 lbs. So far, my only complaint is its short three-hour battery life. But for daytrips or doing some work on the sofa, it sure beats a standard notebook PC.

Thinking small can be good for your business—and your health.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Don’t forget the TRS-80 Model 100 and Tandy 102! In today’s world of ubiquitous notebooks, netbooks and smartphones, one device was there first. Introduced in 1983, the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 was an incredible platform.

While it was very underpowered by today’s standards, the 3-pound notebook had a full-sized keyboard, a very usable screen (8 lines by 40 characters) — and ran up to 20 hours on four AA batteries.

Accompanying the Model 100 was a magazine called Portable 100, published from 1983 through 1992. I worked on the magazine between 1985 and 1987.

The magazine had an up-and-down history. It was launched by a small publisher called Camden Communications Inc. in September 1983. CCI ceased operations after publishing the August 1986 issue.

The following summer, IDG Communications purchased the magazine, along with other CCI assets, and put out Portable 100 from August 1987 through December 1987. IDG then sold the Portable 100 to another company, which ended my formal association with it. (I wrote some freelance articles for the new owners through the April 1998 issue.)

I served as technical editor of Portable 100 for much of the CCI era, and was hired by IDG to help them restart it. (I stayed at IDG through 1990.) During a couple of crazy weeks in the summer of 1987, I wrote several stories for the “re-debut” August issue, and edited the whole thing.

Over the past weekend, I discovered that a group called Club 100 had scanned and uploaded every issue of Portable 100. While I have hard copy of all the issues produced during my tenure, this discovery prompted a walk down memory lane.

Here’s what I wrote for the August 1987 issue, which I hope you’ll download and enjoy:

• “Heir to the Throne,” a cover story on the Model 100’s mildly upgraded replacement, the Tandy 102 (co-authored with Carl Oppedahl, a Model 100 expert and contributing writer).

• Answers to most Letters to the Editor.

• The “New Products” department.

• “Industrial Strength Memory,” a review of a bubble memory system.

• “Time to Program,” a programming feature that walked readers through the software-design process.

• “Do-It-Yourself Letters,” a programming feature that presented a mail-merge application.

• “Learning the Protocol,” a column that discussed the ASCII character-coding scheme.

What fun. I really enjoyed the Portable 100 era. The magazine was so influential in its time that a top executive of Tandy Corp. (which produced the Radio Shack TRS-80 Model 100 and Tandy 102) expressed frustration that customers referred to the computer as a Portable 100.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

A friend forwarded this puzzling scam spam to me. The “from” domain is chevy.com, and it claims to be from the fictitious “Chevy Financial Company” in London. Don’t respond and don’t be fooled!

From: John Lazone
Subject: Job Opportunity

Chevy Financial Company-
London, United Kingdom. E8 2NP.

My name is John Lanzone, I would like to know if you would like to work online from home and get paid without affecting your present job. Actually we need a representative who can work for our finance company as an online payment processor, we currently process alot of personal loans/escrows between a company and an individual who transact business via Online Classifieds Ad. We presently process only United Kingdom & Ireland transactions,we have decided to expand our business outreach process majorly USA/CANADIAN transactions.

Therefore, we require you to work a part-time position by playing the role of our processor for regions: USA/CANADA. We are willing to pay you a steady income of $500 weekly depending on transactions completed. Look below for job description and requirements:

Your primary job will be to print check’s on behalf of our customers to their sole agents ( Payroll service ), we presently have a company whom requires our services to print their payroll checks for their employee’s. Your job will be to purchase a software called “Versacheck or Quickbooks” and also a certain type of check paper in which I will describe to you, then print transaction data on each paper.

You will earn a guaranteed income, we shall process each payrolls every monday of each week and you get paid by friday via Western Union Money Transfer. You will be required to have a debit or credit card to purchase neccesary software,printer and ink and also you will need to have good skills of operating the software, also you will be required to spend approximately $200 to purchase everything required from their website. If you are interested in this offer, kindly get back to me with the following information:

Full Name:
Zip Code:
Home Phone #:
Cell Phone #:
Do you have any instant messaging service? e.g: Yahoo! Messenger, AIM, MSN Messenger, ICQ?
IF yes, what is your screen name? :

Kindly get back to me for further instructions and I will give you the website where you will purchase the materials and incase you already have it,there is no need in purchasing anything and spending any money.


John Lanzone

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Do you think that this half-price automobile offer comes from Ford Motor Company? Of course not, it’s a spam scammer. While I admire this scammer’s creativity (there’s even a fake dealer sticker included with the message), you should not respond. Don’t be fooled!

The message I received was generated by a spam zombie in Florida, and was routed through ono.es, a web host in Spain.

Subject: Ford Motor Company OFFERS: Ford Fusion HYBRID Model 2010

From: Ford Motor Company email hidden; JavaScript is required

Dear Mr/Ms,

Due to the World Economy Recession, Ford Motor Company, Inc undergo a statistic fall in Sales and result in a drastic financial crisis this last season.

The United States Government has given us the opportunity to bounce back on our feet, but unfortunately we have not achieved the fund necessary.

Therefore, we offer you the opportunity to purchase a very good Auto at half of the price. We decided to pull the sales of 500 cars at a very low price for us to aquire the capital needed to bounce back in business and to use this medium to increase the scale of our valued customers.

We offer Ford Fusion HYBRID Model 2010:
Pricing Information: $15,500
Vehicle Features:
Transmission: Aisin Powersplit eCVT Auto
Package: HYBRID
Model: High Version
Engine: 2.5L Atkinson I4
Exterior: White Platinum Tri-Coat Met
Interior: Charcoal Black
VIN: 3FADP0L34AR136254 (more information in the file attached)

The payment shall be made in installments through the bank at 1 month after signing the contract.

If you are interested in this offer please fill out the contact form, A representative will contact you about this vehicle within five business day.

Gary Settles,
Ford Sales Manager
Ford Motor Company
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, MI 48126

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

At this week’s TechEd conference in Los Angeles, Microsoft did not present a vision. But that’s okay. That’s not what the conference attendees were looking for.

This may have been the least interesting TechEd that I’ve attended. Granted, I haven’t been to all of Microsoft’s TechEd conferences, but I have attended most of the U.S. events, so there’s plenty of context.

Monday’s low-energy keynote set a low-energy tone for the entire week. While the 7,000-odd attendees uniformly loved the quality of the technical classes, there was no buzz, no theme, no excitement.

The keynote session was chaired by Bill Veghte, senior VP of the company’s Windows business. He gave a general rah-rah about Microsoft’s commitment to growing R&D spending, and emphasized how the company wants to help developers and IT pros succeed in turbulent times.

From there, the keynote moved into a too-long preview of Windows 7, SQL Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2, along with a bit about Office 2010. Veghte and the other presenters cherry-picked a few features of these products to highlight, but there was little reaction from the audience — most of whom were already up-to-speed on these products.

(One of the few applause moments came when Iain McDonald, general manager of Windows Server, told the audience that Windows Server 2008 R2 is “going to be 64-bit only – get over it!”)

From there, TechEd moved into what it does best: technical education. Interestingly, Microsoft’s “hot button” emerging technology topics — virtualization and Windows Azure-based cloud computing — weren’t top-of-mind for the attendees I chatted with. Their focus was very practical: administering Windows Server and SharePoint Server, managing SQL Server, customizing Office, writing and deploying Web applications. (Come to think of it, not a single person mentioned Exchange. I wonder why?)

TechEd. Lots of training, not much vision, not much energy. Let’s see what it’s like next year, next June in New Orleans. In the meantime, mark your calendar for Microsoft PDC back in L.A. on November 17-20.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Sometimes the spam that I receive boggles the mind. However, when the cost to send out the spam is $0.00 per message, why not?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I’ve ordered a new HP netbook. Why? Because my Apple MacBook Pro is too big and heavy for working a trade show, and a MacBook Air is far too pricey.

When I’m at a conference, meeting or trade show, I need a notebook with a good keyboard that I can use to take notes, make blog posts, check Twitter, surf the Web, check email, stuff like that. I don’t need the full functionality of my two-year-old, 5.4-pound 15″ MacBook Pro, named Tachyon, which generally lives on my desk (connected to a 30″ Dell monitor).

Here in Los Angeles at Microsoft TechEd this week, I’ve been carrying around a briefcase with Tachyon. My back’s killing me — and when I load up the bag with all the other stuff needed for the show, it gets even worse.

My requirements fit the qualifications for a netbook: Usable keyboard, reasonable screen, WiFi, strong Web browser, plus the ability to work offline (such as taking notes in a class, keynote or meeting).

While I’m not ashamed to admit lusting after a super-cool 3.0-pound MacBook Air, it’s hard to justify the high cost. While a refurbished model can be had for only $999, the base price for a new model is a lot higher. Besides, I don’t need another full-fledged Mac notebook — I already have the MacBook Pro. When I go on a long trips, like to my New York office, I’ll take the big guy. What I need is something for day trips or going to meetings.

I’ve tried using other machines for this purpose, such as my “ancient” 1.5GHz PowerBook G4 (named JimmyMac), with a 12-inch screen. But while my old PowerBook has a smaller footprint than Tachyon, it’s nearly as heavy at 4.6 pounds.

So, yesterday I ordered an HP Mini 1120NR, a slimmed-down netbook. It has an single-core Intel Atom processor, 1GB RAM, reasonable keyboard (they claim 92% of full size), 10-inch display, and 16GB of flash storage. It runs Linux, which is fine for my purposes. The price: $329. If I don’t like it, I can send it back within 30 days (subject to a 15% restocking charge). The machine’s name will be Higgs.

The only worrying spec is the HP netbook’s short three hours of battery life – we’ll have to see how that goes. (I can coax more than five hours out of Tachyon if I dim backlighting and turn off WiFi.)

At $329, if the HP netbook can get the job done for a year or two, it’s a better value than buying a MacBook Air for 4x-6x the price.

Here’s a spec comparison:

HP Mini 1120NR

10.3 x 6.5 (66.95 sq in footprint) x 1.0 x 2.45 pounds

12″ PowerBook G4

10.9 x 8.6 (93.74 sq in footprint) x 1.2 x 4.6 pounds

MacBook Air

12.8 x 8.9 (113.92 sq in footprint) x 0.7 x 3.0 pounds

15″ MacBook Pro

14.1 x 9.6 (135.36 sq in footprint) x 1.0 x 5.4 pounds

Any experience with netbooks? Tell me what you think…

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Puppy scammers? Puppy scammers?

Oooh, this is a good one! My friend Mac forwarded this delightful spam scam. Do you really think that the FBI Director would send out an email like this? Sadly, some people might.

Don’t reply to messages like this, don’t be fooled!

Attn: Beneficiary,

This is to Officially inform you that it has come to our notice and we have thoroughly Investigated with the help of our Intelligence Monitoring Network System that you are having an illegal Transaction with Impostors claiming to be Prof. Charles C. Soludo of the Central Bank Of Nigeria, Mr. Patrick Aziza, Mr Frank Nweke, none officials of Oceanic Bank, Zenith Banks, kelvin Young of HSBC, Ben of Fedex,Ibrahim Sule,Larry Christopher, Puppy Scammers are impostors claiming to be the Federal Bureau Of Investigation. During our Investigation, we noticed that the reason why you have not received your payment is because you have not fulfilled your Financial Obligation given to you in respect of your Contract/Inheritance Payment.

Therefore, we have contacted the Federal Ministry Of Finance on your behalf and they have brought a solution to your problem by cordinating your payment in total USD$10.5million in an ATM CARD which you can use to withdraw money from any ATM MACHINE CENTER anywhere in the world with a maximum of $10000 United States Dollars daily. You now have the lawful right to claim your fund in an ATM CARD.

Since the Federal Bureau of Investigation is involved in this transaction, you have to be rest assured for this is 100% risk free it is our duty to protect the American Citizens. All I want you to do is to contact the ATM CARD CENTER via email for their requirements to proceed and procure your Approval Slip on your behalf which will cost you $570 only and note that your Approval Slip which contains details of the agent who will process your transaction.

NAME: Kelvin Williams
EMAIL: email hidden; JavaScript is required

Do contact Mr. Kelvin Williams of the ATM CARD CENTRE with your details:


So your files would be updated after which he will send the payment informations which you’ll use in making payment of $570 via Western Union Money Transfer or Money Gram Transfer for the procurement of your Approval Slip after which the delivery of your ATM CARD will be effected to your designated home address without any further delay. Please if you know you cannot be able to afford the $570 for the delivery of your ATM card via FedEx then do not bother to contact Mr. Kelvin Williams as we are at the End of the year and he should be busy with some other things.

We order you get back to this office after you have contacted the ATM SWIFT CARD CENTER and we do await your response so we can move on with our Investigation and make sure your ATM SWIFT CARD gets to you.

Thanks and hope to read from you soon.

FBI Director Robert S.Mueller III.

Note: Do disregard any email you get from any impostors or offices claiming to be in possesion of your ATM CARD, you are hereby adviced only to be in contact with Mr. Kelvin Williams of the ATM CARD CENTRE who is the rightful person to deal with in regards to your ATM CARD PAYMENT and forward any emails you get from impostors to this office so we could act upon and commence investigation.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick
Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

Should I just whack it?

I’ve had a couple of reports today that my voicemail isn’t working right. Two callers wrote to me and said that they just got a fast busy signal.

I asked some folks to call me to test voicemail, and for them, it worked. “Go figure.” I’ll call the phone company, in my copious spare time, and submit a trouble report.

Alternatively, I could just get rid of voicemail. I really don’t like it. I’d much rather get e-mail.

That reminds me of an interesting story that came out last month in the New York Times, “You’ve Got Voice Mail, but Do You Care?

What do you think?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

In the wake of Microsoft’s large-scale layoff of 3,600 employees yesterday, we wonder: What’s the fate of MSDN Magazine?

According to one of my sources, “MSDN is a goner.”

But another source said that while there were significant layoffs within Microsoft’s marketing department, the magazine survived.

Does anybody know for certain?

>> Update: Despite some staff layoffs yesterday, MSDN Magazine is still being published.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

When a company promotes its CFO to acting CEO, instead of advancing a sales or product executive, that’s a good sign that the company’s going to be sold soon.

That’s what I wrote on Jan. 8, in “Borland back in the frying pan,” after the news that CEO Todd Nielsen had jumped ship to join VMware. It took merely four months for that predication to come true.

The news today: Micro Focus, known for its COBOL tools, is buying Borland for about $75 million. That’s a dollar per share, a juicy premium over the company’s average-day closing price of 60 cents per share.

Ted Bahr, my partner at BZ Media, summed it up nicely in a tweet: “Don’t mourn the sale to Micro Focus. Borland has been dead for years, and the products you loved were bought by Embarcadero a few months ago.”

The Embarcadero connection is that Borland sold its tools subsidiary, CodeGear, to the database tool maker back in May 2008.

Micro Focus will be a good steward of Borland’s mish-mash of application lifecycle management, mainly cobbled together from acquisitions. It will be a better steward than Borland’s previous chief executives, Neilsen and former CFO Erik Prusch. The question is, of course, how much impact these products will have in the marketplace, even under new management. Borland had become a very minor player in ALM.

Also today, Micro Focus purchased some products from Compuware. To quote from Compuware’s press release, Compuware “has signed an agreement for Micro Focus to acquire assets from Compuware’s Quality Solutions product line, including development, sales and customer-support teams, as well as specific technologies. The $80 million transaction is expected to close this quarter and will impact about 330 employees.”

Bottom line: Borland is gone, and good riddance. Ted Bahr is right: few should mourn its passing. The differentiation is now clear: If you want ALM suites, go to Micro Focus. If you want application performance management tools, go to Compuware. And if you want developer tools, go to Embarcadero.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

I just had a pleasant chat with Robin Lane, Director of Public Relations for Vocus. She called to do damage control after my blog and twitter postings.

To make a long story short:

1. At the present time, Vocus does not provide any way for journalists or analysts to directly see or modify their information within the Vocus database. The only automated option today is for journalists/analysts to remove themselves from a specific Vocus customer’s mailing list.

2. However, journalists and analysts can contact the Vocus Media Research Group, at email hidden; JavaScript is required, and ask what’s in their profile, and have their information changed and reviewed. (Robin agreed that this service was not publicized.)

3. At the present time, Vocus does not allow journalists and analysts to control which Vocus customers can access their records. Vocus encourages its customers to spam only relevant journalists and analysts, but of course, the customers have no incentive to self-filter.

Robin agreed with my arguments that this situation does not serve journalists, analysts — or PR professionals. To that end, Robin agreed to bring to her product team three suggestions:

1. All messages sent via the Vocus service should include a footer link to the email hidden; JavaScript is required address, and invite journalists/analysts to contact it to update their profiles or remove themselves from the database.

2. Vocus should create a portal system to let journalists and analysts view/edit their records directly, and remove themselves if they want.

3. Vocus should implement filters to stop its PR clients from spamming non-relevant journalists and analysts.

I have offered to assist their product team in developing those services. Let’s see what happens.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

It sure does pay to tweet when you’ve got a complaint, because it can get someone’s attention in a hurry.

On Wednesday, I posted a blog entry about the unwanted spam that I receive from the Vocus PR service, “Can we vaporize Vocus with a medical laser? Please?

I also tweeted it, as “How can I get #vocuspr to stop spamming me?”

That got a response, in the form of a direct message from user @vocus_robinlane, saying, “Hi Alan, I am with vocus, DM me and I can help you.”

I did, and then shortly received a polite email from a lady named Rebecca:

Dear Mr. Zeichick,

Your contact information has been removed from the Vocus Media Database. Our apologies for any inconvenience you may have been caused.

The Vocus Media Research Team

Am I satisfied? Of course not! I responded to the Vocus Media Research Team asking,

Thank you, Rebecca, for your response.

I have a more general question: How do journalists and analysts control how their information is used in your database of over 800,000 records — without using Twitter and their blog to make a fuss, and thus provoke a response from your company?

And yes, that’s why I made the fuss — because I couldn’t find any other way to get your company’s attention. Several polite messages that I sent to email hidden; JavaScript is required went unanswered.

I’ve spent time searching your website, and haven’t seen a place where a journalist or analyst can see if they’re in that huge database, and if so, decide to remove him/herself, or choose which types of contacts they would receive, and make sure that the contact information in that database is accurate and up-to-date.

It’s not that I’m opposed to receiving press releases. I like finding out about things that are relevant to the technologies that I cover. What I don’t like is being in media directories where I don’t have control over my information and how it’s used, and thus I’m flooded with irrelevant information. You wouldn’t believe some of the press releases I’ve received via Vocus!

Is there a better way? Of course. PR Newswire lets me select the types of press releases I want to receive. Your system appears to place all the control in the hands of the companies who access your database, and if they want to use your service to send me garbage, that’s totally up to them.

Please let me know how journalists and analysts can easily control the information in your database, and also control how it’s used — other than tweeting something nasty about #vocuspr — and I’ll share that info, in a polite way, in my blog for other journalists/analysts to see.

Thanks, -Alan Z

Am still waiting for a response. Will post the answer, if I get one.

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick

This just in, literally: I received an “out-of-office” reply, dated today, May 1, 2009. It was in response to an email that I sent someone on June 16, 2005. That’s a four-year delay.

The original email was about booking a meeting at JavaOne 2005. Guess that meeting didn’t happen.

Ain’t technology grand?

Z Trek Copyright (c) Alan Zeichick