There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch: Listbot

Written by Richard Lowe

This column is about TANSTAAFL, which is a term from a book by Robert A. Heinlein (one ofrepparttar best Science Fiction authors that ever lived) called "The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress". The term means "There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch". This concept isrepparttar 109664 basis ofrepparttar 109665 plot ofrepparttar 109666 book, which is about a Lunar penal colony and it's attempt to free itself from Earth domination.


Some years ago I decided it was time to create an email newsletter. I had been doing quite a bit of research on internet promotion, and it was quite obvious that a newsletter is an essential part of any advertising campaign. I didn't know much about elists atrepparttar 109667 time, so I more or less usedrepparttar 109668 first service that I found. That service was Listbot.

Listbot was cool. It was easy (almost trivial) to create a list (or as many lists as I wanted). In fact, I soon had finished creating my list and went on to attempt to get people to join (and that'srepparttar 109669 hard part ofrepparttar 109670 job of any listmaster). Listbot seemed to berepparttar 109671 perfect service, andrepparttar 109672 price of a small advertisement atrepparttar 109673 end of each newsletter seemed very reasonable.

I kept my mailing list on Listbot for about a year until I more or less outgrew their service. Oh, it would handle my list easily (well under 500 subscribers), but I was findingrepparttar 109674 user interface awkward and difficult to use. So I went off to find a different service, and after some searching and experimenting, settled on Bravenet's mailing list.

Movingrepparttar 109675 list was a pain but fortunately it was fairly small so I managed to do it in a few hours. Forrepparttar 109676 next few months, I was happy on Bravenet's service, until I ran intorepparttar 109677 500 email address limit. At that time, Bravenet did not provide a solution for larger lists.

Thus, I had to move my list again, and this time I moved it to my own list server. Now I have none ofrepparttar 109678 limits forced upon my by other list services. With any luck, I will never have to moverepparttar 109679 list again.

I never did delete my Listbot account, and thus received occasional mailings from them. A few weeks ago, I received an email which I found interesting. Here isrepparttar 109680 first paragraph of that email.

"Dear ListBot User:We are sending this letter to inform you that effective Aug. 20, 2001, we are discontinuingrepparttar 109681 central ListBot service. ListBot has become a very popular free service, and we've been pleased to offer this valuable tool to both consumers and business users. As a provider of services for small and medium-sized businesses, our main goal isrepparttar 109682 continual improvement of services to meetrepparttar 109683 growing needs of business users. To achieve this goal, we have launchedrepparttar 109684 new List Builder service, an enhanced e-mail marketing tool that will takerepparttar 109685 place of ListBot."

Is there a foul smell inrepparttar 109686 air?

What'srepparttar 109687 problem with this? Well, I've been seeing this more and more lately and it really ticks me off. This is when an excellent service is picked up by a large company and ruined, destroyed or simply closed down. The company cannot makerepparttar 109688 service fit their business model so they simply discard it without a single care that human beings arerepparttar 109689 recipients of their services and products.

Almost as bad is whenrepparttar 109690 service is modified to fitrepparttar 109691 larger company's standards andrepparttar 109692 previously excellent tool or service is made more-or-less worthless. The best example of this behavior isrepparttar 109693 destruction ofrepparttar 109694 Webring system by Yahoo! in September of 2000.

These companies have totally forgotten (or don't care) that people, real flesh-and-blood human beings with feelings, use and depend upon their services.

Listbot is an old service which has always been free (advertising supported). A few years ago Microsoft purchasedrepparttar 109695 service, presumably to be able to offer this kind of service to their customers. They added Listbot torepparttar 109696 offerings on their Bcentral service and promoted it all overrepparttar 109697 internet.

How Private Is Your Email?

Written by Richard Lowe

Many years ago I was a consultant for a company who decided they wanted to perform a security audit of their computer systems. One ofrepparttar components of their system that I was requested to check out was email. My client wanted to determine if their email was secure.

It took me all of a minute to determine that their email was totally and completely insecure. Fortunately for them, this was inrepparttar 109663 days before it was common for company computer systems to be directly connected torepparttar 109664 internet, because their email messages were stored in plain text in a well known system location. In fact, not only wererepparttar 109665 email messages stored in a completely insecure manner, but deleted messages were not actually deleted until an administrator purged them - and since they didn't have anyone doing that there was a complete record of company emails going back years inrepparttar 109666 past.

I had spent about thirty minutes on this part ofrepparttar 109667 audit so far and was ready to move on when one ofrepparttar 109668 email messages caught my eye. It was a particularly juicy romantic message from one employee to another. Well, romantic is notrepparttar 109669 right word - highly x-rated would be more like it.

Curious, I continued looking throughrepparttar 109670 emails (offrepparttar 109671 clock, of course, since I had already accomplished my mission as regards email) to see what else was stored inrepparttar 109672 single message file.

I stayed up all night long, highly amused at what I saw that day. Believe me, I read some serious blackmail material (if I was that kind of person). Lots of office romance, some flirting, X-rated messages and other similar things. I remember one particularly scandalous series of hundreds of emails going back and forth between one man and a woman (both single) recounting their relationship for years. Every date, every x-rated encounter was written up in long, detailed messages. This was very entertaining stuff indeed.

After a few hours I got bored and stopped reading. I was tempted to keep a copy ofrepparttar 109673 email data but resisted. That was not part of my mission. Fortunately, it was also not part of my job to report on indiscretions committed by various employees. My job was to find and fix any insecurities, and that's exactly what I did ... I erasedrepparttar 109674 file and set up an automatic purge to permanently delete old emails. Atrepparttar 109675 time that wasrepparttar 109676 best that I could do.

I learned a very important lesson that day - email is not private. Not by any means.

Not much has changed inrepparttar 109677 intervening years. In fact, email messages are generally not encrypted in any way. In fact, I have never received an encrypted email and I've only sent a few in my entire life.

Just so you completely understand, a normal email message is NOTrepparttar 109678 equivalent of a letter send throughrepparttar 109679 normal mail. In that case, you write your note on a piece of paper, put it in an envelope and drop it intorepparttar 109680 mail. As far as email is concerned, a better analogy is of a postcard. Your messages are "written" onrepparttar 109681 electronic equivalent of postcards. What does this mean to you? Anyone can look at your message. Quite literally, anyone.

Let's look atrepparttar 109682 process to illustrate how and when an email message could be read by another person.

1) You writerepparttar 109683 email using your email client. The client may create that email as a text file in a temporary folder on your hard drive. If someone looked at your hard drive they could findrepparttar 109684 email. And it's not any better if you use a web based email client such as Hotmail. These leave files inrepparttar 109685 Temporary Internet Folder, which can easily be recovered. Remember thatrepparttar 109686 next time you read your emails at work...

2) You do type inrepparttar 109687 email address to which an email is sent. You could accidentally type inrepparttar 109688 wrong address. Worse yet, if you have distribution or mailing lists, you could accidentally type in one of those, which may cause an email to inadvertently be sent torepparttar 109689 wrong person or people. For example, if there was a "Joe S Smith" and a "Joe M Smith" at your company with very close email addresses, you could easily send torepparttar 109690 wrong person.

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