FryUp: scam; spam; blam

Top Stories: - (anyone want to buy this - it's still available!) - (apologies to Craig at Orcon who owns this address) - (also still available)

Top Stories:

- (anyone want to buy this - it's still available!)

- (apologies to Craig at Orcon who owns this address)

- (also still available)

- (anyone want to buy this - it's still available!)

They're back. And thank the gods - now that viruses get blocked at the server we daily news folk have very few regular stories we can trot out for you.

We used to be able to turn around a sharpish virus story at least once a month (they come in several flavours: the initial warning story, the local response story, the expert says worst in world story and so on) and that always kept the home page ticking along.

RIP the virus story.

Fortunately to take its place we have the "stupid Australian domain name scam is here again to annoy your customers and keep your help desks busy for days" story.

Sing along if you know the words. It goes like this: first, gather a list of domain names and their owners' contact details. Then prepare a letter/fax/email/whatever that looks remarkably like an invoice. Then contact said registrants with a WARNING that you have NOT REGISTERED the .NET.NZ equivalent of your DOMAIN NAME and that you will be SHOT AT DAWN should you not do so IMMEDIATELY for the low low price of only roughly three times what anyone else could register the name for you for.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

The latest version comes from a company called Domain Names NZ which has tried it on before. Interestingly, Domain Names NZ is owned by Domain Names Australia which is owned by a man called Chesley Rafferty, who also ran Internet Registry, a company which conducted a similar campaign in both Australia and New Zealand in 2002.

Rafferty landed in hot water with the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) because the scam breaches fair trading provisions in Australia. The ACCC is currently investigating whether Rafferty's latest business dealings breach a federal court order prohibiting him from engaging in this kind of business. Our Commerce Commission is also keeping an eye on things and could investigate him as well.

The good news is that most registrants who have received this letter or fax have not rushed out and bought the equivalent (or the .com or the - he's been busy, this chap) which means even though the letters are quite convincing, the registrants are savvy enough not to follow its request.

That doesn't mean there's been no impact. The registrars have been fielding hundreds of calls a day each from registrants who are "just checking" to see whether this really is a scam or not. They've advanced a level from last year when they rang to find out what was going on - now they know but they're just checking. Next year they'll just chuck the letters in the bin which means I must cash in on the story arc while I can.

If you get one of these letters or faxes, do not send any money. If you're unsure, check with your registrar about what you should do. You can email the DNC if you really want to be doubly sure ( and if you're really unhappy about the whole thing you can call the Commerce Commission. The ComCom can't act unless it has a complaint so why not make sure they're onto any such scam when it comes in? The complaints hotline is:0800-943-600. Tell them I sent you.

Domain name scammer old hand - Computerworld Online

Domain Names NZ falls foul of DNC - Computerworld Online

Scam Alert (again) - Aardvark (check out the forums as well for many unhappy tales from angry users)

(I've also just realised Bruce has the same intro idea for his story that I have for this FryUp. Oops.)

Commission talks with Aussie counterpart over registration spam - Computerworld Online - July 2002 story from last time round

- (apologies to Craig at Orcon who owns this address)

Craig's got nothing to do with this story. I just liked the way the three titles looked one after another. Sorry about that Craig.

I hate spam. It costs me money, it wastes my time and I don't have enough of either to throw around willy nilly.

It's useless stuff that gets in the way, means I miss the ocassional real email because I've deleted it by mistake (just as bad as getting spam, in my opinion) and generally clutters the place up.

I've often believed spam was ineffective but the Wired story below has shown me that there's a very good reason the volume of spam I see is increasing: spam works.

That's right, there are idiots out there who not only open their spam (bad idea number one) but read it (number two), reply to it (number three) and buy stuff from spammers! That's right, they actually give these charlatans their email addresses, credit card numbers, home addresses and expect to receive a product or two from them.

I won't re-write the entire Wired story; have a look for yourselves, but here's a snippet to whet your appetite.

"Among the people who responded in July to Amazing's spam, which bore the subject line, "Make your penis HUGE", was the manager of a US$6 billion mutual fund, who ordered two bottles of Pinacle to be shipped to his Park Avenue office in New York City. A restaurateur in Boulder, Colorado, requested four bottles. The president of a California firm that sells airplane parts and is active in the local Rotary Club gave out his American Express card number to pay for six bottles, or US$300 worth, of Pinacle. The coach of an elementary school lacrosse club in Pennsylvania ordered four bottles of the pills."

Gob-smacked, I am.

But it gets worse. I'm learning to dislike anti-spam believers almost as much as the spammers themselves. Anti-spam folk are so busy arguing about terminology, flaming those that disagree, bleating about appropriate responses and generally carrying on that they're doing the spammers' jobs for them.

Take the argument over opt in and opt out. It's a minefield of stupidity, this one.

As anyone who has received spam will tell you, the worst thing you can do is respond to it. That lets the spammer know that your address is live, active and has someone sitting on the other side of it. Great, thinks the spammer, I can send them some more spam and it won't bounce back. Hehehe.

However, the Direct Marketing Association, which looks after those companies that want to sell you things directly, tells its members that the one thing they must do is put an "unsubscribe if you don't wish to get anything more from us" link on their emails.

Nice idea but it's not going to fly.

Instead, message recipients should have to opt in; so if you want to receive the FryUp, say, you have to add your name to a mailing list.

As I may have pointed out in the past, this also isn't the best - anyone can add anyone else's email address to any list should they so wish.

A double opt in system would mean the user has to not only fill in their email address, but respond to an email sent to that address.

Apparently, however, even this doesn't work. Imagine getting 50 emails a day asking you to confirm your request to join some marketing list. Apparently this happens in the US already and will be coming to an email account near you.

What we need is some other way of confirming our wish to get messages from a particular source, and that's what all the fuss is over.

Frankly it seems to me the only way to avoid getting spam is to avoid having an email address. It's an idea that's growing on me.

Swollen Orders Show Spam's Allure - Wired

DMA backs 'opt in' policy says chief exec - Computerworld Online

- (also still available)

That "blam" noise is the door slamming on nearly a quarter of Jade Software's employees. Thanks guys but we'll be seeing you.

In an effort to cut costs by 25% the company is firing up to 90 staff across the board - admin, developers, sales, marketing, you name it.

New sales haven't been coming in to the company's biggest software developer quite as fast as it was expecting.

Set up by Gil Simpson, now Sir Gil, Jade has been around for many years but it's only in the last four or five that its new product, the Jade object-oriented development environment and database, has been on the market.

That means, according to Simpson, that the company doesn't have the huge regular income you get from dozens of ongoing contracts to weather the rough times the company finds itself in.

Take the UK, a country where Jade has done well for itself. Jade has been selling software systems into the health sector for years and is on the verge of signing several lucrative contracts.

Unfortunately, or rather finally, the government over there has decided to pour billions of dollars into the national health service to bring it up to speed again. In the long term this is good news for sick Poms, for exhausted staff and for companies like Jade. In the short term it means no new contracts are signed while the government organises a new tendering process to go into effect next year.

It's a similar story in Australia, where financial woes mean the decision cycle has gone from weeks or months to "maybe we'll buy something again one day. Call us in a year." The US economy is no better. And so it is that Jade, the lion of the local software industry, finds itself having to lay off staff.

Let's just hope that "blam" wasn't the coup de grace for New Zealand's development work. If Jade can't make it on the international stage as a New Zealand player, then which of us can?

Jade suffers job jolt - Computerworld Online

Jade axing 80 staff to trim costs - NZ Herald

Jade Software rewriting itself -- again - NBR

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