- Christmas comes but once a year, which is just as well because all that enjoying ourselves just takes away from time we could be spending staring at monitors and servicing the impossible demands of our organisations.
But I guess if we have to do the holiday thing and, considering that it is better to give than receive, we might as well think about what we'd like others to get.
One present I know that many of you would like to give is grief to spammers. Note that my editor has threatened me with grievous bodily harm if I write about spam anymore, but given the number of letters I receive on the topic I feel the risk is worth it for a quick story of a spammer who is getting his just desserts.
This tale concerns Alan Ralsky, one of the internet's best-known and most-hated spammers. Ralsky has made a fortune sending spam on behalf of others and, in the process, has become notorious and not a little disliked. He's been sued by Verizon Communications, taken to court by other ISPs and had his activities tracked by scores of people in an effort to stop him.
If you want to learn just how much of a problem Ralsky's spamming has caused, check out his entries at the Register of Known Spam Operations. There's a lot on him. Also check out an interview with him that appeared last month in the Detroit Free Press.
As it turns out, Ralsky recently purchased an expensive house in West Bloomfield, Illinois, and that made him relatively easy to find (apparently the transaction is listed in the Oakland County real estate records).
The result of being findable was that Ralsky started to receive old-fashioned junk mail. Not just the usual amount, but literally tons of it from legions of, shall we say, well-wishers who signed him up for anything and everything they could think of. Ralsky is reported to be rather annoyed. Merry Christmas, Mr. Ralsky!
Anyway, what other presents would we like to hand out? I think that this season's preferred gift is a "clue" because if there's one thing this past year has shown is how many people and companies have lack of a clue regarding IT.
First on my list of those who, to quote Mr Anonymous, couldn't catch a clue if they smeared their bodies with clue musk and did the clue mating dance in a field full of horny clues at the height of clue mating season is, yes, your old friend and mine, the US government.
Leading the government clueless where information technology is concerned is still President Bush's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board, which I first wrote about in September when it issued its draft report, "The National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace." In the past three months the board doesn't appear to have achieved anything of note. I definitely think a clue would be a good present for it.
And hot on its heels but in the private sector is the Recording Industry Association of America, which also has appeared in this column several times over the past year. Its cluelessness is shown in the total implausibility of its trying to stamp out technology to solve its business problems.
Other clues I would like to give out would go to Microsoft for foisting ridiculous architectures on us (.Net and building TCP/IP into the core of Windows XP - just 'cause you can doesn't mean you should, Bill); Verizon for my crappy cellular service; venture capitalists in general for being so wimpy at the moment; and . . . well, I could go on but I'm sure you have your own list of who should receive a clue for Christmas.
Let me know who you'd like to give a clue to and why. I'll see you after Christmas - have a safe and merry holiday!