May 19, 2004 Unordered Miscellany
There is a new bill that gives the FBI additional snooping abilities to watch your online browsing habits. They were serious when they said they’d keep their eye on you:
The FBI has a new way of tracking terrorists.
They are now able to see every click they make on the internet. Privacy advocates say this is bad, but the FBI says you will never even notice, and it won’t affect the common man at all.
Yes, indeed, Happy Surfing.
May 18, 2004 Business & Marketing
No, that’s not the type of spam that you are used to seeing. The spam you see above is advanced, mutated, ready to eat your heart and soul. It’s the next direct attack from marketers. This time it’s in the form of RSS Spam. And it makes me sick. Let me attempt to explain:
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is meant as a way to grab news clippings, and just the news clippings, from your favorite websites without all the trimmings. You have an RSS reader that pings the source of the RSS feed and grabs the latest clippings that you don’t already have in your reader. New ones on top, older clippings get pushed down. This was an excellent way to browse and catch up on the days news without a bunch of banner ads clammering for your eyes’ attention. What a nice, simple concept.
Only caveat to the concept: Ads usually pay for the content you are reading. If you don’t read the ads and click on them from time to time, the free content will go away. So, the sites that had RSS Feeds went from delivering the full news story (although some still do) to delivering just the headlines instead. Sometimes they’ll even come with a short description of the news story. By paraphrasing newsfeeds to just descriptions and headlines sites were still able to provide your RSS feed for free. And if you see a headline that interested you, you would then click the typical “read more” link and be taken to the website with the full news story, ads intact and all. This was a nice balance between publishers and audiences.
Until recently, RSS Feeds had been great. I use my outdated-but-more-than-reliable news aggregator, FeedReader to gather the news throughout the day and pop-up a small notification from my systray whenever there is something I’m interested in. I subscribe to many sites, mostly tech related, but a lot of others too. I also have subscriptions to news services such as NewsIsFree.com, Syndic8.com and Moreover, that gather headlines from many sites and compile them together in one topic-related RSS feed. NewsIsFree and Syndic8 are behaving just fine. It’s the latter one that is giving me headaches.
I noticed Moreovers RSS Spam starting about a month ago. It may have started before then and I just didn’t notice, and I’m not sure if that would mean it was effective or not. But when I noticed it, it was ok. I would get a new headline, see that it was an ad, and watch it the ad headline get pushed down when newer headlines came in on top.
One month later it’s a completely different service. Instead of letting my reader determine if I already have an ad or not, Moreover is changing the timestamps of their ads from being a set published time to being dynamic timestamps. This fools your reader to thinkng that the news headline is just seconds old and it then downloads it immediately. I have my newsreader set to ping about every 30 minutes. SOOO…that means that I get new spam from Moreover EVERY 30 minutes. Bleh. No more Moreover for me.
Moreover probably thinks this is great. I can imagine their Account Executives on the phone with marketing companies: “Yeah, no kidding, we have millions of people and sites REQUESTING our ads every minute. They WANT to see your ads!”
All I can say on this note is: Moreover, watch your back or you’ll be the next AllAdvantage.
Oh, and one more thing MOREOVER YOU’RE FIRED!
May 17, 2004 Unordered Miscellany
Sammy Sosa doubled over in pain after a aftershock sneeze on Sunday. Says the Chicago Daily Herald:
Sosa was talking to somebody in the Cubs clubhouse Sunday when he stopped to sneeze twice. After the second sneeze, Sosa doubled over in pain against the chair next to his locker.
Sosa was laughing, but at the same time, he was in pain.
“It’s like a spasm,” he said, pointing to his lower back.
This is one person that you should not slap on the back if he is coughing or sneezing. He might hit you back. I hope he doesn’t take on a name for life such as “Sneezy”, “Sosa the Sneeze”, or “Sammy Sniffles”.
(Thanks to d.fulmer for the picture of a hurting sammy.)