Friday, April 02, 2004

Of google mail and evil

A new email service, being launched by Google, had me convinced that it was an april fools day joke, even though a patent application has been filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Why should I get one of Google's "free" email addresses? Why should I let them scan, record, and index my private correspondence?

Here's a quote from the Press Release
The inspiration for Gmail came from a Google user complaining about the poor quality of existing email services, recalled Larry Page, Google co-founder and president, Products. "She kvetched about spending all her time filing messages or trying to find them," Page said. "And when she's not doing that, she has to delete email like crazy to stay under the obligatory four megabyte limit. So she asked, 'Can't you people fix this?'"
I'm sorry, but that doesn't sound like a statement that the President of a large company should make. Kvetched?

Google. I don't care about whether or not I'm able to keep most of my email. I don't want most of my email. Figure out a way to reduce the amount of spam I get in correspondence, not a way to increase it by including ads in legitimate mail.

cleaning up Washington, DC

Good news for a Friday morning, the effort by a large group of Volunteers to clean up Potomac.

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

The Donald gets preempted

Will Donald Trump trademark the phrase "You're filed?" Should he be able too? I don't think he should.

But, regardless, it seems that a chicago potter is claiming first dibbs on the commercial use of the phrase. Sincerely, both of them should get attorneys who know what they are talking about, and have those attorneys explain what a trademark actually is. The trademark identifies the goods. The trademark is not the goods. This attempt to try to use trademark as a way to copyright a short phrase is silly at best.

From the US Patent and Trademark Office:

A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Steps for Computer Security

A report today on the BBC noted that many small businesses don't take adequate precautions to make certain that their computers were safe and secure: Small firms fail security checks

What steps do you take?

Do you use passwords? Make certain that you have the most up-to-date virus definitions for your anti-virus software? Do you even have antivirus software? Do you scan your system regularly? Do you scan attachments in emails before you open them?

Do you make backups of your data on a regular basis? Remember, software can always be reinstalled, but once your data disappears, it may be impossible to retrieve it.

If you're connected via broadband, you may not want to keep your computers on when they aren't in use. That connection to the web is a bit of a security risk.

Software patches aren't uncommon, especially from operating systems manuafacturers. Check regularly for security warnings, and updates and patches from those manufacturers.

I'm fond of Zone Laboratories Zone Alarm. It's a software firewall program, which can help you avoid intruders on your computer. If you connect to the web, seriously think about a firewall program like that.

Emails? Set your reader to read them as text rather than html. Shut off preview panes in email readers. Don't open attachments on emails from people you don't know. Don't open attachments from people you do know unless you've been expecting the attachment. If you do receive one, check with the person first to make certain that they sent it.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology have plenty of other ideas and suggestions listed in their Computer Secutiry Division pages, such as encryption for communication, and security for local area networks.

Monday, March 29, 2004

Lawsuit Limits

What makes a corporation a responsible social entity? My opinion is that it starts with how the treat their employees - all of their employees, and not just the top level of management. The next is how they treat their customers. Are they people they provide goods to real flesh-and-blood folks, or are they numbers in a cost-benefit analysis?

Can we get an idea of a corporate philosophy of a company by how much they talk about civil lawsuits and how they would like to see tort reform efforts take place? Maybe.

I'm not a big fan of limiting lawsuits and trying to keep consumers from trying to have a day in court. A civil justice system is supposed to set the standards for our society, and if the average ordinary citizen doesn't like the results of the cost-benefits analysis that many large corporations follow when assessing risk, then they should bring a suit.

This article looks at why the corporate complaints are getting listened to a little more than in past years: Robin Hood is alive in court, say those seeking lawsuit limits

There are businesses who care about their employees and happy customers.

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal noted that Costco shareholders might be getting harmed because the company treats employees and customers so well. I think that is a myopic view, especially considering the much lower turnover rate of employees at Costco. And happier customers.

I was visiting with my parents last weekend, and they actually mentioned Costco a couple of times, and how much their like their food, and the way they prepared some of their items at the store. When ordinary consumers start conversations talking about how much they like a store, the store must be doing something right.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Can MSN compete when there's no competition?

Microsoft seems poinsed to take on the world of search, making blogs, news, and web sites its target. Ready to launch this summer, can MSN carve a niche that needs to be filled. I'm not sure that bloggers really need MSN.