Thursday, September 23, 2010

Unsubscribe is now easy

This is not an anti-spam service. I already have three of those: spamcop.net, scr.im and the ESET Smart Security program. No, this is a service that helps you unsubscribe from all those darn email newsletters and PR announcements that I swear I never agreed to and I sure as hell aren't going to read.
Unsubscribe.com is a new service, so it's a bit rough around the edges. So try the free version, which allows you to unsubscribe from 5 newsletters a month. This gives you the chance to check whether it works with your mail service before you liberate $19 per year for the "unlimited" plan. As I said, it isn't for "spam", but for "bacon": those email newsletters and announcements that companies love to send.
There is a Chrome plugin for Gmail, and an add-in for Outlook 2007/2010 (32-bit), but no plugin (yet) for Yahoo Mail. So instead you just forward the message to mail@unsubscribe.com, and they figure it out. You get a daily/weekly message that tells you which services have been unsubscribed, and you can unsubscribe from his too. Cool. Simple. And it seems to work pretty well.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gauteng Beach Party

In 2008 Aljazeera English did a documentary on the Soweto Beach Party, which I also showed on this blog.
This year it will be at a bigger venue to the West of Soweto, and everyone is invited to buy their tickets through Computicket. Click on the graphic for more info. Sounds like a blast!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Zimbabwe's Media Landscape


Here's a warning for South African media, for those with enough sense to listen. Check out Radio Dialogue and NewsDay Zimbabwe. Then take a look at South Africa, and the bad spelling at The New Age, the first paper that is trying to outdo the SABC for obsequious, sycophantic journalism.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Tip: From Downloads to Installed

Over the last few months I've developed a method of keeping track of what programs I've downloaded and installed on different machines. It's turned out to be quite useful, particularly when restoring from backups. I have set all my browsers to save their downloaded files in "c:\users\[user name]\Downloads", so I can find the downloaded file. Once I have run the install, I then move the download to a folder I created called "c:\users\[user name]\Installed", along with a text file containing any license information such as serial numbers. So in addition to "edpro50.exe" I have "edpro50 ExamDiff Pro Registration Instructions.txt". You get the picture.
This is useful because both Carbonite and SyncToy make backups of this folder. If I'm working on setting up another machine and I think "I need to install the latest version of Adobe Reader" I don't have to download it again, I just look in the "Installed" folder, and copy the relevant file to the network share or a USB drive. Then I copy it to the new machine's "Downloads" folder, and once I have installed it, to the new machine's "Installed" folder. I can then save the relevant new serial number files on the new machine, without them getting mixed up with my current machine.
The only file that lives permanently in my "Downloads" folder is the filehippo.com utility "UpdateChecker" which informs me of any new versions of software that is available for my PC. I don't always use the new versions, but at least this helps keep track of my apps in a systematic way.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Corporate Solutions Marketing and Media Traders get the spammer of the month prize

More spam news: "Leisure Cor" bought an email list to advertise that they buy and sell Holiday Club Life Points. The less I say about these timeshare points the better, but as far as I'm concerned they suck. Badly. But not nearly as much as Corporate Solutions Marketing, the company that sent out the spam. They were gullible enough to buy suckered into buying an email spam list from Caroline at Media Traders in Cape Town 021-788 6801, who in turn say they bought the list from MLD Marketing. I spoke to Caroline and she is unrepentant about spamming, and doesn't consider her multiple violations of the ECT Act to be a problem.
I am publishing their details so that others affected by this kind of dubious activity can contact them to have their names removed from these lists. And make a note not to do business with them, unless of course you want them to take all your money. Spammers and those who sell spam lists have no business ethics whatsoever.
Update 19-Sept: I have contacted "Sulaco New Media" who actually sent out the emails, to inform them that their anti-spam policy was violated by Corporate Solutions Marketing. We'll see if they reply, and whether they actually enforce their own policy.
Update 20-Sept: Sulaco New Media have promised to investigate this matter. I got an email from their CEO, and he posted a comment to this post. Judging by the email below, it seems that Sulaco are serious about their anti-spam policy.
Update 2pm: I just received the following email message, which is rather amusing since they have been ignoring my emails until now:
From: Corporate Solutions <marketing@corporatesolutionsmarketing.co.za>
To: The CEO of Sulaco; cc: Donn Edwards
Dear Sirs/Madam
We acknowledge receipt of your mails and confirm that we have always endeavoured the act within the ambit of the law. We have further complied with all relevant acts of the law, especially requirements in accordance within the ECT Act.
We have now referred the complaints to our attorneys and in the meanwhile kindly refer should you have the contact details of Mr Donn Edwards for onward transmission to our attorneys for the necessary action.
All our rights are being reserved and we refer to the Audi alteram partem rule in law which Mr Donn Edwards has amongst other laws preferred to ignore.
Corporate Solutions
I don't recall them observing the Audi alteram partem rule when they sent spam to my wife's email address, or when they bought a spam list from Caroline at Media Traders. I have since discovered that the email was sent to me by Francois Budricks in Port Elizabeth (041) 374 1699. I see they protest vigorously about not violating the ECT Act, but say nothing about their violation of the Sulaco anti-spam policy, or the AUP of their email provider or ISP. It appears that they are members of the Vacation Ownership Association of Southern Africa, formerly known as TISA.
On Thu 06/09/2007 08:44 he received and read an email from me advising him not to send any marketing material to myself or my wife, and providing him with the relevant details, addresses, ID numbers, etc. So by sending the subsequent email he broke the ACT Act. I think he doth protest too much.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dodgy business at Banbric North

How's this for dodgy business dealings? You run a building company and you offer to one of your subcontractors (WoodWise) to send out email spam on their behalf. So they take all the flack from angry mail recipients. When I confronted the guy from Banbric he was unhelpful and unrepentant. Clearly he thinks he is above the law. I wonder whether he treats all his customers this way?
Section 45 of the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, no 25 of 2002. states the following:
45. (1) Any person who sends unsolicited commercial communications to consumers, must provide the consumer—­
(a) with the option to cancel his or her subscription to the mailing list of that person; and
(b) with the identifying particulars of the source from which that person obtained the consumer'spersonal information, on request of the consumer.
So although they provided the "opt-out" option, if they cannot identify the particulars of the source, then they are breaking the law. So far they have been unwilling or unable to provide these details.
And the company that sent the spam has no idea where the addresses came from, and makes no effort whatsoever to filter out emails on the DMA's Do Not Contact list. So in spite of their "no spam" logo, they don't actually make any effort to stop spam: it's their business to send out emails, so why bother?
Oh, and did I mention that the Banbric North web site distributes malware?

Friday, September 03, 2010

Bye-bye HP, Hello Acer


Some time ago, shortly after the launch of Windows Vista, my wife Penny bought an HP Pavilion DV6204EU laptop, mainly because it looked nicer than the other laptops we saw. Pity it didn't work better. Now the thing has finally died: it won't connect to the network, or to the printer or scanner, and the CD/DVD drive hasn't worked for months.
So she finally agreed to let me replace her laptop, and yesterday we took delivery of a spiffy new Acer eMachines E725 laptop, with Windows 7, 4GB RAM, and a 320GiB hard drive. Now the fun begins, transferring all her old files and reinstalling all her programs. I hope the 64-bit OS doesn't cause too many hassles. At least the new machine can run Spinrite and report the HDD temperature.
I have bought 8 laptops in the last 5 years (4 were gifts, one was a replacement for a machine I spilled water on). Only the HP and an IBM ThinkPad have given us grief. Similarly, the HP printer still doesn't work properly on Windows Vista. As a result I will not willingly buy another HP product. Maybe they should revert back to their original name: Hewlett-Packup.

Warning: The NSA and 4 million other sick weirdos with "security clearance" have intercepted this page and know that you are reading it.