Thursday, 19 February 2009

One 2009 objective under way ...

The first version of the Ashton Singers website is now available at There will be a logo (and a proper look and feel) soon.

Incidentally I've now retrieved my copy of 'The Complete Plain Words' from the book cupboard at Logicalis - with luck some of it might rub off on this blog (I have just been re-reading the section on 'Padding').

Monday, 2 February 2009

More links I don't want to lose

'How to return a result set from a stored procedure written in RPG' - I have just discovered that this old chestnut has found its way into a set of midrange FAQs, which is rather cheering.
Customers are still using these tried and tested techniques, I am glad to see (I fished this example out for an iPerimeter customer today).

Domino Java agent to check received mail items for spam:

'Domino in Notability' presentation - I was asked to present at an IBM event which showcased business partners and whose main theme was the, then only just announced, Domino 6 release. I knew sod all about Domino 6, and racked my brain for a subject. It occurred to me simply to tell the assembled company about Notability's advanced use of Domino (the link actually omits the first few slides, about our various Notes client based applications). It went down a storm, with IBMers and others saying, firstly, that they'd never heard anyone use themselves as a case study before, and, secondly, how well it had worked. A very instructive episode (KISS, focus on business benefit).

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Thoughts about spam

I seem to have been involved in quite a few discussions about spam lately, so this is perhaps a good time to collect up some of my thoughts on the subject.

Surely spam only matters if it is delivered to you?
I think you just have to see spam as 'noise'.

In my view things have improved markedly over the last couple of years. As with anti-virus, the need for spam handling is accepted in the industry, as is the probable need to spend money on it. Assuming an organisation has something in place, its end users should be able to ignore spam because they actually hardly ever see any. The old worry, that anti-spam measures mean proper emails get lost, does remain to some extent, but there are plenty of R&D dollars in the anti-spam industry now, and I would personally say they are nearly as much on top of the problem as the anti-virus vendors. When did you last get any spam in your business email account? I get hardly any even in my hotmail account these days. The legal sanctions, especially those imposed by the EU, do help - in the U.S. spammers are harder to deal with because the anti-spam law has less teeth. In summary, there's more and more spam out there, but if you put an intelligent product or service in place you really ought to be able to ignore it for practical purposes.

What are the spammers trying to achieve, and how do they do it?
There are three types of entity involved: the more or less criminal, stupid and/or misguided entity that is trying to sell its services or to defraud people; the intelligent and criminal entity that undertakes to send out spam on behalf of the first entity, and which uses completely dodgy techniques to do it; and the entity that actually transmits the spam, probably without knowing anything about it through its accidental membership of a botnet managed by the second entity. (It's almost certainly only the second of these that makes any money out of the enterprise.)

Incidentally I am frequently amazed by the appalling quality of the product - I've often thought that someone with a modicum of common sense, reasonable grammar and spelling and some commercial nous could actually achieve a lot more than these people do ... let's be grateful for small mercies.