Archive for November, 2002


Prior Art treasure trove

Friday, November 29th, 2002

This video of a demonstration by Doug Englebart at Stanford Research Institute in 1968 contains so many mind-boggling examples of advanced technology that it surely must have some people wondering about the validity of their patents.


Spots Illustrated

Monday, November 25th, 2002

I noticed today at the gym that it’s odd how the very people who treat their bodies most like a temple are the same ones who are most likely to tattoo graffiti over their sacred walls of braun. Seems incongruous to me.


Cutting off your nose

Monday, November 18th, 2002

I’ve been trying to send email to a certain company this weekend but I always get the response:

smtp;550 5.0.0 Use your ISP’s SMTP server

I’m told that it’s because I don’t use my ISP’s SMTP server for outbound messages. Because this company’s ISP has decided that this could be a spammer tactic, they have decided to reject all mail from people who don’t send it through their ISP’s SMTP server. “Sorry, no Honda Civics on this road, sir, some people use them as getaway cars, don’t you know.”

Here are a few reasons why you might not send mail through your ISP’s SMTP server:

  • You use a non-windows system that uses the standard method of delivering mail via a local SMTP server.
  • You have an ISP whose SMTP server only allows outbound mail from addresses in its own domain
  • You have an ISP who requires POP access before allowing SMTP but you don’t care to use their POP mail
  • You don’t trust your ISP’s SMTP server’s reliability
  • You don’t trust your ISP’s DNS to reliably provide you the SMTP server address (you’re probably getting the idea that I have trust issues with my ISP)
  • You use a laptop at home, at work, dialup, elsewhere, and you don’t want to have to change the SMTP server every time you send a message

SMTP is designed to work this way. Breaking SMTP won’t fix the spam problem. Rejecting mail that’s sent in this perfectly reasonable way will just cause reasonable people to stop trying to send you mail.


Fancy meeting you here

Wednesday, November 13th, 2002

Matt Raible just discovered my blog, leading me via referrer to discover his blog.

Funny, we’ve known about each other for some time in development circles, but just haven’t connected at the blog level.

I’ve been blogging for almost two years now (21 months). I’ve come to expect that online people just know that about me – time to rethink those assumptions!


In good company re bad company

Wednesday, November 6th, 2002

Seems Tim and I aren’t the only ones Verisigning off. Terry Frazier is sick of them too.


How to win against Verisign’s NetSol domain Transfer Adventure

Tuesday, November 5th, 2002

I finally managed to get my domain transferred away from Network Solutions, the Verisign company, after multiple unsuccessful attempts. I feel like I’ve played a big adventure game, trying to learn the secret to finding the treasure, dying in the process and then having to start over again each time I fall into a trap.

First attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact, inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

A couple of days later, NetSol sends me a message saying my request was denied either because I declined it or I didn’t respond in time. I send them an email to say I must have missed their message because I certainly responded to the one I got.

Second Attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact, inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

A couple of days later, NetSol sends me a message saying my request was denied either because I declined it or I didn’t respond in time. I told them again that I confirmed it.

I looked myself up on their Whois and confirmed that my address information was all correct, for the domain, and for my contact record – I was listed as both Admin and Technical contact.

I went to their website to look at my account information. Not knowing the login, I had them mail it to me. After not receiving it for an hour, on a whim I checked an old email account I still keep around although I haven’t used it in a year. I used to have that account as the contact for this domain, but I don’t use that dialup ISP much anymore. They had sent the account info there! I tried to log in, but it then had to send me my password. I waited but it never arrived at either account.

I phoned up NetSol’s customer service. They said yes, the contact info points to the old address. I said no it doesn’t I looked it up on Whois. It turns out that NetSol uses a different database internally than the whois database and the only way I could make the transfer is to change the record in their internal database. I told her to change it then, but she said it could only be done by sending me the login information to the account listed in that database and having me enter it via their website. If I didn’t have access to that account, I would have to fax them photo ID proving my identity before they could do anything. Luckily I did, so she sent me the info and I logged in, changing it to an email address that was absolutely completely far removed from Netsol or any domain in its registry.

Funny how they could send me the denial to my current address. Think about that.

Third attempt:

My new registrar initiates the process. They look up my domain with Whois and send a message to the administrative contact (at the new address I provided), inviting me to confirm. I confirm.

Today, Tue 6 Nov 2002 at 107pm EST, I receive a slippery-crafted note from NetSol doing everything it can do to distract me from the part of it that tells me how to actually authorize the transfer. Its subject is “Information about your account”, and it’s from, which of course almost immediately got trashed as SPAM, another cunning technique to get you to ignore the transfer authorization and therefore stay with them.

This email says among other things that you must respond within 72 hours of the timestamp of the email. I look at the timestamp, and it’s 12:20 AM yesterday. They want me to believe that this email took 37 hours to get to me. I checked the mail headers:

Received: (qmail 7792 invoked by uid 508); 5 Nov 2002 18:07:13 -0000
Received: from unknown (HELO (
by with SMTP; 5 Nov 2002 18:07:13 -0000
Received: from (])
by (Postfix) with ESMTP id 44AB83C59D
for ; Tue, 5 Nov 2002 13:06:24 -0500 (EST)
Received: from csr-prem (csr-prem [])
by (8.8.8+Sun/8.8.8) with ESMTP id AAA02358
; Mon, 4 Nov 2002 00:20:07 -0500 (EST)
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 00:20:07 -0500 (EST)

The mail sat behind their own NAT for nearly 37 hours before being sent to me. I only had less than half of the 72 hours in which to respond. I wonder how often that happens.

So I finally figure out how to authorize the transfer and a few minutes later I get the confirmation. I hope that’s the end of it. It’s certainly the last dealings I will ever have with Verisign. I’ve never seen such slimy prevarication and wholesale incompetence.

The biggest lesson in all of this (besides the obvious one – get all your domains out of there as soon as you can) is that whenever possible, you should hang on to any email addresses that you ever had associated with any NetSol account until you are certain that you will never have to deal with them again. And pay complete attention at every step in the process or you’ll fall into one of their traps apparently designed to get you to throw up your hands and just stay with them because it’s too much of a hassle to leave.


All downhill from here?

Saturday, November 2nd, 2002

John Robb laments the state of American politics, power and greed.

I’ve been thinking lately about the American Empire and empires throughout history, their rises and falls. I think the intensity of America’s success and supremity and the advances in communications, technology and war could well combine to shorten the natural duration of this empire in relation to those which preceded it. As a Canadian, I’m no less affected.

If we were to assume that like all other empires, America’s fortunes will follow the pattern of rise, sustain, fall, it follows that there will be events surrounding which future historians will mark the turning points where rise ended, decline started and various milestones in between.

It is my considered opinion that a number of issues in the past two years are accumulating to become elements that are signalling to me what could be the beginning of a (perhaps the) big decline.

  • Homeland Security measures which trample constitutional freedoms
  • Congress giving the President the unilateral ability to declare war
  • Micrsoft’s DOJ Settlement
  • Congress-supported Patent and Copyright excesses threatening to destroy the intellectual commons.

All of these things demonstrate a shift away from the one principle that allowed America to thrive: Don’t let power or greed concentrate in the hands of the few.

Communism tried to do the same by decreeing that power and greed were nonexistent, thus ensuring that they were the two most powerful factors in their society.

American law and society has been cautiously accepting of ambition, greed, and power in manageable amounts. The framers of the Constitution knew that the wise course is to place limits and enforce them. Recent events are demonstrating a lack of commitment on the part of the current keepers of the Constitution to resist pressure to remove these limits. Even worse, sometimes I’m starting to think there is pressure from within.