"A unique, wry and often satirical look at the Internet, the modern age and life in general" (there is way too much search-engine competition for the phrase "incoherent ramblings")

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Goodbye darkness my old friend

There's no real darkness anymore. And it's all technology's fault.

Example: when I was a kid, probably in around 1980, I visited a cave system in Slovenia called Postojnska jama. Maybe you've been there? It features spectacular natural subterranean beauty, with the most amazing stalactites and stalagmites and other geological features.

But the highlight of the trip for me as a wee nipper was when they turned off the artificial lighting for a few seconds, and we were plunged into UTTER darkness. I mean there was not a single photon of light anywhere to hit my eyes so far underground. It was an amazing experience (and I lost my parents even in those few seconds!) - to "see" what REAL, total darkness is!

Now, I revisited Postojnska jama last year on honeymoon (aaahhh!). I wanted my wife to experience Postojna with me. In particular I wanted her to experience the moment when they would turn the lights off and we would be in utter darkness.

Except when the moment came...

But you know what I am going to say. For there is no true darkness anymore - the lights went out, and the scene was immediately filled with a tens of twinkling lights. No, not some subterranean phosphorescent phenomenon - it was the lights of the mobile phones, camcorders, mp3 players, digital cameras and a dozen other electronic appliances born by my fellow visitors. There's that Pink Floyd song that says, "When I was a child, I caught a fleeting glimpse,"...

Goodbye darkness...
So there is no more darkness. Even lying in bed at night, I am assailed by the flashing of my monitor LED, charging mobile phone, extension socket switch...

Is this the latest form of light pollution, and is the only solution to close my eyes...?

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Maybe I am preaching to the converted, but I have to get this off my chest. Because it seems that this crime is still being committed with impunity across the Internet.

Only this morning, I received an e-mail from someone who I thought knew better. It was a legitimate marketing mailing, sent to some 100 recipients, advertising a relevant product. Nothing wrong with that.

But how do I know how many recipients there were? Because the e-mail address of every single one of them was there for all to see in the TO: field of the e-mail. Including mine. Why do I have a problem with that? Because I have a problem with receiving spam (let's say I don't take kindly to it) and so I guard my e-mail address jealously, giving it only to those who I think will not misuse it. But now my e-mail address has been freely distributed to a hundred people, many of them unknown to me.

I think it is not unreasonable to fear that in the coming weeks and months I can expect all kinds of unsolicited mail, including chain letters, signups to various sites and probably eventually spam, as my address gradually widens its circulation.

The solution?
Actually, it's not a solution, it's a piece of basic netiquette. If you are writing an e-mail to more than one person, where those people are not known to each other or not part of a team, you MUST use the BCC: field, NOT the TO: field in your e-mail program. You can find out how to do this in your particular e-mail program very easily, so there is absolutely no excuse.

By placing all the recipients' e-mail addresses in the BCC: field, and a dummy address of some kind, or perhaps your own address in the TO: field, you will still be able to send your e-mail to multiple recipients, but they will not be able to see each other's e-mail addresses and in fact will have no idea of the circulation of the e-mail.

E-mail users have a right to privacy, and they certainly have a right to protect their e-mail address from spammers. If you are not using the BCC: field then you are part of the problem.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Meta-money-making blog

You probably know this, but a lot of blogs are not just written for the good of the blogger's eternal soul, but they actually make money from them as well!

But there is a growing phenomenon of blogs about how to make money from blogging. Some of the most successful such blogs are those of Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) and John Chow, where you can find a constant supply of good information about how to achieve this feat.

However, lots of people have realised that this is also quite lucrative and have got on the bandwagon, even though the "How to make money from blogging"-blog pie is getting pretty thinly sliced now.

So I have hit on an idea - I will start a meta-money-making-money-making blog which tells you all about how to make money from telling other people how to make money from their blog! Watch this space!