Category Archives: Technology

Technology

The Very First Spam Email

Just ran across this and thought it was interesting…

This is believed to be the very first spam email ever sent, back on May 3rd, 1978:

DIGITAL WILL BE GIVING A PRODUCT PRESENTATION OF THE NEWEST MEMBERS OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY; THE DECSYSTEM-2020, 2020T, 2060, AND 2060T. THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY OF COMPUTERS HAS EVOLVED FROM THE TENEX OPERATING SYSTEM AND THE DECSYSTEM-10 <PDP-10> COMPUTER ARCHITECTURE. BOTH THE DECSYSTEM-2060T AND 2020T OFFER FULL ARPANET SUPPORT UNDER THE TOPS-20 OPERATING SYSTEM. THE DECSYSTEM-2060 IS AN UPWARD EXTENSION OF THE CURRENT DECSYSTEM 2040 AND 2050 FAMILY. THE DECSYSTEM-2020 IS A NEW LOW END MEMBER OF THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AND FULLY SOFTWARE COMPATIBLE WITH ALL OF THE OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 MODELS.

WE INVITE YOU TO COME SEE THE 2020 AND HEAR ABOUT THE DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY AT THE TWO PRODUCT PRESENTATIONS WE WILL BE GIVING IN CALIFORNIA THIS MONTH. THE LOCATIONS WILL BE:

TUESDAY, MAY 9, 1978 – 2 PM
HYATT HOUSE (NEAR THE L.A. AIRPORT)
LOS ANGELES, CA

THURSDAY, MAY 11, 1978 – 2 PM
DUNFEY’S ROYAL COACH
SAN MATEO, CA
(4 MILES SOUTH OF S.F. AIRPORT AT BAYSHORE, RT 101 AND RT 92)

A 2020 WILL BE THERE FOR YOU TO VIEW. ALSO TERMINALS ON-LINE TO OTHER DECSYSTEM-20 SYSTEMS THROUGH THE ARPANET. IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ATTEND, PLEASE FEEL FREE TO CONTACT THE NEAREST DEC OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EXCITING DECSYSTEM-20 FAMILY.

It was not well received.

[Source: Reaction to the DEC Spam of 1978]

Personal Drones: A Clear and Present Danger?

This has little to do with writing, and more to do with human nature. I also find myself conflicted by my love of toys and fear of the misuse of technology.

I’ve gotten into flying remote control drones with video cameras on them. Example of one of my videos:

They are extremely fun to fly, and then you have the added bonus of being able to relive the adventure over and over again from the point of view of the drone’s camera.

Bear in mind I’m flying toys, not professional drones. But even as I was first flying them, and watching videos of the big professional models (some of which can carry many pounds of payload) it crossed my mind how easily it would be to weaponize these.

Then yesterday I was reading about how the Secret Service was freaked out because they found one on the White House grounds.

As I was telling some friends the other day, it’s only a matter of time before these are either going to be severely restricted or outlawed altogether. While I don’t really want it to happen, I feel it needs to happen. You can easily buy a drone that can be remotely piloted, or even have a course automatically set, and it can fly for miles — and carry pounds of anything, anywhere.

Explosives? Nerve gas? Biological agents?

Yes. All of the above. Easily.

Think you can protect yourself by jamming the remote control signal? Think again. They can be programmed with a destination and then guide itself there with onboard GPS. For the price of a good camera, you can have your own personal guided weapon.

Friends urged me to not say anything about this, as it will give bad people bad ideas — but I’m sorry, the bad people already have the bad ideas, and that’s why I must unhappily urge that these fun, awesome devices be locked down and regulated. Because if you don’t do it now, something bad will happen, and then they’ll be locked down and regulated anyway.

Doing it now will save lives, because I guarantee you deranged minds are already plotting evil.

This is not something I want to be able to point to and say, “I told you so.”

Still doubt it? Check out how far this readily available drone flew, and think what could have happened if the remote pilot was a terrorist:

 

Not All Good Product Reviews are Good News

Anyone who wants to study the human hive-mind we’ve become, just go online to purchase something. Now, I think I’m fairly normal, though perhaps a bit ahead of the curve as far as technology goes. I’m what you’d call a moderate early adopter. I’ve been shoping online since it was a “new” thing in this world, and it’s gotten to the point where I won’t buy anything unless I read some reviews about it.

Just recently, however, I got burned — and I should have known better. This was a lesson for me, and I want to impart it to you, too, so you don’t have to learn the hard way.

My lesson: if there are no bad reviews, that is also a warning sign.

My example is a company called StackSocial. I was suckered into a great deal on a pair of Bluetooth “noise canceling” earbuds for a measily $24. Just low enough for it to be an impulse buy. I’ll make a long story short: they’re crap. But I read the reviews and there was nothing negative about them, just a lot of unaswered questions and warnings that it takes a while to receive them.

There’s no refund on the deal, that was stated up front, so I’m stuck. However, I thought, I should go leave a negative review to warn others away. Well, guess what? StackSocial, and all the sub-mirror sites that it goes under (Cult of Mac deals is the one I got suckered by) moderates their reviews and DELETES anything negative!

I’m not pissed off that I got a crappy set of headphones. I should have known better — but for the price I took a chance, and I’ll live with that. What pisses me off is that they are dishonest enough so as not to let their customers give their opinions. They offer a forum for customers to give reviews but don’t permit anything but good reviews.

I will not stand for that, and I will not be silent about it. This practice tells me that they know what they’re selling is crap! Sure, Amazon.com sells some crap too, but they’re honest enough to, one, give you a refund if you’re not happy, and two, let you warn others away from crap products. StackSocial silences you so that they can unload their crap and make sure you’re stuck with it.

I strongly recommend you do not do business with StackSocial.com or any of their StackCommerce network sites until they change this policy.