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April 29, 2002

Succaland: another domain name hijack

It looks like, yet another domain, Succaland, has been hijacked by Ultimate Search. This is in a long line of domain name abuses by some operators. Let me quote from a comment in that thread:

"It sounds like Ultimate Search is one of just a number of companies that are using autoamted scripts to query the known domain database (whois) and any time their results show that a domain is free for registration it automatically goes through the registration process. Another company notorious for this is called Mailbank, which owns thousands and thousands of domains. However, since succaland.com was not set to expire until June 1, something obviously went wrong and Ultimate Search was able to register the domain thorugh their automated process. Outright domain stealing has been known to happen. Look up the history of sex.com and you'll find an interesting story involving deceit, lawsuits, etc. I think the best course of action for those of us who still control our domains is to transfer them from registrars who have proven their security/process is lax (i.e., NetSol) and park them with registrars who have a better process for handling domain registrations and changes. You can also go ahead and pay for multiple year's worth of domain registration fees."

Since I have recently registered my own domain, I obviously pay a lot more attention to domain name hijacks than I earlier did. I would write a longer thread on it later. Meanwhile, this is a good document to read if you are interested in finding out why such system failures occur.

April 28, 2002

Lake fx

Noticed:
Dan Dhartung's weblog, lake effect is back up again. I first noticed his weblog through his posts on mefi. Dhartung's politics and writing are much further to the right than what I usually read. But his posts tend to be very erudite and well reasoned.

Carmel

Carmel completely charmed us.

We started early on Highway one when it was still misty and there were few vehicles on the road. It is about 45 miles south of Santa Cruz, only a short way from the urbarn sprawl of Moterey, but completeley different in personality.

It is an old and quaint town with lots of woods and very little parking. Its a place where you gotta take the permission of the city to cut a tree on your premises, where the city council apparently passed an ordinance once, banning high heels from the city. A slightly eccentric town!

It originally became famous as the bohemian sanctuary of some of the most well known artists, photographers, writers in California. Edward Weston lived there most of his life. A lot of likeminded people started moving to Carmel. As the place started becoming well known, its unspoilt scenic beauty started attracting tourists and retirees driving up the real estate prices and driving away the 'starving artists'. There is stll a lot of art in Carmel, though some say that they tend to be of the 'surf-crashing-against-the-seashore-with-bent cypress' variety. The shops and the cars parked on the curb will clue you in about the demographic profile of the locals.

I loved it there though. It is very picturesque. One of the very few places of its kind that I think has managed to retain its charm. And the city tries hard. Even the garbage cans are wood covered. There are no night clubs.

If you walk away from the downtown, it is very wooded and quiet. It has awesome beaches, only a stone's throw away from town. I also read that it has interesting festivals round the year - a kite festival, Sandcastle building festival etc. We didnt get to explore any of that. But we had a gorgeous time nonetheless.

April 26, 2002

Still Journal

Noticed:
Still Journal: A Photography portal (via mood-indigo.net)

April 25, 2002

Important

Important
I am hoping to move this weblog to kaush.com by the end of next week. If you would like to be notified when RandomNotes moves to the the new url, please sign up through the form on this page. I'll send you a mail when I migrate this site.

I am told that migration from blogspot can be a traumatic experience :(. So dont be too surprised if things get a little wobbly for a few days.

April 23, 2002

Le Pen's surprise win in Paris

A post on the reactions in Paris to Le Pen's surprising win (is it?). In other news: Metafilter is still down and I was reassured to find that others are showing withdrawal symptoms too.

Update: More on the Le Pen win- Caterina posted from France about the popular reaction on the streets of Paris. Paul Krugman's NYT column (registration needed) tries to draw parallels between USA and France using the Le Pen upset victory as an example. And yes, and metafilter is up again. Apparently, it was Verizon's T1 line acting up ...

Revenue streams for online media

Good reads on revenue streams for new media:

-Essay on how to make community sites viable by Derek Powazek. (via Microcontent News )
Online News Revenue Models by Steve Outing (via Netmarketing )

More people need to start talking about how to build revenue streams for web based communities or content site. But both these articles left me feeling vaguely dissatisfied. I would try to sort through my thoughts and post what I think about the subject in a later post.

If you are bored, check out Rachel James's photography . Some pretty cool stuff there. I have forgotten which site sent me there originally. Time to get back to work ....

On spammers and their spam

I am not sure which one is worse. The pop up advertisements or the junk mails. I have no complaint about the pop up ads that I get when I go to any site where I am accessing free content (i.e most sites). Its their right to subject me atrocious advertisements and my privilage to take my eyeballs elsewhere. What really really pisses me off is spywares like Cydoor that installed itself in my machine either without permission or through subterfuge. My browser slowed down quite a bit over the last few weeks. After I ran Ad aware, I discovered Cydoor all over my machine.

The other set of online parasites that bugs the hell out of me are the spammers. Today's Silicon Valley.com has a terrific report on spamming. It was shocking to find out that otherwise respectable organizations have been turning a blind eye to spammers under the guise of affiliate marketing. It was also a revealation that people actually buy stuff through junk e-mailers.

The best quote goes to Scelson, a noted spammer (that sounds so weird!), who is quoted as saying:

``Lots of people say what I do is unethical. What do ethics have to do with it? It's all about the law, what you can and cannot do. People say pornography is unethical, but Playboy has a pretty good business.'' (via GMSV).

I also used to be bugged about idiotic e-mail forwards in my mailbox. Specially the chain mails! Anil Dash has a great rant against e-mail forwards on his weblog. Its a great read. But thankfully I get few forwards these days and mostly through people I know well and who know what I would enjoy reading.

Update: It seems that te spam filters aren't terribly effective either.

April 21, 2002

Rushkoff on the middle east

Not trying to turn this into a world affair weblog!. But I just wanted to point out that Douglas Rushkoff now has a weblog. His posts on the middle-east conflict (and a few of the comments on them) are worth reading (via mefi).

April 20, 2002

Kenichi Ohmae on China

Kenichi Ohmae has written a terrific article on China's economic juggernaut, 'Profits and Perils in China, Inc.' (registration required), in the current issue of strategy + business. I dont like his implied advise to the Western governments to ignore the human rights situation in China. But as reportage, its a great read.

As an Indian, I am sad that India has not been able to achieve what China is poised to. As a strong believer in free market economy and human rights, I am slightly alarmed by the conclusions drawn by Ohmae. But his description of what he calls Chung-hua Inc. (Chung-hua, or Zhong Hua, as it is spelled in Beijing, translates into English as “China,” and actually means “the prosperous center of the universe.”) sounds right.

Russia is finding the going much tougher. Esther Dyson is probably the only person who seems really positive about Russia's economic outlook. In the current issue of Wired (not yet available online) she had forecast that in the next few decades Russia will be ahead of Uniter States in software development. But software development expertise alone, unless it is followed by infrastructural development in other spheres, won't be able to bootstrap the entire country's economy. It would, however, create a large cosmopolitan middle class that would become a catalyst for all sorts of interesting social changes. We know that one in India.

April 19, 2002

A Google Weblog

A Google Weblog: I suppose this was bound to happen. (via tools).

April 18, 2002

Content on this weblog

Much of the content on this weblog is built around the interesting links that I find on and about the net. But, lately, I have been finding less and less time to surf for fun. Mostly, what I get time for these days, are the newspapers. So far as that goes - I am reasonably sure that I can't bring any fresh insight into the middle east conflict!

I guess what I am trying to say is - the personality of this weblog would probably change some in the coming weeks. I wont try to articulate what it is going to be about. Its a futile effort. My weblog has a way of sabotaging my efforts to classify it. I'll take it as it comes.

April 17, 2002

Downtown campbell

Downtown campbell is pretty and not at all crowded. Now that its pleasant to walk at night, we love going for walks after dinner. The night before, we went to the Bruni art gallery there. The gallery is open from 1 PM to 6 PM. But the manager was kind enough to let us in at 9 PM! She also has another gallery at downtown Los Gatos. Smithsonian has recently chosen one of her Ellington portraits for its permanent collection.

If you are in the neighbourhood, you might want to check it out. There is some very good stuff in there.

April 14, 2002

Sunset on 280

We caught the most awesome sunset on 280 on the way to San Francisco last evening. The sky took so many different hues ... the colors permeating the clouds hanging low, drifting over the lush green mountains of South Bay....the whole drive seemed almost magical.

One of the good things about moving to South Bay has been nearness of the beaches and the mountains of Santa Cruz. My feet have been itching to go out and hike. But life has been crowded of late. Organizing and priorititizing my life is proving to be a lot more difficult than it seemed it would be! I loved a stray comment on mefi that captured the conflicts:

"Every choice has a concomitant cost. The simple fact is, no one - man or woman - can have it all. No one gets it all. Every choice involved the sacrifice of all other possible options. You can have a successful career; you can have a fullfilling family life; but you are almost guaranteed to fail if you expect to have full measures of both.That's hard to accept, especially when we are bombarded with messages that tell us we can have it all. But we can't. Make smart decisions based on good information. Do what you think is right for you. But don't kid yourself. Self-delusion is the quickest path to disappointment ever invented." C'est vrai! .

On a different note: anyone who is still using Network Solutions should read about the Hoopla domain name hijack. That is just the latest outrage. Matt Haughey has a bigger rant on his weblog. The mefi thread on the subject lists a fair number of good domain name registers. I think people need to start voting with their wallets.

April 12, 2002

Some random stuff

Some random stuff I noticed on the net while taking frequent breaks from doing my taxes:

-Anil Dash's terrific respone to John Dvorak in PC Magazine.

-The current issue of 'The filter'. It has the best take on 'Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act' currently being debated in the US Congress. The Congress has asked for public comments. I feel anybody who has that privilage, should comment on this. This one is scary.

- Subway Life: Illustrations of subway passengers by a Protuguese artist.
(via mefi).

-Kamat's photographic essay on Bangalore - one of my favourite cities.
(via Random Thoughts).

Filing taxes is the most annoying, exesperating, painful, time consuming, irritating, stress inducing yearly ritual that the mankind has invented.

April 10, 2002

The ongoing tech recession

Whoever started the buzz that the IT sector is recovering deserves to be hung. If anything, in the last one week it has gone back into hibernation. I had been to the campuses of two of the Bay area tech behemoths in the last one week. It wouldnt be an exaggeration to say that fear stalks the hallways in both places. I know brilliant developers who have been finding it very hard to get decent jobs or any jobs for that matter. Most of the companies in the valley that I know of, are investing only in absolutely business critical projects (and the pet projects of the senior executives in some cases!). I know it is ridiculous to draw one's conclusions on anecdotal evidence. But I think the recovery is going to take longer and is going to be far more incremantal than many would like to believe. I hope and pray for a recovery. But let's not kid ourselves! Just venting off some steam ....

On a far more pleasant note: Sathish reviewed my weblog for the Acutecut p2p project and put it up on his weblog. On a suddent burst of enthusiasm, I had enrolled the p2p project sometime back and due to some database quirks or other got 'Wamp.blogspot.com' to review only a few days back.. I narrowly made the deadline the night before!

April 9, 2002

A very neat collage

Noticed:
-A very neat collage of some of the best in Photographica. (via Kottke.org)
-A slice of childhood

April 6, 2002

Accounting abuses in North America

A BusinessWeek reader wrote "Our research on approximately 200 cases of financial-statement fraud between 1987 and 1997 indicated that criminal charges were filed only 15% of the time, and we found evidence of only 27 individuals serving jail time. Even if SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt's "CEO misbehavior" plan is implemented, the penalties for committing fraud still pale in comparison to the enormous damage inflicted on the investors, employees, and other stakeholders." The justice department needs to go after the wrongdoers rather than the organizations. More importantly, it needs to put checks in place.

It is now quite clear that the accounting abuses in Enron was not an isolated case. It is simply the most well-publicized one. e.g. The scandal brewing at Qwest has the potential to bring out a lot of skeletons from the cupboards too. To quote from the same article:

    "SEC is examining is Qwest's sales of capacity on its network. Qwest, like many telecoms, sold slices of capacity on its network ....(IRUs)--to other phone companies while buying IRUs from other service providers. ....If two companies, for example, sell each other IRUs valued at $100 million, both companies can book revenues of $100 million today, but they spread the cost of the $100 million purchase over the life of the contract, typically 20 or 25 years. The result is that a company's financial statements look good today, although no net cash has changed hands. ...What the SEC is investigating is whether Qwest, Global Crossing Ltd., and others sold each other network capacity to inflate their financial statements, without any real business purpose. In the first six months of 2001, Qwest sold $857 million (and) ...bought $450 million in (network) capacity from some of those same companies. The sales helped Qwest's revenues rise 12%, to $10.3 billion, for that time period. Without those transactions Qwest's revenues would have grown only 7.5%, to $9.4 billion."
    "Qwest's top execs were selling stock at the time its critics allege accounting improprieties may have occurred at the company. CEO Joseph P. Nacchio sold 2 million shares of Qwest stock in the first half of last year, realizing $74.6 million. That was slightly more shares than he sold in all of 2000. And on May 2, 2001, Qwest founder Philip F. Anschutz sold roughly 10 million shares for $408 million, according to SEC filings....The timing of the sales may be critical because they occurred just before Qwest's stock nosedived. "

Essentially, SEC needs to take a long hard look at how accounting is practiced today's world and what needs to change to accomodate the changing business and technology and consulting landscape. That doesnt seem likely for two reasons:

1. There seems to be very little appetite for structural reforms in Washington.

2. Harvey Pitt. He seems to have an almost religious belief in the ability of the market to regulate itself and isnt likely to push for additional regulations.

Its a pity. Because if there were ever a time when this could fly. It is now.

FDA ruling on biochips

I think its a cause for concern that FDA has ruled that biochips containing personal data doesnt need to be regulated . VeriChip seems to be an interesting idea. Implantion of computer ID chips beneath people's skins would probably help paramedics quickly look up the medical history of people who have life threatening illnesses. But there is scope for potential abuse of the system. And the idea that no one is regulating the medical safety aspect of it, is slightly frightening.

'They Want Their ID Chips Now' is a slightly weird story that Wired published on the subject sometime back.

(via GMSV)

April 4, 2002

I am back

Ok, I am plugged back into the world. But I have over 200 messages in my inbox and a large number of tasks that need attending to immediately. I hope to be able to update this blog regularly from this evening.

April 1, 2002

Moving house

I never thought the day would come when I would feel nostalgic about moving from East Bay to South Bay. But I honestly do. The subject deserves a long post its own.

Unfortunately, the smart people in Pacbell transferred my phone & DSL two days before we were to move house. So I spent the weekend without access to the net. The people we are moving in with apparently didnt realize that the extra phone jack doesn't work. So we are destined to live without home internet access and landline for the next two days too.

I hope to be back in circulation by wednessday.