Archive for July, 2009

Y!/AT&T e-mail warning

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Several weeks ago, I converted my faithful bellsouth.net e-mail account to the Yahoo version in a rare moment of corporate obedience. I didn’t think it would really affect me very much, because I rarely use web mail – I prefer clients.

It recently came to my opinion, however, that I have been missing e-mails, specifically from my mother (not a good thing.)

After a little research, I have discovered three disturbing things about my new mail set-up (pardon the shouting):

  1. SPAM FILTERING IS DEFAULTED TO "ON."
  2. THE FILTERING IS NOT VERY GOOD. It quietly filtered out about 20 legitimate e-mail messages last month, some of them important.
  3. THE ONLY INDICATION I HAVE OF THIS IS THE PRESENCE OF 350 MESSAGES IN A SPAM FOLDER WHICH IS ONLY VISIBLE FROM WEBMAIL.

To say that I am perturbed is an understatement. There is a reason I prefer to manage my own spam filter, and I think the user should be clearly notified of this behavior. By the way, I generally read all the fine print when I sign up for stuff, and I’m pretty sure there was nothing about the spam filter defaulting to "on".

So if you decide to migrate your e-mail to AT&T/Yahoo!, be forewarned.

Addenda:

  • After posting the above on my blog at work, I did a little more exploring and found this link which not only reinforces my comments, but also shows a humorous example, in which AT&T filtered its own important security warning message!
  • This posting is just a small "public" service announcement – don’t miss my post, below, about Wonko the Sane.

Wonko the Sane

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

It’s Friday,┬áthe middle of a musical few days for me. OTH, the band I play with most, rehearsed Wednesday night; I’m going to Athens to hear my sons’ band tonight; OTH plays at a local Starbucks Saturday night; and last night I drove to South Georgia to play for an outdoor reception at an old folks’ home (although that’s probably not what they call it anymore.) Yes, it was HOT! But they did have cold peeled shrimp, watermelon, and shortcake with strawberries and peaches.

My cousin and I have played all kinds of guitar music together since the sixties. He’s now mostly into old standards, songs his mother used to sing, with some swing and improvisation to make it interesting. And I can fake an upright bass part on most of those songs. So three or four times a year he gets us a gig. I usually drive back home after the gigs, which makes for a long night. Since I was already short on sleep yesterday, I spent the night at his house, in a sleeping bag on the floor. His wife used to try to convince me to use a bed, but she’s figured out that the floor works fine for me.

They live outside of a tiny town, off a dirt road, on family farmland. There’s no GSM coverage for miles. They are not freaks or survivalists or anything strange; there are no chickens in their front yard. (Apologies to any of the preceding if you feel offended. I don’t mean to offend anyone, especially the chickens.) As a matter of fact, my cousin has a degree in physical therapy, directs a hospital fitness center in a larger town nearby, drives a Toyota (and a Ford truck) and he and his wife have raised three good kids. But life in small-town South Georgia is just different. For example, he’s heard of a Wii, but he’s never actually seen one. And last night he brought up some theological questions that I used to ponder in college. They were new to him.

So this morning found me leaving their house in absolute darkness (it is really dark out in the sticks), while everyone else was sleeping, to make the long drive back to work. Which of course necessitated a coffee stop when I got near civilization, which only took about an hour.

I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A because their breakfast burritos are tasty and road-friendly. In addition to my coffee, I also asked for a glass of water. I was expecting a so-called “courtesy cup”, a tiny glass of water that many fast-food establishments give you for water, as if to punish you for not buying one of their sugary, carbonated mega-drinks. But I was delighted to receive a full-sized cup of delicious iced water.

It’s always dangerous to ascribe intention to a corporation, but in this case, I concluded that they figured that, if I asked for water, it was because I was thirsty, not because I wanted to take a couple of aspirin.

In the fourth book of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy trilogy (which actually has five books), there is a character who calls himself Wonko The Sane. Wonko and his wife live in a house on the California coast which is built inside-out (the house, not the California coast.) The part of the house you see when you approach it from afar is finished like the interior of a normal house – bookshelves, chandelier, furniture, carpet, etc. When you pass through the front door, you enter an area decorated like a normal exterior – brick, roofing, grass. If, at this point, you happen to look back at the front door, you will see a sign saying “now entering the Asylum.”

The point of the house is that, in Wonko’s opinion, he is sane, while the rest of the world has gone bonkers. Thus he refers to it as “the Asylum.” Without going into too much detail, he was pushed over the edge to this conclusion by the detailed usage instructions he found printed on a box of toothpicks. He figured that any society that needed usage instructions for toothpicks had truly gone bananas.

All of this leads me to a few questions, with which I will conclude.

  • How much is is my cousin like Wonko?
  • Are there places in our company where we should be giving the equivalent of a large glass of water to our customers?
  • If corporations can have “intent”, what is ours?
  • Has our civilization (except for my cousin, of course) really gone bananas?