Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Train of Dreams.mpg

My old pal Mack in a tacky vid accompanying one of his best songs. Damn them 80s

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I Don't Give Damn About My Bad Reputation - Joan Jett

I don't give a damn
'Bout my reputation
I've never been afraid of any deviation
An' I don't really care
If ya think I'm strange
I ain't gonna change
An' I'm never gonna care
'Bout my bad reputation

Two friends of mine wrote pieces today about reputation, one about email, the other about real-life stuff. I think they are strangely, tangentially yet inextricably linked.

Laura Atkins, email specialist and part-time meteorologist at Word to the Wise aggregated a series of posts about a storm gathering on the email front.

Receivers and filter-makers are up in arms about the crappy mail streams they see coming to them from ESPs, email service companies providing sending services for clients of various pedigrees. There is noise, a lot of it credible noise, about large-scale blocks going into place to prevent some or even all of this mail from getting to the inbox. That is damned scary to consider. The problem is, the average ESP's client-base runs the gamut from Joe's Plumbing Service trying to send out Christmas greetings to his customers, to some newly-formed shell company sending out 3rd-party crap-credit offers to lists garnered from co-registered (or worse) collection practices.

ESPs are under severe financial duress. Their price point has dropped 70% in the past five years - before the recession - because everybody and his dog is now in the ESP business, and so, they have had to attenuate some of their vigilance with regard to client vetting. That is the nice way of saying this.

But not everybody in the space is bad, indeed, few ESPs are 'all bad' it is a mixed bag, and it is the mixed bag that has worked to their advantage in the past. ISPs don't want to throw babies out with bathwater, it now appears they might be willing to. The die is cast, it is time for ESPs to take a serious look at the customer base, and issue some marching orders. I get it, competition is fierce, but it is unsustainable, long-term, to keep lousy mail on the systems. Binge-time is over, now they must purge.

And so, the hue and cry wafts up to the ramparts. Read all of Laura's citations (and especially the comments) to grok the reaction. Read the suggestions of mail streams and collection processes that don't cut it anymore. This ain't no foolin' around.

(This all reminds me of a conversation I had years ago, speaking with someone at a large receiving site about botnet mitigation, how to deal with infected clients on their networks. "Block 'em and get them to fix their shit" was my suggestion. "We can't! They would flee, and our quarterly bottom line would be adversely effected" is a nice polite paraphrase of a reply that questioned my sanity.

These days, ISPs are working up best common practice documents like those at Comcast was one of the largest ISPs to announce such a move to doing exactly this - sandboxing infected clients and helping them to find a way out of infectionville)

The second, and related article is by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Lynn Crosbie 'It's hard to do good, when your reputation is so bad'. Lynn writes about Lindsay Lohan's recent imbroglio with the press, she is trying to do right, but can't catch a break, because of her bad reputation.

The logical link I see is one of warning - in the email community the ESPs need to take heed of Lindsay's folly and circumstance. They must clean up now, or no matter what they do in the future, no matter how good or how clean, they will not be trusted, and instead, ignored, maligned, and all good intentions and acts (and mail streams) questioned or even dismissed.

One hopes that Ms. Lohan did good for good sake, and doesn't give a damn about her bad reputation. because what she did was in fact laudible and good. She went to raise the profile of the situation of children working in sweatshops in India. End of story, except, not quite. Instead, she is mocked.

The ESP's reaction to the predicted storm brewing is reminiscent of the Kübler-Ross grief cycle :

Acceptance stage

Let's hope they get through these stages in the same rapid manner Homer Simpson did when he ate poison blowfish, and was given 24 hours to live (hint: really really fast).

Because, if not, and they don't give a damn, others will, and that storm may be epic in what it blows away. Like, entire businesses. Time to step up, folks.

Friday, November 06, 2009 - contrition!

I just received the following from SPAMFighter supremo Henrik Soerensen, this appears to be the solutions hoped for, assuming they haven't merely suppressed my address, but also provide that facility for others as well. If so, chalk one up for the good guys in terms of making the email marketing world incrementally better. Thanks Henrik!

Hi Neil

Great to hear from you. Well, lets just say your name have come up alot in this company lately :-) but all in a good way.

After our last discussion I thought about leaving a reply on your blog, but on the other hand I thought I would give all a rest while we fixed things in here.

Our CTO "fixed" it a day later, but I guess he dident understand the problem well enough or I dident communicated it well enough because about a week later you were on our back again and well deserved.

What he did was suppress your email address so it couldent be registered again, however, since it was "active" in our system that wouldent work until 3 month of unactivity.

When you got "another one" last week, we finally made that "feature" that would suppress any email address put into the system from ever recieving emails.

I really hope this works, but please let me know if you recieve any other.

Honorstly, I dont like to be "exposed" this way and your blog has given us food for thoughts.

We are 60 hard working people who really believes we are doing the right thing, but I guess we sometimes fuck up and get wiser.

Anyway, Thanks for busting our "balls" and I am sorry for all the confusion.

Med Venlig Hilsen

Henrik Soerensen

Nattergalevej 6. 2
2400 Koebenhavn NV / Copenhagen NV
Denmark - made even more famous

Marketing Profs 'Get To The Point'

Want Spam With That Spam?

A few years ago, Neil Schwartzman downloaded—but never used—the trial version of an anti-spam software program. "It turned out it was Windows-only," he explains at his blog, "so I never installed it, as I use a Mac. Have done since 1986."

Following the download, he received the customary follow-up—one email to welcome him, and two engaging him as a potential customer. "The subscription for the free software ran out, I opted out of their emails, and thought 'that is that,'" he continues.

But for Schwartzman it was only the beginning. A few months later he received—once again—the original welcome message, as well as a repeat of the first follow-up message asking if everything is okay. Actually, he replied, the answer is no.

[see the solution to this ongoing problem HERE ~ ns]

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Some Marketers are as insecure as a Dorky Kid at a High School Dance

I am 100% certain that about 18 months ago there was a big marketing conference somewhere.

And at that conference, there was a high-powered Zig Ziglar-type motivational speaker, except maybe without the dubious background.

And this presenter said to the assembled masses, verily ‘We missed out on MySpace. We missed out on Facebook. Look at the hundreds of millions of eyeballs we could have been displaying to. Miss yea not The Twitter’.

And he saw that it was good.

And after the conference, and the inspirational speech every marketer in the world trundled back to their office and opened up a Twitter account. And began thinking in 140 character blocks. Longer than usual, yes, but extend the message they did.

And so what do we have today? I just got an email from one of the gazillion hotel points programmes I am signed up for. And this particular hotel, the second this week if memory serves, exhorted me to ‘Follow us on twitter’ and ‘Find us on Facebook’.

Really? What in the world does a hotel chain have to tell me by Twitter?

If you care to find out, (I promise you I don’t) you can check it out and report back.

My eyes are burning! I just peeked, and they have someone just a tad too enthusiastic writing their prose. And almost 3,000 followers.

Twits, the lot of them.

Friday, October 23, 2009

#C27 McCarthy Tétrault, Opponents to C-27 Anti-spam Bill, spammed me

McCarthy Tétrault testified in from of the standing committee on Industry, vehemently opposed to C-27 opt-in clauses. They have also been quoted on blogs and in the newspapers deriding the opt-in permission aspects of C-27 as well as other clauses.

They just spammed me.

From: McCarthy Tétrault LLP / S.E.N.C.R.L., s.r.l.
Subject: e-Alert: CRTC Shapes Canadian "Net Neutrality" Rules
Date: October 23, 2009 4:29:38 PM EDT
To: Neil Schwartzman
Received: by with SMTP id s16cs3599wad; Fri, 23 Oct 2009 13:29:29 -0700 (PDT)
Received: by with SMTP id e7mr10408971agj.8.1256329768336; Fri, 23 Oct 2009 13:29:28 -0700 (PDT)
Received: from ( []) by with ESMTP id 27si25446033iwn.79.2009.; Fri, 23 Oct 2009 13:29:28 -0700 (PDT)
Received: (qmail 851 invoked by uid 1014); 23 Oct 2009 20:29:27 -0000
Received: (qmail 847 invoked by uid 1014); 23 Oct 2009 20:29:26 -0000
Received: (qmail 845 invoked from network); 23 Oct 2009 20:29:26 -0000
Received: from ( []) by ([]) with ESMTP via TCP id 107653016; 23 Oct 2009 20:29:25 -0000
Received: from TORREAC02 ( by hub-nlb-int.firm.internal ( with Microsoft SMTP Server id 8.1.375.2; Fri, 23 Oct 2009 16:29:38 -0400
Received-Spf: neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of client-ip=;
Authentication-Results:; spf=neutral ( is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of
X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.2.5 (2008-06-10) on
X-Spam-Status: No, score=-2.6 required=4.8 tests=BAYES_00,HTML_MESSAGE autolearn=ham version=3.2.5
X-Sbrs: None
X-Ebfid: C48DF280-3867-4C69-98B0-635A1508B3A1
Message-Id: <>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative; boundary="----76D9EC3DDD6146D7AA5944912CFB2B73"
X-Dcc-Iecc-Metrics: 1107; Body=1 Fuz1=1 Fuz2=1

Tuesday, October 20, 2009 : Too dumb for words (but I'll try)

"We are looking into a few solutions that could solve this issue for you and I thank you for bringing this to my attention.

I hope you are satisfied with the solution and I would appreciate if you would delete your blog as we are not Spammers and our people are doing a very tuff job of fighting this 24/7." - Henrik Sorensen, CEO October 14, 2009

Last week, I told you that are Spammers

Laura Atkins blogrolled this and offered up some really good advice (as always) over at her Word to the Wise set-up: Suppressing email addresses: it’s good for everyone

Henrik Sorensen, the CEO wrote back and expressed concern. Apparently, they can suppress an email address, but only for a short time, after which they purge their suppression list. Mr. Sorensen took the time to inform me that my email address 'isn't very original' which is why people keep using it as a fake to sign up and try out his product.

Perhaps. I was looking for something more declarative and informative when I signed up for gmail. Perhaps along the lines of thinking when the team at named their company. Or perhaps they weren't very original, either.

In any event, Mr. Soresensen went on to tell me that the unsolicited commercial email I am receiving from his company isn't spam because
  1. "This is not in anyway unsolicited"
  2. Calling us "SPAMMERS" is in any case unfair ... We have not send you emails containing "spam" or offers of 3 party software, Viagra or anything like that
  3. you are arguing from a theoretically point of view and not from the intention the mail from sent to "this email address". ... In this case you are on a theoretical lane.
  4. I'm sure we could discuss for years of what "best practice" should or could be.
Well, to prove my theory, I once again received spam from this morning, October 20, 2009 3:00:00 AM EDT:
Dear fellow SPAMfighter

We can see you installed SPAMfighter a couple of days ago (I didn't, of course and cannot ~ neil) and we just want to make sure that everything is all right.
By now more than 90% of all spam should be filtered into the spam folder automatically.

If you’re happy with SPAMfighter PRO you can buy your subscription here.
If you are using SPAMfighter as a home user, but are not interested in subscribing, we automatically convert your SPAMfighter Pro to the free SPAMfighter Standard when your trial period expires.
One last comment from Mr. Sorensen:
"That you keep this up is purely harassment when you know better"
Just so. I am now checking my archives and contacts to see if the Office of the Danish Consumer Ombudsman would be interested in pursuing other avenues towards a remedy.

Not to quote chapter & verse or anything, but ...

Section 6: Unsolicited communication with specific customers

6. A trader may not approach anyone by means of electronic mail, an automated calling system or facsimile machine with a view to the sale of products, real property, other property, labour and services unless the party concerned has requested him to do so.

(3) A trader must not approach a specific natural person using other means of remote communication with a view to sales as referred to in subsection 1 if the person concerned has declined such communications from the trader,

Wednesday, October 14, 2009 are Spammers

This is a picture of Daniel B. Hjortholt, Henrik Sørensen, Martin Dyring-Andersen and Martin Thorborg. They own a company called, and they are spammers.

"How could that be?" you might ask. Allow me to explain.

On July 07, 2007 I received my first email from this company "Welcome new SPAMfighter" after I downloaded trial software. It turned out it was Windows-only, so I never installed it, as I use a Mac. Have done since 1986.

Then, Is SPAMfighter doing OK? - 07/23/2007 & Your SPAMfighter Pro Subscription - 08/09/2007 both came in. Typical sales-cycle stuff.

The subscription for the free software ran out, I opted out of their emails, and thought 'that is that'

Then suddenly, Welcome new SPAMfighter (Again!!) - 10/09/2007 & Is SPAMfighter doing OK? (Again!) - 10/15/2009 were received. Sigh.

This last was from Daniel Hjortholt -

I wrote to Daniel and indicated I hadn't downloaded his software, and told him I wasn't doing OK.

On 10/18/2007 Per Hindkjær Pedersen informed me someone must have installed their software,
"because I can see that you have connected to our servers today the 18th of October 2007 at 10:39am. Do you not have a SPAMfighter toolbar in your Outlook?"

I told Mr. Pedersen that I don't use Outlook.

He responded, 10/18/2009:
Well, I can just see that someone is using this email account, with a SPAMfighter account (version 5.8.0), using Outlook 2002, on an computer running XP.

The last login on the 18th of October 2007.

The SPAMfighter account was created on the 9th of October 2007.

It has looked through 416 emails and blocked 19, of which 1 was unblocked by the user."

I once again engaged Mr. Pedersen, and told him again I do not run his software. He replied on 10/19/2007:
If this is really the case, would you mind doing the following to make sure it is not installed on your computer?

* Close Outlook / Outlook Express (yes, I know you say you dont use them)
* Download and run this program:

* Restart your computer

* Don't open Outlook / Outlook Express!
* Delete the SPAMfighter folder from C:\Program Files\ (yes, I know you say you dont have SPAMfighter installed)

I will disable your SPAMfighter account and unsubscribe you from our mailing list.

If you recieve any emails from us please get back to me.

However, this whole story sounds very strange with you having the email that you do.

I reiterated that I don't do Windows. Case closed. Except:

Your SPAMfighter Pro Subscription came in on 11/01/2007

I wrote to Mr. Pedersen again, complaining about spam to my account. His response (11/05/2007):

Dear Spamfighter

I am sorry, I must have forgotten to alter the password last time.
I've done that now, so the only way anyone will be able to use this account again (and for you to recieve more mails) is if the person who made this SPAMfighter account with your email is able to log into your email account and change the password.

Ok. good. Or so I thought.

Since then, I have received the following:

Velkommen i kampen mod spam - 2008-05-04
Kører SPAMfighter som den skal? - 2008-05-11
Dit SPAMfighter Pro abonnement - 2008-05-28
Dit SPAMfighter Pro abonnement er udløbet - 2008-06-05
Bienvenue nouveau SPAMfighter - 2008-07-05
Glemte du at købe SPAMfighter Pro? - 2008-07-07
Est-ce que SPAMfighter fonctionne correctement? - 2008-07-11
Votre abonnement à SPAMfighter Pro - 2008-07-28
Votre abonnement à SPAMfighter Pro a expiré - 2008-08-05
Avez-vous oublié d'actualiser SPAMfighter Pro? - 2008-09-02
Pouvez-vous aider SPAMfighter? - 2008-09-06
¡Bienvenido a SPAMfighter! - 2009-05-18
¿Está funcionando bien SPAMfighter? - 2009-05-24
¡Actualice a SPAMfighter PRO ahora! - 2009-06-10
¿Ha olvidado actualizar a SPAMfighter Pro? - 2009-06-29
SPAMfighter no le está protegiendo más - 2009-07-23
Explíquenos cúal es su opinión y le ofrecemos un 20% de descuento - 2009-07-23
And lastly, today: Welcome to SPAMfighter! - 2009-10-14

While I am content to have had the opportunity to learn many foreign languages over the years, courtesy of I have to wonder, given how poor their marketing efforts are, and their singular inability to suppress a single address from their systems, how good their actual product is. I pity the fools ...

I've sent a copy of this post to,, and

Friday, October 09, 2009

Phishing Up? Down? Which is it

Proof that perspective is everything, IBM reported phishing is down.
Second, phishing, especially financial phishing, dramatically declined in the first half of this year.

On the other hand ...
The UK Payments Administration's anti-fraud group Financial Fraud Action (FFA) noted that online banking fraud losses were up 55% to £39m in the first half of 2009.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

MG Publishing aka Canadian Subsidy Directory Spammer

MG Publishing has been spamming me for a very long time. MGP are now listed in Spamhaus' Registry of Known Spam Organizations

I have attached the latest letter I sent to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, as well as all of the correspondence in this case that has been exchanged over many years.