Thursday, January 31, 2008

Unsolicted commercial email blues

The End of Spam Research
One leader in the field declares that the basic parameters of spam fighting are all set and real research is over.

Anti-spam research isn't really all that old, as security research fields go, but it may have hit the end of the line. A thread in the mailing list of the Internet Engineering Task Force's Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) argues that all the basic questions have been answered.

Phillip Hallam-Baker, CTO of VeriSign, argues that, "It is now accepted that there are two approaches to stopping spam, filtering out the bad stuff, making it easier to identify the good stuff."

There is a third way
Nothing in this writer’s research has explained why VISA, Mastercard, et al, tolerate spammers. Without credit cards spamming would not be possible. So why do these companies traffic with such operators? We need to make this a customer relations issue.

The importance of flacking with pride

Rupert Murdoch's newspaper caught spamming social media
The News Corp.-owned Times of London has been paying a search-engine optimizer to do the dirty work of shilling Times Online stories to social media sites like Mahalo, StumbleUpon, and MetaFilter. We can't believe it either -- that The Times is actually paying an outside firm to submit stories. My boss makes me do it the hard way.

Everybody does this, tag their own material, submit to Slashdot, Digg their clients; but most of us have enough pride to do it openly. Flacking is honorable work, never apologize for it.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why journalism matters, Parwiz Kambakhsh

Imprisonment of Parwiz Kambakhsh is not only for his enlightening articles in a local newspaper, Jahan-e-Now (The New World), but also because of his brother Yaqub Ibrahimi, who is a well-known, brave and realistic reporter and exposed many criminal faces from Jehadi mafia in Northern Afghanistan to the world public.


Microsoft: IBM masterminded OOXML failure
Microsoft executives have accused IBM of single-handedly leading an effort to block the software giant from having its Office Open XML standard approved by the International Organization for Standardization.

After initially being rejected by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) in September 2007, Microsoft has a second chance for its next-generation document format to become an international standard in February at a ballot resolution meeting in Geneva.

While criticism of Microsoft's efforts to promote the standard have come from a variety of quarters, Microsoft senior director of XML technology, Jean Paoli, accused IBM of masterminding the attack.

"Let's be very clear," Paoli said. "It has been fostered by a single company — IBM. If it was not for IBM, it would have been business as usual for this standard."

Would business as usual be a good or bad thing?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Blogging Super Tuesday

Alabama primary

Alaska caucuses

Arkansas primary

Arizona primary

California primary

Colorado caucuses

Connecticut primary

Delaware primary

Georgia primary

Idaho Democratic caucus


Kansas Democratic caucus



Missouri primary

Montana Republican caucus

New Jersey

New Mexico Democratic caucus

New York primary

North Dakota caucuses


Tennessee primary

Utah primary

West Virginia Republican convention

C programming, hot or not?

ComputerWorld: The top 10 dead (or dying) computer skills
6. C programming

As the Web takes over, C languages are also becoming less relevant, according to Padveen. "C++ and C Sharp are still alive and kicking, but try to find a basic C-only programmer today, and you'll likely find a guy that's unemployed and/or training for a new skill," he says.

I would be interested in hearing from my programmer readers, but that sounds like flame bait.

Anti astroturf blog

Via Spin Thicket, Full Frontal Scutiny.

The New PR Wiki has an entire anti-astroturf section.

New to me local tech blog

CTO Vision, Technology context for the enterprise

New to me local business blog

Potomac Executive Biz, connecting, not just networking.

Social Media and federally funded research

Using Collaboration Technologies to Accelerate Innovation in Federally Funded R&D Programs
The challenges involved in managing collaborative processes using such technologies can be significant in the context of Federally funded R&D programs that involve many different types of organizations:

1. The different people and organizations involved may not be accustomed to communicating or collaborating to accomplish common objectives.
2. Competing business objectives may exist among these different groups, e.g., for-profit vs. nonprofit, academic vs. commercial sector, basic research vs. engineering, privacy advocates vs. law enforcement, etc.
3. Voluntary participation by the private sector can be an important factor in driving success of a Federally supported R&D program. For this to occur, the private sector needs to understand and adopt a variety of public sector goals, objectives and — bureaucracy intrudes here — processes.

What researchers need is for someone to walk them through the basics of social media.

What is Firebrand Monday?

The Super Bowl has always been the holy grail of advertising and Firebrand celebrates that," says Shari F. Leventhal, Chief Marketing Officer. "Most people watch the Super Bowl with hopes of seeing the best, most creative commercials the ad industry can serve up. The greatest commercials get to play every day at Firebrand. So the Firebrand Monday campaign is our way of saluting the best of these commercials, past and present, as well as the famous icons that make commercials so memorable, and in many cases, a part of pop culture.

The marketing coattails of the Super Bowl never ceases to amaze me.

New to me government contracting blog

GovCon, A Gathering Place for the Fast Growing Government Contractor

Monday, January 28, 2008

Blogs and search engines

Wow. Wrote a blog post 1/2 hour ago, already #1 in Google for relevant keywords and getting traffic via search. Wow.

Scandal! Obama will only speak on the record!

Team Obama Is Courting Everybody But the Press

Some reporters say Obama seems disdainful toward journalists, having submitted to precisely one off-the-record chat over beer several months ago in Iowa.

If Obama cleans all the anonymice out of the White House and federal government it will be a very good thing.

Edit -

Jim Horton takes a different view. For my part I think our industry cannot take too hard a line against the use of anonymous sources.

Future of federal blogging

Clinton: Let's Put Bloggers Inside Government Agencies

This is just another indication that blogging has become mainstream and must be part of any government contractor's communications effort.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The debate over privacy

The IT Skeptic
People demand online privacy as if it were some god-given right.

Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

Fourth Amendment

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Ninth Amendment
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

I suppose it depends upon whether or not you believe in God, but certainly the protection of privacy has a long tradition among English speaking people.

Hyping your conference

Content Convergence & Integration Conference has a gossip section on their website. Very clever.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

AIIM StratML Committee

AIIM adopts StratML

The AIIM Standards Board has announced that it is adding Strategic Markup Language (StratML) to its standards program of work. AIIM, based in Silver Spring, Md., is an enterprise content management association.

Owen Ambur, former senior architect at the Interior Department, and Adam Schwartz, a program analyst in the Program Management Office at the Government Printing Office, oversaw development of that schema, which is designed to encapsulate strategic plans, performance plans and performance reports in a format based on Extensible Markup Language, the association said last week.

January 10th saw the first meeting of the AIIM StratML committee. It opened with Betsy Fanning describing the AIIM’s standard’s process. I learned that AIIM is the US representative on the International Standards Organization Technical Advisory Group. If you want to influence the industry standards in this area it is necessary to participate in this group.

Adam Schwartz opened his presentation with a brief explanation of what StratML is, from my notes: StratML is a mark up language and schema for strategic plans as well as performance plans.

StratML creates a system whereby an organization can track its plans and measure performance. It was created to comply with the Government Performance & Results Act of 1993. This calls for, amongst other things, a publicly searchable database of federal government strategic and performance plans and progress reports. Although private organizations would probably not want to make their plans public, such a language would have obvious value for their internal planning and review.

The should the standard created by the committee be accepted by AIIM, it would then be submitted to the International Standards Organization, so the work of this committee will have far reaching consequences for the entire industry.

One of the committee members asked if StratML could be related to XBRL, but there was some feeling that might be taking on too much.

The core schema has been created and incorporates GEFEG XML. Mark Logic has created a search prototype, a password in required.

AIIM members who are interested in participating in the work of this committee should contact Betsy Fanning, Adam Schwartz, or Owen Ambur.

StratML Wiki

How to use Twitter to hype your FOSE exhibit

Step one: Set up a Twitter account and subscribe to some feeds. Check DC Technology Network for good local tech feeds.

Step two: Follow the conversation so you have a feel for what works.

Step three: Start tweeting about you booth. If your company is participating in any of the conference panels, tweet about that. Tweet about which products are going to be featured. Tweet about the individuals at your company who will be working at the show.

Step four: Tweet about your partners who will be showing at FOSE, share the buzz.

Step five: Tweet about setting up for FOSE, how the booth is put together and the ideas behind your presentation.

Step six: Tweet throughout the show, what happened at the booth (NEVER use names without permission), what it is like to work at the show.

Step seven: After FOSE issue some after the show tweets.

Edit -
Jeff Hurt talks about his experience using Twitter while participating in the American Society of Association Professionals (ASAE) three-day online conference for small staff associations.

George Soros on our times

The worst market crisis in 60 years
The current financial crisis was precipitated by a bubble in the US housing market. In some ways it resembles other crises that have occurred since the end of the second world war at intervals ranging from four to 10 years.

However, there is a profound difference: the current crisis marks the end of an era of credit expansion based on the dollar as the international reserve currency. The periodic crises were part of a larger boom-bust process. The current crisis is the culmination of a super-boom that has lasted for more than 60 years.

The Levy Institute has been saying much the same.

I highly recommend Soros' book, Age of Fallibility: Consequences of the War on Terror.

Five things about me redux

Jesse Wilkins of Informata blog tagged me, so I will link to my earlier post.

PR Student Blogs

ISCOM eCulture & Communications via Elizabeth Albrycht.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

FCC public safety spectrum

FCC spectrum auction hits snag
The FCC had set aside 10 Megahertz of spectrum in the D Block for sale to be shared by public safety users and commercial users. The winning bidder of that segment must negotiate a sharing arrangement with a public safety group designated by the FCC.

The sole bidder, Frontline Wireless LLC, a startup with several prominent backers, did not submit the $128 million down payment to the FCC needed to qualify to bid.

“Frontline Wireless is closed for business at this time. We have no further comment,” the company said in a Jan. 12 statement. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

Media reports have speculated that Frontline was unable to get enough financing to cover the minimum required reserve bid of $1.33 billion for the D Block, an amount set by the FCC.

Before we hand over the public safety spectrum for the entire country to one company we should be sure that the company is solvent.

See also FCC’s unanswered questions

Requirements and process improvement

Requirements Management
I have often read that no or little requirements' management is probably the cause for most project failures in software development.

From my point of view, I can say that I have seen requirements management save projects from schedule overruns and keeping project managers away from getting new ulcers... Also, having a controlled change management procedure is at the very heart of it.

Years ago at DC SPIN, I heard a speaker say that he wanted to write a novel where the villian would be the Feature Creep, and the hero would be the dashing Contracting Officer who slew the Feature Creep.

Rating MBA programs

The Financial Times has a ranking of MBA programs. I wonder if they factor the number of alumni convicted of financial fraud into their rankings?

Email retention in the era of accountability

E-mail Scandal Drives Storage Lesson Home
As the saga of whether the Bush administration properly saved or illegally deleted e-mail continues to unfold, experts are advising companies to review and confirm that corporate e-mail policies are not only in place but are meeting regulatory requirements.

"It's one thing to back up and archive e-mail, but it's a whole other thing to make sure it's there and you're able to retrieve it," said Matt Smith, president of LiveOffice, a provider of message managing and archiving services.

These investigations will continue and it is only a question of time before government contractors are drawn in.

The coming fight over privacy

EU Group Head Says IP is Personal
In a ruling that could have long term repercussions -- especially on the way in which search engines record and store data -- the Head of the European Union's Group of Data Privacy Regulators said IP (Internet Protocol) addresses that identify computers on the Internet should generally be regarded as personal information.

Peter Scharr, who is also the Data Protection Commissioner for Germany, was speaking at a hearing of the European Parliament on the subject of 'online data protection'. He expressly said that when someone is identified by an IP or Internet Protocol address, "then it has to be regarded as personal data".

Privacy is the next killer ap. The market isn't ready yet, but it will be.

Privacy/data protection regulators around the world

Sunday, January 20, 2008

New to me local new media blog

Social Media Club

Added to the Tech on the Potomac RSS reader.

PR firm of Smoke, Mirror, and Hatched at work

It seems an anti-Oprah/anti-Obama anonymous comment left on a blog came to the notice of Drudge and Murdoch's Times Online.

Was the comment left by a PR sock puppet and then forwarded, by prior agreement, to Drudge and The Times? And if so, whose PR sock puppet? Obviously we have no way of knowing, but you would have to be a fool to dismiss the possibility. During the course the election we are certain to see a great deal of this. Sooner or later someone will be caught and it may very well cost them the election.

Politics will always be on the cutting edge of communications. From their experience we will see what works and what does not.

Edit -
Candidates Rethink Web Strategy
Other political strategists like Mike Connell, whose clients include John McCain for President and the Republican National Committee, thinks that analyzing the links to and from blogs is useful up to a point. But a presidential campaign may not always want to disclose where all of its messages originate.

"Sometimes people have a habit of thinking of a blog like a megaphone and that is how you contribute to the conversation," Connell says. "But that is not always how it is done. Having your message percolate up from the grassroots through the blogs has emerged as an effective strategy as well."

Campaigns are not always the best source of information, Connell says. "Many times a message will have more credibility coming from a third party, so a campaign doesn't always want to be the source of the information," he says. "There is a certain merit in independent sources. Sometimes you just want a positive message attributed to a third party because it has more credibility that way. We are talking about more than simply planting rumors and other dark arts here."

More than planting rumors and other dark arts, but clearly not excluding them.

I think traveling under false colors is a real good way to get yourself in trouble online.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Privacy = Security

New Study Points to Consumer Privacy Fears: Identity Theft, Stolen Credit card Info Reaches Record Levels
The Identity Theft Resource Center, for instance, listed more than 125 million records reported compromised in the United States last year. That's a sixfold increase from the nearly 20 million records reported in 2006. Data breaches often result from lost or stolen computer equipment such as laptops, though the single largest breach was a case of online hacking. Early last year, TJX Cos. disclosed that a data theft had exposed tens of millions of credit and debit cards to potential fraud.

Poor business practices are a security vulnerability.

Lack of privacy is a security vulnerability.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The proper use of technology

The news that Comcast will launch a 100 mbps service in 2008 makes one think. What can one do with that speed in PR ? For one, it would be easy to serve YouTube like videos directly to people by e-mail, for example. This might not work with reporters, but it could certainly appeal to consumers depending on the creativity of the video. It will be easy to transmit high-density photos and art, although computers may not load them quickly on the recipient's end.

The wrong use of such speed, it seems to me, is to dump ever-larger text files into other's machines. Greater speed does not mean more time to read. The temptation to send the whole press kit in a huge Adobe pdf will be more than some PR practitioners can bear. For that reason and to avoid viruses, many news media and other organizations will maintain file size limitations on their networks.

I think it is an huge error to send large, unsolicited, files to anyone under any circumstance. How do you know they have access to high speed Internet? Perhaps they are one the rode and using their phone to check email. Perhaps they are working from home with a slower connection. Simply because you have access to high speed, it does not follow that the recipient does. And that does not even get into the question of whether they are interested in looking at your huge pdf document.


White House discloses details of e-mail backup system
Although the White House has backup media from October 2003 onward, officials said that, "consistent with industry best practices," they recycled the backup tapes used from March to October 2003, a period that included the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Since when is recycling backup tapes consistent with best practices?

Edit -
Waxman: Chart showed White House missing e-mails
The details of the Bush administration’s e-recordkeeping system and e-mail backup contingency plans became clearer this week when Theresa Payton, chief information officer in the Executive Office of the President’s Office of Administration, submitted an affidavit Jan. 15 to a federal court with details about the information contained on the White House’s backup tapes. The revelation came in response to a court order in the now consolidated lawsuit against the Bush administration.

Her declaration states that although the White House has backup media from October 2003 onward, the White House recycled the backup tapes used from March to October 2003, a period that included the United States’ invasion of Iraq. According to Waxman’s letter, one of the days for which the White House has no e-mail archived for the Office of the Vice President – Sept. 12, 2003 -- came while backup tapes were being recycled.

Edit ii -
The very indiscreet Tony Fratto.

Edit iii -
Cheney emails missing from day leak probe started

Edit iv -
I keep wondering: have they checked that man-sized safe in Cheney’s office? Maybe he kept some copies there

Why records management, e-discovery, and evidence recovery have a great future

Government Executive
With the end of President Bush's two terms drawing near, the White House has until two months after the election to provide his records to the National Archives. By Feb. 1, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee wants an update on progress.

"Serious questions have been raised about whether the White House has sufficient systems to preserve presidential records and to prepare for the transition to the next president," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the committee's chairman, in letters to U.S. Archivist Allen Weinstein and Counsel to the President Fred Fielding on Dec. 20, 2007. "According to information received by the committee, the White House has failed to implement a robust system for archiving e-mails and other electronic records, despite several efforts to do so."

Bush Admin. admits to destroying e-mails from start of Iraq War, Leak of Valerie Wilson's name and DOJ investigation of leak

Entire companies will be built upon investigating the actions of the last eight years.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Balisage: The Markup Conference

Call for Participation
Balisage is a peer reviewed conference designed to meet the needs of markup theoreticians and practitioners who are pushing the boundaries of the field. It's all about the markup: how to create it; what it means; hierarchies and overlap; modeling; taxonomies; transformation; query, searching, and retrieval; presentation and accessibility; making systems that make markup dance (or dance faster to a different tune in a smaller space) — in short, changing the world and the web through the power of marked-up information.

Submit full papers in XML to
Guidelines, DTDs, schemas, and details at

Apply to the Peer Review panel

15 March 2008 — Peer Review Applications Due
18 April 2008 — Paper Submissions Due
20 May 2008 — Speakers Notified
18 July 2008 — Revised Papers Due
11 August 2008 — Versioning Symposium
12—15 August 2008 — Balisage: The Markup Conference

SEC seeks input on taxonomies

Government Computer News
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s Office of Interactive Disclosure has asked for public comment on computer labels that will help companies make their financial disclosures more useful for investors and analysts.

If you build software for the financial service industry, even if your product does not interact with the SEC, you need to follow this process. Standards selection is vendor selection.

Secure E-mail standard released

Government Computer News
An international government-industry group has published specifications for a Secure E-mail standard that is intended to let governments communicate securely with each other and with their private-sector suppliers.

The specs developed by the Transglobal Secure Collaboration Program are built on a trusted public-key infrastructure model, similar to the U.S. government’s Federal PKI Bridge, but also include a policies and procedures for vetting and managing identity and access controls within an organization. This would assure users not only that an e-mail message is securely encrypted, but that the senders and receivers are who they say they are and are entitled to access the contents.

If you have an opinion about how this should be done, now is the time to speak out.

Great moments in media relations

The Department of Justice has taken Talking Points Memo off its press list after TPM ran a series of muckraking articles documenting DOJ misconduct. Be sure to read the priceless letter from the Justice Dept.

Continuity of software systems

Casey Software
All of that said, there are a number of times where it might make sense to rip apart and refactor pieces. In a relatively good piece of software you can do it. Even in a mediocre piece of software, you can start cleaning things up and get to that point. But it makes no sense to rip something apart that works as expected and replace it with something completely new. That's not working smarter. That's just working harder to maintain the status quo.

When I sold software my biggest competitor was the status quo. Customers needed a compelling reason to change their system. It wasn't just a question of the expense of the system, it was the costs associated with installation and training. Customers want the greatest gain in function with the least change of their present method of operation. Completely rewriting your software to achieve some technical ideal has no benefit for customers.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The busiess model for podcasting

Dave Winer
My phone doesn't have a business model. Neither does my porch. I still like having a phone and a porch because they help me meet new people and communicate with people I know. Same with my blog and podcast.

Winer has a new podcatcher application.


I hope this isn't a trend.

The Auto Industry

Matthew Gross
for the same amount of cash as a new Corvette, you can buy this all electric roadster, which, glad to say, is made in America.

Spyware versus myware

Don’t Let Self-Improvement Tools Be Used Against You

Great photos

Winner of this year’s ‘Not My Job Contest’“

PRWeek awards finalists 2008

Congratulations to all the winners.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Citizen generated content and the end of silence

Buzz Bin
This use of fake advocacy groups is a common practice here in Washington, and is usually done in deep secrecy. Companies, issues-oriented advocacy groups, trade associations and politicians fly under the radar, while they try throw mud from a distance. While giving compelling cases, you should always dig a little deeper to see who comprises these advocacy groups.

The Orwellian names taken on by fake front groups is a joke among the locals here in the nation's capitol. Although everyone knew what was going on, for whatever combination of reasons, everyone went along with these Potemkin groups.

Political bloggers have no such patience. Exposing sock puppet comments are a sport among amateur bloggers. Nor are fall guys going to be sufficient to appease political blogs. The charm of a political blog is going after the biggest target you can, just ask Walmart.

The way to work social media is to take an agricultural view. Think in terms of cultivation rather than manipulation. Use blog search tools such as Technorati, Blogdigger, etc., to identify your friends and them reward them. Encourage your employees and subcontractors to blog. Above all, consult with a credible expert on social media.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

GAO's Enterprise Electronic Records Management System

NCC-AIIM Monthly Meeting
Thursday, January 17, 2008

Westin Arlington Gateway
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) deployed an enterprise electronic records management system over a 23-week period in 2006. the session focuses on strategy for rollout and communication, user training, and resulting cultural adjustments. Learn how GAO integrated its simplified big bucket functional retention schedule into the system design. Discover the obstacles encountered and lessons learned in a lively discussion with the project leaders, Carol Brock, CRM, Records Officer for GAO and Cheryl Smith, CRM of NetSmith.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Security solutions that are not flexible

Secure Your Email With GnuPG
This week, we will introduce another way to secure your email: GnuPG. GnuPG (or the Gnu Privacy Guard) is an open source program for encryption and authentication that has a built in web-of-trust. If Alice “trusts” Bob’s key and Bob “trusts” Carol’s key, and Alice gets an email from Carol, she will be able to verify that Carol is indeed who she says she is, even if she has never met Alice. It is as if their mutual friend Bob had introduced them.

What if it is a business inquiry from a prospective customer? It would be totally legitimate, the email you most want to receive? I don't think this is a viable solution.

Concerning entrepreneurship

Via Brian Wynne Williams we discover top 10 myths of entrepreneurship. My favorite:
Venture capitalists are a good place to go for start-up money. Not unless you start a computer or biotech company. Computer hardware and software, semiconductors, communication, and biotechnology account for 81 percent of all venture capital dollars, and seventy-two percent of the companies that got VC money over the past fifteen or so years. VCs only fund about 3,000 companies per year and only about one quarter of those companies are in the seed or start-up stage. In fact, the odds that a start-up company will get VC money are about one in 4,000. That’s worse than the odds that you will die from a fall in the shower.

Even if you have a computer or biotech company, there may be a better source of seed capital.

New Communications Forum 2008

Society for New Communications Research
Now in its fourth year, New Communications Forum is the premier conference that brings together thought leaders and decision makers from around the globe to discuss the impact of social media and new communications on media, marketing, journalism, PR and advertising, business, culture and society.

NewComm Forum is not a typical conference and it’s definitely not “Blogging 101″. The Forum provides an in-depth, hands-on exploration of the future of communications. In its four year history, it has come to be known as one of the world’s leading conferences focusing on the latest trends in new emerging media and communications platforms.

Unfortunately, I don't think I will be able to go this year. If you have never been to this conference I highly recommend it. This is the demo for social media.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

OpenID, security and privacy

OpenID and to gain major support

Momentum appears to be building behind the related notions that users should have a single set of login credentials to sign into most—perhaps even all—of the web sites that they frequent and that they should be able to easily move their personal data between different social networking services. These ideas have gained so much traction recently that groups like and OpenID have made many pundits' lists of "what will be hot in 2008." But while reports this week show that OpenID and are gaining support from giants like Google, Facebook, IBM, and Verisign, a number of lingering questions about security and privacy remain.

Wouldn't a single set of login credentials be a huge honking security vulnerability?

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Concerning email smears

Certain scurrilous emails smearing Presidential candidates are circulating. Email is not anonymous. There are ways, ways that don’t require advanced technical knowledge, of tracking down the source of an email. Even in cases where it has been forwarded, it is possible to track down the original source.

In the United States presidential candidates receive Secret Service protection. If your email can be reasonably interpreted as an incitement to assassination, the Secret Service will track you down. They will obtain search warrants, require your Internet service provider to provide your identity, and come knocking on your door.

Do no play this game. None of us are amused.

Treating the customer like a criminal suspect

ATT ready to filter our Internet for us
Here’s a worrisome report on ATT’s willingness to inspect packets, filter out what it thinks are copyright violations, and limit peer-to-peer interactions.

Because war with customers work so well.

March of the aggregators

Contec Adds Three New Mobile Publishing and Distribution Deals
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA, Jan 4, 2008 (Marketwire via COMTEX) -- Contec Innovations Inc. (TSX VENTURE:BUZ) has signed three new mobile content publishing and distribution deals involving its BUZmob(TM: 104.18, +1.14, +1.10%) mobile publishing service. Over 200 content publishers covering dozens of topic categories - including news, sports and finance - now use BUZmob as their mobile publishing service. Contec's new partners are EIN News, Blogdigger and BlogNetNews.

The money is in the aggregators.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Online reputation management in action

Shashi Bellamkonda saw a post on Twitter referring to the allegations that Network Solutions has been caught front-running domain names. His explanation:
I found out that we have started protecting all domain name searches at Network Solutions by holding the searched domains for our customers for a short period of time before releasing them. This gives our customers the opportunity to register names later without fear that the name will be registered by a “Front Runner.”(Have posted some background info on ” Front Running “ below).

We did this because we heard customers complain that queried domain names are being snatched up by other people as soon as they searched. Network Solutions makes sure its search data is secure and we do not sell it any third party. I know that Network Solutions has no intention of keeping any searched domain or monetizing it.

This an excellent example of online reputation management. It works because Sashi has a good online reputation with 751 followers on Twitter and 26 inbound links on Technorati.

This is a perfect example of making friends online BEFORE you need them. It is important to respond swiftly to such controversies and to have a credible platform from which to do so.

Edit -
Small Biz Technology takes my view.
Corporate Social Media Rep = Ombudsman


SBA budget has 191 earmarks, but no money to cut loan fees

Blogs and the federal market

Amtower Off Center
Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book, and PR consultant Alice Marshall are both experienced and well known bloggers. Topics discussed included why blogging is so hot, how to get started, why you should read other blogs before you start, defining your "voice" and more. Social networking was also discussed.

Reporters read blogs

PR Group’s Journalist Survey Identifies Blogs’ Influence on Traditional News Coverage
A survey of U.S. journalists by communications firm Brodeur ( suggests that blogs are not only having an impact on the speed and availability of news, but also influence the tone and editorial direction of reporting. The survey is part of an ongoing research project by Brodeur in conjunction with Marketwire to dissect and understand the impact that social media and blogs are having on traditional news delivery. The online survey was conducted among a random sample of North American reporters and editors, and was focused on understanding how social media and blogs influence their work.

Do you have a blog strategy as part of your FOSE marketing?

Monday, January 07, 2008

IPv6, Federal agencies meeting the letter, not the spirit of adoption

How feds are dropping the ball on IPv6
For the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) IPv6 mandate, agencies "didn't really have to deploy it. They only have to be capable of it," says Dave Siegel, director of data services product management at Global Crossing, which has one federal customer of its IPv6 service.

Capable of, but not deploy? What a great example of fed speak.

Blogs, wikis, Twitter, and social media

Does this sound like too much work? Hire an expert.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

IASA Washington DC Conference

March 10-11 2008
The IT Architect Regional Conference is the largest event in the Washington, D.C. area to address the pressing needs of IT architects today. There are over 30 seminars and four tracks separated by specialty: Enterprise, Infrastructure, Software and Fundamentals. Architects of all levels can take their skills to the next level.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

The productivity of wasting time

Justin Thorp has a fascinating post about Twittertale, a diverting Web application that allows you to see who has the biggest potty mouth on Twitter.

It is not difficult to see that Twitterdale could be tweaked to measure who is talking the most about your client, or your client's industry. This could be a valuable tool communications professionals. This is a small example of the sort of tool that comes out of the serendipity of social media.

Perhaps cracking down on perceived Internet abuse is not a good idea.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Explaining federal contracting to the public

Nick Wakeman
The mainstream media and the Washington Post in particular catch a lot of grief for the way they cover government contracting. They focus on the negative, make overly broad generalizations and lack context, or so the complaints say.

One issue I've had is that the mainstream press doesn't do enough explanatory journalism, where they take the time and space to break down an issue.

Precisely what is preventing contractors and the trade associations from setting up their own blogs and making their case directly to the public?

The growing controversy over federal contracting

Clinton cries foul over award fees
Clinton asked the Homeland Security Department’s inspector general to evaluate incentive bonuses and award fees DHS paid to contractors to determine whether those payments are being properly managed. She would also like to tie award fees more closely to contractor performance governmentwide and recently helped insert an amendment into the fiscal 2008 Defense Appropriations bill that seeks to achieve that goal.

“The issue will probably get greater attention because of who Hillary Clinton is,” said Alan Chvotkin, senior vice president and counsel at the Professional Services Council, a trade association for government contractors. “She is asking the right questions, and it is fair game.” ...

... With Clinton leading the charge, other federal contractors are bracing for increased scrutiny and possible legislative action to curb abuses of such fees.

“There is huge grade inflation,” said Scott Amey, general counsel at the Project on Government Oversight, a watchdog group. “The government takes these tasks lightly.”

Now is the time for government contractors to get in front of this controversy.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

The charm of Twitter

I have been meaning to write about this; but I will content myself with linking to Todd Mundt's excellent summary. Jim Horton also has a terrific summary of micro-blogging.

Why standards matter

Rob Wier
It should have been obvious at the time that vesting exclusive control of an interoperability interface in a single company was a bad idea. But I guess the world didn't realize what dealing with Microsoft meant. But we know better now. So why are we making the same mistakes in 2007?

Those who control the exchange format, can control interoperability and turn it on or off like a water faucet to meet their business objectives.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

He left out leverage

Words that Need to Die in 2008

Throw back that phish!

How to recognize a phish:
-- "Annual calculations of fiscal activity" does not sound like IRS-speak.

-- "6-9 days to process" does not sound like IRS timing.

-- redacted link does not go to an IRS URL.

-- "Regards, Internal Revenue Service" the least credible sign-off since the old email fake from "your friend, Bill Gates."

-- "Copyright 2007, Internal Revenue Service U.S.A."?

-- No contact phone number -- getting put on hold is an essential part of communicating with the IRS.

The IRS urges people to avoid these common schemes:

1. Zero Wages. In this scam, new to the Dirty Dozen, a taxpayer attaches to his or her return either a Form 4852 (Substitute Form W-2) or a “corrected” Form 1099 that shows zero or little wages or other income. The taxpayer may include a statement indicating the taxpayer is rebutting information submitted to the IRS by the payer.
An explanation on the Form 4852 may cite "statutory language behind IRC 3401 and 3121" or may include some reference to the paying company refusing to issue a corrected Form W-2 for fear of IRS retaliation. The Form 4852 or 1099 is usually attached to a “Zero Return.” (See number four below.)

2. Form 843 Tax Abatement. This scam, also new to the Dirty Dozen, rests on faulty interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code. It involves the filer requesting abatement of previously assessed tax using Form 843. Many using this scam have not previously filed tax returns and the tax they are trying to have abated has been assessed by the IRS through the Substitute for Return Program. The filer uses the Form 843 to list reasons for the request. Often, one of the reasons is: "Failed to properly compute and/or calculate IRC Sec 83––Property Transferred in Connection with Performance of Service."

3. Phishing. Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to acquire personal financial data in order to gain access to the financial accounts of unsuspecting consumers, run up charges on their credit cards or apply for new loans in their names. These Internet-based criminals pose as representatives of a financial institution and send out fictitious e-mail correspondence in an attempt to trick consumers into disclosing private information. Sometimes scammers pose as the IRS itself. In recent months, some taxpayers have received e-mails that appear to come from the IRS. A typical e-mail notifies a taxpayer of an outstanding refund and urges the taxpayer to click on a hyperlink and visit an official-looking Web site. The Web site then solicits a social security and credit card number. In a variation of this scheme, criminals have used e-mail to announce to unsuspecting taxpayers they are “under audit” and could make things right by divulging selected private financial information. Taxpayers should take note: The IRS does not use e-mail to initiate contact with taxpayers about issues related to their accounts. If a taxpayer has any doubt whether a contact from the IRS is authentic, the taxpayer should call 1-800-829-1040 to confirm it.

4. Zero Return. Promoters instruct taxpayers to enter all zeros on their federal income tax filings. In a twist on this scheme, filers enter zero income, report their withholding and then write “nunc pro tunc”–– Latin for “now for then”––on the return. They often also do this with amended returns in the hope the IRS will disregard the original return in which they reported wages and other income.

5. Trust Misuse. For years unscrupulous promoters have urged taxpayers to transfer assets into trusts. They promise reduction of income subject to tax, deductions for personal expenses and reduced estate or gift taxes. However, some trusts do not deliver the promised tax benefits, and the IRS is actively examining these arrangements. There are currently more than 200 active investigations underway and three dozen injunctions have been obtained against promoters since 2001. As with other arrangements, taxpayers should seek the advice of a trusted professional before entering into a trust.

6. Frivolous Arguments. Promoters have been known to make the following outlandish claims: the Sixteenth Amendment concerning congressional power to lay and collect income taxes was never ratified; wages are not income; filing a return and paying taxes are merely voluntary; and being required to file Form 1040 violates the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination or the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. Don’t believe these or other similar claims. These arguments are false and have been thrown out of court. While taxpayers have the right to contest their tax liabilities in court, no one has the right to disobey the law.

7. Return Preparer Fraud. Dishonest return preparers can cause many headaches for taxpayers who fall victim to their schemes. Such preparers derive financial gain by skimming a portion of their clients’ refunds and charging inflated fees for return preparation services. They attract new clients by promising large refunds. Taxpayers should choose carefully when hiring a tax preparer. As the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” And remember, no matter who prepares the return, the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for its accuracy. Since 2002, the courts have issued injunctions ordering dozens of individuals to cease preparing returns, and the Department of Justice has filed complaints against dozens of others. During fiscal year 2005, more than 110 tax return preparers were convicted of tax crimes.

8. Credit Counseling Agencies. Taxpayers should be careful with credit counseling organizations that claim they can fix credit ratings, push debt payment plans or impose high set-up fees or monthly service charges that may add to existing debt. The IRS Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division is in the process of revoking the tax-exempt status of numerous credit counseling organizations that operated under the guise of educating financially distressed consumers with debt problems while charging debtors large fees and providing little or no counseling.

9. Abuse of Charitable Organizations and Deductions. The IRS has observed increased use of tax-exempt organizations to improperly shield income or assets from taxation. This can occur, for example, when a taxpayer moves assets or income to a tax-exempt supporting organization or donor-advised fund but maintains control over the assets or income, thereby obtaining a tax deduction without transferring a commensurate benefit to charity. A “contribution” of a historic facade easement to a tax-exempt conservation organization is another example. In many cases, local historic preservation laws already prohibit alteration of the home’s facade, making the contributed easement superfluous. Even if the facade could be altered, the deduction claimed for the easement contribution may far exceed the easement’s impact on the value of the property.

10. Offshore Transactions. Despite a crackdown by the IRS and state tax agencies, individuals continue to try to avoid U.S. taxes by illegally hiding income in offshore bank and brokerage accounts or using offshore credit cards, wire transfers, foreign trusts, employee leasing schemes, private annuities or life insurance to do so. The IRS and the tax agencies of U.S. states and possessions continue to aggressively pursue taxpayers and promoters involved in such abusive transactions. During fiscal 2005, 68 individuals were convicted on charges of promotion and use of abusive tax schemes designed to evade taxes.

11. Employment Tax Evasion. The IRS has seen a number of illegal schemes that instruct employers not to withhold federal income tax or other employment taxes from wages paid to their employees. Such advice is based on an incorrect interpretation of Section 861 and other parts of the tax law and has been refuted in court. Lately, the IRS has seen an increase in activity in the area of “double-dip” parking and medical reimbursement issues. In recent years, the courts have issued injunctions against more than a dozen persons ordering them to stop promoting the scheme. During fiscal 2005, more than 50 individuals were sentenced to an average of 30 months in prison for employment tax evasion. Employer participants can also be held responsible for back payments of employment taxes, plus penalties and interest. It is worth noting that employees who have nothing withheld from their wages are still responsible for payment of their personal taxes.

12. “No Gain” Deduction. Filers attempt to eliminate their entire adjusted gross income (AGI) by deducting it on Schedule A. The filer lists his or her AGI under the Schedule A section labeled “Other Miscellaneous Deductions” and attaches a statement to the return that refers to court documents and includes the words “No Gain Realized.”