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How Network Solutions, Inc.
I was going through my daily US Postal Service dump of delinquent credit card statements and IRS notices (where's the Y2K bug when you really need it?) when I came across an odd-looking envelope with a München, Germany return address.
I immediately assumed it was from a fan of my old DCL Dialogue column, which ran for a number of years in the now-defunct DEC Professional magazine.
Although I stopped writing for the publication five years ago, DEC Pro was one of those rare trade journals that contained solid, unbiased technical information. For that reason, it was rarely thrown away. System managers frequently stashed their collection in some secret place in their offices and rarely allowed their copies to be borrowed by others.
To this day, clueless new hires placed in charge of VMS computer systems frequently discover their predecessors' DEC Pro cache, read the mags cover to cover and send me requests for the various items I offered in my column.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the envelope and read the following:
Dear sir or madame,
you have on your webpage www.lo-li-ta.org nice pictures, so I want to ask if I can buy pictures and videos on CD or tape from you? Please send me a list with prices. If I can't get them from you, please tell me another enterprice where I can get them from.
Nice pictures? www.lo-li-ta.org??
A quick trip to the address revealed a members-only porn site featuring nude photographs of young women.
Very young women.
Very, very young women.
25-To-Life at Leavenworth young women.
Surely this was a mistake. I checked the domain registration records for lo-li-ta.com and was stunned to find:
WHOIS information for lo-li-ta.org
NETWORK SOLUTIONS, INC.
I did what any other liberal, Democratic, male, 45-year-old self-employed American businessman with a windowless basement office loaded with a dozen networked computers and a dedicated T1 connection to the Internet during a U.S. presidential election campaign year lousy with right wing ultra-conservative candidates would do.
An examination of the mail header attached to the message revealed his reply came from a different email account than the one to which I had sent my original message. I also learned it was routed through a dialup service called wm.westcall.ru.
Hey, It's not mine!!! I am from Belorussia, but not ameriCan!!! ;-)) I think some one from you friend jest you, but why my e-mail there?? He-he-he!
And watch out for moose and squirrel.
Notice the clever change in the sender's name from Pchelkin_Vladimir to "Speedy Racer". Obviously, a wild and crazy guy.
I realized Ol' Vlad wasn't going to be much help, so I sent a nasty email to the hosting service, Easyspace. I didn't receive a response to my message, but within an hour the plug was pulled on www.lo-li-ta.org.
I also sent an email to Network Solutions. Well, sort of. There is no direct email address posted anywhere on the site, so I filled out a web-based "customer feedback" form requesting immediate action.
I got an automated response informing me my message was received. I still haven't heard from them, and the domain information for lo-li-ta.org remains accessible and continues to list me as the administrative contact.
Still not comfortable, I called the Pittsburgh office of the FBI and related my tale to a very nice lady who told me that no real crime had been committed, so the Bureau really couldn't do anything.
She suggested I call the CERT Coordination Center at Carnegie Mellon University's Software Engineering Institute here in Pittsburgh. CERT, primarily funded by the Department of Defense, provides technical assistance for responding to computer security problems. I knew I didn't have a security problem per se, but I'm not one to ignore recommendations from a division of the United States Department of Justice. (Would you want to tick off U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno?)
What's with all the underlines?
No, I'm not making an artistic statement. The words and phrases underlined in the newsletter indicate the presence of hypertext links available to those reading the Adobe Portable Document Format or web (HTML) versions of this document on their computers. If you were reading this online and clicked here, your computer would fire up your web browser and display my daughter's web site.
Told you so... In last week's issue, we said:
"Fear mongers who were exploiting Y2K paranoia, here's a hint: redirect your marketing efforts to capitalize on the remaining media-hyped potential catastrophe, global warming."
"Our lead story this evening focuses on the mounting concern over global warming and the growing scientific consensus that it is real ... we'll take a look at today's National Research Council report on the subject and we'll also have a report on how the increase of jellyfish in American waters, especially on the Gulf Coast, could be a harbinger of climate."
Coming this summer: When Jellyfish Attack. Just in case those doofuses at the National Hurricane Center screw up again and disappoint us by not destroying Miami.
Stan's still the man... After 17 years, Miller Freeman, Inc. has pulled the plug on Performance Computing, meaning Stan Kelly-Bootle's marvelous monthly Devil's Advocate column has lost its print-based home.
Please support Stan's new effort by reading his always witty prose at http://www.sarcheck.com.
Answer to our previous question: In an attempt to cash in on the success of ABC's Batman, in 1967 NBC aired Captain Nice, starring William Daniels, and CBS broadcast Mr. Terrific, starring Stephen Strimpell. Both shows tanked.
This week's question: The cable network TVLand is now airing the cult 80s shows Misfits of Science and Airwolf back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 8 eastern time. One of the stars of Misfits, Courteney Cox, went on to become a star playing Monica Geller on Friends. Jan-Michael Vincent, who was pilot Stringfellow Hawke on Airwolf, also appeared in an episode of NBC's late 60s revival of a hit 50s show. Name the show and the title of the episode. Hint: it's also currently airing on TVLand. Use your lifelines and email your final answer to email@example.com.
UselessWeb Site of the Week
http://www.pencils.com contains more than you could ever want to know about the ubiquitous writing utensil, such as:
· 75% of the pencils sold annually in the US are painted yellow.
· William Monroe, a cabinetmaker in Concord, Massachusetts, made the first American wood pencils in 1812.
· Most pencils sold in Europe have no erasers
Quotes of the Week
Douglas Dahlberg (IT manager) "You live in a democracy. You don't work in one."
Fadel Gheit, oil industry analyst, Fahnestock & Co.: "The Y2K bug was a bunch of computer geeks blackmailing the world."
Bill Maher: "We spent all this money for nothing. It's like a world-wide Ken Starr investigation."
Ed Howe: "A good scare is worth more to a man than good advice."
Carl Bernstein: "[T]he weird and the stupid and the coarse are becoming our cultural norm, even our cultural ideal."
New Yorker cartoon caption: "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say may be used against you in a court of law, newspapers, periodicals, radio, television, all electronic media, and technologies yet to be developed."
James Thurber: "You can fool too many of the people too much of the time."
KGB Report, Number 25, January 13, 2000 (electronic ISSN: 1525-898X; print ISSN: 1525-9366)
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