Brad Feld

Month: May 2004

There have been a raft of Blam (blog spam) posts recently. To date, all the Blam I have seen has been in comment posts. There are lots of different approaches to this, none of them perfect, but they include efforts at IP blacklists, a MovableType blacklist plugin, and a feature in MovableType 3.0 that allows the blog manager to “accept or deny” comments. Simply turning comments off is another solution, but this seems to defeat the purpose of blogs.

I’ve had several people tell me that RSS couldn’t be used to send spam due to the unique reader / RSS feed relationship. I’ve consistently stated that this is wrong – the spammers (blammers) will find a way.

Today they did. I want to commemorate the first instance of true BLAM (not comment BLAM) that I’ve received. Apparently‘s email posting feature was hijacked this morning. I received a dozen typical spams in my RSS feed from The River (via Feedburner, into my Outlook inbox via Newsgator). So – three potential points of failure where the BLAM could have been trapped.

The BLAM was what you’d expect – see the example below.

Did you know That the normal cost for Super Vkiagra is $20, per dose? We are running a hot special!! T0DAY Its only an amazing $3.00 Shipped world wide! DISC0UNT 0RDER:

The apology from The River was nice, but only foreshadowing of worse to come.

Somehow Blogger’s e-mail posting feature on my blog was commandeered by spammers this morning, resulting in a frightening amount of pollution. I feel so… violated.

I’ve deleted the “chopper slut” deluge, but let me apologize profusely to anyone who had to deal with the excessive postings in RSS feeds. Aargh.

Today, one of my companies – Cyanea – a leading developer of software that helps companies effectively monitor and manage distributed and mainframe-based applications, announced that Cyanea/One has completed the BEA Validation Program and is now verified to integrate with BEA WebLogic Platform 8.1.

I’m at SFO waiting to take a red-eye to Dulles. You’d think T-Mobile would make it easy to take my money for wifi access in the airport, but after five minutes of trying to get logged into my account, I’ve given up and will post this tomorrow when I connect from my hotel.

In The Slowing of The Marathon, Dan Ackman discusses how the median male runner in the 1983 NY Marathon clocked a time of 3:41:49 (8:27 / mile) while the median male runner in the 2003 NY Marathon was 4:28:41 (10:25 / mile). Clearly, middle of the pack runners are going slower, although this is clearly attributed to the greatly increased number of people who are taking on the marathon.

John Cianca – the medical director of the HP Houston Marathon, calls this phenomenon “the dumbing-down of the marathon. … though a ten-minute pace arguably is not running at all … In a way, it’s an insult to the distance.”

Even though Cianca appears to be well published, he’s actually an insult to all runners. Having done it a couple of times now, 10 minutes / mile for 26.2 miles is definitely running and is not an insult to anything. Anyone who’s ever finished a marathon, independent of their pace, should be commended.

Ugly Americans

May 23, 2004
Category Books

Nope – this is not yet another post about Iraq.

I just finished reading Ugly Americans : The True Story of the Ivy League Cowboys Who Raided the Asian Markets for Millions. Awesome!

Ben Mezrich previously wrote Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. I directly knew one of the people in the book (an old boyfriend of my wife and a frat brother of mine) and indirectly knew another (a frat brother of Raj Bhargava, an entrepreneur that I’ve done five companies with) so I figured I was pretty biased when I thought it was a great book.

Mezrich did it again. Ugly Americans is riviting. It’s a true story about a clueless Princeton grad (John Malcolm) who randomly ends up in Osaka trading Nikkei futures for Dean Carney (an alias) at Kidder Peabody. After Joe Jett blows up Kidder, he ends up at Barings trading the same futures for Nick Leeson. After Nick Leeson blows up Barings, he ends back with Dean Carney in Tokyo who has started a hedge fund.

The book catalogs Malcolm’s exploits through his six years of being an Ivy League Cowboy in Asia, culminating in the trade of the century which will either earn $500 million in three minutes at the end of the day on a Friday or wipe out Carney’s hedge fund. Of course, there is plenty of Japanese culture, sex, some love, American’s gone wild, Yakuza, and twists and turns that could only happen in real life.

Highly recommended – along with Bringing Down the House.

Jerry Colonna has a great post on being a CEO.

I don’t care whether you agree or disagree with Kurt Vonnegut – he’s still an amazing and provocative writer at age 81. His essay Cold Turkey was sent to me by one of my partners. He included a Bush Approval Rating Meter in his subtle email to me.

Remember Geocities? It was one of our very successful investments (thanks Jerry Colonna and Fred Wilson). Geocities is alive (and well?) at Yahoo!. Generally speaking, pretty scary looking stuff. But – the idea is the same as personal blogging – just v1.x (where blogging is probably up to 3.x).

Interestingly, Yahoo! doesn’t appear to have anything set up on the blog front yet. There have been multiple rumors floating around since last fall including a Yahoo! Korea Blog section (since I don’t know Korean, this isn’t much help to me but the dog pictures that show up when I hit the site sure are weird). Yahoo! does have an Beta RSS feed up – you can subscribe to my feed through My Yahoo
and I’ll be up top next to your Reuters and AP news (lucky you). It’s definitely beta still (it doesn’t refresh all that well) – but it shows an example of how everyone gets their own printing press.

I’ve been searching for good client side offline editing software for my posts. I’m trying w.bloggar today – it’s a nice improvement over the lousy Moveable Type online post window. So far, I like it. We’ll (you’ll) see what happens when I hit post in a minute.

Google weighed in on the Spyware problem with a recent Google-blog on the issue. While it’s obviously self-serving based on Google’s core advertising business being competitive with the revenue model for most Spyware companies (at least those that are not in the business of also selling Anti-Spyware software), it’s thoughtful and well articulated. John Battelle decomposed it effectively.

Google references Lavasoft and Spybot. Given that I was in Spyware hell last night (fighting with my home machine for three hours – I learned way more than I wanted to about my Registry), I found Lavasoft’s freeware product Ad-Aware to be the most effective thing I’ve found so far.

I’m amazed by this problem. I’ve been dealing with it for a while, but have noticed a recent spike across all medium (spam, spim, blam, spyware) – and it’s obviously making me nuts.

Ok – it’s been out of control for a while. Spam continues at epidemic proportions. Spim (IM Spam) is starting to emerge. Blam (Blog Spam) has exploded on the scene. Spyware is everywhere. Anti-Spyware – which is supposed to eliminate Spyware – is being sold as a solution by the Spyware players.

Blam is the first problem that’s bugging me today – fortunately I haven’t been nailed by it yet (although I’m sure I will as a result of this post). To see real pain from the recently blammed, take a look at Jeff Nolan’s post on comment spam. Jeff’s trying a homegrown IP blacklist, which won’t work (it didn’t work for Spam very well – it won’t work for Blam). Dave Sifry from Technorati wrote a good post on various approaches to Blam. I expect this area to evolve rapidly, especially as the email security folks (Brightmail, Postini, etc.) notice the problem.

Spyware is next. I’ve been using Spybot for a while and it works pretty well. A local company – Webroot – is doing great – so I gave it a try. I was fascinated by the difference – within 24 hours I had a different set of persistent problems then I’d had with Spybot. No matter how hard these guys try, the bad guys move faster.

I heard a rumor recently that spyware vendor 180Solutions, the guys behind Ncase are out shopping for an anti-spyware vendor to add to their product mix after their recent venture financing from Spectrum Equity. XOFTSPY has a scam going also – here’s a great rant on it.

I’m just bewildered by all of this. Haven’t we already seen this movie from the massive proliferation of viruses and spam? The government is getting involved now – oh goody.