TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Spam's Latest Spoilage

Spam's Latest Spoilage

(no name) ((no email))
Tue, 13 Dec 2005 18:42:56 -0600

The Virginian-Pilot

Score another one for the spammers.

Their floods of e-mail pitches for Viagra, luscious lips and lottery
schemes have blocked genuine electronic messages warning of real

In an effort to reach large numbers of people quickly, emergency
managers in Florida's hurricane-hit Indian River County began to send
electronic alerts to their citizens. Some 4,200 folks signed up to be
pinged by authorities when hurricanes, twisters and other severe
incidents threaten.

But thanks to non-stop solicitations, Internet service providers
everywhere have had to throw up spam-blocking walls to keep their
systems from being overloaded and their customers from becoming irate.

So Indian River County's emergency-alert e-mails, while legitimate,
looked suspicious.

And to Internet providers, like AOL, mass mailings equal spam. That
means messages warning citizens of impending doom never made it to the
inboxes of folks who needed the information.

This particular problem appears to be solved, thanks to a
reconfiguration of the agency's e-mail server.

For those who rely on such information, that's about as comforting as
knowing that while our dependence on e-mail grows, more important
stuff will get lost in the electronic shuffle.

Copyright 2005

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[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Independence, KS tried the same thing
without success, for the same reason. For a long time now, the
franchise agreement with CableOne (and prior, with Time Warner)
requires the cable provider to not only allow a couple of channels on
television to the community (cable channel 10 for general community
purposes; channel 14 for Independence High School and the college;
Channel 22 for City Hall and county government) but they also had an
arrangement where, if the police department or sheriff had some
emergency announcement, they could 'flip a switch' and make their
announcment over _all channels_ (for example, weather emergency; other
police announcements for the entire community; i.e. two years
ago when the little eight year old girl was kidnapped outside Lincoln
Elementary School). So watch whatever you wanted on television, when
police or city authorities had an emergency announcement, they could
cut in and make the announcement. They rarely have to use it, but they
still test it once a week or so, with a thirty-second announcement.
(Steady tone for a few seconds, then a voice states, "This is
Independence, Kansas Emergency Responders with a test message. This is
just a test, had there been an actual emergency, Independence or Mont-
gomery County emergency responders would have instructed you, etc."

Then a tone again and back to whatever program in progress you were
watching. Just as sure as they test the emergency sirens on Saturday
at 12 noon. _Never_ routine stuff; that is for channel 14 or channel
10 (which few people watch anyway).

Someone said "what about people with their faces buried in their
computer screens?" So the response was "since _most_ people use
Windows and Windows has that 'messenger' function where a screen can
be flashed at you (it was not intended exactly that way, but most
Windows users know how it can be done, and keep it turned off)
Independence authorities arranged with Cable One and TerraWorld (our
two primary internet suppliers to do something like that; but only for
emergencies. If there was a weather emergency, a tornado for example,
authorities would notify and and gain
control of many -- but not all -- computers in the community. The kids
who manage the two ISPs here in town could easily make it happen, but
what they did not count on was that there are more AOL ISP users here
in town than cableone and terraworld combined. So the big spam-enablers
MCI and AOL kept blocking police announcements, _thinking_ they were
doing us a favor; some users got the warnings but most computer users
did not. The result was much confusion; police eventually quit trying
to notify people in that way, although they still continue to use
cable television to do so. PAT]

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