Note: This column represents the opinions
of the writer and as such, is not purported as fact|
Just a few weeks ago I did a roundup
of how New Zealand's political parties were handling the issue of sending out
their email newsletters.
The results showed that one was decidedly spam-friendly, one was very good
and the rest were either missing or so-so.
Well yesterday I thought I'd check out the website of the new
Regular readers will know that I regard Jim Anderton to be somewhat of a Net-ninny,
so I was fully expecting that the website promoting his new party should contain
a gaffe or two.
What I wasn't expecting was that it would be offering to act as a wonderful
free resource for spammers from all over the world.
Yes, Jimbo's rather lacklustre new website is running an old and/or poorly
configured version of FormMail
that allows spammers to relay their messages through the machine used
by the Progressive Coalition Party (PCP).
Jim may claim to have been leading NZ's charge into the knowledge economy,
but his Net-plebs obviously don't have two clues to rub together.
To verify this, I downloaded the form
from the Progressive Coalition's website, modified the email address
hidden in the source, and sent myself an email using the Progressive's
server. Unless they fix it double-quick, it won't be long before spammers
start doing exactly the same.
And, as one eagle-eyed Aardvark reader noticed (see today's "Readers Say"), the
PCP site has an embedded link to a MIDI file containing the Mission Impossible
theme. The file concerned is stored on a US-based server that
seems to have no relationship to the PCP at all -- are they stealing that
site's bandwidth without permission?
Note: as of 2:15pm, it seems they've pulled the music -- but the spamhole
remains unplugged and, according to one reader, has been submitted for widespread
blacklisting -- let's hope nobody else is relying on that server for sending
More Greens Egg and Spam
But wait, The Progressive Coalition isn't alone in this sort of buffoonery.
The new Greens website now features
the "spam an editor" page
I've already mentioned in this column.
In launching this new site, the Greens issued a press release in which they
"Together the two sites show the Greens as the party with by far the best
grip of new media technologies. The dinosaur parties accuse the Greens of
being anti-technology, when in fact we continue to wait for them to catch up."
Oh dear -- pass the paper towels and start wiping the egg from your faces guys.
When I visited last night you could simply click the "Send" button on the
"Spam an Editor" page and send what would appear to be a default email to
the editor of "Auckland Magazine".
Yes, those Greens with their "best grip of new media technology" didn't even
do any basic field validation on that form!
If that's the best an NZ political party can do then it's no wonder we're
still a hi-tech backwater.
But wait, there's more!
The press release makes the point that the Greens are committed to using
open source software. A quote from Nandor Tanczos says:
"Open Source software embodies the Green principles of independence and
of finding new ways to get around old problems... it is cheaper, safer
and is not beholden to corporate software monopolies."
Now check this out --
quickly, more paper towels!
Oh... and it looks as if the Greens are using an organic spellchecker on
(slight imperfections are normal :-).
With PR Like This...
People sometimes criticise me when I write a (frequently critical) story
about them or their Net venture without taking the time to call them
or get their perspective.
Well here's a good example of why I tend to do that.
Yesterday morning I called Matt Bostwick, Xtra's PR man.
I wanted to get the company's perspective and perhaps some mitigating
explanation as to why so many Xtra customers have been emailing me
with complaints about problems with the usenet news server and the
Matt was just going into a meeting so he said he'd ring me back -- I asked
"do you have my number?" -- he said "yes."
Later that day I got an email saying "I don't have your number"
I emailed Matt a list of questions for him to reply to.
Late that afternoon I got an email saying "Be back to you shortly."
It's now 8:30am the next day and I've heard nothing.
XTRA -- with PR like this you obviously don't give a stuff about the
public's perception of your services or what the media will write about
And I don't ever want to hear Xtra complain that I didn't ask for their
point of view before writing about them.
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