An Open Letter To America Online

I’ve railed against AOL for sometime now, but this takes the cake. And no, this is not that hoax letter that has been circulating the Internet for the last 10 years that everyone, you, and your grandma have all recieved saying that AOL is going to start charging for AOL Instant Messenger. This one is quite real, my friends. Via Chris Pirillo over at Lockergnome:

Date: Tue Feb 28 13:00:00 EST 2006
Subject: An Open Letter To America Online

We wish to express our serious concern with AOL’s adoption of Goodmail’s CertifiedEmail, which is a threat to the free and open Internet.

This system would create a two-tiered Internet in which affluent mass emailers could pay AOL a fee that amounts to an “email tax” for every email sent, in return for a guarantee that such messages would bypass spam filters and go directly to AOL members’ inboxes. Those who did not pay the “email tax” would increasingly be left behind with unreliable service. Your customers expect that your first obligation is to deliver all of their wanted mail, and this plan is a step away from that obligation.

AOL’s “email tax” is the first step down a slippery slope that will harm the Internet itself. The Internet is a revolutionary force for free speech, civic organizing, and economic innovation precisely because it is open and accessible to all Internet users equally. On a free and open Internet, small ideas can become big ideas overnight. As Internet advocacy groups, charities, non-profits, businesses, civic organizing groups, and email experts, we ask you to reconsider your pay-to-send proposal and to keep the Internet free.

A pay-to-send system won’t help the fight against spam – in fact, this plan assumes that spam will continue and that mass mailers will be willing to pay to have their emails bypass spam filters. And non-paying spammers will not reduce the amount of mail they throw at your filters simply because others pay to evade them.

Perversely, the new two-tiered system AOL proposes would actually reward AOL financially for failing to maintain its email service. The chief advantage of paying to send CertifiedEmail is that it can bypass AOL’s spam filters. Non-paying customers are being asked to trust that after paid mail goes into effect, AOL will properly maintain its spam filters so only unwanted mail gets thrown away.

But the economic incentives point the other way: The moment AOL switches to a two-tiered Internet where giant emailers pay for preferential service, AOL will face a simple business choice: spend money to keep regular spam filters up-to-date, or make money by neglecting their spam filters and pushing more senders to pay for guaranteed delivery. Poor delivery of mail turns from being a problem that AOL has every incentive to fix to something that could actually make them money if the company ignores it.

The bottom-line is that charging an “email tax” actually gives AOL a financial incentive to degrade email for non-paying senders. This would disrupt the communications of millions who cannot afford to pay your fees-including the non-profits, civic organizations, charities, small businesses, and community mailing lists that have arisen for every topic under the sun and that make email so vital to your subscribers.

And what if other Internet service providers retaliate and start demanding their own ransoms to accept mail from your millions of users? Your company works hard to simplify the Internet. Don’t start a surcharge war that will complicate it with tiered services and dozens of middleman fees for every simple act of communication.

We have always been happy working together with you to fight spam and phishing. We have a common enemy in spammers. We are happy to work together to develop open approaches that attack the problem of spam and phishing. But a pay-to-send “certified” system does not help to fight spam. It only serves to make the Internet less free for everyone. We stand together in asking you to reconsider your decision to use CertifiedEmail.


Andrew Ferguson, Fergcorp, and Countless Others

Sign the Petition Now

All In The Presentation

The success of many things depends on one simple thing: How you present it.

Example #1:
Food. How appealing food is often depends directly on how it is presented. There was a famous study done some time ago. The researchers colored the foods different colors people would refuse to eat it, even though it was perfectly good.

Example #2:


“Hi I am Noah what’s your name”
“Oh Hey I am Jennifer, are you from around here?”
“Yea, I grew up in the Bay Area”
“really, where?”
“Oh in cupertino”
“Nice, are you renting or do you have roommates”
“yea 3 of us live in a house”
“very cool, blah blah blah”

and the conversation continues and I score! Sounds like a great thing. What if I told you those 2 other roommates are my parents? Different story huh? Product positioning is how you explain the story to the users and the people you want using your product.

Example #3:

Name That Thing

I still can’t believe this! All this hype for something so ridiculous! Who cares about a(n) __________? I want something new! I want them to think differently! Why oh why would they do this?! It’s so wrong! It’s so stupid!
gee! a(n) __________ with a(n) __________! how original! kinda reminds me of a(n) __________ i once knew.
I’d call it the Cube 2.0 as it wont sell, and be killed off in a short time…and it’s not really functional.
All that hype for a(n) __________? Break-thru __________ device? The Reality Distiortion Field is starting to warp __________’s mind if s/he thinks for one second that this thing is gonna take off.
There are already two products similar to this on the market. The __________ and the __________ which can come with a(n) __________. The __________ is obviously alot cooler and has __________, but it is far from revolutionary. I for one am disappointed and think that __________ is making a mistake by trying to get into this market.

This is an actual post someone wrote several years ago about an item that everything things is pretty spiffy today. Can you guess what it is?

Mapping My Personality Visability

This is actually pretty cool. I’ve picked 6 words that I think best describe me. Now you go and pick 5 or 6 words that you think best describe me:

I’ve also done the same by picking the best 5 words that describe my failings. Now you go and pick 5 or 6 words that you think best describe my failings:

The former is called a Johari Window and the latter is called a Nohari Window.

Via Audreyln

Twelve Ways To Mark Up A Book

Twelve tips on how to mark a book while reading. Posting mostly so I don’t forget, but also because it’s worth sharing.

From Open Loops:
What Not To Do

  1. Don’t use a highlighter – Quality marking isn’t done with a fat-tipped highlighter. You can’t write, which is an important part of marking the text, with a large marker. Get yourself some fine point colored pens to do the job.
  2. Don’t mark large volumes of text – You want important points to stand out. Although we all know that everything can’t be important, we often highlight all of the text on the page. You want to find the 20% of the text that is important (remember Pareto?) and mark that.
  3. Don’t take the time to mark up items that you read on a daily basis – (e.g., magazines, newspapers), unimportant or irrelevant items.
  4. Don’t mark the obvious – Don’t waste time marking up things that are already in your knowledge-base or skill set. If you already know it, you don’t need to mark it.

What To Do

  1. Mark the text with a pencil, pen, or, even better, colored fine-tipped pens – Remember, you are not highlighting, you are writing.
  2. Know your preferences – Some of you have an aversion to mark directly in the text. Books are precious things to many people and they want to protect them from damage and even the wear and tear of everyday use. If this describes you, grab some Post-It brand notes and do your marking and writing on them. This also gives you the advantage to move and reorganize them should you see fit. As for me, I like to mark directly on the page. I find that my books become more valuable to me when I add my contributions to the information that they contain.
  3. Underline the topic sentence in a passage – Remember, each paragraph has one topic sentence. The rest is supporting information and examples. Identify the topic sentence to find it easier.
  4. Use codes – Flag text with codes (e.g., Question marks to indicate disagreement, Exclamation marks to note agreement or to flag a strong statement, triangles to indicate a change in thinking, or a star for the topic sentence).
  5. Write the passage topic in the margin as a reminder – Just a word or two.
  6. Write questions in the margin – When you don’t understand something or when you don’t understand the author’s thought process on a particular topic, write the question in the margin as a reminder to settle the question.
  7. Circle new and unfamiliar words – Look them up as soon as possible.
  8. Add your or other author’s perspectives in the margins – Other authors have surely written on the same subject. What do they say? Do they agree with this author? If not, what do they say. Add these ideas in the margins.
  9. Add cross-reference notes to other works on the same topic – Use the author’s name and a shortened version of the other book’s title.
  10. Add structure to a narrative text – Use 1, 2, 3, 4…or an outline format I. A. B. C. 1, 2, 3, a, b, c…to add a structure that you understand.
  11. Draw arrows to related ideas – Or unrelated ideas…
  12. Summarize – Add your own summary after the last paragraph. That simple exercise will crystalize your thinking on the topic. If you can’t write it, you don’t understand it.

I Remember: Ed Moats

I remember Freshman year: Ed Moats. 8:15 am Advanced Algebra. What a class. Ed was a retired lawyer who thought teaching was a good idea. Not so much.

Ed Moats to Austen Holman, “Are you From Austin, Texas?”

Ed Moats to Dori Scherer, “Everything hunky-dory?”

Yup. Quite a class. Oh and Ed confronting that one kid who took/stole the Teachers Manual. that was funny. This kid makes some excuse to go use the bathroom, but he’s really going to go photocopy the answers for his friend. Ed catches him with a book and asks what he’s doing. Needless to say, this kid turned as red as a lobster realizing he’d been caught and that was the end of that.

Happy Birthday Quinn and Annie


Quinn ends his horrible rampage as a teen and turns 20. Actually it wasn’t horrible or a rampage, but he’s not a teen anymore..welcome to the club.

Annie has one more year to savor being a teen, but she can drink legally in Canada now.

Happy Birthday to you both!