Ho Ho Ho

A clever holiday greeting card just arrived in my e-mail inbox, from a prominent company in the technology business. Along with the greeting, the message included the following stern warning:

This message is for the named person’s use only. It may contain confidential, proprietary or legally privileged information. No confidentiality or privilege is waived or lost by any mistransmission. If you receive this message in error, please immediately delete it and all copies of it from your system, destroy any hard copies of it and notify the sender. You must not, directly or indirectly, use, disclose, distribute, print, or copy any part of this message if you are not the intended recipient. (Name of sender deleted), and each of their subsidiaries each reserve the right to monitor all e-mail communications through its networks. Any views expressed in this message are those of the individual sender, except where the message states otherwise and the sender is authorised to state them to be the views of any such entity.

Maybe someone should tell the lawyers to lighten up, at least once a year…

Patently Common Sense

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is exhibiting uncharacteristic common sense with its decision to review a patent it granted for a Year 2000 bug fix, the Washington Post reports. The patent has been widely ridiculed by critics of the patent system, as it’s widely believed to cover an “invention” that wasn’t new.

The patent office is a mess, as I’ve said before. It’s understaffed, underfunded and overworked. It grants absurd patents all the time, many of which go to software and Internet companies, at an incalculable cost to the economy in the long run.

This review, while welcome, is also shameful. It should never have been necessary in the first place.

Y2K Auction Foolishness

It was a clever move of some entrepreneurs to register the year2000.com domain name a while back. The owners say the site has been profitable for them.

Now they want to make it even more profitable — by auctioning the domain name to some sucker — I mean, entrepreneur — willing to pay at least $1,000,000. That’s right, a million bucks.

I don’t doubt that someone will spend this kind of money. These are Internet-bubble times, after all.

But if I had $1 million, I would never use it this way. Here’s why.

The reason I and many other people visited this site in the past was to see a roundup of topics related to the Y2K computer glitch. I found the site a bit alarmist, though not as much as some, and mainly used it to follow links to the long list of Y2K-related news articles. I never, ever noticed the advertising — like many people, I’ve trained myself not to see Web ads for the most part.

As of early next year, barring a general collapse of life as we know it, I’m going to stop visiting this site. And so will just about everyone else. Like Cinderella’s magnificient coach that carried her to the ball, this site seems likely to turn into something of a pumpkin when the new year arrives, or soon after.

Whoever buys the site is going to have to remake it into something worth visiting for all new reasons. A million dollars is a lot of money to spend before you even begin.

Ooops…Porno Guys Love Typos

In my posting about the Year2000 Web site earlier today, I left out the final zero in the date when I created a hyperlink to the site. An alert reader who clicked on it let me know where it took him: to a pornography page.

That’s all too typical. Porn sites are infamous for registering domain names that are almost the same as more mainstream sites. So when hapless users mistakenly type in the wrong address, missing one letter or transposing others, they’re transported to porn pages. Or, when someone like me mistakenly creates a mis-named link, ditto.

I wish the porn folks wouldn’t do this kind of thing. It doesn’t make them any friends. And I truly doubt it makes them any money.

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