Devil in the details: Read fine print before giving
April 29, 2001
By JIM BROOKS
I make it a
practice not to respond to spam -- e-mails sent en masse to large
groups of users, a sort of direct marketing approach using e-mail.
But one of the
spam e-mails I received recently looked promising. It was from a
company offering DSL service in my area.
Now I knew
beforehand that my home is too far from the phone company's central
office to get DSL access, but I went to this company's Web site to
test its online verification -- if it told me I qualified for DSL
access, it was likely some sort of scam.
in the required information, I was pleased to find the site was
legitimate -- it apologetically let me know I didn't qualify for DSL
access at the moment.
But before I
left, I noticed some tiny print and a check box on the page under the
heading "Privacy Statement."
The fine print
in this privacy statement allowed the company to sign up people who
visited the site and checked DSL availability for other e-mail offers
-- and the default check box was to allow the company to pass user's
information along to other companies.
around the site, I couldn't find a single company name, address,
phone number or other identification of who the company was and where
they were located.
the site's frequently asked question list, I realized I had been had.
The site simply referred people to broadband Internet provider Covad
-- a company that has been struggling in the ongoing Dot-com shakeup.
purpose had little to do with DSL access and everything to do with
getting suckers like me to give them my e-mail address.
here is to read carefully the fine print on any Web site before
giving them your e-mail address.
If you wish to
sign up for such offers, you may want to get a free Web-based e-mail
account from Mail City, Hotmail, Yahoo or other web site. These will
allow you to sign up for information without filling your main e-mail
in-box with dozens of direct-mail offers or spam.
Since my "regular" job is staff writer and photographer for
a newspaper, any Web site that promotes writing or photography -- and
how to do it better -- catches my eye.
professed to be a great photographer. As with most print journalists
who graduate from Western Kentucky University, I had a single class
in photography and quickly set whatever I learned there aside, never
thinking I would need to shoot news photos.
entered the working world -- the real world of newspapers -- I
realized quickly that I needed those photo skills as part of earning
my keep. Suddenly, those discussions of f-stops, depth of field and
the Rule of Thirds were something I needed to put into practice.
pursuit of photography skills that I uncovered a Web site devoted to
just what I'm looking for -- www.photographytips.com. This site won't
turn you into a top photographer overnight, but regardless of your
skill level, you'll come away with something new.
for advice cover a very wide range of topics, from equipment, to
subjects to technique. It also examines digital photography, offers
guides to posing your subjects, suggests a good way to select a
wedding photographer and more.
of good information here for both the novice and experienced
photographer. If you're like me, you'll find plenty of ways to
improve your own photography. And if you have tips to share, the
site's sponsors welcome those, too.
Visit the site
With new domain names set for release in the next week or two, domain
registrars are expecting a sort of land rush for the prime names in
the new .biz and .info top-level domains.
The new .info
domain will be unrestricted -- any user anywhere can register a
domain (within trademark regulations, of course).
The new .biz
top-level domain will be reserved for trademark holders.
will handle the new .info domain. The company already anticipates
logging 1.5 million registrations by October.
will handle registrations for the .biz domain.
will likely handle more registrations in their first few months than
Network Solutions did for its first few years.
top-level domains will be coming as well. The .pro and .name will
likely be the next to begin accepting registrations, with the .name
the first to go online simply because it will have fewer
companies have been offering pre-registration for the new domain
names for many months, hoping to tap into the new registration frenzy.
process that includes what is being called a ``sunrise'' period is
already set to allow trademark holders time to register their
trademarks or famous-name holders to thwart cybersquatters.
The length of
this sunrise period varies by domain, but once completed,
registrations from the general public will be accepted.
For the latest
information on the new domains, visit ICANN's Web site at www.icann.com.
and questions about this column may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or visit www.myoldkentuckyhome.com
on the World Wide Web.
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