March 2007


Several years ago I realized that using a catchall address on your domains is a double-edged sword. The obvious disadvantage is that you cast a very wide net and catch a lot of spam. This isn’t so bad if you take the time to block addresses that seem to be receiving the most spam. On the other hand, the advantage of using a catchall address is in the ability to give out a unique address that identifies the business or person you gave it to. For example, say you want to buy a book from amazon.com and you need to provide an email address during account setup. Instead of giving amazon the same address you give everyone else, you give them amazon@yourdomain.com. Now if you get spam that was addressed to amazon@yourdomain.com, you can be fairly certain that amazon sold or published your supposedly private information.

This has worked well for me for several years, but now there’s an easier solution that requires only a single address: it’s called Plus Addressing. Many webmail providers like GMail support Plus Addressing as a way to identify people and companies who play loose with your data. Using the above example again, the address you would give to amazon would be yourname+amazon@domain.com. Similarly you might also give out yourname+bestbuy@domain.com and yourname+circuitcity@domain.com. An added benefit to Plus Addressing is the inherent simplicity in filtering incoming mail by sender.

The primary disadvantage to using Plus Addressing today is the lack of support. Although the specification for properly-formatted email addresses (1982 RFC 822) places virtually no restrictions on the content to the left of the @ sign, many sites still refuse these addresses as invalid due to the special character. Hopefully this will change as more people learn about and understand the value of this system. If you’re in a position to influence the validation of email addresses at your company, please make sure that your system supports Plus Addressing – your customers will thank you for it.

The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions, that I wish it always to be kept alive.
– Thomas Jefferson

Hold on to your britches because I have a feeling this is going to be my first good solid rant since I started this blog.

You see, I’m an amateur bass player… on hiatus. I’ve been focused on learning and improving my .NET skills for the past 2-3 years so the bass has been gathering dust in a closet. It’s because of this that I only now discovered what has been fact for well over a year: in December 2005 the Music Publishers’ Association (aka MPA, or NAMBLA) decided that posting tablature on the internet violates its members copyrights.

If you’re not familiar with it, tablature is like sheet music for morons. They look similar, but instead of traditional musical notes the fret number is printed on the line representing the string to be played. Tabs eliminate the need to understand sheet music. They literally allow anyone to pick up an instrument and start playing recognizable tunes in minutes. I still can’t read sheet music and don’t really have a desire to. I’m perfectly happy with snagging the tab for my latest favorite song because I enjoy being able to play along.

That’s why I was shocked when I went to the Bass Tab Archive in search of some 311 and Taproot tabs only to be greeted with the following message:

The Bass Tab Archive tab collection has been taken off-line in order to comply with a recently received takedown letter from legal representation for the NMPA and MPA.

Yes, it’s true. It is their position that transcribing a tab by ear and posting it on the internet for others to learn is a violation of the artist’s copyright. Think about that carefully. Have you ever gone online to find the lyrics to a song you liked? Did you feel like you were violating the artist’s copyright? Under this interpretation you were. Don’t you feel like a cheating bastard now?

Seriously, what the hell is going on with intellectual property rights in this country? Copyrights used to be a defense serving the interests of artists’ livelihoods and ultimately the livelihood of all those who create. Now they’ve become offensive weapons used to obliterate anyone who dares mention even the title among close friends. It’s sickening that our system of justice has allowed the pendulum to swing so far from sanity.

Issues like these are why I decided to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Join the EFF!They’re a coalition of lawyers, volunteers, etc. that work to protect us from the prick bastards at organizations like the MPA and the RIAA. Since those organizations have clearly demonstrated that there is no such thing as overreaching when it comes to protecting copyright, I think it’s money well-spent. At least I’m secure in the knowledge that I’m doing my little part to fight back against the subhuman pieces of shit that are hellbent on killing off music as we know it.

Two more music industry articles from Slashdot:

CD Music Sales Down 20% in Q1 2007

University Wants RIAA To Pay For Wasting Its Time

    It’s been a long time coming, but it appears the average music listener has finally had enough. This year the industry is posting its weakest sales records ever. Consider this: in 2005 you needed to sell about 600,000 copies of your album in a week to have a shot at #1. In 2007 that number has fallen to about 65,000. That’s a 90% drop in less than two years.

    We’re witnessing the end of the traditional music industry as we know it. Of course, given what it’s become I don’t think that’s such a bad thing. The real question is what will come next.

    Today Slashdot featured this letter sent to The Consumerist by a music lover who – try to contain your surprise – got screwed by DRM. It’s nothing new if you’ve been paying attention the last 5 years, but this quote struck close to home:

    I’d like to say I was outraged, but in the end I must admit to feeling remarkably sad and deflated over the whole process. See, the thing is, I was raised on music. I was saved by music. I (used to) live for music.

    Remind you of anyone? Perhaps yourself?

    DRM is a plague and sunshine is a disinfectant. It’s long been time for independent investigations into the RIAA‘s punitive tactics as well as their claims that illegal file sharing is the culprit behind plummeting sales numbers. Anyone who can stand to turn on a radio for 30 minutes knows why sales are down, and strong-arming 12 year olds into $3,000 settlements isn’t going to change that.

    The simple fact is the 21st century licensing model for music is horribly broken. As the author states in his letter, how long would Coke last if they required customers to consume their tasty beverage using Coke-approved equipment and only in ways deemed acceptable by Coke? Wouldn’t Pepsi like to know…

    I haven’t posted lately because there’s not much worth talking about. However I did just stumble onto this and found it worth sharing. It’s easy to get certified, and it’s worth at least as much as your old MCSD.

    This morning I followed a DotNetKicks link that touted a very useful http debugging proxy. The link took me to the MSDN page for Fiddler. It is indeed a very useful debugging tool; I know it’s saved me several times in the past. If your web application is acting up and traditional methods are failing you, give Fiddler a try.

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