Did you do it? Did you add your name to the FTCï¿½s ï¿½do-not-call-registryï¿½?
On June 27th, with much fanfare, FTC began to collect phone numbers from
people who wanted to block telemarketers from calling their numbers.
Frankly, I just canï¿½t see what all the fuss is about. Itï¿½s true that I
work for a company that is closely tied to the call center industry, but
even before I joined my current company, telemarketers never quite made it
to the top of my ire list. I never bought anything from them and if I
wasnï¿½t in the mood to listen, I would just hang up. Fact of the matter is
that cold-call telemarketing is intrinsically self-regulating. There is
considerable cost involved in purchasing dialing equipment, telecom
services, hiring agents, and providing support systems to make it in that
business, and outsourcing is not cheap either. Direct mail, which is
another source of frustration for some people, also has its inherent
While we go about fixing a nuisance, the real monster, spam, has grown
bigger and uglier and will soon dwarf both the telemarketing and direct
mail issues. Businesses and people are drowning in it and by some
estimates it already comprises half the e-mail traffic on the Internet.
The trouble with spam is more than just dealing with its sheer volume.
When was the last time a telemarketer called you with the offer of raunchy
videos? When was the last time you received a direct mail with explicit
pictures? Now go and take a look at your e-mails for just today and see
how many of these offers you can find. Unfortunately the new telemarketing
rule falls way short of giving us the true flexibility in dictating the
terms under which we wish to be contacted (or not contacted at all).
Well, get ready for even more spam to pour into your inbox. As
marketing companies come to terms with the new telemarketing rule, they
will no-doubt shift their strategies to other means of communications and
e-mail will inevitably land at the top of their lists. In fact, they may
find it refreshing that spamming costs a fraction of telemarketing,
encouraging them to take it to the max.
Todayï¿½s communications comprises a complex jumble of devices and
mechanisms. SMS, e-mail, and instant messaging are a sample of these
mechanisms. The April issue of this magazine had an interesting
primer on ENUM,
which is the DNS-based technology used to translate telephone numbers to
Internet addresses over a variety of protocols such as SIP. What strikes
me about ENUM and similar technologies is how they are changing the
telecommunications landscape, blurring the lines between the traditional
and contemporary technologies. For example, todayï¿½s notion of a phone
number leading to a telephone set will eventually dissolve as
interoperating devices begin to invade each otherï¿½s realms.
It is quite feasible that a spammer in a not-too-distant future would
ring your phone and play a recording without dialing your phone number
directly, therefore completely bypassing the FTCï¿½s registry with impunity.
The point is that sometimes itï¿½s best to let the forces of competition,
markets, and the economy handle many issues. Of course, other times a
little involvement wouldnï¿½t hurt. Devising an effective method to tax
spammers? Now thatï¿½s something Iï¿½m all for.
I normally donï¿½t engage in book recommendations in my column, but this
particular volume had a reference to a Windows-based network packet
capture tool, which ultimately came in very handy while troubleshooting
network issues at our recent Planet PDA show in Boston.
The book is titled C# Network Programming by Richard Blum and is
published by Sybex. It is mainly geared towards .NET programmers who have
some familiarity with TCP/IP networks. It makes a great reference for
network programmers interested in developing applications in C#. It is
also a good tutorial of TCP/IP networking in its own right. I found the
book well organized with ample examples. The topics discussed
progressively build on top of each other at a logical pace.
As for the tool I earlier alluded to, it is mentioned in Chapter 2. For
those of you who are Linux/Unix versed, surely the tcpdump program has
crossed your path a time or two. tcpdump is a packet capture program that
blurts the packet information sequentially to the userï¿½s screen. It
requires the packet-capture library known as libpcap to be installed
before it can be utilized. tcpdump is one of my favorite network
troubleshooting programs. However I always wished for a similar program on
Windows. Thankfully, this book made a reference to just such tool, windump,
and its required library, winpcap. Another great network troubleshooting
tool that utilizes the winpcap library is the Analyzer program, which has
a fairly intuitive GUI and a respectable number of protocol and packet
During our recent Planet PDA Expo in Boston, we ran into severe
degradation in response time on the Wi-Fi network. The slowdown had all
the signs of a node flooding the network, but how could we identify the
errant node? Analyzer program to the rescue. With a short capture time, we
immediately identified the rogue node and booted it off, allowing the
network to regain its healthy status. These tools can be downloaded for
Happy network troubleshooting.
Robert Vahid Hashemian provides us with a healthy dose of reality
every other month in his Reality Check column. Robert is vice president of
Web Development for TMCnet.com -- your online resource for CTI, Internet
telephony, and call center solutions. He is also the author of
Financial Markets For The Rest Of Us. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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