In This Month's Mailbag:
In Response to Robert Hashemian's "Online
Vigilantism," October, 2000:
Thinking Obscene Thoughts: Napster
Your points are valid: It could lead to an abuse that might last long
enough to do some real damage, but there is another threat that many people
on one side or the other of the Napster debate may not have considered: That
the technology makes it possible to distribute all manners of evil through
the networks without any accountability. Child pornography comes to mind as
one side effect of a ruling favorable to Napster. The technology that makes
the music downloads possible among users also makes the sending and
receiving of child pornography possible. Consider what might happen if
someone you crossed decided to send such graphics to you and then alerted
the various police authorities, how could you defend yourself?
Without some ability to authenticate who has sent what over the Internet,
how could we prosecute criminal wrong doings? Spam and black lists are ugly
enough, but the specter of Napster technology for the sake of corporate
profits over the common good is obscene.
- William Bean
SPAM, "I DEFY YOU!"
The examples you give in your article for getting permission to send
someone e-mail do not fit the guidelines for a MAPS-type service at all.
What I want, and what MAPS gives me, is the ability to block out people and
companies that broadcast e-mail to thousands of recipients with no means to
stop them. There are legitimate e-mail newsletters (Internet Telephony among
them), but they offer legitimate means to cancel out the messages.
My working definition of spam is an e-mail that contains any one of the
- It came to me from a known spam house IP address.
- It came to me via an unauthorized third-party e-mail relay.
- It came to me directly from someone's dial-up connection, so it could
bypass their service provider's limitations on e-mail volume per
- It has a free e-mail service's address for a return address, but the
e-mail didn't come from the same service.
- It came from a source I had already specified to accept "no
advertising." If that source continues to send me e-mail in spite
of my saying not to, or requires me to periodically restate that I don't
want advertising, they then become a known spam house.
So far, MAPS uses many of the same definitions for spam as I do,
therefore I use their service. If MAPS starts vendettas or extortion
rackets, I will find another means to filter spam, and I think others would
likewise go elsewhere. I think that the MAPS people abusing their position
would be a self-correcting problem. I also think involving government could
potentially make the problem much worse, since it could become impossible
for people to be able to go elsewhere when the system goes corrupt.
- Arthur Kahlich
My company works in call center activities. I am wondering if there is
any hardware or software available which connects the computer (for Internet
telephony) to the PBX system. Also, are there any tools, hardware, or
software available to enhance voice and overcome firewall problems?
Tom Keating responds:
Your question is a bit vague. You didn't describe your existing
infrastructure, such as what type of PBX you have, your LAN environment,
etc. Also, do you want people to make inbound VoIP calls to your call
center? Do you want VoIP to the call center agent's desktop? Or do you just
want your internal agents to be able to make outbound VoIP calls via an ITSP
(toll bypass to save money)?
However, you did mention you wanted the ability to "get
around" the firewall issue associated with VoIP. Check out www.aravox.com
for a firewall that gets around this issue. You may not require such a
high-end solution, but it's still worth checking out.
There are several other products that can help to VoIP-enable your
call center. Check out the TMC Labs Innovation Awards in the September 2000
issue of C@ll
Center CRM Solutions magazine, as well as the October 2000 issues of
Telephony magazine and Communications
Solutions magazine. We discussed several e-commerce VoIP solutions to
VoIP-enable the call center. (Simply surf over to www.tmcnet.com
and then choose the back issues of each respective magazine.)
As a LAN reseller, we are being asked to start providing end-to-end
solutions including automated attendant/voice mail/outbound calling
Unfortunately, we have little current experience after having
investigated the market 10 years ago, and are amazed to see so many
companies selling so many flavors of product.
If you were to start reselling a four-port Windows product with automated
attendant, voice mail, outbound capabilities, and fax on demand, which
companies and products would you look at? Naturally our customers are most
interested in price/performance using standard hardware platforms such as
NT/2000 boxes in Dialogic or other popular, value-based boards.
- Allan Levene
Tom Keating Responds:
I'm assuming you already know the "big boys" (AVT &
Active Voice) in the Windows/PC voice mail space. However, they might be
priced out of what you are looking for.
Try Connected Systems (more of a "black box" running on a
RealTime O/S than Windows NT, but a great feature set and price), E-voice
Communications (also features PC-PBX functionality), and Sound Advantage
(they have a lost-cost solution using Dialogic hardware and Windows NT).
You mentioned you needed outbound capabilities as well. I'm assuming
you mean "predictive dialing." If so, I don't believe any of my
suggestions have that feature, but ask the vendors. Often, predictive
dialing is a separate feature from the voice mail system.
We invite readers to send their input and advice to email@example.com.
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