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  • More Harm Than Good
    by Bob Osgoodby Bob Osgoodby

    E-mail is an extremely important and effective means of communication and is used by millions of people, for personal and commercial purposes. Its convenience and efficiency is threatened however by the rise in spam. Spam currently accounts for over half of all e-mail traffic, and most spam is fraudulent or deceptive in nature.

    Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been attempting to fight spam over the years. Unfortunately, their efforts have been less than successful and everyone’s inbox continues to be filled with this junk on a daily basis. In the last calendar month alone, I received 62,028 unsolicited e-mails.

    ISPs have developed filters of all kinds. Some look for keywords, and others check for certain punctuation patterns or word patterns. Some penalize the use of ALL CAPS, or the number of bad addresses (bounces) which are returned as undeliverable. Some rely on complaints from their subscribers and will blacklist someone if a complaint is received.

    The worst ISPs simply dump an e-mail without notifying either party of their action. If I send you an important e-mail for example, and it violates one of their filters, you will never get it or know it was sent, and I am not notified it was not delivered - this is totally unacceptable.

    The bottom line is some ISPs are doing more harm than good. Legitimate e-mails are not getting through in many cases. Publishers of “opt in” newsletters and ezines are seeing their publications summarily “trashed” by some ISPs or nodes because they triggered a filter. I defy anyone, who publishes on a regular basis, to produce a 3,000 word document, which is squeaky clean and does not violate at least some of their filters.

    Many spammers harvest addresses from the web. They have software that searches the web for keywords they specify and they build targeted lists. Others gather addresses from Newsgroups or Bulletin Boards. Some of your larger ISPs may be simply trying to turn a greater profit. If they sell their address lists to spammers, they then have “carte blanch” to send anything they wish, but they then unmercifully dump others without notifying either the sender or the recipient.

    Think about this. I have a screen name with a major service. I use this to check my e-mail to ensure that my newsletters are being received by subscribers to that service. On many occasions it never gets there. My e-mail account does however get pounded by vile spam of all kinds, that even the most basic filters should block. That screen name has never been used for any purpose other than to receive e-mail. It has never appeared on the web or been used for a Newsgroup or Bulletin Board posting. I wonder how those spammers got my address.

    The Federal Anti-Spam Bill, effective January 1, 2004, sets requirements for commercial e-mail, including opt-out provisions and valid postal addresses. It also prohibits misleading subject lines or fraudulent return addresses. Violators face fines as well as prison terms.

    While there will be a maturation period, this should work. I really don’t care if someone sends me an unsolicited e-mail as many times I do receive something of interest. I receive ads sent through the U.S. Postal Service every day and don’t give it a second thought. As long as those sending unsolicited e-mail follow the rules, it is something I can live with.

    To make it work however, the ISPs have to stop filtering e-mail. If I receive something I don’t want and can get off their mailing list, this is perfectly acceptable to me. How dare the ISPs presume to be the guardian of my e-mail and summarily block something I may wish to receive.

    I think the “do not spam” registry is a bad idea. It could contain millions of e-mail addresses that would have to be checked whenever bulk e-mail is sent and will drive valuable publications off the web. There is a difference between bulk mail and spam. Bulk mail is the only way a publisher can send their publications to the thousands of people who want them. While spammers use bulk mail, the difference is in the content and not the method.

    Critics complain that the law sets requirements that, if met, will grant marketers protection as having sent "legal" spam. So what! I know it will take some time to iron out all the wrinkles in this, but when they do, we will have a far better Internet. This will ultimately give control back to the end user – you and me, the consumers – to determine what we want to receive, and not some faulty filter designed to “protect us”.

    The ISPs can play a critical role in the success or failure of this legislation. If they continue on their current path, it is doomed to failure. They must not summarily block any e-mails. If this federal legislation works, and I think it will, the spam will stop as the violators will face significant civil and criminal penalties.

    How can you help? Let your ISP know how you feel. If they are not responsive to this problem, and continue on their current track, vote with your dollars and switch to one that is. If the ISPs approach this properly, we will have a solid Internet f or personal and business use, and valuable e-mail will not be lost. If they don’t, they will be doing more harm than good.

    *****************
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    10 Universal Principles of Success
    by Dr Kem Thompson

    Success is not something that only a chosen few can achieve. Everyone can be successful in every area of his or her life. You just need to know how to do things in such a way as to make sure you succeed every time. Success comes as a result of forming certain habits, and continuing in them. Consistency is key.

    To succeed, you need to be a certain type of person. Don’t be discouraged if you are not yet that type of person. With practice, anyone can become a successful person.

    The successful person thinks in a certain way, talks in a certain way, and acts in a certain way.
    The list below briefly outlines 10 of those ways (and a bonus tip!). Anyone who consistently applies these principles to any area of their life *will* experience success in that area.

    1. Vision: Have a clear picture of what exactly it is you want to achieve or become. Keep this picture at the top of your mind at all times. Doing something you want to do, because you want to do it, will motivate you to succeed at it.
    Start with the end in mind.

    2. Belief: Believe without a shadow of a doubt that you can do it. Believe that you will succeed. Believe in a Higher Power (God),who is helping you get what you want. Stay away from negative influences (people, books/articles, anything negative), which make you doubt your ability to succeed. Surround yourself with things that remind you that you can, and will, succeed.

    3. Responsibility: Realize that you alone are responsible for your future. You alone are responsible for the outcome of your efforts. Don’t look for anyone to blame. Feel free to ask for help as you need it, but remember the final decision is up to you. It’s your life, after all.

    4. Affirm: Make a habit of saying out loud what you hope to achieve. Speak of it in the present tense, e.g., ‘I am fit and trim’, as opposed to ‘I will be fit and trim’. If you feel awkward speaking out loud to yourself, write down the affirmation. Then look at it (or better still, rewrite it) several times each day. This helps your mind stay focused on the goal. It also builds your self-belief and confidence.

    5. Commitment: Make a firm commitment to take appropriate action. Decide to take whatever steps you need to take to help you achieve your goals. Then honour the commitment you've made. Too often we find it easy to keep our commitments to others while neglecting to keep our commitments to ourselves. This pattern has to change if you're to succeed in life. You do matter, you know:)

    6. Set a SMART goal: Now that you know what you want to achieve or become, you need to define it by making it a goal. Your goal has to be Specific, Measurable (you need a standard to help you know when you’ve achieved it) and Motivational (it’s got to inspire you and keep you motivated), Attainable and Attractive, Realistic (no point setting an unrealistic goal such as “I want to be a millionaire this evening”) and Timed (State when you hope to achieve it).

    7. Plan and Take Action: Work out a plan of action. Break down the plan into baby steps. Take a step or two each day, reminding yourself that each step is bringing you closer to your goal. Perform each act to the best of your ability, filled with faith, determination and purpose to reach your goal. Most importantly, be consistent.

    8. Persistence: Do not give up until you have achieved what you desire. In the course of things, be willing to change any part of your plan which turns out not to work, and try something else. Thomas Edison did not give up in his quest to invent the light bulb, even though he’d ‘failed’ 10,000 times. Now that’s persistence! See every failure as a stepping-stone to success and as a temporary set back. Learn from it and push on towards your goal. The only time you really fail is when you give up, so keep at it, you'll eventually get there.

    9. Gratitude: Maintain an attitude of gratitude, knowing that your dream is about to become a reality. Refuse to grumble when circumstances look contrary. Refuse to complain. Be grateful for where you are now, and for where you are headed. Look around for things to be grateful for. You’ll be surprised to find quite a few. Look for the good in every circumstance and think of what you can learn from adverse ones.Be thankful for the lessons you're learning in life.

    10. Become a giver. In your relationships, always think in terms of what you can do for the other person. What goes round comes round. After all, whatever dreams you have most likely involve interacting with other people. Be kind and generous to all; you never know where your breakthrough will come from.

    Bonus Principle. Be in the know: Find out everything you can about your situation/goal. Read books, listen to tapes, and talk to experts, whatever it takes. This will help you make wise decisions and keep you confident as you go along.

    So there you have it. I have given you a summary of principles which, if you apply consistently, WILL guarantee you success in any endeavour. Don't just take my word for it, though. Prove it yourself by actually applying it to your life situation. Go through the wheel of life, (grab a copy here: www.daysofsuccess.com/wol.pdf), select an area of your life you want to work on, and then begin to apply the above principles diligently to it. You WILL see results, and I'd be happy to hear about them so do email me and share your success stories!

    Knowledge is not powerful until you act on what you know.

    Think about that. Better yet, act on it! You'll be glad you did.

    *****************
    Dr Kem Thompson is a Personal and Business Success Coach. She teaches individuals and groups how to achieve success using the Universal Principles of Success. Subscribe to her FR*EE newsletter, 'Days of Success!' and receive a thank-you gift by filling in the form here: http://www.daysofsuccess.com

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