Two thought Johnny.

Man, if there’s anything I hate… 

I hate SPAM.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. 

One of the things I do at work is to go through the damned spam filter and look for false positives.  I detest the utter waste of resources, I cannot stand the constant push of filth I do not want to see, I hate to think of the shady products from shadier hawksters, and I absolutely loathe and detest the scum that prey on - well, let’s be blunt, shall we - the utter morons who waste their money supporting unscrupulous on-line behaviour. 

Am I going to fix spam?  I only wish.  The only way to beat spam at the moment is to get the very same utter morons mentioned above to completely stop purchasing anything through spam.  Then we still have to deal with the stock spam, so I suppose it will probably always end up being an arms race back and forth.

Why am I mentioning this?  I’m suffering a large increase in spam at the moment right here.

You see, I have a friend who has his blog hosted on  Cool, I haven’t been in touch with him for ages.  I sign up for an account and instead of posting directly, I send a private message to him on his blog since I did not have his email.  One of the things I mentioned in that message was a blog entry I wrote here that included him.

Please remember, this is a PRIVATE MESSAGE.  By the very name of “private message” I think I can make the assumption that only he and I are able to read the message, right?

Wrong, apparently.  Unless Hieraco sold that link directly to Russian spammers.  Which I doubt.  Hieraco, please do me a favour and take some time and make sure you’re running a full scan for viruses, keyloggers, trojans, spyware and rootkits, okay?  Just in case I have to eat my words soon.

Right after I send that link, the blog entry that I included in that link gets innundated with spam.  Not just one or two.  Not ten or twenty.  Right now I’m averaging between 5 and 8 spammy links a day.

“Oooh,” I hear you say.  “What a terrible thing to have to delete a few comments.“  No, it’s a problem.  It takes my bandwidth, it uses my time and resources and it’s just rude and ignorant.  Not a single spammy link will get approved here, and even if it does, I’m pretty confident the two readers I’ve got are going to know it’s spam instantly and ignore it.  By the way, dear reader, if you don’t - I’m coming after you.

Now I’d say something if it was happening in every blog entry I’ve written, but it is only happening in one single entry, starting immediately after I sent a private message to Hieraco.  What am I to assume is the problem?

Well, barring my fine, cat-fancying friend getting back to me telling me he had a trojan on his system, I’m going to make the assumption that has a problem with their PM system.  I won’t say it’s been compromised, but I certainly don’t trust it and you can officially expect me to not move my blog over there anytime soon.  Now I’ve got his direct email, I can safely say I’ll browse his blog but never post a link or email there again, private or not.

Blown trust does not come back easily.  My trust with got blown out the window from my very first encounter.  I don’t think that will ever be recovered.

Which brings me, quite nicely, to my second thought for this entry.  Nick Booth over at The Inquirer has written what I consider to be a very interesting and insightful article.

Businesses want to get closer to customers, but they end up stalking them instead. Companies want relationships with customers, but customers want restraining orders from companies they wish they’d never met.

“Instead of creating loyalty, the effect most CRM systems have is to make you rue the day you ever gave away your home number,” says Tefler.

In this case, Tefler is trying to sell a better CRM (Customer Relation Management) system that is more about relationships than tracking your customers’ every move and trying to second guess them before they make it.  I wish him every success with that - I’m not going to buy into it just now.  I believe the best CRM remains the handshake, and if you can’t keep track of the handshakes you’ve made in the last year, you need to get yourself more staff to help you out with your customers.  Should Tefler and his company Pegasystems prove me wrong, I hope I’ll be in position to shell out the cash for a copy of what would be truly fabulous software.

Look, I run databases.  I’ve had personal information under my fingertips that, in all seriousness, I feel uncomfortable knowing.  It’s not my business knowing some celebrity’s private, unlisted home phone number.  In my line of work, sometimes I run across information like that.  It’s when the companies start trying to bend information to its will in order to squeeze every last penny they can out of a name that things go wrong.

My line of work generally attracts people with a very high sense of ethics, integrity, standards and a firm knowledge of what should be kept private.  I’m not going to fool anyone and deny that there are bad apples out there.  Overall, the DBA’s know that you better keep your data private and secure because if you make a mistake and reveal information, not only intentionally but merely by accident, your career could be over and you’re looking at a life of doing less scrupulous work such as telemarketer, lawyer or politician.

Don’t look at me to sell your information at a profit - I will not do it.  Don’t look at me to sign up for loyalty cards to enable your company to track my every purchase - I will not do it.  Don’t expect me enable your schemes to peddle filth and questionable pills by posting your spammy messages on my blog.

I will not do it.  I may be a crotchety old pain in the ass, but I will keep my integrity.