More Junkmail from Bob!

Wednesday, January 10, 2001
Important Stuff.

Your Preferences Have Been Recounted

Ebay sent out an interesting email to some users Monday. In essence, it says, "Although you selected no, we think you really meant yes and we're going to send you our valuable e-mail communications with news, offers and special events until you tell us to stop." I think some Ebay people watched too much coverage of the Florida elections.

AOL is known for resetting their customers' preferences about once a year to whatever AOL feels is most profitable. Illegal? No. Unethical? Maybe. Irritating? Definitely. exhibited similar strong moral fiber last September. Before then, when people signed up at Amazon they could check a box to specify that their personal information should not be shared with other companies. In September, Amazon said, "We were just joking. We're sharing everybody's personal information from now on, including yours."

Here is an unedited excerpt from Ebay's email:

"Several times a month, eBay sends out valuable e-mail communications with news, offers and special events that help you buy and sell. Unfortunately, we have noticed that an error occurred during your registration process that prevented you from receiving these communications. Many of your Notification Preference defaults were set to 'no' rather than to 'yes,' which means that unlike other eBay members, you're not receiving these types of communications.

"We'd like to resolve this problem quickly and efficiently. Therefore, on 1/8/01, we returned all your Notification Preferences to the standard default of 'yes' to put you in line with the rest of the eBay community. However, we want you to choose your Notification Preferences rather than rely on our standard defaults and will therefore not include you in any communications until 1/23/01. This will provide you with some time to evaluate these choices and modify your Notification Preferences. You will, however, continue to receive certain administrative e-mails that are part of executing your eBay transactions."

Sounds to me like they wanted to send out more junk mail.


It happened! Not only did some trains in Norway have trouble (they wouldn't start until they were told it was last month), but someone gouged me on my credit card charges due to a Y2.001K problem.

Flight explorer is a neat program where you can see all the IFR planes in the sky at any time, along with speed, altitude, direction, and some other stuff. It's a neat program. It costs $9.95 a month. Normally.

I got a form email last week that broke this news to me:

Dear Bob,

Due to a year 2001 date bug, AVweb has mistakenly posted the following
charges to your credit card

1-4-2001   $9.95
1-3-2001   $9.95
1-3-2001   $9.95
1-2-2001   $9.95

...and so forth.

That's one way to increase sales. Oh well, I guess it's better than being charged by Global Telecom in Moscow.

Apparently when they saved date last paid, they only saved the month and the day, but not the year. Then when they compared it to the current date (1-4-2001) they didn't find a charge within the past 30 days so they charged it again. This same bug would have occurred in any new year. Hey, maybe we could spend billions of dollars every year preventing the Yn bug!

Dotcom Dotdead

Dotcoms are busting. Around 200 companies have closed up shop in the past year. I believe you have to make a profit once in a while in order to stay in business. Some of these companies never even projected profitability; they just tried to get web traffic and thought that would be worth millions. I guess it was at one time, but not today. Dotcoms are closing at the rate of one every day, according to ZDNet.

Here are some of the recent casualties: laid off a bunch of people last week in four locations. I think there are 50 or so left in Pryor and 135 company-wide, but I'm not sure about the numbers. It looks like they're shrinking in people, sales, and stock price. I'm sure glad I'm not there any more to enjoy the fun.

Egg on their Face

In December someone broke into Egghead's computer system. Egghead sells a lot of computer stuff online. Egghead wasn't sure if the unauthorized visitor made off with some unauthorized credit card numbers, so they spent two or three weeks to find out, and spent a few million dollars to reissue credit cards and pay for extra help during the investigation. It turned out that no credit card numbers were copied. Egghead said they needed to make sure.

I wonder how much it cost when someone borrowed 55,000 card numbers.


Marcy, Debra, Paul, Steve, and Jack teamed up to look for new planets. They were looking around other stars, not the sun. They found a huge planet (or a small brown dwarf) around star HD 168443. (You can probably find the location of HD 168443 at The huge planet is 17 times bigger than Jupiter.

This is blatantly against the rules, because any planet more than 13 times bigger than Jupiter is supposed light off in a fusion reaction and turn into a star. They found this star using big telescopes in Hawaii (Keck I) and California (Lick). It took a while to find it because it has a revolution every 4.7 years, similar to many small countries.

A second big discovery is of two planets that are in synchronous orbit Gliese 876, a star in Aquarius. One of these planets orbits twice as often as the other. This is the first discovery of 2:1 synchronous orbits.

I think when these planets are discovered they're not actually seen. They are inferred by the wobble in the stars they orbit. I'm not sure about that though. But if you measure the wobble closely enough and you estimate the mass of the star well enough, you have a pretty good chance of finding the mass of the planet and its orbit details.

Snowy Landings

It's snowy, so airplanes are crashing into snow banks.

There were three snow accidents already in 2001, and one was even in Oklahoma -- an OSU student. Nobody hurt, though.

Picture of Today!

The picture of today is the Cat's Eye nebula. A picture of this nebula is pretty common on the internet, but this image as x-ray emissions superimposed as the bluish-purple near the center. This is a sign of some really hot gas, even hotter than summer in Death Valley.


The other picture of today is bikepacking. Mike and I went a few years ago. This is just north of Mount Harvard, CO.


The still other pictures of today are of mountain obscuration. That's when airplanes should avoid clouds because the clouds contain granite. This is Mount Antero, CO.

        IMG0006.jpg      IMG0012.jpg

The final picture of today is the Aircam. We're wiring. We're also running a little slow between Christmas, business, and waiting on parts, but that's OK because we don't have a schedule. If we don't hit any major snags, it will be in the air in February. We're looking for a test pilot...


I'll put some new pictures up on in a few days.

(s) 2001, no rights deserved. This work is protected under the regulations of the United Federation of Planets. However, it is not protected by anybody on Earth. Any unauthorized duplication or distribution of this fine collection of junk is a curious phenomenon. And I'm glad Word has a spell checker -- I wasn't very close on phenomenon.

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I'm Bob Webster and I live at