Hit List

The Senate cracks down on spam.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the September 1998 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

The Senate's approval of the so-called "Anti-Spam Bill" (S.1618) in May was a warning for marketers who stuff the nation's e-mail boxes with electronic junk mail. The bill, which threatens fines of up to $15,000 for those who send unsolicited e-mail messages without a return address or refuse requests to remove a recipient from an e-mailing list, comes in the wake of a number of spam attacks that deluged ISPs with such massive amounts of untraceable spam that the ISPs' servers crashed.

Luckily, there's a less intrusive form of e-mail marketing available. NetCreations Inc., a New York City Internet marketing firm, offers an "opt-in" e-mail service called PostMaster Direct Response. Users request information by selecting from a list of topics and filling out registration forms at NetCreations' 60 partner Web sites, which include CMPnet (http://www.cmpnet.com), REGARDS.COM (http://www.regards.com) and The CD-ROM Shopper's Guide (http://www.thecdromguide.com).

Begun in 1995, PostMaster Direct Response currently has more than 1.3 million people on its distribution lists. "The concept is really blossoming, which tells me we're on the right track," says Michael Mayor of NetCreations. "We're finally giving consumers the power to [decide] what goes into their e-mail boxes."

NetCreations rents and sells its PostMaster Direct Response mailing lists, but the company handles delivery of messages to users' e-mail addresses, ensuring that users only receive information on topics of their choice and can cease subscription to the service at any time.

Strong Box

This laptop is one tough cookie.

A s a journalist who provides travel-related content to Web sites such as Microsoft's Mungo Park (http://www.mungopark.com), Jim Bruton often finds himself in rough terrain. Last December, Bruton and his team traveled to the Middle East, following the path of the Magi by driving from Iran to Bethlehem, Israel, in a four-wheel-drive vehicle--beaming written reports, photographs and even live video of the journey to the Mungo Park site via a satellite link and a laptop computer. Knowing the average laptop wouldn't hold up very well on a trek through the desert, Bruton relied on a sturdy laptop from Eden Prairie, Minnesota-based FieldWorks Inc.

Built with light, ultra-strong magnesium frames and equipped with the latest and fastest processors, FieldWorks laptops are powerful enough to satisfy a variety of computing needs and durable enough to meet stringent U.S. military standards for withstanding shock and vibration. The laptop's touch pad and standard-sized keyboard are moisture-proof, and the company offers a number of options to customize the machine for harsh weather.

FieldWorks laptops have been used by the U.S. Navy to troubleshoot electronics at sea and by pit crews at the Indianapolis 500 to fine-tune race-car performance. Recently, Bruton even took a FieldWorks laptop on an expedition to Mount Everest.

Y2K Bug Update

Most computer users know by now that some older machines may malfunction when confronted with calculations or data containing dates in the year 2000, but at a recent House Committee on Banking and Financial Services hearing, it was announced that other date-related bugs may also wreak havoc on computer systems. Here are the dates to beware of:

September 9, 1999: Computers may read this date as "9999," which means "end of computer file" in several computer languages.

December 31, 1999: According to John Grover of Atlanta-based MillenniumPlus Consulting, "991231" means "end of computer file" in older applications.

February 29, 2000: 2000 is a leap year, but since turn-of-the-century years aren't usually leap years, many computers will fail to make the leap to February 29 in 2000.

Contact Sources

FieldWorks Inc., (888) FIELD-WORKS, http://www.field-works.com

MillenniumPlus Consulting, (770) 521-9959, jgrover@milleniumplus.com

NetCreations Inc., http://www.netcreations.com

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