Random Thought

Losing the War on Spam

I was having problems sending email via my hosting account. I sent the following question to cablevision via their live chat:

Howard Greenstein: I am having trouble sending email via my paid-for hosting domain. It seems to be blocked. Is optoline blocking the outgoing SMTP email port?

Cablevision: Welcome to Cablevision, Howard Greenstein!
There is 1 question ahead of you, thank you for waiting.
You are next in line, thank you for waiting.
Your Optimum Online Tech Support Specialist will join you momentarily.
Cablevision: Your Optimum Online Tech Support Specialist, Dennis.L, has arrived.

Dennis.L: Welcome to Optimum Online’s Live Technical Support!

Verifying Account …
An Optimum Online Technical Support Rep will be with you shortly.

Dennis.L: Hello, my name is Dennis. Thank you for contacting Cablevision today, Howard.

Dennis.L: I have received your question, I understand it and I’m sorry for the inconvenience, I will be happy to assist you with that today.

Dennis.L: Please give me a minute or so to verify your account information. We will then take some troubleshooting steps to resolve your issue.

Howard Greenstein: you type fast

Dennis.L: Thank you for waiting, Howard.

Dennis.L: To help control the amount of spam and viruses that originate from the Optimum Online network, we are implementing outbound Port 25 SMTP filtering. Filtering port 25 is a common spam control measure used by Internet Service Providers and the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages when it comes to the war on spam.

Dennis.L: You might be affected if you use a mail server outside of the Optimum Online network, run your own mail server, or similar scenario. There are other alternatives if you are affected – including VPN and SMTPS that your email service provider is likely to support. Please contact your email server host for information on these alternatives.

Dennis.L: By switching your outgoing mail server setting in your email program to, you will be able to send emails via our mail system without issue.

Howard Greenstein: i don’t want to use – it gets filtered by other people’s spam filters

Howard Greenstein: mine doesnt’

Dennis.L: I understand and I’m sorry for the inconvenience, if you would need to use an SMTP server other then, please contact our Business Optimum Online Sales department at 866-575-8000, and they will be glad to upgrade your account to a Business class account, this way you can continue to use the other SMTP servers.

Howard Greenstein: It it not acceptable that you are dictating that I can’t use my own paid for legitmate email host
Howard Greenstein: I will be sending a letter to your customer service
Howard Greenstein: that is also not accepatable
Howard Greenstein: who shall I contact?

Dennis.L: Any one you contact will tell you the same that I did, you can send a letter to our corporate office if you like.

Howard Greenstein: yes, I would like to do that, as I look into alternative providers I believe they have a right to try to keep my business
Howard Greenstein: I’ve been a customer since this was offered in my area and have been generally happy.
Howard Greenstein: It would be a shame to have to get DSL instead
Howard Greenstein: perhaps if enough people complain they will reconsider this policy

Dennis.L: The vast increase in Spam over the past years has hindered our network’s performance. Cablevision reserves the right to protect the integrity of its network and resources by any means it deems appropriate. This includes but is not limited to: port blocking, e-mail virus scanning, denying e-mail from certain domains, and putting limits on bandwidth and e-mail. This is stated in line item 26 (a) in our Residential Terms of Service located at

Dennis.L: Can I assist with anything else regarding Optimum Online?

Howard Greenstein: yes, I understand the technical and business issues. thank you for your response and have a nice day.

So, now I have to use their outgoing server. But my email will say my address is not from their server (ie. I’m sending email as someone @ but it is coming from someone at – and many people’s spam filters will flag this and not allow mail through. Now I have a quandry. My hosting provider, who is generally good, won’t do anything to change the way I send email (use a different port, use a vpn or some security). So, do I change hosting providers, or chance that people don’t get my email? The war on Spam is certainly reducing my rights as an email user.

Random Thought

Sending Link Capital to Ethan From Survivor

I’m at a workshop put on by, Tom Munneke’s group. Many interesting people are here, some of whom don’t even have easy URLs (Hi Iz).
Anyway, one of the participants is Ethan Zohn, AKA as he freely admits, as “Ethan From Survivor.” Ethan won Survivor:Africa, as any Google search can tell you. He’s also a “Survivor Hunk”, “Reality TV Hunk” etc.

Basically, his google search is filled with interesting triva, but nothing that points to the Grassroot Soccer foundation he has set up to help teach kids in Africa how to avoid getting HIV/AIDS. Some serious folks including the Bill and Melida Gates foundation are supporters of Ethan’s efforts. Ethan and the group get Pro Footballers (soccer players for us Americans) to go to villages and teach kids about both the game of Soccer, and also about the game of life- or how to keep their lives going by avoiding behaviors that might lead to HIV/AIDS. The messaging seems to be targeted to avoiding the lecture (which doesn’t work on teens anywhere in the world, I’m told) and targeted to giving kids the info they need to make informed decisions. It also empowers kids who graduate from these seminars to be peer educators,complete with certificates to show they’re qualified. Ethan described it as “getting Michael Jordan to go to Harlem to explain how drugs affect teens.” People would pay attention. In these countries, Football stars are hugely famous and locally recognizable – the appearance becomes an event, and a dialog can start on a topic that might usually have stigma or societal barriers against the discussion. A worthwhile effort, IMHO.

So this post, as well as others I’m encouraging everyone I know to make, is intended to help Ethan and his organization gain some rank in search engines by pointing the search terms Ethan Zohn and Ethan From Survivor to the Grassroot Soccer site. This is not a “google bomb” in the same way that people tried to point “miserable failure” towards a political candidate. This is trying to help someone gain the connection they deserve for their own name, reputation and foundation.

So pitch in a minute, and pass on some link-capital of your own, please. Link Ethan to GrassRoots Soccer. Get some awareness of this excellent effort out into the world.

Random Thoughts

Modular by Design – Introduction

Tristan begins to deconstruct Media Businesses (caps intended) as a whole in a Big Way (again, caps intended). Can’t wait to see how he moves this idea forward.

Modular by Design – Introduction I’ve been looking at the different trends in digital media and have started developing a common theory in terms of the issues relating to music, TV, phone service, weblogs, and software and the impact the internet has on all those business models. From there, I came to a conclusion that what the internet does well is break apart what were once aggregated products in its smaller components, wreaking havoc with the economic models established around the bundling concept. [via weblog]

Random Thought

Spammer Hijack

Seems some spammer somewhere has hijacked my public AT howardgreenstein dot com email and is using it as the return address for spams. I’m getting huge numbers of bouncebacks. I know my PCs are not sending the mails.
I assume there is absolutely nothing I can do about this.
Welcome to the brave new world.