Friday, August 22, 2008


Turns out that, even with the SMTP port changes I mentioned, the Comcast SMTP server is STILL not delivering email.

Tech support says they have no clue and have issued a "trouble ticket" to see if Comcast's field people can hook up the jumper cables to their server.

Good luck .....

UPDATE - on Comcast Scores Own Goal

Shortly after writing this, I found a list of Comcast exec emails here:

I emailed the very short list at the bottom of the posting ...

Within 15 minutes, the entire Comcast connection at home went dead. I'm posting this from my business connection.

These are the people I wrote to. I wonder which one decided to kill my entire connection as retribution?,,,,,,,,,,,,,


Emails sent by Comcast broadband customers are failing to reach their properly addressed recipients because the company has changed the settings on its outgoing mail servers without informing its users or most of its own customer support agents.

Some Comcast customers have noticed a complete failure of all outgoing emails while others have found that some, but not all emails have gotten "lost in cyberspace."

Figuring out how to adapt to Comcast's covert email reconfiguration may leave millions of average users stuck in a technical quandary. They're unlikely to find help with Comcast because four of the five support people I spoke with over a two-hour period last night had no clue about the issue.

In brief: email uses two completely separate server systems to handle messages. One system (most often called a "POP" server) handles incoming mail. Outgoing mail is handled by another server called an SMTP server. This is why customers may find no problems receiving email, but later learn that important emails they have sent never arrive.

Only the fifth Comcast person -- a tech support supervisor I demanded to speak with during my marathon phone session -- knew that the company had changed the outgoing mail from SMTP port 25 to port 587. He said this was designed as an anti-spam action.

The support person wisely (for his own job) said nothing about why Comcast had not notified its customers about the change.

Fixing the problem will require all Comcast users to reconfigure their email client software to use the correct port. The procedures will be different depending on whether they use Outlook, Thunderbird or other software. But the change is not as simple as changing the port once that is located. The software must be configured to provide the same password and user name that is used for incoming email.

Businesses and individuals who have their own Internet domains (such as and receive their emails at that address ( will find the road even rockier. Many of those people have never set up the password and user name required to use Comcast's outgoing, SMTP server.

Comcast customer service will be unlikely to help these people either. Four of the five agents I spoke with had no clue.

Rather than deal with congenially clueless Comcast support people, the fastest and easiest way to solve the issue is to get a Gmail account from Google that provides an SMTP server.

In their email software settings under SMTP server, users can enter: "" and then enter their Gmail password and user names in the appropriate fields.
In addition to the broadband hassles, my two-hour conversation raised significant issues with Comcast's ability to provide telephone service. My call was dropped twice. Plus the connection to the last tech was so scratchy and faint he had to repeat himself frequently.

Over the past week, emails my wife and I have send from both our home and business broadband accounts have not been received. In addition, numerous emails sent to us by Comcast customes have not reached us. Many of these have been important and significant communications and their loss has had a significant effect.

I am fortunate to have been the Chief Technology Officer of an Internet company and have many years of technical experience. This gives me a knowledge base and many tools with which to diagnose this problem. The average user who has been deluded into thinking Comcast is a reliable service provider will simply be baffled and assume that one more mysterious cybermonster has eaten their mail. This does, however, show that Comcast has done the impossible: made the U.S. Postal Service look really good.

This irrational, irresponsible, financially punitive and completely avoidable disruption to the business and personal lives of Comcast customers shows that the company cannot and should not be trusted.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Gutless Random House Caves In To HINT of Muslim Threats

First Amendment not worth the hassle to world's largest publishing corporation.

From publishing industry newsletter, Publisher's Lunch:

More From Author of Cancelled Novel
We've heard from Sherry Jones, author of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA, the novel
cancelled by Ballantine covered in yesterday's Lunch.

Jones tells us that "because of my termination agreement with Random
House, I am prohibited from commenting on the circumstances surrounding
that termination." But from her perspective, "Despite Random House's
statement, I'm not aware of any warnings of possible terrorist attack
from any other source than Denise Spellberg. I know that Shahed
Amanullah's email had nothing to do with any of this, because I was the
one who discovered it, and the resulting discussion, on the Husaini
Youths website.

"Although I've been aware from the start that my books might offend some
people, I've never been afraid of physical harm because of them. I wrote
these books because I felt called to write them after researching A'isha
for my own purposes. My passion for her story trumps the fear factor.
I've expected controversy, yes, but never terrorism."

Separately, Jones writes on her blog that "all I did was try to portray
A'isha, Muhammad's child bride (believed by most historians to have
married Muhammad at age nine and consummated the marriage at age 11) in
the context of her times."

As to Spellberg's charge that the novel is "soft porn," Jones replies:
"There are no sex scenes in this book. The novel, whose bibliography
includes 29 scholarly and religious books, is a work of serious historic
fiction detailing the origins of Islam through the eyes of the Prophet
Muhammad's youngest wife. It's a book about women's relationships and
experiences at a time in history when a religion was being founded in
the midst of conflict."

Separately, agent Natasha Kern says that she will have news of foreign
rights sales for the book to announce shortly.

Random House supplied us with their full statement to the Wall Street Journal,
and deputy publisher Tom Perry "underscore[s] that our decision was
not based solely on the opinions of Ms. Spellberg."

The publisher says that after distributing galleys of the book, they
received "from credible and unrelated sources, cautionary advice not
only that the publication of this book might be offensive to some in the
Muslim community, but also that it could incite acts of violence by a
small, radical segment.

"We felt an obligation to take these concerns very seriously. We consulted
with security experts as well as with scholars of Islam, whom we asked to
review the book and offer their assessments of potential reactions.

"We stand firmly by our responsibility to support our authors and the free
discussion of ideas, even those that may be construed as offensive by some.
However, a publisher must weigh that responsibility against others that it
also bears, and in this instance we decided, after much deliberation, to
postpone publication for the safety of the author, employees of Random House,
booksellers and anyone else who would be involved in distribution and sale of
the novel." As reported, both parties subsequently agreed to terminate the publishing agreement.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama = Pepsi? McCain = Budweiser?


Maybe not.

RIP: Patry Copyright Blog

One of my favorite, daily, MUST-READ blogs, The Patry Copyright Blog, is dead.

This literate, calm, well-reasoned blog did more for actually understanding copyright than anything else on the web.

Patry started the blog when he was in private practice with a firm where my former patent lawyer worked.

But when Patry left private practice to join Google, many readers were incapable of accepting that this was HIS pesonal opinion rather than Google's. That was a hassle.

His other reason for ceasing the blog is the depressing state of copyright, having been distorted and perverted into an anti-competitive tool for corporate dinosaurs. Here's what he has to say about that.

The Current State of Copyright Law is too depressing

This leads me to my final reason for closing the blog which is independent of the first reason: my fear that the blog was becoming too negative in tone. I regard myself as a centrist. I believe very much that in proper doses copyright is essential for certain classes of works, especially commercial movies, commercial sound recordings, and commercial books, the core copyright industries.

I accept that the level of proper doses will vary from person to person and that my recommended dose may be lower (or higher) than others. But in my view, and that of my cherished brother Sir Hugh Laddie, we are well past the healthy dose stage and into the serious illness stage.

Much like the U.S. economy, things are getting worse, not better.

Copyright law has abandoned its reason for being: to encourage learning and the creation of new works. Instead, its principal functions now are to preserve existing failed business models, to suppress new business models and technologies, and to obtain, if possible, enormous windfall profits from activity that not only causes no harm, but which is beneficial to copyright owners. Like
Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.

If you give a damn about copyright, you should read the whole post. And mourn not only the passing of Patry's blog, but his reasons for putting it to sleep.