Simon Palmer’s blog

January 3, 2011

Mr Bob

Filed under: personal — simonpalmer @ 8:34 pm

According to ENISA, 95% of all email traffic is spam.  Up from 94% last year, but no real news there.  However I think new depths are being plumbed.  Here is an email I received this morning…

















We’ll get to why my spam filter didn’t find this at some later point, but I confess I’m intrigued by this.  I almost want to contact Mr Bob and find out why on earth he has sent this message – and obviously to correct his use of the apostrophe.

I wonder who would ever respond to an email like this.  I’m also aghast at how someone which such a poor grasp of English has such a seemingly firm grasp of spam.  If you were going to the lengths of sending out emails to strangers in the hope of them responding, wouldn’t you spend the additional 10 seconds thinking of something to say that might trigger a spark of interest?

The received wisdom is that people respond to these sorts of emails and click on the dubious links therein, otherwise the spammers would have stopped by now.  I wonder.  Maybe it is just so easy – and cheap to do it – that anyone can.  So anyone does.

Off to the IT guys to get the spam filter fixed.

October 5, 2009

LinkedIn. Sigh.

Filed under: personal — simonpalmer @ 4:32 pm

I’ve had a LinkedIn profile since 5th March, 2005. In that time I have gathered 70 connections and 3 recommendations. I have joined numerous groups and have engaged in dialogue in all of them.

I say dialogue, but the reality is that communication happening in LinkedIn is not a dialogue at all. At best it is a didactic monologue conducted in a forum where everyone is shouting. At worst it is a set of very thinly veiled adverts for people or companies who clearly think they are operating at the bleeding edge of guerilla marketing. And unfortunately the worst is also the most common.

After years of patience with it, repeatedly giving it another chance, and following the updates where my first circle of contacts are connecting with, well, my first circle of contacts (with whom I know they already have alternative connections) I have finally had the veil of web 2.0 drawn back from my eyes and asked myself, objectively, what’s the point?

I’ve done some evaulation of the number of outbound vs. inbound contacts I have had in the last 4 years, and the extent of those which have resulted in a contacts for which I have no other contact than LinkedIn, or would otherwise not have made contact with those people. My measure of its value as a networking tool is the extent to which it has extended my network, rather than just confirmed it in another medium. I have subtracted anyone who I found elsewhere and thereafter connected with on LInkedIn.

It makes dismal reading.

Of my 70 contacts…
21 are friends
26 are ex-colleagues
14 I met elsewhere
8 are current colleagues


1 I found on LinkedIn (I have not heard from him since the initial contact in 2007)

I have been a member of 23 groups, all but one of which I have left because they were thinly veiled self-publicisation for the founder and members. I’m about to leave the remaining one for the same reason, just as soon as I stop ranting.

Maybe my version of networking is out of touch with what everyone else calls networking. Maybe I’m just using it as a version of Facebook without the silly games and photos. But as far as I can tell, so is everyone else. If I look at the second circle beyond mine, which is indeed a large number of people (9,500) they have a similar profile of connections to my connections, namely friends and colleagues.

The groups seem to be populated by people who believe that if they word their advertisement as a question the rest of us will be completely fooled by it and will follow the link to their web site. How stupid do you think we are, and how far from networking can you get? For an answer please go to my web site

The questions section is no better. The questions are asked by people who clearly think they have the answer already and conveniently provide you with a link to their web site to supply it. They are then answered by other people who think they too have the perfect solution which, surprise surprise, you can find by clicking on the link to their web site.

In what possible way can this be construed as networking? It’s not even advertising or marketing or PR. It’s just aimless posting. If you want to do that why not have a blog?

Lastly to the jobs. I have optimistically bought the notion that people who advertise open positions on LinkedIn are genuinely interested in people responding who have the right skills and experience. It may be true, but I am yet to see evidence to support the assertion.

I wanted to test out the efficacy of LinkedIn as a tool to help in a job search. I am genuinely in a position where I would benefit from having a network of people look at my CV and I am in the job seeking market. I brushed up my CV, updated my profile, cleaned up my blog and links and then set about applying for positions for which I thought I would be a suitable candidate, and for which I am eminently qualified.

So far I have I applied for 46 positions. I have done research into each company and written a cover letter with each application, and have a named individual to whom I am writing. I’m an experienced guy who knows how to write and knows a bit about business, especially the business I have been in for the last 20-something years.

I have had ZERO responses. Not even a single courtesy note saying “no thank you”. The closest I got was an out of office.

Maybe I’ve got an unappealing profile and I am applying for things that are inappropriate given my background. Maybe my cover letters are not good enough and my CV doesn’t make me stand out. Maybe the prevailing economic conditions mean that the job market is bad. Maybe.

But maybe, just maybe, LinkedIn doesn’t work. Maybe people use it as either a last resort or as a way of pretending they are doing something when they are not, or as a lazy way of avoiding making a real network. Maybe there are some mavens for whom their 1,435 direct contacts are the source of valuable business, but maybe peoples’ contacts are little more than their personal phone book or contact list tapped into a web site. Maybe, like mine and pretty much everyone else I know and am connected to, they are little more than a online map charting our recent business past.

For me the promise has definitely not delivered. I have had absolutely no return for the investment of time and effort I have made in attempting to conjure a network on LinkedIn. I think I have used it in a fairly typical way and at a fairly typical level of activity. I think my job search was probably characteristic of what someone might do if they were serious about using it as a tool for job hunting. If it can’t deliver benefit in that domain then what exactly is the point?

In spite of this I will keep my profile. The somewhat un-dis-provable argument of it not doing any harm will mean that I may as well. I want it to work, I really do, however it doesn’t, and I doubt I am alone in being disenchanted with the reality.

LinkedIn. Sigh.

January 4, 2009

Domain fatigue

Filed under: comment, personal — simonpalmer @ 11:50 pm

There are a few irritants in my professional world and one in particular that bothers me, namely domain squatting. This is done by people who want to exploit their sernedipitous luck at having registered someone else’s name before them and then try to make a fast buck out of it by selling it back to the rightful owner and the only person in the world for whom it has genuine value.

A .com domain is a valuable marketing and branding tool and a key part of a companies online marque. For someone else to be able to swoop in and steal it, just because it is on the web, is frankly ridiculous.

In any other walk of life this behaviour would be called blackmail or extortion, but because the names are available in an apparently free market on a first-come, first-served basis – even if you have spent a hundred years building a brand – it is seen as a tolerable and even legitimate practice. If I happen to have lodged the name before The CocaCola Company did I would legitimately own the rights to the domain. I can’t help but feel that is morally wrong.

Why are domain names not covered by a branch of the law adjacent to trademarks or even copyright?

I am discovering that this entirely pointless and negative industry stoops even lower. If you trip up in registering a domain name there are people watching – God knows how – who will step in and pinch it from under your nose and then try and sell it back to you above market price. This is an empty, opportunistic, negative, amoral scam. It is tantamount to theft by people who have nothing positive to add to the world of commerce. The perpetrators ought to be hunted down and banned from holding domains.

And it doesn’t stop at domains. Registration of company names is subject to the same corrosive and intellectually and morally bankrupt activity. My startup’s name is Dialectyx Solutions Ltd. It is that because Dialectyx Ltd., which was our original choice, was registered by someone else in the 72 hours between us doing a search and submitting the registration papers. That company name is now registered with a firm of solicitors in a small town about 25 miles away from us. Dialectyx Ltd. does not actively trade.

Coincidence? Hardly.

And right now I wait with baited breath while my latest domain registration attempt lingers in the odd limbo between paying for it and it actually starting to work. According to whois, the domain is still available. According to my registrant I have been billed. Right now I have no idea where I stand. Surely there’s a better way to do it than this? Surely there should be some protection against the shameless scammers who are sitting on valuable corporate assets?

March 5, 2008

The Mundane and the Extraordinary

Filed under: personal — Tags: — simonpalmer @ 7:55 am

My Uncle’s story has another chapter. The bureaucracy of death insists that a reason is established before the family can lay him to rest. The implication of that is a coroner has to be involved and the reason established. This process occurred earlier this week and the stated reason was a heart disease. Eric’s family are understandably perplexed, as are the rest of us. Eric never suffered from, complained about nor took medication for his heart.

Two theories abound. First is that Eric was of the generation of men who just did not involve anyone else, even the medical profession, in their health care. They basically just got on with it quietly. I think my Dad falls very much into this category, it is almost impossible to get him to visit a doctor, even when he is plainly very sick. Second is that the cause was not really able to be established and like many – perhaps all – men of his age there was some amount of heart disease and it is a not unreasonable thing to blame. Either way Eric’s family are seeing the surgical team that carried out his operation to probe more deeply and hopefully satisfy themselves that he was not in some way treated negligently. Are there not pre-operative test that should establish how fit he is for surgery?

Meanwhile, amid the uncertainty, there are two significant benefits to this outcome. First is that the activity of organising a funeral can commence and second is that, if Eric did have an underlying illness, it somewhat eases the sense of responsibility and guilt the family feel for the part they perceive themselves as having played in causing his death by encouraging him in to have the operation. This is a very natural pattern of thought, if quite wrong.

So the extraordinary event of Eric’s sudden death is surrounded by mundane activity in processing the fact of it. This combination causes huge altitude shifts; it’s like living in a lift that stops only at the ground and the 145th floor, it makes your emotional ears pop.

December 25, 2007

so, what’s a blog?

Filed under: personal — Tags: — simonpalmer @ 2:50 pm

I’ve read lots of other people’s blogs and have left posts on them too, but the thought of having my own never really crossed my mind until recently. I was posting messages on a technical forum and I wanted to attach code and an example swf file and I couldn’t. It was then that I though maybe I should activate my own personal web site. I have already registered, so off I went in search of a hosting company that would be cheap (free) and allow me to stick software up on my domain. They do exist, but it was looking like a pain.

It was then that I thought of a blog and a quick google for “free blog software” threw up wordpress. I recognised the name and 10 mins later here I am posting my first message…

I guess my Christmas present to myself is a blog.

Pretty easy!

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