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Switching Doesn’t Have to Sting.

Wired reports number portability is finally coming to cellular customers in November 2003. Cellular providers have resisted this for a long time for obvious reasons — both the cost of providing this service and the fact that their customers would no longer be hostages to their lousy service. After Sprint complained, the FCC gave them a year’s reprieve for this requirement that was originally intended to go into effect this month. With Michael Powell at the helm of the FCC, I’m actually surprised he is doing this to his chums at the telecomm giants at all. I’ll believe it when I see it.

Wired

cites what I find an amazing statistic of a 30% annual ‘churn rate’ — the number of customers who change providers — even without the ability to preserve their numbers. The cellular companies used that fact to argue that customers don’t need number portability, but a good proportion of those who switch these days may be doing it not because of dissatisfaction with their providers as, in a sense, their providers’ dissatisfaction with them (grin) — by which I mean they may be the customers who get shut off for not paying their bills rather than customers whose lifestyle or business depends on the stability of their contacts being able to reach them at a consistent number. Number portability may indeed open as yet unforseen floodgates.

I don’t know if I’m lucky or just masochistic; while I admit that having to tell everyone in my address book of a new number would have been an enormous disincentive to switching, I have kept my cellular provider and my cellular number without the temptation to switch ever since I first contracted for service in 1993. I don’t think my standards are low; I just haven’t been dissatisfied with either the customer support and technical assistance I’ve gotten or the quality of my signal (since going from analogue to digital years ago, I can count the number of dropped calls on the fingers of one hand), but maybe I’m just dense and don’t know what I’m missing. Could the best be yet to come? I do look forward with curiosity to seeing if the threat of a switch brought about by this regulation does improve my service.

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Spews & Spam:

“…A shadowy group is using some severe tactics to rid the computer world of Spam — and with some effectiveness. NPR’s Dan Charles reports.” NPR Morning Edition [with link to Real Audio]

Here’s the SPEWS site.

“SPEWS is a list of areas on the Internet which several system administrators, ISP postmasters, and other service providers have assembled and use to deny email and in some cases, all network traffic from.

This private list is now available for the general public to read and/or use for email filtering.”

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Clonaid, Credibility and the Press:

Reporter Becomes Actor in Human Clone Drama

Dr. Brigitte Boisselier, the chief scientist for Clonaid, a company founded by a sect that believes life on Earth was created by aliens 25,000 years ago, raised eyebrows around the globe on Friday by announcing the arrival of the world’s first cloned baby.

She backed up her assertions by producing not the baby nor the mother nor pictures nor genetic tests, but a journalist, Michael A. Guillen. Dr. Guillen, a former science editor at ABC News, declared that it would be his job “to put her claim to the test.”

From Clonaid’s perspective, Dr. Guillen — who says he is not a member or employee of the sect, the Raëlians — is brimming with credibility. He has a doctorate in theoretical physics, mathematics and astronomy from Cornell University. He taught physics to undergraduates at Harvard. He is an Emmy-award-winning science journalist who appeared regularly on “Good Morning America,” `20/20″ and other ABC news programs for 14 years before leaving the network in October.


But Dr. Guillen’s critics say that as a reporter he was too credulous of fantastic pseudoscience claims, citing his earnest news reports about astrology, ESP, healing at a distance, auras and cold fusion — topics dismissed by most scientists as nonsense. NY Times

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Information Grazing and the Unwashed Masses:

The Internet has become a staple source of information for American households about health care, government services and potential purchases, a survey to be issued on Monday finds.” NY Times … which neatly seques into this:

Killing prompts suit against Internet brokers: This story about the obsessed father reaching out to sue anyone he could after his daughter’s murder is “no different from that of other parents who lose a child”, as even this article concedes. But the obsessed killer, that’s a different, chilling, matter:

Boyer and Youens graduated from Nashua High School in 1997. Though her family says she never knew him, Youens had an obsession for Boyer that went back to junior high.


The infatuation was chronicled on a Web site where Youens described his murder plot in gruesome detail.


“I don’t love her anymore, I wish I did but I don’t,” he wrote. “I wish I could have killed her in Highschool (sic). I need to kill her so I can transport myself back into highschool. I need to stop her from having a life.”


Youens paid Docusearch Inc. of Boca Raton, Florida, about $150 to get Boyer’s Social Security number and other information, including her work address.


“Docusearch pulled through (amazingly) it’s like a dream,” Youens wrote on his Web site.

A few weeks later, Youens pulled alongside Boyer’s car after she left her job at a dental office and shot her 11 times before killing himself. CNN