NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Marathon man in the wild

NOTES FROM THE FIELD: Marathon man in the wild

I did it. And I actually lived to tell the tale of running the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon, thank you very much. It wasn’t easy, but it sure was beautiful up there in the wilds of Alaska. I’m a bit sore, though.

Dangerous work

It’s no secret that spies lead a dangerous lifestyle, but they are not the only ones. One of my undercover agents reported that companies engaging in outsourcing development work put themselves in the line of fire, as well. A few years ago, US-based NetIdentity (formerly MailBank) outsourced its email service to Critical Path. And now, it seems, Critical Path is taking advantage of the data passing through its servers by coding its Web mail interface to rewrite every single URL in every email to be redirected through their servers, and then masking that from users. Obviously, this harms performance since every request has to wait for the server to reply with the redirect before it can actually get the document. This must put significant extra load on their servers. “Why would they do that?” my spy asked. “It can only mean that they want to log what images are loaded in emails, and what links users actually clicked on, so there must be some way they can make money with this data.”

NetIdentity’s response to our spy: “We have contacted our provider but so far they are unwilling to remove this. They have assured us they are not tracking customer clicks, but have not given us a good reason for having links point to their server.” Ah, the old we-didn’t-even-know defence. Speaking of shoddy defences, there is a rumour swirling through the streets of New York City’s SoHo district that Microsofties use Macs with Office for the Mac. Yes, sir. One of my undercover agents popped into the Apple store in SoHo, where a salesperson told him that Microsoft Office technical support representatives use it all the time on their company-owned Apple notebooks. The reason: Office for Mac was rewritten for OS X and is much better than the PC version. Granted, this was an Appleseed trying to sell my agent the goods.

It was a bit sad, I admit, to come home to an empty place after the rush of the marathon. Sore and stiff, I made my way down to the tavern for a pint where Rob the bartender told me “some woman named Pam was in here asking for you, Cringe.” Hmm.

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