hankrules2011

A polymath rambling about virtually anything

The TEK THOTS Archive

TEK THOTS

Electronic Newsletter

Tek Thots ASCII Header

The TEK THOTS Archive


Hello. My name is Scott Holstad and once upon a time in the dark ages of the World Wide Web, having migrated from the Internet proper and having been in computing for a very long time, I decided it might be fun and interesting to start up an email newsletter and see where that might lead. Those were fairly common in the 1990s, and because of various career fields, including the one I had at the time, I had gotten to know quite a few people around the world – many of them tech nerds – so I thought if I did a decent job, especially at find some new, rare or hard-to-find info, that might set apart Tek Thots from the pile of competition out there, so I pondered how to frame it, with what kind of focus.

I’ve always been interested in many topics and fields. My education, career fields, and personal endeavors including my writing career, tech, security were just examples. So I thought I’d go with many of my interests, make it a broad effort and hope that any readers wouldn’t find it off-putting that it didn’t focus on one sole area, as is often the case. Turned out that my strategy, hunches and hopes were right on. I published erratically, largely because I was insanely busy with many other projects, but I stuff to a standard list of CONTENTS readers came to expect and generally appreciated. I did put out a couple of polls to try to find out if any topic wasn’t very exciting and which ones may be. At some point, my personal experience and interest in security, as well as related fields, started taking more and more of my time, and more space in the newsletter. And people responded really well to that so I continued.

I started Tek Thots in 1996 while living in Los Angeles and working in Beverly Hills. However, that soon changed as it was the start of the coming dot com boom and recruiters were finding and deluging me with offers I normally would have jumped at for very solid money. Some examples included Sun, Apple, Oracle, SGI, etc., and all for a nice six figures. However, while again I would have normally jumped, I had logistical issues to deal with that made it very difficult and unappealing for me to relocate from LA to Silicon Valley in the time they wanted for me to begin. So I turned them all down and took a job with no pay raise at all to stay in the area. But I had started my own tech consulting firm a few years before, and we did a number of things, and the Internet was becoming a hot topic as well as the phrase and idea “You have to get on the Internet!” This to individuals and companies alike. Most asked “why” and no one could answer, even in the Internet community. People were simply told “it’s the wave of the future” and if a business was skeptical, they typically heard, “we’ll find a way to make money down the road.” Those of us working in the field would then find it amusing that for the most part and for a long time (if it’s even dissipated, which it hasn’t), the only way to make money was via old fashioned pre-industrial era Advertising! Nothing cutting edge except trying to put little tricks out there to draw the eye, largely starting with banner ads and moving on.

1996: A needed definition of an email newsletter. Seems almost quaintly prehistoric in 2022.

I’m going to transition to some information I wrote a number of years ago that explains a bit more while giving an example of the list of CONTENTS, some of the dozens of countries subscribers came from and some other basic info before I put links to every copy I’ve been able to scrounge up, which is not nearly all of them unfortunately, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I’ve been able to convert all I have into decent quality PDFs, with the exception of five issues which are in PDF format but are originals from 20+ years ago that look ugly and sloppy. As much as I wanted to convert those too, I haven’t been able to devote the time and effort, so I’m putting them up as is. Don’t worry, they’re still readable. These are all copyrighted, so if you want to print, reprint, quote, etc., please be kind enough to give proper citation. Even though I published these between 1996-1999, I take no responsibility for out of date, obsolete information, ideas, thoughts, predictions, etc., as I used many other sources back then, and gave credit where due, and many of us couldn’t make completely accurate predictions (for instance, many of us fought spammers, virus writers, hackers, child traffickers, most all of which seemed terrible, but while we knew things would only get worse, I doubt most of us ever envisioned cyberespionage or cyberwarfare). Thus I am making these available for historical purposes, educational purposes if studying history in various areas, etc., and NOT for current usage of anything that could be misused or anything else. Oh, and people have asked about the original ISP, hosting server, the live “in the wild” virii collection I constantly grew in order to test over a dozen current AV systems and report the results in each issue, etc. You will notice at the end of each issue, there a subscription section with information about an archive then as well as my then-email address. I was a member of The Well for over a decade and have been distraught about giving up my unique Well email address ever since. If you don’t know The Well, you should look it up. Probably the most influential BBS in history, where deadheads met hackers, journalists argued privacy rights with lawyers, where the motto famously was “You Own Your Own Words,” and they meant it. The Well produced some legends. Some members, off the top of my head, included at least one member of the Grateful Dead (John Perry Barlow, who with two others would go on to found the Electric Frontier Foundation (EFF), the first legal service devoted to the Internet, free speech, individuals’ rights and more. It’s been very important ever since its creation. I also believe the founders of Wired and Salon were members, as were Craig Newmark (Craig’s List), AOL’s Steve Case, Lotus founder Mitch Kapor and more. While I stashed Tek Thots on The Well’s servers, Kevin Mitnik allegedly stashed 40,000 credit card numbers (though by most accounts, he never used any, never made a penny, but his reputation made DA’s not give a crap). All the other stuff? Old. No point in talking about the Bulgarian Virus Factory other than simply for historic purposes. Many of the companies I discussed IPOs or stock prices as well as writing about hot PROGRAMSNOT freaking APPS – no longer exist, which many of we old schoolers find a bit sad. Enough. Transitioning now…


From 1996-1999, I published “Tek Thots: An Email Newsletter of Technology Info,” a highly influential email newsletter devoted to a wide range of tech topics, with a special focus on security, privacy issues, cryptography, & info warfare. I conducted extensive research, interviewed SMEs, interacted with high level international security experts (including the NSA, Dr Solomon’s, Symantec, cDc) to provide the most current security info available; continually collected numerous new computer viruses – all “in the wild” – thoroughly testing all AV apps in order to publish test results & rank the AV apps via hard data-based results. I regularly exposed IDs and IP addresses of repeat spammers. I benefited from interaction with thousands of international subscribers, most of whom were in education, government the military fields. (Most US subscribers typically had email addresses with .edu, .gov, .mil, & even .arpa domain suffixes.) I proudly retained my integrity through independence and non-affiliation with any organization or business, fighting all repeated efforts from international entities to turn the newsletter into an ad-based, revenue driven publication. Further, I refused all efforts to buy the newsletter, even when offered to retain me as publisher.

The publication’s standard topics:

CONTENTS

  • News/Editorial
  • PC Thots
  • Mac Thots (later replaced by Programming Thots)
  • Web Development Thots
  • This Issue’s Plug-in
  • This Issue’s ActiveX Control
  • Stock Thots
  • Game Thots
  • Newbie Thot
  • Privacy/Security Thots

Tek Thots had subscribers from over 50 countries, including the US, Belgium, New Zealand, Sweden, UK, Israel, Canada, Australia, Germany, Chile, Finland, Norway, UAE, Italy, South Korea, Denmark, Iceland, Poland, Switzerland, France, Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa, Russia, Spain, Latvia, Thailand, Portugal, Mexico, Japan, Romania, India, Austria, Bermuda, Nicaragua, Brazil, Malaysia, Ireland, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovak Republic, Croatia, Greece, Cypress and Estonia.

This archive contains all of the issues I’ve been able to locate from the four years I published Tek Thots – fewer than 20. A few I scanned (poorly) and made into PDFs a very long time ago. I never found the time to scan them all, nor even many of them until now. The rest were HTML files/links. However, the entire batch is now in PDF format and the majority look pretty good so it’s just those few early ones (five total, I think) that look bad, despite the content being reasonably easy to read.  As is/will be obvious, I never held to a regular publishing schedule, simply putting the newsletters out when I could and had the time and interest. After over 20-something issues, I had so many other responsibilities in my life (including a major cross-country move), I decided to stop publishing the newsletter, a decision I came to regret later in life. This publication, the research I put into it, the contacts I made and the influence it had on so many people, places, and things, to whatever degree, are irreplaceable to me. I’ll never forget the awesome experience of writing and publishing Tek Thots. If any of the original subscribers stumble across this archive, I would love to hear from you. For the moment, an email address that should reach me would be scott@hankrules2011.com, but as it states in my About section on my LinkedIn profile, “I get 2,000+ emails & messages/daily— I can’t possibly read or reply to the majority. Many apologies.” Try to reach me, be patient and I’ll try to reply. Thanks, Scott Holstad


Send email to sch@well.com.

Online versions of this electronic newsletter will be archived at:

http://www.well.com/user/sch/tekthots.html.

Copyright (C) 1996 Scott C. Holstad

[The above is taken from the original newsletters and the data and links are no longer active and are obsolete. This is simply for nostalgia/historical purposes.]


ALL FILES ARE IN PDF FORMAT


Copyright © 2022 Scott C. Holstad

 
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