The New York Times > New York Region > No Need to Stew: A Few Tips to Cope With Life's Annoyances ~ NanoThoughts 1.0

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The New York Times > New York Region > No Need to Stew: A Few Tips to Cope With Life's Annoyances

Nice little throwaway article with some nice ideas that I might try.The New York Times > New York Region > No Need to Stew: A Few Tips to Cope With Life's Annoyances

When subscription cards fall from magazines Andrew Kirk is reading, he stacks them in a pile at the corner of his desk. At the end of each month, he puts them in the mail but leaves them blank so that the advertiser is forced to pay the business reply postage without gaining a new subscriber.

Wesley A. Williams spent more than a year exacting his revenge against junk mailers. When signing up for a no-junk-mail list failed to stem the flow, he resorted to writing at the top of each unwanted item: "Not at this address. Return to sender." But the mail kept coming because the envelopes had "or current resident" on them, obligating mail carriers to deliver it, he said.

Next, he began stuffing the mail back into the "business reply" envelope and sending it back so that the mailer would have to pay the postage. "That wasn't exacting a heavy enough cost from them for bothering me," said Mr. Williams, 35, a middle school science teacher who lives in Melrose, N.Y., near Albany.

After checking with a postal clerk about the legality of stepping up his efforts, he began cutting up magazines, heavy bond paper, and small strips of sheet metal and stuffing them into the business reply envelopes that came with the junk packages.

"You wouldn't believe how heavy I got some of these envelopes to weigh," said Mr. Williams, who added that he saw an immediate drop in the amount of arriving junk mail. A spokesman for the United States Postal Service, Gerald McKiernan, said that Mr. Williams's actions sounded legal, as long as the envelope was properly sealed.


J.p. said...

In general, I think that harassing the poor Starbucks clerk is a relatively poor way to fight back at the man.

I do find it hilarious that an article on references BugMeNot, though. I wonder how he got that by the editors?

Rog said...

I agree about the Starbucks (and Dominos pizza) aspects. The methods which turn the marketing schemes on their economic heads are the best.

And, I totally didn't even make the BugMeNot connection. (Mostly because I'm always cypherphunk/cypherphunk-ing) That is so true, the marketers at the Gray Old Lady are probably crapping their pants right about now. Man, I wonder if that was a freelance article or something.

Speaking of bugmenot, I used it the other day for the Atlanta Journal Constitution and it gave me:
First Name: ajc
Password: ajc

something like that.
However, I was wondering if smart website admins wouldn't just write scripts to scrape bugmenot for their own domain every half hour or whatever and then automatically ban those logins. Seems like an easy hole to plug.

heatkernel said...

Most of the times I've been at Starbucks everyone was ordering by "small, medium, large" and the clerks didn't bat an eye.

I have been on some sites which didn't accept any of the username/passwords from BugMeNot. I assume they are doing what Rog describes.

J.p. said...

Well, that is why BugMeNot only gives you one u/p pair at a time. I think they even say as much in their FAQ. An easier way for web admins to tackle this problem is to disable an account that logs in from too many different IPs in a specific period. I know there are certain sites that protect against account sharing that way.

I've noticed that a fairly high portion of BugMeNot accounts are critical of the papers to which they grant access. I've logged into the Trib with an account called "readthesun", and just the other day I logged into the NYT as "damnliberals" or some such thing. Obviously I don't share either sentiment.

Rog said...

The Times is on to us!

Rog said...

My previous comment is referencing the fact that domain was visiting the site. hehehehe.

More on bugmenot and Not only did the nytimes reference it, they linked to it from the article. And, on the main page, below the url field, they have: e.g.

It gets better. They have a link to the article now as well with the text:
* NYTimes recommends bugmenot!


Rog said...

Jp, I agree that tracking the IPs that various u/p combos come from would be easier, but I think that might violate some of their "privacy" guidelines.

I disagree about the one u/p pair at a time though, because you can simple refresh and get a new one. It'd be trivial to do that a couple hundred times and then ban all of them. Actually, I think it would be fun to post some of the more humorous/interesting pairs. Here are some:

Account #37