Thursday, June 28, 2007


Sorry about that. I got an apartment and went to Vegas... these things can suck the life out of you.

Here's one.


Edward Tom, director of admissions at the University of California, Berkeley, law school, was training a new office worker last week when it happened.

Tom was demonstrating the e-mail software used by the school and was highlighting several features, including how the user can filter mail and set it to send messages to one recipient or many at the same time.

That’s when he chose what happened to be a standard congratulatory message on being admitted to the university’s prestigious law school and accidentally sent it to all 7,000 students who have applied for admission to the law school. The problem, which the school quickly admitted, is that all of the applicants won’t be admitted. In fact, there’s only room for 800 to 850 of them. The e-mail congratulated the applicants on their recent “admission” to the school and invited them to an annual reception co-hosted by alumni and several student organizations.

“I hit the Send button,” Tom said, describing the mistake. “Normally when we do [training] for real, I have another person on staff who’s an expert.” But that worker was not available when the new employee started last Friday.

“I’ve never had a glitch with that expert in six years of training new staff members,” Tom said. “It takes a bumbling fool like me.



Lots of times, when an e-mail is accidentally sent to a large audience, it has no bearing on the audience's life. That is to say, we don't know the guy breaking up with the girl (or asking her out), we didn't take the sandwich in question, or we didn't know the NFL coach who's sending us nudie pictures. Lots of e-mail is like that; what amounts to an FYI bulletin about events or circumstances we care about, or at least think are funny. Some e-mails are inquisitive, and we reply to them in kind. Some e-mails, though, tell us something about ourselves that could change our lives.

This would have been one of those e-mails, if it were accurate, and it shows that not every accidentally forwarded e-mail is passive. It's an example of the speed and irrevocability of transmission; this guy probably wouldn't have overseen the packaging and mailing of thousands of acceptance letters bearing his signature when he had less than a thousand spots available. Then again, he does describe himself as an idiot, so we can't say that for sure.

There's not too much of a lesson here, other than to NOT trust form mail. Unless the message is addressed directly from you, or you've confirmed it from the source, maybe you didn't get into that school, land that job, or win the U.K. lottery. Like it or not, the e-mail is a part of the internet - your own private part - and you know what they stay about stuff written on the internet. Often, it's crap.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

The Highest of Profiles

D'oh! IMs and e-mails that embarrass | CNET

Embarrassment unites all people. We follow different paths in this life; all too often these paths are determined by our start point. But in the best of situations, we have enough options to walk the path that makes us happiest. Many people equate fame with happiness; the smart play is to take another look at that reasoning. The power, influence, money, admiration and respect that can come with fame sure sounds attractive, but among its costs are the increased risk of embarrassment. I may not be famous, and neither are you; but the chances of us embarrassing ourselves on a large scale are fairly low. (Not impossible, mind you - ask Claire Swire, that numa-numa fellow, and Steve Bartman - but low.)

Enter e-mail, and embarrassing e-mail. The link that follows - which, of course, has explicit language and links, more on such things in a later post - is all about higher profile embarrassing e-mails. Most of them were sent by people who were generally famous at the time of their writing; their authors really should have known better.

Then again, think about it. Is there an e-mail or two in your past that you'd like to take back?

I think most everyone can say that there is. Whether it's a passive aggressive emotional outburst to an ex-significant other, a gloating missive about an ethical or legal misdeed, or a furious venting of office frustration, I think most everyone reading this - and writing it - has a skeleton or two in their closets.

There. Now we're all united in fear of our own pasts. Where are those ill-advised e-mails, now? And are you still as upset as you were yesterday that you're not rich and famous?