SpamBayes wins PCW Editors Choice Award for anti-spam software.

Alan Kennedy alanmk at
Wed Aug 31 20:48:57 CEST 2005

[Alan Kennedy]
 >> (PCW, for those who don't know it, is sort of the UK's equivalent
 >> of Byte Magazine,except that it's still publishing after almost 25
 >> years).

[Paul Boddie]
 > Hmmm. Even Byte at its lowest point was far better than PCW ever was.

Well, I mostly disagree, but you've got your opinion.

I personally preferred Byte, particularly because of their orientation 
towards what the PC market would become, not just how it currently was, 
e.g. they would run articles on RISC vs. CISC, for example, when the 
"battle" was just starting. But Byte went out of business: obviously not 
enough people cared about what it had to say.

PCW is, and always has been, focussed on the state of the market as is, 
which means they're always testing and reviewing the stuff you can get 
off the shelves right now. Whenever I buy a peripheral, e.g. 
scanner/fax, optical writer, digital camera, etc, I always check if PCW 
has anything to say about it, or about the class of peripherals: chances 
are they've done a reasonably thorough review quite recently. And they 
are still around, after all these decades, because they provide 
information that people want.

[Alan Kennedy]
 >>The only problem was they listed the "manufacturer" of the software as
 >>SourceForge, so the product was known as "SourceForge SpamBayes".

[Paul Boddie]
 > PCW may still be publishing after 25 years (half the magazine being
 > adverts probably keeps it just about economically viable), but they
 > clearly haven't yet managed to shake off that classic 1980s mindset
 > where "everything is a product by a company" (and, given the
 > superficial understanding of software licensing still likely to be
 > pervasive in the mainstream UK IT press, "everything else is public
 > domain").

Don't forget that the comprehension of IT journalists is generally a 
good indicator of the comprehension of the general computer-using 
public. But I generally find that the journos at PCW are a little more 
enlightened than average: rather than copying and pasting corporate 
product announcements, they actually use the stuff they comment on. I 
personally put great store in the fact that PCW awarded the Editors 
Choice award to SpamBayes, because it's based on actually *using* the 
software, rather than doing a simple feature comparison.

95% of the people who read the review and download/install SpamBayes 
won't give a monkeys what language it's written in. But they'll still 
have a modern python interpreter installed on their system as a consequence.

IMHO, there is a great opportunity here for the python community: 
SpamBayes is a "best-of-breed" product in a very important market, 
anti-SPAM: it even beat commercial competitors. SPAM has become an 
enormous logistical, financial, commercial and legal problem across the 
world, purportedly costing billions of dollars(virus distribution, 
phishing, scams, etc). If the community ever wanted to prove python to 
be a serious language, here's a fine opportunity.

Surely that's worth a simple team name, for mnemonic purposes if nothing 
else. Something different or unusual, like one of my favourites, "Legion 
of the Bouncy Castle", who are a group of Java cryptography dudes

(Also, I've often seen PCW refer to open source apps as "manufactured" 
by individuals or teams: it's just that in this case the SpamBayes team 
have made no name available).

 > As for URLs and other things, last time I looked at the PCW Web site,
 > it was all time-limited (or page-view-limited) viewing for
 > non-subscribers. If British print distribution wasn't such a lock-in,
 > I'd imagine PCW would have taken its place alongside Byte, staring at
 > us from the print media fossil record.

I didn't notice any complaints when PCW ran a story this time last year 
about Michael Sparks, python and python's use in the BBC's future 
distribution plans for digital TV.


alan kennedy
email alan:    

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