Sept. 17-23, 1999
Vol. 29, Issue 29
Inside UVA Online
the Newsletter for Faculty & Staff at the University of Virginia
Back Issues
The University of Virginia: A Pictorial History
"Slow Dance" almost halts U.Va. e-mail
Continuing Ed. preparing Va. teachers for SOL curricula
Property Accounting helps U.Va. stay eligible for grants

Ethicist urges hospitals to learn from their errors

Correction- wrong URL
U.Va. garners EPA's top national award
Take Our Advice/
e-mail spam
"Notable" - faculty & staff
Architect Peter Waldman wins Rome Prize
Hot Links - Oracle of Bacon

Writer Wendell Berry to visit Sept. 22-25

Talk on Rehnquist Court to initiate lectures honoring Abraham


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Homage to the founder: A pictorial history

University Library Special Collections
This photo of a pageant celebrating the University's centennial is one of many illustrations included in the new pictorial history of U.Va., published by the University Press of Virginia and the University Bookstore. As part of the four-day celebration, which actually took place in 1921 to coincide with the final exercises of the first class who entered in 1819, this allegorical skit called "The Shadow of the Builder" was performed on the steps of the Rotunda. It dramatized in dance and verse Jefferson's decision to use fine Italian marble instead of rough Virginia stone for the column capitals of the Rotunda. English professors John C. Metcalf and James Southall Wilson invited writers to contribute poetry to a centennial anthology, The Enchanted Years, which included works by Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence, Vachel Lindsay and Edwin Arlington Robinson. See The University of Virginia: A Pictorial History.


"Slow Dance" almost halts U.Va. e-mail

By Rebecca Arrington

Sleet and snow may not hinder mail delivery, but an unauthorized mass e-mailing almost stopped the University's electronic mail system in its tracks last week.

The electronic missive was sent by a Medical Center employee Sept. 3 to roughly half of the faculty and staff at U.Va. Apparently unaware of the University's policy on mass e-mailings, the employee fell prey to the plea of an Internet chain letter that asked its recipients to send the e-mail to as many people as possible. The letter, which contained an inspirational poem titled "Slow Dance," claimed to be the wish of a little girl dying of cancer. The letter also claimed that for every name on every e-mail sent, the American Cancer Society would donate three cents toward the girlšs treatment.

Not only is the letter a hoax, but "the volume of e-mails stemming from this incident stretched the University's computing system to its limits," said Chip German, director of policy and planning at the Office of Information Technology. "The sender exploited a feature of the Medical Center's Microsoft Exchange mail system that allows a user to send a message to 'everyone whose last name begins with' Š In this case, the sender broke up the whole alphabet and sent to roughly half of the University faculty and staff. Things got worse, because people who received the first mailing and wanted to complain about it sent their complaints via their own 'reply all' feature, meaning that the reply is going to everyone who received the original message. The problem cascaded to the point that it threatened some mail systems.

"The irony of it all," German noted, is that it took a mass mailing from one of U.Va.'s computing teams on Sept. 7 to resolve the problem.

To prevent future incidents, German urges individuals who receive such
e-mails not to respond to them and instead to report them to

According to U.Va.'s policy on mass e-mailings, approved in January 1998, "system-wide electronic messages by voice or e-mail should be reserved for rare and truly urgent emergency notices. The frequency, content and other characteristics of most messages are inappropriate for such delivery." U.Va.'s policies and handbooks outlining responsible computer usage are online at: Violating the terms of these policies could revoke users' network access, German warned.

Individuals with legitimate mass e-mailing requests should contact or call the office of the University's chief information officer at 982-2249.

The click of a button ...
Today, with the click of a button, a message can be forwarded to hundreds of people at no apparent cost to the sender. If each of the so-called good Samaritans sends the letter on to only 10 other people, the ninth resending results in a billion e-mail messages, thereby, clogging the network and interfering with the receiving of legitimate messages. Factor in the time lost reading and deleting all these messages and you see a real cost to organizations and individuals from these seemingly innocuous messages.

Source: U.S. Department of Energy Computer Incident Advisory Capability Group

© Copyright 1999 by the Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia

Managing Editor
Anne Bromley

Online Web Editor
Karen Asher

Staff Writers
Rebecca Arrington
Dan Heuchert
Nancy Hurrelbrinck

Bob Brickhouse
Charlotte Crystal
Ida Lee Wootten
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