The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Hackors took my E err O – Charlotte MayEr’s managor

The grafic planely red “McCrory for Governer” but when newzreporters pointed out that Pat McCrory’s announzment newsletter wus semi-literate, his campaign managor quickly blamed *HACKERS* or is that 4@x0rz?

“There’s no way this was misspelled,” said Victoria Smith, McCrory’s campaign manager. She said a hacker had accessed the campaign’s computer to alter the word. Smith said someone has been hacking McCrory’s mayoral Web site for six months, though the campaign had not contacted authorities.

The campaign lader admitted that the mizpellin was there own meztake, butt:

That was not the end.

Smith, reached by phone, insisted the spokeswoman was wrong. The errant spelling — which had been fixed even as the e-mail sat in reporters’ computers — was indeed the work of a hacker. She said the hacker must have re-hacked the campaign to fix the error

Enjoy the entire story here
as reported by Ben Niolet at the News and Observer.

What happened?

The newletter used html-mail to include images like the banner seen above.

The images are not sent with the message/newletter directly but are called from a server when the mail is opened.

This allows the mailing list service provider to know how many “reads” of the message (actually only opens by mail readers that support and don’t block images in messages) have been made.

One nice side effect in this case is that the designer upon learning of her/his mistake could upload a new corrected image.

The new image (in this case one with the O) would now been seen by all who subsequently read the message as well as any who had read the message with a reader that didn’t cache images.

To the campaign manager, Victoria Smith, it looked like some kind of hacker magic. It wasn’t.


  1. Ha ha. Kudos on getting the original ‘hacked’ image. It seems as if hackers are taking the place of the family dog in destroying hard work, and delaying late projects. Who would have thought there were so many hackers around that even the most insignificant things get lost or broken in to?

  2. This is an interesting combination of crisis communication and copy editing.

    Many blog templates (especially those that have customized banners) work the same way as the banner in this sort of e-mail, correct?

  3. Paul

    1/16/2008 at 3:31 pm

    Blog banners aren’t in email. But they may be hosted on a different server (or may not be).

  4. That “hacker” sure knows how to use Photoshop. 🙂 Don’t real hackers use terminals? Gota blame those terrorist, i mean hackers, for what they did ya know? LMFAO

  5. Paul

    1/16/2008 at 7:44 pm

    BTW Ben and the folks at NandO did the image grab. I’ve just linked to their image — yes Andy, not unlike the McCrory newsletter ;->

  6. Perhaps it was this in December that had folks confused about what geeks can do:

    And to Andy on that “note to Charlotte” on his blog: point taken.

  7. Paul

    1/17/2008 at 9:38 am

    Hee. A cybersquater isn’t really a hacker tho. I wonder of someone has registered

  8. Sorry. Let me clarify my question about blog banners:

    As I understand it, some blogs have customized banners stored on Flickr or similar places. In those cases, the banner would be stored on Flickr’s servers, not Blogger’s — and thus open to the attack of the evil hackers. I ask because once in a while my blog’s custom banner won’t appear, just the words “andy’s banner.” Just curious how this all works, and perhaps others are too.

    P.S. Hello, Charlotte! Thanks for the mention. And please tell Forrest Brown I said hello.

  9. Paul

    1/17/2008 at 2:25 pm

    Yes, images, text, etc can and are brought from different sources on blog — including banners. On this blog, the image of “McCrory for Governer” is not on a computer that I control but on the News and Observer’s. They could change or remove the image and this blog would be at their mercy. Similarly, the, and other content comes from those sites.
    Mailing list services, in particular, take advantage of this by keeping the images on a different server until the email is read. This lets them get at the sent to read ratio of the mailing and to trim their lists of non-readers etc if they wish.

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