How many users?

Encrypted email is getting very popular these days. Voltage now has roughly 10 million users of its SecureMail product, for example, and other secure email vendors probably have similar numbers that they could cite. That's why I wasn't really surprised to see the counter on the Zix Corporation web site that shows how many users they have. When I checked this, the number was roughly 14 million. That's a respectable number, isn't it?

But as I looked at this web site, this number increased by one. A short while later it increased by one again. The number of users of Voltage's SecureMail typically increase by several thousand at a time instead of one by one, so this seemed a bit odd. To see what was really going on, I looked at the source code of Zix's web page. You can do this in Internet Explorer, for example, by going to the View menu and then selecting the Source option of the menu that appears.

When I did this, I was a bit surprised to see that the counter that shows how many users they have is based on the clock of the computer where the web browser's running and has no obvious connection to the actual number of users that Zix has! Here's part of what I found. This is the code that creates the number of users that is displayed on the Zix web site.

function ZixCount2()
{
    today = new Date ();
 startDate = new Date (2009,0,06);  //months in js run 0-11 (must reset when changing goal)
 startVal = 13885156;  //starting Value (must reset when changing goal)
 var one_day=1000*60*60*24;
 
 perWeek = 100000;  //set rate per week
 rate = 604800/perWeek;
 
 goalDate = new Date (2009,0,8);  //Set a Goal Date (months in js run 0-11)
 goalVal = 13996467;  //Set a Goal Value
 
 if (goalDate <= today){
  startDate = goalDate;
  startVal = goalVal;
 }
 
 currentVal = Math.round(startVal + (today.getTime() – startDate.getTime())/1000/rate);
 
 if (goalDate > today){
  daysLeft = Math.ceil((goalDate.getTime()-today.getTime())/(one_day));
  daysTotal = Math.ceil((goalDate.getTime()-startDate.getTime())/(one_day));
  dailyOffset = (goalVal-currentVal)/daysTotal;
  currentVal = Math.round(currentVal + (dailyOffset*(daysTotal-daysLeft)));
 }
 
 
 //document.write("Current Val = " + currentVal);
 //document.write("<br />");
 //document.write("daysLeft = " + daysLeft);
 //document.write("<br />");
 //document.write("daysTotal = " + daysTotal);
 ChangeValue(2, currentVal);
    timerID = setTimeout("ZixCount2()",rate) } // –>

So the number of users that the Zix web site shows doesn't really seem to be related to how many users they actually have. Instead, it's just based on what time it is. You can even change the number of users that the web site shows by changing the date and time on your computer's clock!

I'm not sure why Zix did this. I don't doubt that they have millions of users of their email encryption product, but it certainly looks like the number on their web site doesn't really correspond to the number of users that they actually have.

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