tenpastmidnight blog

Making hay while the sun shines

Hotmail changes, junk and spam

I've been doing some posting to Usenet newsgroups, announcing a website for a client of one of the companies I'm working for. I don't know if it's that, or one of the large numbers of spam lists I'm on, but someone keeps mailing me copies of a 140k virus. Hotmail shoves these in my Junk folder as I have my account set to only accept messages from people in my address book, but because I do need to check for messages I want to receive, I don't have them to delete immediately. So... it keeps blowing my account limit. I cleared the folder earlier today, and just checked and it was full again, meaning I wouldn't receive any more legitimate messages.

Hotmail have changed their interface a little over the last week and while the new one is slightly prettier, it does have some annoying changes, such as the delete button at the bottom of messages disappearing, which is very irritating as you have to scroll to the top of the message to delete it. And for Safari users, when clicking 'Empty' in the Junk Mail folder rather than a nice message asking if I'm sure I want to delete them, I get a box with "Javascript 150995662" in it. Very handy.

The Register have a news article about spam now being more than 56% of all e-mail. This is frustrating for me, but at least I'm relatively used to dealing with it. I've had e-mail for twelve years now (which surprises me in itself - has it really been that long?) and I remember the time where no-one knew what the heck e-mail was, then the golden time when people did know, and you could give your address out willy-nilly and it wouldn't be a problem, and since then how more and more unsolicited e-mail is coming through. Both my Hotmail address and my old Virgin one have been on newsgroups and various websites, and between them they get about 40 junk messages a day.

Now, this isn't really a problem for me. I have them going in to Hotmail, with the filters set to high so I can just delete the messages when I need to. But, when my mother tries to get her e-mail, and that from my sister's old account, and has to sit at the end of a dial-up connection getting over 100 messages of unwanted crap every week, this is much more annoying. There are plenty of pieces of software, some of them free, which deal with this, but they require you to download the e-mail first. It's the downloading that takes all the time, deleting them yourself takes very little time indeed. So, the answer is to change ISP to one with spam filtering, but that means changing e-mail address as well, which doesn't really fit with trying to filter my sister's e-mail for people who might still be trying to get in contact with her. That's also why I keep my Virgin account going - various people I've lost contact with had that address, and there is an outside chance one of them will use it to try and talk to me at some point.

Hmm... spam. So easy to write software to send it, so difficult to stop it coming in. While I'm happy the UK now has laws to try and stop people sending spam, it's basically not going to work. It's too easy to use a server somewhere else to send it. What's really needed is two things:

1. Stop people having open e-mail relays, so it becomes more expensive to send spam

2. People need to stop clicking on the links in the damned messages and buying stuff.

Suddenly, this will make it not worth sending and we can all enjoy a relief as our mailboxes heave a sigh of relief as the only thing pouring in are messages from friends, newsletters, and a few thousand BNM posts a month.
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