March 2002

Purging spam

by Michael Alderete on 3/31/2002

Update: I no longer recommend Mailfilter under any circumstances; see my Personal Survey of Anti-Spam Tools for more current recommendations.

I get a lot of spam (unsolicited commercial e-mail), primarily because I have a lot of public web sites with my e-mail address on them. The spammers have robots that spider the web, scanning for e-mail addresses and adding them to their databases of victims to send offers for free porn, herbal viagra, multi-level marketing opportunities, transfers of money from Nigeria, and the like.

I get dozens of spam messages a day. For a long time I sent them to the Spam Recycling Center, but recently that started bouncing the messages back to me, so I had to find something else to do with them. And frankly, I’m tired to trying to fight spam; now I just want to get less of it.

I recently found a utility called Mailfilter that is my new answer. Basically it pre-scans my incoming e-mail, and if anything matches a spam rule, it deletes it before I ever see it. I’ve been using it for less than a week, and it’s already deleted more than 200 spam messages. I am a very happy user.

The best thing, for me, is that it runs natively on Mac OS X, and integrates quite well with my e-mail client, Eudora, via AppleScript and cron.

It’s not for the faint-of-heart, technically. If you don’t know what a compiler is, or cron, or a shell script, then it’s probably not for you. But if any of those things sounds familiar then Mailfilter may be a pretty good solution for you, too.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Does Andersen deserve to die?

by Michael Alderete on 3/30/2002

I recently heard an interview on NPR with some Andersen employees, based in South California, who were basically saying that they loved their company and didn’t think Andersen as a whole should go down in flames for the Enron debacle.

I disagree. Ever heard the saying “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch?” I think it’s great to have some kind of counterbalance to all the merger mania and consolidation amongst the various corporate behemoths.

Why shouldn’t there be a risk? These large corporations have no one’s interests but their own, and are virtually above the law (especially when they’re buying politicians). The consequence of being brought down for egregious behavior is a not a bad thing, IM!HO.

Oh, yeah, here’s a fun article about how lying was SOP for Andersen.

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Work Hard, Play Hard

by Michael Alderete on 3/29/2002

In an interesting new development in the War On Drugs, Congress has passed a bill legalizing drug use if you are gainfully employed.

“Stockbrokers, lawyers, English professors…you’re not the problem here,” said DEA Administrator Asa Hutchinson at a White House press conference.

“Drugs are addictive, and that’s true whether you’re a ghetto gang member or a Harvard-educated entertainment lawyer. But the cold, hard truth is, if the ghetto kid gets hooked, he isn’t going to clean up in a rehab clinic in Palm Springs and maybe even become president, now, is he? That’s why we need to protect the less fortunate among us with the threat of arrest and incarceration.”

Drugs Legal If Employed

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

When Elephants Dance

by Michael Alderete on 3/29/2002

When Elephants Dance is the single best survey of the technological, political, and legal aspects of the current intellectual property power grab. It weaves together the complete story and history of the issue.

If you only read one article, make it this one. If you think I’m a zealot on this issue, the 15 minutes it will take you to read the article will prove you right or wrong. I’m pretty confident where you’ll come out.

Probably the best summary I’ve read comes from this article:

As security and cryptography expert Bruce Schneier explains it to Mike Godwin: “If you think about it, the entertainment industry does not want people to have computers; they’re too powerful, too flexible, and too extensible. They want people to have Internet Entertainment Platforms: televisions, VCRs, game consoles, etc.”

When Elephants Dance
Bruce Schneier Explains

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Who’s your rep

by Michael Alderete on 3/29/2002

Since I’m regularly suggesting you should contact your political representatives and let them know how you feel about some proposed laws, I thought I’d make it easy for you to figure out who your representative is.

The website makes it very easy to learn your congressional representatives, and who’s paying for their votes. Here’s a quick interface to their database:

Who’s My Rep?

For example, you can use this tool to learn that the fourth largest campaign contributor to Adam Schiff, who recently introduced a version of the CPDPTA into the House, is Big Entertainment. Surprise, surprise…
Adam Schiff’s Buyers

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Ebert says “Thumbs Down” to RIAA

by Michael Alderete on 3/27/2002

In an online editorial, Roger Ebert (of Siskel and Ebert fame) turns his Critical Eye on the RIAA and their campaign to copy protect music, and says Don’t Confuse Fans With Pirates.

In other words, it’s not just technology geeks who care about the hot issue of digital rights management, and are noticing that Congress is selling us out. You will be reading a lot about this issue, and how it will affect you if Big Entertainment gets their way…
Don’t Confuse Fans w/ Pirates

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Stop buying music

by Michael Alderete on 3/27/2002

Big Entertainment’s attempt to neuter and hijack personal technology continues to be a big issue, with the recent introduction of the CBDTPA (by whom else, the Senator from Disney), which would essentially turn computers into expensive DVD players, and the Internet into online TV.

Dan Gillmor writes about this, and proposes we send a strong message to Big Entertainment, by doing one simple thing: stop buying music CDs.

By not buying music from the big record companies for the rest of 2002, we send a powerful message that we don’t want to be treated like criminals. Read Dan’s article for the details.

Don’t think this is a big deal? Here’s an article that illustrates how the CBDTPA bans everything from two-line BASIC programs to PCs.

Think this is just a theoretical abuse? Here’s an article that illustrates how the DCMA, CBDPTA’s precursor, has already made some forms of free speech impossible.

The time to make your displeasure known to our politicians is today.

Right now.
Bleak Future Looms
CBDTPA Bans Everything
Hazards of the DMCA

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

What people are writing about

by Michael Alderete on 3/25/2002

There’s a neat web site out there that tracks what people are writing about and pointing to on the web today, right now, mostly in weblogs. The Daypop Top 40 is a great way to peer into the collective consciousness of the web. Check it out!
Daypop Top 40

{ Comments on this entry are closed }

Happy birthday, Mom!

March 25, 2002

Today is my mother’s birthday. Happy birthday, Mom!

Read the full article →

Patriot Registration Intiative

March 25, 2002

If you’re an American Patriot, be sure to get yourself to the American Patriot Registration web site, and register.

Read the full article →

Back now, feeling better

March 23, 2002

After taking me off the Internet for 3 days, my ISP roars back with some very good customer support.

Read the full article →

Not back, e-mail bouncing

March 20, 2002

My network is down, my e-mail is bouncing. It’s making me crazy!

Read the full article →