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Today would have been my mother's 55th birthday. Food for thought.

On a lighter, more defensive note, I came to a sort of realization today. I would guess that this is obvious to techies, but it just occurred to me, and I have never actually seen or heard it said anywhere. Also, I assume that there are some non-technical people who occasionally read this site, so this is as much for your benefit as it is mine.

Like many people, I have multiple email addresses. I have a work address that I don't give to anyone except people with whom I work, and that I can only check when I am physically at work. I have another address, which I refer to as my 'real' address. I give it to friends, and ask that they don't place it on websites that love to spam people, like evite, growingfamily, ofoto, and others. I carry out my actual emailing with that address, and rest assured, it is not the address that you see linked at the bottom of the front page of this website.

Then, like many other people, I have what I call my "garbage" address. That is what you see at the bottom of this page. I do check it, but the signal to noise ratio is very dramatic, because it is the address that I give to websites, when I buy things, or sign up for things. As such, it gets a lot of spam. Right now, it gets roughly 40 unsolicited messages a day, so I am able to sift through the junk and find the real emails, especially with the filtering tools that are standard on the Mozilla Foundation's excellent Thunderbird email client.

I find spam to be an interesting thing, and here's where I get to the point I want to make. The filtered spam messages I get with thunderbird are very often just emails in html form, with an image that it loads when you view the email. It has occurred to me that this image being loaded is all the spammer needs to see, to find that their unsolicited email has reached a real live person, and that, in itself, is a cause for alarm. I have always read in the past that when you get an unsolicited email that has instructions on it for having your email address removed, you should never reply, because that verifies to spammers that your email address is valid.

So, it seems to me that this image-loading technique is a much more effective method for spammers to validate addresses, and I find it very alarming. All I can say to you folks, if you want to slow down your spam intake, is don't use an email client that views html messages. Thunderbird, for one, has the capability to turn off the rendering of html messages. Some other ones are Eudora, Pegasus, The Bat!, kmail, Evolution, Balsa, and of course, ELM, Pine, and Mutt. Ones that definitely do not offer html emails to be converted to text are anything web-based(hotmail, yahoo, netscape, aol, etc), Outlook, and Outlook express.

Unfortunately, most people use one of the email clients that does not offer non-html email. All I can say is that if you are, it would be fair to say that by doing so, you are only making the spam problem worse. Be part of the solution!

5:14 AM, Jul 24, 2003


Blas replied:

Well duh, however I would agree that most people wouldn't have thought of that.

9:27 AM, Jul 24, 2003

tec took the time to say:

I just delete the junk without ever opening it.

1:35 AM, Jul 26, 2003

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