Giving Product Recommendations

One of the hidden, unwritten rules of being a geek is giving product, and services reviews. It is great telling other people what they should buy, and why. I wish I got payed for it. Its also great when you are at a point where you can recommend products and services at work. More times than not I have had first hand experience, but I also make it a point of read multiple reviews. Giving this advice is more or less a ancillary effect to being a geek. A ripe example of this, stemming from a current consulting job, has to do with email. General Email Tips Use a bayesian filter for your email. SpamSieve is the easiest to use on OS X, POPFile works on all platforms (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux(s) etc.). Outlook 2003 has built in bayesian filtering, and it works great! Unfortunately Apple's Panther Mail's junk mail filtering is sub par. You would do better getting SpamSieve and turning off the junk mail filter. Turn of image viewing, or turn off HTML rendering all together. In Apple Mail you can turn off image viewing in the Viewing portion of the Preferences. You can turn of HTML preview in Outlook 2003, and you can hack 2002 to turn it off. The last thing I would do is turn off message preview. I like how Outlook 2002 and 2003 handles this, as it will display the first 3 lines of text from and email. That is just enough to tell if it is SPAM or not. You do not want to view SPAM, and by clicking on it and seeing it (even if you are clicking to delete it) you are "viewing" it. There is no 3 line preview in OS X Mail, but you can turn off the preview pane. Double click the resize handle in between the list pane and the preview pane. Some people might not want to go as far as disabling the preview pane, but to each his own. BTW, to re-enable the preview pane in OS X Mail, double click the resize handle that is now at the very bottom of the window. UPDATE I agree with Dave (see his comment) but only to a point. Using a whitelist is a great idea. Unfortunately it is not always implemented well. If you only allow emails from your whitelist you will be missing a lot of good mail. And this is a problem for more then just a business, as Dave points out. I have the same problem with whitelisting as I do with challenge-response services. They block legit email. What about the email confirmation for that plane ticket you just bought? I could come up with a number of other "what ifs" that whitelisting and challenge-response services would block. Apple's junk mail filter (if you use it) does have options to exempt address book entries from the junk filter. SpamSieve has this same type of option. POPFile uses something called "Buckets" which is a whitelist and a blacklist, but does the same as Mail and SpamSieve. This is the way to use a whitelist. You should not except ONLY the addresses in your whitelist. Going further here, I don't like making addresses in my address book exempt from my whitelist. This is especially true if you are a Windows user, as many security threats on Windows reck their havoc using your address book. But Mac users have to deal with this as well, mainly because of those Windows born viruses and trojans. A few months ago a couple viruses went through our university email system, and I "got" so much mail from BGSU contacts in my address book. Of course it was all spam mail generated from a Windows born virus. So I do not include my address book in my whitelists.

Comments (3)

Dave:

One thing you forgot to mention with spam blocking is "Whitelisting". Only accept mail from people you know...

This will create a little false positiveness, but only once per person/place.

I have been searching for the "perfect" e-mail client to handle this. I have used, Outlook (pre 2003), Outlook Express, Eudora, PocoMail and The Bat!. So far, The Bat! one of the best clients for whitelisting. It was a little tricky, but once it was setup, it worked flawlessly. It also has one of the best image blockers. PocoMail claimed to have this ability, however, it has a bug that allows images to be displayed in messages with an e-mail message attachment. Something that SpamAssassin does if it catches a spam message.

Outlook 2003 so far is doing a very good job of catching spam. Even without whitelisting. However, it seems to have that feature now too. I have yet to try it since it's doing so well without it.

I can't speak for the Mac side since I don't own one, however, I still think whitelisting is the way to go.

One problem to all this is if you run a business. It's a little difficult to whitelist when you don't know who your customers are going to be ahead of time. I supposed you could make a web form to get messages from your customers...

Dave:

Ok, first off, the nice thing about white listing is that the e-mail is still downloaded; it's just in a special folder that you can deal with. I don't mind looking through spam folders for messages I am expecting.

Secondly, worrying about e-mail addresses in your contacts list is really not necessary. Sure viruses use those addresses to send themselves to, however, they also use web browser cache's. I know this for a fact since I was getting a ton of messages for an e-mail address I hadn't used in over 10 years. I figure that it was either in a message board somewhere or who knows. I know it wasn't in anyone's contact list.

Another way to deal with spam is to spend a little money, get a domain or pay for Yahoo mail and use "disposable" e-mail addresses. If you start getting spam to a certain address, just delete the account or forward the account to LaLa land.

ždisposableÓ e-mail addresses are definitely a nice reason to buy a domain, that is for sure!

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