Spam Assassination, No More Scripting, Blog Literacy

Jason Reusch SpamAssassin for Outlook. SpamAssassin for Outlook is an effort to port the popular UNIX spam filter to Outlook on Windows. The basic approach is to make a version of SA that can easily run on Windows and then provide an addin for Outlook that uses SA.

The spam problem at work has been getting precarious. We have a rule that says you should never do anything or go anywhere on the Internet that would cause you to “look over your shoulder” while at the workplace. This is actually a really intuitive and pragmatic rule for Internet usage. Unfortunately, in the past two weeks, I’ve had content delivered to my inbox that makes me worry about who is going to walk around the corner and into my cube.

By the way, careful if you do install this. It’s alpha software, and caused my Outlook XP to exhibit strange behavior. #

Dave Winer came off of my news reader today. I actually really think he’s an interesting read, but can come off as inflamatory at times. A recent reference to a dream about Madonna just about did me in. Besides, when he provokes thought throughout the blogging community, there are plenty of other places to read the discussion, sans the adolescent dreams. My friend Jon Cooper used to call that “demasiada información.” (¿cómo?) #

Charles Osgood, the decidedly clever commentator and writer of the Osgood File for WCBS was on the Leonard Lopate Show yesterday to talk about his new book called Funny Letters From Famous People. One of the topics discussed was the idea that emails have brought on the dumbing-down of writing in the last decade—especially when compared with the letter writing of only a few decades ago. This got me wondering. Sure, we know that the emails we send to friends and family are generally trite and hastily written. But, to make a comparison of, say, my writing versus, say, Winston Churchill’s is to become utterly embarrased of mine—or, wildy impressed of his, depending on how you look at it, I guess. πŸ˜‰ It’s not really a fair comparison.

At any rate, blogs may be an answer to this problem of artful writing. They’re far less hastily written than emails and are often witty and insightful. What’s more, some of the world’s best minds are writing them, like Lawrence Lessig of Stanford and William Gibson of sci-fi fame. While perhaps less intimate than letter-writing (er, aside the aforementioned Madonna incident), archivists of the future may rely on these personal histories to study people of today. #

6 thoughts on “Spam Assassination, No More Scripting, Blog Literacy

  1. K, your writing may not be Churchill’s… but then again whos is? So far as the internet writings I read are, mainly consisting of news,, Peznet ;), and this here blog of yours, I find you write more interesting stuff than almost any of them at any given day (Darin, I love your blog too- but we can all agree that Ken is a genius)… I almost wish you were a columnist for a widely publisized magazine or something. You got the chops, you should be heard!


  2. The true irony here is that you cite William Gibson as an example of why blogs could be a big important thing in writing, when the most famous blog thing Gibson has written is an entry about how blogging is “writer’s crack” and actually inhibits the ability of writers to write “true” literature. His conclusion was to blog less.

    I tend to thing that the intelligent people of the world often get caught up in trying to “out intelligent” the others. Hence the strange phenonmenon of blog shares, tecnorati, etc. It’s a measure for whose random ramblings are considered most interesting, intelligent, amusing, important, etc.

    Humanity will not be judged by remnants of blogs. I doubt humanity will be judged by much of our digital media, mainly because most of it will just vanish. What would be an interesting story to write (and I may) is a sci fi tale about future alien archaeologists concluding that humanity suffered an extinction event around the time the last true book was published, because when they tried to read our surviving digital media (most likely just dvds and such) they found gibberish due to DRM.

    Most of the people who record history these days are more interested in preventing “unauthorized” people from reading it than they are from getting it right.

    Argh. Headache. It’s amazing that I can hold all these concepts in my head with out dropping into some mass depression. But I guess they just make me feel intelligent. πŸ˜‰

    I am going to stop posting all my cool thoughts in comments here, and instead reply via my blog. It will raise your trackbacks, and it will make my blog more interesting. After all, they could be important. ;P


  3. Jai, I need a blushing smiley. πŸ™‚ Thanks.

    Ryan, you may find this of interest in regards to your story. Your comments on DRM reminded me of it.


  4. After reading that article, and Ryan’s response to you, I have decided to syndicate Dive into Mark and FlipsideJones.

    I’m such a K W:DNN:)BE…

    Hey, we chillin’ tonight Real Kenny(tm)? Me, you and Planet Head ;)? I hope so!



  5. Uh oh.. I guess Jai is calling me on that “posting to my blog” more thing. Great… now I need to be all insightful and stuff. Oh the pressure! And now to expend more of that insight here instead of on the blog. πŸ˜‰

    Actually Ken, that link over to mark was pretty interesting. I dunno though. I tend to think free software will survive, while cracked software won’t. Too many lawsuits.

    Here’s the thing though – Mark is speaking about copy protection, which can be bypassed via cracks to make things run. I am talking about DRM. Encryption that literally won’t let the media be read without certain keys. Things like decss solve this problem (sans ugly splash screen, as that is counter to the concept) – but they are being driven into hiding by obsessive mega corps.

    another interesting concept is this one from the latest issue of wired (a rather sickeing consumerist magazine, but with good content [subnote: the latest issue has over 30 pages of ads before the table of contents and iirc about 10 more before the actual content]) – The conversation on boingboing about that article starts by saying “put the blame on the thieves… content holders are just protecting themselves” – the response of course is “How is Region Coding designed to protect copyright holders from thieves?” – A valid question if i’ve ever heard one.


  6. While everyone else is commenting on the social issues of blogging, i think i’m gonna stick with the spam assassin aspect of your posting πŸ˜‰

    One issue that you didn’t mention about spam on windows, specifically with outlook is the html that is often embedded in it being … questionable. Not just in viewing content (personally, i leave images turned off in email … that way if its of an adult nature i’m not gonna get in trouble at work.), but, we’ve had an invlux of spyware be installed via these html emails as well.

    Some of these actually change IE6.0 settings and prevent work from being accomplished (because 1 of the vendors websites we use require very specific settings to work properly). It took me weeks to track to problem back to spam, never woulda guessed that was causing it. I had gone as far as reporting the problem to my supervisor to discuss with the other users supervisor because i was convinced they were changing the settings on purpose. (caught it when another user started having the same problem, and i just happened by chance stop by while their email client had a spam message up).

    On that note, spam assassin is a wonderful tool. It requires some setup (to make it as aggressive as you personally want it to be), but once that is done it just goes off and does its job nicely. I have it installed server side and am using it with procmail … while it has missed a couple pieces of spam here and there (causing me to fire up vi and edit my user_prefs), it has not yet had a false positive. Though, to be on the safe side It moves it to another mail folder on the server instead of deleting it.

    I’d be interested in seeing what scores you define sometime (and i’ll share mine if you’d like). I’m still looking to perfect my user_prefs πŸ˜‰



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