Fun with Spam

 
 
By David Coursey  |  Posted 2005-05-17 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Opinion: If we can't stop spam, at least we should have fun with it.

Most people dont think of fun and spam as residing in the same universe. But if you cant beat it, I say, why not have fun with it? OK, youre right; maybe I have been spending too much time in front of the computer lately. But if spam is going to show up despite my best efforts, I might as well make the best of it. So every day, I try to turn dealing with spam into a series of games. Foreign language spam is always fun. These are my favorites among the messages that elude my filter. After all, if youre going to get spam anyway, isnt it better for the spam to be unreadable? And non-English spam is so easy to delete, since I can be certain it is not from anyone I know. For example, I didnt learn until I read our story that those German-language messages I found in my spam folder were links to neo-Nazi propaganda related to the 60th anniversary of VE-Day. Doubtless, the spam was sent by some loser skinhead whose grandparents hadnt been born when the Allies marched into Berlin.
Somehow I missed the earlier messages, also sent by the Sober virus, that promised World Cup soccer tickets. But the idea of spam being sent by viruses residing on unprotected computers makes me wonder: Who is more useless, the people who send the spam (and the virus) or the people too lazy to install/update anti-virus software on their computers and end up forwarding the messages?
Click here to read "Sober Virus Preys on World Cup Soccer Fans." I especially like the spam that arrives in an Asian character set. I am never quite sure which language I am looking at, but the characters are pretty and Ive never felt even the slightest urge to open the messages. I used to have an anti-spam program that deleted all messages in a non-Western character set, but my current server-based anti-spam doesnt do this. Spanish spam is just as easy to recognize and delete, but I remember just enough high school Spanglish to understand what some of the messages are about. Yes, spam can be used for language practice. This brings us to English language spam, or at least spam that makes an attempt to be in English. My special favorites are the ones ostensibly from young women who want to meet me. These are also generally written in English so fractured as to be funny. Its fun to watch the language improve as the e-mail is resent over and over. Of course, maybe this really is how 18-year-old "Julie" from "Texas Highschool Houston" really communicates. Or is it really a 28-year-old coder in Romania? Which would you pick? Click here to read why Larry Seltzer says ISPs must do more than just pass traffic on to the Internet. Sometimes I try to figure out how the spam managed to make it past the spam filter. What did the spammer do that Microsoft hasnt caught on to? Many times I cant say for sure. Next Page: Games spammers play.



 
 
 
 
One of technology's most recognized bylines, David Coursey is Special Correspondent for eWeek.com, where he writes a daily Blog (blog.ziffdavis.com/coursey) and twice-weekly column. He is also Editor/Publisher of the Technology Insights newsletter and President of DCC, Inc., a professional services and consulting firm.

Former Executive Editor of ZDNet AnchorDesk, Coursey has also been Executive Producer of a number of industry conferences, including DEMO, Showcase, and Digital Living Room. Coursey's columns have been quoted by both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and he has appeared on ABC News Nightline, CNN, CBS News, and other broadcasts as an expert on computing and the Internet. He has also written for InfoWorld, USA Today, PC World, Computerworld, and a number of other publications. His Web site is www.coursey.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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