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November 2003

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The scourge of SPAM.

An editorial view from Jason Stefanovich, Associate Editor of the VOICE Newsletter.

The scourge of SPAM has been long known as a problem, but its encroachment into our digital lives is now reaching epidemic proportions. Early on in the war against SPAM, users could simply delete the offending messages. A dozen or so a week was normal and usually it was for some wiz-bang product or cheap Internet service. As time went by, and SPAM became more prevalent, users had to come up with more ingenious ways getting rid of the offensive messages. Several SPAM filtering tools became popular, but they were dumb and a user still had to sort through the alleged SPAM to ensure that no important messages were deleted. This filtering method is still good for low volumes of SPAM, but is relatively weak and requires significant user interaction. At the same time personal SPAM filters started hitting the market, server operators and ISP s were taking note and the concept of black hole lists took rise. Black hole lists certainly stop SPAM, but the method is so brutish that it's akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water. Only small and special purpose networks can use it effectively. By this point, even the major ISPs, who had been reluctant to get involved, started installing SPAM-filtering software on their mail servers.

Unfortunately, even with the layering of these various filters, SPAM still winds up in every user's in-box, and the nature of the beast is becoming even more insidious. Scams, fraud, viruses and pornography now vastly outweigh the occasional unsolicited product or service sales pitch. While I don't buy into scams, and most viruses won't affect my OS/2 system, I can't count the number of times I've been assaulted by unsolicited vulgar and graphic emails. This is especially serious if you receive this trash at work. It can be embarrassing at the least, and at worst it could end your career. In some countries, people still pay by the minute or per megabyte for their Internet connection. In these cases it's a matter of pure economics, SPAM costs. The public outcry over SPAM has reached such proportions that the sound has reached all the way to Capitol Hill (the United States' Congress). U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) is proposing a federal do-not-email list. Similar to the popular do-not-call list, this would prohibit bulk mailers from emailing list subscribers under the threat of fines and even imprisonment. Even though the Senator's research shows that 75% of consumers favor a no-SPAM law, passage of such a law would accomplish little. Those SPAMmers the law does shut down will just move their operations overseas, out of the reach of US law enforcement, as many have already done. Anecdotally, the vast majority of SPAM that I have been receiving lately originates from Asia and former Eastern Block countries.

Realizing that any law is, at best, only a partial solution and knowing users want a solution now, several companies have been offering more robust SPAM filtering services. One company in Toronto, Canada uses a combination of a custom Spam Assassin based appliance and a staff of workers in India who scan all the potential Spam mail before it's deleted. While this solution definitely works, it is aimed toward larger enterprise customers.

We want to know what methods and tools the average user applies to stem the flood of SPAM. What's your favorite filter? What combination of tools provides the best handling for you? What methods produce the least false-positives? Do you have custom scripts and software, or do you use off the shelf? Send responses to (

VOICE Newsletter Update: Our Newsletter translation team is still in need of backup. To be able to help you don't have to be a very good translator or HTML programmer. If you have profound knowledge of English or German spelling and grammar, you can also help with editing the articles. Some hints on translation activities are also available in the FAQ. If you can help please contact

We are always interested in your thoughts and views on subjects related to OS/2, and would like to see opinion/editorial pieces as well as hardware/software reviews and HowTo articles. If you have an idea for an article, why not write one. It's one of the best ways, short of programming native OS/2 applications, that you can help the OS/2 Community. And anyone can do it. Few of our writers are professionals. They are just OS/2 users trying to help other OS/2 users. Please send me your ideas or better yet a draft of an article to Please note our guidelines for submissions to the VOICE Newsletter. There you will find suggestions for topics, hints on content, structure and formatting, as well as the legal stuff.

VOICE Online Update: This month the general member meetings are scheduled on Saturdays November 1 and 15 at 3PM EDT (20:00 GMT). Please note the change in time! Everyone interested in OS/2 or eComStation is invited to attend either or both of these sessions in #VOICE on the Webbnet IRC network. For more information on attending online VOICE IRC meetings please see the VOICE Meeting Information page -

If you have an idea for a Speakup event, please submit it to, and we will try to schedule something. As always, please be sure to check out the updated VOICE Future events Calendar in this newsletter or on the VOICE website at for more details on future VOICE events.

This month to start us off with a Warpstock 2003 Wrapup by Mark Dodel. It was a really upbeat event despite IBM's drum beat to transition to Linux.

Need a laser printer at a reasonable price? Alex Taylor reviews the Lexmark Optra E322 laser printer.

Next we have an article Per Johansson on using the HOBLink X11 Server - Getting Started.

Finally this month a how-to on Editing MMPM2.INI by Juergen Gaida.

We do have a couple of letters on the Letters, Addenda, Errata page. And this month our OS/2 Tips page returns. A big thanks to David Brain for taking on the task as our new Tips page editor. If you have any OS/2 or eCS tips you've uncovered, please send them to David at If you have any comments or suggestions about the newsletter or articles in it, please send them to

That's it for this month. Upcoming articles include a look at the Workplace Shell Toolkit by Christian Langanke; Using the HP PhotoSmart 1000 printer with OS/2, by Stuart Updike; an article or series of articles on network printing by Walter Metcalf; and interview by Lothar Frommhold with Walter Schmidt who is responsible for the port of VTeX to OS/2; and the next articles in the series on DrDialog, by Thomas Klein.

Mark Dodel, Christian Hennecke, Marckus Kraft and Jason R. Stefanovich
VOICE Newsletter editors

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