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Spam, Viruses & My New Friend Sese Seko

I'd like to think I'm not alone, and that everyone else is getting sick and tired of what has turned into a torrent of Spam e-mails.

It wasn't that long ago that web junkies were the folks who got two or three e-mails a day, now one can easily get that in a few hours. Back then, e-mails were private notes to friends, family updates, review of one's day. Today, they are almost exclusively re-tread jokes, 'thump your chest if you're an American - now lets go kill some Arabs' diatribes, invitations to raunchy sex sites, and ads proclaiming the sure fired cure to all your problems: from un-insurability to un-ability.

Yesterday, you read every word and saved them away. Today, you browse the heading and delete them. And then we have the viruses ...

Would someone please explain to me why the masters of the Internet have not figured out how to control that W32.Elkern virus or whatever its called yet? You know, the one that is attached to one out of every four e-mails with various subject headings and this in the body:

 "This is a very nice game,
  This game is my first work.
  You're the first player.
  I expect you would like it."

Come on, what dummy clicks on something like that, or for that matter an e-mail with a subject heading: "Happy New Epiphany! ... click on the attachment for a special surprise ...," Surprise my ass. Who are these clowns? They spend all this time perfecting the 'virus of the decade' and don't even take the time to have their subject headings reviewed by an English Editor? Come on guys! At least try to get the English right!

Now if the subject of the e-mail had been: "Hello: I understand you're into horses, attached for your review are photos of several horses for sale," I would have clicked on it, even with a return of,  and so would every other horse nut and just about every woman that got it.

In today's world a good virus checker is a must, but while they will protect your computer, they also slow it down to the point you swear you're working back in DOS days.  So I run with my virus checked off.  In a way, hunting for viruses can become fun, and it's more sporting then going out and blowing away some helpless animal with a 12-gage with some drunk buddies at night. Like in the days of old, when our prey would just as soon eat us, he who strikes first, lives. It you don't get the virus, it'll get you.

Most viruses do nothing more then replicate themselves and send themselves out to friends and families. On the other hand, some will convince your computer it's a washing machine stuck on the rinse cycle. I find the latter far more preferable than the former. At least in the latter, no one knows you're an idiot, whereas with the former, everyone knows you're an idiot!

Speaking of idiots, it never fails to amaze me the people who fall for the old bogus virus alerts. This always come from someone you know, not high up on the computer evolutionary scale, who just found out that their computer had a new virus that was undetectable by their current checker, and you had better check yours for it too. You are then given detailed instructions on how to find the file, to ignore the message warning telling you you're messing with the computer's main operating files, and then you're supped to find the file with an icon like a bear and delete it! Holy cow! What idiot would do such a thing, and then be brainless enough to tell all their friends to do the same thing.

It would be one thing had they really deleted something important, then they could be considered a victim, but instead, they end up deleting the most useless file they can. Fresh from their 12-gage-shot-gunning of their kids pet rabbit in its cage, they boast about it to everyone they ever corresponded with via e-mail. I never miss the opportunity to sham the sender of these e-mails in front of all their friends. Hitting reply to all, I make sure, as tactfully as I can, that the sender is aware they have fallen for the oldest hoax around, a hoax only nitwits and West Virginians fall for, and then offer to send them the file.

One can judge the circle someone runs in by the number of requests from other recipients of the warning letter, who followed the sender's advice, and deleted the file in question. You're in the upper circle if no one responds - mostly because they haven't a clue how a computer works and hired a consultant to run it down. You're middle class if 20% of the recipients delete the file - mostly from people who, while they would never admit it, think the government is using their computer to spy on them, and you're in the lower class if 50% of the e-mails come back undeliverable, and all of them are with hotmail accounts like: truckgirl@ or fattruck@, or the favorite of every blue-blooded red neck girl:

While virus writers annoy me, Spam authors insult me.

To their credit, most Spams, are well written, and some so well designed that they are worth looking at for that very reason. Some are entertaining, most are not. Most are trying to sell you something, those who are not, are trying to lend you the money to buy it.  Today for example, I got:

  • 6 offers dealing with herbal remedies to improve my personal performance (I wonder if they have been talking to my wife?);
  • 3 debt consolidation loans (I wonder if I can use them to negotiate with my bank and cut my mortgage payment?);
  • 4 "Hey, the web cam in my dorm room is on ..." (I bet her mom and dad don't know she's doing that!);
  • 7, count them 7, unsolicited e-mail offering me sure fire ways to cash in on US Government grants (hum ... I wonder if I should have used the term 'Unsolicited" in the web cam one above?): and,
  • 5 invitations to porn sites who claim I entered my name on their opt-in mailing list (Like I would use my own name - Duh?! That is of course if I ever logged into one of those sites, which I would never do ... well unless I went to it just to add some spammers name to their mailing list as payback - but I don't look at the pictures, honest! Really!)

And my personal favorite

  • 4 e-mails from a relative of (insert name of deposed African tyrant here) claiming to have escaped with with two sealed baggage containing thirty five million United States dollars (as if anyone ever escapes a country with Canadian Dollars!):

    "Since then we have been looking for a reliable and trustworthy person [Well that leaves me out] to help me for safe keeping of the money prior to investing in any conducive [Conductive?] country in oversea [What?].  I got in contact with somebody in Australia, he became greedy [As is someone who runs off with $35 million for a country dirt poor isn't greedy] considering his share in the transaction, he asked for 40%. Luckily, I ran into your personal information and details, [Obliviously you didn't, otherwise you would know I'm way to smart to fall for this line] and decide to contact you [and everyone else one the e-mail list I bought for two dead chickens] and see if you could be of any help to me and the terms of the transaction is as follows:

    1) 25% of the total sum to you for your assistance in providing account and safe keeping of urgent assistance the funds. [What? Lets see ... you hope I'm stupid and greedy enough to put up my own money so I can have some our your blood money - show me your money first!]

    2) 5% of the total sum will be set aside for any expenses that may be incurred in the process of this transaction. [Yeah right, like you can find a lawyer who'll only take 5%!]

    3) 70% of the total sum will be for me and my family investment in your country of which you will be a guide to us. [Invest?  You mean spend in a life of utter debauchery, just like the life you led that led to your countrymen throwing your bloodsucking father ... only here, you'll be protected by the best money lawyers can by - which will cost you more then 5%]

    Please should this meet your ultmost [ultmost - you mean utmost?  Don't they have spellchecker were you come from?] consideration, contact my lawyer, Garvin Johnson through please feel free to ask any question or call him on this line +31-613-904-392 [Sorry I'm a little short right now, can I call collect?] he is fronting for me as I look forward to hear from you.

    Yours Truly, Best Regard.

    Mrs. Marian Sese Seko

    Give me a break!

I could deal with one or two a day, but 29 a day? Talk about a bunch of idiots with a lemming mind set. I can see their marketing strategy meeting now: "Ok, people hate us and delete our mailing, so we need to send out even more and hope two will be read this year ..." These people want us to hate them. Come to think of it, I think they are the only group officially sanctioned to be hated by National Council of Churches, save lawyers of course.

If you could easily get off the mailing list, one could almost see a reason for Spam. Fortunately, most legitimate Internet marketing companies offer just such an option. Yet so many dire warnings have been circulated that they serve only to validate your e-mail address, and that their use will result in more Spam, few dare use them. What a great way to scare people! And like sheep led to slaughter, we listen to them!

Until recently however. As I said in the opening, I'd like to think I'm not alone, and that everyone else is getting sick and tired of what has turned into a torrent of Spam e-mails. So ignoring the dire warning, this week I launched into a full scale attack on unsolicited e-mail. I click on every link that said "un-subscribe," and for those that actually worked, I opted out. That also cut my Spam nearly in half.

For those e-mail whose un-subscribe link didn't work, which is increasingly becoming a larger and larger percentage, I looked up the owner of the web site (a true mark of a geek), and sent them a nasty note, threatening all sorts of legal action against them for violating anti-Spamming law.

If that doesn't get their attention, I threaten to log into porn sites using their e-mail - that is I used to until I discovered someone else had beaten me to it. Instead, I now threaten the Internet equivalent of dropping the nuclear bomb: log into E-Bay and sign up for every e-mail notification list offered using their e-mail address. That always gets someone's attention.