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Fwd: Circuits: The Follow-Ups Edition

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  • villars@hamptons.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 6, 2006
      Begin forwarded message:

      > From: "The New York Times Direct" <NYTDirect@...>
      > Date: April 6, 2006 4:32:49 PM EDT
      > To: dinar@...
      > Subject: Circuits: The Follow-Ups Edition
      > Reply-To: "The New York Times Direct" <NYTDirect@...>
      >
      > If you have trouble reading this e-mail, go to
      > http://www.nytimes.com/circuitsemail

      ----------

      > Thursday, April 6, 2006

      > Q: Yesterday, The Times published your big article about the hack that
      > lets you install Windows XP onto a Macintosh. Is that what Apple
      > announced yesterday?
      >
      > A: Nope. That's just a freaky coincidence. Apple's Boot Camp (its
      > Windows-on-Mac installation kit) was an independent, top-secret
      > project that it's been working on since January.
      >
      > Actually, there are now THREE different ways to run Windows XP on a
      > Macintosh (and that's not even counting the old, slow emulator known
      > as Virtual PC). I reviewed the hacky method here. I'll be reviewing
      > the other two in next week's Times column.
      >
      > Q: Oh, excellent. Can't wait for that one to slide into my In box.
      >
      > A: Um, it won't.
      >
      > Lots of people think that this e-newsletter is "my column." In fact,
      > though, I write TWO columns each Thursday. The one you're reading now
      > is sent by e-mail. The other column, on a different topic, appears in
      > the printed paper.
      >
      > At the bottom of this e-column each week, though, you'll find a link
      > to the newspaper column, so you can read both if you want to.
      >
      > Q: Last week in the paper, you reviewed the SpamCube. Who'd pay $150
      > for a hardware anti-spam device, when you can get free anti-spam
      > software?
      >
      > A: As noted in the column, a hardware gadget has certain advantages.
      > For example, it protects a bunch of computers at once and it doesn't
      > slow down the computer.
      >
      > Still, about 100 readers wrote to express their happiness with all
      > kinds of software-based antispam products.
      >
      > By far the most often-cited anti-spam product was Cloudmark Desktop
      > (http://www.cloudmark.com), available for Outlook and Outlook Express
      > for Windows. Customers raved about its accuracy, although it's not
      > free.
      >
      > Many others wrote to recommend Mozilla Thunderbird, a free e-mail
      > program with a terrific built-in spam filter.
      > (http://www.mozilla.com/thunderbird, for Mac or Windows.) The built-in
      > spam filter of Google's free Gmail service got lots of votes, too.
      >
      > Other individual recommendations of free Windows antispam programs:
      > SpamBayes (http://spambayes.sourceforge.net); K9
      > (http://www.keir.net/k9.html); and Spamihilator
      > (http://www.spamihilator.com).
      >
      > Q: So what do you use for spam protection?
      >
      > A: Funny you should mention that. Ever since my Outlook database
      > meltdown last fall, I've been using Microsoft Entourage on the Mac as
      > my main e-mail program. I've been relying on its built-in spam
      > filters, supplemented by dozens of message rules I'd concocted myself.
      >
      > It was a terrible solution. I was drowning in spam. About 85 percent
      > of my mail was spam.
      >
      > So last week, following still more reader tips, I downloaded and
      > installed Spam Sieve ($25 from http://c-command.com).
      >
      > The setup is none too friendly, involving a bunch of
      > sub-installations that I suspect would intimidate the average
      > technophobe. But once it's installed--holy cow. Spam Sieve is just
      > incredibly, amazingly accurate; my In box is clean, baby, clean!
      >
      > Once or twice a day, I take a look at my Junk Mail folder and
      > literally grin with glee. There they are, all together, stewing in
      > their own sleazy juices: all the ads for Viagra and Cialis; all the
      > stupid phony phishing e-mails from eBay, PayPal and Chase Bank; all
      > the foreign-language spam; all the messages that contain nothing but a
      > big pasted graphic ad for pills; and on and on. And in about 2,000
      > spam messages flagged so far, I've encountered not a single legitimate
      > message flagged as spam. Now THAT is a great feature.
      >
      > What amazes me most is how this program even manages to identify the
      > spam that's disguised to look like a real e-mail message, containing
      > either text like "Howdy Frank! How's it going?" or the gibberish
      > intended to confuse spam filters: "Probe shortening award, a chipper
      > tavern to intend hundred imply of crick parchment interrupt. String
      > bean brew empathy." Ah, poetry!
      >
      > Q: How could software identify those normal-sounding messages as spam?
      >
      > A: I asked the programmer, Michael Tsai, by e-mail. I found his
      > response to be an intriguing look into the minds of spammers: "First,
      > most spam messages have some kind of spammy component, however buried;
      > otherwise there would be no point in sending the message. So the
      > general idea is to ignore the neutral text and zero in on the parts
      > that either look like spam or look like your normal mail.
      >
      > "Second, spammers don't send messages the way normal people do, so
      > the headers often contain information revealing that the message is
      > spammy.
      >
      > "Lastly, the incoherent sentences. Often, the idea is to fool simpler
      > Bayesian filters by including lots of seemingly innocuous words. While
      > the vocabulary isn't overtly spammy, it is statistically different
      > from that of your good mail, and the software can recognize that. This
      > is one area where it helps that SpamSieve is a filter for individuals.
      > The spammers are at a disadvantage because they know what the
      > 'average' person's good mail looks like, but not yours in particular."
      >
      > The bottom line: The spammers are winning in sheer volume. But this
      > week, I'm buoyed by new optimism that the modern anti-spam tools are
      > up to the challenge.
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