Fwd: Circuits: The Follow-Ups Edition
- 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> 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
> "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.