Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I hate spam

At work my email address is on one of our websites so I get a lot of spam. I get about 100 spam emails a day and for me that seems like a lot. Lately it seems to be mostly about stock insider tips and of course there is the usual stuff about free software and enlarging my penis. I know how to use bit torrent and my penis is large enough thank you very much.

I had been using Norton's antispam and I wasn't very happy with it. I deal with suppliers in china and customers all over the world so I do get many strange emails that I actually need and Norton wasn't able to distinguish those from the spam messages. I was getting too many false positives and this was pissing me off.

I found my solution a while ago but I thought I would share it with you. My solution is a program called spambayes. It is an open source program, we all know how much I like free stuff, and it works amazingly well. It does take a bit of time to get going as you have to train it to reconize spam from ham but once it is going it is almost perfect. I would guesstimate that it catches 98% or more of the spam with less than 0.1% false positives.

There are a couple of catches with this program.

- You pretty much need to be running Outlook, not outlook express or Thunderbird. This is not to say you can't use it if you aren't useing outlook, but it is the easiest way.
- If you don't have a large amount of spam and ham available to train it the training takes a lot longer

Now I use Outlook so spambayes was easy to install and it is easy to use. If you don't use outlook you have to install it so that it sits between(logically) your email client and your email server. I haven't done this but I'm sure it isn't too hard. The other thing you want to do before installing it is to make sure you have lots of email and lots of spam saved up to train it. When you install it, it will ask you for the location of your good email(ham) and bad email(spam) then it will go through and learn what it is you consider spam. If you don't have this it will put almost all your email in a "suspected spam" folder and you have to go through and tell it what is and isn't spam. It is easier than it sounds.

After its been trained it pretty much runs hands off. I can fire up outlook and watch as my email is automatically sorted between spam and ham without worrying that there is something screwed up. Most of the time I don't even look at my spam folder before I empty it. That is the best part.

So if you get lots of spam, use outlook, are cheap, and lazy this is the answer you were looking for.
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