Q: I receive 50 to 100 unwanted e-mails a day from the same source. This is harassment! How can I stop it? I have tried to block it using...
Q: I receive 50 to 100 unwanted e-mails a day from the same source. This is harassment! How can I stop it? I have tried to block it using instructions from AT&T and reporting it as spam to AT&T, but nothing works. I then tried blocking it using Outlook’s “subject blocker,” which allows you to block anything coming in with a subject in it you don’t want. That failed; this particular sender uses a trick to get around spam blockers.
AT&T says there is no solution except to get a new e-mail address or to block all e-mail except those names that I put on the list as acceptable. I don’t like either of these solutions. Do you have a creative solution?
— Tom Deschner
A: Spam is like disease. If you want to stay healthy, there is no single step to take. You want to practice good hygiene, follow a good diet, exercise and, when you come down with something, take your medicine.
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Being spam-free likewise is the result of many different efforts. For starters, your Internet service provider should be leading the way by blocking the great bulk of spam before it ever approaches your inbox.
Also, according to Spamhaus (www.spamhaus.org) — an international nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting spam — more than 70 percent of spam comes from individual computers infected with viruses. So one step we all need to take for each others’ sake is to use up-to-date antivirus software.
Spammers have also written sophisticated software to take advantage of the mail servers of large ISPs to flood the Internet with spam. The irony, according to Spamhaus, is that the source of the software is often sites hosted by those ISPs, with their knowledge.
The very last line of defense is the set of measures you mention: end-user spam filters, blocked-sender lists and the like. Spam filters need to be constantly updated because the spammers keep changing their methods to get by the filters, however, and blocked sender lists are of limited value since spammers change their source information frequently.
This is a long way of saying that for right now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place. If you’ve got too much spam getting through, you can try employing different spam filters, and you may find one that blocks the particular spam you’re afflicted with. Or you could reject all messages except those you specifically approve.
Other than these measures, I’d recommend that you notify your ISP that you expect it to do more to stop spam. Lobbying your state and federal representatives for more effective measures against spam is also something you might consider.
Q: I’m having a problem with Microsoft Money 2005. When I try to exit the program, I find that it is still running. When I try to open it again, I get a response that the program is already running. I then have to use the End Process feature in Task Manager to close it down. Could this be a Windows problem?
— Darren Castleman
A: Well … it’s likely a programming problem, anyway.
Programs are written to work with the operating system, but when they don’t work properly, it’s generally considered to be a problem with the application. But you’re absolutely correct, it could be that a properly written program is running into some undocumented glitch in the operating system and is causing things to lock up.
The key question in a case like this is, where to fix it. The place to start is generally with the application program. If the application vendor can trace the problem back to the operating system, you can bet it will be in touch with the operating system vendor. In this case, of course, it’s Microsoft on both ends.
Questions for Patrick Marshall may be sent by e-mail to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at Q&A/Technology, The Seattle Times, P.O. Box 70, Seattle, WA 98111. More columns at www.seattletimes.com/columnists.