Q: Is there any place where you can report the most obnoxious spam? Two weeks ago a site called Conservative Blabber Buzz that I know I never signed up for started sending me literally seven spam emails a day and they haven’t let up. I’ve not clicked their “unsubscribe” link for fear of malware or just not wanting to confirm my email address. But it’s a really high level of obnoxiousness, and I’d like to report them somewhere in addition to flagging them as junk on my filters, which I’ve done.
— Paul Loeb
A: If someone loses money in a scam that started with an email, they are advised to report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint. Otherwise, the government now advises spam recipients to report the spam to their email provider and to the sender’s email provider, if that can be determined.
But the fact is reporting spam is unlikely to produce significant results, since it’s so easy for spammers to disguise themselves.
There is as yet no foolproof way to block spam. Most email programs include spam filters, and you can configure those to be very aggressive in filtering out spam. Of course, it may also filter out some emails you want to receive, so you’ll want to check the spam filter on a regular basis.
Another strategy I use is to reserve one of my email addresses for dealing with companies and other organizations that might be the source of mailing lists raided by spammers. And, just as with the spam filter, I scan that address inbox for email I care about before deleting the massive amounts of spam that I regularly find there.
And yes, you’re wise not to click on the “unsubscribe” link in suspected spam.
The only way I can see of finally putting an end to spam is to charge a small fee for all mails sent over the internet. Spam is currently cost-effective because it is essentially free. But if each sent email cost a penny or 5 cents …
Even if internet service providers agreed to such charges, however, that would further incite spammers to hack into innocent people’s email accounts to send spam.
The long and the short of it is that no one has as yet come up with a good solution, alas.
Q: My OS used to be Windows 7, within which (as I recall) Outlook would notify me by an alert pop-up on my desktop when a calendar event start time arrived. I migrated to Windows 10 about a year ago and have been unable to replicate this. Obviously, this has resulted in many events being ignored, lost in the hustle of other daily activities. Note: The fact that a calendar and list of upcoming events is off to the right of my Outlook screen is not effective, especially as events, on the arrival of their start time, are automatically removed! I wish that didn’t happen as well.
In summary: I want Outlook to notify me by an alert pop-up on my desktop when an Outlook calendar event start time arrives. Ideally, the pop-up should remain until it is “cleared.”
— Thomas D. Gaffney
A: It’s a puzzle to me why that option isn’t available on all versions of Outlook … but it isn’t. If you’re using Outlook in Microsoft 365, also known as Office 365, you can set alerts to pop up over other applications in version Version 1804 (Build 9226.2114) or higher. The option is not available in Outlook 2013 or Outlook 2019.
If you’re using Outlook 365, click on the File menu, then Options and finally Advanced. Scroll down and you’ll see a section for setting Reminders. There are four checkboxes: show reminders, play reminder sound, show reminders on top of other windows, automatically dismiss reminders for past calendar events. Just click on the checkboxes for all the options you want.