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by Lloyd A. de Vries

Vol. 28 - Look Just Like A Spammer!

Want to make sure I ignore your e-mail messages? Here are a few tips:

  • Leave the subject area blank.
  • Make the subject "Re:" and something I've never heard of
  • Spell the title (subject) badly.
  • Use mismatched upper- and lower-case letters, or symbols in place of letters. (You may think that will fool my spam filters into letting obscenities and drug names pass through, but you're wrong.)
  • Pretend you're with a bank with which I don't do business, and tell me that the account I don't have is in trouble.
  • Pretend you're with a bank with which I do do business, but address your message to an e-mail account that I never use in connection with that business.
  • Pretend you're with eBay or PayPal. I already know they don't send account problem notifications, or if they do, I'll discover there's a problem when I make my daily check on those accounts.
  • Address your message to an address that's almost the same as mine, but not quite.
  • Address your message to a whole bunch of addresses that are similar to mine, as well as mine, showing that you've been mining the Internet service or are trying every conceivable real word.
  • Offer me name-brand software at ridiculously low prices. If a deal seems too good to be true ... I delete it.
  • Offer me movies or cable television boxes without paying.
  • Write the subject all in caps, with keywords like "CONGRATULATIONS" or "A MESSAGE FROM MR. TUGUDTUBETRU" or some other faintly-African name.
  • Offer me Rolex watches, replica Rolex watches, or simulated Rolex watches. I never knew I needed one before — and I don't know that I need one now.
  • Send the same message to every e-mail address I have, at about the same time.
  • Better yet, send the same message to every address, but use a different pseudonym on each.

With a little effort, you, too, can make your messages look just like spam!


An eBay store may be easier to set up than a Web site, but in order to make an eBay store pay, you have to sell enough to cover the $15.95 monthly fee, the listing fees, the final value fees, and, lest we forget, the cost of the stamps and covers you're selling.

It's not that hard to set up a simple Web site and keep it up to date. You may even have the software you need on your computer already, and most Internet access services give you a free simple Web site. It may take more work than an eBay store, and not look as snazzy, but it will also be cheaper.

If you really don't want to get into that, I'm still impressed with Stamps2Go (www.stamps2go.com). There's no fee until you sell an item, and it's not hard to create listings.

Or you can use both.


My younger son had been after me for awhile to dump Internet Explorer and switch to what he uses to browse the World Wide Web, Mozilla Firefox. When PC World magazine agreed that it was the best browser out there, I took the plunge.

It does everything MSIE does, and less.

Less, as in, it doesn't pick up all the junk and parasites I was getting with Internet Explorer. I run Ad-Aware every day or so, and the number of "critical objects" found has dropped from a dozen or more to maybe 2.

Firefox doesn't have some features that Internet Explorer does, but so far, I haven't really missed them. I don't think I ever used them in MSIE.

There are some sites that just don't work right with anything but MSIE. By giving it away for free with its Windows operating system, Microsoft made IE the most popular browser. So, if a site isn't working with Firefox — usually, I allow a secondary window to open, but it's blank — then I use Internet Explorer. If you have Windows, you already have Internet Explorer, so why not? (That, by the way, accounts for the couple of "critical objects" I still get each day: the time I spend with MSIE. Even "safe" sites like major newspapers like to put junk on my computer.)

I'm still exploring what Firefox can, and can't do, but I like it.

The easiest way to get Firefox (did I mention it's free?) is to click on the button here:

Ad-Aware is also free, and you can get it at www.lavasoft.de or www.lavasoft.com. (The .com URL used to belong to another, American, company, but it go so many hits from people looking for Ad-Aware that it had a link to the German site. Now, it appears the American company has given up and found another URL.)

Many sites put little pieces of software on your computer when you visit. Their purposes range from simply tracking where you go, to give advertisers a better idea of who visits certain sites, to harvesting your e-mail addresses for spammers, to subverting your computer to run ads. Get too much of this junk (called "spyware") and some day you may find Internet Explorer running itself, with you hanging onto the reins.

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