POPing Off

Why is there so much e-mail spam? The short answer is
because there is money to be made. The bottom line is, first,
because it’s cheaper than sending snail mail. Second, because,
according to this
article here
, 20 percent of the recipients actually buy
through them.

The number seems much higher than numbers I’ve seen before
but even if orders of magnitude wrong, it still answers the
question of why so much spam. If you send out 100,000 e-mails,
a number not out of line with figures I’ve seen before, and you
get a one percent response rate, that’s still 1,000 sales (Don
Armstrong please double check my arithmetic). Making 1,000
sales on a cost of, probably, pennies per sale is one excellent
way of making money. Hence, as long as it is profitable, people
will continue to clog your e-mail box with stuff you may not
want, but 20 percent of other people do.

As for me, I’ve modified how my e-mail is filtered.
Recently, I’ve been using two layers of defense. The first is
SpamAssasin that
my host provider, pair.com
uses. The second is what Mozilla Thunderbird
has built in. But even with these two filters, much too much
was getting through. So I re-installed a filter I’ve used in
the past. It’s called POPFile.

While I’ve only used the three together since yesterday, I’m
already near 97 percent accuracy in identifying spam. However,
I’ve found two POPFile bugs that weren’t in the previous
version I used. The latest version of POPFile (version 0.21.1)
has a really nasty bug relating to the system tray icon. If you
have it on, and you go to the “Buckets” tab of the POPFile user
interface (UI), WindowsXP Pro will lockup so hard you will have
to press the reset button. The temporary workaround is to
disable the tray icon by using the UI
(Configuration->Windows->Show POPFile icon in Windows
system tray?->No). The second bug is not as big a deal. If
you access the UI by going to the Windows Start menu -> All
Programs -> POPFile and start the UI there, you may get an
error message saying Windows cannot find 127.0.0.1:8080 (which
is where the proxy runs). You can ignore the error as your
browser will find the address just fine. The workaround for
this is to access the UI directly by first starting your
browser and then typing in the 127.0.0.1:8080 address
yourself.

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