Back in the day, we got oodles of spam in our email inboxes. Thanks to a robust spam filter and a husband who knows how to use it, those days are behind us. Also behind us is guaranteed delivery of email from friends and online communities that I want to hear from. Every day, our spam filter provides us with a single email with the subject, Quarantine Summary, that includes a list of all the email the filter has stopped short of delivering. In among the obvious spam (Check out this hot babe and Hard to resist bonus offers at Lucky Cash Club) will be a message from someone in my critique group (Submission for next group) or one from the New England Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (NESCBWI 2012 Conference).
The most expeditious way to retrieve an email from quarantine is to click the link that says deliver. However, that does not prevent the filter from snagging the next email that comes in from that same address. To teach the filter to let through email from a particular address, I have to log in to the spam filter, select the email in question, click deliver, then, on the next page, reselect the email and click approve sender. One step or five steps, what would you do? Before long the only email I’m going to get is the one called Quarantine Summary.
Meanwhile, caller ID has also become a double-edged sword. In the beginning it was thrilling; the phone rang and you knew who it was. I thought that was beyond cool, protection from phone spam! You knew when to ignore it, and when to pick it up; NRA, no, HRC, yes. Then I found out that you could block your name from showing when you made a call. Now when I see Private Name, Private Number on the caller ID, I don’t know what to do. It could be a friend who’s a privacy freak, or it could be a telemarketer. I answer and it’s ─ a robo-call! You know, an automated system that dials numbers. If a call goes through, it takes the human who is paid to bother me at dinner a few seconds to clue in, which is just enough time for me to figure it out and hang up.
But the most upsetting form of spam is Skype spam. Skype is the Internet phone service. My clients use it for IM as well as voice so I leave it open on my computer. When a Skype call comes in it makes a neat space-age, boopy kind of noise. If, however, it’s ten at night and I’m downstairs watching something spooky on TV, it’s a scary-movie-don’t-open-the-door kind of noise. I rush upstairs and see yet another call from Autocall! Attention Required; translation, spam. I click block and then Report Abuse. As far as I can tell, it does no good whatsoever. Notification, Urgent Online Update and Online Help have been calling me regularly for months.
I don’t know if there’s a spam filter for Skype, but I’m going to have my husband look into that. I’m a little afraid that if he finds one, I’m never going to hear from any of my clients again. I may get so lonely that I’ll have to take phone calls from the NRA.