Tag Archives: email

Spam, spam, spam and spam

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.


Company Confidential

There was an editorial in The Boston Globe the other day about how nothing you send in email is private. I was disappointed when I read the piece because I’d been thinking about writing about the same subject. If I did, I wondered, would our mutual readers think I was copping ideas from the Globe? Worse, would the Globe think I was muscling in on their territory, using their editorials as springboards for my own? Would they write a piece about bloggers who steal ideas, and name me by name? Would a metro reporter call me for an interview, or even a lowly fact checker, to check a fact? Come to think of it, I’d like that, so I’ll forge ahead.

I started thinking about the futility of keeping email private the day I got one from an old colleague that read, in part, “Did you get the company confidential PowerPoint?” In case you haven’t been paying attention, I haven’t worked for that company in over a year. It would be natural to assume that I had not seen the ‘company confidential’ PowerPoint presentation. That, however, would be wrong. A second ex-colleague had already forwarded the file in question.

If that presentation were instead, say, a ring, which had been stolen by a burglar, I would be in possession of stolen property, and as such could be sent to the hoosegow. (I’ve never seen a hoosegow, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to go to one.) In that case, I would have the option of asking the person gifting me the ring, ‘where did you get this?’ If they answered that they stole it, I could politely decline. When someone sends you unrequested email, that you’re clearly not meant to see, are you culpable for receiving it?

On a related note, I’d like to point out that printers in public hallways are not secure. If you send a document to a public printer, there is a very good chance that someone else will see it. This does not have to be the result of malicious behavior; it could be an accident. Many were the times that I’d wander the halls yelling, “Who took my freakin’ document?” when something I’d printed disappeared. It was not unusual for someone to scoop up more than their own paper, and then set it aside in their office without looking.

A good friend of mine once inadvertently picked up a memo off a printer that talked about me. Realizing her mistake, she returned it to the printer, after she read it. Then, being the good friend that she was, she told me all about it. It ruined my day. Under the best of circumstances I can’t keep a secret, and this was the worst of circumstances, so I confronted the author and told him I knew what he’d said. Pandemonium ensued (details unlikely ever to be revealed in this blog, proving that perhaps I can keep a secret after all).

Did my friend do me a favor by sharing the contents of that confidential memo with me, or would I have been better off not knowing? I don’t know, but if I do find the answer to that question, I’ll be sure to share it with you.