Let There Be…

Have I ever told you how much I hate sounding like an advertisement? Well, it’s true. I do. But I also recall way, waaaaayyyyyy back when I was new to the online community. (Can you say 300 baud modem? I knew you could.) I had no idea what worked, so I probably spent a quarter of my student loans buying and trying computer crap that was about as useful as those dual 8-inch floppies that served as my operating system and file storage.

But I digress.

So, here we are in 2005 and I am regularly inundanted with email asking for my opinion about computer crap. Yeah, I’ve tried lots of it. Yeah, I’ve ditched 90% of everything I’ve tried. Most of the stuff I buy has to do with protecting my system from idiots who have nothing better to do with their time than work on ways to get at my “private” information… as if I didn’t know how to report fraudulent credit card charges, change my account numbers, and consider myself smart for forgetting to tell my husband what the new ones are.

Hmm. I think I digressed again.

The point is, I’ve been trying a new spam filter and, after 30 days, I have to recommend it. Now, when I say that I’ve been “trying” it, you have to keep in mind that I now get well over 700 emails each day, at least 400 of which are spam. No matter what I do – encrypting posted email links, sending unaddressed or incorrectly addressed emails to :blackhole:, using whatevername@NOSPAMmydomain.com – nothing has worked quite right.

For a while, I used a challenge-and-response system recommended by a friend. The only problem? My system’s “challenge” was treated as spam by the spam filters that other folks are using, which meant that our mutual emails were getting lost in the ether! Talk about sucking voids.

Then I spent a year using MailWasher, which didn’t stop the spam from coming in but at least highlighted it to warn me so I wouldn’t waste time reading it. But I still had to click hundreds of annoying checkboxes each day and, ultimately, I found that a pain in the ass. The two months we spent in a rental condo using DSL that wouldn’t accept my MailWasher settings prompted me to search for a different solution.

I found it in Outlook Spam Filter, and I loooooove it. Yeah, I know: there are plenty of you who’ll say Outlook sucks. To which I reply: bullshit. I find it the most convenient time- and contact-management program out there, and I love how easily it syncs with my PDA and cell phone.

Curiously, those who like to say that Outlook sucks seem to think so solely because it’s been so heavily exploited by spammers and code kiddies sending malicious virii through email. Which begs the question: if you can circumvent the spammers and virii, does Outlook no longer suck? Cuz that’s what Outlook Spam Filter does, and I’ve watched my InBox burden plummet down to a meager 140 messages per day. For me, that’s a relief.

So, please accept my apologies if I sound like an advertisement, but I love telling people about crap that works. It’s such a change for me since, like most computer users, I’ve come to expect just the opposite from software programs these days.