replacing a drafty outhouse
Saturday, January 3 2004
I received a handful of spam email messages over the course of the night, but it was nothing like the 50 or so I'd normally get. My response to the few that slithered through was to ratchet up the restrictiveness of the SpamBouncer filter even further. If you're not on my whitelist and you can't say what you need to say in your first communication without resorting to HTML tables, chances are good that my filter is going to blow your idiotic message away. Who but someone wondering whether I've heard of Paris Hilton needs to use HTML tables to make his point?
In retrospect, removing nearly all the spam from my life turned out to be a massive undertaking, but the results are probably more important to my mental health than, say, the project where I tiled the kitchen floor. It's almost on the par with replacing a drafty outhouse with a heated modern bathroom. No longer do I have to hold my nose and shoo flies whenever I go to take care of my business. Checking my email is suddenly a pleasant experience, and now I actually respond to the few emails that get through. Until this morning, I'd be so harried and angry from killing off idiotic solicitations that I wouldn't even get around to reading my valid mail. The deluge of noise made my inbox seem cold and impersonal, something it never used to be back in 1996.
The unusual calm now surrounding my computer has made it an even more pleasant place to be than it was before - and I already spent many hours each day sitting in front of it. But there's now a new addiction in my life. The joy of successfully filtering spam - and I mean filtering it on the server, so I never have to know it existed to begin with - makes me want to filter even more spam. I want to tweak SpamBouncer and make it so the few insidious nasties wriggling through get their own uniquely horrifying deaths. Unfortunately, Procmail is just too weird for me to get my mind around. It doesn't even seem like it knows how to do basic string operations, the kind I would need to be able to do to, say, determine that the plaintext fork of an email is substantially different from the tag-stripped HTML fork (a characteristic of half of my remaining spam).
I felt kind of ill throughout much of the afternoon. It was mostly just a vaguely unpleasant feeling in my gut, though it didn't affect my appetite tonight when Gretchen and I dined at La Pupuseria in Kingston. The night was so unseasonably warm that we brought the dogs along and they waited in the car while we ate. They love to go for a drive even when all they end up doing is waiting for us in a boring old parking lot in the scruffy part of town. Sometimes when we get back home, Sally refuses to get out of the car.
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