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“[Microsoft CEO Steve] Ballmer said Microsoft has special technology that just filters spam intended for [Bill] Gates. In addition, several Microsoft employees are dedicated to ensuring that nothing unwanted gets into his inbox.” AP News 11-18-04

You have got to be kidding me? How does one get a job like that? “…several Microsoft employees are dedicated to ensuring that nothing unwanted gets into his inbox.[emphasis added]” How much do you think that they could possibly be paid to spend all day (and maybe a second shift all night, too?) just removing junk email from Mr. Gates’ email mailbox?

If there is no other indicator as to the irrational level of SPAM and other junk email than this, then we are truly in the dark when it comes to understanding just how bad it is. Granted, Mr. Gates is a prime target for those anti-Microsoft geeks who want to replace the world’s best-selling operating system with some open-source code, but let’s be real here. I don’t know about you, but with all of the SPAM I receive at home and at work, even with all of the filters in place, I might like the idea of having someone else root through it and just give me the emails I want.

Surely, there must be a market for this? We could take all of those who say that the economy sucks and they can’t find a job, and hire them to do it. How much overhead could there be? Just a large warehouse with a fat Internet pipe connection (like, say, an OC-9?) and a bunch of beige-box, no-name brand computers and some cheap furniture, and you’re set. People would pay top dollar to have someone clean their email mailboxes, so there is definitely a profit to be made!

The Washington Post (January 6, 2004) reports:

Since President Bush signed the new restrictions into law Dec. 16 and they went into effect Jan. 1, spam-filtering companies and Internet providers report little change in spam patterns, which have relentlessly marched to higher levels over the past two years. Estimates vary, but spam accounts for roughly 60 percent of all e-mail traffic, with costs to fight it exceeding $10 billion a year.

That’s a lot of junk. Imagine your regular postal mail box, and every day– for 365 days– pulling out ten envelopes, and six of them are junk mail. This is a broad generalization of the problem, but factor in the ease at which spammers can send out millions of emails every day, and you have sprung from a problem to an epidemic.

Even with the laws that have been passed, and in some cases enforced, laws won’t be enough. Many of these spammers operate outside of the United States, and are immune to the laws passed there. So what can be done?

We, as Internet users, must take a stand. Do not reply to SPAM emails which purport to remove you from their list if you do. They’ll only sell your email address to someone else, or even sell it to more than one outfit. Do not send mass-emails to all of your friends and family with their names in the TO or CC fields; instead use the BCC field. Some spammers can actually pull address information out of the TO and CC fields, and sell that, too. Do not install applications on your computer unless you are certain that they contain no spyware. Spyware can also harvest your address book for email addresses, and send that information to the culprits without you knowing it.

Taking just these few steps can dramatically reduce the amount of SPAM that you receive. There are other third-party applications that work with your email program that can help, too. Naturally, the more expensive ones will probably do a better job.

But, if you have the money, send it to me and we’ll start our warehouse, anti-spam company. With the profits made from such a venture, perhaps we could buy Microsoft?

© 2004 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.


Aliens Amongst Us

“I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”
– Ash from the 1979 classic movie Alien

Last night, for the first time, I felt my daughter kick inside my wife’s womb. It wasn’t just a little “girly” kick, either– she almost knocked my hand off! Fiesty little critter, ain’t she? I guess it’s only natural, seeing as her growth is rapidly outpacing the limited amount of space in which she resides.

Speaking of critters, my wife has not been telling people that she’s pregnant; rather, she’s been saying that she’s “carrying a parasite.” Parasite? Granted, the term pretty much defines the current relationship between my wife and daughter, but does she really have to use such a word that tends to lean toward a negative connotation? I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word parasite, I immediately think of Alien.

Ugh. I have this to look forward to? (Warning: graphic picture!)

And this is just the beginning. Next, will come the feedings, diaper changings, cuddling, soothing, bedtime readings, disciplining, and so on. Everyone keeps telling me, “Oh, your life is going to change now.” Well, of course it is. It would be na├»ve to think otherwise. If every day were the same, dull events over and over again, then what would be the fun in that?

I’m actually looking forward to the feedings, changings, et al. It’s all part of this grand adventure called life. These are the things that make life worth living.

In just a couple of months, my wife and I will have a small, innocent and beautiful girl to help grow up and find her own adventures. Sure, she’ll have her good times and her bad times (and a lot of bad times around age two, I’m told!). She’ll look to us for guidance, support and encouragement. We’ll look to her for a new perspective on the life that evolves around us that our more experienced eyes sometimes take for granted.

My wife will feed her on age-old recipes handed down through the generations, and together they’ll make biscotti, pizelles, cowboy cookies, spaghetti sauce and other Polish and Italian delights.

Me? Well, as soon as she’s old enough, we’ll watch Alien.

© 2004 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.


Kharmin Fights the Sith

“I am stronger than you.”

So spake the Sith Lord I encountered in the Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy demo. I laughed at this statement of obvious cowardice, and with my dual-fisted lightsabers, I sprang at the evildoer. Landing just in front of the dark lord, I slashed twice at him.

He attacked by using his Sith Lord skills, first touching me and draining all of my force powers. Without that, I couldn’t heal using my Force Heal skill. No matter, I still had two lightsabers to his one. I sprang again, and he caught me in some electrical attack, which flung me to the ground like a discarded ragdoll. I struggled to rise, and turn my lightsabers back on, and he very neatly sliced me in half.

Huh… I guess he was right. Drat. Oh well, this is why we have SAVE GAME options! =)

It took several attempts, but eventually, I prevailed in defeating this menace to the good side of the force! Yeah, go Jedi–but, wait a minute….! Now two more have appeared from behind some columns. Um, time to run! They taunt me, telling me I have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.

I’d like to say I gave as good as I got, but that would just be a flat out lie. Lesson learned: SAVE GAME after every victory, for now I have to go back and fight the first one all over again.

In the end, though, it is I who am the strongest. All I have to do is QUIT GAME and the forces of darkness are once again vanquished– erased from RAM, only to lie dormant as a 188MB collection of 1s and 0s on my hard drive, waiting for me to challenge them once more.

As a demo, it isn’t bad if you like the whole first-person shooter (FPS) style of gaming. It uses Id technology, which is the same that is used in Doom3. However, the graphics are nowhere as clean as Doom3. The best part, though, is that it’s free, and for a half-hour or so of mindless hack/slash PC gaming, it modestly satisfies.

© 2004 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.


At Last: A New President

“Congratulations, Mr. President,” Kerry said in the conversation described by sources as lasting less than five minutes. One of the sources was Republican, the other a Democrat.


I think that the best part about this victory, is no more Bush-bashing advertisements! All of the vitriol and seething hatred evidenced by the mainstream media and the far left, could not dissuade the American people from voting for our country’s safety and security. The American people are not as stupid as the liberals think. We know we’re in a difficult war, and we know that to keep our country safe for us and our children (and grand-children!), that we must stay on the offensive against those who would do us harm. This is not only a victory for the American people; it is a victory for the voice of freedom throughout the world!

With other changes in the electorate, the Republicans have garnered a little more strength in both houses of Congress. The biggest advantage to the Bush administration is the defeat of Tom Daschle (D-SD). Clearing the Congressional drain of that hair-clog should open up more opportunity for President Bush’s agenda, including moving forward on key federal court judge appointees. That should help keep the Constitution safe, and prevent a liberal agenda from being forced upon the public through judicial decisions instead of representative legislation.

So, now as a country, let’s re-unite with our friends, family, neighbors and fellow citizens, and support the President in his second term. Let’s take the time to celebrate the end of a long, election year, and use this opportunity to consider what we, as Americans, might be able to do to enhance the quality of life for our fellow citizens and for the welfare, freedom and peace of the world.

© 2004 – 2009, Kharmin's Small Piece of the 'Net. All rights reserved.