D’oh!

My ISP seems to be having a hard time understanding why I’m complaining to them that their spam filter is allowing spam into my inbox but blocking my efforts to report it to places like Spamcop and New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs. They also seem to be having a hard time accepting that I am unable to forward copies of legitimate email that has been rejected by their spam filter – I don’t have copies of email that never arrived. My sister and I have pretty much given up trying to communicate by email – she’s a customer of the same provider, and, like me, has discovered that family chit-chat is also being blocked for allegedly being spam.

I am thankful the amount of unwanted emails coming my way has dropped significantly in recent months. I am also thankful that I still have ways of forwarding samples of what I receive to interested parties without resorting to major technical trickery or serious deviousness. I have noticed on the provider’s Facbook page that other customers are being bothered by significantly more spam than myself.

One way of reporting spam when your provider blocks the outgoing spam reports is to have multiple accounts with multiple providers loaded up into your email software, and to send the reports from an account where outgoing reports aren’t blocked, this is easily done with Thunderbird. (Don’t ask me how to do it with the Outlook email client – I haven’t used it regularly for several years.)

Further reading can be found on another blog here: voogdnz.wordpress.com/2017/11/02/what-is-spam/ – while you’re there, you might want to do keyword searches for Spark and SMX.

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Coding

The term “Coding” and “computer code” can mean different things to different people. Here are some examples:

  • Source code is a description of how a computer should do a task,  in a form that suits being read by people. It usually cannot be directly used by the computer or device, but will normally need to be translated into a form that the computer can use.
  • Escape codes are, in effect, signals sent to a device, such as a screen or printer, to control the device’s settings.

Something that is typed in to the computer isn’t necessarily a code, even though it might seem to be written in code. If you’re typing it on the command line (via cmd.exe on Windows systems, through the terminal on linux machines), it is a command, not a code.

Microcode is another beast altogether. Sometimes the term corresponds to what used to be referred to as BIOS, sometimes it corresponds to device drivers, sometimes it refers to some machine-level stuff that allows a computer’s processor to process machine language stuff properly. In short, the meaning can vary according to context.

Some tech-support forums ask you to use Code Tags around portions of what you submit. This is usually because the forum software will format the information better that way. It does not automatically follow that what you’re submitting is code, it’s more of an aesthetic thing.

Spam spam spam spammity spam…..

It is with some relief that I am pleased to report that Spark has responded to customer complaints and organized a “mark as spam” option for their webmail users. The incarnation I have seen seems to be available only for individual emails that are opened in their webmail, which is a start. Some other ideas for dealing with unwanted email can be found elsewhere.

A word in the ear of email providers

If you’re an email provider, try to reject unwanted mail during the SMTP exchange where possible. Once you accept a message for delivery, then decide that it shouldn’t be delivered, you are faced with the unenviable task of where to send the non-delivery report. You can’t rely on the validity of the “From:” and “Reply-to:” headers, and sometimes even the “Envelope Sender” or “Retrun path” details, because sender credentials are commonly forged in order to divert attention away from the real sender. A misdirected bounce only adds to the spam problem. Even the “Received:” headers can be tampered with.

The IP address of the system wanting to deliver email to your system is one of the more reliable pieces of information available to system admins – the internet relies on accurate IP addresses in order to work properly.  DNSBL technology is a well established method of quickly and efficiently learning about the reputation of a particular IP address. Both Spamcop and Spamhaus are well established providers of DNSBL services. Using one (or both) should help you stop spam in its tracks. Be sure to read their terms of use. Take the time to read AND understand what they do and how they work.

There are several websites available to help you do your research. The resources provided by WhatIsMyIpAddress and multirbl.valli.org can be of immense help.

Don’t be fooled by claims that you are obliged to pay for removal from one of the UCEPROTECT and Backscaterer lists. If you fix the problem that resulted in the listing, the removal will happen automatically. The payment is only required if you can’t wait a week (or more) after fixing the problem.

Spam is NOT welcome

For some reason, several Chinese spammers have attempted to contact my Lisati persona with Chinese language messages – click here for an example. Any such messages which make it to my inbox WILL be reported as spam, even if the subject tries to claim that it is NOT spam. For anything that has no connection with Ubuntu, Launchpad, or the contents of this blog, please visit my other blog.

 

Freedom of expression

The right to express yourself freely is one that should not be taken lightly. The Ubuntu Forums have rules and guidelines that they expect you to abide by when using their facilities. Likewise, I have some basic expectations for those who choose to contact me by email.

With freedom comes responsibility. Your freedom to communicate relies on your ability to not annoy or inconvenience anyone who might hear or read your message. Effective communication depends on the co-operation of ALL involved. This might include people who might not be particularly interested in what you have to say.

There are some problems with citing rights you believe you have under the first amendment to the US constitution. One problem is that most of your readers will have extremely limited ability to influence American law makers one way or another. Another problem is that the internet is an international community – your email or blog post might be read outside the jurisdiction of the US justice system, in a place where different laws apply.