A couple months ago I
was ranting about what a pain email has become with
all the out-of-control spam (junk) email that's flying through cyberspace
and landing in my inbox on a regular basis. I mentioned that I'd
resorted to a digital certificate to help spare my friends from spoofed
or bogus email saying it was from me. (Although I just decided to give
up on that route, due to the lack of consistency across the technology.)
Last month I also explained how Instant
Messengers can help as an alternative for getting those important messages
without having to resort to fishing them out of email spam.
This month I'm here to tell you about the wonders of SpamBayes...a
sophisticated spam filter program that has given me back time each
night! Precious time...that I had previously been forced to waste due to
all the junk email that was lying in wait for me when I got home. I thought
I was pretty slick when I set up a bunch of filters in Outlook that should have
grabbed specific spam
and tossed it right to my delete folder. But I was finding important email
in there, too! So each night I had to peruse through hundreds of emails in
the delete folder before deleting them. Then another several hundred (some
nights up to a thousand!) that ended up in my junk folder from all
the other junk filters. After rescuing important email from there, too, it
was time to head to my inbox and go through all the stuff that missed the
filters and ended up there.
In truth, I shouldn't say the filters missed them. The problem lies
in the fact that I was forced to continually add more and more filters to
deal with the new spammer techniques. New filters take presidence over old
ones, unless you reorder them. Something that isn't very easy yet to do in
Outlook. So even when I said "hey, this person can be trusted," those filters
were too easily overwritten by the new ones that said "these new words are
I was averaging about one hour a night just fishing through the
garbage to make sure I didn't accidentally delete important email. Yet folks
were still asking me if I got their email, because I hadn't replied. Email
that I never did get. It was getting crazy. Outlook 2003 has some pretty
good spam and security enhancements. But it's not up to managing the level
of spam that bombards many of us these days.
The camel's back broke the other night when I accidentally was too quick
with the click and deleted my Delete folder from Outlook before I'd had a
chance to check it for important email. I'll never know if some long-lost
aunt left me her fortune, because several hundred emails, good and bad, were
wiped out with a mouse click!<growl>
After several seconds of cursing that even sent the dogs running for cover,
Greg walked into my office and asked, "I take it you're ready for me
to show you SpamBayes now?"
Greg had discovered the Outlook plug-in version of SpamBayes back
in the fall of last year. But I was always "too busy to mess
with it right now."
Had I known how easy it was to setup and that it would reduce my nightly
spam perusal from over an hour to about 5 minutes a night...I would have
jumped at the chance to download and install this free technical wonder.
Greg had patiently tried to tell me, but I was too busy to jump. I
was jumping now. Okay, that night maybe it was more like stomping!
Greg's been telling so many people about this terrific software that he had
the URL memorized. Still steamed, I hit the site that contained the Outlook
plug-in version: http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/windows.html and
started my download...with high hope!
Note! If you don't want the plug-in for Outlook, hit the
main page for other versions, here: http://spambayes.sourceforge.net/.
With Outlook closed, it quickly installed. Once I reopened Outlook 2003,
the SpamBayes wizard popped into action and started walking me through
the simple training it needs in order to learn from me
what I consider spam and what I consider ham...ham being the quality email
(good stuff) I wanted to save, versus the spam I wanted to avoid.
Note! Before you install and go through the wizard, you should
do a little maintenance. Make sure your junk email folder has
as much spam/junk mail as you have available. And think about which folders
might get new mail due to filters redirecting important incoming mail.
You might also want to go through any new rules you've added and turn them
off. I went through and deleted a ton of rules
that I will no longer need due to the great way SpamBayes handles email!
I must have deleted over 50 rules that I'd recently created in an effort
to try to win the spam battle...which I no longer need! What a joy!
You will then train SpamBayes by pointing the ham path to
folders where you have good/important email. SpamBayes will study those items
and rate the information you personally find important. You will also point
it to your junk folder so it can get a taste of spam!
The wizard is straight forward for the most part. Just make sure that you
take the time to actually read the information it's presenting to
you! Then set the training. This will take a few to several minutes, depending
on how much ham/spam you've put on SpamBayes' plate to gobble up. The more,
Once finished, it will simply be a matter of daily training. You'll click
a couple buttons to allow the program to sort out and verify new or possible
spam. The cool thing is that SpamBayes gets smarter the longer you
use it. You'll no longer be fighting a losing battle of manual maintenance!
As the program wises up, you'll have less and less work to do because it'll
prove itself to you...you'll be able to trust it's choices and
results more and more. Greg has been using the program for months and isn't
bothered by much spam anymore. But even after only a few
days, I'm saving tons of time each night! Thank you, SpamBayes!
The program will move email that gets a high spam filter rating
into your junk folder. Email that rates high, but for which the program isn't
quite sure about, will be passed into a Suspect folder. You should
browse the junk folder to make sure it didn't catch important email. This
is particularly important in the beginning and you'll find you're looking
in this folder less as time goes on. Don't delete your spam!
For now...let it pile up. This will give SpamBayes more info to use in comparison
against the junk.
Go through the Suspect folder daily and verify the bad email by clicking
the Delete As Spam button on the new toolbar you'll see appear
in Outlook now that SpamBayes is installed. If you find
important email, use the Recover from Spam button to verify
that it's good stuff. This is all additional training!
If you need to make further adjustments, you can access the other controls
through the SpamBayes main button on its toolbar, as shown below.
There are several more advanced settings available. But unless you really
understand what you're doing in there, it's best to leave most all of the
defaults as they are.
Although the program is easy to get started and easy to use, if all else
fails, check the Help files or the extra information provided on the program's
Realize that I'm not an affiliate for SpamBayes; although I'd love to be,
because this program is so cool. But I can't be, because the program is totally
free! Just as there are jerks out there who write code to trash your computer,
there are champions who write good stuff and give it away in an effort to
help! SpamBayes was created by champions!
And although it's free, I was so thrilled that I quickly hit my PayPal account
and toss them $20 as a donation to "keep up the good work." Sure,
you can take the software and run; but if you can make a donation, that's
a wonderful way to reinforce the fact that you really appreciate the time
someone spent to provide you with something cool. Note that this is my personal
opinion...I'm not dogging you to feel guilty. Just something I personally
think is the right thing to do to help encourage "the
good guys (and gals)" to keep up the good work.
And there is always the wonderful "Thank you!" So to SpamBayes devs
from this spam sufferer...THANK YOU! You've given me back some precious time...not
to mention several pieces of tech email that I'd forgotten about since they'd
apparently been getting lost in the junk folders for ages!