Issue #40 September 2, 2003

1. Keeping Your Computer Safe – Spam

This time in the ongoing discussion on how to keep your computer safe, I want to talk about dealing with spam. Spam is the term used to describe the unsolicited e-mail that we all receive. Some reports suggest by the end of this year, there will be more spam e-mails sent per day than legitimate e-mail! What everyone wants to know is “How do I stop all this stuff!?!” Well, you can’t stop it, you can only manage it. Some software programs or services promise to stop it, but when these filters delete messages, they unfortunately also delete some legitimate e-mails because of the rules they use. There are two major strategies that I have found most useful in combating spam. The first is to keep your e-mail address away from where spammers harvest addresses. If you participate in newsgroups, never put your e-mail address in any posting. Also, don’t reply to spam messages that you get because then the spammer knows your e-mail is valid and you will get even more. Some people have told me that they have been able to reduce spam by asking to be removed from these e-mails, but I feel it is safer to not reply. The second strategy is to use the Rules feature in Outlook or Outlook Express. This feature allows you to automatically delete e- mails that meet certain criteria that you can set. I have found setting criteria based on the e-mail subject or words/phrases in the body of the e-mail to be most effective. I have reduced the spam in my Inbox by over 75% by using rules. With each rule you can set exclusions to the rule so that e-mails you know are OK but contain a certain word or phrase will get through. When you set up a set of rules, make sure you regularly check the deleted folder to see if a legitimate e-mail got caught by the rules you set up. The one I always need to check for are the e-mail from Woody’s Office Watch since the word “woody” matches a rule I have set up to delete e-mails about a certain part of the body. The last suggestion I have is to make sure you are not contributing to spam by using the Reply All button too much. Check the PC Magazine web site ( or PC World web site ( for the latest articles on spam.

2. New version of Adobe Acrobat

A few months ago Adobe announced the newest version of their Acrobat product, version 6. There are now two versions available, the Standard version and the Professional version. For most people, the Standard version is all they need, since the Professional version adds features used only in large organizations or special situations such as one button creation from MS Project or Autocad, creating electronic forms and advanced layering and large document tools. Adobe has also released a new version of the Acrobat Reader, the free program that allows anyone to read Adobe Acrobat PDF files. This new reader integrates the e-book reader functionality that was formerly available only as an add-in to Acrobat. My advice is to stay with your current version of Acrobat until the new year. I always want to see how a new version works before upgrading. I would still create PDF documents to the version 3 compatibility level because so many people never upgrade their Reader software. As I hear more about how the new version is working in real situations, I’ll pass it on. You can read more about the new versions on Adobe’s web site at:

3. Useful Resource – HTML Reference Site

At some point it is likely that you will have to either read or write some HTML for a web site or web-like document. When you have to, here is a great site that I use all the time to figure out how the commands work. It is by W3 schools and it lists every HTML command, how it works and good examples of how to use the command. Check it out at: