SPAM is back under control

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I know, what a silly thing to say, and in public at that!

Previously, I posted on my woes in having old SpamBayes filtering starting to fail and new procmail rules that I foolishly put in myself causing me to suffer from spam more than usual. I am happy to report that it’s back under control, mostly thanks to the fact that I’ve finally spent some time studying other people’s procmail rules, and learning a bunch of techniques that I was previously unaware of. The truth is that I was a complete luddite in terms of using procmail in a completely vanilla fashion.

My biggest single breakthrough was in realizing that I could run any set of tests against any arbirtrary file, rather than having to wait for an email to come in and see whether my new test worked or not. Doh! So now, when an email comes in that I believe I can trap in the future, I copy it out, write some rules, run procmail against that file until I’m happy, and insert the rule into my real procmail file. Cool!

Paying appropirate homage to the ones I learned from, here are two sites that got my juices flowing:

The first site above concludes by saying that you don’t need to know what he just taught you, as you can install SpamBouncer instead. I installed it, and I have to say it’s a mind-bogglingly sophisticated system. I can’t believe how much work has gone into this. That said, while I learned a lot there too, and will probably go back again and again to some of the recipes and techniques in there, I am not going to “put it into production”.

Why? Essentially three reasons:

  1. It’s incredibly slow in processing messages (understandably so!) as it goes through more tests than you can shake a stick at (and possibly connects to outside servers as well, but I’m not 100% sure about that yet).
  2. It’s very cpu intensive. I could likely live with the slowness, given how good a job it does, but I run many other things on the machine, including some sensitive applications (e.g., Asterisk) so I prefer not to load the cpu when possible.
  3. The last time SpamBouncer was updated was 4/16/2006. It’s too large a system for me to want to actively maintain, and given the speed with which spammers morph their capabilities, it’s simply easier for me to toss in a new rule or two into my own anemic set of rules.

Anyway, all I can say is hooray 🙂

Now, in case it hasn’t been completely obvious to my numerous readers, I’m a relatively passionate person (OK, let’s not use euphemisms, the correct term is obsessive). As a result, much of my recent “free time” has been spent in this pursuit. As a result, my other previous obsession (online Poker), has taken a back seat. I have played a total of 2-3 hours of online Poker in the past 3+ weeks. For those who know me, that has to be a shocking fact 😉

Noting the above, it’s clear that there are other ways to solve this problem. Notably, my good friend, and one of the most tech-savvy people I have ever meet, Jamie Thingelstad, chose to throw in the towel. I completely understand his decision, and might arrive there at some point in the future. Still, the contents of my emails are the heart of my business, and I can’t imagine parting with them and putting them in someone else’s care (at least not yet). He, and many others, have been trying to get me to switch to a Mac for years as well, and that hasn’t happened yet either 😉