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Software Review of:
Spam Punisher
1.4 Beta


Susan Ives is a past president of Alamo PC.

From the April, 2002 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

At first I thought it was just me, just my mail box. The amount of spam, or unwanted commercial e-mail, was getting ridiculous. But then I started getting calls: ďSusan. What can I do about this %^#@! spam?Ē Itís happening to everyone. Weíre being pursued by junk mail. 

Spam Punisher is a shareware program that automates the process of sending complaint letters to the ISPs (Internet Service Providers) of people who send you unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Before I describe how the program works, a few caveats:
* This is not the program you want to invoke against a friend (soon to be former friend) who is indiscriminate with the forward-to-everyone-I-know button on his or her e-mail program. Deal with that privately.
* Itís also not a fair way of extricating yourself from mailing lists for which you enrolled. Legitimate businesses often correspond with their customers. Responsible ones provide clear instructions on how to stop the flow of unwanted mail, should you tire of it.
* Whatever you do, donít attempt to stop spam by replying to the sender. This just confirms that they have a live e-mail address, and is likely to increase your traffic, not put an end to it. 

Start by opening up the offending e-mail. This is a trick I didnít know: press the Ctrl+F3 buttons on your keyboard. This will open up a new window that will display all of the routing information for that message, including the IP address from which it originated.

Next, perform your second new trick. Click anywhere on the text and press the Ctrl+A key combination. All of the text will be selected. Finally, press Ctrl+C to copy the data onto your Windows clipboard.

Now youíre ready to engage Spam Punisher. Open the program, position your cursor in the big white Window on the left of the screen and press Ctrl+V to paste the text into Spam Punisher. Click on the UPDATE  button, and the program will scan through the message to ferret out the IP Address. Click on CHECK THIS IP and the ISPs data appears in the right hand pane. Finally, click on SEND COMPLAINT and Spam Punisher automatically generates a properly addressed complaint letter to the ISP, including the text of the offending message. Press the REPLY ALL button on your e-mail program, then send the message.

The makers of Spam Punisher claim that ISPs donít take kindly to spammers and may admonish them, or even cancel accounts. 

The program isnít perfect. About half of the messages I attempted to process didnít disclose an e-mail address for the ISP and the Spam Punisher advised me to contact them by other means. Thatís too much trouble Ė itís easier to hit the delete button. I havenít noticed a decrease in the amount of spam Iím getting, either, but then, I really didnít expect to. For me, the joy of this program is the knowledge that Iím at least taking action and not sitting idly by while people waste my time.

Spam Punisher is donationware, which means itís free but theyíd be really happy if you sent them $20 so they can continue to develop the software to make it better. You can download it from BioSolutions . Itís a quick download: only 339 KB. Itís a zipped file, so youíll need to run WinZip or another decompression program before you install it. 

 It works with virtually any flavor of Windows. It operates very well as I described it with MS Outlook and Outlook Express. If you are using Netscape Mail you will have to VIEW PAGE SOURCE (or, Ctrl+U) to gain access to all of the required mail headers. The instructions are fuzzy if you use a different mail program or read your mail through an online reader such as HotMail. If it works with HotMail or Yahoo Mail, I couldnít figure it out. 

If you want to learn more about unsolicited commercial e-mail and how to put the brakes on it, visit  Fight Spam or  Junk Busters . Either site will lead you to more information.

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