October 10, 2002

Getting annoyed with your Internet experience?  I know it gets frustrating when all you want to do is see what all the Internet has to offer and after you do some surfing, you start getting a bunch of unwanted junk mail (spam).  I usually try to encourage everyone to use Outlook Express for their mail program.  It's free, comes with Windows and is easy to use.  Some other reasons are to follow.

Email filtering is a very useful way to eliminate spam and Outlook has a very powerful set of Message Rules tools available.  You can set up virtually any set of criteria you want to get rid of annoying messages.  In Outlook Express, go to the Tools menu, click on Message Rules, then click on Mail.  Now, click on New.  The top box contains a variety of areas in the email where the rule will look for the information you will give it.  For instance, let's click on Where the Subject line contains specific words.  Now, the next section gives a lot of options telling Outlook what to do with the messages once it has found matching criteria.  My favorite is the last one on the list, Delete it from server. This one is great because the message is never downloaded to your computer.  In the third box, click on the blue text and put in words or phrases you want to get rid of.  Keep in mind, any words you put in here will cause any messages with these words to be acted on so only use words found in offending messages such as: sex, Viagra, etc., and phrases like get rich, make money, etc.  Rules can easily be modified later by clicking on the blue text and then adding or deleting items. 

Of course, the best way to eliminate the spam is not to give out your email address in the first place.  We all know that's not possible so here are a couple of tips.  I never register anything, not software, hardware, anything.  Get a free email account at Yahoo or Hotmail and use that address when you are on the net.  Airlines and car rental agencies are good ways to get on spam lists.  If you use Hotmail, Outlook Express allows you to import messages directly into your mail program. 

Once you have a bogus email address for surfing you go to the email server once a month and delete all the messages. This keeps the account active and since you only use the address for surfing stuff, there won't be any messages in there you care about so you needn't spend time going through them.

Pop up ads, another very annoying inconvenience. This particular annoyance is totally out of control. It almost seems like web sites are competing with each other to see who can have the largest number of pop up ads.  I've been using a program called Pop Up Stopper for quite a while now.  It is free and stops almost all pop up ads.  There are a lot of programs out there but I like the way this one works so I really haven't tried more than a couple of these programs. 

The only thing you need to learn is when some sites have info you are trying to get by clicking on a link, and that link opens up another window, you may need to hold down the Ctrl key when you click on the link.  That tells the program it is OK to open up a pop up window.  There are utilities out there to help take the frustration out of the marketing going on so try some of them.  Also, and this is a big one for a lot of people.  Don't be afraid to give out credit card information, etc. on secure sites.  I'm always amazed at the number of people who will not give any information out, but then they will pick up the phone and order something and give the company their credit card number on the phone. Truth is, it's sufficiently more secure to give out information on a secure server.  Phones are a good place for information to get into the wrong hands.

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