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Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses [Paperback]

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Item description for Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses by Jeff Duntemann...

The Internet and email has become a communications bonanza, allowing people to socialize, do business, shop, and enhance their education just about anywhere there is a computer. As convenient as all this communication is, it also creates piles of electronic clutter that accumulate on your computer, creating a blizzard of overstuffed files, annoying spam, and pop-ups, and making you vulnerable to dangerous hackers and viruses. Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses is organized according to a special cleaning process and written in everyday language that is designed for all computer users. With our unique 12-step Degunking program, you'll learn all the tried-and-true techniques to keep your computer clutter-free of spam and viruses and running well. The unique Degunking with Time Limitations chart shows how you can improve your computer's performance and keep your email better organized, regardless of whether you have ten minutes or a few hours. This book also provides information and links to free utilities and programs that will help you get rid of viruses, manage your email better, and protect your computer.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   334
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1" Width: 7" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2004
Publisher   Paraglyph
ISBN  193211193X  
ISBN13  9781932111934  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jeff Duntemann

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! JEFF DUNTEMANN is the Editor-in-Chief of Visual Developer magazine, former editor of Turbo Technix and PC Techniques, the "Structured Programming"columnist for Dr. Dobb's Journal, and has written and edited more than twenty programming books.

Jeff Duntemann currently resides in Cave Creek, in the state of Arizona.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Digital Business & Culture > Privacy
2Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > General
3Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Networking > Networks, Protocols & API's > Network Security
4Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Software > Business > General
5Books > Subjects > Computers & Internet > Software > Groupware & Communications > E-mail

Reviews - What do customers think about Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses?

Internet Gunk 101 and then some  Jul 5, 2005
This is the third book on email, spam and viruses and such that I've read in the last couple of weeks, and it is the best. One of the other two, Black Hat: Misfits, Criminals, and Spammers in the Internet Age (2004) by John Biggs, covers much of the same material as covered here but not in as much depth, while the other, Spam Kings (2005) by Brian McWilliams, is more a narrative about the personalities in the spam world than a how-to. (Nonetheless both books are good.)

Duntemann's book has a kind of "Dummies..." or "Idiots..." feel to it with lots of sidebars and photos of computer screens and tips and hints and numbered lists, and even some "Gunkbuster's Notebook" pages; but Duntemann's treatment is more comprehensive than usually found in an introductory book. He goes into considerable detail not only on how to "degunk" your email, but explains how email filters work and how spam, viruses and worms propagate, and what you can do about them. He also looks at various scams and the scary subject of identity theft and advises on how to not fall victim. This book will work for beginners and the experienced alike.

It will be noted that Duntemann doesn't directly address the problems that plague users of the big Internet Service Providers like Yahoo! and AOL, mainly because some of the very measures he recommends are currently being used by the big providers. One of my email addresses is at Yahoo! (Duntemann recommends that you have at least two email addresses) and it gets a lot of spam. But I don't see any of it because Yahoo! has a spam filter that puts it in my bulk folder which I almost never open. I didn't think much of this until I learned how email filters work. I used to think that somehow the ISP identified spam by the number of identical emails sent to its customers (and they may do that); but after reading Duntemann's explanation I now realize that filters usually work on key words and other bits of evidence in the actual email. Certain words like "free" and "mortgage" and especially "unsubscribe" (a near-certain indicator of spam since spammers hope you'll click on that to prove that your email address is a live one) trigger the filters. Another technique, Duntemann explains is so-called Bayesian filtering which uses a "statistical analysis of message length and the distribution of words present in a message" to arrive at a probability of the message being spam.

But this made me wonder if--and Duntemann warns about this possibility--if some legitimate emails were being caught as spam. So I checked my Yahoo! bulk filter and didn't find any. My guess is that the latest filtering tools used by the big ISPs like Yahoo! and AOL are even more sophisticated than those that Duntemann describes in this book.

Duntemann also warns against spam control methods that don't work. Surprisingly, one of these, in his opinion, is making spam illegal. I've always liked that idea, but after reading Duntemann's argument, I'm convinced that it doesn't work, can't be enforced, and only the good guys would comply with such a law. Duntemann points out that the "much ballyhooed [but gutted] CAN-SPAM Act," passed by Congress that went into effect January 1, 2004, "had no effect that can be measured."

There is also a chapter on how to "Avoid Becoming a Spam Magnet!" Naturally the first rule (and this should be the Golden Rule of the Internet) is "Don't patronize spammers." But also don't respond to "surveys" or "dating service" spams "which," as Duntemann explains, "only exist to verify your email address and will lead to even more spam." And whatever you do, DON'T EVER "unsubscribe" to a spammer's mailing list. Spammers love it when you do because that makes your email address valuable to them, either for their own spamming or to sell to other spammers. (Yes, I repeated that. Actually I should also repeat "Don't patronize spammers!" with an exclamation mark. After all, junior's not going to get any bigger no matter what pills you take, and there's no such thing as a reliable "Spanish fly," etc., etc.)

Throughout the book Duntemann gives email addresses and the names of software that can help you in your fight against spam, worms, viruses, and scams. He recommends using "disposable email addresses when dealing with all but the biggest and most reputable online commerce sites."

By the way, I always thought that the reason Microsoft's Outlook Express, its Internet Explorer, and in general Microsoft products were more subject to hacking than other software was that Microsoft's code wasn't as good as say Linux's or that of some other email providers. But if I am reading Duntemann correctly, the real reason is that Microsoft is the biggest target. Why write a virus that can only affect a fraction of the computers on the Net when you can write one that will attack the near-monopoly?

Bottom line: Internet Gunk 101 in a book. Definitely worth the plastic.
degunk your junk  Feb 22, 2005
Duntemann is a co-founder of Paraglyph Press, the publisher of this how-to computer book. His previous publications include Degunking Windows (Paraglyph) and Assembly Language Step-by-Step (Wiley), and he has been writing technical books for the geeks and the plebes for many years. I was immediately drawn to the accessible, common language used in the book. Although, I did find it difficult that he tends to use some non-standard terms several times before actually defining them (ie mailbase).

The first six chapters of the book focus on organizational strategies and software to help manage the flow of email to and from the user. Dunteman describes four profiles of an email user: Public Professional, Private Professional, Student Enthusiast, and Casual Communicator. Most of his recommendations for software and organization focused more on the Private Professional or home user, although the organizational tips could be applied to all four profiles.

The next four chapters examine spam prevention and elimination. He discusses ways to avoid becoming a spam magnet in the first place (guard your email address) and options for blocking incoming spam (filters) and some spam control methods that aren't effective. He is critical of services like SpamCop that offer blackhole filtering because they tend to create more false positives in the attempt to eliminate spam. I have used SpamCop's web mail service for three years, and only occasionally has this been a problem for me. Compared to the amount of spam I was getting from "free" web mail services, I consider it worth the $30 a year. However, I use it only for my personal email, and in that arena, I lean towards the Student Enthusiast profile. A Public or Private Professional might not be as tolerant to false positives from their spam filters.

The rest of the book defines viruses, Trojan horses, and worms, and how to prevent getting them, as well as what to do if your computer becomes infected. This section is geared more towards home users and small businesses, since most large companies have firewalls and antivirus measures in place. The chapter on worms made me wish that I had read this book before I turned on my new laptop last spring. My previous computer was a Pentium II Linux machine connecting to the web via dialup. As far as I know, it was never infected. Within hours of dialing up on this Athlon XP-M machine, my computer had four or five worms crawling around inside. I quickly obtained an antivirus utility and set up the Windows XP firewall. Duntemann recommends using a two-way firewall, rather than relying on the Windows firewall, which I intend to do as soon as possible.

The last section of the book includes a chapter on spyware and adware, generally referred to as malware. Duntemann recommends two common software programs that scan your computer for malware and eliminates it. He also lays out web surfing strategies that will help prevent malware from being installed on your computer. I took great pleasure in reading the many recommendations to switch from using Internet Explorer to some other browser scattered throughout the book. Duntemann gives more coverage of Mozilla Firefox than other browsers, which is likely to be helpful in increasing the visibility of that robust little open source browser since this book is directed towards the less-than-savvy Internet user.

This book is not for advanced email users and web surfers, and it makes no pretension of being so. However, I was able to glean a few tips and tricks from it, so it may be worthwhile for the geeks to give it a once-over. New email users and those overwhelmed by the size of their inboxes will find this to be a great tool for maximizing the email experience.
Clean it up and keep it tidy  Feb 10, 2005
If you have used email for more than a couple of months you realize the problem of spam, viruses, adware, and other aggravations. Resolving that problem, at least to the extent possible given your user environment is the purpose of this book. The approach is simple - create a gunk-free email strategy, degunk your email, degunk your spam, degunk viruses, worms, and spyware, and then keep it from happening again.

While not a technical treatise for the power user this is an excellent resource for the average Internet user who wants to know what is happening with their email, slow system performance, and other annoyances. This book explains in simple layman's terms what is happening, how to clean it up, and how to greatly reduce the rate at which it happens again. Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses is highly recommended for the every-day user who wants to regain control of their in-box.
Excellent coverage of a timely topic  Jan 20, 2005
Spam and computer viruses are taking some of the pleasure and productivity out of using computers. Not many people have e-mail accounts that are free of spam. Every moment you are connected to the Internet, you run the risk of being infected with spyware or adware. Everyone who is sent files by e-mail is at risk for getting a computer virus.

"Debunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses" is a very friendly book with all kinds of strategies for keeping your computer from getting infected. I bought this book chiefly because I was curious how I could keep spam from flooding my e-mail account, but only half of this book's 16 chapters are devoted to spam. You will also get information about viruses, adware and spyware, and firewalls. There is also an amusing chapter about Internet scams -- "phishing" is the term -- and how to avoid them.

This is not your run-of-the-mill computer book. It is extremely well written and well organized. The writing is clear, friendly, and humorous at times. I wish more computer book publishers would take a cue from the Paraglyph Press, publishers of the book. The design is professional and a far cry from the slammed-together books you usually get in the computer field.

My only quarrel with this book is the author's enthusiasm for Bayesian spam filtering. The author devotes a chapter to Bayesian filtering, which I think is not near as effective has he thinks it is. Other than that, "Debunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses" sets a standard for computer books that I hope more computer books meet in the future.
Great resource focuses the most on email  Jan 2, 2005
Before reaching the title page inside the book, the first few pages quickly cover the 12-step degunking program with a list followed by 15-minute, 30-minute, one-hour, and three-hour to half-day steps for degunking email and viruses with time limitations. This section finishes off with top 20 tasks for clearing the email cobwebs. Excellent start.

If you're overwhelmed at the thought of following a 12-step program and spending more than a day going through each step, the time limitations section should ease your mind. It's a good way to begin, baby steps. Don't stop there, however. Make it part of a long-term program and pick up some of the habits it covers.

I already use many of the tips, but that's no surprise as obsessed with organization as I am. Though I have implemented many of the suggestions, the book provides value because it offers a process for cleaning up as well as tips I hadn't considered. It took me years to come up with many of the tips covered. So don't wait years to figure it out yourself when you can get it right now with one resource, this book.

Sure, it covers the usual, "have a firewall running" and "ensure your anti-virus program is running and up to date." However, you'd be surprised how many people don't have either in place. This book would be incomplete without these recommendations.

Though a majority use Outlook or Outlook Express for managing email, Duntemann discusses other clients including The Bat!, Thunderbird, Pegasus, and Eudora. Like many things in life, everyone has different needs when it comes to email. The author discusses four email profiles and mentions them throughout the book so whichever you are, follow the advice for that profile.

Like the other books in Paraglyph's Degunking series, this one is easy to read and addresses the advantages and disadvantages of various tools. Anyone who gets the book and follows its steps will experience a leaner, cleaner email box and possibly a faster-running computer. Most users of all levels should benefit from this book. The only group that might not invest in it are those who know everything inside out about spam, viruses, malware, and adware and how to deal with them.

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