11th May 12:28
Doing the math on spam... (numbers able order case magic)
[Please excuse the example.org e-mail address. I need another
joe job like I need another hole in my head.]
I've had a certain e-mail address for nearly a decade. It's an easy
address to remember, and I'm not about to give it up. Every so often
I'll get a message from someone I haven't seen in a while, and because
I've used it for certain business contacts (like domain registration)
just abandoning this address is out of the question.
The problem is that the amount of unsolicited e-mail I receive has
increased by an order of magnitude over the last eigh**** months.
Even on a 640Kb/sec. DSL connection it takes forever to get my
mail in the morning (mostly due to my original ISP's servers being
swamped under the load of all this spam), and it would take even
longer if I didn't check it twice more each day (afternoon and
evening, pretty much whenever I make myself a cup of coffee).
Today, being the end of the 2nd quarter of the year, I cleaned out
my "spamtrap" folder. I get my mail on an OS X box (immune to the
myriad viruses I receive), and I use Apple's Mail.app (with a set
of about fifty custom filters to funnel p3n1s and br34st enhancement
offers into a special folder). I like Mail.app, but it tends to slow
down when the folder gets too large, so I've taken to cleaning the
spamtrap out every quarter. It's like cleaning out the trap in the
drain under the kitchen sink, except that hairballs and rotting food
are more appealing than unsolicited commercial e-mail.
Some time last year I noticed that the amount of spam I was getting
was increasing, even without doing a monthly or quarterly count.
Today I did the math. I happened to have last year's mailbox handy
on a backup disk. By grepping for a "Date: " header and narrowing
this down by month, I was able to assemble a semi-accurate monthly
count. It's possible that some messages lacked a "Date:" header and
others might have had more than one, but the numbers matched the
message count in Mail.app fairly well. Here are the numbers:
Year Month # Per Quarter Per Day YTD
2002 Jan 493 15.90 18369
Feb 362 12.93
Mar 545 Q1 1400 17.58
Apr 885 29.50
May 1498 48.32
Jun 1710 Q2 4093 57.00
Jul 1797 57.97
Aug 1990 64.19
Sep 2102 Q3 5889 70.07
Oct 2213 71.39
Nov 2222 74.07
Dec 2552 Q4 6987 82.32
2003 Jan 2243 72.35 19915
Feb 2300 82.14
Mar 3126 Q1 7669 100.84
Apr 3720 124.00
May 4216 136.00
Jun 4310 Q2 12246 143.67
The size of my spamtrap_2002 mailbox is 163 Megabytes. For the first
half of 2003 I've received 179 MB. If this trend continues, I expect
to receive 45,000 to 60,000 pieces of spam, between 400 and 550 MB,
for the year 2003. Since I expect to be back on dialup soon, perhaps
someone can do the math for me and tell me how long it will take to
receive all this spam over a 53Kb line.
Compare this with 2000, when my spam folder was a mere 6MB, or 1996,
when I received a whopping 183 Kilobytes of unsolicited commercial
It's been over five years since I've posted my address unmunged on
Usenet or the Web, but I suppose this doesn't matter. Once you're
on those "200,000,000 Guaranteed E-Mail Addresses!" CDs, you never
come off. I've never hit the "Unsubscribe" link either, since I
know that this only confirms the existence of someone on the other
end of the address.
What really bakes my noodle is all of the messages that state "You
have agreed to opt-in to this...". Do people really think that
starting out a business relationship with a bald-faced lie is the
best way to sell a product? (Yes, I know, Rule #whatever...)
I regret to say that I've done some rather unscrupulous things in
return, mostly during cold winter evenings when I've had a bit too
much to drink. Nothing permanent, nothing that really breaks any
laws. At least nothing that exceeds that magic $5,000 number that
would attract the attention of the authorities in my country. I do
port-scan spammers, mostly the ones that send really offensive pr0n
offers, and if possible send a Windows pop-up message like "Wake up,
Neo" or something like that. I even installed a squid proxy on my
LAN, just to see if I could do a buffer overrun or something. Alas,
my kung fu is not strong enough. (And no, the proxy is not open to
What I can do is this: I have a relative who works for Pfizer, the
makers of Viagra. Viagra is a registered trademark of Pfizer. In
the case of trademarks, you have to actively defend them, lest they
fall into common usage like "Kleenex" or "Xerox" (as per the Lanham
Act of 1934). Grepping for "viagra" returns over a thousand hits
on last year's spam folder. You can see where this is going, right?
Why bother playing "whack-a-mole" when you can sic the legal department
of a multi-billion dollar corporation on a spammer?
I came here to pronounce the death of e-mail (film at 11!). Perhaps
it can be reclaimed. Perhaps not. But I'd like to remind the spammers
that lurk here that for every person who "just hits delete", there's
a person like my cousin Eddie, a former Hell's Angel with two young
daughters who, after his youngest girl opened one of those barnyard
pr0n spams ("She wanted to see the pony."), told me that he wanted to
flatten a spammer's scrotum with a ball peen hammer.
He said I could watch. How cool is that?
p.s.: 173 pieces of spam in the last 24 hours. It's getting deep...