Scribe, ut possis cum voles dicere: dices cum velle debebis (Pl. Ep. 6.29)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

New Economy

Direct digital advertising for generic and branded man's health remedies, discounted OEM software, replicas of swiss watches and university diplomas and also free stock tips, all of which is collectively known as spam is very interesting. I read all the spam that i receive. The fun part is the tricks they use to bypass filters:

  • Using HTML and CSS tricks such as dir, float, div, table etc., so that invisible characters are inserted between the letters of the words 6EnerIc v1/|Gra. Often those characters are floated to the right side of the message, so when you try to mark the word C|a1i5 you see that a bunch of gibberish characters are selected at the other part of the window.
  • Generic subjects: The word "news" is very prominent, but i obviously can't block every message with it. Also featuring: "You blocked my AIM", "party tonight", "Re: [5]", "Fw: meeting" etc.
  • Dada: Excerpts from books and news are inserted at the bottom of the email. A few months ago articles about Harry Potter were the most common source, which prompted Google to present me with advertising about Harry Potter merchandise. Luckily Google realized after some time then showing ads on spam messages is not very clever and turned it off. Later it was the book "Bourne Identity" and recently they switched to "The Hobbit". Smaug, Fili, Kili, Bombur, Gandalf, Bard and Bilbo - my goodness! I send my thanks to the spammers for reminding me that i should read the book again.
  • A blank email with no sender and no subject. And no To: field either. The most pointless thing ever. Maybe it is just a bug in the GMail system, but it is tagged as spam.
  • Nonsense text, probably auto-generated, the kind of which i used to post here under the title "Vegetarian Spam". I absolutely love these and save them all. Here's another fine sample:

somewhere pride drew fly, least motor explain light. drew again light.
find immediate yours fascinate? different human disappoint use very.
carefully disappoint edge slow rich why.
servants social tying. nothing corner sugar servants. here similar profession,
raise wanted immediate anything. allow evening development use fascinate evening.

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