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Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses [Paperback]

Jeff Duntemann

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Book Description

Oct. 2 2004

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.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 310 pages
  • Publisher: Paraglyph Press; 1 edition (Oct. 2 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193211193X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932111934
  • Product Dimensions: 17.9 x 2.3 x 24 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 581 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,082,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

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.

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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  10 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great resource focuses the most on email Jan. 1 2005
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, the topic is gunk. Dec 5 2004
By Arctic Reporter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Degunking Your Email, Spam, and Viruses, by Jeff Duntemann, is a manual for people who need to spend time with their computer degunking it or want to take time to block gunk. Yes, the topic is gunk! "In the context of this book," Duntemann explains, "'gunk' means any and all unwanted items that come in to your PC by way of the Internet." The main focus is on managing email to delete and avoid gunk that arrives via email. Apple users please note: Duntemann addresses the PC world. This is not an Apple specific book; in fact, MAC in this book refers to Media Access Control.

Duntemann's Degunking is an instructional text for computer novices and experienced computer users, but not for computer experts. Chapter 1 answers the question "Why is your computer suffering from email and virus gunk?" Duntemann discusses in the next five chapters the creation of an email degunking strategy, using the right email client (he recommends using a Web mail service rather than email software), developing good email habits, reading and degunking your email from anywhere, cleaning and organizing your mailbase (your correspondence). Four chapters cover spam - how to avoid it, how to filter it, and how to deep clean spam. Another four chapters cover viruses, trojans, worms, adware, and spyware, all of which he lumps together under the label "malware." One chapter discusses "Nigerian rhapsodies, hoaxes, and other smelly phish." The final chapter outlines step by step what to do if your computer has been attacked by any malware.

Since Duntemann's book addresses PC users rather than Apple users, I recommend skipping this one if you have an Apple computer. It is not a bad book, just not appropriate for Apple users. Paraglyph Press also published Degunking Your Mac, by Joli Ballew (2004). Jane Thomas reviewed that book for the Alaskan Apple Users Group in July 2004, and the review remains available online at [...] Like Duntemann's book, Ballew's provides a 12-Step Degunking Program, though one specific for Apple computers. Thomas concludes in her review:

"Some Mac users might already do such a good job of keeping the clutter on their Mac under control that they don't need this book. But many of us, including me, sure can benefit from the easy-to-read, step-by-step degunking program described in Degunking your Mac. For most of us, this useful book is well worth $24.99. As mentioned in the Introduction, I think this book will stay close to my Mac and will be referred to frequently. I give Degunking Your Mac a rating of 5 mooses. It's terrific!"
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent coverage of a timely topic Jan. 19 2005
By Steven B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent strategies and wisdom for fighting the spam war Nov. 10 2004
By Jack D. Herrington - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I'm extremely impressed with this book. Instead of provided quick fixes for spam the author instead provides long term strategies to help you manage your email, fight spam and defeat viruses. In reality, there are no quick fixes. And people looking for them, both in the software world, and in this book, will be disappointed.

The book spends most of it's 320 pages on mail, both managing it and fighting spam. Managing mail is extremely important. Many of us live on mail but don't spend the time organizing it and creating a workflow to manage it. This book gives you those organizing skills by presenting the sage advice that took many of us years to learn.

The spam fighting material is also excellent. He starts by laying down basic spam fighting procedures (obscuring your address, having throwaway addresses, etc.) then adds on various products and services that will help you.

The virus section is relatively small in comparison to the spam coverage, but that fits it's relation to the problem. You can stop and defeat viruses, but email and spam is something that you have to handle on a daily basis.

For those looking for a quick fix set of solutions, this is not your book, but you don't have the right approach to the problem in the first place. For those willing to learn skills that will allow you to manage email successfully this is a fine place to start.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Internet Gunk 101 and then some July 4 2005
By Dennis Littrell - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
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.

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