Unsolicited commercial email--spam--has become the most frequent complaint among users of the Internet. Its blaring subject lines and gaudy content--repetitive at best and frequently offensive--have made it much harder to make productive use of computers. Fighting Spam for Dummies presents some techniques for keeping your email address off spammers' mailing lists and, when that fails, keeping junk mail out of your primary inbox with filters and other utilities. As a last resort, the book (which, oddly, has three co-authors of its 200 small pages) shows you how to adjust your email program so it doesn't automatically show pictures and is less likely to spread viruses.
There's a fair bit of interesting material in this book, a lot of which has to do with the tricks spammers use to conceal their identities. You'll find detailed instructions on how to convert the header lines of a garbage message--complete with obfuscated URLs and fake IP addresses--into the real origin of the message. Of course, there's not much more to do once you've figured out that the message originated in Taiwan or Russia, but that's not the fault of the authors. Elsewhere in this slender handbook, you'll find click-by-click instructions for erecting filters and making other worthwhile configuration changes in Eudora, Netscape and Mozilla Mail, several versions of Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express, and several Webmail sites. --David Wall
Topics covered: Where spam comes from and what you can do about it. Instructions for configuring email clients focus on software for Microsoft Windows.