16 June 2001
Robert Basler is the president of Aurora Systems, Inc. and a dedicated OS/2 user since he tired of rebooting Windows 3.1 twenty times a day.
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I'm a heavy email user, I have five email accounts for both personal and business use, and I see a lot of spam. Looking
for a solution to this deluge of junk, I got a copy of JunkSpy 2.0 from Sundial Systems.
InstallationJunkSpy's installation is easy and modern, download JunkSpy from the Junkspy website, run the unusually attractive installer, then enter your registration information provided by Sundial Systems when you purchased JunkSpy.
After installation, there is documentation on how to make JunkSpy work with most of the popular OS/2 email clients including MR/2 Ice, Netscape 2.02-4.61, PMMail, Polarbar Mailer, and Post Road Mailer. If you have another mail program, you should be able to make it work with JunkSpy with little difficulty. The documentation for JunkSpy is extensive and explains individual settings well. Since the evening I set it up, I haven't had to look at it once. I like that in product documentation.
As I use Post Road mailer, I had a couple minor changes to make to my Post Road Mailer setup. I had to enter both my email address and the name of my mail server like email@example.com in the User ID field of the POP3 tab for each of my mail accounts. As I have multiple servers, with this little tip, JunkSpy can figure out which mail server to contact when the email program asks for new mail. If you just have one email account, there is a field in the JunkSpy configuration dialog that allows you to set the mail server it should use.
Next I needed to add a filter to take the messages that JunkSpy flags as junk, and store them in a folder for me to look at later. This was a simple matter of adding a filter in Post Road mailer that looked for "X-Junkmail: Yes" in the message header. If you don't know how to add filters, JunkSpy's documentation explains it.
JunkSpy needs to be started before you try to retrieve your email. By default it puts itself into your Startup folder. I didn't like this option because it left JunkSpy running on my desktop. My solution was to add the following to my STARTUP.CMD file:
f: cd \apps\junkspy start /min junkspy.exe
If you don't have anything else in startup.cmd you might not want to do this because startup.cmd starts processing before Workplace Shell is all the way up, and you can still end up with an icon for the app on your desktop. My solution to this problem was to move the startup lines above after the LAN startup lines in my startup.cmd file. Apparently you can also add an undocumented command line option /MIN to the JunkSpy program object in order to have the program start up minimized.
Daily OperationOn a day to day basis, JunkSpy quietly operates in the background with no user intervention. JunkSpy works as an email proxy, a sort of pretend email server that contacts your real email server and processes your email before passing it on to your email application. If you have it visible on the desktop you can click on it to have it cycle through various email statistics such as the number of bytes or messages processed, and the number of bytes or messages that were spam. It can also show you your junkmail ratio, I'm currently showing 17% of my total messages as junkmail. That doesn't sound like much, but if you take out my mailing list messages which are sorted automatically, that means between 6 and 20 junk email a day I'd have to sort through by hand without JunkSpy.
You will probably notice that email downloading is a little slower with JunkSpy running. This is because JunkSpy can communicate with various spam prevention resources on the internet to check out each message. This takes a little extra time, but improves JunkSpy's ability to recognize spam.
SecurityAs JunkSpy operates as a sort of mail server, security is a concern. Theoretically, JunkSpy could leave your computer open to attack from outside computers but since JunkSpy automatically rejects connection attempts from outside your computer, this is highly unlikely. If you are very concerned about security, there are additional security settings you can use to make JunkSpy even more secure.
Automatic UpdatesWhen you purchase JunkSpy you also get a 1-year subscription to their filter update service, just like the service provided by many antivirus software makers. From time to time they will send out updated filters to keep you up to date with the latest spammer exploits. These updates come through, are processed by JunkSpy, then the header from the message with the updates comes through with the updates themselves stripped off so you can see that an update has happened.
Helpful SupportAfter my initial installation, I went to the JunkSpy website to have it send me the current filter update. Unfortunately, something went wrong during the update, damaging JunkSpy's filter database on my PC. An email to Sundial's Support services netted a response and some additional instructions to fix the problem within a couple of hours. The application has worked flawlessly since.
Making Your Own RulesJunkSpy also allows you to add your own rules to the detection database. This is handy if you've inadvertantly ended up on someone's mailing list, and you can't figure out how to get off. I get mail from freedrive.com, which I signed up for for a client a couple of years ago. I don't want to look at their messages anymore, so I just add a Detector called "Personal" for my personal junk mail detection rules, add a Clue for freedrive as shown below, and no more junk mail gets through from them.
One thing I couldn't figure out how to add was a rule that says "if my email address isn't in the header, then it is junk mail." This has long been a personal favourite of mine since most bulk mail doesn't put your email address in the header anywhere. I ended up adding this as an additional filter in Post Road Mailer.
Use Caution with Automatic DeletionIf you are an individual user who mostly gets email from friends and family, then you are probably safe allowing your email application to delete the spam messages JunkSpy detects automatically. If you get email from a wide variety of people, you would be well advised to look at the messages before they are deleted. In the two weeks or so I have been using JunkSpy, I have had 3 messages (out of 641) be wrongly classified as junk. For an individual you can probably live with that, or add your own custom filters to make sure that doesn't happen to anyone important, but as a business person who doesn't know where their next lead is coming from, that's a concern.
To address this I have Post Road Mailer put all my spam into a folder, then every couple of days I quickly look at that mail. If there's anything I'm not sure about from the header, I open it, but generally I just do a mass delete. It is pretty easy to pick out any real email that slips in there.
SummaryOverall I've been quite impressed with JunkSpy. In two weeks it has only let only two or three spam a week through to my inbox out of 112 spam received. That's a pretty good success rate. Although it isn't yet perfect at recognizing spam, by automatically sorting the bulk of it from my real email, I can focus on my real email and worry about checking quickly through the spam folder for mistakes later. As JunkSpy is a zero-maintenance utility that saves me time on a daily basis, I highly recommend picking up a copy.
Price: $59 (Electronic) $64 (CD - includes shipping) get $20 off until July 31, 2001, upgrades get an extra $10 off.
Support: free email and news groups
Platforms: OS/2 Warp, Windows