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Drowning in a sea of spam? Spamsweep can help

Mel Martin

First things first: as a new blogger around here, let me introduce myself. Hi, I'm Mel Martin. I spent most of my life as a journalist, then moved over to the technology side. I spent 4 years at the BBC working on creating a content management system.

I'm an avid amateur astronomer and have published many images taken from my home observatory. I've also written a book about film producer Samuel Bronston, who created epic films like El Cid, Fall of the Roman Empire, King of Kings and 55 Days at Peking. I participated in the recent DVD releases of two of the Bronston films, and shared in doing the commentary on the Fall of the Roman Empire DVD released in April. I've had Macs since 1984, the Apple II before that. Glad to be here, and hope I can share some interesting posts with you. And here we go....

There are lots of applications out there to deal with spam, but many run within or alongside the mail client itself, and that can be problematic when you are away from home and using limited bandwidth -- you still have to download all the mail in order for your local filters to process it. My ISP offers POP mail, and does some filtering on the server side, but 30-40 spams still get through every day.

Spamsweep from Bains Software offers a nice solution that has largely gone unnoticed, although there was a brief mention of it here in 2005. Now, for people with iPhones or other smartphones, it is even more useful. Spamsweep is a small app that displays an icon in your menu bar. In my situation, it runs on my Mac Pro desktop at home, checking my mail account(s) once a minute. It downloads the spam, and leaves the good mail alone, ready to pass it on to any device while I am on the road, connected via a laptop or cell phone. The spam gets trapped and goes to spam heaven (or hell).

You can train it, of course, and go back through the list of spam to correct any errors, but there are darned few of them. A nice side benefit is that it keeps the spam off my iPhone. It works with several mail clients including Apple Mail, Eudora, Entourage, Mailsmith, Powermail and Thunderbird. Those connections to your mail app are important only if you want Spamsweep to launch your mail client after it checks for spam. I don't use it in that mode, so Spamsweep quietly spends the day obediently checking my POP mail account and cleaning out the garbage. It is great when I travel, and when I get home I can check to see if there are any good messages (false positives) that got trapped. That almost never happens; if Spamsweep is unsure, it passes the mail through.

Support from the company has been very good, and there are usually a few updates per year adding some features and tightening up the code. It's a great solution for keeping spam vanquished when you travel, and really keeps your iPhone (or lesser device) clean.

Of course, a spam message could sneak in if your phone checks your mail server right before Spamsweep has done its check, but in the real world I only see that happen a couple of times a week, and of course during that week Spamsweep has snagged hundreds of messages I never want to see.

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