Exchange and Outlook UPDATE, Outlook Edition—brought to you by Exchange & Outlook Administrator, the print newsletter with practical advice, how-to articles, tips, and techniques to help you do your job today.
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July 16, 2002—In this issue:
- Netting the Spammers
- Enter the Windows & .NET Magazine/Transcender Sweepstakes!
- Real-World Tips and Solutions Here for You
3. HOT RELEASE (ADVERTISEMENT)
- Imanami Announces Directory Transformation Manager
- Tip: Deleting Imported Data
- Results of Previous Outlook Instant Poll: Do you use digital risk insurance?
- New Outlook Instant Poll: Do you use Outlook keyboard shortcuts?
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
- Automatically Schedule Outlook Tasks
6. CONTACT US
- See this section for a list of ways to contact us.
(contributed by Sue Mosher, News Editor, email@example.com)
Until mid-2001, I had a set of Outlook Rules Wizard rules for identifying junk mail; these rules were about 95 percent accurate. One of the key rules quarantined items that weren't sent directly to my address or to a list that I had knowingly subscribed to. But then senders of unsolicited commercial email (UCE)—or "spam"—switched tactics and starting addressing messages individually, rather than sending bulk mail with the addresses in the Bcc field. I gained back a little ground with Outlook 2002's support for a "whitelisting" filter that separates out messages from addresses in your Contacts folders (for more information about this feature, see "Outwitting Spammers," http://www.exchangeadmin.com , InstantDoc ID 21738). But I was beginning to feel that screening out junk mail with Outlook tools alone was a losing battle.
I'm now beta testing SpamNet, an add-in and service for Outlook 2002 and Outlook 2000 that takes a different approach to filtering spam. The SpamNet service uses a network of thousands of users to build a vast database of known spam messages. The add-in running in Outlook receives updates from the network and quarantines suspected spam into a Spam folder. SpamNet is from Cloudmark, whose principals include Napster cofounder Jordan Ritter.
Here's how SpamNet works: As you receive messages in Outlook, SpamNet works in the background, comparing the new mail in your Inbox against a list of known spam messages that other SpamNet users have already reported. If SpamNet finds a match, it moves the suspected spam from the Inbox to the Spam folder. If SpamNet misses a piece of junk mail, you can use a new Block button on the toolbar to move the item to the Spam folder and, at the same time, report it to SpamNet. Similarly, an Unblock button lets you mark items that were misidentified as junk mail. You can also run SpamNet on demand against any Outlook mail folder.
SpamNet weights spam reports from its users by various factors, such as the amount of spam the user has received and reported and the accuracy of the user's previous reports. SpamNet also lets you whitelist a sender's email address so that the add-in never marks that sender's messages as spam on your machine.
The SpamNet public beta has been under way only since late June, but in its first 14 days, the database collected 4GB of spam. Cloudmark's Tricia Fahey says that when SpamNet was released, it was already capable of catching 75 percent of spam by using information gleaned over the past year by Razor, an open-source, UNIX-based, distributed spam-detection tool for ISPs developed by Cloudmark cofounder Vipul Ved Prakash. Fahey says the company estimates that SpamNet is now catching better than 90 percent of spam sent to its Outlook testers and that some SpamNet users are reporting as much as 98 percent effectiveness.
The service has at least a couple of potential hitches. The first is that because SpamNet is a distributed service like Napster, it works only when you're online. The program will have to work fast to do its analysis before a dial-up user hangs up after downloading messages.
The second is privacy concerns. Obviously, SpamNet must read a mail message to identify whether it matches anything in the spam database. SpamNet uses a unique "signature" generated from the message to test for matches, and Cloudmark says this method protects users' privacy. The SpamNet database stores both messages that SpamNet users report and message signatures, but end users don't have access to the messages. Their copy of SpamNet accesses just the signatures in the database. I'm also concerned about SpamNet's interaction with Rules Wizard rules that also operate on incoming messages, but so far, Rules Wizard and SpamNet haven't collided on my machine.
Reporting spam to other Outlook users, even through a third party's database, sure seems a lot more effective than trying to report spammers to their ISPs. Cloudmark plans to offer a feature-enhanced service to consumers for a fee and provide a spam-detection service to ISPs and corporations, but Fahey says the current product will remain free. It will be interesting to see whether the enterprise product will include an Exchange 2000 Server interface.
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(contributed by Sue Mosher, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Q: I made the mistake of importing some data into Outlook twice. How can I delete the duplicates?
A: Although Outlook doesn't provide an automatic method for removing duplicate items, a view can help you identify the items for deletion. Try creating for the folder a new table view that includes the Created date and time field, or add the Created field to an existing table view. Click the Created column to sort by creation date. Items that you import as a group display a Created time within a few minutes of one another, making it easy to select them and either delete them or move them to another folder until you're sure you don't need them.
See the Exchange & Outlook Administrator Web site for more great tips from Sue Mosher.
The voting has closed in Windows 2000 Magazine's Exchange & Outlook Administrator Channel nonscientific Outlook Instant Poll for the question "Do you use digital risk insurance?" Here are the results (+/-2 percent) from the 99 votes:
0% We used to use it but don't now
6% We don't use it at the moment but plan to do so
92% We've never used it and have no plans to do so
The next Outlook Instant Poll question is "Do you use Outlook keyboard shortcuts?" Go to the Exchange & Outlook Administrator Channel home page and submit your vote for a) Yes, b) No, or c) I would if I understood them better.
5. NEW AND IMPROVED
(contributed by Bob Kretschman, email@example.com)
ResultsWare released Taskline, a productivity tool for all Windows versions of Outlook that uses critical-path techniques to schedule tasks on Outlook's task list. The software can automatically give each task a recommended start and finish date. The scheduling function considers a user's typical work week and preexisting commitments, such as meetings and holidays. Taskline can help users predict when work will be finished, know whether they're ahead of or behind schedule, ensure that their deadlines are realistic, and have an achievable and predictable schedule. Taskline costs $49.95 per license. For more information, contact ResultsWare at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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