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Leo's Answers #139 – August 5, 2008

Leo's Answers
A Weekly Newsletter From
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Leo Notenboom

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*** Contents

*** This Week's New Articles on Ask Leo!

What do terms like "opt-in", "opt-out" and "double opt-in" mean?

I keep hearing terms like "opt-in", "opt-out" and "double opt-in" but I don't get what they mean. What do they mean?

In short they indicate whether or not you were given a choice, and in the case of "double opt-in", whether or not it was really you that accepted that choice.

The terms are actually fairly generic, but we'll look at it from the perspective of email, and spam.

Continue reading: "What do terms like "opt-in", "opt-out" and "double opt-in" mean?"
http://ask-leo.com/what_do_terms_like_optin_optout_and_double_optin_mean.html

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What do I need to know about the DNS vulnerability?

There's been a lot of press around some kind of "big, bad" vulnerability in DNS. I don't need the details, I just want to know what it means to me, and what, if anything, I need to do to be safe.

DNS is one of those critical internet infrastructure things that we just don't think of all that often. But it is, indeed, critical. And when a vulnerability is discovered, it's a big deal.

A very big deal.

Continue reading: "What do I need to know about the DNS vulnerability?"
http://ask-leo.com/what_do_i_need_to_know_about_the_dns_vulnerability.html

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How do I get rid of a "Windows cannot find |sass.exe" error message on login?

When my computer has boots up I get a pop up stating "Windows cannot find 'C:WINDOWSsystem|sass.exe'. make sure you type the name correctly, and then try again. to search for a file click the Start button, and then click Search."

How do I get rid of it?

This question shows one of the very subtle ways that virus writers try to fool you.

And there's no question, you have, or had, a virus.

Continue reading: "How do I get rid of a "Windows cannot find |sass.exe" error message on login?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_do_i_get_rid_of_a_windows_cannot_find_sassexe_error_message_on_login.html

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Why are some of my file names blue?

Why are some of my file names in blue font, while most are black?

It's a feature!

I'm assuming that you're referring to the Windows Explorer listing of files, probably in detail view.

The blue files are compressed.

Let's talk about what that means, and how you can turn that display on and off.

Continue reading: "Why are some of my file names blue?"
http://ask-leo.com/why_are_some_of_my_file_names_blue.html

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How can an https web site still be nonsecure?

I have heard that going to an "https" web site isn't a guarantee of security, and that some data I enter might still be unencrypted. How can that be? I thought https was encrypted and could not be sniffed?

You're right: https is encrypted, and cannot be sniffed.

However, everything can be foiled by bad web site design. In fact, I'd go so far as to even say easily foiled by bad website design and by the fact that we all tend to turn off one very annoying -but important - error message.

Continue reading: "How can an https web site still be nonsecure?"
http://ask-leo.com/how_can_an_https_web_site_still_be_nonsecure.html

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*** Featured Comments

A sampling of some of the comments that have been posted recently on Ask Leo!

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What do I need to know about the DNS vulnerability?

Novice writes:

Great! I was just about to ask you that. :)

My current ISP's DNS servers are not vulnerable but the ISP I am about to switch to is vulnerable (I made a friend run that test). So I would inform them.

But my question is how difficult a thing it is for them to apply the patch? Is it just like software updates (or maybe a little more complex) or is it really truly complex thing that an ISP might not have the expertise to implement in reasonable time?

It'll vary based on exactly which DNS server they happen to be running, but the bottom line is that it should be very easy, and even if it's not this is exactly what we expect our ISPs to be capable of doing and doing well.
FWIW: I updated my DNS server in less than a minute with two, maybe three clicks of a mouse. (Ubuntu Linux) Not all are that easy, but many are. As I said there's no excuse.

Leo

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Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button?

pharmerboy writes:

Now for the flip side of all this. There are several "legitimate" business who have a "right" to contact me because I've done business with them, or signed up for their newsletters. But then when I try to use the "unsubscribe", it doesn't work.

I stress again, these are REAL companies, not "typical" spammers using the unsubscribe link to verify my existence. They just probably don't take the time to make the unsubscribe button actually work (why should they?).

Are THEY spam? Should I call these legitimate retailers "spammers", because they use spammer tactics? (looks like spam, talks like spam, quacks like spam, etc.)

You raise an incredibly good issue. Legitimate businesses that don't behave properly are as much to blame for not only spam, but for people's confusion as to what is and is not spam as well.

Leo

Calvin writes:

I mistakenly pressed the THIS IS SPAM instead of the PRINT button on an email. The person who sent the email can no longer send emails to @netscape.net. This has created a huge issue since they can no longer send emails to netscape. I tried calling Netscape, but they are not helpful. Anyone have any suggestions how I can undo this? Please help!

Danny writes:

I only use the spam button for genuine spam. Lately I've been using for publishers which I've opted into but they automatically decided to send me other news letters.

A good example of this is Gophercentral.com; sign up for their newsletters and they automatically subscribe you to a "video edition" of each newsletter. Essentially all the video edition is spam plugging another one of their sites. I never asked nor was told I would be subscribed to a "video edition" therefore it is spam.

George Upham writes:

On the other hand, we are told that using the UNSUBSCRIBE option will tell the sender that we really exist and that our address is valid which makes them continue. We are therefore advised NOT to use the UNSUBSCRIBE option. A nice Catch-22. Another problem is that many of the "UNSUBSCRIBE" buttons simply do nothing.

You're overlooking an important difference:

Did you subscribe and ask for the email? Then use the unsubscribe button to stop it.

If you didn't ask for it, then it's spam.

Leo

*** This Week's Most Popular

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But they're always funny.

Continue reading: "This Is True - Weekly Weird News, Humor and Insightful Commentary"
http://ask-leo.com/this_is_true_weekly_weird_news_humor_and_insightful_commentary.html

Each week I recommend a specific product or resource that I've found valuable and that I think you may as well. What does my recommendation mean?

*** Popular Articles from the Archives

Read my comments below on why I've selected this article this week. It's important.

Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button?

As I was dealing with my email the other day, a friend was with me. He nearly when ballistic when I used the "Report Spam" button to get rid of some email in my in box. He said I was using it wrong. There's a right and wrong way? Why shouldn't I just use it?

Oh, my, yes - there is most definitely a wrong way to use it. In fact it's so wrong, that you could be contributing to other people not being able to get their email.

Their legitimate, non-spam, email.

Continue reading...
Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button?
http://ask-leo.com/why_shouldnt_i_use_the_report_spam_or_junk_button.html

*** Thoughts and Comments

Why shouldn't I use the "Report Spam" or "Junk" button? is an important article to read and understand, because it underscores an important aspect of the war against spam: collateral damage. If you skipped over that article I'd encourage you to go back and read it.

Last week saw a major, legitimate publisher - and in fact a leader in the war against spam - take a huge hit because one major ISP decided that his newsletter was spam and began blocking it. Why did that ISP think it was spam? Because too many readers hit the "This Is Spam" button for the very email that they had requested and confirmed.

In other words, they falsely and erroneously tagged the email as spam. (Hint: if you asked for it, and it continues to deliver what it promised, it's not spam.)

And as a result of their actions others using that same ISP can no longer receive the email that they also requested.

And the publisher's business has taken a hit.

The publisher is, of course, this week's recommendation: This is True. You can read more about the specifics of the crisis here: Yahoo Alert: True's Biggest Crisis Ever. The irony is that Randy Cassingham, This is True's publisher, is an acknowledged leader in the fight against spam. Check out his Spam Primer site for a great background on the issues involved in spam.

Remember, the "This is Spam" and "Junk" buttons are there only in part for your convenience. When used improperly they can do significant damage.

As you can imagine, erroneously tagging something as spam when it's not is an important issue to me as well. Every week when this newsletter goes out (currently to over 35,000 subscribers), at least 25 or so will mark it as spam. And that's after they subscribed, and they confirmed their subscription. I can feel Randy's frustration.

But that's not the only reason I've focussed on it this week.

In a very real sense, Ask Leo! would not exist were it not for This is True.

It's too long a story to detail here, but the path to Ask Leo! started years ago while I was still working at Microsoft and subscribed to This is True. Several twists and turns later I now consider Randy a good friend. Five years ago after attending a conference of online entrepreneurs that Randy had assembled, Ask Leo! was born. In fact I believe my first question ever was asked by someone at that very conference.

And by "five years ago" I do mean five years ago this week. Ask Leo! celebrates 5 years on the web on August 10th. More on that in next week's issue.

So the bottom line is that I'm extremely grateful and indebted to Randy.

And naturally, I hope you'll check out This is True.

*

As always, thanks for subscribing, for reading, and for your feedback. If you appreciate this newsletter or the site, one of the best ways you can say "Thank You!" is to link to Ask Leo! or simply to tell a friend or colleague. Just send folks to askleo.net.

'till next time...

Leo

* * *

A selection of Leo's articles are available for free re-use at http://articlesbyleo.com.

Some of Leo's other sites: The Ask Leo! Store, Leo's Online Business Card, Forwarded Funnies, Taming Email, MovableType Tips, Leo's Blog, Buy Leo a Latte (or a Beer), A Letter To Myself, Dolls and Friends, Corgwn.com

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2 comments on “Leo's Answers #139 – August 5, 2008”

  1. regarding the spam button. sometimes people do it because they dont know about using labels and filters!

    it was the case with me several years back when i was very young. i wanted to continue receiving some subscriptions but didnt want them overloading my inbox. so the bulk folder in yahoo seemed to do the job.

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