HORIZONS

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN SCOTT NUSS
When was the last time you checked your e-mail? For me it was just this morning. The simple act of checking e-mail usually does a very good job of getting me to start my day with a laugh.

The best laughs came during the Christmas season. I’m not talking about hilarious jokes that get forwarded. Instead, I’m talking about all the great junk e-mail little companies seem to get a kick out of sending.

If I was dumb enough to buy into all the false claims the spam senders send me, I’d apparently have a great life. I’ve made a habit of saving the best spam claims I get, based solely on the subject line.

I got a very exciting e-mail a couple weeks ago. This e-mail claimed I had been randomly selected to go on an all-expenses-paid, five-day cruise of the Bahamas.

After scanning the e-mail for viruses, I decided to open this one. All they wanted me to do was to click on a link, and the cruise was mine.

Of course, what they weren’t telling me was that along with clicking on the link would come millions of pop-up windows and probably a couple viruses that would just make my life grand!

The Christmas season was very exciting for spam e-mail. Each day I’d wake up to find offers of the perfect Christmas gift if I’d just fill out a little survey.

My family members are probably glad I didn’t fill out the survey, because who knows what kind of Christmas presents they would have received. Chances are I probably wouldn’t have been invited back for Christmas until I had some real gifts.

One of my personal favorites came in early January. This one offered me a complementary vacuum. Knowing what my dorm room looked like at the time, I figured I might as well check this one out, so I did, and they actually made their e-mail look like a realistic vacuum company’s Web site.

All I had to do was plug in my name, address, phone number and of course, e-mail address, and my complementary vacuum would be sent straight to my door.

What the people behind the
e-mail were hoping you wouldn’t do was scroll down to discover that a vacuum would probably not actually be sent to your door, but your personal information would spread through the Internet like wildfire.

Other personal favorites of mine are the e-mails that send you delivery confirmations for things you didn’t even order. When you open them, they don’t even tell you what they’re confirming delivery of. All they really want you to do is open the e-mail and click on their link so they can send you all their fun pop-ups, spyware, adware and anything else.

The e-mails that absolutely drive me up the wall are the ones that come from colleges, most of which I’d never heard of.

A few months ago I was invited to attend a transfer student visit day at a school in Rome, Ga., called Shorter College. A couple days before that I received a kind and inviting e-mail from Gustavus Adolfus College. It sounded like a nice enough school except for the fact that it was only going to cost me $50,000 a year to attend.

I know all the college e-mails I get are sent to me through an honor society that I joined last year, but they annoy me more than anything.

I suppose the good side to the junk e-mail craze is that the amount of junk mail you get in your U.S. Postal Service mailbox has decreased rather significantly.

E-mail has become a primary communication tool for some people, myself included. This very column was e-mailed from my house to the Free Press office.

At the same time, however, I almost wish they’d make some law against spammers. They really don’t accomplish a purpose outside of providing a few laughs every now and then.

I’m no computer expert by any means, but if you don’t know who an e-mail is from and it’s making a bogus offer, then don’t open it. All you’re doing is opening yourself up to spam. I’m sure by now this is common sense, but I can’t pass up a chance to give a little advice here and there.

Away from computers, good luck to all the area basketball teams this week, and congrats to those Marion County wrestlers who made it to state.

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