Spam Filtering in Mozilla

A little discussion with David Bienvenu today regarding spam filtering in Mozilla. Allow me to summarize:

I’m a huge fan of the SpamAssassin project. I use it, and love it. It’s not perfect, but does a great job. SpamAssassin, adds a header to all email it searches, known as “X-Spam-Status” It’s “yes” if it’s spam, and “no” if it isn’t. If it’s spam, the message contains the tests that triggered (causing it to be recognized as spam), and it attaches the original message to the email.

As a result of this, the email isn’t pure spam anymore. It contains SpamAssassin markings. That’s good, and bad, depending on how you look at it. My suggestion was to acknowledge other spam products do this, and take advantage of it.

Bug 224318

Several things can be done as noted in the bug:

An option to use X-spam-status over bayes testing.
This in essence disables bayes testing in Mozilla. It uses the spam status to decide if the message is spam. The UI works the same (the little garbage icon’s and junk folder), just the actual spam checking is done by another product. Easier than configuring a filter (for end users). Cleaner UI.

Give weight to x-spam status
This would allow the mozilla to somehow give a weight to spam marked as spam.

Feed Mozilla’s Bayes
This I suggest as a default behavior, as SpamAssassin does this for it’s own bayes engine, and it’s successful. emails marked as spam are automatically acknowledge by Mozilla as spam/ham, and learned by the bayes system in Mozilla. In essence the bayes learns automatically without user interaction.

There are other possibilities as well. Regardless of the method(s) utilized in the future, there is serious room to enhance an already powerful tool. Comments on the bug would be nice. Mozilla Mail kicks butt thanks to it’s ability to provide great features. There has to be a way to utilize this to fight spam better than any other email product on the web.

Open Source Screen Saver (Hack away friends)

I know many readers of this blog are space fans. Look at other blogs on Mozilla and Open Source software and it’s very evident. If you are, your in luck. I’ve just put together somewhat of a mess of scripting that will give you semi-modern video of space as your screen saver.

Looks like the Green one in this image, though moving. Could easily change to get the others.

The inspiration is this Slashdot article. I love the video of the sun, and thought it would make a good screensaver. But I wanted it to update periodically. So I decided to make it do just that.

Because everyone shares so much information with me, I feel inclined to do the same, so this is rough documentation. Feel free to hack it up more, make it pretty, new video source, etc. Share and lets make this a decent product. My way of saying thank you. Isn’t Open Source loving in that non-sexual sort of way? Can’t get a VD from Open Source, but it feels good.

Note: This is for Windows 98,ME,2000,XP… though this should easily be adapted for Mac OS X, Linux users. I’m sure someone will do it quick. I’m short on time, but at some point, will be hacking this up for OS X, provided I can find the means to do video screen savers (perhaps someone will help, don’t remember if QuickTime SS is provided with Jaguar and later).

One last note: There are of course other ways to go about this. This method is an attempt to use as much free software as possible, with minimal coding. CURL is free open source, Scheduled Tasks comes with Windows (Crontab is free on UNIX, as well as unix itself). Media players are free downloads, or even open source.

Anyway. Here we go…
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Background Batch File

I want to run a batch file via Scheduled Tasks in Windows XP.

Does anyone know how to run it in the background (without the window)? I don’t want to see the window. Just have it do it’s magic.

Crontab like (no crontab ports though, don’t want to add more software).

Anyone with info on how-to, please comment or email. Neat trick in the next 24-48 hours that involves this (will post of course).

Safari 1.1 for Jaguar

This is more of a question than a regular post (as if I never ask questions to the net community at large). But does anyone know if Safari 1.1 will be released for Jaguar (Mac OS X.2)? Hyatt notes the release here and here.

I’m not into upgrading to Panther at this point (don’t want to shell out the cash so soon after my Jaguar update, which wasn’t to long ago, and want a few bug fixes to take place of course). But would still like to play with Safari 1.1, which from how Dave plays it, is pretty neat.

People telling me to hit Hot line and download “Free” Panther need not comment. All those comments will be deleted (as much as I hate deleting comments, I regard those equivalent to “spam” like the Viagra ones).

So if anyone (including David Hyatt if you read this) knows, comment email, IM would be greatly appreciated.

I’m also curious if there is anyone else who is a bit hesitant to upgrade to Panther. I’ve got a Beige G3 (unsupported) and a B&W G3. Just upgraded to Jaguar a few months ago. They run perfectly. Not a complaint. I guess they saying is “don’t fix what isn’t broken”. Anyone else waiting a while? Or has everyone left me in the dust?

Spyware a forbidden word

According to this Slashdot article Gator is going after websites who refer to it’s “product” as spyware.

From their privacy policy:

We don’t know who our users are…

TGC does not know the identity of GAIN-Supported Software users. We do not transmit to our servers personally identifiable information like email addresses, last name, street addresses, or phone numbers. Nor do we have any other sensitive or personal financial information, such as credit card numbers, login IDs, passwords or bank account numbers. Any such information entered into any TGC GAIN-Supported Software application (such as the GatorSM eWallet) will remain on the personal computer upon which it was entered, and will not be sent to our servers.

Yet it also notes information they DO collect:

  • Some of the Web pages viewed
  • The amount of time spent at some Web sites
  • Response to GAIN Ads
  • Standard web log information (excluding IP Addresses) and system settings
  • What software is on the personal computer
  • First name, country, city, and five digit ZIP code
  • Non-personally identifiable information on Web pages and forms
  • Software usage characteristics and preferences

So we have a product, that’s undoubtedly hidden during installation. I always review downloads before installing. I’ve been doing this for years, and install hundreds of products to try a year. I’ve been fooled more than once. Despite being on the lookout. If they fool me, they fool casual users as well. It’s clearly not marked. And how many people have we all seen with this garbage on their computer, and they have no idea where it comes from? If Gator were honestly informing people prior to installation in a manner which could be understood, people would know.

Then the product, which claims to know nothing about the user, also collects enough information (by their own privacy policy’s admission) to identify me.

So a software product, installed without users consent is spying on me. Hmm. Isn’t that the definition of spyware?

These guys make dot com businesses look bad. A few bad apples makes the whole orchard look rotten. And it’s not all rotten. Just a few bad apples such as these. I hope the courts eventually cut down the tree, and burn it.

Sidenote: There are several editions of the privacy policy, depending on the version. Yep, that’s not an attempt to deceive the end user.

Camino Bookmarks

Interesting checkin for Camino. According to Pinkerton’s Post, it brings for some awesome features. In particular Rendezvous Integration makes my list. I’m real excited to see my favorite browser of all time making a stride forward. This is awesome “Top 10” bookmarks sounds interesting too (perhaps that could be ported to Firebird?)

Now where is Camino 1.0? I’m dying for it to get that far. It’s the best browser on the Mac. And in my opinion best browser on any platform.

Consensual Downloads

I’m a little concerned by some linkage brought by Mozillazine.

Two possible uses here, one inferred is not so good. I’m a bit concerned about this idea being spread around the community. We do NOT want to download Open Source products behind the users back. Doing so would not be a good idea. It will associate fine products like Mozilla, OpenOffice, and Gaim with Spyware and Trojans. If the user wants the files, that’s a different story.

One thing all these products share, is the promise to fight such evils (Mozilla doesn’t download ActiveX, OpenOffice is more secure than Microsoft Office).

An individual who uses such an app for anything such as downloading without the computer owners consent should be well aware that this contradicts the ideas of Open Source, and the values the community holds. Open Source is about freedoms. Freedoms don’t need to happen behind someone back.

While it’s great to see enthusiasm in getting Open Source projects into the world. Don’t do so with unethical means. All it will do is put a negative spin on a good thing. It will hurt, not help Open Source.

Perhaps someone can turn this little Gem into a convenient App so that a user can learn about Open Source alternatives, download and install them from 1 nice little App.

It’s great to be an open source zealot (tell all your friends and family). But don’t do anything that puts open source projects in a negative light. Thousands of programmers have made these projects what they are. They love people promoting their products. But they don’t like people making their products look bad.

I hope others will make a mention of this as well on their blogs, and open source projects. Don’t ruin Open Source.

Windows XP = Pain in my Butt

Ok, virtual monopoly money for whomever can solve this problem. It’s driving me absolutely nuts:

Background

I’m running Windows XP SP1, all patches applied. IBM Thinkpad A31.

Situation

My user name is the administrator (only one). I’m logged in as administrator. When installing any driver update, it prompts, as usual for the location of the driver. I enter the driver location, the driver does the installation procedure, as typical. On the very end, I’m informed by my wonderful OS that it failed because of “Permission Denied”. No more information is known. The driver is located in C:\Drivers (which is where IBM places all drivers prior to installation, and has worked historically).

This happens for all devices.

Mission

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to notify me of the cause, and most importantly how to remedy this annoying issue.

Needless to say, I’m a bit pissed. My Macs don’t do this BS. They work.