If you look carefully on your right, you'll see an icicle, which is not the subject of today's
blog entry, but I thought it was cute, growing spontaneously like that on the end of a piece of
galvanized baling wire that's holding one of the downspouts in place.
What you don't see in this picture is that the wind had pulled the top of the downspout away
from the gutter, so that some of the water from the melting snow that should have been coming
down the inside of the downspout was, instead, dripping down near the downspout...and,
purely by chance, onto that piece of baling wire where it solidified into an icicle. (The one on
the right, in case you've only just now tuned into our blog, already in progress.)
So I'll have to fix the top of the downspout. Probably with more baling wire. But in the meantime,
it's pretty and it's quieter than windchimes.
But if you remember back up a few paragraphs, that's not what this entry is about. You were
warned. So there.
What I am writing about today is spam. And baling wire...or at least its electronic and metaphorical
I think it's because more and more people have discovered that the average internet user will
very happily and obligingly infect his or her computer with your choice of trojan if you just ask
nicely. Well, yeah, that's a bit of an exaggeration. The "nicely" part is really not necessary.
One result of this is that there's a been a huge upward trend in the amount of junk email traffic
I've been dealing with over the last few months. The other result is that the overwhelming
majority of that traffic is appallingly stupid and useless traffic.
Not that the general state of junk email shows much sign of cleverness or utility. I'm not likely
to respond to a demand that I "verify my bank and credit card numbers" from someone who
obviously lacks even rudimentary spelling and grammar skills, nor am I likely to trust similarly
ill-spelled assurances that just three bottles of Placebolan T-10000 will cause certain parts of
my body to swell until they dwarf the Lusitania, or at least the second-largest of its aft cargo
(Um, that would be *before* that whole unfortunate torpedo incident.
Besides--it could be worse. You could be using that *other* brand of body-part-enlargement
tablets with that little "Hindenburg" side-effect they don't want to tell you about. I'm not
saying you'll necessarily go down in flames after exposure to their "secret ingredient,"
but, seriously, would you really want to risk it?)
What makes me say that the overwhelming majority of the new breed of spam is so appallingly
stupid and useless is that not only would nobody respond to its content if they did read it--unless,
I suppose, they were the type of computer user who obligingly downloads a trojan any time a
virus-writer sends him an "e-card" invitation--but also that there's obviously no chance that anyone
would ever read it because it's all being sent to email addresses that no one would ever have.
Addresses like "1111aaaaaaaa1111111aaaaaaa1111zzzzz" or "jkhbvwalfevublwvpwkefnew";
what's the point in sending junk mail to names like that? Moreover, what's the point in sending
tens of thousands of emails to an address like that which nobody would ever read?
"Hi, I'm P5WDG2-WS-Pro
and I'll be your server today"
Lately, even with a bit of tweaking of IP connection limits and the like, what has swelled up
to the size of the Lusitania has been the torrent of spam, to the tune of 20-150 junk emails per
second coming in to my own little mild-mannered mailservers. That's a lot, and it's pushed me
into pulling out the hanger tape and baling wire to tie together some new mailservers to cope
with it all.
Up until last night, this lovely (but well-worn) little black box housed a 333MHz Pentium-II
heart, the fastest beast that the Intel 440LX chipset could hang a saddle on. That trusty old
CPU and chipset have now gone on to the great CPU pasture in the sky (or "in the ground,"
if you have a preference for accuracy) and been replaced with an Asus P5WDG2-WS-Pro
mainboard with an Intel E6600 Core 2 Duo and 4GB of memory. The controller is now a few
generations less obsolete AMI/LSI MegaRAID--an ultra-160 capable PCI-X series 493 AKA "Elite
1600" and a trio of 10K 73GB SCSI drives.
...and why is it that one relatively small controller card has to have *that* many different
names and abbreviations? It's just a computer part, not a member of the British aristocracy.
So, yeah, it's not exactly state-of-the-art, but the P5WDG2-WS-Pro does feature pairs of both
PCI-X and PCIe slots, allowing it to support any of the recent-model RAID controllers I'm using
these days, whether SCSI or SAS. With a mid-range C2D chip, it's a mite faster than the old
mailserver, which was definitely showing signs of strain anytime the incomining mail flow
got much above fifty emails per second. Not that I blame it, really. I know I have a
hard time reading even half that much. I'm it's up to the task with enough ooomph
to spare that I don't have to upgrade it again for a while.
Now, lest you get the wrong idea, not *all* Spam is bad. For a taste of the better stuff,
I haven't actually sampled them myself--and I'd never even known such a product
existed until someone mentioned a sale on them--but I think whoever wrote the website
had more fun doing it than most advertising people manage to squeeze into a week.
But I don't think even my new, improved server above is up to the task of handling a
sudden influx of SPAM Singles. For starters, they'd clog the air intake filters. So for
now I think I'll just be leaving the SPAM Singles on their website.