Editor's Note
ISSUE NO. 2 -- February 2004 (archive)
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

This old adage certainly holds true today, especially when dealing with spam. Not SPAM, the canned meat product. I mean spam, the free-flowing Internet sewage i.e. unsolicited bulk Email. We are featuring an ongoing series of articles regarding this odious topic. In this issue we'll discuss how to protect your Email address from spammers, the Internet evil-doers.

X-ray Specs

I finally got my X-ray Specs in the mail... I ordered them back in 1973. I guess they were lost in snail-mail. Anyway...they claim that the "Scientific optical principle really works". I love this comic book ad; it gives a 13 year old boy plenty to think about. Notice how it's carefully written to be safely suggestive, and yet illustrated with a rather buxom young lady. Nowadays, a curious teenage boy need only watch a superbowl halftime show to get an eyefull—X-ray Specs are not required. It's a different world.

Featured Photo
American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

Carduelis tristis
For the last three weeks it's been pretty darn cold here in the midwest... hovering below zero most of the time, and as cold -10°F. This kind of weather forces my thoughts to the warmth of a spring day—helps to keep my sanity. I'm now starting to plan my garden and ongoing landscape projects.

My backyard is designed from the ground up to be year round bird friendly; more the 25 different bird species visit throughout the year. The American Goldfinch is one of my favorite patrons; and a few brave ones actually stay the winter, however their colors become muted. At peak color, the males are simply stunning, almost fluorescent yellow. As superb flyers they are great fun to watch. Black thistle seed is what they love to eat, which works well to bring them up close.

The featured photo in this issue was taken with my Olympus digital camera last spring (5/3/03). I was laying on my sofa hiding behind a pillow for cover; a mere four feet away from the action—patio door wide open.

Birds of Illinois

A good handy lightweight field guide reccommended for casual Illinois bird watchers.

of the month
"Each of us visits this Earth involuntarily, and without an invitation. For me, it is enough to wonder at the secrets."
— Albert Einstein
Our Sponsor
and Creative Partner

The ZROT Ezine website is sponsored by ZRON Website Design and Engineering. ZRON provides hosting and design services for our Internet enjoyment. ZRON is a full service web development company located in suburban Chicago. ZRON delivers innovative, content rich, high quality website solutions for individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations.

Featured Article
Spam, Spam, Spam and more Spam...

We all hate spam. Spammers are the modern day scum of the earth. The evil tools evil-doers use are spambots which are spiders that crawl around the web harvesting email addresses embedded in web pages and newsgroup postings. However, there are techniques you can use to help protect your web page embedded email addresses. One method is to obfuscate:

ob·fus·cate /ab fuh sket/ to make something seem or be difficult to understand; to obscure or darken.
Enter email address:
Text to copy/paste:

Any text entered in the upper field will get converted to character code (unicode encoding) in the lower field. A simple, highlight, right-click, copy/paste will put text anywhere you wish. The conversion software is client-side JavaScript which runs privately in your browser, no information is transmitted or recorded. The character code makes it difficult for spambots to recognize email addresses Let's say for example your email address is:
Here is how the HTML source code will look after obfuscation:

<a href="&#109;&#97;&#105; &#108;&#116;&#111;&#58; &#106;&#105;&#109;&#64; &#101;&#120;&#97;&#109; &#112;&#108;&#101;&#46; &#99;&#111;&#109;"> &#106;&#105;&#109;&#64; &#101;&#120;&#97;&#109; &#112;&#108;&#101;&#46; &#99;&#111;&#109;</a>

Please take note that the text mailto:jim@example.com and the displayed text jim@example.com both get obfuscated. Here's the completed example:
This method is not 100% fool-proof, but it does work with very high success... I have tested it using virgin email addresses planted in a guestbook for months. The obfuscated Email addresses remained spam-free, while the clear ones get more and more spam.

Munging and Disposables

Munging an email address means to alterate it in such a way that humans can understand it; but yet it's very difficult for spambots to see it, or decode it. Munged email addresses are useful when posting to news groups, forums, or bulletin boards. Here are some of the proper ways to munge an email address using our example:

  • jim(at)example(dot)com
  • jim@XXXexample.com
    (remove XXX to reply)
  • jim@example.invalid
    (replace 'invalid' with 'com' to reply)

The comments in parenthesis cue humans on how to demunge your email address; these comments could be included in your signature line. Spambots are usually not smart enough to deal with it. Never munge only to the left of the "@" symbol in an email address; you need munge the domain name (to the right) to prevent spam from ever reaching your mail server.

Disposable email addresses are created for a special purpose and then abandoned after some point. Some time you may need an email address to post to a forum or to gain access to a website; disposables are good for this purpose in order to protect your permanent email address from spammers. There are numerous free email services available like Yahoo Mail and HotMail.

Back Issues of ZROT

ISSUE NO. 1, January 2004
Compost, 3D Modelling, VW bugs, Door County, Digital Orthophotography