Hope for the drowning

Saturday 16 May 2009 3:45 AM

Here's one piece of good news for anyone drowning in unsolicited bulk e-mail messages ("spam", in other words). And from what I can tell "anyone" is everyone these days. Jeff Hendrickson of Hendrickson Software Components has just made the reporting feature of his great software “Purify" free. Now I'm not a software reviewer or anything half so lofty. In fact I'm not even a geek. (Well, not professionally anyway. And I have zilch formal training in anything IT). But those who know me probably won't be surprised to learn that I make a habit of researching - from a lay perspective - whatever mac software I can find that serves whatever purpose I'm currently pursuing. So I do my share of googling on such things, and I even hang out with the big boys (who are probably half my age) on the occasional techno forum. I just scan the page for posts written in English, as distinct from that incomprehensible babble the geeks such as my two sons use all day long. As far as I'm concerned, a script is something I'd take to the pharmacy, and perl is something my wife might employ when she knits. So you get the idea ... 

Well courtesy of my dedication (my wife would say 'obsession'), I've identified a number of useful applications which I've used frequently for some time and even contributed constructively to their development. In fact I've made so many posts on one particular forum that the server has automatically appended the term "Guru" to my profile. Rather a giggle for someone who wouldn't know an API from a gigabit. Anyway, one such application happens to be this piece of antispam software, "Purify". It is to spam what the fabled Dutch boy's finger in the dyke was to rather a lot of water. It aims to stem the tide of spam to one's e-mail inbox by a combination of various filtering processes, and automated reporting of spam messages to internet ISPs and other online services through which the spam passes on its merry way to torment the innocent. My relationship with Purify began several years ago with two of its predecessors (SpamX and Em@ilCRX), which Purify has since superseded. Having concluded that my bank account was large enough, my life social enough, my skin smooth enough, my drugs cheap enough, my degrees high enough, my timepieces worth enough, my software digital enough, my wife attractive enough, my equipment functional enough, my anatomy beyond enhancement, and Nigeria far enough - I set my fingers to work seeking to reduce the volume of kind offers being received. I eventually settled on SpamX, due to a combination of features, price and Jeff's personal responsiveness. Admittedly all these things take a bit of techno fiddle to set up; but once that's done, it largely just does its filtering in the background while you play solitaire or maybe do some work. 

I'm not being paid a cent to say this. But I can truthfully testify that Purify has reduced the amount of spam I receive by at least two-thirds, sometimes more. In fact I get the odd day with literally none at all. A full license for Purify costs all of US$30, which I think is a steal for what it does. But the latest development is what has prompted me to write my first ever software review. Jeff has now made it possible to download Purify and use it for nothing, if all you want is the spam reporting feature. So in other words, it's now free if you don't want the other features. The filtering is brilliant for reducing the number of spam messages that wind up in your inbox; but the reporting function is the one that actually contributes to reducing the volume that gets sent to you (and other people) in the first place. I've got to know Jeff well enough (in the cyber sense) to be able to confidently say that this is not any kind of money-driven tactic. Jeff is someone who's sincerely personally committed to effectively fighting the huge blight which spam is to the whole online community. It's a credit to him that he has made this a free service. The more people using it the better for everyone (except the spammers).  I recommend it without hesitation, and encourage you to try it. I'll gladly lend what assistance I can in my techno-challenged way to anyone wanting to set up Purify. But you really don't need me, because Jeff will respond very promptly if you contact him direct. Oh, and whilst I endeavour always to keep myself unstained by the knowledge of any evil, I can report that Purify is available for Windoze too. Happy reporting!