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Wednesday, January 28, 2004


Opening Attachments from People You Don't Know is the New "Goddamn, I'm Stupid"

I DON'T WANT to brag, but I have nearly one-hundred e-mail addresses. I know this makes me seem considerably cooler than many of you. Please don't be resentful. If you had Kirk Cameron constantly spamming you about his new life with Christ, you'd accumulate a lot more @ signs, too.

In the face of this new viral scourge which some call MyDoom and some call Novarg (it's really a personal preference thing, like whether you mumble under your breath that I'm "cracker" or a "honkey"), my life has become consumed with deleting infected mail from my many, many e-mail accounts. I've set up a sophisticated set of mail filters to help properly direct the viral menace to Dave Barry, Instapundit, and an unnamed person* that would satisfy the Rule of Three requirement for comedy if I listed him or her here.

But not everyone is as tech-savvy as I am, so in the public interest, I offer you my tips for safer attachment-opening.

Bunsen's Tips for Safely Opening E-mail Attachments from People You Don't Know

People that you don't know rarely send you e-mail with attachments, which may contain malicious programming code. If you get an e-mail with an attachment and feel compelled to open it, first run your virus scanner. If the scanner reveals that the file is infected, delete it immediately. Congratulations! You've stopped a virus dead in its tracks.

If the virus scanner reveals that the file is uninfected and you still feel like you should open it, follow these steps:

1. E-mail everyone in your address book (shortcut: click "Reply All" on the e-mail from your mother about how you win a free trip to Disneyland for forwarding the message to others) and ask them if they sent you something from an unfamiliar e-mail address.

2. Call everyone in your mobile phone book and ask them if they sent you anything from an unfamiliar e-mail address.

3. Send each person in your Filofax a postcard and ask them if they sent you anything from an unfamiliar e-mail address.

If someone you know did indeed send you the file from an unfamiliar e-mail address, feel free to open it. If the file turns out to be infected, their bad.

If after completing Steps 1 and 2 you still don't know the origin of the e-mail with the attachment that you wish to open, prepare the attachment for opening by following these additional steps:
    a. Stand up at your desk, stretch briefly, and walk into the kitchen.

    b. Turn on the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, making sure to leave the oven door open.

    c. Stick head in oven, inhaling deeply as you contemplate what wonders this mysterious e-mail attachment from an unfamiliar e-mail address must certainly hold! (Note:This step should take no fewer than 30 minutes to complete. If you don't have a conventional oven, you may substitute placing the entire contents of your silverware drawer inside your microwave and cooking them on High for 6-8 minutes.)

You should now be prepared to open the attachment! Happy e-mailing!

*Bonus section*

What this Trojan onslaught has done is make me pay much closer to the spam that's clogging my in-boxes. I've compiled what some people like to call a "list" and others prefer to call "a lack of interest in doing something interesting" (again, please note the cracker/honkey dichotomy) from this unwanted mail.

Spam Subject Line Promises that Could Be a Little More Enticing

@ Paris Hilton Gets You College Degrees Cheap!

@ You can get 5% more chlamydia in just one month xhsdfhdg**

@ Metamucil #$%g Crackerjacks &&^$##) Pampers $!@$

@ Spycams catch sweaty fat jailbait with Montezuma's revenge!

@ 300 inches added to your member--overnight!

@ I swear to god its ur baby motherfucker

@ I named him bunsen jr cuz he has ur eyes

@ New Friendster request from Vincent Gallo

[*OK, we'll go with David Sedaris]
[** Why is it that spam filters can be defeated with a random string of letters at the end of the subject line? What's up with that?]

About this site

This is the internet home of Mark Lisanti, a Los Angeles writer sometimes known as Bunsen. He is the founding editor of Defamer, a weblog about Hollywood, where he now serves in the nebulous capacity of "editor-at-large."
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