A Weblog About Topics and Issues Discussed in the Book Spam Kings by Brian McWilliams

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March 31, 2005

A plug for the new Spamnix plug-in

I hate it when I "upgrade" the software on my computer, only to discover I liked the old version better. (I recently uninstalled America Online 9.0 and went back to AOL 8.0 for this reason.) So I was hesitant to download Spamnix 3.0, the latest release of the popular spam-blocker for the Eudora email client.

I had happily been using older editions of Spamnix for years. After I trained it to differentiate between ham (good email) and spam (junk), the old Spamnix was doing a great job of keeping my Eudora Inbox orderly. Upgrading to Spamnix 3.0 requires re-training the program -- a task I was not keen to undertake.

But, like a lot of geeks, I have a hard time resisting a free upgrade. So I bit the bullet and downloaded Spamnix 3.0 earlier this month.

Within a few days of installing the new program, I was regretting my decision. The new Spamnix was surprisingly fast at analyzing misidentified messages using the program's "Accept" or "Reject" buttons, so training it wasn't a huge burden. But even after a week, lots of spam was leaking through into my Inbox, and numerous legitimate messages were getting stuck in the Junk folder.

I felt like I was living in 2001 again, in my pre-filtering days, when my Inbox was marbled with messages from the likes of "Creditably U. Salami" or "Semaphore M. Extremist" (I am not making up those names) and other v14gr@ peddlers.

However, I turned the corner in the second week of training. As you can see from this screen grab of the Spamnix 3.0 statistics window, over the last week Spamnix was 99% effective at identifying spam. During that period, it's notched just three "false positives" (legit messages misidentified as spam). Out of my total email traffic, almost 60% is spam.

The spam recognition engine in Spamnix used to be based on the popular Spam Assassin code, which examines incoming email to see whether it matches a long set of rules about spam. But as of version 3.0, Spamnix now apparently uses a different open-source mail filter called CRM114, which was developed by William Yerazunis.

I'm not sure why Spamnix has moved away from Spam Assassin. Maybe it's because many spammers, using tools such as the one on at this site, test their messages to make sure they don't exceed Spam Assassin's spaminess threshold.

Frankly, it doesn't really matter what's going on under the hood of the new Spamnix. The key thing is, Spamnix 3.0 just plain works.

Posted by brian at March 31, 2005 7:35 PM