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ATPM 10.08
August 2004


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The Candy Apple

by Ellyn Ritterskamp,

Taking a Break

Now and then, it’s a good idea to step back and take a break from our usual patterns. Often we don’t realize we have gotten ourselves into negative habits, until we are forced to stop them for a while.

A friend lost his home Internet access for a month recently, and he learned something about himself. He learned he had been spending way too much time online, and not enough time doing household stuff that needed doing. He was not harming anyone else, but it was a good lesson he will keep in mind once he gets his immediate problem solved.

The problem was a blown Ethernet port on a three-year-old iMac. He thinks lightning hit his building the night it went out. It took a while to diagnose the problem, because the unit itself works fine. The ISP replaced the modem and found no problems. Once he finally received a diagnosis, he had a decision to make: replace the Ethernet port for $400; try a $32 USB Ethernet adapter (which we did, before failing to figure out its drivers); make do with a friend’s spare G3 until the tax-free holiday comes around and then…buy an iBook; or, go without home access altogether. He is mulling the final two options as I write this.

He is entranced with the iBook, its portability and durability and speed. The iBook has a lot to offer, including recovering the desk space the iMac has been chewing up all this time.

The other option, though, is a return to time spent reading books instead of message board posts. It would mean more long walks around the neighborhood, and fewer hours wasted reading about stocks he will never buy.

I told him I understood the addiction concept. When I’m out of town, I find myself searching for a public library or a 24-hour Kinko’s print store so I can get online. I want to vacuum all the spam out of my accounts before I get home, and I like to check in with my message board buddies every few days. It is odd, being disconnected from them.

It is sometimes very cleansing, though, to be not so connected all the time, and not to stay on top of the e-mail. Part of the point of a vacation is to get away from the ordinary, and to breathe. I sort of hope my friend chooses the no-computer option, for a while anyway.

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Reader Comments (2)

Lon Argabright · August 1, 2004 - 16:15 EST #1
My comment only tangentially relates to the subject of the column, but it concerns freeing up more time to do other things. For years, I used AOL as my mail client, and no matter what I did, I was flooded with spam. It would take ten minutes or more each day just to delete the unwanted email. I suppose it's because I'm an inveterate surfer and don't mind signing up on web sites for new letters. I have a Hotmail account and the flood of spam is the same. When I started using the Mac Mail for my principal email account, the spam stopped immediately. It's hard to believe that I haven't received one single bit of spam since I started using Mail. I'd be interested to know if this experience is shared by other Mail users.
Lee Bennett (ATPM Staff) · August 1, 2004 - 21:59 EST #2
Lon - while you may partially have's spam filtering to thank, one reason you're not getting spam to your .mac account is something people sometimes forget--that being, just signing up for AOL and Hotmail in the first place is practically your permission to receive spam. I doubt anyone can/has definitively proven it, but I have to wonder if both those providers avail mailing lists to certain bulk mailing sites. Another factor is that spammers will simply do dictionary guesses on popular e-mail domains such as AOL and Hotmail. It's a pretty safe bet they'll reach or and the like. Of course, any plethor of digits after those can also be tried. The spammers don't even have to know the addresses exist and, in all likelihood, a lot of their guesses will still reach someone. It could be that .mac is, so far, less of a target for such guessing, but I'd say enjoy it while it lasts. Once your addresses is in the hands of just one spammer, it will only snowball from there.

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