Q. I was sending an e-mail in Microsoft Outlook the other day, and suddenly a
box popped up and called me by name a “big stupid jerk.” How can I find out who
on my network sent that to me?

A. No one sent it to you. What you’re seeing is the noxious work of a Microsoft
Word macro virus. Apparently you’ve chosen Word as your e-mail editor while composing
Outlook messages. On the 14th of every month, messages will pull your name from the
Windows Registry and add unsavory comments.

If you have an antivirus package installed, download the vendor’s virus definition
updates regularly. If you don’t have an antivirus package, get one. It sounds as if
you need it.

Incidentally, e-mail spam seems to be getting out of control, too.

Tina promises naughty pictures, John tells me how to get rich in my spare time, and
Kerry hits me with a virtual snowball. I’ve employed filters and blockers. I’ve
even defined some in-box rules of my own, and yet the spam gets through more reliably than
Federal Express deliveries, though I absolutely, positively don’t want ever to see
any of it again.

On top of that, kind-hearted but less tech-savvy friends send messages warning me about
viral threats that don’t exist.

“Win a Holiday” virus alarms recently made the rounds in my office. Network
personnel warned all users that they should immediately delete any e-mail with “Win a
Holiday” in the subject line because it might erase their hard drives.

Sorry, but you will win the gullibility award if you pass on such chain letters to
other employees and your friends.

Check out the following Web pages of leading antivirus vendors to see lists of known
virus hoaxes:

As for stopping spammers, I have no solution short of disconnecting from the Internet.
But maybe the Postal Service has an idea. I’m not one to advocate charges for using
the Internet, but if spammers had to pay 32 cents per e-mail, they’d think twice.

Perhaps service providers also could monitor their mail servers and charge excessive
senders for too much traffic.

I’d even like to block anyone who blind-copies me on e-mail. A person who truly
wants to get in touch with me will go to the trouble of typing my e-mail address in the
“To:” field.

Do you agree? E-mail your opinion to the address below.  

Sneaker.Net sounds off on issues that bug him and answers questions that nag you.
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