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Created: 17 Mar 2008 • Updated: 15 Aug 2013
Trevor Mack's picture
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I was thinking about computers the other day, which I'm prone to do on occasion, and I realized that I still harbor fond memories of the Commodore64 that I begged my parents to buy back in the early 80s. The Macks had resisted the lure of the Commodore VIC-20 (barely) for a little while, but when my older brother vacated the homestead for university and the city, the modern technology provided by the C64 moved into his empty bedroom. The C64 played a large part in forming the basis of my interest in computing and IT. Coupled with the fact that I had now had unrestricted access to the room that had only weeks previous been OFF-LIMITS, these two factors meant that I now had two brand new worlds to conquer.

Oh. I mentioned the family earlier. Of the thousands of hours of service the Commodore64 provided, my parents might have spent 24 hours on it between them. The rest of the time I was playing games, showing off for my mom using the mad skillz I learned in Typing 101, and "programming." On one summer's rainy day, my mom and I sat down and typed in what I remember as 50 pages of machine language from a C64 enthusiast's magazine. Maybe it was more like 10 pages, but at the time it seemed like a lot of work. The text-based statistical football "game" was well worth the effort, let me tell you. Black background, gray text.

Of course, this isn't about the processing power of a computer built in the 80s. I'm talking about simpler times—simpler times when there were infinitely fewer crooks trying to take over my machine or invade my life. There was infinitely less junk mail being pushed through the door (or, in our case, into the town post office box). Fast forward to modern day and I find myself "cleaning up" my mom's PC at her request. Lo and behold, her email inbox is absolutely littered with junk email. Spam, chain letters, you name it. Like today's unwanted letter mail that is sent to our houses, unwanted email cascades throughout the world into unwitting email inboxes. There is some irony in my mother's take on this phenomenon, because when she would receive a chain letter through the mail back in the day, it would be considered a quaint superstition and would be quickly and easily disregarded (that is, thrown in the garbage as fast as it was opened). Why then does this same woman, some twenty-five years later, gleefully receive and send on email chain letters to her friends and respond diligently to the spam that shows up in her inbox?

I know that she's not alone; otherwise, we wouldn’t have the problem of spam and chain letters in the first place. I also know that I'm not alone, in that I can't stand to receive another email telling me that I need to forward the useless information populating my LCD screen on to at least twenty friends lest I succumb to scurvy before night has fallen. Honestly, I'd rather spend my time waiting for a 12" monitor with 16 colors to comprehend the command LOAD "*",8,1.

For those of you reading this who can put up their hand and say "yes, I agree with you Trevor" or "I hate spam too, Trevor" then take a minute or two out of your day to help out those people in your life who would sit on my mom's side of the hall. Seriously, you don't need to send on chain mail—tell your friends. More often than not, spam and chain mail contain malicious code and other nasty threats that can harm your computer or gather information about you that you wanted to keep private. That's why Symantec and other good companies work to filter it and keep it from bothering you and presenting potential risk. Please have a look at the Symantec State of Spam Report for March to get some up-to-date highlights of the latest spam threats. Please take note of the spam tactics outlined in this month's report and then pass on the info to those people who are blissfully unaware, or those that have changed horses since 1983's war on junk mail. "Mom? Hi Mom, it's Trevor. Yes, your son Trevor. I have to talk to you about something. No, I'm not getting engaged. No, I haven't got anyone pregnant. This is way more important…"

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