How to email Glenn Alexander

Glenn does not put his email address directly on his home page as he tries to avoid SPAM. But you can still email him. Read on...

What is SPAM?

SPAM is email that you do not want and did not ask for. Formally it is called Unsolicited Bulk Email or UBE. It is sent out by companies trying to sell you things. It wastes your time and your money (it costs you online-time to download SPAM). It is illegal in some countries, if it isn't illegal in yours, lobby your government to make it illegal with stiff penalties. It is also very anti-social.

The term SPAM comes from a humorous TV show of a long time ago (Monty Python's Flying Circus) in which to avoid hearing what people were saying to them, people would shout "Spam spam spam spam." UBE makes it difficult to find the real emails amongst the junk which is a similar effect, hence the name. It has absolutely nothing to do with the packaged meat product also called Spam.

You should never respond to SPAM. It just encourages more SPAM. Often SPAM tries to tell you that you asked for the email to be sent to you. This is a lie. It also usually has a link to click on if you want to be taken off the list and receive no more emails. This is also a lie. NEVER click that link. What happens is that the SPAMer then knows your address is active and you get added to a list that is sold as 'known active addresses' and get even more SPAM. Never click on any link in a SPAM email as these links usually contain hidden codes to identify you to the web site so, again, you can have your name added to the list of known active addresses.

So how did they get my address in the first place?

One way is that you may have given it to them. Many 'free' internet sites require you to enter your email address to access them. These sites make money selling these emails to SPAMers.

NEVER give your friends' (or my) email addresses to any site without your friends' permission (some send-a-card sites supply SPAMers with addresses as well as sending out the email greeting cards). Your friends may become less... friendly.

Also, there are computer programs called 'robots' that crawl over the web extracting emails from web pages.

What can I do?

First, don't give your email address to anyone you don't trust. You can open a throw-away account at any number of free-email sites if you need to access sites that require your email address (but since most of these are pornography sites, you don't need to!)

Second, don't put your email address anywhere on a web page. If, like me, you want to put your email address on a page, you should hide it in some way.

You can add some easy-to-see extra parts to your email address so a person can remove them before sending (but a 'robot' won't know how to do this).

For example: glenalec@LALALALAexemail.com.au -- the user knows to remove the letters LALALALALA, but if a robot tries to use this address it will not succeed. Be creative with the words as I have tried to be (likely robots today do remove the letters NOSPAM as it so commonly used) but make sure it is obvious what to remove, or put a message on the page explaining what to do.

You can spell out your email: glenalec(at)exemail[dot]com[dit]au -- same effect: a robot generally cannot work this out (while it is technically possible to create a robot that can solve spam-blockers like these, creative use of inserted text makes the task more difficult than it is generally worth).

Put your email in a graphic image like this: email inside image. Again, no machine can read this (at least not quickly enough to make it worth their while), but a person can read it and type it into their email program.

Sadly, an easy-click link using the mailto: tag so people can just click your name to email you is an open invitation to SPAMers, so people will just have to go back to typing in email addresses manually.

You may also be able to set up a filter in your email program so emails containing SPAMish phrases are automatically sent to a folder called 'SPAM' which you can easily delete after a quick scan in case a real email was filtered by mistake. Also check with your ISP whether they have automatic SPAM filtering in place as an option. Then you don't even have to download the SPAM -- you won't even know it was there!

So feel free to email me at the above address. Unless you are sending SPAM!

Things not to mail Glenn

Please do not mail Glenn multi-megabyte attachments without asking him first. His mailbox is limited in capacity and a big email from one person will stop other people sending him emails until he clears it. If the file you want to send him is already on the web, send him a copy of the URL from the address box of your browser (the bit that starts: http:// ).

Glenn would prefer not to recieve e-cards from web sites. Entering an email into one of those web sites pretty-much guarantees it will end up sold to a spammer (which is how those sites usually make their money).

Don't bother sending him .exe files at all. He runs Linux and can't run .exe files (well, he could if he wanted to, but doesn't consider it worth the trouble of setting up). Most of these 'free-of-charge' programs (not to be confused with "free software" which is a very different thing) are actually trojans installing spy-ware anyway, so even if he could, he wouldn't run them. A trojan is a program that does a second, secret job while it is also doing what you think. They are named after the Trojan Horse, where a seemingly harmless gift was actually a way to get a small army into an enemy's palace. A trojan program pretends to be a useful or amusing piece of software so you will let it into your computer. Then it does things you may not like, such as (these are all real examples):

Don't install software unless you are sure you trust the people who wrote it. That's why I use Linux -- I trust the code because thousands of people all over the world check it. Open-source software is occasionally trojaned, and it is always spotted in a day or two, compared to months to never for software where the source-code is not publicly viewable.

In some parts of the world such as China (where I lived for 6 years), it is very easy to buy cheap (illegal) copies of commercial software. There is NO GUARANTEE that the person who copied the disks didn't add trojan software to the install (this is quite easy to do). The same applies to so-called 'warez' (software made illegally available on the internet). If you want a safe system, buy the real thing from the real company. If you can't afford it (who can?), use Linux -- almost all the software you need comes already on the disks (which is why you don't see Linux application disks -- you get it all with the OS). You get the added benefit of knowing you are not breaking the law.

Other ways to contact Glenn.

Students should use Glenn's UOW-staff mail address - Glenn doesn't check his home email while at work and won't act on work emails from home (unless I am really really bored)!

You can phone Glenn. His work number is in the staff directory and if he is in he will answer, or you can leave a message. If you manage to find his home or mobile number, there is no guarantee he will answer - he only answers his private phone if it is convenient, on the assumption that if the call is important, you will call again later, if you don't call again later, the call wasn't important. His private phone is for his convenience, not yours! Actually Glenn rarely carries his private mobile these days. He has a wireless IP phone for around the workplace and doesn't usually have any reason to contact or be contactable outside work. Messages left on his private mobile number may sit there for several days before he notices them. Sorry 'bout that.

A third option for contacting Glenn is to go to his office and knock on the door. Possibly a long-forgotten art, but who knows? It might work!