You know what it's like on Christmas, you rush down open your presents all excited, do silly things with them until you read the instructions properly....etc etc
This is what i felt like a few weeks ago when I found out about http://www.boxbe.com/
So as some of you know I run my own personal exchange server at home (lol remote oma + mobile synch + perpetual archiving etc...don't know why more people don't do that).
For a while I've wanted a true challenge-response spam solution - basically what this means is that you have an 'approved' whitelist of all your email addresses and anyone not on the list is sent a reply email asking for them to click on a link to approve or complete a 'captcha' so that it's a real person.
Now I know exactly what I want.... it's a Sendio ICE box appliance. http://blog.tmcnet.com/blog/tom-keating/linux/sendio-ice-box-antispam-appliance-review.asp
It's a single 1RU linux appliance with browser configuration that does everything I need however for only 2 people....it's way overkill and their cheapest license module is for 50 people so around $5000 - which for 50 people is reasonable - for 2 people....little bit of an overkill.
I've often wondered why some type of sender address verification in software hasn't been available for exchange (or even better just for SBS 2003).
There is TDMA (http://wiki.tmda.net/FrontPage), but this is written in python and not as user friendly as i would like.
It seems like a pretty simple application/process to code against but as far as I know the only option is for a 3rd party SAAS solution which again is never sold in single person licenses :)
So a few weeks ago I came across Boxbe, an outlook plugin that does exactly what I wanted, from outlook it sends a challenge response to any emails not in my whitelist and holds all 'unapproved' emails in a isolation folder while either the sender 'completes a captcha' or I approve it manually.
It even had some really cool features like I could customise what the captcha looked like and what my reply said.
It did have some weird parts relating to it's business model (eg marketing companies would pay a charity donation fee to send me email) - my thoughts around this was hey if you can stop all spam and only charge $20 for the plugin you would have the world beating a path to your door.
There were some other issues around the 'enrollment process' - which I put down to 'clarity in the wording' on their part but also rushing without reading the instructions on my part.
For the last few weeks been working great - I needed to check my 'boxbe isolation' folder on a regular basis but that's only because I subscribe to so many mailing lists etc but once they were approved they went through fine.
The cool part was no more spam. It was heaven, I couldn't have asked for more (maybe for the application to be installed at an exchange level so it worked even when Outlook was switched off - lol my mobile phone inbox went nuts when both my laptop and desktop were switched off - because there was nothing preventing the spam from coming through - yes it would clean it up once I turned on outlook at either my desktop or laptop but was still a problem
So humming along, telling all my friends what a great service it was.....Until this week.
I was digging around my deleted emails folder for an email - (it's a whole other story but since I installed windows desktop search I dont often need to manually look for emails, 'Windows Desktop Search' check it out it's a great application). I just couldn't remember the terms of the email I was looking for but I knew when it was sent to me so I'm looking through my deleted emails folder only to find lines and lines of spam email.
It was huge how much was back there. I couldn't work out what was going on.
Read the email below for a summary.
From: Dean Collins
Reply-To: Dean Collins
Date: Wed, 7 May 2008 14:20:55 -0400
Subject: question about moving 'blocked' emails to deleted folder
Hi I've asked this question before but I haven't had an answer yet.
I only just noticed that Boxbe is moving the 'blocked' emails into my deleted mail folder.
This is a problem as I store all my deleted emails in an archive.
Is this normal that boxbe moves the blocked email to the deleted emails folder whereas outlook junk mail deletes the mail from my folder entirely when I right click "clear my junk mail folder"
Can you please email me an answer to this, as this is critical.
Yes, you are correct. Currently, the way Boxbe for Outlook works is that any incoming email from sender addresses and domains on your Blocked List will be scanned and moved to Deleted Items. The messages will not be automatically deleted.
If you are suggesting that Boxbe for Outlook scan for any blocked addresses (senders and domains), then delete the email from your Outlook folders completely and not moved into the Deleted Items, similar to the Outlook Junk Mail functionality, please let us know and this feature request will be passed along to the Dev Engineering team.
Thank you for your feedback.
Ouch......so the couple of hundred emails being 'blocked' each day were actually just being moved to my deleted emails folder. Which is fine for residential home users who dont keep any emails but for everyone else that archives all their emails....you're now storing spam for 4 years or whatever your retention policy is.
Hmm sorry Boxbe - it was short and sweet but you aren't ready for the real world yet. (i'd also offer advice about moving to a license fee rather than this per message fee /donation tangent you are on - if your product works the world will be beating a path to you and your mousetrap).
For everyone else that received my Boxbe invitations that have signed up, sorry - if it works for you stick with it but I'm out of here.