How I Deal With Spam

The struggle is real. Spam is here to stay, but filters have evolved a lot in the last decade and today automatically deleting 99% (or even more) of all spam you get is not a dream, but a feasible achievement.

I am a user of Gmail, which is a great mailing system. It gives more than enough storage space, is very popular - what makes various applications know how to talk with it -, and even allows for several different options of mail viewing and filtering. There are some reported privacy issues, though, and although I care very highly for my privacy - and the privacy of those that talk with me -, I do not think I would be better off with my own mail server. And the risk of those new trendy encrypted mailing systems going out from night to day keeps me away from them.

If I ever need complete safe mail transfer, I’d just encrypt the message, attach it and then send it through, I would have to tell the receiver the encryption key somehow, though. Maybe I’d write the message and encrypt it in a fresh install of a Linux distribution that never touched the Internet. I may elaborate more on this plan in the future.

Now, back to the point and being very specific to Gmail, what is considered spam by the Google mail service?

For your own account, Gmail learns to always mark as spam senders that you’ve reported spam on. Likewise, it learns to not mark as spam senders that you’ve reported not spam on.

- Dan Fingal-Surma

Simple enough, uh? You can only get spam from an address until you report it as spam.

There is also a machine learning network that collects all these manual spam reports and makes filters for them, so spam that is reported by a few users will never make it to the inbox of many others.

From the same engineer,

Now, if you’re the one of the unlucky first few receiving mail from a spam campaign we know nothing about yet, spam may slip in.

This justifies those few email messages that always manage to go through the filters. But this is a very small price to pay for the convenience of email.

Last but not least, my very nice habit of using mailtos to my own address everywhere does not help much to keep it away from spam senders. And allowing and similar web services to show my email address publicly is not helping at all either, but I want it to be easily accessible to make communication with my readers and collaborators as easy as possible. At the end of the day, dealing with spam is so simple that it goes almost unnoticed.

My Public Notebook

I have always kept formulas and definitions I had to remember written in text files (TXT, ODT, etc) on the cloud. Recently I decided that I should group all these notes in the same place and make them public so that others could also benefit from them and - why not - even help me extend them.

So I started a public GitHub repository called formulas (may be renamed to notebook in the future). It already has a nice level of automation, in the sense that a single bash script triggers a new GitHub release and will, in a matter of one or two minutes, result in a new PDF in the repository releases.

I invite you to check it out and, perhaps, open a pull request or give me some tips and suggestions.

Most Important Things First 2

I wrote I would come back to write about the results of my new approach to ticking things out of my TODO list. So let us write.

Based on my observations, tackling the most important tasks early on is really the best way to go through your daily work, but it is awfully tempting to do some stupid things before the most important ones. Therefore, albeit hard, finishing the most relevant chores early on is the way to go.

However, I have a bigger issue to solve. My lack of regularity when going to bed reduces brutally the amount of time I have to invest each day. I must remember that my lifespan is limited and that I do not have all the time in the world in order to produce more in my life. Therefore, for the next week, I am planning to write about doing the most important things first while also being an early riser.

Git Push Current

Today I learned that the message

fatal: The current branch brunch has no upstream branch.
To push the current branch and set the remote as upstream, use

    git push --set-upstream origin brunch

Can be avoided by setting push.default to current. This can be done with the following command.

git config --global push.default current

As creating a remote branch is rarely an issue, this seems to me a much better default setting.

Most Important Things First 1

Ernest Hemingway woke each morning and began writing straight away. Some say.

In Mason Currey’s book, Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, one idea is very clear: doing the most important thing first every day is the best way to accomplish what you want.

It is simple and sounds promising.

However, I remember having done this a few times in the past and no sad memories follow these streams of consciousness. Therefore, here I go again.

Additionally, in the last few days, I caught myself wondering that the most important things in life are those that do not have deadlines. I have never placed deadlines in my hopes, dreams, plans, and businesses ideas. Nevertheless, all these things matter substantially more to me as a creative person with a limited amount of time than the things I am supposed to turn in tomorrow.

I am writing this for public commitment to a challenge. I will start doing this next Monday (26/10/2015), when the waters should be calmer, and will stick to it until the other Monday (2/11/2015), when I will share my progress here.