I like to review the emails in my "junk" mailbox, rather than have Hotmail delete them automatically, because I sometimes get mail from legitimate people I've met who are sending me an email for the first time, and these get shunted to the "junk" box along with the real junk by the ever-vigilant Microsoft security patrol--try to imagine an electronic version of Barney Fife, eyes a-goggle, gun waving wildly in the night-- lest they be some kind of threat to my system.
You would think a large and wealthy Monopoly such as Microsoft could figure out most "junk" emails for what they are, and wipe them out entirely before they reach my Hotmail account. The electronic version of Sheriff Taylor: wise, confident, ever-alert to subtle clues in the sender's name, for example, or in the subject line of the email that would tip him off.
But no. Nearly all the emails that Microsoft Hotmail lets through are not even close to being anything I want to see.
So why does Barney let them in? Does Bill Gates get legitimate emails with the subject matter containing the word "V*agra" more frequently than I might suspect? Does he like to open random "Dil@do" offers? Let's take a look at this morning's junk emails, courtesy of Barney--er, Hotmail, and you be the judge as to whether they might be something I want to open.
1. The first is from a fellow named "Eric" with no last name. I do not know any Erics with no last name, but Barney appears sure he is very kindly attempting to help me out. Barney can see it plainly in the subject line of the email:
I saved on Xanax&Viagra! OthersToo!
2. The second is from "Skinny Mini." I do not know anyone named Skinny Mini, either, but once again Barney is sure this person is also looking out for my best interests, because the subject line states:
B Thin Today!
3. The third is from somebody named "Printer Ink 85% Off." I am not familiar with this person, nor do I know anybody--except possibly one of Frank Zappa's children--who contain the term "85%" in their names. Nevertheless, Barney seems to think the subject matter is promising, and worth letting through:
Jeffrey - "ALWAYS [GÌANT] SAVÏNGS' ......
4. The fourth and final junk email is from another possible descendant of Frank Zappa, named: "Your-Diet." This person promises me something that is completely incomprehensible, but Barney goes ahead and lets it through:
What do you think? Would you open any of these emails? Would Bill Gates?
Meanwhile, on my Network Solutions mailbox, which I keep for the frequent occassions when Hotmail mysteriously--perhaps Microsoft is not paying its vendors on time--goes radio silent, I have precisely zero junk emails of the type promising X-rated pleasures or diet pills at reduced prices.
Microsoft generates $1 billion of cash per month. Part of the charm of having a monopoly, I suppose, is that you can create lousy products such as Hotmail, do so little to help your customers that they sometimes daydream about leaving, and yet go home secure in the knowledge that they will not be going anywhere, because there is nowhere to go.
Meanwhile, I have to get busy emptying Hotmail. But I have to be careful--I don't want to scare Ol' Barn.