Amcho Computer Services
Newsletter - December 1999



The Millennium and Dates and Little Denis
The Millennium and your Video Recorder
Make Your Site Sell - The Book is now available
Have some fun with spambots
Web Site Updates

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The Millennium and Dates and Little Denis

We are now into the last days of the second millennium,
but on the 19 November 1999 we passed an even more interesting milestone.
19-11-1999 was the very last day where all the digits of the date are odd,
the next time this will happen will not be till New Year 3111!

For other strange and interesting info on dates have a look at

You may also like to read about Little Denis
who thought it all up in the first place and got it wrong!
So before the millennium arrives,
it is only right to pay tribute to Little Denis.
Because without Little Denis there would be no millennium:

The Millennium and your Video Recorder

Continuing on the subject of the millennium,
it is now too late to reprogram your Video Recorder
to guarantee its survival into the new millennium.
Even if you know for certain that your VCR is totally bug proof
it would be a good idea to make a full backup of all your video tapes
so that even if a bug gets in there and eats the lot
you will be able to recover your favourite tapes
from the fire proof safe.

I have set up a few autoresponders to help you deal with
various bits of technology that may go wrong,
the names should be self evident:

On a more serious note, even if you do nothing else
and keep this in a safe place,
so if the worst does happen you can get back to
the situation at the end of the 20th century.

Make Your Site Sell - The Book is now available

Ken Evoy has just announced the availability of the paper version of his ebook.
If you want to sell anything on the web you must read this book.
It tells you how to select a product that can be sold on the web.
How to build a website to sell your product,
and then how to drive targetted visitors to your website.
The ebook retails at less than 20 US$
the paper version can be yours for approx 30 US$
or you can get both for about 45 US$.

If you are at all interested in ecommerce than why not
add this book to your xmas gift list, or if you
know someone who wants to sell on the web - this book
would make an excellent present.
(PS mum - I've already got the book
so you will have to think of something else!)

How to Have some fun with Spambots

Towards the end of October the amount of junk email in
my inbox was getting out of hand,
it was time to do something!
The main source of unacceptable junk
is from my email addresses posted on my website.
These are picked up by email harvesting programs
that wander round the web searching for email addresses
that they can spam. The best way to defeat these spambots
is to use a feedback form instead of mailto links.
But I like to do things the difficult way:

My first defence was to put some special mailto addresses
at the bottom of my pages that caused the spam bots to send their
junk to 'abuse' 'bounce' and 'postmaster' @ their ISP.
such as the following:
The problem with this approach is that it can be irritating
to any visitor who should stumble upon the fake addresses,
all the other addresses on the page will have been harvested anyway,
and there is no satisfaction of knowing that it has worked.

My second line of defence was to serve up
a 'forbidden' response or a special page to the
email harvester spiders. Some people have used
this technique to fill the spambots database with
fake email addresses. (If you are interested do a
search for WPOISON).

This was quite easy to do as the spambots advertised themselves
with their name in the browser field, after all what else
could 'emailsiphon' be?

Also when you check your server logs it is satisfying to see
all the spambots just getting the 'forbidden' page
regardless of the actual page requested.

About a year ago I started noticing a lot of apparently
'normal' browsers acting in a very spidery fashion:
accessing each page on my website in very quick succession,
doing so in either a totally random manner or
working through the links on each page systematically.

At the same time the amount of junk email was increasing.
What really infuriates me is junk email sent to my
autoresponders that causes my autoresponse to bounce,
these I deal with by complaining to all
the ISPs that appeared to have passed on the junk.
A polite complaint, as quite often the headers in the
email are forged, so the ISPs may be innocent victims.

I have now started to put all my email addresses behind
a cgi script. Instead of a mailto link I use a link to
a cgi script that then acts as a mailto in the normal way.
To check that this works I have created a few special
new email boxes - if these start to be hit with junk I
know I have some more work to do!

For example a normal mailto link looks like this in a webpage:
<a href=""></a>
These I have changed as follows:
<a href="cgi-bin/"></a>

The relevant lines of the perl script are as follows:
  use CGI; # use the standard cgi library
  $query = new CGI; # define a new cgi object
  $p_to = $query->param('to') ; # extract the email address
  print "Location: mailto:".$p_to."\n\n"; # open the mailto link

PostScript - Just before sending out this newsletter
one of my spambottraps was sprung. It appears that not all
of the spambots are just looking for mailto links, but some are
either searching for email addresses embedded in the html code
or are picking up the second mailto link that is hidden behind the cgi script.
I will change the links again and let you know in the next newsletter.

Web Site Updates

This site was not supposed to go live just yet, but
I was invited to join the 'haulier' webring,
so the website has now been launched by default.
The front page at
now contains a link the the webring where you can
visit other UK haulier related web sites.
I have still to sort out keywords and submit to
the search engines - but if you want to post a
free advert or sign up for your own website at or
the prices are 30 GBP or 45 GBP plus VAT
this includes a webpage to advertise your business,
meta tags and keywords set up, and search engine submission.

That's it for now - see you again in the Next Millennium.
Don't forget to take some time off over Christmas
and have a great holiday to conclude the 20th century.
Wishing you all the best for
the New Year
the New Century
and the New Millennium.

© 1999 Amcho Computer Services Ltd. All rights reserved.
Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone you want to.
but please check with us before reproducing the content,
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Mike Choroszewski
Amcho Computer Services Ltd
Little Honeycombe, Tamar Way, Gunnislake, Cornwall, Pl18 9DH. UK
phone: 0870 740 7683 (Uk national rate) December 1999 Have some fun with spambots November 1999 Don't steal webpages - LinkMod them instead! October 1999 Webmaster tips and email tips September 1999

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AMCHO Computer Services Ltd, Tamar Way, Gunnislake, Cornwall, PL18 9DH, UK
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