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February 2004 Newsletter

It's become increasingly obvious that my email address is in a lot of people's address books, and that quite a few of those people don't have up-to-date virus protection in place. It's also pretty obvious that I'm on every spammer address list in the world. This isn't surprising when you think that my email address has been out in the open since 1996!

That isn't as much of a problem as it sounds for me personally. I have good firewall and virus protection, and nothing gets into or out of my computer unless I want it to. But the sheer quantity of unwanted computer traffic can have bad effects in other areas, most notably the internet service providers. One of my ISP's (the one who hosts the website) was down several times in January/February due to the MyDoom virus, which has caused a few email headaches for me as well.

I have about half a dozen emails with the content preserved, but missing the "header" information, so I have no way of replying to the people who sent them. So If you sent me an email in January and didn't get an answer, it's not that I don't want to reply, just that I can't!

Anyway, the point of this newsletter is to increase the level of protection for everyone, and I've got a few pertinent (and FREE) suggestions to make.

First, make sure your computer is clean. Go to http://securityresponse.symantec.com/ and click on "Check for security risks." Run the scan, and if necessary download the instructions or cleaning tools to remove any infection(s). Then go to www.zonelabs.com and download and install the free personal firewall. You can check its integrity by running "Shields Up" at www.grc.com . It's probably also worthwhile removing adware, spyware and other annoyances as well. I find SpyBot http://www.safer-networking.org/ and Ad-Aware www.lavasoftusa.com/  to be useful tools.

At this point you need to install a decent anti-virus program. See http://www.freebyte.com/ for an extensive list of free and paid solutions. Finally, my spam solution? I use Spamihilator  http://www.spamihilator.com  , which is simple to use, easy to train and works.

Note that I'm well aware of more sophisticated solutions to these sorts of problems, but for the average computer user the above will get rid of most of your problems, and stop new ones happening.

Now on to the actual coffee news. I'll be going to this year's SCAA convention in Atlanta, but since it happens over a weekend there won't be any supply interruptions. I'm looking forward to auditing the new "Consumer Track". The Dominican Soliman  special coffee has been a huge hit; just as well, because I still have 100kg of the green left to go.

In equipment news, my Rancilio shipment has arrived, so I now have stocks of Silvias, Rockys both with and without dosers, and bases. I also received an extensive spare part shipment for long term maintenance of the machines I sell.

There have been a few interesting conversations with people who have bought their machines elsewhere, then contacted me for service or advice. My response has to be "Sorry, but you'll have to contact the people you bought from." I'm not authorised to maintain any machines I haven't sold.

The Imat shipment HASN'T arrived, but should finally get here sometime this month, when the importer and Imat get their act together. If you're desperate for a machine get in touch and I'll see what I can do. Finally, I'm at work on a new article which should appear on the website in the next couple of weeks.

 
Alan