Click Here November 2003: Messenger Spam

My second article for The Panther originally published November 2003
Click Here
by Lee C Sonko

I’m so happy to have this new column in The Panther. It’s called “Click Here” in reference to that ubiquitous call to action that you see everywhere when surfing on the internet. Each month, I’ll be telling you about some of the most important things everyone should know about when using computers. Some of the topics will include: keeping bad people out of your computer, having fun on the computer, stopping annoying advertising, and lots more. For my first article, I’ll address a problem that many of my friends have had. Messenger Spam. And here we go!

The internet is a phenomenally useful thing but there are some annoyances and some very important things you should know about it when you’re using it. Email spam, popup advertising, credit card fraud, and computer viruses are just a few things you have to look out for. Most of the annoyances are people trying to sell you things you don’t want or need. It’s slightly annoying when you go to your mailbox and find that you’ve got a couple catalogs and some Val-pack coupons. It’s another thing entirely when you get 50 advertisements a day, every day, for the exact same thing on your computer screen! It starts getting difficult to find your “real” mail among all the chaff. I sometimes become temped to buy their junk just to get them to go away, even though I know that won’t work.

In the last few months, a lot of people in the Valley and all over the world have been receiving some tremendously annoying messages on their computers. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. You’ll be going about your business on the internet when suddenly a big gray message-box with lots of text pops up trying to sell you something. Usually, it’s trying to sell you a product that will make annoying messages like the one you are seeing go away. If that’s not extortion, I don’t know what is! You’ll click on the “OK” button to make it go away but then 10 minutes later you get another just like it. It’s unceasing! These messages are called “Messenger Spam” because they use a program built into Windows called the Messenger Service to get onto your computer. You don’t need to pay their extortion fees to get rid of these awful messages. Here’s what to do.

These instructions will work if you have a computer with Windows but not with a Mac. If your computer is in an office with other computers, you should ask your network guy before doing this. If your computer is at home, this is a quick and easy way to get rid of Messenger Spam forever.

1) Click the Start button
2) Click Run…
3) Type the following and then hit the Enter key: services.msc
4) Double-click on the line that starts out “Messenger”. You might have to scroll down a little to find it
5) On the screen that pops up, change the “Startup type” to Disabled
6) Click Stop
7) Click OK
8) Close the Services window.

Done! Pretty easy, huh? You won’t ever get any more of those awful messenger spams! Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable “mucking about” in your computer like this, then you might just ask your computer-literate nephew or a friend to come over and do this for you.

There are other ways that advertisers and the like try to get on your computer. I’ll be sharing tips about them in the coming months. The end result will be that you’ll get more out of your computer with less effort, confusion and annoyance. And it will certainly be more fun!

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