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Spam fighters think inside the box

Spam fighters think inside the box

Earlier this week, a segment on local news channel NY1 caught my eye. An editor I know from a certain other tech publishing company was interviewed about the Spam Cube, a new device designed to fight the scourge of every in-box: spam.

A 4.5-inch cube that sits between your cable modem and computer or router, the Spam Cube automatically downloads spam definition updates from its manufacturer and can filter any POP3 mailbox. It sounded like a good way to get people to pony up $150 for a box that does the same thing as plenty of free antispam software (personally, I swear by SpamPal). Spam filter updates are free, but the company also sells an antivirus/antiphishing service for $52 per year.

It didn't sound like an idea that would get any traction, so imagine my surprise when I pick up today's Circuits section of the New York Times, and saw that David Pogue's column was on the very same device. That's a lot of column inches for what is essentially an almost empty plastic box with only a tiny circuit board inside. Fortunately, Pogue takes a similarly skeptical view, correctly noting that, as with any spam filter, you have to "train" the Spam Cube and be vigilant abut false positives. I'd also add that the free filter updates will arrive only as long as this start-up company is in business.

Of course, I can't judge the actual spam-filtering properties of the Spam Cube without trying it myself, so it just may turn out to be the greatest thing since sliced bread. If you want to find out for yourself, the company is currently offering preorders and expects to ship the first retail units next week.