Thursday, May 31, 2007

Windows LiveWriter Beta 2 Now Available




Microsoft has updated and upgraded its LiveWriter to Beta 2, which makes the application even more useful. Here's what's new:
New Authoring Capabilities

Inline spell checking
Table editing
Ability to add categories
Page authoring for WordPress and TypePad
Support for excerpts and extended entries
Improved hyperlinking and image insertion
Paste Special

Integration and Compatibility

SharePoint 2007 support
New APIs enabling custom extensions by weblog providers
Automatic synchronization of local and online edits
Integration with Windows Live Gallery
Support for Blogger Labels

Plus...

New look and feel
Available in 6 languages
Improved accessibility and keyboard support
Many other frequently requested enhancements!
It's a great way to create and edit your blog posts with more functionality than is usually available directly through your blogging platform.

Get it here!

Canon PIXMA Photo Printer - Only $99.99

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Coolest Thing Since Pen & Paper: LiveScribe




Sometimes I just want to hug myself and say, Man, I am so glad to be alive in the knee of the curve! The curve I'm referring to is the one that represents accelerating technology. (See Singularity & The Price of Rice to read a 5-minute primer on the topic if you aren't familiar with it.)

What's got me so excited? It's a brand new invention that's highlighted in the New York Times.
Now Jim Marggraff, an entrepreneur with a long string of successful innovations, say he thinks he has figured out the secret of pen computing — and he has done it by playing with toys.

Mr. Marggraff, a longtime executive at the toy maker LeapFrog, is the inventor behind a string of talking books, smart pens and other educational toys that have made their way into millions of American homes.

His new company, Livescribe, which he plans to introduce today at the D: All Things Digital technology conference in Carlsbad, Calif., has taken some of those technologies several steps further. It has created an ambitious new type of pen-based computer system that, if successful, could bridge the gap between paper and the digital world and perhaps even change the way millions of people interact with the Internet.

This animation shows (in a kind of dorky way, I'll admit) what LiveScribe can do.
Instead of forcing users to write with a stylus on a computer’s slippery display, Livescribe put the computer inside a plump ballpoint pen that is used on paper imprinted with nearly invisible miniature dots. As a user writes, a tiny camera near the pen’s tip watches those dots go by, recording what is being written.

Mr. Marggraff said calling it pen computing is a misnomer. “We are creating paper-based computing,” he said.

In addition to the camera, the pen, which is about the size and weight of a fat Montblanc pen, has two microphones to record sound, a speaker for playback, a small display that Mr. Marggraff calls a pixel bar, and, of course, a hidden computer chip and other sophisticated electronics. It fits into a docking station, where it can upload or download programs and data files to and from a PC.

They say the pen will sell for less than $200 and will be available this fall. Count me in!

Save Up to $100 Instantly on Select Cameras, Plus, Free Memory! While Supplies Last!

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Don't Let That Great Idea Slip Away: Wridea




Another great way to hang on to those brainstorms you have and typically forget. This Web 2.0 site has a very user-friendly interface that'll make putting those light bulbs together in a way that you can use. Who knows, maybe you'll invent the next great gadget that'll change everything! Here are some of the features you'll find at Wridea:
Never forget your ideas again. Save them as you have them.

Create categories and organize your ideas.

Create brainstorm sessions with your friends.

Use wridea as a basic project management tool. Create a page for each project and different categories for each work type.

Collaborative brainstorm sessions. With Wridea, your friends can participiate on your ideas by commenting on them.

RSS Feeds. Subscribe to your friends' idea or comment RSS feeds and stay tuned!

Get your ideas organized. Wridea is easy to use. Letting you create, edit and delete your ideas, pages and categories smoothly and easily.

Create ideas. Let your mind focus on new ideas and discover new things. Free your mind by storing all your todo items, ideas, concepts, anything cluttering your mind in wridea.

Create categories easily with wridea for categorizing your ideas and thoughts. For example, create a category named "Illustration" and put your new illustration concepts into it.

Create pages for collecting each related ideas into single pages, even if they have different categories. For example, you can create a page for one of your projects and add all your ideas, todo items, concepts or anything else related to that project into the newly created page.

You are the limit! You have pages, categories and ideas. Use wridea your way!
Click to visit their site!

Free Shipping on Orders over $150

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Just One Search. That's All It Took, on Sputtr




What a stupid title. Must be low on blood sugar. But this search site is very smart. All your favorite search engines and social bookmarking sites gathered in one spot.
Welcome to Sputtr. A refreshingly clean way to search the things that matter the most.
Now you can save valuable time by having all the right searches on just one page!

It's simple - reeeaal simple.
It's fast - faster than most others out there.
It's a collection of all your favorite search engines - all on just one page!
It's pretty - at least we think so.
It is pretty cool. Check it out here.

Via Scobleizer.com's Shared Links

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Monitor Up To Sixteen Email Accounts Simultaneously




Here's a very useful little program that will monitor as many as 16 different email accounts at the same time.
ePrompter automatically and simultaneously checks and retrieves your email messages from up to sixteen password protected email accounts and then gives you notification whenever you have new messages. ePrompter also lets you know how many new messages you have in each account, once new messages have been retrieved.

ePrompter also lets you read, delete and respond to any of your messages with a simple click on the account of your choice - without ever having to launch your email program or go to your webmail's site. Importantly, when ePrompter retrieves messages, it leaves the original messages on your various email accounts' servers and/or webmail sites.

ePrompter supports AIM, AOL, Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Yahoo Beta, POP3, Earthlink, Excite, Juno, Lycos, Mail.com, Mindspring, MSN, MyWay, Netscape, Rediffmail, SBC Yahoo, USA.net, Windows Live Mail, and hundreds of other email domains.
Definitely worth a download. Get it here.

Via TechnoBuzz.net

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PPP Direct

Monday, May 28, 2007

Vista Wallpapers Without Vista




Another Vista feature available for free. No purchase of Vista required. A full slate of Vista's high-rez wallpapers. 90 beautiful pictures that will give you a Vista-like interface for nothing.

Available at Digital Inspiration

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Upgrade Your Keyboard & Mouse to Increase Your Productivity

In my experience, most people tend to stick with the keyboard and mouse that came with their computer. They've never tried anything else, so they don't realize how clunky and difficult to use those basic tools really are. I, on the other hand, when forced to use their stone-age appliances on the occasion when they've asked for my help with a computer issue, feel the difference acutely.

If you've never thought of upgrading, I encourage you to do so. Your productivity will increase dramatically when you can type faster and more comfortably with an ergonomic keyboard, and navigate more quickly and accurately with a laser mouse. Here are the two I use and heartily recommend:



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Sunday, May 27, 2007

Flowcharts: Free and Easy with Flowchart.com




Here's a Web 2.0 site that makes flowcharting as easy and enjoyable as it could ever be. Flowchart.com has a beautiful and intuitive interface, requires no downloads or plugins, and is free. That's a sweet combination.
Flowchart.com offers you a way to create your flowchart online. No software install. No downloads. No Plugins required. Just sign up and start creating your flowchart.

Flowchart.com has an easy to use interface, so you can be up and running in seconds!

You can collaborate with your colleagues in real-time when creating your flowchart. All collaborating parties
can chat and design a flowchart at the same time.

Curious? Well, then sign up for a beta invite and come try the next revolution in online software.

Works with all popular Internet browsers (FireFox, IE).
You have to request an invitation to the beta, but I didn't have to wait more than a half-hour to get mine. (I'm allowed seven invites of my own, so it you want one from me just leave a comment to that effect.)

You can get there from here.

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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Web 2.0 Button Generator: I Been Waiting For This!




I'm one of those webmasters who's not a master at designing graphics. Or buttons. That's why I appreciate this site: MyCoolButton. In fact, I've wanted, needed, something like this for a long time. The fat, juicy, shiny, bulging Web 2.0-style buttons will be mine to put on my blogs! Think of it! The world will bow at my feet!

Click here to visit the site!

(Got the heads-up from Mashable.)

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Meez Beta: Free 3D Identities



The graphic above is one of the online personalities I've created in Meez, which is a cool service that lets you design and build your own animated avatars to represent you online. Once you've created one, you can export it, post it, link to it in various contexts, wherever you can paste code.

You can make your own at Meez.com

When you sign up, enter my username: bmahfood on the registration form, and we'll both get a 5 Coinz reward.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Stealther: Surf Below the Radar

If you want to keep your surfing habits to yourself, that is. A great Firefox add-on, just set the options and when you want to surf anonymously, go to Tools and click on Stealther. Then you can browse without a care in the world. Unless DHS wants to know what you're up to. I don't know if anything can stop them from finding out what they want to know.

Get it here!

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Create Fabulous Online Resumes with Resolio



I've just discovered a Web 2.0 site that I can't wait to use. The only reason I'm not playing around with it right now is because I don't want to wait to tell you about it.

Once you sign up (free version or premium), you enter your data, choose a design, and publish your new resume. You can publish to Resolio or your own web site.

I plan to design a resume for myself as a freelance writer/editor and link to it on all my web sites. If you've got the gist of it, I'll leave you to it while I start working on my new Resolio resume. You can find it here. See ya.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

BlueOrganizer: Dip Your Toe Into Web 3.0



Web 3.0, the Semantic Web, whatever name you give it, it's essentially a more intelligent web experience. BlueOrganizer by AdaptiveBlue had been written up by PC Magazine:
One early example is the BlueOrganizer from AdaptiveBlue (www.adaptiveblue.com). In certain situations, when you visit a Web page, this browser plug-in can understand what the page is about, automatically retrieving related information from other sites and services. If you visit a movie blog, for instance, and read about a particular film, it immediately links to sites where you can buy or rent that film. "It's what you might call a top-down approach," says Alex Iskold, the company's CEO. "Web pages already contain semantic data. We can understand them, so why shouldn't computers? Why not build a technology that can parse and process existing services and databases?"
I'd say this is an early, early example, but very nice nonetheless. BlueOrganizer has upgraded to a new version of their Firefox add-on that "delivers an even more compelling user experience," according to TechCrunch.
The biggest change in the new version of Blue Organizer is “smart links”. Toolbar and in-page pull down menus are supported with an improved contextual engine that delivers results based on data pulled from the page being viewed. The options provided have evolved; where as previous versions provided only static lists of external links, the latest version of Blue Organizer dynamically personalizes link options based on browsing history. For example if you used Facebook and De.licio.us regularly but didn’t use Newsvine, Newsvine would not be listed.
Check it out here.

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Zoho Notebook: Open to the Public!



Zoho is the king of Web 2.0 applications as far as I'm concerned. Their suite of apps (Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheet, Zoho Show, Zoho Wiki, Zoho Meeting, Zoho Mail, etc.) do a beautiful job of replicating desktop application on the web. Now they've added Notebook to their quiver of arrows.
  • Create different types of content - Create content of type text, image, audio, video, etc.
  • Aggregate your information in one place - Embed content of any type from multiple applications
  • Fine grained collaboration - Share a whole book, page or just an object on a page by granting read/writer permissions
  • Version control - Keep track of changes not only at the book or page level but also at the object level.
The usefulness of this app is bounded only by your imagination, so use it and have fun!

(Via Lifehacker)

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Schmedley: A Sweet-Looking Start Page

Alright, I use Netvibes as my main startpage because it works great for my RSS feeds. No question, it does that and a lot more excellently. But if you want something beautiful in a startpage, look no further than Schmedley.com.



The screenshot (click it to enlarge) doesn't do it justice.
This is what schmedley is all about - we have embraced the web as a platform - to deploy a suite of web services applications that handle the most common, daily tasks of a broad range of internet users. Broken down by category, each application (schmedley “channel”) is represented by an icon in the schmedley toolbar at the top of every page. Each channel offers data that is diverse and sometimes hard to get at, and organizes it into one clean, easy-to-use interface. In many cases schmedley becomes a content provider, dedicated to offering an innovative way to carry out different web searches and perform specific tasks while gathering data from various sources. Even greater functionality is achieved by giving users the ability to store and manipulate personalized data relevant to each task at hand.
Check it out here!

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Where Would We Be Without Search Engines?

In his keynote presentation (which you can watch here) at the Killer App Expo in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Ray Kurzweil was making the point that technological evolution is accelerating. As one example, he pointed out how search engines have become an almost crucial part of our everyday lives when they didn't even exist just a few years ago.

Just think about the accessibility of almost any type of information via search engines and the Internet. When I was growing up, full of questions, I had nowhere to go for answers. My parents had to spend umpteen dollars on a huge, multi-volume set of encyclopedias. And that didn't have up-to-date information. It was just like having to walk 5 miles in the snow to get to school. Today, an idle notion pops into my head, and I can find out all about it in a few seconds. That's the power of technology at work.

Here are a few of the best:
OK, so what are people using this massive searching power to find? It's a bit depressing, really. We may console ourselves with the hope that there are many, many people performing less banal searches. But here are today's top searches:
  1. paige johnson
  2. tanzania national park
  3. what part of a graduate’s costume gave the cordon ...
  4. how does a kangaroo keep cool
  5. danny of radio days
  6. harry belafonte s daughter
  7. star in orion
  8. writer leonard
  9. japanese coin
  10. what sports league was born in 1949 when the baa a...
You can find out what the search trends are and even compare the volume of searches over time at Google Trends. Have fun!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

Corral Your Tabs in Firefox

Don't you just love tabbed browsing? Now you can love it even more with this Firefox extension. It's called Separate Tabs, and it works by grouping your open tabs according to the parent web site. As an added feature, you can plunk down any tab into any group manually. The grouping does help to keep things organized if you have lots of tabs to deal with. This extension is not sold in stores. In fact it's not sold anywhere, because it's free. Get it here.

(Via Lifehacker)

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Live a Different (Mini) Life

On one of my other excellent blogs I posted an article titled Going All-Virtual: The Desire to Leave Reality Behind. The article describes the arrival, in the next two to three decades, of full-immersion virtual reality that cannot be differentiated from real reality. A brief excerpt:
Skip now to the singularity, when nanomachines in our blood and in our brains can cut off all the data coming from our sensory organs and replace them with virtual data. Every signal being processed by your brain could be coming from the nanomachines, rather than from the outside world. You would not feel the chair that you are sitting on, you would not feel the warmth of the air surrounding your body, or smell the smoke coming from the fire that was started when your lit cigarette fell from your slack fingers onto the flammable carpet.
Although the current crop of online virtual worlds seem like the Model-T when compared to future VR, they still hold an attraction. No matter how happy you may be with your current life, there will always be a part of you that wonders what it would be like to be someone else, someplace else, somewhen else. And let's face it, practically no one is completely satisfied with what the have going. So we are already heading in droves over to sites like MyMiniLife.

Some of MyMiniLife's selling points, besides providing an alternate existence:
  • Create and personalize your own character and plot of land
  • Interact between others as you make new friends and enemies
  • Embed your creations on any webpage you desire
  • Best of all, there's nothing to download and it's FREE!
So check it out here, but please, come back soon.



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Sunday, May 20, 2007

Attention Mind-Mappers - Bubble-Mind is Here



Are you a mind-map aficionado? Do you think in terms of bubbles? Then Bubble-Mind is for you. Seriously, many very smart people have increased their productivity by using mind-mapping tools, which are just visual ways of organizing ideas.
A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, and decision making.

It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.

A mind map is similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no formal restrictions on the kinds of links used.

The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.

Wikipedia
I've just discovered an excellent Web 2.0 mind-mapping tool that you will appreciate whether you're already a mind-mapper or just someone who'd like to see how it works. It's called Bubble-Mind and it can be gotten to here.

There are many costly downloads available that do what this site does for free. Check it out today.

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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Say Goodbye to Windows Explorer: Get xplorer²

When you can get something for free that works better than something that comes with Windows, you should go for it. Anything that makes your life easier and more productive is a big plus, right? So why put up with the limited functionality of Windows Explorer when there are better options available for zero pesetas? There is no reason, unless you despise change even when it's good for you. Otherwise, read on.

The best replacement I've found (and there are a multitude, let me tell you) for Windows Explorer is xplorer². It's a tabbed, dual-paned file manager that outclasses the Windows version in all ways. I have the Pro version, which costs $29.95, it's that good, but the free version still beats Windows Explorer hands down.

You can get the free version here or get a free trail of the Pro version here.

Click on the image to enlarge.



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Friday, May 18, 2007

How to Slay Snap Previews

Once upon a time I tried Snap.com's previews on my web sites. It sounded like a great idea. In theory, that is. Perhaps some folks like it, but I found it way too distracting. Every time I moved my pointer, it hit links and Snap! Snap! Snap! Haaaated It!

Of Zen and Computing felt our pain and posted an article here explaining how to slay those startling Snaps for good.

What you need to do is to use Firefox with the AdBlock Plus extension. Once you've restarted Firefox, go to Tools>AdBlock Plus. Add spa.snap.com/* to AdBlock’s set of rules. Then restart Firefox once more. That's it! Snap is dead!

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I Knew There Was a Reason I Liked Blogger

Blogger has added some welcome features to their blogging platform. I've lost a few posts in my time when my computer froze or crashed or my browser suddenly went AWOL. But no more! Blogger just made their service better by adding auto-save. From now on it will save my new posts as drafts once a minute, or every time I stop typing, depending on how fast I type. Very nice.

Another set of changes involves the keyboard shortcuts. They now make more sense; now Ctrl-P publishes, Ctrl-S saves a draft, and Ctrl-D switches from published to draft. They moved Preview over to Ctrl-Shift-P.

It's always nice to see the services you use improved. I have three Blogger blogs and two self-hosted WordPress blogs (and an experimental Weebly blog), and they each have their advantages, but Blogger is definitely the simplest to use. Thanks, Blogger!

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

Making the Most of Your Cameroid

This is a case of an unfortunate name linked to a cool idea. (The name "cameroid" sounds too much like what you might get if you were to stick a camera up your you-know-what.) Setting that aside for now, you will find a nice web site that lets you jazz up pics from your web cam, download the results, store them on Cameroid's servers, or share them on social networks.

Use your server-stored pics as avatars for IM or on sites like MySpace or Bebo.

You can check out Cameroid here.



(Via Mashable!)

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

My Top Ten Free Software Applications

Everyone likes free, except the folks that want to charge money for the same things. But we're naturally a bit suspicious about free offers. We're like the ant who sees a free bit of water at the bottom of that cup-looking plant there. Oops. That was a pitcher plant. Sometimes free offers come with a cost.

When it comes to free software, though, what's the catch. If it's designed by a sociopath, it'll contain malware code. But when offered and recommended by sites you trust (like mine), there is no catch. Then why do people create software and offer it for free? What do they get out of it?

Well, there's the feeling you get when you act in an altruistic fashion. It feels good to know that you made something that helps people. Then there's notoriety, a species of fame. If you make great software and offer it for free, you become well-known. Finally, there's the commercial angle. If lots of people come to your site to get your free stuff, you can get some good ad revenue. Yippee! You can also sell more feature-rich versions of your software.

So free software is a good thing and it's good for you and me. Here's my top-ten list of free software offerings:
Enjoy!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Vista Cursors for XP

Another "no need to upgrade to Vista" post. If you like the cursors that come with Vista, you can get them for your XP machine, no problem. Codejacked has links for lots of other stuff that brings a Vista flavor to XP, but the cursors are here. Download the zip file and extract to your Windows>Cursors folder. Then you can use RealWorld's Change Cursor 2.0 to make switching cursors easy. Once it's installed, go to the Cursors folder where you put the Aero cursors, then right-click on the ones you want to use and select "Change Cursor." You'll see which ones to use for different purposes (see screenshot).



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Monday, May 14, 2007

Loose Lips Sink Ships: So Does Web 2.0 Battleship

I don't ever post about gaming, not that there's anything wrong with gaming. It's just not my niche. But this is a Web 2.0 online game that's worth telling you about. SinkMyShip.com allows multiple players to engage in a game of Battleship. Remember that game? It was fun when it was just a game with ships and a plastic case with holes; it was even more fun when it was an electronic game. Think how much ecstatic joy you will feel now that it's a Web 2.0 app!

The game is free, although donations are appreciated. Click on the graphic to go there.



(Via KillerStartups)

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Growng Email Scam: Have You Been Targeted?

Have you seen this one?
"I have being paid $50,000.00 in advance to terminate you"
Wow. Who would be fooled by this? Apparently some people are taking this email seriously even though it should be obvious to anyone that it's a scam. It stands to reason that if Internet bandits are doing it, it's probably working on the least Internet-savvy among us.

MSNBC reported:
Thomas was targeted by what is sometimes called a "hit man scam" or "killer spam." It's just an unwanted e-mail, like so many others, designed to trick consumers into giving cash to a criminal half-way around the world. Only in this case, recipients are told their life depends on their ability to transfer $50,000 to an overseas bank in the next few days.
I often wonder why these creeps can't get the English right. The bad grammar is one of the best tells that you're reading crap. Anyone have an answer?

Further:
The Internet Crime Complaint Center issued a warning about extortion e-mails earlier this year. And Jim DePriest, an assistant attorney general in Arkansas, said his office has received multiple hit-man complaints recently and the FBI has received about 100 complaints nationwide, he said. Not every victim was as tech savvy as Thomas.

"We've received a half dozen or more from consumers who were quite alarmed," DePriest said. There were enough complaints to prompt his office to send out a consumer alert about the e-mails last week.

"One scam takes spam to a new, frightening level," the notice says.

The scam also takes the crime to a new level, DePriest said. Criminals who send out threats of bodily harm would be likely be liable for prosecution on assault or terroristic threat charges, in addition to charges normally associated with spam and fraud.

Consumers who receive such e-mails should pay them no mind, said Greg Donewar, manager of the Internet Crime Complaint Center. He directed confused Net users to visit LooksTooGoodToBeTrue.com, the agency's Web site devoted to consumer education, for more information.
So just remember: An educated Internet user is a spammers worst customer.

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