I use Windows Live Mail to access my Comcast email account. Whenever I try to send emails, I get this lovely message:
A TCP/IP error occurred while trying to connect to the server.
Subject ‘Re: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP’
Windows Live Mail Error ID: 0x800CCC15
Normally I wouldn’t care, but in this case there is a former general’s widow in Nigeria who wants to offer me a lucrative business proposal. I can’t go into details, of course, but it is basically a sure-fire thing, and the only thing now preventing from being a very wealthy man is this problem with sending emails to Comcast’s SMTP server.
The problem turns out not to be on Comcast’s end, however. My problems with Comcast typically involve billing and service interruption, not basic technology. Consequently, I began looking elsewhere to track down the issue.
The culprit turns out to be my virus scanning software. There are lots of posts on the Internet claiming that it is the email scanner which muffs up sending. This is a red-herring, and turning off virus scanning for your emails is, all things considered, not such a great notion. It also doesn’t really make much sense — why would scanning incoming emails prevent the sending of emails?
I did a little more investigating and found this McAfee log file, which reveals what is really going on.
4/5/2008 12:04:39 PM Blocked by port blocking rule C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Mail\wlmail.exe Anti-virus Standard Protection:Prevent mass mailing worms from sending mail 126.96.36.199:25
4/5/2008 12:14:01 PM Blocked by port blocking rule C:\Program Files\Windows Live\Mail\wlmail.exe Anti-virus Standard Protection:Prevent mass mailing worms from sending mail 188.8.131.52:25
Ho ho. McAfee is blocking my port 25, purportedly to prevent zombies from taking over my machine and sending out spam messages. Which makes perfect sense, since if I can’t send out emails, then a zombie impersonating me on my own computer will also not be able to send out emails. It’s a let’s bomb them all and let God sort out the emails sort of solution — effective, but somewhat heavy handed.
So, with your permission, I’m going to disable my anti-virus software’s port 25 blocking. I’m not sure of the ultimate impact upon humanity, but it would be rather convenient for me.
Some of my favorite blogs have closed down over the years due to the difficulty of maintaining a high quality blog — Teju Cole, Heaven Tree, Varieties of Unreligious Experience, Giornale Nuovo. If mine goes down in the near future, however, you will know that it is due not to the high quality of the writing — which happens not to be one of its virtues, I fear — but rather to the incredible wealth that has fallen into the author’s lap. I’ve read many sad final posts over the past year, but mine shall certainly be a felicitous one: this blog has closed down because the author moved into a higher tax bracket!
Thank you, thank you my anonymous Nigerian general’s widow. And a pox upon McAfee, whose spam blocker almost prevented me from concluding this fortuitous enterprise.