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E-mail woes plague Bremerton chamber, school district

Silvia Klatman missed her work e-mail account as much as some people miss their high school friends.

Klatman, the executive director of the Bremerton Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber has been experiencing technical difficulties that were preventing her from receiving and sending out e-mails for about two weeks. Klatman is not sure what, exactly, the problem is with the e-mail. She just knows it’s very inconvenient not to have e-mail and said that by not sending e-mails, it may seem that the chamber is non-responsive to requests for information about the area.

That is not what the area needs, she said.

“We’re not receiving messages, so we don’t know if people are sending us things and we just aren’t receiving them and they think we are just not responding,” Klatman said.

The biggest inconvenience is that the chamber sends out an e-mail newsletter and Klatman has not been able to do that. Klatman has had to resort to old-school technology to get the newsletter out: the fax machine.

“It’s been ages since I’ve had to send out faxes,” she said.

And to confirm the receipt, again, it’s old-school technology to the rescue.

“We’ve been doing a lot more phone work,” she said. “Now I feel bad about lamenting over how slow the e-mail was.”

For the Bremerton School District, the problem is the exact opposite: some employees are receiving too many e-mails, courtesy of the latest round of the Sobig.f virus.

“We’ve been inundated with the virus,” said Community Services Coordinator Joan Dingfield, who found 198 messages in her e-mail box one day last week.

“Probably the most difficult thing about it is the time it takes to wade through all the e-mails. We don’t open anything with attachments. That slows us down, but we’re not going to do that,” Dingfield said. “We have to wade through all the e-mails and figure out which are legitimate and which are not. It’s a real hassle.”

The e-mail mess has settled down a bit, and now Dingfield’s box is only getting about 40-50 e-mails a day, she said.

The virus was designed to inundate e-mail accounts and it’s living up to its potential, said Wayne Lindberg, technology coordinator for the Bremerton School District.

“It’s non-destructive, it’s just very annoying,” Lindberg said.

A strong anti-virus program saved the district’s computers from getting infected, but some of the computers are getting barraged with e-mails as a result of the virus affecting other computers, he said. E-mails from affected computers look like their are attachments labeled “your application,” or “wicked screen saver,” to make the receiver think there is an attachment, but the attachment is really the virus.

“A couple of the computers ended up with 150 to 200 e-mails,” he said. “It’s kind of annoying. We spend a lot of time on these, which is time we don’t have to spend and it takes us away from other things.”

There is hope for infected computers, he said. All the anti-virus programs are updated to combat the Sobig.f virus. The anti-virus companies also have free patches to help fix the infected computers.

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