Entries Tagged as 'Email'

Windows Live Mail

Part of the Microsoft Live Essential software suite available either from Live.com (see link below) or through the Microsoft Update is Live Mail; a simple, fairly versatile email client.

Live Mail allows access to POP3, IMAP4, and Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail.

Live Mail is a replacement for Outlook Express and Windows Mail (from Vista).

It’s nicely polished, and for the most part works without any major issues (like any software, it has bugs and annoyances).

One thing you may not like is the fact that Live Mail hides the menu bar (you can enable it; but even that seems to be made purposely difficult in the latest version).

The biggest annoyance I have with Live Mail is that it will not import an IAF (that’s an export file) created with Outlook Express or Windows Mail (thank you very much Microsoft for paying such close attention to customer needs).

If you have a Hot Mail / MSN Mail / Live Mail web mail account you will probably want to choose this product as an email client on your computer; if you don’t you may want to look at Thunderbird (part of the Mozilla project, as is Firefox).

The feature I like most about Live Mail (and it’s predecessors) is the ability to drag an email out of Live Mail onto my local file system and put it back (Thunderbird doesn’t have any convenient way to put a message back).  This isn’t a feature that should be a deal breaker for most anyone (if you need to do it, you know how to do it with Thunderbird — it just won’t be quite as easy).

Overall, Live Mail is a descent program, and it’s priced right — FREE.

Windows Live Essentials

NOTE:  GMail content can be access by either POP3 or IMAP4; simply follow the instructions on GMail to enable it and add it to Live Mail or any email client that supports POP3 or IMAP4 over a SSL connection (and allows you to specify the port numbers).

Originally posted 2009-11-24 01:00:40.

Just Host

As I posted a couple weeks ago I’d gone ahead and moved some of my domains over to JustHost.com.

Mainly I was looking for an affordable hosting package that supports server side includes in addition to what I already had at 1and1.com for around same price.  I also wanted unlimited bandwidth (but frankly I could have gotten that at 1and1.com with a cross-grade for just a small amount more per month with no hassle).

The way I started looking for a new host was to find some the “10 best” “50 best” or what ever they happened to be articles on the internet for hosting companies.  I read through them, looked at their current offerings, features, and prices.  The ones I felt were interesting I looked for reviews on the internet and read them.

Reviews from people you don’t know are not necessarily valuable.  Read the review, see what they’re saying, see how they’re saying, and see if their needs and abilities closely ally with yours.  And look for a pattern in reviews — if many people say the same thing, it’s far more likely to be true and not simply an isolated incident.

Once I narrowed down the field to a handful I reviewed any demos they offered of their control panel, features, etc.  If they didn’t have any demo I placed them on the bottom of the list.

Then I tried their online “chat” feature to talk to a pre-sales person.  If they didn’t offer an online chat I placed them on the bottom of the list (the very bottom — online chat is more important in the long run than a demo).

For the chat, I asked a few questions that there were in fact answers to on their site (just to see how quickly the person on the other end could provide me with a response, and if their response agreed).  Then I ask any questions that I had that were not addressed by the site.  Finally I ask one question that would require the person to actually think and apply the information on their site to the context of the question.

After that I decided on going with JustHost.com — they seemed like they provided the best package, best support, and most reasonable price.  When I went to order the package they offered me a better price when I was going to navigate away from the order page to check on a couple things.

I’ve moved all my domains over to JustHost.com; I’ve put an affiliate advertisement for JustHost.com on my web page and my BLOG (if you’re going to order service from them, I encourage you to click on the advertisement on here so as to help defray the costs for maintaining my BLOG — and hopefully growing it; it won’t cost you anything).

Things I don’t like…

  • They have the concept of a “primary” domain; which makes all domains but that reside under the primary in the directory structure.
  • They do not allow direct access to DNS on shared packages.
  • Shell access is extra (quite a bit extra) per year.  It would have been a “nice to have”, but I didn’t need it, and didn’t pay for it.
  • PHP5 doesn’t work by default in subdomains.
  • Databases are on the same machine as web servers.  I know this is very common, but I prefer databases to be on database servers and web servers to be separate.  This item is on the end of the list for a reason.

But…

  • They will allow you to use a “fake” domain (I did a subdomain of their domain) as your primary, which makes all domains equal, but if you want to access the root you have to use the host name where your hosting account files are located rather than your domain name (you could have them enter a CNAME for you if you like, but if you forget the host name just do a trace route to one of your domain’s web addresses and you’ll see it).
  • While you don’t have direct access to DNS, they will enter DNS records for you — CNAME I know (they did that for me); and I expect they’ll do TXT, A, etc.
  • To enable PHP5 in a subdomain you just need to add a couple lines to your .htaccess file (the service representative didn’t know them right off the top of his head; but after confirming it should work, I had no problem).

Things I do like…

  • The price is very reasonable for a unlimited shared hosting package.
  • Customer support is great; the people who’ve chatted with me or replied to my tickets have been extremely courteous and have resolved the issue.
  • Server side include support.  It really is nice to be able to have dynamic content that is provided by the server rather than have to have intricate AJAX requests (and faster).
  • Performance.  Thus far I can’t complain about the performance.
  • IMAP, POP, SMTP email both clear text and SSL versions.  SMTP is offered on alternate ports as well for individuals who’s ISP block access to port 25.

I often say..

Rarely do you get what you pay for.

With JustHost.com you may in fact get what you pay for (and maybe more).

Originally posted 2010-02-07 01:00:29.

Free EMail…

Right LOL

Most of you probably think that the free email provider you’re using makes money by showing you those annoying advertisements when you access you email via their web-mail interface.

Have you ever stopped to think about how they could possibly make money when they allow you to use a POP3 or IMAP4 client to read your email?

Well, the bottom line is sure they make some money by showing you those advertisements; but in this day and age almost every single email provider actually uses the content of your inbox to target you and sell demographic information.

While they might not be “reading” your email line-by-line; they are certainly indexing your email’s content — and they’re selling information about what you (aggregated of course) are talking about to anyone who will pay for it… and of course it’s long be rumored that some of them might have agreements with “men in black” to provide them more details about email (and searches) that might be consider a threat to national security.

Read the Terms of Service (TOS) for your “free” email provider very carefully — you’re going to be surprised what you’ve authorized them to do, and how little privacy you really have (remember some of the cable companies and DSL providers actually have you using one of those “big name” email providers as well — so your “for-pay” email account might be suspect as well).

My advice…

If you care about your privacy, pay a little money with an email provider that doesn’t harvest your personal (and confidential) information and sell it off to everyone with a little pocket change.

Originally posted 2009-08-19 01:00:36.

AT&T U-Verse – Internet

AT&T offers three separate services through their U-Verse branded advance communications offering.  This post will deal with high speed internet.

Essentially AT&T U-Verse internet is DSL broadband — though at much higher rates that you’re likely used to… the particulars of the speed offering depends on the package you pay for.

  • Max Turbo – Up to 24 Mbps downstream Starting at $65/month
  • Max Plus – Up to 18.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $55/month
  • Max – Up to 12.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $45/month
  • Elite – Up to 6.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $43/month
  • Pro – Up to 3.0 Mbps downstream Starting at $38/month

Upstream bandwidth increases with downstream, and is generally much more generous than AT&T’s older ADSL plans; though the pricing of the lower bandwidth U-Verse services aren’t as attractive as the older AT&T ADSL plans (particularly with the promotions you can probably still get for the older ADSL combined with voice or even “naked” DSL plans)..

Not shown on their ordering information is a 30 Mbps downstream plan to be offered later this Summer that will ahve a 5 Mbps upstream.

Remember from my earlier post — you must use the AT&T residential gateway.  The gateway is a descent piece of consumer technology, though I’m not sure it’s a very high performance internet router.

My tests of it show that it’s definitely capable of sustaining the advertised bandwidth of your connection (and you really get the bandwidth your order); however, my tests also show that the router isn’t capable of sustaining a large number of simultaneous connections without rather dramatic performance degradation.

Which mean in plan old English — if you’re going to do Peer-To-Peer file sharing, the AT&T residential gateway will not be your friend… you’re probably going to end up having to reset it every day or two to keep it running well (I’ve noted that simply shutting down the connections doesn’t seem to help — but that could be that other P2P nodes are continuing to bombard your IP address).

For most people P2P isn’t a requirement, and certainly most people won’t be doing P2P much — and if they do, they certainly understand how to discontinue P2P services and reset the connection (remember it affects voice and video when you reset) when they need high speed connectivity for something else.

My gut tells me that the equipment is operating as designed — and intended to enforce a “fair use” policy by penalizing individuals who try and do P2P (after all — unlimited really doesn’t mean as much as you want, it means as much as your provider is willing to let you have).

And my gut feeling about the router operating as designed is further re-enforced by the fact that a great deal of though has been put into the design of the software and interface for the router… it will do pretty much anything any use will need for it to do (don’t think along the lines of a Cisco router with IOS, think along the lines of a prosumer / SOHO router).

Overall, my feelings are that the AT&T U-Verse Internet is a good deal, that it performs well, and at the high speed levels (well, not at the highest — I think there you’re getting gouged) it’s a reasonably fair price, and a very solid technology.

U-Verse Internet is really all I wanted from AT&T; and it’s the one service I will keep.

Originally posted 2010-05-17 02:00:38.

Windows Live Mail Failings and Features

Since I’ve given Windows Live Mail a “recommendation” I do want to be clear about about some of the specifics.

First, when you move a message from one folder (account) to another, the tree pane displaying the folders (accounts) resets you to the top of the list reguardless of where you are.  This is clearly a bug — maintaining the visual state of a program is important (and I’ve reported it — on each of the last several versions).

Second, once in a while when you send a message, the message is sent fine; however, the message windows stays open, and if it was a “reply” the icon on the original message doesn’t change.  If the message window doesn’t close after you’ve clicked “send”, you might want to check your outbox and/or your sent items to see if it’s already been sent (or you might end up sending multiple copies — and that’s just embarrasing).

By default (and this is true of most all of the “newer” programs) the menu bar is turned off (the classic, file, edit, view, tools… help).  You can of course turn it back on, and you actually have to if you want to access some of the “advanced” features.  Personally I haven’t decided which way is best; I certainly like the fact the clutter is reduced, however I think I would like it more if I could easily add some of the feature to a “custom” tool bar rather than having to turn on the menu bar…

The program color codes your accounts; it uses some seemingly random selection process, but you can change them.  Most of the colors are muted, but there’s a pretty good selection.

The program allows you to determine the order of accounts in the tree pane (which is a great improvement over Outlook, Outlook Express, and Windows Mail where you had to prefix accounts with number or special chacters to get them to sort in anything other than “alphabetical”… and technically it was still alphabetical, it’s just you had a character or two at the beginning that wasn’t part of the “name”).  They could improve the interface of moving folders a little — like add a “move to top” and “move to bottom” instead of just “move up” and “move down”

They’ve done a nice job with the visual elements of the program; it takes some of the ideas from the way Outlook presents information and trys to keep everything “simple”.

And I’ve saved what could be the best new feature for last.. the “Quick Views” — basically, you have a great deal of control over this, but by default it shows you things like “Unread e-mail”, “Unread from contacts”, “Flagged items”… and if you’re like me and have a ton of email accounts, it’s really nice to be able to zero in on those new message quickly, and find those flagged message.

It also has SPAM and Phishing filters; but I tend to depend on my ISP to do that, and find that a second level of SPAM filters create more problems…

Originally posted 2008-05-12 00:27:10.

Free Hosted Email

If you have your own domain and you really don’t need web hosting you might want to consider hosted email servers from Microsoft or Google.

Both of them provide free hosted email services; limited to 500 accounts (which can actually be increased — but for free hosted email that’s probably fine).

I generally recommend that you consider just getting a hosting package that gives you a free domains, web space, and email — often on the order of $1.99 per month.

Microsoft Live Hosted Email (Free):  http://domains.live.com/

Goolge GMail Hosted Email (Free):  http://www.google.com/a/

Originally posted 2008-08-12 23:12:04.

Email Addresses

Ever go to a web site to enter your email address and find that it wouldn’t fit in the field they provided?

It’s amazing in a world of standards that companies (and individuals) continually ignore them and decide for themselves what’s acceptable.

HELLO!

User names (or local part of the address) can be 64 characters long, and domain names can be 255 characters long.

Here is an example of a reasonable well written validation for email addresses — if you want to see poorly done ones in action it doesn’t take too much effort to find ones that limit the entire email address to less than 30 characters!

<?php function isValidAddress( $email, $check = false )
{
##############################
# PHP Email Address Validator
# (C) Derrick Pallas
#
# Authors: Derrick Pallas
# Website: http://derrick.pallas.us/email-validator/
# License: Academic Free License 2.1
# Version: 2006-12-01a
if (!ereg(”
. ‘^’
. ‘[-!#$%&\’*+/0-9=?A-Z^_a-z{|}~]‘
. ‘(\\.?[-!#$%&\’*+/0-9=?A-Z^_a-z{|}~])*’
. ‘@’
. ‘[a-zA-Z](-?[a-zA-Z0-9])*’
. ‘(\\.[a-zA-Z](-?[a-zA-Z0-9])*)+’
. ‘$’
, $email
) ) return false;
list( $local, $domain ) = split( “@”, $email, 2 );
if ( strlen($local) > 64 || strlen($domain) > 255 ) return false;
if ( $check && !gethostbynamel( $domain ) ) return false;
return true;
# END
######
}

RFC822 superseded by RFC2822.

User names (for email) may contain:

  • A to Z letters, upper and lower case.
  • 0 through 9 digits
  • . (fullstop, period) but not as the first or last character
  • ! # $ % & ‘ * + – / = ? ^ _ ` { | } ~ – all are permitted.

The maximum length of the user is 64 characters; the domain is 255 characters; so with the @ a valid address could be up to 320 characters.

Further, did you know that user names are case sensitive (but domain names are not).  Of course many email systems treat user names as case insensitive.

For information on domain name limitation you should see IANA.

Now you know more than most developers who write code that accepts or uses email addresses!

Originally posted 2008-08-25 22:12:27.

1and1 POP / IMAP / SMTP Settings

If you have a 1and1 hosted domain with email (like my domains are), you can use the following settings for your email client:

POP:

host: pop.1and1.com
port: 110
port: 995, SSL

IMAP:

host: imap.1and1.com
port: 143
port: 993, SSL

SMTP:

host: smtp.1and1.com (requires authentication)
port: 25
port: 587, SSL

You can access 1and1 web mail via:

http://webmail.1and1.com/

Originally posted 2008-05-19 14:26:41.

SPF / DKIM

SPF (Sender Policy Framework) and DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) are two methods to help indentify email which is likely not SPAM.  SPF was originally proposed in 2003 by Meng Weng Wong and Wayne Schlitt (SPFv1 RFC4408) as an open standard (SPF is backed by the Sender Policy Framework Council); DKIM originally merged and enhanced DomainKeys from Yahoo and Identified Internet Mail from Cisco (RFC4870 superseded by RFC4871) forming an open standard (DKIM is backed by an industry consortium).

Both SPF and DKIM attempt to provide information to receiving SMTP servers about whether or not a particular email message is authentic.

SPFv1 uses a very simple approach where a domain’s DNS server provides a root level TXT record that supplies information about SMTP mail servers that are permitted to originate domain email.

DKIM uses a more complex digital signature on each message (information about which is stored in a sub-domain in domains DNS containing self-signed keys).

You can read up on the specifics of each through the reference links provided below.


SPF (Wikipedia)

Microsoft SPF Record Wizard · OpenSPF Wizard

DKIM (Wikipedia)

Originally posted 2010-03-06 02:00:56.

Comcast

Comcast consistently ranks in the top ten (almost always the top five) of companies with pathetic customer service in virtually every poll I’ve seen (they probably even do poorly in polls they sponsor LOL).

I received a unsolicited commercial email from a Comcast business customer; and I did exactly what I should do — report it to the abuse contact published in the ARIN database, and send them a plain text copy of the entire email message — including full headers (adding the word SPAM to the subject).

I got back an automated message that said I needed to provide them the headers of the email message and a link to a page that really didn’t have any useful information.

I resent the message; including all the tags that were mentioned on the page (including the one for harassment, since that was the closest thing that fit)… and I got back a message from “Fred CSAtech55” referencing case ID NA0000014230535; who tells me if I want to follow up as “Harrassment” (that’s his spelling, not mine) that I should “call Comcast Security Assurance (CSA) at 888-565-4329”; but if I want to follow it up as spam I should “then choose the opt out option that the email provides”.

I guess, poor Fred not only can’t spell, but doesn’t understand that the LAST thing you do from an unsolicited email from a company that you’ve never dealt with (and have no reason to trust) is click on one of their links.

Maybe if Comcast hired people who could spell they might get out of the top ten worst companies for customer service.  Even better, if they hired people with a clue, they might actually be able to provide reasonable customer support and be no where near the top ten worst.

Oh, and if you’re thinking that they only provide poor service when you’re not a customer — WRONG, I can tell you story after story about how pathetic their service was in San Francisco; and how much better AT&T’s service was (that should truly be scary, when a company with service as poor as AT&T can have far superior service).

Originally posted 2010-03-31 02:30:37.