Sour Grapes
Of course we're Fair and Balanced!

2007-09-21

Windows to Linux�e-mail



I took a major step in my plan to avoid ever having, for any personal reason, to install Windows Vista: I switched my primary active e-mail client from Thunderbird on Windows XP to Evolution under Gnome on Ubuntu Linux. It actually went quite easily. The way I saw it there were three things I wanted to accomplish before making the switch:




  1. Get dynamic signature generation working

  2. Make sure I had a way to deal with SPAM working

  3. Switch each of my accounts, pseudo-accounts and news & blog subscriptions over



The first was the hardest. Years ago I started collected quotations that appealed to me. Shortly thereafter I wrote a Perl script to modify a quotation at the end of a standard signature file. Then I wrote a bash script (using Cygwin) to do this every 60 seconds on Windows. Then I modified the bash script to recognize which of my several computers I was on, specify the location of the quotation and signature files on that system and run the Perl script, again every 60 seconds. It's actually quite a bit simpler with Evolution than on Windows (with whatever e-mail client I've had). I've documented what I had to do in a thread at the Ubuntu forums.



The second was the easiest. Evolutions came with 31 plugins. For some reason, both the Bogofilter junk and Spamassassin junk plugins were enabled. At first I thought all I had to do was turn off one. I gave the filters some time to start learning. After I'd marked several hundred SPAM messages, it didn't seem like any were being filtered directly to my Junk folder. Then I read another thread on the Ubuntu forums about how to enable both of them. I followed the instructions but then realized the instructions were for an earlier Ubuntu release and that most of what I had done had somehow been disabled behind my back. Around this same time, I noticed that SPAM was beginning to be filtered to my Junk folder automatically, so I let it be. It's still learning, but the amount of SPAM I have to handle manually is down to something reasonable.



The third step was quite easy too, though I had identified 13 accounts/pseudo-accounts/subscriptions to deal with. (By pseudo-accounts, I mean accounts without their own e-mail servers�particularly without SMTP servers�that I use to generate messages for different purposes; e.g., one for my business, one for personal use, one for a volunteer organization I work for, one for an anonymous blog I write, a no-spam one to which any message replies will be sent to bit limbo, etc.) It only took me a few minutes for each one of these.



For now, I've got a bunch of saved e-mail on my Windows system that I haven't gotten onto my Ubuntu system. I know it's possible, but my hope is to delete all but the really essential stuff before I copy those messages over. I've also got a bunch of contacts that I do want to copy, and I'll deal with that sooner.



By the way, I've been regularly browsing the Web from both systems for quite a while. I found a nifty Firefox add-on called Foxmarks Bookmarks Synchronizer that keeps bookmarks on the two systems synchronized almost seamlessly. Once or twice I've had to manually choose between different sets of bookmarks in a folder because I had changed them on both computers within a short amount of time. But it was easy to figure out the right answer and it's totally lovely to have the same set of bookmarks on both systems. Now if I could only synchronize them with "foreign" computers, like those at my clients', even if it meant going to my own personal Foxmarks page and clicking on links from there.






Note: I originally drafted this post on 2 Sep 2007 ~20:30. Today I've added a bunch of links and added some newer information about my experience battling SPAM. I've since made some additional progress on the Windows-to-Linux conversion, which I hope to post about soon.



Look out!



I'm reading e-mail via Outlook at a client's system. A message I want to respond to has some content that's been blocked: "To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of some pictures in this message." No problem. When I click on Reply, I get the following message in a dialog box:


To complete this action, Outlook must download content from a server other than your e-mail server. This could verify to the sender that your e-mail address is valid and increase the amount of junk e-mail you receive in the future.


I can check a box labeled, "Please do not show me this dialog again," but other than that, the only two choices are OK and Cancel. OK means, "Go ahead; download the blocked content and let me reply." Cancel means, "I changed my mind, I don't want to reply." Where's the choice that says, "Don't download the blocked content, but let me reply to the content that isn't blocked"?



Not only isn't there one, there's simply no way to reply without downloading the blocked content. Here's what Microsoft's Support website says on the subject:



If you have the Don�t download pictures or other content automatically in HTML e-mail option turned on, and you want to forward, reply to, or edit an e-mail message that contains blocked external content, you must download the full body contents of the e-mail message.... If you click OK to the warning message, and subsequently download the previously blocked content, Outlook 2003 does not provide any method to block or re-protect the message as it was originally presented.


Note the word must. What Microsoft is saying here is, "It's potentially harmful, so we'll block it for you, but if you want to do anything with the non-harmful parts, you must load the potentially harmful parts first." Phooey!



2007-09-06

Bin Laden videotape?



Tonight's so-called "breaking news" is that an Islamist website may soon post a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden to mark the 6th anniversary of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Can you tell I'm not impressed? Why does so much news involved things that "may" happen or are "going" to happen?



But it got me thinking: If Bin Laden is so vehemently anti-Western and such a good Muslim, why would he commemorate such an event based on the Western and Christian Gregorian calendar? Why not commemorate it on the anniversary based on the Islamic calendar? The attacks occurred on Tuesday 23 Jumaada al-THaany 1422 A.H. according to the Islamic calendar. The 6th anniversary by the Islamic calendar would have been several weeks ago (Sunday 8 July by the Gregorian calendar). What's up with that, Osama?



2007-09-05

Another view on Larry Craig



From Sam Frantz, who's on an e-mail list I'm on:



You caught me being a homo but I don't want people to know I'm a homo so I'll plead guilty to a charge that doesn't indicate I'm a homo, but whoops everybody will know I'm a homo anyway, dang, I shouldn't have pleaded guilty, oh shit, I guess I'll announce my resignation, but wait, maybe it doesn't matter if everybody thinks I'm a homo, they can't fire me for that, so why give up the Republican vote? OK, I'm not resigning! And I'm NOT a homo either! As proof, look at my record, and see how much I hate homos! So there.


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