Blog Archives

Unread mail bothers me

I realized today that it really bothers me to have unread mail in any of my mailboxes.  I have two main e-mail accounts that I use constantly throughout the day, and sync them OTA on my mobile phone.  If I look at my phone while out and about, I just have to go through any unread mail, file away things I will keep, reply to what needs a reply, and delete or process any spam messages.  I wonder if there is a name for this disorder?

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Pasting links from OWA

I deal with Good support now and then for various technical issues with their mobile e-mail solution (Goodlink).  Today it appears they sent out a survey request to all of their customers, but I had to chuckle a little when I read the message and found they had pasted in the survey link through OWA.  If you read below, you will find the actual URL is missing the first h in the (http), and the actual linked URL is an Exchange OWA redirect link.  This happens when you copy a link from OWA and paste into another message.  By default in OWA, links point to the Exchange redirector and then take you to the link specified at the end of the redirect URL. 

I run into this issue myself from time to time and forget about this until I get a reply back to something I sent out with a complaint that the URL I sent does not work.  To get around I usually paste the link into notepad so I Can get a plain text copy of the link, and then I remove the Exchange redirector part.  I then paste in the plain text link which most e-mail programs and even OWA convert to a hyperlink automatically for you. 

I’m not trying to gripe about this flub, but find it humorous that such a mistake can be made by anyone and its nice to know I’m not the only person out there who forgets about this from time to time and sends out links that don’t work.  Now naturally a technically apt person could easily extract the correct link and get where they need to go, but the average person is going to reply and complain that you sent them a bad link.  Not just that, but now we all have the OWA logon link to their Exchange mailboxes.  (Don’t worry Good (motorola), I’ve hidden the actual OWA Link for your privacy) 🙂  (NOTE: I did receive a correction email from them shortly after receiving the message below).

Dear Valued Motorola Good Technology Group Customer:

Thank you for your recent inquiry into our support team. We appreciate the opportunity to serve you, and help you and your company meet your mobile messaging needs. To gauge the level of support you, and other customers are receiving, and to better understand where our strengths and weakness are, we are asking for your help.

By clicking on the following link and taking a brief six question survey, you will help us gauge the level of support we are providing our customers. This will allow us to know where our strengths are, and where we need improvement:

ttp://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy <https://nosy.notmotorola.com/exchweb/bin/redir.asp?URL=http://www.zoomerang.com/recipient/survey-intro.zgi?p=maskedsurveyidforprivacy>

Please spend the two minutes it will take to respond to the survey questions so we will know how to better serve you in the future.

Sincerely,

The Good Technology Group Technical Support Team

Exchange 2003 | OWA | winmail.dat

I ran into an interesting issue today, something that is an old leftover from early mail systems.? I was trying to e-mail my hosting provider back on a support ticket I had opened with them, but when I replied I got a bounce message saying my mail was rejected with the following message:

————————-
Your message did not reach some or all of the intended recipients.

Subject: RE: myticketnumber]: message subject hidden for privacy reasons
Sent: 2/8/2008?3:16 PM
The following recipient(s) could not be reached:?myhostingprovidersemailaddress?on?2/8/2008?3:14 PM
The recipient could not be processed because it would violate the security policy in force
< smtp1.myproviderdomainname.com #5.7.0 smtp; 554-5.7.0 Reject, id=26006-18 – BANNED: multipart/mixed 554 5.7.0 | application/ms-tnef,.tnef,winmail.dat>

——————————-

So I did some digging online, and tested some things out.? I found that even if sending from OWA I still had this issue, so I knew it was a server configuration option I needed to look for.? The provider I am dealing with was quick to blame me of course, but my server config has not changed in years.? So I think they changed something on their side recently with the way their helpdesk processes mail, and thats what caused this issue.?

To resolve it, I went into my ESM, under global settings, internet message formats properties and changed the options to never use Exchange Rich text.? After applying this change, the issue was resolved and mail flow has been restored.?

I personally don?t like making server config changes due to problems with sending mail to just one outside recipient, but I deal with my hosting provider a lot and its a hassle to have to reply from a different mail account.?

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Open Source Anti-Spam for Exchange

I have been a long time user of GFI software, relevant to this post is their Mail Essentials for Exchange package.  I find it to be a very powerful and easily setup anti-spam system for Exchange.  I have had very little trouble with it, and it is packed with useful features.  However, recently I had some configuration issues with my spam setup, with rollernet really, not even an issue with Mail Essentials, but it got me thinking about my spam filtration system. 

I am now on a quest to find an open source anti-spam solution for Exchange.  I’m open to Linux based solutions as a gateway of sorts, but would prefer something that resides on the Exchange server running under Windows.  Don’t get me wrong, I have a great respect for SpamAssassin and other gateway type spam fitlers, but it gives the end user a much better experience if the anti-spam software can interact with the user, especially if it integrates with Outlook. 

Surely there must be some kind of solution out there I could try.  At the very least I might install a few different packages under Linux and route incoming mail through them, and from there go to Exchange for evaluation.  I can use server virtualization to allow for an easy evaluation of various types of configurations.  ASSP I hear is very good and there was one other package that I found last night that sounds promising.  I think it could be beneficial to have an additional layer of spam protection at the gateway level before GFI gets the messages and does its thing.  My only concern is false positives.  Lots of services and companies on the internet today do NOT have the proper DNS/MX confiugration and even at a more basic level don’t have their network setup right.  All these network issues can have a major impact on e-mail deliverability.  Its always a risk then when dealing with spam filters that you may block legitimate messages.  I am always watching spam logs to ensure that I keep an eye on how the system is doing.  If web services and companies would do a little work to get their sytems in compliance with RFS’s for SMTP and DNS, and setup the proper network configuration and mail server options, it would be a much better world for mail delivery without false positives. 

Exchange diagnosis

Symptoms

Server: Event ID 9646 (user exceeded maximum of 32 objects of the type session).  Event ID 1021 (unable to connect…error 0x4de)

Client/Outlook: Unable to open your default e-mail folders.  The Microsoft Exchange server computer is not available.  Either there are network problems or the Microsoft Exchange server computer is down for maintenance.  OWA would work ok when logged on as either the user or an Exchange admin account. 

Diagnosis:

   Google searches of the events and error messages yield very little help.  A second round of google searching and pressing further through the search results yielded a page from MS indicating to ensure that the user had “view information store status” rights granted at the server or mailbox store level. This lead me to a diagnosis of permission problems on the mailbox.

   Proceeded with treatment by administering re-application of full mailbox permissions for the user and ensuring “view information store status” was selected in the allow column.  Attempting to open outlook again immediately after still yielded errors as described in the symptoms.  It wasn’t until a few minutes later when about to attempt a different method of treatment that the solution was revealed.  Before trying to create a whole new information store and move the user for testing, I decided to open outlook again.  This time, it opened no problem and did not give any errors or show any signs of a problem.  Apparently the original solution was the correct solution and the treatment was correct, I just didn’t wait long enough for the change to take effect.  Further attempts to work on the problem would have been useless as the issues was already fixed, I just didn’t know it yet. 

NoSpamToday – SPAMLOGS missing subject fix

Over the weekend I got an e-mail from Dennis Heidner who wrote SPAMLOGS for NoSpamToday.  In version 3 of NST, the log parser “spamlogs” quit outputting the subject line of messages in the parsed log output.  Dennis has corrected this in an updated version which should be available soon on the byteplant contributions area on their website.  I have tested the new version and found that it fixes the problem.  Dennis has also added some functionality to check for AUTH Attacks.  SPAMLOGS conveniently checks for AUTH attacks and outputs the number of attacks per IP at the end (last column) of the spamlogs csv output. 

SPAMLOGS is a must have for parsing the NST spamassassin log file, it turns the jumbled and confusing log file output from NST/SA into a readable and useful .CSV format.  Combine his software with the automation utility or scheduled task, and it makes managing the mail logs much easier. 

Recovery from Identity Theft

My own experience with identity theft is nearly over now, but I’ve learned a few things during this experience.  First, its important to keep a close eye on your bank accounts, watching daily activity and looking for unrecognized charges.  In my case I found that the person using my card had my physical card info including the 3 digit number on the back.  So someone either had physical access to my card, or one of the few only vendors that I deal with that actually asks for the 3 digit code had some kind of security breach that they haven’t alerted me to yet.  So keeping an eye on your accounts is really a key element to protecting yourself and putting a stop to things before it gets out of hand. 

Fortunately we use online banking and have for years now, which is not only convenient but normally allows you to setup e-mail alerts and notifications for various levels of monitoring.  We first found that something was wrong by monitoring our checking account and saw some unrecognized charges.  Someone was buying website memberships and hosting services.  They racked up about $200 worth of charges on my account, but I cought it fast and was able to get all the charges refunded by the charging merchants. 

I was not happy with the way my current bank handled the whole situation.  They made me call the merchants and deal with the process of removing the fradulant charges on my own.  Any other bank when you report fraud they would be all over it, and I probably wouldn’t have had to do a thing.  So we now have a new bank and are in the process of switching everything over. 

I checked my credit report and everything looks fine, so far no one has used my information to get a loan or do anything else bad to my credit. 

Problems with Category Access

I’ve been running 0.8.2 of the category-access plugin by David Coppit for a few weeks now and its been working fine on the web interface of WordPress.  I’ve been busy lately and haven’t had a chance to post anything to my blog in a while, so I hadn’t used any of my windows apps to post to WordPress.  Upon trying I found that I got some error messages relating to XML parsing. 

w.bloggar and blogdesk would generate this error:

“Unable to parse the XML response.  Parser Reason: Only one top level element is allowed in an XML document.”

BlogJet would generate this error:

Invalid payload received from xml-rpc server.  Please check your host and page settings for this account.  Server said: “,br/> <b>Fatal Error<b>: Call to a member function on a non-object in <b>/home/myaccountname/public_html/mybloglocation/wp-content/plugins/category-access.php</b> on line <b>373</b><br/>…”

Disabling the category-access plugin corrected the issue and I was then able to blog with my windows apps.  I sent the information to David via e-mail and also made a post on the wordpress forums to help anyone else that might be using category-access.  Its a great plugin and does exactly what I want, with only a few minor things lacking.  For now I’ve left the plugin disabled, but plan to re-enable if David comes up with a fix. 

Category access 0.8.2 beta

I got an e-mail from David Coppit who created the Category Access plugin for WordPress. I’m happy to report he has or is in the process of updating his plugin for WordPress 2.3. I got a copy of the beta from him and it works great! So keep an eye out on the WordPress Codex site and David’s site if you use or may want to use this plugin. Make sure if you are running WP 2.3 that you get the latest version once he releases it.

e-mail equation

I wrote this little mathematical equation at the office during a joke about an e-mail rule for incoming messages that ask questions… I know its not as funny without knowing the circumstances of the joke, but the formula is good, so I had to post it…

Solve for X (where options are IGNORE/DELETE/REPLY)

IF nQ = > 2 THEN X

n=numeric number
Q=questions