Playing With Wire » Email http://www.playingwithwire.com The Internet Startup Blog Wed, 20 Jul 2011 18:45:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Introducing EmailServiceGuide.com http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/08/introducing-emailserviceguide-com/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/08/introducing-emailserviceguide-com/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2009 12:52:28 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/?p=604 When we introduced YippieMove about a year ago, we made it easer then ever before for
ESG Front Page

ESG Front Page

users to move their email between different email providers. That did however assume that you already knew where you wanted to move to. The email hosting space is a jungle with a ton of players offering similar products pitched with confusing marketing lingo and vague payment terms. So how can can you possibly figure which is the best email provider for your exact needs?

You could spend a few days doing research and browse through various pay-for-the-top-spot top-lists. Another, and much more efficient option, is to check out brand new service named Email Service Guide. With this tool you can find the best possible provider based on your criterions. With Email Service Guide, you are able to answer questions like:

  • Who is the cheapest provider that supports IMAP and gives me 8GB in storage per user?
  • What providers offers Exchange hosting with 99.999% or more Service License Agreement (SLA)
  • Where can I find email hosting powered by renewable energy?

At this point, our database features over 100 different email plans from all of the leading email providers on the market. Email Service Guide enables you to not only find the best provider according to your needs, but it also allows you to compare the matches objectively side-by-side.

Remember that, once you have found the best email provider for you needs, don’t forget to use YippieMove to move your old emails with you.

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What’s in Store in the Future of E-mail http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/07/whats-in-store-in-the-future-of-e-mail/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/07/whats-in-store-in-the-future-of-e-mail/#comments Thu, 23 Jul 2009 18:36:20 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/?p=509 This is the second article in a series about email by our guest writer Lore Dionne Candelaria.

After looking back on the humble beginnings of the communication medium that changed the way we see the world today in the article ‘45 Years of Email – From Military Tool to Mass Market Communication,’ let us try to catch a glimpse of where it is heading at.

Authoritative and comprehensive, yet easy to use, portable and instant—these are just some of the reasons why electronic mailing has been a runaway success for the past years. With the unwavering support of its users and subscribers, the use of e-mail has been a web for communication especially for people trying to bridge the gap of distant locations. Thus, the cycle of email seems never ending and innovative as it grows and grows each year settling new and various controls on the world wide web.

As the future of technology per se soars to greater heights and so is the future of electronic mailing in particular. Adding to the fact that latest trends like instant messaging and video conferencing further improved the ways on how people from all walks of life reach out to the world, such widespread penetration can be seen on the millions of people being hooked in using email as a means to connect to people to whatever technological and communicative endeavors they face: whether it be for personal or for business use. Also, a variety of communication choices have emerged over the past few years and each of the options have their own special appeal—this is made possible because of the discovery and further enhancements of electronic mailing.

Just as electronic mailing revolutionized how the world accessed information and communicated through the years, the ongoing development in speed, bandwidth, and functionality will surely continue to cause fundamental changes on how our world will operate for decades to come. So what’s actually cooking now in the world of innovations? When no one could really tell, but we can always speculate in the light of the trends that we observe today. For one, mobility will be the name of the game. We have already seen wireless networking and we are going to see a lot more broadband roaming in the future. This trend has actually begun! Back in January, Novatell Wireless filled a patent or a technology that allows users to flip back and forth between wireless LAN and mobile phone networks, even at high speed.

Rapid-switching technology

Rapid-switching technology

A hybrid 3G cellular and WLAN device built to this spec should be able to maintain a broadband connection on the speedier of the two networks as you roam from zone to zone. In mid July, NEC’s Ubiquitous Platform Development Division announced a similar technology, which they tested, PT Barnum-style, in the back of a Porsche at a racetrack. They had tested a WLAN-only rapid-switching technology at 330 kilometers per hour, and in May of this year, they showed hybrid technology that jumps between cellular and wireless LAN connections at 200 kilometers per hour. These figures might be overwhelming. But the saga has just began. We expect more of these advances in the years, or maybe even months to come. The implications for this technology are pretty significant. A router that can switch from 6Mbps wireless base stations in an urban setting to slower but more ubiquitous 3G cellular Internet connections as they pass out of WLAN range is pretty thrilling. At speeds like these, high-bandwidth applications such as VoIP telephony and streaming media are quite possible. Despite NEC’s exciting demonstration, the company won’t commit to a time frame for product development. The closest it’ll come is to say “not for a few years.”

With these developments, distance was not the only thing man was able to conquer, even time. Internet and email can be accessed real time, even when traveling—not to mention the impressive speed. This is yet another feat for mankind. The influence of e-mail globalism will generally become the main reason for the stay of e-mail as it continually distributes globally the information and knowledge for the people at lower costs that lift the need of the community for accessible information. Another reason why it will continue to be a popular communication option is because of the emergence of communities that continually unite to provide information networks and different relationships that will be further established in the cyberspace may this be for political organizations or social networking. This will provide increasingly wide choices to individuals who wish to participate in local communities that share their ideals, thoughts and interests. Electronic mailing integration with an increasing number of other technologies is as natural as a musician’s experimentation with notes. These will cause email to become increasingly integrated with phones, televisions, home appliances, portable digital gadgets, and a range of other small hardware and software devices. Hence, e-mail is one core component of an emerging unified messaging solution set as evidenced by convergence of corporate email and instant messaging.

Will email still matter in the coming years? Absolutely! The unprecedented and rapid growth and impact of email with its growing and improving features will constantly evolve and garner significant respects in the future. However there may be some threat to its future use. A concrete example of this is the Google Wave—the freshest and the coolest communication and collaboration tool today initiated by Google. It is not out yet, but it is the most talked about innovation in the world of information technology.

Google Wave demo

Google Wave demo

With the increasing and anticipative hype surrounding Google Wave, one question remains, will Google Wave ever change the way we see email today? Some says that Google Wave is a great platform. Though it looks like it actually addressed the current problems or loopholes of emailing, is it actually capable of ‘replacing’ electronic mailing? Let me enumerate the feats: One of the coolest features — real-time. When you thought that Instant Messaging is quick enough, think again. With Wave, you could see each character as it is typed. You wouldn’t have to wait. And this does not only apply to chatting, anything concerning the wave is done in real-time. Take for example Google Docs. Wave takes Google Docs a notch higher. It allows several participants to edit a document simultaneously. And speaking of editing, if you are wondering if there is a better way to upload files and photos, with Google Wave, all you have to do is to drag and drop. This drag and drop feature saves you both time and energy. It also is open source, meaning anyone can look at the actual code for Google Wave in order to contribute to it or build an application based on it. Besides the technical advantages for the community, this shows that Google might be more interested in pushing web innovation forward than simply making a dollar off of their web dominance. It is also embeddable. You can simply embed it on any website or blog. Google Wave also transcends the language barrier that exists between and among nations. It has a unique feature named Rosy. Rosy is a robot created to translate your conversations. Just add Rosy to the wave and you suddenly speak any language you’d like.

With Innovations such as Google Wave, which by the way is expected to be released later this year, it is interesting to see how people will embrace the new features that Google Wave is promising. For sure, it will serve as a global and worldwide virtual and technological resource that will cater to the information and communication needs of the humankind. Furthermore, e-mail applications will not only become better and better to reflect the natural world, they will also have the fluidity, flexibility, and speed of the digital world. E-mail architecture has definitely just begun as the new horizons set to its future needs are being driven by the constant need for humans to interact, to communicate and to connect to every part of the universe.
It’s unquestionable then that surely we will foresee the growing success of email as the primary hub for communication, media and networking in the future. Indeed electronic mailing catapulted the unsettling success of information technology with its’ generatively and innovative character. It has gained a respective mainstream acceptance from the people and this acceptance will be the bread and butter of its’ future and will determine its life span as the provider of secure methods of communication, especially now that such thing as Google Wave is coming out. We could only gauge its success once it is fully launched

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EmailMigrations.com http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/07/emailmigrations-com/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/07/emailmigrations-com/#comments Thu, 09 Jul 2009 22:52:38 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/?p=548 Check out EmailMigrations.com. It has some very detailed guides for migrating Lotus Notes, Exchange and Novell GroupWise using tools like Quest and our own YippieMove.

We have partnered up with the author to get our banner on the page which I think will be a fantastic help for more people to find our service. Take a look at the site. I think you’ll find the information very useful if you are planning a email migration.

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Installing Scalix 11.4 on CentOS 5.3 http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/06/installing-scalix-11-4-on-centos-5-3/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/06/installing-scalix-11-4-on-centos-5-3/#comments Thu, 25 Jun 2009 22:43:53 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/?p=522
Scalix Admin

Scalix Admin

When we added support for Scalix in YippieMove, we created a Virtual Machine in VMware. While the process of installing Scalix is quite straight-forward, there are some minor tricks to it (more info about adding support for Scalix in YippieMove is avaliable here). For instance, CentOS is not officially supported by Scalix (Enterprise). Because of that, you need to trick it into believing that you are running Red Hat Enterprise Linux (which is what CentOS is ‘based’ on).

Ok, let’s get started.

First, install CentOS 5.3 as normal. In the software selection, we only selected ‘Server’ and deselect everything else (why people run X-windows on a server is beyond me). The only other thing to keep in mind is to use a static IP and a fully qualified domain name (FQDN).

Once you got your system up and running, we need to make a few changes to the default setup. Login using SSH or the console and run:

# system-config-securitylevel-tui

You will need to disable ‘SELinux’ as well as configuring the firewall according to your needs.

Next we need to trick Scalix into believing that you are running RHEL instead of CentOS. This is pretty easy:

# cp /etc/redhat-release /etc/redhat-release.orig
# echo ‘Red Hat Enterprise Linux Server release 5 (Tikanga)’ > /etc/redhat-release

We also need to make sure your hostname is listed in /etc/hosts under its IP (and not under 127.0.0.1). An example of a proper line is :

xxx.yyy.zzz.nnn server.example.org server

Now, let’s get started with installing Scalix. We start by upgrading the system and installing a few dependencies.

# yum -y upgrade
# yum install -y tk cyrus-sasl-md5 cyrus-sasl-plain sendmail-cf postgresql-server postgresql-libs mx compat-libstdc++-296

Assuming you’ve already downloaded Scalix onto the machine, all you need to launch the installer

# chmod +x scalix-11.4.4-GA-enterprise-redhat-intel.bin && ./scalix-11.4.4-GA-enterprise-redhat-intel.bin

After you are done answering all the questions, you should be able to access your brand new Scalix installation from your browser.

Good Luck!

Update: As Michael points out, the step of ‘tricking Scalix that you are running RHEL’ is not necessary. Thanks Michael.

Update 2: If you want to take Scalix for a spin without actually having to install it, we have created a Virtual Machine with Scalix installed that can be downloaded here.

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45 Years of Email – From Military Tool to Mass Market Communication http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/06/45-years-of-email-from-military-tool-to-mass-market-communication/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/06/45-years-of-email-from-military-tool-to-mass-market-communication/#comments Fri, 05 Jun 2009 03:15:19 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/?p=422 New Playing With Wire writer Lore Dionne Candelaria takes a look at the history of email and what led to its enormous impact on our modern lives.


Old meets new: early version of Hotmail displayed in Safari 3

Old meets new: early version of Hotmail displayed in Safari 3

Ever since the dawn of human existence, it has been an instinct of man to try to find ways to reach out and to be able to be heard. Speech and language proved to be the most important tools of the ancient human. Humankind has used these tools to survive and to exchange thoughts; which later evolved into other forms that made use of written symbols, drawings, runes and many other variations. The natural next step in this desire to innovate was the attempts to conquer distance — man wanted to still be in touch besides being apart. Carrier pigeons and smoke signals paved the way for a line of development aiming for an infinite means of communication. Thus came the discovery and birth of technologies like the telegraph, telephone, and ultimately, the e-mail system.

Before we can talk about the creation of electronic mail, we should first understand the beginnings of the internet itself. Many people have probably heard that the Internet began in some military computers in the famous Pentagon, that it was called Arpanet, and that the year was 1969. The theory goes on to suggest that the network was designed to survive a nuclear attack. True enough, the Internet was designed in part to provide a communications network that would work even if some of the sites were destroyed by nuclear attack. In 1969, the US Department of Defense wanted a communication system that could not be destroyed in the event of an emergency. They linked computers over telephone lines so that if one computer failed to work, the others could still communicate with each other. This system was called then as ARPANET.

ARPANET (Advanced Research Projects Agency Networks) was the network that became the basis for the development of the INTERNET. It was developed under the direction of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA). In 1969, the idea became a modest reality with the interconnection of four university computers. The initial purpose was to communicate with and share computer resources among mainly scientific users at the connected institutions. ARPANET took advantage of the new idea of sending information in small units called packets that could be routed on different paths and reconstructed at their destination. The main concept in packet switching was the idea of making use of circuits that are switched like in the old type of typical telephone circuit, where a dedicated circuit is tied up for the duration of the call and communication is only possible with the single party on the other end of the circuit.

ARPANET logic map, March 1977

ARPANET logic map, March 1977 (From Computer Science Museum)

The starting point for host-to-host communication on the ARPANET was the 1822 protocol which defined the way that a host sent messages to an ARPANET IMP. The message format was designed to work unambiguously with a broad range of computer architectures. Essentially, an 1822—message consisted of a message type, a numeric host address, and a data field. To send a data message to another host, the sending host would format a data message containing the destination host’s address and the data to be sent, and transmit the message through the 1822 hardware interface. The IMP would see that the message was delivered to its destination, either by delivering it to a locally-connected host or by delivering it to another IMP. When the message was ultimately delivered to the destination host, the IMP would send an acknowledgment message (called Ready for Next Message or RFNM) to the sending host.

So, how exactly did email evolve from the classic ARPANET? The answer comes from the name of Raymond Tomlinson. Tomlinson, born in 1941, is a programmer who implemented an email system in 1971 on the ARPANet. Email had been previously sent on other networks. Before internetworking began, email could only be used to send messages to various users of the same computer. Once computers began talking to each other over networks, however, the problem became a little more complex—they needed to be able to put a message in an envelope and address it. To do this, they needed a means to indicate which mails go to whom in a way that the electronic posts understood. This is the same as the conventional postal system: they need a way to indicate an address for a particular mail. The AUDOTIN was the first system able to send mail between users on different hosts connected to the Arpanet. To achieve this, Tomlinson used the @ sign to separate the user from their machine, the “commercial at” symbol to combine the user and host names, providing the naturally meaningful notation “user@host”—that is the standard for email addressing today. This has been used in email addresses ever since. These early programs had simple functionality and were command line-driven, but established the basic transactional model that still defines the technology: email gets sent to someone’s mailbox.

The first important email standard was called SMTP, or simple message transfer protocol. SMTP was very simple and is still in use – however, as we will hear later in this series, SMTP was a fairly naïve protocol, and made no attempt to find out whether the person claiming to send a message was the person they purported to be. Forgery was (and still is) very easy in email addresses. These basic flaws in the protocol were later exploited by viruses and worms, and by security frauds and spammers forging identities. But as it developed, email started to take on some pretty neat features. One of the first good commercial systems was Eudora, developed by Steve Dorner in 1988. When Internet standards for email began to mature the POP (or Post Office Protocol) servers began to appear as a standard; before that, each server was a little different. POP was an important standard which allowed users to develop mail systems. These were the days of per-minute charges for email of individual dialup users. For most people on the Internet in those days, email and email discussion groups were its main uses. There were many hundreds of these on a wide variety of topics, and as a body of newsgroups, they became known as USENET.

Raymond Tomlinson

Raymond Tomlinson

With the World Wide Web, email started to be made available with friendly web interfaces by providers such as Yahoo and Hotmail. Usually this was without charge. Now that email was affordable, everyone wanted at least one email address, and the medium was adopted by not just millions, but hundreds of millions of people. This only proves how emailing has reached new horizons in helping people to connect with the virtual world.

Though it is undeniable that emailing has gone a long way since it was first conceptualized, conceived and born, it now faces more problems than ever. While one cannot question the importance of email and instant messaging nowadays, one question remains: what is in store for electronic mailing in the future? In this age when everyone is aware of the emergence of so many communication options, does email still makes sense? What’s worse, e-mail has become a tool for criminal hackers ready to show off their technical skills. Recently, organized crime has become more of a force in the spam arena. They developed a series of get-rich-quick schemes and have also leveraged spam as an entry point into collecting and then misusing individuals’ personal financial information. As a result, it is estimated that spam represents 80% to more than 90% of all e-mail messages. Consequently, some businesspeople are flocking to these new communications options to rid themselves of the tedious task of constantly hitting the delete button. Can one still trust the reliability of emailing in connecting and communicating with other people?

The answer lies on the platform that emailing has founded. The flaw that makes email so easy to abuse for spam and other nefarious activities is also it’s strength: it’s easy to get an e-mail address and nearly everyone has one. E-mail will continue to be a popular communication option precisely because it is so popular. Emailing continues to be a communications option that generates billions of messages each year.

Yes, new communication channels have emerged, they appeal to different sort of users, and they will be in use at times instead of e-mail. However, e-mail still has the broadest range of supporters and will continue to be the primary communications media for most businesspersons for the foreseeable future; especially now that there is a boom in the online business industry. Email has proven to be an efficient marketing and advertising medium. The increase in electronic commerce or e-commerce has once again pressured the mail developers to improve and better the functionalities of email systems.

For sure things will change and just like all else, e-mail will surely evolve, but its use as a communication medium is still unparalleled. It was after all created on top of technology built to survive.

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Bye Bye Postgrey. Welcome SpamAssassin http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/bye-bye-postgrey-welcome-spamassassin/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/bye-bye-postgrey-welcome-spamassassin/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2009 17:11:53 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/bye-bye-postgrey-welcome-spamassassin/ About three years ago, when we first installed our mailserver, we decided to give Postgrey a shot. It worked pretty well for about two years. It did pretty much what we needed it to do — block SPAM. Since everyone here uses either a Mac or a Linux setup, we didn’t have a big need for scanning incoming emails for virus. Well, the situation didn’t change much, but the amount of emails going through our system did. We’ve started to see more and more SPAM going through the graylisting as spammers become more sophisticated. However, over the past few months, we’ve received a few complaints from customers about emails that did not go through (only a few, but that is serious enough). Hence we needed to take action.

Since our system is pretty straight forward (Postfix + DBmail), our conclusion was that it was the graylisting that caused us trouble. We took a fresh look on the market and realized that SpamAssassin probably was the best way to go. Thanks to FreeBSD’s ports, we were able to replace Postgray with SpamAssassin in less than an hour.

This morning when I woke up, I took a look at the maillogs. SpamAssassin seems to be doing it’s job pretty well, as it caught a bunch of SPAM. Bye Bye Postgrey. Welcome SpamAssassin.

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Some frustrating Gmail IMAP (GIMAP) bugs http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/02/some-frustrating-gmail-imap-gimap-bugs/ http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/02/some-frustrating-gmail-imap-gimap-bugs/#comments Tue, 17 Feb 2009 01:41:31 +0000 http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/02/some-frustrating-gmail-imap-gimap-bugs/ I think it’s fair to say that few people outside of Google have more experience of working with Google’s IMAP implementation (GIMAP) than we have. Since we launched YippieMove more than six months ago, we’ve performed a lot of transfers to Google using IMAP. Truth be told, we’ve spent a lot of time trying to find workarounds for bugs in Gmail IMAP implementation. In this brief blog-post, we will explore two bugs that we’ve reported to Google, but which Google seems to have little interest in fixing.

Inconsistency between SELECT and CREATE

The first bug might not be very juicy but it took us a while to recognize it. What we first thought was a bug in our system turned out to be a bug in GIMAP. As it turns out, in GIMAP, SELECT is case sensitive, while CREATE is not. Here’s a brief example to illustrate the bug:


0001 SELECT "INBOX/Sales Invoices"
0001 NO Unknown Mailbox: INBOX/Sales Invoices (Failure)
0002 CREATE "INBOX/Sales Invoices"
0002 NO Folder name conflicts with existing folder name. (Failure)

In this case, there is already a folder named ‘INBOX/Sales invoices’, but since SELECT is case sensitive, and CREATE is not, we were unable to select the folder and with an upper case ‘I’ and at the same time unable to create the folder.

We first encountered this bug when a user migrated from a case sensitive IMAP server to Gmail. Hence we could have two folders named ‘foo’ and ‘Foo’ without it being any problem until we tried to copy those to Gmail.

Rejection of random messages

The next bug is of far more serious nature and it is a bug that we run into everyday. We’ve spent a significant amount of time trying to narrow down this problem, but almost entirely without luck. What happens is that GIMAP decides to reject certain emails. Sometimes the upload works when retrying later, sometimes not. To make this even more interesting, GIMAP can reject emails that it just gave us. For instance, let’s say we’re copying messages from JohnSmith@gmail.com to JohnSmithBackup@gmail.com. Even that a GIMAP just gave us a particular email, another GIMAP server rejects the same email. Strange, isn’t it?

When I said that we’ve spent a serious amount of time trying to narrow down the problem, I was not kidding. We’ve done statistical analysis on tens of thousands of messages trying to find some kind of pattern (including trying to find a correlation between the content in the header and the body), and still no luck.

That said, the failure rate is quite low. Out of all the messages we upload, only a small fraction gets rejected (a quick database query reveals that it’s currently at 0.04%). And if a message gets rejected, we clearly state what message we failed to upload in the Transfer Report that we send out to our customers upon completion.

In Google’s defense, they do state that they do not officially support ‘upload of messages,’ but that is a quite weak argument, as pretty much any other IMAP-enabled service on the market supports this. Not to mention that without APPEND, simple drag and drop operations may fail in email programs.

For the curious geeks reading this article, our software does comply with RFC 3501, as well as other related RFCs.

As a side note, we’re not the only ones experiencing the APPEND bug. The Google Group discussion for Gmail IMAP and POP is full with threads regarding this. The only official-looking response given multiple times by wár17 § is to upload in small batches as you otherwise is likely to hit the bandwidth limit. However, we can testify that this is not the case as the number of messages and the size of the mailbox seem to have little effect. We’ve had this problem with small mailboxes (<10 messages and only a few hundred bytes) and at the same time had mailboxes that exceed several Gigabytes running through flawlessly.

Update: While it seems like the rejection of emails is somewhat random, there are certain emails that are more likely to get rejected. The other day we ran a transfer of a folder including 600-something bounced messages. They were all rejected.

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